Disclaimer: I do not own anything related to the Final Fantasy series. They belong to Squaresoft.
Let Me Make It Alright
Chapter 31: Falling Into You
By Angry Angel
At the sound of the weak voice, Seifer swivelled around as quickly as his numb body allowed, and his surprised gaze connected with Squall's face. The brunette had obviously awoken without his awareness, and his eyes looked wearily and glazed over at the blonde. Their color was the usual perfect union of blue and grey; ribbons of colors that were neutral in their beauty until one of Squall's moods influenced the tint. They seemed confused behind thick, choppy strands of brown hair that hung wet and heavy onto his pale face. Seifer managed to smile softly at the sight, and he closed the space between himself and the bed. Leaning over the younger man, he gently brushed the locks away that obscured Squall's vision.
"Hey... good to see you awake," he finally cooed.
The brunette stared up at him full of incomprehension and with a strange glow in his gaze. Suddenly, a fit of shivers rippled through his body, causing it to tremble violently and Squall to wrap his arms around himself helplessly. Seifer's face slanted, and he sank down onto the mattress with every ounce of his being radiating concern. His own chill and discomfort disappeared quickly when he saw the SeeD shaking so miserably.
"You need to get out of those clothes," he stated calmly, one hand grasping Squall's shoulder to steady him, "and you need a bath or a shower."
When Squall had re-gained composure, he nailed his gaze to the ceiling as if in embarrassment. Seifer recognized it as such and tried to crack a carefree laugh.
"Don't get all shy on me now. I've seen you naked before, we used to take baths together all the time as kids, remember?"
The brunette's eyes narrowed and he coughed.
"That... was a long time ago," he hissed with all the weak condemnation he could summon.
Seifer nodded and dispensed with retaliating a typical sarcastic remark. He wasn't in the mood for their familiar insult game. He was just tired and wanted both of them to warm up. The cold had caught up with him again at last, and the prospect of a hot shower was more than tempting. Hence, relocating Squall to the bathroom would be his next task, and he wasn't quite sure how to tackle it.
"Want me to carry you into the bathroom?"
He just prayed that the direct approach would be the best. Judging by Squall's upset expression though, it obviously hadn't been. He sighed and drew back his hands in defeat.
"I don't really think you should walk. You're just going to collapse," he mused.
Squall merely intensified his scornful glare.
'Great, he's whipping up the death glare.'
"Fine. You go right ahead then, stubborn."
Seifer stood up copiously and waited for Squall to follow his example, but the brunette made no attempt at removing his persistent stare from the ceiling. The older man scratched his head, or as much as his numb muscles allowed, anyway. He didn't know what exactly Squall was trying to achieve with his behaviour. Mentally, he cursed himself for calling Squall "ice prince" so many times. Now that the SeeD was about to literally turn into an icicle, Seifer wanted nothing more than for him to get warm quickly.
"Look, I don't care if you are trying to kill yourself or not, Squall. If you aren't going to walk to the bathroom, I'll carry you."
As soon as he started to approach Squall again, though, the boy turned on his side with an angry grunt and weakly scrambled into a seating position. As he fought for balance, Squall kept his head low and his facial expression blank, purposely avoiding Seifer's intent gaze. He was still struggling with the memories of what had happened in the forest. As a matter of fact, he didn't even know how much time had passed since then, but it couldn't have been too long ago, since he was still wearing his wet and cold clothes. And cold they were, no doubt about that. He did want to take a warm shower, and at the same time, he didn't. As soon as his thoughts returned to Laguna and Rinoa, to seeing them together, he just wanted to die. Nobody cared about him anyway, they all just pretended and then left him alone in his misery. Seifer was no exception.
Anger rose inside Seifer when he saw the withdrawn and distant look on Squall's stark face. Just as he had finally started to gain the brunette's trust, Laguna and Rinoa had to show up and squash everything into oblivion. Squall had always been fragile, but he had never attempted to commit suicide. His father and his ex-girlfriend, and everyone else for that matter, had managed to push him that far. What was left for Seifer Almasy to do now but pick up the debris of Squall's shattered soul and hope that he could fix it somehow?
"Careful..." he breathed almost inaudibly for no particular reason, as he watched Squall's struggles.
Squall worked himself up into a standing position. Shakily, and ignoring Seifer's helpfully extended hand, he took his first two steps into the vague direction of the bathroom.
It was pointless.
He swayed and found himself rushing towards the ground after his muscles had given in. Mentally, he prepared himself for the impact, but his body never connected with the floor. Instead, he suddenly felt himself being encircled by a pair of freezing but surprisingly strong arms, and he heard a chiding voice that whispered almost intimately into his ear and sent shivers down his spine.
"I told you."
Seifer turned him around and gathered him into his arms with ease, swiping his legs off the floor as if it was nothing. Inside, the blonde was praying for his strength to hold out just a little bit longer. He had already gone way beyond his limits. On the other hand, he alone had brought that responsibility upon himself, and for nothing in the world was he going to give it away.
Seifer's powers did not fail him, and Squall remained astoundingly quiet in his embrace. They reached the bathroom, and the blonde staggered just slightly before he lowered Squall to sit onto the edge of the bathtub. Of course, the Commander avoided meeting his gaze and simply stared downwards at the spotless white tiles. He was rather shocked to find Seifer suddenly kneeling in front of him and working on unlacing his boots.
"What are you doing...?"
The taller blonde looked up at him and cocked his head in subtle amusement. For a moment, he wondered at the alien glow in Squall's storm blue eyes that he couldn't quite place, then adjusted his focus to the mud spotted and rain soaked boots again.
"What does it look like," he muttered, not even so sure that Squall could hear him.
Undoing the laces proved to be rather difficult. His cold and numb hands were having trouble with the intricate movements, and more than one curse word spilled from his lips during the process. His skin felt prickly as if studded with needles, and he had always been rather clumsy when it came to delicate handiwork. Finally, he managed to untie the pair and dropped them to the floor with a sickening smack. Squall's feet were almost blue as he removed his dripping black socks, and another concerned frown washed over Seifer's handsome features.
"You definitely need to warm up."
He rose and immediately reached for the hem of Squall's shirt. The brunette started to protest weakly, but Seifer was too determined and his patience had run too thin for him to give in to the childish thick headedness another time. With his fingertips grazing chilly, porcelain skin, he peeled the soaked fabric from Squall's body and over his head. He was surprised to find the younger man's torso unbandaged. The wounds seemed to have healed well though, purple bruises and brownish cut outlines were already fading into ivory perfection.
Squall shuddered, but refrained from crossing his arms in front of his chest. He was already showing too much frailty and weakness, no need to take it any further. Thus, he clamped his gloved hands around the rim of the tub in defiance and immediately winced at the unexpected wave of pain shooting from his fingers through his entire arms.
"Shit, be careful!"
Seifer grasped Squall narrowly above his wrists and pried his hands off the tub, which almost caused the brunette to lose his precious balance. He stared up at Seifer, who seemed to steadily boil in anger. Apparently, he was stringing the older man's patience quite a bit.
'Like I care.'
After snorting to himself, he roughly shot to his feet, and this time it was Seifer who had to fight for his equilibrium. The blonde staggered backwards, astonished by Squall's sudden movement and his somewhat firm stance.
The brunette brushed past him edgily and started towards the shower. Seifer arched an eyebrow.
"I'm taking a shower," Squall bit back harshly.
Disbelieving, Seifer watched how Squall turned his back to him and pulled off his gloves in two sharp movements. He dropped them onto a rack, and then started to fidget with his belt buckle. The young SeeD did a much better job at loosening his belt than Seifer had done with his boots; seconds later, he already worked at pulling down his stiff black leather pants, miraculously managing to remove them without having to bend over in an embarrassing or revealing fashion. Seifer stared at the pale curves of Squall's aesthetically muscled legs and his butt, flawless in all the details that the blonde managed to soak up in such a short time. Gulping, he let his gaze travel upwards along Squall's spine, roaming every inch of milky white skin until it came to a halt at the mess of chocolate brown hair that covered the head still turned away from him.
Brusquely, Squall pushed the shower curtain aside, stepped into the roomy basin and pulled the water repellent fabric close again. All the while, Seifer hadn't managed to pry his emerald eyes off the rather intoxicating sight. A welcome heat tingled through his entire body, and he manually had to adjust his breathing to a more calm rhythm and keep the heat from reaching certain areas of his body.
'Pull yourself together, this definitely isn't the time.'
Heaving a deep sigh, he decided to take a bath since Squall was occupying the shower and most definitely hadn't displayed any interest in company. As soon as he heard the rush of water, he started to remove his own boots and pants. Just as he stood perfectly naked, a pang of concern twitched his heart. Maybe it wasn't the best of ideas to leave Squall without immediate supervision. He turned his head towards the shower, and was immediately proved correct.
A stifled thud rung from behind the obscuring curtain, and Seifer didn't have to guess long over what could have possibly caused that disturbing sound. Hesitating but a second, he drew a determined breath, pushed past the curtain and stepped inside the basin.
As the fabric drew close behind him, he was greeted by steam and a gush of hot water. To his feet and facing the showerhead kneeled Squall, fiercely fighting to scramble back onto his feet. He was having a hard time, as the slick walls didn't offer much support. Seifer stared at him quietly for a moment, figuring that the proud tantrum Squall had thrown just seconds earlier had probably sucked up the brunette's last bits of strength.
'If anything is going to kill him, it's his pride.'
He bent down and turned his head so the water wouldn't beat right into his eyes. His hands reached out for Squall, and they found the stubborn SeeD's shoulders.
"Come on," he said, gathering his powers as he started to help Squall.
With Seifer's aid, the brunette managed to achieve a fragile stance again. Ashamed, he didn't dare to turn around. His arms hung slack against his sides, and Seifer's hands were still curled about the rounds of his shoulders. They stood about the distance of a breath apart, and ever so slowly, Squall came to realize that he didn't understand anything anymore. Seifer was always there, breaking his fall or picking him up to put him back on solid ground. Why? That question filled his conscience until it started to burn and stood etched into flames before his closed eyes. He wanted to scream. He wanted to cry. He just wanted to know why.
Seifer saw Squall dropping his head, almost black hair now hiding the pale face. At his gentle touch, that vulnerable body was quivering once more and the shaking hands curled to tight fists, tearing the delicate flesh wounds open anew.
With his heart beating faster, he closed the space between them. Slowly, he let one arm travel from Squall's right shoulder across his collarbones, reaching all the way around with ease as soon as his body spooned against the smaller brunette's. The SeeD stiffened immediately. Seifer ignored it and used his other hand to wrap it around Squall's wrist. His larger hand cupped Squall's and eased it open with skilled gentleness.
"Stop. You have to stop. You're hurting yourself."
He lowered his mouth to Squall's ear and whispered ever so softly, waiting patiently until Squall's muscles slowly unclenched completely. He smiled, and his breath against the brunette's ear and cheek caused the younger to tremble once more.
When he felt no more resistance against his embrace, he let go of Squall's hand and used his arm to wrap it around the boy's narrow waist. He pressed against the taut abdomen, pulling the other so close that he even filled the empty space that the arch of Squall's lower back created between them. The brunette stood perfectly still, succumbing to the protective hug at last. Despite the fact that Seifer's body was cold and the water was hot, it offered so much more comfort. The blonde's skin, his hands and his breath were everywhere, and they felt good.
Nonetheless, Squall's breath hitched at the unusual closeness, the never before experienced warmth and gentleness. He shuddered yet again, but Seifer didn't let him go.
The blonde held his younger love calmly under the comforting warm waterfall that gushed from the showerhead above them. He buried his face in Squall's hair, cherishing their difference in height, tasting through half parted lips the dirt and the rainwater that spotted Squall's head. He didn't mind. Anything that was Squall seemed to taste good, seemed to smell good. He loved everything about the stubborn SeeD Commander. In any other situation he probably would have felt more aroused at the feeling of the man's body spooned against his, the curve of the other's butt pressing just barely below his crotch, but nothing about them there was ordinary or usual. For the moment, he just wanted to make Squall feel better, nothing more, nothing less.
He wanted to tell him, for the first time in his life he felt like he couldn't bear the secret any longer, but somehow, he managed to bite it down once again.
'Don't scare him... don't scare him...'
He tightened his embrace and breathed a soft kiss against the wet mop of hair. Squall was still rendered motionless at the contact, and Seifer could feel his stomach and chest rising in an anxious rhythm against his arms. The longer he held the brunette that way, the less he wanted to let go. He wondered how he had lived all his life without that intimacy, that gentle bodily contact. Instead, he had scarred Squall so many times. In fact, his fingertips felt for the soft bump just above the SeeD's right hipbone that was a scar inflicted by the tip of Hyperion.
"I'm sorry," he whispered.
Of course, Squall had to have been oblivious to the meaning of that apology, but Seifer didn't really want to elaborate. He just wanted to savour the moment, knowing only too well that physical proximity was a rather fragile concept when it concerned Squall Leonhart.
Indeed, he suddenly felt the body in his arms stir. Squall wasn't exactly pulling away, but he broke into short, quick fits of tremors. It didn't take long before the matching sobs pressed past the Commander's lips and he broke into tears once more. Squall had already had a hell of a time composing himself in Seifer's protective and... loving hug, but hearing those words had broken all of his hastily slammed up defenses. For all he remembered, Seifer had never seriously apologized for anything, and there he was whispering words that couldn't sound more sincere. He wasn't even sure what Seifer was apologizing for, or if he was even apologizing at all, but he sounded like he truly cared, he acted like he truly cared. It was a feeling so new and so overwhelming, that with all the emotional pain already leadening his soul, he couldn't hold back any longer.
Once more, Seifer found himself steadying Squall's worn out body. He could feel how the SeeD's legs gave in and buckled beneath him, and while making sure to grasp Squall securely, he lowered both of them to the bottom of the wet shower basin. The brunette was kneeling doubled over, hugging himself and crying uncontrollably while mumbling things that Seifer couldn't understand, whilst the blonde mirrored his position and kneeled pasted against him, his arms firmly in place.
"Squall... it's okay... it's alright..."
He brought his head even closer to Squall's and rested his chin on top of the younger man's right shoulder. Finally, he could hear some of the seemingly senseless muttering that Squall pushed desperately into the waterfall.
"Why... everybody... they all go..."
Seifer shook his head immediately, even though Squall could only feel and not see the gesture.
"I'm here, Squall."
"I... what... what did I do..."
"You didn't do anything, Squall, you hear me? You didn't do anything wrong."
"Why... she said she loved... me... she... why..."
For once, the tall blonde was at a loss for words. What was there to say? That Rinoa did love him but chose to betray him with his father? That Rinoa had never loved him in the first place? None of those options sounded too comforting in Seifer's ears. Finally, he chose to put all his love in one gentle motion and one gentle word as he folded his fingers softly against Squall's parted lips and placed the sweetest of kisses on a hardly noticeable scar between Squall's shoulder blades.
He had found the right thing to say at last.
=To be continued!=
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