make me smile
you've done it all, you've broken every code
blue eyes, blue eyes, how come you tell so many lies?
come up and see me, make me smile
or do what you want, running wild
there's nothing left, all gone and run away
maybe you'll tarry for a while
-- "make me smile," steve harley
"Oi, Fuujin! Where's your main man?"
Fuujin, pausing in the act of towelling her hair and stealing glances out the hotel window, tried not to look guilty. She shrugged. "Around." Actually he was down at the docks again; she'd been watching him when she thought Raijin wasn't looking. But she wasn't about to admit that.
Raijin didn't look convinced. He took advantage of his greater height and plucked the hotel towel from her hands, grinning down at the disarray of her damp hair. "Nahh, Fuu-sama. I thought I saw him headed back down to the water. Had a funny look on his face." He imitated Seifer to perfection, eyebrows drawn together in a familiar irritated scowl.
They knew him too well, Fuujin thought, lifting her shoes from the discarded heap at the foot of one of their hotel beds.
What disarray. No wonder the hotel staff had looked at them funny that morning, as they'd checked in. Each of them wanting to wash saltwater from sticky hair and clean their stiff clothes, everything had gotten tossed on the floor in their dash for the showers. Belts, beads, and, now, two pairs of boots. There had been three pairs, when Seifer had been in the shower. They'd raced each other, rather comically, to the two showers-- and Seifer was boss, and Raijin was... well, big. So she'd had to wait.
Seifer was already gone when she'd finished, nothing of his left in their hastily dropped clothespile. Nothing? She poked around, finding Raijin's armband and her own tangled in a hopeless metal knot. Giving that up as a lost cause, she realized that the dark shadow beneath Raijin's vest was actually-- Seifer's gloves.
She blinked, a little giddy. What was she doing? Oh yes, putting her shoes on. Was she going somewhere? She wasn't sure, but she noticed that Raijin was looking at her oddly. Expecting her to say something? He was starting to fidget, but she suppressed her smile, her cool exterior the only familiar thing left to cling to. "And?"
Raijin rolled his eyes, snatching one of her boots from her and gesticulating with it. "Earth to Fuujin! I just thought you should go TALK to him or something, ya know?" At her glare, he added, "Seems like there's somethin' on his mind. And you know he wouldn't listen to ME." He winked. "He doesn't beat YOU up."
Her lip twitched, and she couldn't swallow the laugh. "Me, talk? Ridic--" But she couldn't even finish the word, Raijin was putting her boots on, practically lifting her into them.
"That's the spirit, Fuu-sama! Knew I could count on you. I'll find some dinner, you go get the boss."
Fuujin fought for balance, half-leaning on the bed. "RAI--" But he was out the door, tossing a smile over his shoulder at her.
She wasn't going out there. Not alone. Hyne only knew what Seifer was thinking. She didn't want to know. She didn't care. She--
She had lifted his gloves into her lap, the worked leather stiff and soft against the unconscious smoothing motion of her unsteady fingers.
Her voice was very small. "Fuck," she whispered to the air.
Seifer was sitting on the edge of the dock, one knee drawn up to his chest, thinking. It was coming on evening, and the sun dipping to the horizon painted his face with golden brightness, his profile edged against the sky.
Her still-wet silver hair dripping down her nose (damn Raijin for stealing her towel!), Fuujin stood quietly behind him. To interrupt him was the last thing she wanted. But now, this far, neither could she walk away, leaving him alone.
He ran a hand through the damp softness of his hair-- and Fuujin couldn't look away, fascinated. His hands were bare, his gloves in her own hands. Just that simple gesture, fingers smoothing over his head, and she felt as if she were violating his privacy... seeing his fingers naked.
She couldn't remember if she had ever seen his fingers before.
Of course she should just leave; he was remembering things, that much was obvious. Ever since the Garden had passed them by, he was thinking. Dangerous. Surely he would have told them if he'd wanted company.
And whose company would he want, anyway?
But hells it was hard to be still-- her blue uniform itched as it dried, and her boots were still a little squelchy. She shifted uncomfortably, silent as possible.
She thought that maybe it had always been like this, Seifer dreaming, and herself three steps behind, keeping watch. In the summer's end light, the balance of it was beautiful, in a bittersweet sort of way, and she could forget the loneliness at the edges. She was glad for it, to have him at all--
The moment shattered, as a wet chill shivered through her and she sneezed before she could help it.
Seifer stiffened instantly, but just as quickly relaxed. Without turning his head, he said over his shoulder, "Oi, Fuujin. Didn't hear you coming. Sneaking up on me?"
"No," she returned softly, rationalizing that she was not lying. It would only really be sneaking up if she'd planned actually to confront him.
"Well you blew your cover," he did turn then, and looked at her so keenly she felt herself transparent. "Caught the wind, Fuu?" he teased.
She shoved damp bangs out of her vision, frowned. "Caught?" she said dryly. "Harnessed."
His gaze went distant, flicking out to the horizon. She swore silently at herself, not wanting to remind him-- of anything, much less the wind-power she'd ridden to bring him safe home. There were no words to reassure him that nothing had changed, because it wasn't truth.
"I didn't say thank you, Fuujin," he spoke abruptly, not looking at her but out at the sky. "You saved my--"
"Necessity," she interrupted. Don't thank me, Seifer Almasy, it wasn't a choice. What I did I had to do; I cannot live without-- She retreated from that line of thought, afraid of falling with no hope of flight.
He looked at her sidelong. "Well," he said wryly, "since you didn't come here to talk..." He left the question unasked.
Which meant that it was up to her, to go or to stay.
What the hell. She held out his gloves to him. "Company?"
He took the warm leather from her outstretched hand, touching the fingers of his gloves as if he'd never seen them before. When he opened his mouth she expected a dismissal, a casual, "Thanks but no thanks, Fuujin." But he tucked the gloves in his trenchcoat pocket and sighed. "Yeah. That'd be-- nice." The smile narrowed his eyes, arctic blue in the hot sunset light. It might have been her imagination, but she thought his shoulders relaxed a little as he sidled over on the edge of the pier, making room for her. "C'mon in, the water's great," he jibed, dipping a booted foot into the water to splash idly at her.
She tilted her head at him, surprised into a smile. "Thanks."
The dock was silent for a long time as they sat there, until the slow golden wash of sunlight was swallowed into the purpling clouds, and the sky turned deep and transparent, letting the first stars peek through. Fuujin felt poised on the edge of forever, time slowed to nothing, and so afraid to speak. She wished there were something she could say, but she was Fuujin, and of course the words weren't coming.
It was growing darker, a summer sort of chill lifting off the water.
Fuujin blinked, the sound of Seifer's voice unexpected in the water-lapping stillness. She hadn't realized she was shivering-- nor had she realized that he had been looking at her. Swallowing, she shook her head. "No."
He lifted an eyebrow, shrugging out of his coat. "Oh, okay. You won't be needing this then, I guess." And he draped the trenchcoat around her shoulders, still warm from his heat, smelling of leather and metal and something hot like cinnamon.
She was too grateful to be embarrassed, laughing silently. "Chivalry," she said.
"Damn straight." He pulled the collar up around her ears, making her feel small and selfconscious. He met her gaze for a long moment, considering her. "You look kinda good in my coat." She stared right back, unwilling to back down under his scrutiny. Out of his coat, his finely-muscled arms glinted pale in the twilight, outstretched like the twin arms of the cross on his vest. "Hn," he said at last. "But of everything I don't know why you stay with me, Fuu."
Dizzy with his logic jump, she frowned. "What?"
Seifer gestured broadly to the oncoming night, as if he wanted to pluck down the stars like so much fruit. "All the crazy shit that's happened. Why the sorceress chose me. Why Leonhart turned out a-- hero. Why am I even fucking here, for Hyne's sake. I was dead--"
"Dreaming," Fuujin corrected, reflexively. Thinking too hard made her head ache. He couldn't have been dead, that would mean--
He held up a finger, covered her lips. When he spoke, it was very quietly. "I was dead, Fuujin."
She turned her head away; the touch of his fingertip had burned.
"And now I'm here. Again." Fuujin couldn't meet his eyes, looking desperately out over the broad face of the water. After a moment, Seifer said, "I think I felt it when Leonhart and his friends made it through-- when he fell out of time compression." He made a face, touching his scar. "Damn head hurt too much for it NOT to have been Leonhart."
Fuujin startled herself by asking something she had sworn to herself that she never would. It must have been the night air, swirling cool around her face, feeling ripe and full of promise. Or maybe it was the heat of his coat, set so gently around her. "Loved him?"
Seifer's breath caught, his eyes flinching shut. "You-- you used the past tense," he said tightly, his fingers balled into fists. "Hell. You know how sometimes you have to leave the bullet in, so the wound can close? And if you take it out, you'll die? I love him like that." He opened his eyes, facing her with sudden anger. "Dammit Fuu, why do you care?" But before she could find words to apologize, he closed his eyes again, voice strained. "And why do I still want him? Fuck. So many 'why's."
Seeking to unsay what she had spoken, Fuujin lifted a tentative hand and actually touched his scar. His eyes flew open, panicked. "Fuu!" But he didn't wince away, mouth open in wordless supplication, silent under her hand. "Leonhart," she spoke carefully. "You." He was watching her curiously as she traced the hard line between his brows. "Match."
"Hmph. Rivals," he muttered under his breath.
She shook her head. "Destiny."
When he moved his hand she thought for certain he would roughly brush her hand away . But he mirrored her inquisitive motion and drew a firm finger across the band of her eyepatch. She twitched involuntarily. "That hurt?" he asked quickly.
"N-no," she managed.
His hand was terribly gentle, seeking the rough edge of her scar under the patch. "Though we are no strangers to pain, are we?"
Her pulse was racing as she shook her head, unable to blink as he lowered his head to hers, scar touching eyepatch for a long, heart-thundering moment. "Pain," he whispered, so close she could feel his breath, "makes us who we are."
She willed her voice to stay steady. "Yes--"
Interrupting, he lifted off her eyepatch with unsubtle fingers, pushing it aside to touch the eyelid beneath. "...Makes you beautiful."
Fuujin stiffened, feeling herself dissolving, exposed and bleeding at the edges. "Seifer." It was barely a name, a ragged exhaled plea. Don't flatter me. Don't-- don't touch me. I cannot guarantee my silence any longer. "Beautiful?" She tried not to falter on the word.
There was that depth to his eyes again. "Yeh. Like Hyperion is beautiful. Dangerous, Fuu. Sharp."
Dimly she was grateful that she wouldn't cry, that there was nothing enough in her to leak tears. Instead, though, she found herself actually blushing, in spite of herself. "Thanks."
He looped an arm casually around her shoulders-- as if she couldn't tell, as if it didn't make her knees weak. Damn him, infiltrating each of her defenses, one by one. "Nahh, Fuu, why do you thank me for the truth?"
"For-- for noticing."
He laughed. "Hell yeah, I noticed. I remember. You were only on one knee, when anyone else would have been on both. You didnít run away-- thatís my Fuu."
She tried not to remember, but half her face was aching almost as if the T-Rexaur had just swiped her, as if she'd just been rescued by her-- knight-- Viciously she shook her head. "Stupid."
Not to be outsaid, he shook her by her shoulder. "I won't have you badmouthing my second in command, now." He smirked. "Never say stupid. Say... 'determined.'"
She watched reflected starlight glinting off the water. "Remember you." Half-smiling, she whispered, "Entrance, brilliant."
Other days, that would have been all he needed to hear... but now, to her dismay, he was not distracted by her flattery. He shrugged it off with a self-deprecatory laugh. "Of course you remember. Arrogant bastard that I was."
Maybe then it occurred to her that he wasn't going anywhere, that he would stay with his arm wrapped around her shoulder until she asked him to move. Which, for all that she was agonizingly aware of it, she wasn't going to. She dared to rest her head against his collarbone, leaning into his warmth. "Foolish," she said, but without any real feeling.
His voice was keen in the seeping darkness. "And yet you follow me? You donít have to. Why, Fuu?"
There, he'd asked her. He'd been hedging around it for days now, and it was surprisingly easy to level with him. She'd known her answer long enough, it was as if she'd already spoken it. There was a warmth rising in her chest, and she spoke into his neck. "Simple. Love you."
For a moment he didn't even breathe, and there was nothing but the absolute silence of evening all around them. "Dangerous," he murmured at last. "To love someone that much. You know that, don't you?" His voice was uncharacteristically uncertain, but his touch did not waver, only drawing her closer into the circle of his arms. "Oh, Fuu. Fuu." He held her face, as he had done those years ago, wiping away her blood but not the pain. "You want me to say it," he said, challenging. She opened her mouth but he went on, "But you know I won't."
She felt her heart could break, falling against the sheer face of nothing... Until he leaned in, stealing her breath, minting her with his sigil. "But you, of all people, should know the value of things unsaid."
And he kissed her, not gently, submitting only by doing it, that in itself his surrender. She felt her heart taking wing, buoyed up into the starfields above them.
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