Author's Notes: All Final Fantasy stuff/characters are not owned by me and all rights apply to the lucky bastards who do own them. Slightly OOC behaviour, but I'll play with them any way I want too in my sick and twisted brain.
Read ‘n review people. Hungry author craves the taste of reviews.
Mondo thanks to my beta, Leia Avenrose. You make me sound so damn good, girl.
Part 5. Guerrilla warfare by the nefarious plot bunnies continues. Arrgh! Medic, I've been hit!
~ indicates character POV ** indicates internal conversation // indicates emotions/feelings
The Push It Arc
Part 5 - Push It Cinqo
By Iron Dog
Instinct took over where thought would have failed me. I held Squall and rolled off the edge of the bed with him. I landed on the floor with Squall on top of me. That pleasant fact didn't escape my body, but my brain was trying to deal with more important shit, like keeping Squall and my skin in one piece from the wrath of a Sorceress.
When nothing fried the bed, I risked a peek over the edge. Rinoa still stood in the doorway and she looked confused. Perfect. A confused Sorceress.
"Squall? What's going on here? Are you all right?" Rinoa asked in a strained voice.
Squall struggled against my hold and managed to wriggle his way free. He pushed himself to his feet and grabbed at the sheets on his way up. I couldn't let my lion face the Sorceress alone, so I stood too. I didn't bother with the sheets. I knew I looked good and, besides, Rinoa has seen me naked before. She appreciated the sight then; so what the hell.
**Please just keep your fucking mouth shut, Seifer, and let me talk to her. **
What the fuck?! I know I had just heard Squall in my head ‘cause I hadn't seen his lips move and Rinoa didn't react to that statement. This was something new. Then I realized we hadn't closed down the link between us by either one of us before we fell asleep.
Squall started and shot a quick glance at me. So, he had just been thinkin' that to himself and hadn't meant to direct it at me.
**Seifer? You can hear me? ** Surprise was plain in his mental voice.
**Yeah. This is new. Did you know we could do this? **
**I knew it was possible, Rinoa and I could do it sometimes. I didn't like doing it with her; it made the connection between us stronger, ** he explained.
**I knew you wouldn't like doin' it with Rinoa. She isn't kinky enough for you, not like I am, ** I mentally leered back at him. I never knew you could mentally leer until I tried it.
"Squall, what happened to you? Suddenly you were gone from my head. I couldn't feel you there anymore. It was like you had just disappeared. What did Seifer do to you?" Rinoa asked as she looked over Squall for signs of damage.
I knew the second she saw the marks on Squall's wrists, shit would really hit the fan. He had such delicate skin that the belt marks were still clearly visible. The tingle of magic in the air that had been slowly receding began to build again.
"Get away from him, Squall. Whatever he did to you; to us, I'll fix."
"Rinoa, no. Seifer didn't do anything," Squall said, holding up a hand.
"You have marks on your wrists, Squall. I found you in bed, naked, with Seifer wrapped around you. The moment you two are together, you fight each other. You two hate each other! Don‘t tell me that he didn‘t do something to force you into bed, I‘m not stupid."
Okay, I probably should have kept my mouth shut, but when have I ever played it safe? Besides, I needed to make sure Rinoa knew that Squall was mine now. I was marking my territory.
"He's got belt marks on his ass too. Squall and I like a little kink in our sex lives."
Rinoa's eyes widened and she gasped. Squall shot me a nasty look before turning back to Rinoa.
**Seifer, shut the fuck up. **
"You know I wasn't happy being your Knight, Rinoa. We don't love each other the way a Knight and his Sorceress have to. I can't be the Knight you need me to be. Part of the reason I sent you to that research centre was to help you find someone else to be your Knight," Squall explained.
"He did this," Rinoa hissed as she pointed a finger at me. "We were fine together until he came back!"
The skin-crawling energy of magic reached a near painful pitch and broke when the spell was completed. I know Rinoa was aiming at me, but with Squall standing right beside me, I knew it was possible that some of the spell would wash over him as well. I was junctioned, but Squall wasn't. I shoved him behind me and waited for the pain.
It wasn't a long wait.
The icy needles of Blizzard speared into my naked body. Trust Rinoa to remember that I was typically junctioned with Ifrit. She also knew that Squall was always junctioned with Shiva and wouldn't take much, if any, damage from an ice attack. At least he was usually junctioned. How I remained standing, I don't know. I couldn't fall though. That would leave Squall vulnerable even if Rinoa wasn't tryin' to hit him. Why he was wanderin' around un-junctioned was another question I'd have to ask him later.
Although I tried not to send, I know some of it leaked out, straight to Squall.
He hissed in shared pain behind me and placed his hand on the centre of my back to steady himself. Strangely, that simple contact gave me strength and I stiffened my spine to face Rinoa. She couldn't have Squall, I needed to make a stand now and impress on her that Squall wasn't ever goin' back to bein' her Knight.
"He's not yours anymore, Rinoa. Squall is mine. He chose me over you. I won and you lost," I said with my best smirk in place.
**Fuck, Seifer, shut the hell up before she really lets loose.**
"You don't need him. I need a Knight and Squall is my Knight," Rinoa insisted stubbornly. The tingle of sharp magic began to creep through the air again.
I really didn't know what to say to that. It was true that Rinoa needed a Knight and that Squall had become her Knight out of necessity. He didn't love her; I knew that with absolutely certainty. He cared about her well being like he cared about all his friends, but it was nothing more than that. I don't really know what it was about Squall, but I needed him just as much as Rinoa did. I think he needed me, too, and as long as he did, I'd be there for him.
Nothing, not even a Sorceress was gonna stop me from that.
Warm feelings of acceptance and that of something else I still couldn't identify filled me. That feeling I couldn't recognize was starting to piss me off, but I would have to deal with it later. There was more important shit going on, like stayin' alive.
I had forgotten, again, that Squall could feel what I was feeling. Good. Then he would know how important he had become to me in the short time we'd been together. He'd know how serious I was about not giving him up to become Rinoa's Knight again. What was mine stayed mine. I had an instant of warning before the bright crackle of lightning lit up the room. Squall shoved me with the hand still on my back. I hit the floor hard and an instant later felt all my muscles snap tight as the spell hit Squall full on and I shared, in a smaller dose, the charge that was dancing over his body.
The feeling of hot, gut churnin' pain stabbed into my head and through my body. I knew Squall hadn't sent it on purpose but it was still almost strong enough to make me puke. It had been a long time since I had felt a magic attack un-junctioned. The whole thing was over in less than ten seconds, but it felt like forever. Squall collapsed to the floor like a puppet whose strings had been cut.
I forced my muscles to respond and crawled to where Squall had fallen in a heap. The place in my head that Squall had recently been in was just white noise. That scared me like nothin' had in ... I don't know how long. He was breathin‘, I could see his chest moving, but he was out cold. The skin on his chest was starting to blossom into jagged red marks that travelled from his shoulders, over his chest and down his legs. I needed to get him to the infirmary, fast.
"What happened? Why did Squall fall like that?" Rinoa demanded in a suddenly scared voice.
"He wasn't junctioned! You could have killed him, you stupid whore. I'll deal with you later. Right now I need to get him to the doctor."
I grabbed my pants from the floor and dragged them on quickly before lifting Squall into my arms, sheet and all. I shouldered Rinoa out of the way and began moving at a fast clip to the infirmary. I was halfway there before I said "fuck it", and broke into a run. I burst through the door and bellowed for Dr. Kadowaki. After that, it was a blur of people in white coats as I waited for news on Squall.
A white room swam into view and dipped nauseatingly a few times before righting itself. My skin burned and every inch of my body ached. I wondered where I was and how I had come to be there.
The emotion smothered me in its intensity. I knew it was Seifer and wondered what was happening to produce it. I tried to throw off the blanket to go to him. I stopped when Seifer burst into the room, shaking off the doctor who was trying to stop him. Now I knew where I was.
"Squall, thank Hyne you're alright. Don't ever do something that stupid again."
Seifer gripped my chin firmly, almost painfully, as he stared in my eyes and his feelings of relief and concern poured through me. As my brain began to clear from the fog it seemed caught in, I remembered pushing him out of the way of the spell Rinoa had cast.
"Where's Rinoa?" I demanded.
"Why the fuck do you care? She almost toasted your ass, Squall. Why did you push me down? You weren't junctioned, I was. You could've been killed!"
"I need to talk to her. Find her for me, Seifer. It's important."
I felt his confusion and hurt. He had been genuinely terrified for me and here I was asking for the person who had, unintentionally, hurt me. I did my best to send reassurance to Seifer. He relaxed slightly but was still confused and maybe a little pissed over my request.
"She's waiting outside," he snapped, turning to go.
"I'll explain to you later why I need to talk to her," I said as I grasped his arm and held onto it. I could feel the confusion and hurt still coming from him and I just couldn't let him leave the room without trying to make it right.
//WANT, NEED, DESIRE, TRUST, ACCEPTANCE, LOVE//
Seifer frowned at me. I knew he didn't understand all of the emotions I was sending him. He understood most of them, but I knew he was unsure what the feeling of love was. I hadn't meant to send that to him. It was getting harder to keep that emotion from him. I didn't think he was ready to deal with that yet; it wasn't something he had a lot of experience with.
Not to say I had a lot of experience with it either, but I had done a lot of thinking about it. I had realized that I loved him long before we ever had sex. It gave me a big head start on dealing with it.
"I'll be right beside you. She's not gonna get the chance to whammy you again, Squall."
"I need to say some things to her in private, Seifer. She didn't mean to hit me with the spell and I know she assumed I'd be junctioned, I'm always junctioned. I'll be all right, alone with her. I'll call you as soon as we're done talking."
He was not happy with it, but he left to go get Rinoa like I asked. I'm not sure what he said to her before bringing her into the room, but she was pale.
"Seifer said you wanted to talk to me. I didn't mean to hit you with that spell. I was aiming for Seifer," she began.
"I know. I have some things that I need to tell you. I want you to just sit and listen," I said as I mentally shut down the link between Seifer and myself.
To my surprise, it was hard to do. There was a struggle between Seifer and myself as I tried to close the link and he tried to keep it open. I won, but just barely. There was a startled curse from the hallway seconds before Seifer stuck his head into the room. Green fire lit his eyes and the skin-crawling tingle of magic was in the air.
"What the fuck, Squall?"
"I said I needed a private conversation with Rinoa. I can't have you eavesdropping. I will explain later, I swear."
Seifer glared and let the magic he had been ready to hurl at Rinoa fade away. He pointed a finger at his eye and then at her. Rinoa got the message loud and clear, he was going to be keeping an eye on her. I had to work not to smile at this protective side Seifer was suddenly showing. Rinoa just looked at me strangely. I closed my eyes and concentrated on feeling where Seifer was. I didn't need our link open to do that. That was almost like some kind of background thing that couldn't be turned off. When I felt him move out of the infirmary, I opened my eyes and looked at her.
"What's going on, Squall? What's between you and Seifer? What happened to us?"
"You know that we were never meant to be together as Knight and Sorceress. I've told you that before," I replied, ignoring her first two questions.
"But you became my Knight. Why did you do that if you didn't want to be my Knight?"
"I had to. The world was at stake and what I wanted didn't matter. Now that the world is safe, things I want do matter. I can't be your Knight. I care about you and what happens to you, but as a friend. Nothing more."
Tears gathered in Rinoa's eyes. "But I love you, Squall. I thought you loved me too."
"No, you don't. At least not like a lover should. I'm sorry, Rinoa. We did try to make a go of it, but neither one of us was comfortable with it."
Rinoa blushed as she wiped the tears from her cheeks. We had slept together twice and neither time felt right. It was like sleeping with my sister, I knew it was just as uncomfortable for her. We had mutually decided not to do it again. Rinoa was a nice person, but just not the one for me. Seifer was.
"Why were you suddenly gone from my head? It was a shock. You could have warned me. I thought something bad had happened to you, that's why I came here as soon as I could."
"It wasn't planned. As close as I can tell, because neither one of us loved the other like a Knight and Sorceress should, the link between us wasn't as strong as it had to be. Seifer and I have always had a strange kind of link with each other. With us sleeping together, that just made it stronger, changed it."
"Changed it how? Just what is going on between you two? I know you told me you were bi; but Seifer? I always thought he was straight. I mean when we ... that is, when Seifer and I ..." Rinoa faltered to a stop and blushed.
"I know. I was surprised when he came to me. I wouldn't have thought he was interested in men either. Actually, I think it may be just me that he's interested in doing." I shrugged, not able to fully explain Seifer's sudden desire to bang a guy. "When the connection with you was broken, a new one was formed. Because we didn't love each other, it made that possible. You'll just have to find a new Knight, Rinoa. I'm not willing to be yours anymore, and Seifer won't give me up even if I did want to."
"What does he have to do with it? You're not saying that you and Seifer are connected like we were?"
I nodded and closed my eyes. I could feel Seifer trying to open our link. He wasn't subtle about it; he was dead on when he had said he was all fire and power and chaos. It was hard work to keep him out of my head. Harder than I thought it would be and I was very good at this mental shit. Much better than him. I smiled softly at that thought. I was almost done with Rinoa, then I could let him back in when I had said my piece. I was finding that I missed the fire of his feelings. To be honest, I missed him in my head period.
"But that would mean that you and him have the same type of connection we did. If that's the case, you could break it and be my Knight again."
Rinoa was sweet but sometimes she could be trying.
"No, I can't. The thing I was missing with you, I have with him."
I let her think on that while I tried to shore up the barrier that Seifer was busy trying to demolish with brute force. He was starting to make progress, he was damn good when he set his mind to it.
"You love him," Rinoa said softly, surprised.
"I haven't told him and I'd appreciate it if you didn't say anything. I'm asking this as a friend, Rinoa. He's not ready to hear it yet. I don‘t know when he‘ll be ready to hear it."
She bowed her head and sighed. She was quiet for a long time and I feared that she'd refuse my request. Seifer was still hammering away at me, determined to be part of whatever Rinoa and I were discussing. He really could be a pain in the ass. Finally, she looked up.
"Alright, Squall, I'll keep this to myself. I don't want things to be the way they are, but after everything that's happened, you do deserve to have some happiness. We all do. If Seifer makes you happy, then I won't push it. We can still be friends though, can't we?"
I nodded and accepted the hug that she gave me. I wasn't sure that she really would let me go. It seemed too easy. Maybe I was just paranoid about the behaviour of Sorceress'. In any case, I was going to be careful around her until she went back to the research facility. I gasped as Seifer broke through the last barrier and our link sprung open.
I winced at the assault. I was really going to have to have a talk with Seifer about toning down his sending.
**Ha. Didn't think I could do it, did ya?** Seifer smirked.
**I was done anyway. You can come back now.**
I felt Seifer pout but he was at the door in moments. He smirked at Rinoa and moved to sit on the edge of the bed next to me, staking his claim. He was about a subtle as a runaway train.
"Doc said you're fine. Nasty shock to the system and you'll probably be sore for a couple of days, but no permanent harm was done. Whenever you‘re ready, you can leave the infirmary as long as you go straight to your room and rest," he said as he put his hand on my thigh.
Rinoa noticed and stood. "I am sorry, Squall. I never meant to hurt you, I was aiming at him. I hope you know what you're doing and that things work out for you."
Seifer scowled at her back as she left the room. When he turned to face me, a leer had replaced the frown.
"So, while we're here, would you like to play doctor, Squall?"
I sighed and closed my eyes with a small smile. As much as the idea had a certain appeal, I was sore and drained. I just wanted to sleep. I was surprised when I felt a light brush of lips over my mouth and the sense of warm comfort wrapped around me.
I felt the bed shift and when Seifer pulled me to rest in his arms, I didn't protest. I could always drag my tired ass to my room later after a nice little rest here with Seifer.
Squall was not going to be my Knight anymore, at least not while he had Seifer. I believed Squall when he said he loved him. I had known that he liked men as well as women, but I always assumed that if he started seeing a man, it would be someone I didn't know. I never, in my wildest dreams, would have thought that it would be Seifer.
I never would have thought Seifer was the type to do another guy; I had thought him straight as an arrow. I also thought that Seifer and Squall hated each other. They always fought when they were together for longer than ten minutes. It didn't make sense. Was Seifer playing some kind of cruel game with Squall? I couldn't let it continue if that was the case, even if Squall wasn't my Knight anymore, he was still my friend. I needed information about what had been going on and the best place to get it was from Squall's friends. Chances were they were in the cafeteria; it seemed to be the place where they all hung out when not busy with their other duties in the Garden. I made a beeline for the cafeteria, hoping someone would be there.
I was in luck. Irvine and Selphie were sitting at a table chatting.
"Um, hi. I was wondering if I could talk to you guys for a couple of minutes."
They both looked up in surprise. News of my arrival in the garden hadn't had time to spread yet.
"Sure thing, Rinoa. When did you get here?" Irvine asked with that soft drawl of his.
"Not long ago. I came to see Squall. Um, look; I really don't know how to ask this so I'll just spit it out. What's going on between Seifer and Squall? Are they, like, a couple now? And when did that happen?"
Selphie burst into laughter and Irvine chuckled.
"You missed out on the big lip-lock in the cafeteria earlier today. Seifer stormed in here all fire and brimstone, accused Squall of playing games with him and then dragged him from his seat and kissed him six ways from Sunday. At least that's what I heard; I was teaching a class at the time. But Irvine was sitting right here when the whole thing happened," Selphie said as she almost bounced in her seat at being able to tell someone new about the latest gossip.
Irvine nodded in agreement with her statement. "It was some kiss Seifer planted on Squall. I had to tell them to take it to a place more private. Made my pants uncomfortably tight watching them swap spit like that. I think that Seifer would have done Squall right on the table if it had gone on much longer."
To say I was surprised was an understatement. The Squall I knew never would have stood for that kind of behaviour, he was always so quiet and cold whenever we had been together. The fact that he had allowed Seifer to do something like that let me know that Squall was serious in his feelings for Seifer. It didn't help me to figure out why Seifer would do something like that.
"How long has that been going on?" I asked.
"No idea. The two of them had been acting a little strange around each other for a couple of weeks now, but most of us thought that they were just going to have one hum-dinger of a fight. I lost two hundred gil in the betting pool we had going. I don't feel so bad though, nobody saw this one coming," Irvine sighed.
"Sorceress Rinoa, I told you to wait for me," said a voice I knew only too well from behind me.
"I knew where I was going. Nobody here would hurt me. I was perfectly safe," I snapped as I glanced over my shoulder at the tall man standing behind me.
"Be that as it may, it is my job to protect you and I take that job seriously. I am, or was a SeeD and we take our duties seriously."
"Rinoa, who's this handsome man you've brought with you? And an ex-SeeD as well. What Garden are you from?" Selphie asked as she ogled him.
"My newest watchdog, Viljo. The people at the research facility thought I'd need somebody to keep me safe on my trip to the Garden. How did you find me anyway?"
"It's my business to keep track of you. Someone needs to keep a hold of your reins and I'm the only one that seems up for the challenge."
I resisted the urge to stick out my tongue at him. In the time since Squall's presence had disappeared from my mind, Viljo had been my constant shadow. It was annoying. It was like I couldn't be trusted out of his sight. Like I was going to turn into some mad Sorceress and try to re-order the world.
Okay, bad example.
I found him disturbing on some level. He made me nervous and when he did things for me without my ever asking, it just freaked me out. I'd sometimes catch him watching me with a strange look in his eyes. He never looked away quickly like I would have expected him too when I caught him. Instead, he would just get this little secretive smile and go do whatever it was he did when I didn't need him.
I realized that I wasn't going to get any more information than I had out of Selphie and Irvine. Squall and Seifer had kept their affair very quiet. I traded a few more pleasantries with Irvine and Selphie before leaving the cafeteria to head to the room I'd been assigned when I passed through the gate. Viljo followed a half pace behind me.
As much as I wanted to curl up and fall asleep with Squall, the Doc had the final say on the matter. She said to leave Squall alone to get some sleep and to get out of her hair, said I was making the nurses nervous with my pacin‘. I could come back when Squall was awake and take him back to his room, then I could wrap myself around him as he slept and just enjoy the feeling of him pressed close to me. I had never before wanted to stay the night with any of my other partners. In the beginning, with Squall, I didn't want people talking if they saw me coming out of his room bright and early in the morning. After that kiss in the cafeteria, it didn't matter anymore and I found that I wanted to stay the whole night in his bed; I wanted to wake up next to him.
Pain hit me so suddenly; I dropped to my hands and knees and squeezed my eyes shut. It radiated out from my back in a burning wave and made my stomach roll.
"Fuckin' faggot! I hope you die!" a voice I didn't recognize yelled as footsteps pounded away down the hall.
I groaned and reached around to feel the spot on my back where the pain was coming from. I touched the hilt of a knife dangerously close to my spine and swore. I needed to get to the infirmary, again. I pushed myself up from the floor and braced my hand against the wall. I grimaced when I noticed I had left a bloody handprint.
**Seifer?** came a groggy Squall in my head. My sudden burst of pain must have woken him up. Shit.
**It's nothing, I'm fine. Some bastard caught me off guard; I'll be there in a bit.**
I pushed away from the wall and started back the way I had come. I hadn't gone very far when I heard the voice of the last person I wanted to see that day.
"Seifer, are you alright?"
"Yeah, just peachy," I mumbled as I tried to move past Rinoa. Something was seriously wrong if I was having this much trouble from a little knife wound.
"Seifer you're bleeding. What happened? Oh my god! There‘s a knife sticking out of your back. Hold still, I‘ll pull it out."
"No!" snapped a voice I hadn't heard before.
I looked up to find a tall, dark haired man behind Rinoa. He was SeeD or had been at some point. I could just smell it on him.
"It may be slowing the bleeding down. We'll let the doctor take it out," he said as he grabbed my arm and slung it over his shoulder to help support me. I was pitifully grateful for that. I wasn't feeling so hot.
**Seifer, what the fuck is going on?**
Perfect. Now Squall was worried; he didn't need this today.
**Little knife wound, I'll be fine once the doc takes a look at it. **
I really wanted to send reassurances to Squall but the hall was getting strangely dark. I heard Rinoa say something about Demi on the blade and how they had to get me to the doc fast. I felt the soothing tingles of a Cura and heard Rinoa curse when something else went wrong.
Everything then faded to black with Squall screaming my name desperately in my head.
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