Authors Notes: Okay, raise your hand if you've written a FF story and been annoyed that your characters never suffer enough b/c they have the wonder Cures? Sounds too much like Godmoding for my tastes. So I added in some made-up facts about Cures to make things a little more interesting.

Pleasantly Depressed

Chapter 7 - Of Reruns and Laundry

By Skandranon

There are few things more satisfying than a Perfect Shot. Unfortunately, Irvine didn't have one.

He didn't know if it was the wind suddenly shifting ever so slightly, or if Billy boy did the shifting, or if the gun was faulty, or if it was him that was faulty. The shot went wide and grazed the mark's cheek, tearing off most of his right ear, but hardly doing anything fatal. Now the suits knew he was up there, and he wasn't going to get a second chance.

And to top it all off, Squall decided that meant he should whip out that glorified steak knife of his and pull the "Death from Above" stunt. Irvine had no idea how he managed to do it without breaking his leg.

By the time he reached the bottom of the clock tower stairs and bolted into the street, most of the suits were injured or dead, Billy boy was in pieces, and Squall was limping. Well, that answers that question.

"Overkill, Squall. Overkill!" he shouted as his shot took off a bodyguard's kneecap. Squall was in no position to argue, and quickly hobbled over to Irvine's shadow. "Broken or sprained?"

Squall winced on one of the steps and bumped into the sniper's back, his weight heavy. "Don't know. Can't use it."

Irvine knew he should have stocked more backup shotgun ammo. He was running out of it faster than he was running out of bodyguards. "Well, we can't Cure you until we find out, unless you want me to have to reset it later. Can you hobble the hell outa here if you lean on my shoulder?"

Gripping his gunblade stubbornly, Squall's glare would have made a behemoth back down. "I'll make it."

Gotta love it when he goes into Lion mode. The "Come Light or Lunar Cry" attitude, the stamina that just won't lay down and die...oh no, I see where this line of thought is going. What have I told you about doing that, brain? If you don't cut it out, we're going to try electroshock treatment. Girls good. Guys bad. Selphie good. Squall bad...ish. Just call me Engaged!Irvine. Oh shit, I forgot to call Selphie and tell her the mission was delayed... "How much do you weigh?"

"What?"

"Weight! Yours! What is?"

"...165."

"Good enough." Slinging his shotgun around so that the leather strap kept it across his back, he turned, picked Squall up, and bolted down the street.

Squall was too stunned to react immediately, much to Irvine's relief. The smaller man wasn't as heavy as he would've thought, but it probably had something to do with adrenaline. He made it about thirty feet before he felt a biting slash across his hip, and fifty feet before a sharper one whipped across his neck. By the time he felt the one across his shoulder, he was at the corner and quickly dove out of range.

After that, it was just running down the empty night streets of Deling, trying to outdistance any cops and being thankful that none of the surviving bodyguards could walk anymore.

He made it about five blocks before his burden decided it had had enough. "Put me the fuck down, Kinneas!"

The grungy apartment building to the left looked suitable enough. Once in the main door, there was a green/brown little hallway with elevators and a table. The table would do. "Putting down. Take off your boots and roll up your pants. Which leg is is?"

"Left. You're hurt."

"Hurt? Oh, right. Cure." He placed his hands gently but steadily on the leg, massaging a bit and trying to ignore the pained "nngh" sounds Squall was making. "Doesn't feel broken. Could be slightly fractured, but a Cura will take care of that." He cast the spell, then checked the leg over again. "Seems good. Try standing on it."

Squall did so, without any hint of pain. "You're still hurt."

Frowning, Irvine put a hand to his neck, and was surprised by the amount of warmth there. Pulling it back, he let out a huff of air in surprise. His hand was completely red, and dripping on the not-so-clean linoleum. Damn, no wonder he felt lightheaded. "Cura." Too bad instant fixed don't bring back lost blood.

"We can't go outside like this." Squall was right. Both of them were soaked in red. It was seeping through their clothes, matted in their hair, and dripping from their skin. Not as unusual a sight on the Deling streets as you might think, but still likely to cause a stir.

It's amazing how often that happened. Here I am, a normal, semi-long distance gunner. You would expect me to be able to keep relatively clean, wouldn't you? Sure, the occasional splash of far-squirting blood, or the random flying body part, but no, that's not how it works. Because I'm a semi-long distance gunner who works with short-distance fighters, and dammit all if I don't have to climb into the fray to drag an ass out more often than not. Good thing shotguns are so powerful up close...

Pacing the hallway, Irvine checked out their new hideout, shaking his head to attempt to dislodge the sudden dizziness he was feeling. "There's a door back here" or is it two doors? Uh-oh, double vision "that probably leads to a janitor closet or laundry room." He tried the handle unlocked and peered inside. "Laundry room. You up for sleeping on a dryer?"

"Done worse. I'll take first watch."

Irvine glanced at the black of the doorknob. "Won't have to. It locks. Get your scrawny Squall butt in here."

"Scowling, Squall stalked over... and that's really all you can call it. Stalking Or possibly slinking...no, he's not the slinky type ...and selected the clothes hamper in the corner as his perch of choice.

He chuckled and went over to join him, taking the dryer. "Next time, Squall, take the stairs, okay? You're a bit more than I'm used to lifting."

"The stairs would've taken too long."

"No, I meant the...back...stairs..."

And Squall was giving him a pointedly intense stare. "There were back stairs?"

Trying to appear relaxed, Irvine smirked and ran his fingers through his...blood matted and tangled ow hair. "Yeah, the...I didn't bother to mention them, since I didn't expect to...I don't miss that often, you know. There was a ladder leading down the back of the tower into an alley. It was supposed to be our escape route."

Breathing a heavy sigh, Squall slumped forward. "You're an idiot."

"Oh?" Irvine smirked, content to have earned at least some type of emotion from the Ice Prince. "Then I guess we're even. Hey, the main thing is, we got the bad guy, right?"

"..."

"Aaaand we're back to the non-talking. Mind if I smoke?"

"Yes."

"Want one?"

"No."

"Suppose you'd rather choose more exciting ways of killing yourself."

"..."

Irvine wince at the sudden coldness on the brunette's face. "Sorry, that was below the belt. Didn't mean it like it sounded."

"..."

He sighed, then got a little worried about how woozy that small action made him feel. "Well...I...at least Billy boy...Harding...person's dead. Still say it wasn't necessary to dissect him...though." Strange, his tongue seemed to be on strike. He knew what he wanted to...say, but when he said it, he didn't say it like he thought he said it...great, now his brain had joined the picket line. Before he could get too annoyed, he felt a solid hand on his shoulder, and looked over to find Squall staring at him with a speculative expression.

"Are you alright?"

Irvine blinked. Ooh yay, spots. "I'm ...fine..." And the spots were dancing around in little circles. He wondered if there was a spot party he hadn't been invited to. "Just...the blood loss...thing...I'm a bit...out of it. "Leaning back, he yelped as the room suddenly shifted and went dark and he found himself sliding off the dryer.

Goodness, did he hurt himself doing that?

Don't know. Squall hoisted himself off the hamper and knelt beside the fallen cowboy. "You still alright?"

"Mrfa," Irvine stated, then glared suspiciously at the ceiling for a moment. "Nngu," he added after some thought.

Squall shook his head in frustration. Great, late stage symptoms of blood loss. Bet his adrenaline just shut down and he's feeling the effects all at once.

He's not bleeding anymore, so he should be fine, right? He needs to get some protein into him.

And some B-12. "Irvine?" he waved his hand in front of his companion's eyes, but Irvine apparently wasn't in a fully conscious mood. "You've got the aftereffects of blood loss. I'm going to prop your feet up and then go find you something to eat or drink."

"Squall" Irvine pondered, though in his current state is was more like 'Skwa?' "You goin'...lif mear?"

I can't understand him. Shiva, translate?

He said, You're going to leave me? He's not thinking straight, Squall, try to keep things simple for him.

"Just for a little while, to get you something to...drink. He's not going to be able to eat in his condition.

"Doan...lif..."

He said, Don't leave. He's probably thinking you're going to abandon him or something.

Why would he think that? I'd never run off on another SeeD unless it was absolutely necessary.

Pretend he's a child, Squall. You can't explain things logically to a child.

The things I do for missions... "It's going to be alright, Irvine. I'm coming right back, okay? I'm coming right back." There, is that better, your icy majesty?

Squall, you're doing this for him, not me. Support your team mate.

There were a pair of nearly-empty vending machines in the lobby, stocked with sugary food and drinks and...beer? Squall shook his head. Galbadians are strange. He fished some change out of his pockets, said a mental blessing for Quistis insisting he bring local currency, and chose a bland energy drink with a happy girl on the label. It dropped, and he nabbed it checked the label. Iron, good, protein...it had B-12. Perfect.

He reentered the laundry room and locked the door, then struggled with an uncooperative Irvine to force the liquid down his throat.

"Sahfuu," he protested after the first gulp, then downed the rest quickly enough.

He said that it's awful, by the way.

When he was finished, Squall let him gently drop back to the tiles. "Are you still dizzy." So long as he doesn't pass out, we shouldn't have a problem.

Irvine blinked at a spot on the wall as if he had never seen anything like it before. "Flirs code."

Floor's cold.

But he's wearing his...coat... "Irvine, I need you to sit up. I'm going to take your coat off." With some difficulty and a little aid from the very very damned-heavy Galbadian, Squall managed to drag the offending garment off. Well, no wonder he's cold. It's soaked through with blood. His neck wound must have been dripping down his back. A little effort and Irvine was propped against the washing machine, blinking irregularly at Squall as he scavenged the dryer. Thank you, lazy people who leave their clothes lying around. He selected a shirt a muted shade of blue and a pair of black jeans for himself, and a forest green shirt and some khakis for Irvine, then dumped the rest in a pile on the floor. He hauled Irvine onto the pile and rolled him onto his back, where he seemed to be quite comfortable now.

Pulling off his own jacket, he fingered a drying stain on the leather. It's going to be hell to get the red out of the fur, he thought with disappointment.

People dye furs all sorts of strange colors these days. It could be a statement.

I don't want to make statements. I just want people to leave me the hell alone. Shaking his head, he stripped off his shirt which was now an interesting blend of stark white and copper red, kinda like a yin-yang he donned the new one, then rubbed his chest absently. Irvine's going to have the GF of back aches when he wakes up, but he's out of the danger levels now.

Squall, are you injured still? You're in pain.

No, it's just...aw crap. In all the rushing, he had missed the beginning pangs of a building attack. The chest pains were of a distracting level now, the waves ramming against his ribs as if to tear them apart. And then they bypassed aggravating level and moved straight into agony level. Hyne, this is the last thing I need right now...ow. Struggling to sit down, Squall clung to the side of the washer fervently as he fought to ride out the pain. It passes, it always does. Just have to hold on until it does. Dammit, where are the pain pills when you really need them?

It'll be okay, Squall. I'm going to ask you questions to distract you. Who's the president of Esthar?

...Laguna...my father...jeez, pick harder questions... The anguish didn't look like it was going to stop anytime soon. It was swelling, more furious with every breath, and now it had spread to his shoulders and neck. Strangely, he felt the areas going numb beneath the growing sensations. Had it ever been this bad before?

What is Seifer's last name?

Almas...y... It was getting difficult to think. His head was numbing now, his mind feeling as if it had been soaked in syrup, and the syrup was congealing. Shiv...I...

Squall? Hold on Squa-

 

 

 

Author's Extra Note "Get your scrawny Squall butt in here." This chapter is dedicated to Scrawny Squall on Cosplay Lab, who is one of the best Squall cosplayers out there. I grovel before your magnificence. Also, information on blood loss symptoms was provided by my good buddypal Mike, who is my very own Squall. Shibby!

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