The Secret

Chapter Three

By Kuttner

At first Zell felt almost triumphant in his victory over Seifer. He walked back to his room with his head high and a spring in his step. When he reached the solitude of his room, however, he suddenly felt guilty and a little ashamed. Had he really just beaten up Seifer Almasy? It was not like him to be so brutal - even to someone he didn't like. He was a fellow student after all, not a monster, and even if Seifer was a bully, he'd never struck anyone that Zell knew of. What had Zell just done? He blushed with shame. Had it been the wrong thing to do?

Then he remembered the sound - the weeping. Who had been there with Seifer and disappeared before he'd seen them? Had Zell's presence saved them from Seifer of had he merely imagined his heroism. Zell began to doubt things, then remembered Seifer's last words, defiant to the end, even though Zell had clearly heard the pain in Seifer's voice. It was that pain that had made Zell double take and cast cure on Seifer instead of an offensive spell as a parting gift. That Seifer could feel pain seemed startling to him - he'd never seen the blond hurt or even wounded, he was too good with his sword. Yet Zell had disarmed him so quickly. That didn't seem right either. Maybe Seifer was ill; his colour was paler than usual, highlighting the red around his eyes. Maybe he should apologise.

Zell debated with himself for a moment, decided not to. Seifer deserved something for the torments visited upon not only Zell but many others as well. Yet... his conscience was too strong, he was too good a person. He'd gone too far, yes, he had to at least say that. Maybe Seifer would be better off for it anyway. The fact that Zell could stand up for himself may make the bully cease his constant hurtful ribbing.

He decided to apologise - not for doing it, but for maybe going too far.

The training area was quiet when Zell entered but the silence was broken suddenly by a great roaring noise that Zell knew at once as being a T-Rexaur. It was followed immediately by a desperate sounding laugh Zell recognised to be Seifer's. The laugh was cut off by a loud gasp and the thump of a body falling. Zell hurried towards the sound, knowing that Seifer was in no condition to fight a T-Rexaur after the beating he'd just received. Friend or foe, Zell didn't want a death on his conscience.

When Zell reached the fight he saw Seifer was lying on the ground, dazed. He barely had time to register this as the T-Rexaur roared again and Zell looked up to see that the monster was about to strike again. Quickly, Zell cast blind and managed to avert the potentially fatal blow going Seifer's way, due to the T-Rexaur's inability to see its target. The monster was heavily wounded Zell saw now, noticing Seifer's gunblade lying nearby, stained with dark red blood. Zell finished off the great beast with an ice bolt and as the monster collapsed with a mighty groan, Zell hurried to Seifer's prone body.

Before he reached him, Zell halted in shock. The expression on Seifer's face surprised him beyond words. There was plain disappointment there, gazing at the T-Rexaur's body as though he'd lost something, and a tiredness to his eyes, but the worst was the unmistakable tears; not of pain, even though it was certain Seifer was hurt. The tears looked despairing and they were still flowing. Seifer's eyes were so red it was obvious he'd been crying for a while. That he was conscious was the only thing Zell was glad of right now. All else seemed both impossible and dismaying.

Seifer's eyes turned to Zell and they were full of such sorrow that Zell again felt guilty for his previous actions. An echo of the thought that Seifer had never laid a hand on anyone except through combat went through Zell's mind and what had Zell done... The sadness in Seifer's eyes was deeper than just the assault but Zell blamed himself for it now. If not for his conscience maybe Seifer would be dead now, slaughtered by a T-Rexaur in the training grounds of Balamb Garden - an unfortunate accident, they would have called it; a tragedy. One of their best students killed in training.

Zell bent down at Seifer's head.

"Can you stand?" the small blond asked, concerned.

The smile on Seifer's face, tempered by the sad look in his eyes was frightening to look at. He shook his head briefly as if to say no but then he attempted to rise, placing gloved hands against the ground and trying to hoist himself up. He didn't succeed, falling back heavily with another gasp and a grimace of pain. When he again opened his eyes they were full of weariness. Zell put a strong arm supportively around Seifer' shoulders. There were no visible fatal injuries, only cuts and scratches plus the bruises from earlier, but no doubt the T-Rexaur had hit hard enough for internal bleeding to make the tall blond so weak. At first Seifer cringed away from Zell's touch but he soon relaxed into it as though he were too tired to argue. His eyes closed and Zell became anxious.

"Seifer?" he queried with urgency.

Seifer opened his eyes again, blurry with fresh tears. A small smile played on his lips.

"Zell...," Seifer spoke in a breath, his eyes fluttering. He was going to pass out.

"I'll get you to the doctor," Zell said.

A tiny frown creased Seifer's smooth brow. His eyes focused on Zell again, a pleading look to them.

"Why...?" he murmured, and Zell took it to mean why had Zell attacked Seifer before but he wasn't certain. His suspicions were proved wrong when Seifer continued, so quietly: "Why did you save me...?" before blacking out completely.



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