Disclaimer: I do not own anything related to the Final Fantasy series. They belong to Squaresoft.
This chapter is dedicated to my friend Kail, who is a wonderful person, a talented artist and writer, and who has been going through the roughest of times. Even though she had a "man to save the day", I know that things are not easy on her right now. My best wishes go out to you Kail, I hope that they will reach you :) May you always have a guardian angel watching over you, wherever your life may lead you, and may you never stop smiling.
Let Me Make It Alright
Chapter 50: "Of Gifts And Absolution"
By Angry Angel
It was a picture of rawest misery, painted with blood and tears on a canvas of black.
One broken man, holding another - cradling a drooping, dark haired head upon his knees.
Crying - tears that would never cease to flow.
Pain that would not go away.
His voice had cracked eventually, but his lament required no words. He had lost everything - his love, his faith, his meaning. One look into shattered green eyes would have told all there was to know about that man's soul.
Broken. Beyond Repair.
He didn't know how long he had been kneeling out there. He didn't care, either. It had been a few minutes, but it felt like thousands of years.
The pain was still there. So was the numbness.
Numbness and pain. Two completely different ends of the same kind of spectrum, and he felt them both.
Ever since Squall Leonhart's breathing had stopped, Seifer's hadn't steadied. His tears signed the brunette's skin, soaked his clothes, and though Seifer had finally brought himself to pull motionless lids close over dead blue eyes, he had only cried harder after that. He couldn't feel anything anymore – anything but grief.
His face inclined and veiled behind tresses of blonde hair, Seifer had his hands wrenched tightly into stark white fabric that had been littered with crimson blood. The skin beneath it was smooth, cold and pale like porcelain.
They were one crumpled heap of misery.
Nothing about his environment could touch Seifer's conscience. There was nobody there, anyway. They were a long way from town or Garden... too long, even by car.
He knew that already.
But as his muscles were trembling, steadily, he could feel how something untouchable was lifted from his flesh – perhaps his heart?
Well, it was wrecked anyway, not any more alive than the body draped into the blonde youth's arms. Take it whoever will. He didn't care anymore.
His heart meant nothing without Squall.
Nothing at all.
"So he has done it."
He startled in the depths of his despair, stirred to attention by the resonance of a calm, even voice. Inside his chest, his heart slowed from its mad sprint to an alert crawl, and his head flicked up from its bowed condition, shed tears slipping from his jaw line at the suddenness of the movement.
There was a strange noise that rung behind him, similar to the crunch of leather on rock, though it was strangely hollow, almost as if the sound was merely a memory of the real sensation. Seifer whisked around immediately, his hands never losing their grasp on Squall's motionless frame as his upper body twirled on the spot.
Then, he froze.
He didn't quite know what he was looking at. At first, he figured it to be a bodiless cloud of white haze, but as he blinked away the tears in his eyes he could make out the blurry silhouette of a man. Narrowing his sight and contracting his muscles in readiness, Seifer watched the mysteriously glowing shape with an odd feeling of acquaintance.
Yes, it was without a doubt the apparition of a man; a soldier even, judging by his attire. He was clad in a form-hugging uniform of pale colors and intricate designs, and he stood tall and proud against the waning cerise of the evening sky. His hair was straight and short, a rich gold in hue and contrasting sharply to the viridian green of his eyes, which were fixed upon Seifer's bent figure tacitly.
"Who... are you?" the gunblader asked carefully, his voice still grating with agony.
The blonde man did not answer him. Instead, he crossed his arms before his chest, and he paced languidly across the spur, circling Seifer until he stood only a few feet in front of him and the dead brunette. His face was hard, motionless even, and it gave away little about his age. Seifer would have estimated him to be in his late twenties, maybe younger, maybe not. It was difficult to say. Judging by his ghostly appearance, it probably did not matter, anyway.
Now, the stranger had lowered his gaze just slightly, attentively studying Squall's lifeless figure with interest that was perfectly concealed. As he tried to step closer, however, Seifer lashed out at him in blind hatred, despite the physical pain that was surging through every fibre of his body.
"Stay away!! Don't touch him!"
The man heeded Seifer's dangerous and almost hysteric snarl with one of his own, though it lacked the raw edge. His arms did not change positions, and he remained rooted to the spot for the time being, not penetrating any further into Seifer's sensitive territory.
"I wasn't planning on harming him," the man stated monotonously. "Besides, the harm is already done, as you well know."
"Shut the fuck up! Who are you?!" Seifer snapped against the note of sarcasm in the man's voice, his brows low over glittering jade eyes. "What are you?"
The blonde stranger was regarding him with that unsettling, inquisitive stare, and within himself Seifer could feel the rising urge to hurt someone, anyone, for all the foul things that had happened.
For Squall's death, above everything else.
The man simply shrugged.
Seifer blinked in surprise and mistrust at the curt statement, drawing a wet breath through his clogged up nose as he glinted at that strange apparition and lifted his voice to a cold grumble.
"Alexander is a Guardian Force. A mechanic beast. Don't fuck with me."
Then, he paused.
"Whoever the hell you are, do you have phoenix downs? Life spells?"
The man seemed unperturbed by both Seifer's rudeness and despair. He didn't move a single muscle, watching and listening with the patience of someone who had all the time in the world.
Seifer couldn't help but flinch as he was yet again slapped with the cold reality of Squall's death. Once more, his eyes filled with tears, and his features curled with bitterness.
"Then get lost."
The apparition still stared at him mutely, with a gaze so icy and ageless that it ran a chill down Seifer's spine. The stranger's posture suggested carelessness, but there was just something about his face that belied that impression.
After a short pause, he spoke again.
"Even though I don't have any of those items that you request, you might still want to hear me out."
Seifer's face slanted at that suggestive remark, and involuntarily he pulled Squall's frame closer into his arms. Something about this situation was very unsettling, and he had to swallow against the lump in his throat.
What in Hyne's name was that... man thinking, urging him to listen to some pointless tale when he was filled with grief over his loved one's death, holding Squall's very corpse in his arms?
This didn't make any sense.
"What do you want?" he finally hissed, ensuring to shadow his still croaky voice with a note of warning.
"For now, only that you listen to what I have to say."
"Then tell me who you really are. No bullshit."
"I wasn't bullshitting you. I am Alexander, even if I'm not appearing in the usual, summoned form that you might know. Check your mind for the junction. You'll see that you're missing the link."
Indeed, as Seifer reluctantly scanned his mind for the presence of the Guardian Force Alexander, he had to find it gone. Slowly, he started to understand the strange sensation of extraction that he had felt earlier, when still buried deep in the pile of his misery.
"I can see by the look on your face that you know I'm telling you the truth," Alexander observed, not without a self-satisfied tone to his voice. "Now will you listen?"
Seifer couldn't bring himself to answer, but he nodded briefly all the same. He didn't know what was going on, his heart was still torn to shreds, merely looking at Squall's body brought wetness to trickle from his eyes, and the last thing he felt like doing was listening to a damned Guardian Force. As a matter of fact, he didn't feel like listening to anyone.
"I saw what happened," the blonde man eventually continued, "And I must say that I was thoroughly surprised."
"What the hell do you mean?"
"Him," Alexander motioned towards Squall. "His sacrifice."
"And?" Seifer snapped bitterly, tears choking the word.
Suddenly, the cold sternness seemed to crumple from the strange Guardian Force's face, and he glanced at Seifer in what almost looked like pity. The picture was disturbing in a way, and soothing in another. Perhaps it was the confident green of his gaze, the way the corners of his mouth lost their tight hardness, or the gentleness in his voice when he spoke again – but either way, Seifer found his hatred quenched.
"You really love him, don't you?"
The mourning gunblader's features twitched silently at those words, which had sounded like a statement more than a question, and once more he gulped hard against the constriction in his throat.
"What is it to you?" he choked.
"More than you might think. More than I ever thought," Alexander added vaguely, before he fixed the kneeling blonde with a long stare. "You really don't know who I am, do you?"
"No," Seifer agreed. "I don't."
"I thought so."
The strange, hazy Guardian Force that was the embodiment of a man slowly uncrossed his arms, and as he carefully walked up to Seifer, he dropped low into a perching position, his strong body curled into a perfect arch. There was still about an arm length's distance between the two blondes, but Seifer scowled warningly nonetheless. He had never been one to fear closeness, but he wanted nobody near Squall.
"Eighteen years ago," Alexander said softly, while snaring Seifer's green eyes with his own, "I was known by the name Alexander Almasy."
..::: "Alexander Almasy." :::..
It took a minute for that unexpected revelation to sink in, though Seifer had absolutely no idea what it meant. Puzzled, he stared back at the Guardian, one of his hands wrenching a little harder into the fabric of Squall's blood-strewn shirt.
"Alexander Almasy. That was my name," the blonde man replied blankly, but his face changed at the next remark. "And you are my son."
This revelation, however, did not take any time at all to be absorbed.
Because this one was simply absurd.
Tightening his grip around Squall, Seifer darkened his features with a dangerous frown, banishing all gentleness and patience from his reflection.
"Yeah fucking right. I knew you were just bullshitting me," he hissed rancorously.
"I don't have time to bullshit you. Or should I rather say... you don't."
"I'm your father, whether you'll believe it or not."
Seifer ground his teeth together. This was getting worse by the second. He could not believe that anyone would take the time to trample on him and his feelings in this moment of misery. What the hell ever had gotten into this... thing?
"Guardian Forces don't have kids," he snarled coldly, for a lack of anything better to say.
"Well, I wasn't always like this, of course," Alexander explained, though not without a trace of bitterness to his voice, while waving his arms in a vague gesture. "I died, you see. Eighteen years ago."
"What? The hell are you talking about?"
"You should just listen to me, don't ask so many questions. We don't have much time, but this story needs to be told. I need to find..."
The man that claimed to be Seifer's father halted abruptly, and something came alight in his eyes that the younger blonde couldn't quite decipher. It looked like regret, guilt perhaps, but it was impossible to pin down. Alexander then glanced from Seifer to Squall, and he brought one hand to his mouth as if in thought, shifting a little in his kneeling posture. Then, his face grew stern again.
"You were born in Esthar," he finally continued, his voice oddly dull, "But those years were very... unfit for children. There was a war going on, as you know. The sorceress war. Adel... she... we... Iwas Adel's sorceress knight. And you were just a little boy, not even two years old. You couldn't stay there. It wouldn't have been safe, not with everything that was going on. So I took you to the continent south of the Centra ruins. I knew of an orphanage there, we had discovered it during our search for that strange girl, Ellone."
Alexander watched Seifer's reaction to that bizarre tale very closely, and he could see how the younger man's emerald orbs flared up in protest and confusion.
"Don't look so surprised," the Guardian smiled weakly. "Everyone has family, somewhere. You have parents just like everybody else does. Well... you had, anyway."
"But..." Seifer stuttered, now entirely taken aback. "How... why..."
"Believe me, it wasn't easy to take you away and just leave you on a foreign continent. But I figured that it was for your own safety. Those people there, they seemed... friendly. Much friendlier than Esthar was at that time, anyway. It was the only gift that I ever made you: to bring you away from the war and the bloodshed, away from Esthar... away from your mother. I, however, had no choice but to go back. Adel needed me."
"Who is my mother?"
"She's dead," Alexander replied, grief shadowing his face. "That's all you need to know."
For a moment, Seifer could feel anger lacing his blood at Alexander's stubborn secretiveness, but he calmed down immediately. Contrary to a young Squall, he had never much bothered to wonder about his parents or what had happened to them; it probably wasn't a good time to be picking up different habits now, he decided.
"Alright... then... why were you Adel's sorceress knight? Why would you freely protect someone like her?"
Now, Seifer thought that he saw something like pain flash across the apparition's face, but the expression was gone before he would have been able to take a better look at it.
"She wasn't always... evil," Alexander explained reluctantly, and it was obvious that the topic made him feel uncomfortable. "It's a very long story. Too long to be telling you right now. I'll only tell you what you must know."
"'Must know'? Must know for what?"
"You'll see. Just listen for now, please."
Inwards, Seifer was bristling against those words, but he couldn't help his curiosity.
"After I returned to Esthar, things had already gone very ill," Alexander continued gravely. "Adel had been tricked into confinement. I fought the man that had done it to her... it was a fierce battle that I ended up losing. I died at that man's hands."
"Hold on a second," Seifer interrupted with a sudden hunch. "The man that confined Adel was-"
"Laguna Loire. President of Esthar and Squall Leonhart's father."
This revelation did make Seifer think, heavily so. He stared at the pale brunette in his arms and at the ghostly man before him. There was so much bitterness in the air, borne from a fatal story that was echoing from a past long forgotten.
Somehow, Seifer felt as if he was clawing in a wound that had better remained untouched.
"You were killed by his father...?"
"Yes. And I was filled with grief over my death. That's why I returned, though it took me a few years to figure out how to go about it. Becoming a Guardian Force isn't easy, you know. It's an intricate process, and it usually takes a strong bond to the living world. I guess I was too bitter to pass over into death permanently, and though I knew I couldn't do much for Adel, I was still aching to protect you, my only child. That was my bond. However... I didn't do a very good job."
Suddenly, the Guardian smiled sadly, and his son could almost see himself in that gesture, in those angular features that would curl and stretch just slightly, sparks of natural luminosity lit by a mere upturn of ghostly lips.
Their familiarity could hardly be denied.
"I was selfish," Alexander continued flatly. "I was consumed with anguish over the things that had happened. I cared more about my own revenge than I did about you and your feelings. There were countless times when I should have stopped you, when I should have interfered with the things you were doing and that were done upon you, but I did not. I failed the plan that I had made when I returned to you in that orphanage, when you were only four years old. To be there for you, and to watch over you, at least in spirit form."
"I failed horribly."
"I... don't remember any of this," Seifer tried carefully.
"I know. After all, you did receive me very early in your life, and us Guardian Forces meddle with your memory quite a bit. I'm glad that Edea didn't end up taking me from you, knowing all that. Well, I suppose she left Griever to that girl, Ellone, too."
"I never asked myself where I had gotten you... what was I thinking... I don't remember anything."
"That's fine. It doesn't matter. What matters is that I failed as a guardian and as a father. I should have seen what this boy meant to you, but I wanted to ignore it. To me, he was only the son of the man that took my life. The Child of the Lion... yeah, that was all that he was in my eyes, and I would have gladly seen you kill him."
Alexander cocked his head backwards, gazing into the swirls of red and gold in the sky in what almost looked like longing, but was in fact regret.
"You and Squall are very different, you know," he continued with a strange smile, gluing his sight back onto his son. "You were rivals from day one, and I never thought that you would actually come around to loving each other. I definitely didn't want to think that, either."
Hesitantly, Seifer looked at the boy in his arms, who was beautiful even in death. He was beginning to understand, and yet he was more confused than ever before in his life.
Laguna Loire had killed his father, the sorceress knight of the evil Adel. Seifer had never heard of a man named Alexander Almasy, but then again, the dark years of Adel's rule were never much talked of. His father had been 'living' with him all these years, never lifting a finger to interfere with, well, anything. The man seemed to blame most of his reluctance on Squall, the 'Child of the Lion', or rather so, Alexander's past and Squall's blood.
Child of the Lion...
"What is this 'Child of the Lion' thing?" Seifer finally asked.
"It's just a title, given by the spirits, it doesn't actually hold much meaning. What does hold meaning are the people behind those titles, as well as their fates. The spirit world calls you the Child of the Hunter, and him the Child of the Lion. Once again, it's just petty titles."
Alexander seemed almost annoyed when giving that explanation, and it was obvious that he didn't hold a very high opinion of spirits and their ideas of life and destiny. Yet, he could see that his son was all too intrigued, and if only for Seifer's sake, he continued.
"You, Seifer, carry that name because you possess all traits of a hunter, or a knight if you prefer. Pretty much the same thing in my eyes. You're strong, righteous, noble, unyielding and rather strong headed when it comes to pursuing something that you want. Squall, on the other hand, possesses all the characteristic traits of a lion – he's a loner, proud, ferocious and blessed with an immense tolerance for suffering. You two are like predator and prey - two fates on opposite sides. By your histories and your personalities, you were always meant to be rivals, naturally so."
The man kept glancing back and forth between them, reluctance and admiration both evident in the milky, angular lines of his ghost-like face.
"And yet, despite all that, he willingly gave his life for you. The prey saved the predator..." Alexander muttered in awe. "That is truly rare."
It wasn't until then that Seifer came to grasp something; the deeper meaning behind those revelations perhaps, he couldn't quite say, but it was there, gaining in strength, and it sparked a flame of hope that had already been dead like ash.
"Do something," he suddenly pleaded, his eyes wide like those of a child. "I know you can!! Why else would you be telling me all this?! Kill me if that's what it takes to bring him back, undo what happened, I don't care!!"
The Guardian cast a long, intent look at the lifeless brunette, and he calmly shook his head from side to side, immediately killing the flare that had come alight in Seifer's soul.
"I cannot undo what happened. I cannot take your life for his, either. I'm sure that's not what he would have wanted, anyway."
"Then what is all this good for...?" Seifer breathed whiningly.
"What about your past?" Alexander asked quietly. "Don't you want to hear more?"
"I don't care," the blonde replied fiercely, and he ran one hand across Squall's icy forehead, biting down the tears that threatened to erupt anew. "I don't care about anything but him. I don't give a damn about the past."
Again, the former sorceress knight named Alexander Almasy paused for a while, apparently caught in deep thought. Then, he nodded his head, very peacefully so, as if there were things that he had finally come to understand and acknowledge.
"Perhaps you're right. I see that there is no way to alter what has happened, no matter how much I wish that I could. The past cannot be changed. I guess the only way to set things right is in the here and now."
Seifer's head flicked up in confusion at the sudden raw raspness in that statement, and he saw how Alexander extended an arm, placing his hazy fingers against Squall's temple.
"Don't!" the gunblader snarled, his voice trembling with resolve over defending his friend's body against the man who had hated him so much, but he fell silent as Alexander retracted his hand again in an almost gentle fashion.
"It's not too late yet," the Guardian observed neutrally. "His spirit still resides in his dead shell."
"That doesn't help me!" Seifer hissed bitterly. "I don't have any phoenix downs or life spells!"
"I know that, Seifer."
And with that, Alexander returned his strident green gaze to Seifer's. Immediately, the twenty year old recognized the flickering expression in those eyes – he had seen something similar before, rippling across a surface of deepest blue.
"I have done nothing for you these past years," Alexander said calmly, regret finally seeping into the words. "And though I won't be able to make up for my mistakes as a father and a guardian, maybe I can still strive for absolution."
Seifer sucked in a quick breath.
"What are you-"
"Us Guardian Forces are much more powerful than you might think," Alexander interrupted him. "Surrendering our immortal spirits for someone else can do... strange things. You have seen it for yourself. Squall's guardian Griever sacrificed his spirit to save you and the rest of this world. I guess it's now on me to return the favor. It's time for me to finally... rest... anyway. And I hope that, some day, you can forgive me for all that I have done wrong... son."
As one corner of Alexander's mouth twitched in the semblance of a desperate smile, full of longing for a happy past that neither of the men on that spur had been granted, he turned his gaze away from Seifer, placing his left hand on Squall's motionless chest and the other on his forehead with utmost gentleness.
It was true – he would never be able to change the past, to somehow make it brighter than it had been and chase away the shadows and the pain that littered it, but there was one thing that he could do:
To allow the past to become what it really was, and to give his son and the dead boy in his arms what they really, truly had wished for.
A Future - together.
And with that, he whispered words that Seifer would never come to forget -
"This is my final gift. Cherish it, cherish it every day, and may you forever keep the happiness that you almost lost."
- Words that commenced a chain reaction, a movement in the air and in the flow of time, and that brought the spirit of Alexander Almasy to slowly perish in a soft nova of light, shining from within and seeping from vanishing hands into the fine lines of Squall Leonhart's body. Seifer gasped harshly, unable to comprehend what was going on, and he even went so far as to gingerly stretch his fingers for the spirit of his father, but he could not touch it. There was a quiet whistle that surrounded him, a sensation of loss that caused his already aching heart to contract -
And then, there was life.
As the light and the spirit of his father were fading, a last smile stretching Alexander's lips in an infinite reflection of love and gentleness, Seifer could feel the body in his arms stir abruptly. Squall's chest was rising sharply, sucking in a desperate mouthful of oxygen, causing twitching eyelids to snap wide open over orbs of most sanguine and most alive ocean blue.
..::: Alive. :::..
The brunette was coughing harshly, his frail frame convulsed by shivers that were common to the sensation of resurrection, but he was still enveloped by a last shadow of that spiritual glow. It soothed him, running down his skin with a touch soft as feathers, closing the slash wound that had been inflicted upon his arm and curing all the cracks deep within his body. Only as there were no more injuries to heal, no more mistakes to undo, the soul of the sorceress knight Alexander finally drifted away with a quiet sigh, leaving the mortal world for once and for all.
Breathless, frozen with every muscle, Seifer stared down upon the young man in his arms, his eyes simply not daring to believe the wonder.
The awakened brunette was gazing back at him blankly, his face contorted with confusion and disbelief at the harsh outcry. He had been snatched from the jaws of death, returned to the man that loved him, granted life in return for an immortal spirit, but he had no idea what was going on.
Seifer gave him no time to understand. He crushed Squall against his chest, crying and shouting and laughing all at the same time. He didn't care about his own wounds, his own weakness. Squall was his strength, and he never wanted to let go again.
"Squall, Squall, Squall!!"
His breath was hitching in his throat, and he couldn't help the tears that spilled from his eyes. He didn't want to, anyway. He had never once felt happier or more blessed in his entire life.
The feeling was unbelievable, it threatened to burst his soul with all its might, and it was more than he had ever dared to hope for.
In his ironclad embrace, the brunette shifted slightly, and he muttered something into Seifer's clothes that the blonde could not understand. Finally, still rambling hysterically, Seifer could push himself to ease their bodies apart. Squall's lips were stretched into a confused smile, but it faltered slightly as he saw the tears in the blonde gunblader's eyes, though they seemed overshadowed by the joy in Seifer's voice.
"Oh my god... oh my fucking god... you're back, Hyne, you're really back!"
Squall smiled yet again, and he used his thumb to wipe away the wetness that spangled Seifer's skin.
"Y-yeah," he whispered unsurely, his voice still cracking from the strain. "Even though I have no idea how I-"
He had no chance to finish that sentence, because Seifer swallowed his questions with the deepest, most heartfelt kiss that had ever been borne from the lips of any living or dead being. It was him who was trembling now, afraid of Squall leaving him ever again. His arms snaked around the brunettes back, pulling him close to where their bodies almost melted together. He could feel Squall embracing him just as vigorously, while their tongues were dancing in the most ancient rhythm that the world knew.
Finally, Squall broke the kiss, and his lips seemed to lift to a grin.
"Hey, calm down," he chuckled softly. "I'm not going anywhere."
"I-I thought I had lost you..."
The brunette frowned a little at that remark, and he remembered only too well what had happened. Immediately, he glanced at the wounds etched into Seifer's flesh, concern streaking his voice as he spoke.
"It's nothing. I don't feel it."
"I can imagine," Squall smiled, but he pulled out of Seifer's embrace and sank upon his shins before the blonde all the same. "Let me take care of it."
Before Seifer could have protested, Squall had brought his hand to his forehead, channeling the energies of a curaga that he unleashed upon his hurt friend. It soothed the blonde's injuries immediately, completely closing even some of the deeper ones. Squall repeated the process until he could rest assured that Seifer's energies had been mostly restored. Then, he drew a deep breath, studying the gunblader that would not take his eyes off him.
"Better?" he asked gently.
"I've never been better in my entire life."
Squall blushed faintly at that statement, and though his skin was still a little pale, he seemed to be glowing from within. He was so beautiful that it brought tears to Seifer's eyes once more, and he threatened to break down crying like a child. Squall attempted to stand, wanting to pull Seifer up with him to draw him into a real, comforting hug, but something suddenly hit the floor with a soft clatter.
Seifer blinked, finding a piece of paper and a flat, plastic box laying next to Squall's right thigh. The stuff had obviously slipped out of the brunette's pocket, and Seifer stretched his hand for them, taking them into his palm to gaze at them in confusion.
The paper looked oddly familiar.
"What is this?" he inquired curiously.
The blush gracing Squall's high cheek bones intensified, and he slid a little closer to Seifer's body, shuddering in bliss at the comfortable heat and the soft breath that tingled across his skin as Seifer turned to him.
"That's the paper plane you made."
Indeed, the blonde suddenly remembered. It was the origami plane he had folded out of Squall's note, the one that the SeeD had written before their date. He vaguely recalled having set it onto their dining table. The paper was all dishevelled and scrunched up now from being shoved into Squall's pocket, but it was definitely the same.
"You took it?"
"Yeah," Squall admitted, embarrassment blending with the clear tone of his voice. "I figured you'd just toss it, since it has my writing on it and stuff... I mean, you were angry enough. So I took it."
"You're silly," the blonde replied lightly, but he was touched deep within. "I'd never toss anything that has to do with you."
Then he pointed at the flat, dark blue plastic container.
"And what's this?"
"That," Squall drawled uneasily, "Is something I meant to give to you last night... at least I think it was last night... it seems so long ago, I don't even know anymore."
"Can I open it?"
"Yeah. Of course."
As Seifer opened the lid of the box with a soft click, he stared in awe upon a shining, silver necklace that seemed fairly short, the kind that the blonde loved so much, and that was embellished with a pendant in the fine shape of a cross – the same type of cross that adorned Seifer's most favorite trench coat.
"It's beautiful," the blonde stuttered in awe.
Squall shrugged softly. He definitely was not used to making other people gifts, particularly not the man that he loved. Seifer gazed at him in disbelief, the necklace now in his hand instead of in the velvet inlay of the box. As Squall nodded at him encouragingly, he pulled the brunette close once more, breathing hotly against his skin as he buried his head in the crook of Squall's neck.
"Thank you," he whispered, powerful emotions grating every of his words.
The SeeD nodded gently, his hand tracing circles at Seifer's back.
"I love you," he murmured, rocked inwardly at the beauty of those words.
"Hyne, I love you too, Squall," Seifer replied, his voice trembling with passion as he tightened his hold. "You have no idea..."
They sat that way for a while, buried in each other's embrace, relishing the love and the happiness that they had been given. Everything around them was suddenly good and beautiful, especially the peaceful cries of seagulls in the distance and the gentleness of the sun that warmed them.
It truly was a gift.
As Seifer remembered, he edged their bodies apart, though not without breathing another soft kiss on Squall's lips. The brunette's eyes were sparkling happily as Seifer fastened the gorgeous present around his neck, marvelling at the streak of silver on tanned skin. Then, the blonde took the wretched paper plane, and he refolded it with almost reverent care.
"Come on," he said, taking Squall's hand and pulling them both up into a firm standing position.
"What are you doing?"
But Seifer didn't answer, and Squall followed his lead to the ledge of the spur willingly. Far, far beneath them, the waves were crashing ceaselessly upon the rocks, breaking into foamy caps of purest white. The sun was still descending, tinting the water in hues of crimson and gold. This was the ocean that they both loved – endless, powerful and deep.
It was an ocean of memories, and an ocean that resembled their love more than anything else.
Squall squeezed his hand very gently, and Seifer gazed back at him in affection. After all these years, his wish of loving Squall and being loved in return had finally been granted, and no man could have possibly been happier than Seifer that very moment – nobody, except for Squall.
Finally, Seifer cast another long look at the plane he held between his fingers, reminiscing a story that had mattered little to him altogether, but that had been told by the man that had saved Squall's life.
..::: "This is my final gift." :::..
And as he launched the plane into the air and watched it dance and twirl on the currents of the winds, drifting away to the fathomless waters that lay before them, Seifer smiled at the memory of his father and at the future that he had been given.
Squall's blue eyes glanced at him in bewilderment at those soft words, but Seifer merely shrugged, pulling Squall away from the drop-off to the sea.
"It's a long story. I'll tell you on the way back home."
Squall bore the heels of his biker boots into the rocky earth, his hand still firmly seizing Seifer's. There was love in the fine lines of the brunette's face, but there was fear also. Seifer blinked in confusion at the sudden change, overwhelmed and slightly worried.
"Squall? What's wrong?"
"Seifer..." the brunette said, concern meshing with the way he ground out the blonde's name. "Are you still planning on leaving Balamb like you said you would? Are you... are you still... going to leave me...?"
The older man stood frozen at that question for a moment, startled deep within by the raw and unguarded emotions spilling from Squall's every feature. Squall's intention, and the true meaning of those careful words, had been very clear.
..::: "Please. Don't leave me." :::..
It did not take long before Seifer's chafed lips eased into the most reassuring of smiles, a beautiful reflection of the same smile that had saved Squall's life mere minutes before.
'I'll never leave you.'
And as he used their entwined hands to pull Squall into his arms and draw him into a fierce embrace, he calmly shook his head from side to side, gazing down upon the shorter brunette with all the love that he felt from the very bottom of his heart. His jade green eyes shone sincerely from behind tresses of purest gold, and Seifer's response was embedded in that one silent kiss that he placed upon lips that were still parted in question - mutely promising all that he was and ever would be to this one guy alone.
'I'll always be with you, Squall.'
Seifer's body needed no words to speak a powerful language of love, trust and dedication. And when Squall eased into Seifer's touch, matching the blonde's vigorous heartbeat with his own and laughing blissfully inside as well as out, there was no doubt at all that he had understood.
Sometimes, the best kind of answer has no sound.
Well, this is it. This is truly the last chapter to "Let Me Make It Alright". I cannot thank each and every one of you, my readers, enough for your wonderful and faithful support throughout the length of this story. It would be nothing without you, and I'm not ashamed of admitting that. LMMIA was born out of boredom at some point, with no real drive or direction to it, but your interest, comments and concerns has turned it into what it is: damned 50 chapters and 153,673 words long, each of which I enjoyed putting onto 'paper'.
For that, I thank you, because I probably even had more fun writing than you did reading.
Now, I hope that, after all, you enjoyed the end. One way or another, I just couldn't leave Squall dead. I'm too much of a sucker for happy endings, I feel somehow unsatisfied if a story doesn't have a happy ending. I know this chapter is probably some of the greatest mush I have ever written, but I think the world can always do with some more mush. There is angst enough, isn't there?
There are plot twists galore, but I do hope that I could make them somehow believable. I've always wondered about Seifer's past, his family, and this is the theory I came up with. Maybe it'll make some sense. I decided on not going into details on who Seifer's mother is, but maybe you can figure that one out on your own, I'm sure you can. Anyway, I believe that Seifer is not the kind of guy to be brooding on the past too much, that's why I didn't have him pry for it (it would have been pointless, anyway.). I settled on drawing the story (and Seifer's past) to a close instead of pulling up another whole side-arch.
...Hope it worked!
That said, it's now time for Seifer and Squall to have some fun on their own, without me. I've put them through enough. Maybe I will come around to writing a sequel to LMMIA some day, but I'm not sure. I have too many other ideas in my head as of right now, but we'll see. If you want, that is! Of course, I will not stop torturing SxS entirely. "The Devil's Own" is currently in process, and I also have plans for a SxS high school AU. That will be out there one of these days.
"Yeah... this is it", to put it with Squall's words. It's almost painful to bring everything to an end after over 8 months of work, but alas, it can't go on forever. I cherish every chapter, but more so, I cherish every single review that I received from you guys. Thank you just so very much. I'm out of words. If you still have any questions about the story or just want to talk, feel free to email me. I love to chatter and mail!
Once more, thank you for all the support and criticism. I love you all to death for that.
.oO Angry Angel Oo.
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