Disclaimer: I do not own anything related to the Final Fantasy series. They belong to Squaresoft.
Let Me Make It Alright
Chapter 27: The Quiet Before The Storm
By Angry Angel
They had spent all of the evening and night curled up under their blankets in silence until sleep had taken them over, and when Seifer awoke the next morning to the mellow humming of birds outside their window, he found Squall's bed made and deserted.
Groaning and rubbing his stubble covered chin, the blonde sat up, hesitantly roaming the room with his emerald green gaze. There were no sounds coming from the bathroom, the apartment was perfectly quiet. Before he could even help it, Seifer felt pangs of panic twisting his insides. It took him a minute to call himself to quiet down and ease his tension.
'He's probably just out and about again.'
Clinging on to that thought, he got up to take a closer look at the living room and the kitchen. Squall's key card had disappeared from the dining table and his vest was smoothed over the back of a chair, but those were the only differences that Seifer noticed. It was well after 9:00h and the kitchen looked untouched.
In the bathroom, though, he was pleased to find Squall's towels damp, as were the tiles on the floor and the shower. The blonde pondered why he hadn't woken up to the sound of running water, but he blamed it on his lack of quality sleep throughout the past week. He had dozed off in his full attire or with his head heavy with thoughts just one too many times.
Sighing, he eased out of his shorts and slipped into the shower, enjoying the sensation of hot water running down his body in a prickling rush; it was working miracles at waking his still drowsy mind.
He spent the following half hour shaving, getting dressed and brushing his teeth; somehow he wasn't in the mood to prepare any food and decided to skip breakfast. Before leaving the apartment to track down his roommate and rival, he mused about taking his trench coat but came to the conclusion that it was slightly too warm. Balamb never got hot during the summer, but the air was usually mild and comfortable. A thin, long sleeved dark green shirt, which accentuated the color of his eyes even more, would do him just fine.
Shortly after, he found himself strolling through Garden's hallways once again, keeping his eyes open for Squall without really expecting to lay eyes on his brunette adversary. He was headed to the orchard again, anyway, figuring that Squall would probably be lingering there.
As he was walking, his mind loiteringly twisted back to the memory of the previous night. He was devoid of any idea of what exactly had happened between him and his younger roommate, but apparently Squall had been rather freaked out by it. Not that that came as any sort of surprise, but Seifer had been hoping for a different reaction nonetheless. It wasn't like he had kissed Squall or anything.
'Still, I probably went too far.'
Things surely hadn't been easy for him though, and they still weren't. Squall had looked absolutely irresistible that evening, all smiles and sparkles. Even straining his memories, Seifer could not recall a single time since their childhood days that he had seen Squall Leonhart laugh. There had been that fluttering smile on their parting day in Esthar, but that hadn't been any less rare of a sight.
'You are an idiot, Almasy.'
Seifer usually wasn't one to put himself down, but he absolutely despised himself for pushing in on the brunette too quickly. He was very aware of his feelings, but expressing them properly was a totally different story. Not that he had any idea what Squall would consider "proper" in the first place.
"Great. The Lion of Balamb and the SeeD Slayer, isn't that a happy couple for ya," he snarled quietly to himself, resisting the urge to kick one of the trash bins lining his way.
He knew that deep inside his heart, he loved Squall, he had figured that much out on his own. It had taken him long enough, anyway. That didn't help him the slightest bit to enlighten the question of what Squall was feeling, though. During his last approach, the brunette had flipped, as he should have expected him to, leaving him hesitant of what to do next.
He was torn from his musings by the sudden sharp sound of someone drawing a tedious breath and calling out his name.
His blonde head whisked to the right, meeting gazes with a pair of strident cobalt blue eyes behind sparkling crystalline glasses. Quistis was approaching him ever so slowly out of one of the many hallways that branched off the main hall. His attention rested on her frowning and discontent face for only a second, before it was rapidly caught by something long and silver in her hands.
It didn't take him but a glimpse to recognize his own gunblade, which she held much like something very nasty and uncomfortable. To add to his surprise, she stopped shortly before him and thrust out her hand, offering him the hilt of his sword.
Her voice was cold, and he saw a glint of anger flickering in her eyes. There was something else, too, but he couldn't place the impression before she had already sighed in annoyance.
"I don't have all day, I have classes to teach."
"What's this all about?"
"Orders from Squall. He wants you to have your sword back, for whatever inscrutable reason."
Brows arching and eyes widening, he merely gaped at her and the sword she was still holding out to him. As much as he tried to grasp the meaning of this, he couldn't understand why Squall of all people would place orders to return Hyperion to him. Squall could be accused of being a lot of things, but he was most certainly not stupid. The brunette knew that Seifer was more or less forced to stay in Garden, and the very tool they had pinned him down with was being handed to him right that very moment. Was Squall deliberately twisting him into bailing from Balamb by handing him the apparently only thing that had kept him from doing so all along?
'How very wrong you are.'
Eyes darkening, he took the weapon from her, immediately recognizing and savoring its familiar feel and weight. Still, this had a bitter aftertaste, and he didn't like it at all.
"Leonhart ordered this?"
"As you heard. He told me this morning to return Hyperion to you or he would hand in his resignation as commander and SeeD."
Seifer still stared in wonder at the blade in his hands, not minding Quistis' displeased and openly angry face very much. He was too busy thinking.
"Just so you know, this doesn't mean that you can just run off to wherever you please," she chided sharply, "you still have to fulfill your part of the agreement before you are free to go."
'Just what exactly is he trying to achieve by doing this...?'
He snapped up, looking at her somewhat impatiently.
"Did you hear what I said?"
She definitely didn't look like she believed him, but he couldn't care less. The whole matter had come rather unexpected, and he had the urge to talk to Squall as quickly as possible.
"I don't know. He had his gunblade with him, I swear if Kadowaki finds out, then..."
"But she won't unless you squeal, Trepe."
He made sure to shadow his voice with a dangerous undertone, but she didn't seem all too impressed. Tossing him a rather menacing glare with the same chill that Squall's eyes typically held, Quistis turned on her heels and sharply trudged away. Whatever Seifer was doing to their friend, she didn't like it, but she wasn't too sure that going so far as to bespeak Squall was a good idea, either, even if it might have been for his own good.
After the other blonde had disappeared, Seifer continued quickly to the green yard, Hyperion clutched tightly in one hand. He almost fell into a sprint, only carefully restrained by his last bits of self-control. He was angry and delighted at the same time, still unsure which sensation was overpowering the other. Apparently he'd have to talk to his roommate first to find out.
Squall was going through a similar training ritual that Seifer had already witnessed the day before. Clad all in form-hugging black clothes, he stood out harshly against the rich green of the grass and the faint specks of brown and red of the trees. His face had gained a healthier shade of color though, Seifer noticed as he slowly stepped closer and the brunette paused in his movements to acknowledge his presence.
"Leonhart," he snapped quickly before the other man's beauty was going to mess with his mind again, "why'd you order Trepe to give me my sword back?"
The brunette stood motionless for a moment, eyeing Seifer with an expression that looked vaguely like confusion. Then he shrugged.
"Should be obvious."
"It's not. Tell me."
"It's your sword, Seifer."
"That's not an answer, damn it!"
"Take it for whatever you want, then," Squall hissed and whipped around to resume his training.
Seifer stood dumbfounded for a minute, staring at the smaller boy who was deliberately ignoring him. And finally, it dawned him.
However angry Squall looked that very moment, there was something else, too; he almost appeared hurt and disappointed. His gaze was hard, too hard for even the ice prince himself, and there was a certain tension to his movements. No matter how desperately he was trying to hide it, Squall Leonhart had obviously been upset by Seifer's unusual reaction to his inexperienced attempt at a nice gesture.
'You are such a fucking dumbass, Almasy."
He wanted to smack himself up the head, but decided against it. Instead, he tapped his gunblade against his shoulder like in the old days, and a smile spread across his features.
"Thank you," he said gently.
Squall looked up from his routine briefly, his eyes immediately softening at his rival's thankful expression. He could feel the corners of his own mouth twitching, but managed to suppress a relieved grin. He had silently apologized for his abrupt rudeness of the previous night, but that was all that he felt ready to give at that point. Seifer, on the other hand, tried to smooth out his slip-up by respecting his younger opposite's feelings and the space that he needed.
Thus, he backed off against the trees once more, sitting down to marvel at the shining reflective surface that was Hyperion's blade. Looking up at the sword in Squall's slender hands, he frowned at the unusual dark blue shade. Even with a Guardian Force trapped inside, it didn't make sense that it shifted hues as soon as Seifer and Squall were both close to it. He couldn't tell whether it was dangerous or not, but it surely was unusual.
Sighing, he tilted his head into his neck and gazed at the sky. It was blue, but overhung with smudge gray clouds. There would be rain, most likely. He had always been good at reading the weather for some reason. It wouldn't have hurt him after all to bring his trench coat, he mused, but the shirt would probably suffice, too.
Seifer simply cowered in the grass, unobtrusively watching the SeeD's graceful movements. He truly enjoyed dwelling in the sight, content just sitting quietly without saying anything. Despite the fact that Squall had left the infirmary less than two days ago he seemed to be feeling much better. His training was fluid, bare of the occasional painful flinches that Seifer had still noticed the day before.
'He sure heals quickly. His body does, anyway.'
After about an hour or two of mere admiration, he felt his stomach growling loudly. Guessing that Squall probably hadn't eaten anything, either, an idea was slowly forming in his mind, and he got up.
"Hey, I'll be right back," he shouted at the other, "Stay here!"
The brunette seemed confused, but nodded nonetheless as Seifer leaned Hyperion against a tree and made his way to the school cafeteria. Using the spare cash that he always carried around in his pants, the blonde bought two large bottles of ice tea and as many sandwiches as he managed to fit into his arms.
Squall couldn't help but grin in amusement at an off-balance Seifer dearly trying not to drop about two dozen plastic wrapped sandwiches and the two bottles of ice tea he had steadied underneath his chin and beneath the fanned out fingers of one hand. He allowed himself to enjoy the humorous sight for another moment before calmly trudging to Seifer's assistance.
Thankfully, the blonde released the bottles into Squall's hands and dropped the sandwiches into the grass. The bottleneck he had stuck between his fingers had chafed the skin slightly, and he rubbed at it absentmindedly before flopping down next to their unorganized picnic set up.
"Dig in," he exclaimed, smirk smacked down into his face.
Squall eyed him hesitantly for a moment before leaning LionHeart against the same tree as Hyperion and sitting down across from Seifer's position, one leg tugged underneath his body, the other somewhat sprawled out.
"Thanks," he muttered, and shoved one of the bottles he had been holding into Seifer's hands without actually looking at him.
The blonde's smirk widened, but he said nothing and filled his mouth with a bite of ham sandwich instead. He had made sure to bring enough cheese and chicken spread ones to last Squall for more than he would ever be able to eat in one sitting. Squall noticed, too, and he felt rather grateful for the other man's thoughtfulness. Not enough that his adversary knew about that little vegetarian habit of his, he also managed to remember every single time that he provided their meals. Cocking his head back to take a large sip of tea, he tossed Seifer a quick glance, but the other was busy engulfing a rather large piece of bread that he promptly managed to choke on.
Sputtering and coughing, Seifer tried desperately to inhale, but he didn't manage until he felt Squall's hand mercifully slapping his back, unsticking the piece of food that had caught in his throat. Slamming his fist against his chest, he looked up at the bent over figure whose storm blue eyes were fixed upon his face attentively.
"You okay?" Squall asked calmly.
The other nodded slowly, then tore his gaze away and sank back into his spot. Seifer watched each of his movements, again and again amazed by the subtle and innate grace that Squall possessed. He didn't want to be caught staring again, though, so he re-adjusted his focus to his sandwich once more.
They continued to eat in silence until both of them were more than satisfied, Squall obviously having finished a little earlier than Seifer had. The brunette skidded over to the tree that both of their gunblades were resting against and folded his back against the sweet smelling bark of the trunk.
"You falling asleep on me?"
Seifer grinned and let himself drop against the tree as well, though ensuring that he wasn't jarring his younger roommate. He had definitely grown more cautious in that area.
Squall didn't answer but instead reclined his head against the rough tree comfortably, drawing his legs widely to his chest and folding his arms around his knees loosely.
To Seifer, that was answer enough.
=To be continued!=
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