NOTE -- Characters aren't mine and sadly never will be.
With My Eyes
There is a great urge to literally bite my tongue in order to hold back the comments that would more than likely bring instant death. Dark eyes are firm on me, suspicion clearly felt as Kiros waits for me to act on my obvious anger. But it's the calm king that is the focus of my glare and not his personal lackey. The royal asshole has the nerve to drag me away from the bedridden princeling, and for what?
"Any price is yours to leave this land."
I sneer but don't voice the thought that only possession of the dark prince matters to me. It had been almost amusing how furious the king was to find me wrapped around his naked son, as if he couldn't image Squall settling for someone like me. Whether it is because I'm male or a meager soldier, I haven't a clue. I don't give a shit, either. The princeling is mine.
"I hope you realize that this is a very generous proposal. There are other options available to me."
"By all means, get creative."
He blinks, startled by my continued refusal to be paid off, then sighs. "Almasy. A proud family name, isn't it. I knew your father, and he used to be just as stubborn as you. But at least he held enough honor to not take advantage of a young man despised by Fate."
Pounding the table before me while standing up, I glare into dark green eyes that surprisingly show no fear. Unable to form words, the anger too hot and fresh within me, only a growl passes through my lips. Kiros had quickly gained his feet, now standing with a hand griping the hilt of one of his blades. Despite that piece of information penetrating my fury, I still want to throttle this clueless asshole before me.
The tension is interrupted by the sound of pounding. After some noise of hand brushing on wood, the large door swings open and slams against the stone wall, shuddering to a halt after the rebound. Squall stands in the open doorway, his stoic face obviously a front after the burst of anger against harmless wood. A smile nearly comes to my lips at his action, but then I realize that he isn't looking directly at anyone.
"What the fuck are you thinking, walking around in your condition. Get--"
"Quiet." The soft word holds enough weight to both silence me and force me to retake my seat.
"Squall. Son, this isn't your concern. Bed rest is most important at this moment."
"None of my concern?" His tone chills even me. "I believe this man was a gift from you to me. Seifer is mine to do what I wish, and I won't let you interfere."
"And I won't stand back while he lies to get whatever he wants from you, unless you actually believe his words of deceit."
"I don't," he replies softly. "But what harm is there?"
"Plenty. I meant him to serve as only a sparring partner and maybe your friend. But this... He will hurt you if this type of relationship continues."
The damn king is actually right with that assumption. For anyone else, they could get over one lover by eventually finding another and moving on. But Squall doesn't have that type of option if I'm truly the only one who can see him for what I've determined to be his 'true form'. Knowing the caress of pleasure and then have it taken away without chance of return... it could be one hurt too many for the dark prince to bear.
"It's my risk to take. And..." He smiles darkly, the meaning clear - 'It isn't like I have much time left anyhow'.
The king closes his eyes, whether in defeat or to hide the increased moisture. "You know I do this because I love you."
When the brunette doesn't speak, I make the obvious sap response for him. "And he lives because of your love."
"Seifer," Squall growls at me, while the king's expression is one of confusion.
And that's when I realize that his father hasn't a clue. He doesn't know of the constant pain, the unfulfilled desire for death, or anything else the dark prince puts up with because together it's less than the hurt of knowing he would cause the king to grieve. But Squall told me. He trusts me with secrets that no one else has probably imagined. The foolish princeling, placing all his faith onto one bastard of a man.
After examining me closely, the king breaks the awkward silence. "Perhaps I was too hasty to judge. Be certain that I will be watching you, young Almasy, but for now take Squall back to his chambers."
Even if that wasn't a blessing to the continuation of our partnership, I'm not going to wait around for one. After standing and sending a small sneer at the king and his guard, I turn to join Squall at his side. He doesn't wait for me, already heading for the open doorway. Two steps into the hallway, he turns sharply and strides off with his confident step. It doesn't take long for me to catch up. I grab a swinging arm, then pull him to a side of the hallway and behind the partial cover of a large pillar.
"Now, when exactly did I become your slave again?"
He frowns, not quite looking into my eyes. "You were never my slave."
"But you claimed I still belong to you." I kiss him lightly, the move surprising Squall. "I'm going to have to teach you that the reverse is true."
Smirking at his almost embarrassed expression, I draw back from him. It takes a few steps before I realize he isn't following, and in fact hasn't dared a step from the wall. Fist on hip, I can't help a small laugh as I look back at him.
"What, suddenly need my help but can't bring yourself to ask for it?"
"You ruined my count."
Any amusement I felt dies in me as I watch him stand up and carefully aims towards my voice, his assurance of step gone. He probably has the entire castle mapped out in his mind step-wise, his pride refusing to let himself depend on anyone while temporary blind. Or perhaps this is part of his preparation in the case his sight never returns to those gorgeous eyes. Fuck, and I yelled at him for wanting to commit suicide. How can a man live like this?
I grasp an extended hand, kissing his palm. "You should be in bed."
He scoffs. "Don't start."
"But just think of the fun we could have."
"Fucking bastard," Squall mutters as he lets me lead him forward.
"Not yet, but soon enough."
At the feel of light touches on my face, I slowly open my eyes to see closed eyelids that twitch slightly as if dreaming. Squall bites his lower lip, unintentionally creating a very welcomed seductive appearance for me to wake up to. His fingertips just barely touch my skin as he strokes with careful caresses along the side of my face. If it had been night and not late afternoon, I probably wouldn't have wakened. Makes me wonder if this is a common action of his.
When his thumb comes close enough, I nip it lightly. Only a sharp intake of air signals his surprise, but he leaves the thumb in place for me to nibble the tasty flesh. Stormy blues are revealed in the dim light of the room, his eyes unexpectedly focusing on my face.
"I didn't mean to wake you."
With a final lick, I let him escape. "No complaints from me. How's the vision?"
"Fuzzy, but I should be fine come morning."
I wrap my arms around his too thin waist, pulling him tight against my body. "How do you handle this?"
"I'm not pitying you, idiot. It's just... you're too strong, Squall. Too strong..."
He doesn't seem to have an answer for me, but it's not like there is an easy one to give. His chest against mine, I try to imagine that flame within him and ask the ever silent Spirits how to douse it. It's not right that he should suffer when bastards like myself take advantage of the simple things that are denied to him.
"Thank you, for smothering the flame some."
I smirk weakly at his words. "Who says am doing it for you?" I squeeze a tight ass cheek to emphasize the point, my thumb dangerously close to his most likely sore anus.
"I do," he whispers.
"Gotta stop thinking so highly of me."
The princeling pushes himself out of my hold and sits up to lean heavily on his arm. For the first time I see unrestrained awe in the stormy depths as he looks down at me, the uncharacteristic admiration making me nervous somehow. A careful hand brushes along my chest creating goosebumps in its wake. "You're perfect."
"And your vision is fucked up," but the arrogance is sorely lacking in my voice from wariness.
Squall leans down, warm breath sliding over my lips. "I know every part of your body by heart. I don't need to see." He kisses me then, a shy tongue only skimming the inside of my mouth before it retreats.
"Squall..." He dodges the hand that tries to pull him closer.
"I was selfish before," he states while moving for the edge of the bed. "Leave whenever you wish."
Faster than proper thought, I grab his wrist in a painful hold and wrench him back down onto the mattress. "I'm not leaving you."
He refuses to look at me. "You will."
"What the hell is bringing this on? Is it what your father said? Did I say something more stupid than usual?"
"I love you."
My mind blanks on the words never before spoken by those pale lips.
"I love you, so I won't hold you back. I won't force you to watch me die for my own comfort."
There's nothing to say to that. How can I tell him he isn't going to die when he is the one that has to bear with the pain? How can I be certain that I could stand watching this deity before me whither away into nothing, into something weaker than his spirit? What right do I have to speak about anything when I know shit?
Instead, I take him into my arms. "I don't want to go."
Without warning he presses against my body, hands clutching painfully at the bare skin of my back. "I can't..."
The dark prince doesn't finish the sentence, but from his almost desperate hold on me, I can assume what words he wanted to say. Too proud to beg me to stay, too afraid to force me to stay, too foolish to imagine I'd stay by my own desires. I should be ashamed of myself for creating this one crack in the man's strong will, but it's that split which lets me in to touch the real man behind the dark mask. As long as I'm there to guard that entrance from anyone else, there's nothing to worry about.
I pause during my trip upstairs and spit carelessly on the wide steps, ridding the buildup of blood from my mouth. After gingerly wiping my chin and lips with my forearm, I continue towards the small landing between second and third floors. Fucking guardsman captain. If he wasn't ready to lose in a sparring match, he shouldn't have challenged me in the first place. Sure, I guess I could've kept my mouth shut about his horrid performance, but that's just not my style. And the idiot had fallen for every cheap trick in the book. He deserved the beating he got. Punching me in the middle of the halls was certainly not called for. At least he'll be thinking twice about doing that kind of shit again, his face receiving much more damage than my split lip.
"Need something for that?"
My head jerks up at the low, feminine voice. Unnoticed previously, a slim woman dressed in a simple black outfit sits on the ledge of the large window of the landing. She smiles warmly as I take the last couple steps to the flat section of stone, her holding out in hand an offered handkerchief. Not recognizing the woman, I wave aside the expensive looking cloth.
"No reason to ruin it with my worthless blood."
Her laugh sends warning chills up my body. "Oh, I doubt you are as worthless as you may believe."
Eyes narrowed, I examine her noble features closely. "Kind words, but I must be going--"
"You are the prince's dear friend, true?" She stands up with unnatural grace and approaches me.
Something prevents me from backing away. "We aren't friends."
A dark eyebrow arches with interest. "Ah, then more than mere friends."
Frozen in place, I can't resist when a pale hand presses flat against my chest, intense heat flaring at her touch. "What...?"
"Such a sweet boy to aid me in my ambitions. I would reward you for this favor, but I fear you will reject anything I could offer."
I can barely hear her low voice over the sounds of a roaring fire and something like a howling animal. The heat is so overpowering that it surprises me to discover my chest still unburned under her touch. Slowly, she pulls her hand back, a small orb of red light following the move. One step back and the woman takes the sphere completely within her hand, somehow my power to stand lost at the same instant. Kneeling limply, I watch with hazy vision as she walks away with her back to me, compounding the fact that I'm helpless against her.
"Hope you had fun while it lasted, boy," she remarks snidely over her shoulder before ink-like blackness swirls around her and the woman vanishes.
I feel empty while sitting there. As if she didn't take anything important enough to truly harm me, but whatever that something was, it had always been there as a warmth and strength. In short time, my breathing returns to normal and there hasn't been any pain since she left, but I can't find any purpose in moving. Something aches, but I don't know what. Fear is just barely held back at the worry of what the bitch did to me. I'm alive, so it couldn't have been anything truly terrible. Right?
"Seifer? What happened?"
I close my eyes briefly, letting the worried voice of my princeling wash over me.
"You're hurt." A gloved finger touches my lip gently.
Opening my eyes, I look straight into that damned mask of his. "That one is a present from the ever pleasant captain."
I can almost feel the dark prince holding in a laugh at the idea of me complementing the bastard soldier. At least the situation can amuse someone. He grasps my arm and places it around his neck to help me to my feet. "Can you make it to our chambers?"
'Our'. What a wonderful word. "A-ah. Say, Squall. Do you know of any soul stealing witches that live here?"
Serious eyes are on me then. "What happened?"
I shake my head. "Don't know. Let me focus on walking for the moment."
It wasn't as hard as I thought it'd be getting to our rooms, energy gradually returning to my somehow exhausted body. Thank the Spirits the dark prince is stronger than he may appear to the average eye. Plopping down on the couch of the main room, I toe off my boots and place a sweaty foot on the bare table. The princeling spares a half-hearted glare in my direction for poor manners before removing his formal jacket.
"There was this woman who stole something from me. Out of me."
"What do you mean?" He sits in the sofa chair across from me and starts to take off the dark mask.
"She put her hand on my chest and just took out something. A red sphere... of..." I trail off, eyes widening as I look at Squall.
I can't speak, only the random thought that the sketch I had seen of him must have been done years ago.
Blue-gray eyes first narrowed in confusion slowly widen with horror. Well, only his right eye can really open that far, the left one rather limp from the overhanging of skin. He stands quickly, his helmet falling forgotten onto the ground. "You... see..."
I have to speak. I have to say something before he does something drastic, but the change in appearance is too much for my already rattled brain to handle intelligently.
A gloved hand covers his face as he turns to leave.
No... no, no, "NO, Squall! Wait."
He stops in place just before the door, but doesn't turn.
"Get your ass back here. It doesn't matter--"
A loud scoff interrupts me. "Doesn't matter?! You can't even look at my face. How--" He cuts himself off short.
"That bitch must have done something to me. It's just... different than what I'm used to. I wasn't ready for the change."
"Don't bother on my account." In an amazingly quick movement, Squall opens the door, steps through, and closes it with a painful slam.
Granted, I did try to stand and chase after him, but my legs were still too weak to support me. Lying on the floor while bleeding on a rug worth more than my life, I bite on that reopened wound and let the pain momentarily drown out my anger. Next time I see that bitch, I'm going to rip something far more vital out of her chest and shove it in that smug face. Doubt it'll solve anything, but at least it'd make me smile.
There must be about three guards following me by the time I reach the king's study. Gee, wonder if I look about ready to kill someone. The innocent door shudders at my knocking, and I don't wait for permission to enter. Stepping inside, I glare towards the table were the king is in mid-bite of some pastry, his eyes wide in surprise. Kiros stands beside him with two blades drawn and ready to attack, but relaxes slightly at the sight of me.
"Where the fuck is he?"
The longhaired man blinks before finishing his bite, the half-eaten sweet set back on his plate. While chewing, he waves away the guards behind me and motions for Kiros to sit. "Now, what is the matter, boy?"
"Don't call me 'boy'!"
Kiros is standing yet again, dark eyes narrowed at me for the outburst, but the blades stay safely sheathed. The king, to his credit, never even flinched. He watches me calmly with emerald eyes, demonstrating to me where the princeling got his never ending patience during tense situations.
I attempt a deep breath to contain some anger. "Squall hasn't returned since yesterday. I want to know where the hell he's hiding from me."
Worry creeps into Laguna's expression. "And what happened that would make him hide from you?"
"You won't believe me, so I won't bother. This is between him and me anyway."
There's a tense moment of silence before the king smiles widely, suddenly looking years younger. "Then let's go."
The mood switch confuses me greatly. "'Let's go'? What the--"
"I have to lead you there. No worries. We'll give you privacy when we find my son."
Never getting the chance to argue as the king herds me out of the castle while his darkly skinned guard glares at me, I soon find myself riding a gray stallion in the middle of a sparse forest. The thus far silent king has ridden along side me on an amazing black mare. Kiros eventually strays further ahead on a skittish black horse, suspiciously giving enough room for the king to speak with me privately.
"I've been blind for too long," Laguna states quietly as he plays nervously with the short mane of his horse. "Tell me the truth - has my son been trying to take his life?"
Fuck, why do I have to be in the middle of this? "Not exactly."
"But he wishes to die."
I scoff. "Can you blame him?"
"Never. But you had mentioned he is only alive because of me..." He sighs and scratches the back of his neck. "When he was a small boy, he asked me if I was sorry that he killed his mother. Rough childbirth, you see. I told him I was sad that Raine had died, but I would feel many times worse if he left me as well. I wonder if those words that were meant to comfort him instead gave him a life of pain."
"He didn't want you to know," I say absently.
An unnatural bitter laugh leaves him. "His annoying way of showing his love for me - to not 'bother' me. In truth, I love Squall more than anything. Perhaps it's because I feel like I've failed him, or..." He smiles, then looks at me. "You don't want to hear any of this. Forgive me. And I should also apologize for that time before. It was painful to see someone else grow close to a boy everyone else believes to be a monster. I'm too used to being his support in that way."
"He's not a fucking monster." I know that as fact, no matter what my eyes may tell me now. But how can I possibly look past that 'wax shell' of his and rediscover the beauty I know lies beneath.
"I'm pleased to hear that. I fear you're one of too few who believe so."
He doesn't say anything more, and I notice Kiros has stopped before us next to a rider-less horse tied to a branch. Thoughts singled to the issue of Squall, I slide off the stallion and run through the thin foliage in search of the princeling. He's easily found though, sitting with arms wrapped around bent legs as he looks beyond over the scenery of green pines. The cliff's edge is less than a foot from his position, but I'm not surprised that his favorite spot is connected with his desire for death.
I stop several yards from the dark prince, utterly clueless of where to even begin.
"Why are you here?" His voice is ice, the tone never directed my way before.
"We need to talk."
The princeling sits there in perfect silence, either waiting for me to speak or leave. He doesn't even attempt to hide his face from me anymore. A light breeze ruffles hair not as thick as it should be, and he hugs his legs tighter as if cold.
"Listen, I'm not going to lie. It bothers me the way I see you now, but I know you, Squall. I'm not going to give that up."
There's a sigh, whether from him or the wind I don't know. He stands slowly, then turns to face me. "Look at me and say you want me. Tell me that when you first wake in the morning, you want to see me as I am."
"I..." Don't hesitate you idiotic bastard!
"Remember," he states coolly, "you said you weren't going to lie."
Trying to gather my thoughts, I soon find myself lost in his still amazing eyes of gray flared with blue. "I do want you, Squall."
Those eyes narrow dangerously at my tone and he takes a risky step backwards, but I don't dare break eye contact to see just how close to the edge he gets.
"Everything else I love about you is still the same. Shit, you're the only one who has been able to handle me for longer than a week."
"But you don't want me, Seifer."
The absolute hurt in his voice makes something in me ache in reply. For now, I just want to get him away from that ledge and hold him close in some kind of comfort. It's too much to consider further than that. Holding out a hand, I motion for him to come over. He hesitates at the sight and frowns when he understands my lack of verbal response.
Yes, I want him, but I don't desire him like this.
My eyes go wide when a pale arm comes from nowhere, hooking around the waist of the dark prince. The rest of the black bitch appears behind him, her other hand reaching up in front of his face. Squall immediately goes limp in her hold but his gaze remains locked with mine in confusion and part fear. The woman laughs lightly, her golden eyes narrowed in victorious amusement while she smiles at me.
I'm sprinting before I realize I had even taken a single step. Meanwhile the woman backs away with her catch, moving into a dark void beyond the cliff's edge. Just as the tips of Squall's boots are disappearing into the blackness, I leap from the rocky ledge with the lagging thought that the ground far below won't treat me nicely if I were to fall from here.
The light of day instantly turns to night, and I hit the ground a lot sooner than I had expected. The additional stone wall was certainly unforeseen, my consciousness barely able to handle the blow to my forehead. The second blow to the back of my head after falling down to the equally hard ground doesn't help me any. Vision blurring to black, I hear an amused voice before I surrender to darkness.
Author's Whining -- I promise that no one is more surprised than I to see another chapter of this story. Goes to show, have enough people 'harass' me about something, and I'll get it done... eventually. No, this doesn't apply to sequels that will never happen. ^_- Don't bother waiting for bated breath for the next chapter. Nothing exciting will happen.
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