Blind Sight
April 2004

 

Before opening his eyes, Squall was confused by the cool breeze caressing his skin and the cushion of fresh grass beneath him.  Then there was the taste of bitter spice assaulting his mouth which made him gag and cough before stormy eyes viewed the surroundings.  Studying the wide meadow of long green grass and scattered wild flowers, Squall was struck by the odd sense of déjà vu.  He knew the place though he couldn't remember seeing such a peaceful setting in other visions or dreams.  Moving his hands to push himself up from the ground, he then noticed that he was holding a small leather pouch.  Inside, he found more of the spiced candy which he only liked when joined with Seifer's unique flavor.

Standing up, Squall easily found a slightly worn path which lead away from the meadow, but it unfortunately forced him to walk with the reddish light of the setting sun glaring directly into his eyes.  Sighing at his fate, the brunet followed the path with little of his attention spent on where it was leading him.  Instead, his thoughts turned to Seifer, an unsurprising event given the strong taste of spice in his mouth.  Despite what he may have believed, Squall felt relief that the blond had gone against his word and faced the beldame for the mere purpose of rescuing him.  He was a fool for doing so, but the seer was able to forgive him.

"Squall?"

At the familiar voice, the brunet's head snapped up and he stared at the man waiting at the end of the path.  "... Father..."

The man of long and dark brown hair smiled and cocked his head with a delighted look of confusion.  "Yes... Is something wrong, son?"

Squall had the urge to cry at the sight and sound of his true father, not the defiled form which one of the Spirits always stole.  "Father...  Why... How did I get here?" the seer asked, suddenly realizing that he was in his hometown.  It had been years since he had seen the meadow he favored as a child.  The meadow where he first met Seifer.

"What do you mean, Squall?  You've been out in the field since morning.  Are you feeling alright?"

Feeling some warmth at the idea that his oblivious father hadn't change much over the years, Squall glanced down at the pouch of candies still in his hand.  "Is Seifer here?"  There was a tense pause at his question, making the brunet look up and meet pained green eyes.  "What happened?  Did something happen to him?"

"You aren't my son, are you?  I mean, from this time period."

Tiredly, Squall shook his head.

The older man sighed before looking toward a cottage which hadn't been there years previous.  "Seifer is here, but you won't want to see him.  You say it isn't him, but you haven't explained to me yet how he isn't the same man I've met before."

Confused and worried, Squall ignored his father's warning and headed to the decently sized cabin.  He thought he heard the older man behind him mutter something about unchanging stubbornness, but he didn't care.  Following the worn path to the cottage, the seer heard noises from behind the building and decided to walk in that direction.  Rounding the corner, Squall stopped in place as his stormy eyes fell on the muscular back of a shirtless man.  The blond was chopping wood with smooth and strong movements, his golden brown skin shining from a light coating of sweat.  Watching the large man work, Squall couldn't hold back a faint smile at the intoxicating sight.

After wiping sweat from his forehead, the blond turned and faced his observer with a smile of his own.  Instantly, Squall felt sick inside as he met green eyes shadowed with too much gray.  The man wasn't Seifer.

"Squall," the man said fondly as he stepped forward.  "I haven't seen you around lately."

Eyes narrowed, Squall faced the man as he would an enemy.  "No closer."

A pained gleam briefly showed in the green eyes before the man tilted his head curiously.  "My, I heard that you were able to travel across time, but I didn't believe that I would witness such an event.  Interesting..."

Anger built up in the brunet's chest at the words which didn't fit the deep voice.  "Who are you?"

"Can't you tell?" the blond said with a smirk, and then stepped closer despite the earlier warning to stay in place.  A rough hand settled on Squall's cheek, instantly burning and chilling the seer with the gentle touch.

Jerking back with a gasp, Squall stared into the green-gray eyes.  "Hyne..."

"I never could fool you," he said with a hint of regret to the tone.

"How... Why?  Why have you done this to him?"

"You mean, why have I done this to you both?"  The possessed man sighed as he shook his head.  "In truth, I never planned for this to happen.  It was an unfortunate consequence of something done long ago.  In the simplest terms, he used my power to keep you alive.  If I were to leave this body, it would result in your death, but in the other case, for me to remain within this shell, my soul overwhelms your lover's spirit.  I gave him the choice, and he doesn't want you to die for him to live."

"No... that isn't his choice to make," Squall stated heatedly.

"So you have told me many times, but your lover is stubborn to a fault."

Blue-gray eyes widened at the unconcerned tone.  "And you don't mind.  You want it this way."

"I won't lie and say that I'm not enjoying this opportunity to experience life as a human, but it was the Hero who made me whole again, not you.  It is his desire for you to remind alive, and I'll abide by his wishes."

Before considering the consequences, Squall backhanded the possessed man, nearly knocking him off balance.  "I hate you," he stated coolly, not certain to whom the comment was directed.

Not waiting for a possible response, the seer turned and walked away from the blond.  With nowhere else to go, Squall headed toward the meadow even though the sun had long set and evening was fast approaching.  As he walked, he pulled out a hard candy from the pouch still in hand, and placing the bitter candy in his mouth, he ignored the joined flavor of salty tears which flowed unrestricted down his face.


"So we're all set for leaving at dawn," Seifer asked as he withdrew his hand from the handshake.

"Yes, sir.  We'll handle the food 'n' water, don't you worry.  Just meet us out front whenever you wake."  The scruffy man then frowned as he looked over the fighter's shoulder.  "Is somethin' wrong with yer friend there?"

With a frown of his own, Seifer glanced over at his seer and stared at the bare flow of tears covering pale cheek.  "It's nothing for you to concern yourself with," he said sharply before he moved over to the occupied chair and lifted the unconscious brunet into his arms.  "We'll see you in the morning."

"Yes, sir," the man replied warily as he made his way out of the inn.

Paying little attention to the coach driver, Seifer headed toward the room he paid for earlier.  While he knew Squall would have been more comfortable on a bed, Seifer couldn't risk leaving the seer alone when he was in his deadened state.  Months previous, the brunet had explained that no one but the Hero could waken him from the deep sleep, or rather bring back his spirit from the future, and so it troubled the fighter to imagine that anyone could run off with Squall without a struggle.

Reaching the safety of their room, Seifer placed the limp body onto the decent bed and then sat to the side of the seer.  Pulling his sleeve over his hand, he wiped the warm tears from cool skin, and after a fond look at the peaceful face, Seifer proceeded to wake the brunet.

Unlike times before, Squall woke slowly and without the typical punch in the fighter's direction.  "Seifer...?"

"Yeah.  It's just me, kitten."

The attack was entirely unexpected as the blind man launched forward and drove the larger man to the hardwood floor.  Seifer cursed as his head knocked against the ground, and he was then forced to protect himself from undirected but solid punches by the brunet.  Given his greater experience with brawls, the blond easily took control of the fight as he grabbed onto the slim wrists of the seer, but as Squall didn't cease his struggles immediately, one of the hands was freed and knocked hard into Seifer's face.  Growling, the fighter used the hold he had to jerk Squall to the side and forced him to lie with his back on the ground.  In a fast move, Seifer straddled the smaller man and quickly trapped the freed hand beneath his arm.

As he stared down at the fresh tears slipping down the redden cheeks of the brunet, Seifer breathed some calming breaths before asking, "What did you see?"

Eyes closed, Squall went limp beneath the larger man.  "Why couldn't you have left me alone?"

"What do you mean?  You think I should've left you to the sorceress bitch?" Seifer asked, truly bewildered by the question.

After weakly shaking his head, the blind man said, "I hated you once.  I knew what you were - a selfish, conceited bastard.  How could I have forgotten that?"

"Because you love me," the fighter said in a partly sarcastic, partly hopeful tone.

Pale lips curled into a spiteful sneer.  "Because you made me care about you."

The words cut through Seifer, the confession not being the one he had been waiting months to hear.  Sighing, he slid his legs back so that he could lay on top of the brunet and trap the man with his weight.  Once freeing his hand, Seifer brushed his fingers through thick hair.  "And what did I do to make you hate me this time?"

"... ..."

"Come on, kitten, won't you give me the chance to make things right?"

"No."

"No?  Hyne, must you make everything so difficult?"

"You can't make things right.  You'll desert me and force me to suffer without you, and you won't give a shit about my pain."

"What are you talking about?  I would never--"

"You did," Squall stated with a hiss.  "I was there and I saw... and I felt..."

Seifer frowned at the faltering voice, and then bent down to press his lips between the sightless eyes.  "I'm sorry.  I'm so sorry," he said with another kiss.

"No," the brunet said in a defeated tone.  "Don't say that."

With a faint smile, Seifer continued to whisper his apologies as he kissed random areas of the attractive face.  Once sensing the man's surrender, he moved his attention to pouting lips and initiated a soft kiss which deepened into something rougher as Seifer allowed the man some freedom and both hands clawed into short golden hair.  Nearing the point of no return, the blond bit the full lower lip once more before breaking the kiss, his breaths rushed and his eyes bright as he stared down at the seer.

"Think we can talk about this civilly somewhere more comfortable?"

Though reluctant, Squall nodded his vague approval and allowed the larger man to help him back onto the bed.  They stretched out along the top sheet such that the seer rested his head on the broad chest and Seifer wrapped an arm around the lithe form, his hand grabbing onto a slim wrist.  With his calloused thumb stroking the branded skin, the fighter sighed at the cursed nature of his lover.

"Tell me what you saw."

Squall tensed, but also moved closer to the larger man.  "I don't..."

"Kitten, you aren't going to escape this, and you owe me for the black-eye I'm going to have in the morning."

The blind man sighed, hesitating before he decided to speak.  "It was my hometown, and you were there for some reason.  But it was only your body, and not your soul."

"Altemehsia again?" Seifer asked, remembering the other future which had disturbed the seer months back.

"No, it was Hyne.  He was whole within you, and though he was willing to leave your body, you denied him that escape since apparently I wouldn't survive his departure."

"What do you mean you wouldn't survive?  I thought you weren't allowed to die."

After a bitter laugh, Squall said, "That's your fault, too.  You weren't happy enough to have me tortured, so you made certain that I would live through anything.  You used Hyne's powers to curse me, and for that reason, there would be nothing to keep me alive if his power left you."

Though resisting his instinct to retaliate against the heated words, a quietly growled out, "I didn't mean to anything like that," left the fighter.

At the words, the blind man relaxed with an exhaled breath.  "I know.  You were young and had no way of understanding.  And even Hyne seemed... impressed that you had done it."

"When I was young...?" Seifer murmured distractedly, a nervous feeling building in his stomach as he tried to remember when he could have placed a spell on his seer.  "You died at the church... which means I must have done it before then, but wasn't I unconscious?"

Squall was suspiciously silent at the question.

Scowling at the man's tightlipped nature, the blond continued to stroke the branded wrist while he tried to force his memories and remember when he could have cursed the brunet.  Just before he was about to give up and further question the seer, there was a sudden sharp pain of a severe headache as an image of a small boy came to his mind.  There was rain... mud... whispers... and blood...  Too much blood covering the form which laid limply in the dark mud...  Dead...

"Seifer."

Green eyes snapped open at the anxious voice and Seifer looked up at the unexpectedly seated brunet.  As he stared directly into the stormy eyes, the fighter suddenly realized that the cloudy pupils appeared too much like those of a corpse.  An odd whimper escaping his lips, the blond sat up sharply and wrapped his arms around the unsuspecting blind man, holding onto him tighter than was probably reasonable.  But Squall didn't struggle against the strong hug, and instead lifted a hand to rub soothingly at the base of the bent neck.

"What happened, Seifer?  You got too silent."

"I don't know... I saw this boy... And fuck, my head is killing me."

After a quiet moment, Squall said, "Don't force your memories.  You'll only hurt yourself."

"My memories...?"  Leaning back, the blond looked into the stormy eyes.  "You mean, the memories you stole from me.  Memories... of you?  That boy I saw, was that you?"

"I don't know what you saw," the seer stated evasively.

"I saw a young boy bleeding and dead in the mud.  Does that bring back any of your memories?" Seifer asked bitingly, more from uneasiness than from true anger at the man.

Squall crossed his arms over his chest and faced away from the blond.  "Yes, I think I do remember the reason I was marked with the use of a hot iron.  You know, raising from the dead isn't exactly favored by those in the Church.  But I always thought it was another part of my fate.  I didn't realize that it was your wish that I couldn't die."

All of his passionate emotions evaporating at the somber words, the fighter took the man's hand into his and lifted it such that he could better see the aged branding.  The thick cross contained ancient lettering of the priests, and at the base was the lost wing of Hyne which signified the lost soul of the one branded.  The marking was yet another thing which was the fighter's fault and it was nothing he could repent for.  Seifer felt numb at the idea, already beyond guilt when it came to his seer.  Even so, he tenderly kissed the branding in a sign of apology, which was apparently accepted as cool fingertips stroked his cheek.

"Why won't you let me die?" Squall asked, his voice revealing none of his emotions.

"I need you and I want you.  No other ulterior motives."

The brunet shook his head, lengthy hair shifting across sightless eyes.  "In that future, I felt... dead, all because you weren't there.  And I hate you so much for making me feel like that."

Despite the serious nature of the words, Seifer found himself smiling.  "You missed me."

The seer scowled.  "That's not the point."

His smile remaining, the fighter laid back down and pulled the other man with him.  "I know, and I'm sorry for being a selfish bastard.  But now we can prevent that future, just like we have avoided other futures you've seen."

After a silent moment, Squall shook his head.  "I don't know if we should completely avoid it."

Seifer shifted to better look at the man resting on his chest.  "Did I hear you correctly?  You make this huge fuss over your dream, you fucking punched me for something I haven't done yet, and now you want that future to happen after all?"

"I don't want it to happen, but... I saw my father.  He was alive and it was truly him, not one of the Spirits.  While I hate that future, it's the first one which has felt... right."

Frowning, the blond said, "Then you want that future, but with you dead and me surviving without you.  Oh, and not to mention this father of yours which you have thus far done everything for."

"Not only him," Squall muttered in a weak argument.

"Whatever you say, kitten.  But you still aren't being fair."

"I deserve to have my way more than you."

Seifer had nothing to offer in opposition to the statement, and instead relaxed as he closed his eyes and considered a short nap before they would have to leave in the early morning.  There was also the hope that he could get rid of the headache he had earned himself earlier.  But on that edge of awareness, a sudden thought came to the blond.

"Squall...?"

The brunet made an annoyed sound in reply.

"How do you know what your father looks like?"

The question was met with silence until an unintelligible mutter came from the seer.

"What was that again?"

Squall sighed and repeated, "I remember."

Seifer thought about the reply, and eventually came to a conclusion he never considered before.  "You weren't always blind, were you?"

The brunet vaguely shook his head.

Though he felt a sense of dread at the answer, the fighter asked, "When... How did it happen?"

"It doesn't--"

"Don't you dare fucking say that it doesn't matter and just tell me what I want to know."

Though hesitating, Squall said, "I was almost five when I had my first vision.  I've seen nothing but the future since then."

Of reactions he could have planned, Seifer would have never chose laughing, but once started, he couldn't stop the nearly hysterical laughter which built up in his chest and made his headache throb.  Eventually speaking between breathy chuckles, he asked, "Is there anything in your fucked up life which isn't my fault?"

Clouded eyes crossed in thought.  "My mother died on her own."

That fact sobered the fighter instantly as he cursed softly.  "Shit, you weren't supposed to answer seriously, kitten."

After a pause, Squall moved on top of the larger man and carefully placed his hands on stubble roughened cheeks.  The gentle touch was chilling and energizing as the soft fingertips felt along the warm skin and reached his temples.  As the cold fingers massaged, Seifer hummed out his pleasure as a gentle flow of magic pushed away his remaining headache.

"It's not your fault."

Green eyes stared up into cloudy blue at the unexpected words, but Seifer didn't dare ask for clarification.

"I never really blamed you.  Even when I hated you, I knew none of this was your fault, and certainly not your choosing."  Finishing the massage, Squall laid back down next to the larger man and lightly pressed his lips against an ear.  "But I swear, if you ever make me suffer alone again, I will never forgive you."

Lifting a hand, the fighter stroked his fingers through dark hair.  "I don't know.  Having to deal with me sounds like the worse of two evils."

"It is."

Seifer smiled at the succinct reply of his seer.  "Go to sleep, kitten.  We're leaving early so we might as well get some decent sleep before that."

With a sleepy hum, Squall shifted into a more comfortable position.  "Maybe I can dream of you," he said in a bare whisper, almost unheard by the blond.

His smile widening, the fighter pressed his cheek against soft hair and closed his eyes with the feeling of relief.  And in short time, his exhausted body surrendered to sleep with the knowledge that his seer was once again safe in his hold.


Walking on the soft ground of a meadow, Squall relished in the quiet sounds surrounding him and the feel of a breeze brushing along his sun warmed skin.  After four days of traveling by carriage, the seer had been directed by the elder Spirit to continue further southwest by foot.  And so, they were currently two days out from any comfortable bed, but it mattered little as the weather was perfect being the middle of spring.  Compared to years of chasing down the Hero, Squall was finally able to savor the sounds and smells of the peaceful setting.  For those rare moments, he could imagine that there was nothing required of him and they were on a simple journey for pleasure.

"Fuck..."

Squall glanced up at the hissed out curse, not understanding the cause of the pained outburst.  Though, to the seer, it wasn't like Seifer to need much reasoning for anything he did.  Not questioning the blond, Squall continued to follow the man's footsteps, but decided to pay more attention to the large man.  In time, another curse came from the fighter, but far quieter than before and almost unheard.

"Seifer, what are you doing?"

The other man stumbled at the question, swearing yet again once he regained his footing.  "It's nothing.  I think there's a rock in my boot or something."

"We can stop."

"No," Seifer replied quickly.  "It's not that big of a deal.  I'm just complaining like always."

Squall grunted his agreement that the blond was quite the whiner, but he didn't believe the excuse in the least.  As they continued to walk, the blind man listened carefully to his traveling partner, but the stubborn man didn't sound out his pain again.  Instead, Seifer eventually tripped on something and fell hard to the ground.

Stopping to the side of the fallen man, Squall asked for a second time, "What are you doing?"

"Nothing," Seifer stated loudly, immediately hissing in pain after his declaration.

Eyes narrowed, the blind man glared in the direction of the voice and waited for a truthful answer from the blond.

Growling out a sigh, the fighter eventually admitted, "I have a headache."

It took Squall a few moments to realize why the man would be hiding that fact.  "You're forcing your memories."

There was no reply from Seifer, which served as affirmation to the brunet.  With a disappointed sigh, Squall slipped off his pack and knelt to the ground plush with long grass.  He reached forward, but his hand was taken in a strong grasp and moved aside.

"I'll be fine.  No reason to waste your energy on me."

Jerking away his hand, the seer felt along the light shirt to locate the man's face.  Once one hand pressed against a rough cheek, his free hand was placed on the other side of the face.  His fingertips positioned at the man's temples, Squall closed his eyes and searched the magic within.

"You've damaged the shields, but I can repair them," the seer announced, sensing the man's frown.  "I told you not to push your memories.  Why must you defy me?"

Seifer knocked away the hands and leaned back out of reach.  "Because I want to remember.  Haven't you gotten that clue yet?"

"And you aren't--"

"Sure, you say I'm not ready to remember, but I think you are hiding something from me.  What is it exactly that you don't want me know, hmmm?  What are you so afraid of?"

Sighing, the blind man sat back on his heels.  "You've been in pain.  You don't need to remember that."

"I think I know about pain, Squall-boy."

The brunet scoffed.  "The type of pain where your soul is being torn to shreds?  Or how about the sensation of being burnt alive without the hope of death?  You know about physical pain, not the anguish you would have nightmares about."

After a time of silence, a hand reached out and raked into thick hair.  "Do you know about such pain?"

Smirking, Squall replied, "To some extent, but I've also had the pleasure of returning that agony."

Seifer moved closer and brushed his lips beneath a sightless eye before resting his forehead on a shoulder.  "I understand you're just looking out for me, but since we reached this meadow, I have this feeling that I should remember something about it.  But not this place exactly, since I seem to remember more wild flowers, but someplace similar."

The seer said nothing as he placed a hand into soft hair and focused on his magic.

"No," Seifer growled while grabbing onto the arm and pulling it down.

"I need to repair the damage.  It will lessen your headache."

The fighter kissed the skin exposed from the wide neckline of the light shirt.  "How about a deal - I let you heal me if you tell me what I want to know."

"I don't see my gain in this deal."

Seifer chuckled while continuing his soft kisses.  "I'm going to keep pushing those barriers, you know.  Even if I do permanent damage to my brain."

Sighing, Squall surrendered to the fighter's greater stubbornness.  "Let me heal you first, and then you might as well find us some shade."

The larger man straightened at getting his way and took the seer's hands into his, leading the cooler fingers to his temples.  Squall didn't delay in repairing the shields which protected the Hero's mind, and he then added a healing spell to drive away the remaining ache.  Seifer sighed in relief before removing one of the hands and kissing the underside of the wrist.  The blind man winced slightly at the tingling touch the lips caused on the branded skin, but he didn't argue against the attentiveness of the blond.  Ever since Correna, Seifer had been more clinging whenever given the chance, and while the seer didn't voice any opposition to the contact, he wasn't quite ready to admit that he was getting addicted to the man's heated touches.

From there, Seifer led them to a shady area, and with their packs tossed aside, the larger man pulled the brunet down to ground and stretched out along cool grass.  Squall scowled at the fairly rough treatment, but didn't hold out for long as he removed the knife sheathed at his back and then proceeded to get comfortable with his head resting on the man's shoulder.  It felt almost normal to be two lovers enjoying a warm morning outside.  It felt good.

"Tell me how we first met."

Squall sighed at the demand, wondering how much he would be forced to tell the man.  "We met in a field near my hometown.  I had a vision about you and I forced my father to take me there.  He was reluctant, of course, not believing a four-year-old who claimed that people were in danger, but he's a good man who decided to humor his son.  By the time we got there, your father had already cut you rather severely."

"But he was under some bitch's control, right?  The beldame?"

Smiling softly at the pleading tone, Squall nodded.  "Weeks before, he was forced to kill your mother who had fallen under the sorceress' control.  He loved you greatly and had no desire to bring you harm."

Seifer relaxed at the confirmation and hugged the brunet closer.  "So, what happened after you got there?"

"I called out to to your father.  I forget what I said, but it brought him a moment of clarity.  He killed himself before he could kill you."  After a brief moment of silence for the dead, the blind man continued to say, "My father tried to approach you then, but you screamed out when he got too close for your liking."

"But you were safe," Seifer murmured dazedly.  "And you nearly fell on me before you held onto me tightly."

"I had lost my sight only two weeks before that and I didn't have any of the voices to guide me," Squall stated defensively.

"You didn't have your parasites?  Why not?"

"It's a part of my curse.  I believe that when I die, my soul tries to leave, but a Spirit forces it to remain within my body.  But by reviving me, the Spirit becomes entrapped, and thus becomes a new voice to irritate me."

Seifer hummed thoughtfully.  "And there's three of them dwelling within you?  Shit...  How did I do that to you?"

::Because he speaks with the voice of our Father::

Squall frowned at the melodic voice.  "They say you have the voice of Hyne, but I don't understand what that is supposed to mean."

It was silent for a time, the only sound being the whisper of a breeze through overhanging branches.  "I'm not certain, but when I met with the witch, she mentioned that the spirits of Hyne and Altemehsia are within me."

"That's impossible," the blind man argued immediately, at which Seifer laughed.

"The bitch mentioned that no one else would believe it, but apparently my eyes give me away.  That, and at times, I think I can feel them stirring within me.  I never knew what it was before, but now... You know, I've been doing strange things lately.  That man I killed in the tournament, I had the urge to speak the words of sending that priests say at funerals, and all of this blackness came out of the giant.  And in that damned mansion, I came across these weird barriers while looking for you, and I somehow handled them without much thought."

Stunned, Squall asked, "Why didn't you tell me this sooner?"

"I don't know.  I'm still confused about everything, maybe a little afraid...  I feel like I'm losing control."

Reaching over, the blind man placed a steady hand on the broad chest.  "It makes sense, though.  I never understood how you could accept a sorceress' power, but if a piece of Altemehsia is within you, it should be very possible.  And I always knew you held Hyne's power, though I didn't realize that a part of his soul resided in you as well."

"You believe me?"

With a soft smile, Squall said, "They were peaceful as father and daughter at one point in time.  I was premature to say that it would be impossible for them both to be trapped within you."

Rolling them over, Seifer pinned the smaller man to the ground and lightly kissed him.  "I need you so much.  And I really want to fuck you right now."

"And I want to be able to walk."

"You still owe me for when you allowed yourself to get kidnapped."  The fighter buried a hand deep into thick hair and gripped somewhat painfully onto the strands.  "While I'm proud that you handled yourself pretty well with a knife, why the hell didn't you use your magic?"

"I had to be ready to face the beldame."

"And while in the mansion?"

"The Spirits were sealed, their powers useless to me," Squall replied as he shifted, trying to avoid the increasing pleasure of having the larger man above him.

"You mean, you don't have any powers of your own."

The blind man shrugged.  "I'm not certain.  Once... No, I doubt it.  I've only been able to control the magic of the Spirits."

Seifer hummed with interest, his lips then upon the long neck with light kisses.  "One of these days, I'll learn everything there is to know about you."

Squall shivered at the rumbling tone, already feeling like he had lost to the obstinate blond.  As a rough hand slipped underneath his shirt, the seer was surprised that he had no interest in stopping the man from what he obviously wanted.  Instead, the brunet moved his head so that Seifer could grant proper attention to the sensitive area behind his ear.  Soon lost in the bodily sensations, Squall didn't care about his whimpering breaths or his attempts to rub his aching groin against the man above him.  His senses were overloaded by the feel of calloused skin, by the smell of fresh grass, and by the taste of spice as Seifer kissed him deeply.

After an incoherent whisper from the fighter, those sensations were lost as the man moved away.  With little time to spare. Squall found himself lying on a blanket which smelled heavily of Seifer.  Hands were on him once more and began removing his clothing with a rough touch, but not enough to tear the fabric.  Though stripped completely from the waist down, his light shirt was only opened to reveal skin, but not removed.  It suddenly became silent as the blond didn't touch him for a time, leaving the blind man to feel nervous despite his knowledge that the man was there.

"Seifer...  Either get this over with now, or forget it."

A deep chuckle sounded, renewing shivers along exposed skin.  "Sorry, but you haven't a clue how gorgeous you look at this moment while spread out in the sunlight for anyone to see."

That idea didn't settle well with Squall as he moved to use his shirt to better cover himself, but his wrists were grabbed and then pinned above his head in a loose one-handed hold.

"Don't worry, kitten.  I'll murder anyone who dares to take a peak at what is mine."

The seer wasn't given the opportunity to argue as lips covered his mouth and prompted a rough kiss.  The joining was brief as Seifer moved downward, his mouth slowly following the trail of his free hand as it went to lower regions.  As the strong hand fisted around his arousal and squeezed firmly, the blind man briefly remembered a time when he feared such a touch that could easily cause intense agony.  Sightless eyes then widened vaguely at the idea that he actually wanted the touch of the muscular man, just as he also wanted Seifer deep within him for the dual sensation of pain and pleasure.  Resisting the urge to curse and rant at the blond for being right, for knowing that Squall wanted the sensations only Seifer could give him, the brunet instead raised his leg and hooked it over the man's bare back.

"Hmmm, is someone feeling impatient?" the fighter asked mockingly, just before biting solidly at a sore nipple.

"We have other things to do today," Squall partly groaned out, not believing his own excuse about moving things faster.  He struggled vaguely against the hand holding onto his wrists, but gave up when that grip tightened and drew another soft moan from his lips.

Humming out his pleasure, Seifer rubbed his erection against a bare thigh.  "Don't tell me that you actually want this?"

"Yes," the seer hissed as his hips jerked up to match the pumping motions along his hardened member.

Unexpectedly, the fighter stilled for several seconds, and then said, "Shit, you really do want this."

"Yes, I think we've determined that," Squall growled out, vaguely embarrassed that he was forced to pleasure himself by thrusting into the calloused hand.  But abruptly that hand released its hold, and from there the hand rested on his cheek, overwhelming the blind man with the scent of his own musk.

"You never wanted this before," Seifer stated in an interested tone.  "Sure, we've had a decent amount of sex in the past months, but you've always been distant about the whole thing.  What changed?"

Breathing heavily, the brunet stared up into darkness, most of his thoughts yelling out that deeper questions had no place during sex.  It was left to his remaining logical side to provide a suitable reply - "I don't know and don't care, so fuck me already."

After a shocked moment, the fighter laughed deeply and freely before initiating a kiss which was filled with his good humor and passion.  Not breaking that kiss, the hand left Squall's cheek as the blond reached for something on the blanket.  A light floral scent made the blind man sigh as his leg around Seifer tightened in anticipation.  Oiled fingers worked their way deep into him, making Squall hiss out as the rough skin stroked the sensitive walls of his anus.

Quickly prepared, the blind man was granted a few preparatory breath before heated hardness nudged against his opening in a vague warning.  With a single sharp thrust, the oiled thickness buried partway into Squall, causing the brunet to arch back and thrust his hips forward to further impale himself on the throbbing warmth.  Seifer laughed softly at the seer, then putting his mouth to better use as he kissed and nipped at sensitized skin while carefully moving himself deeper.  Once completely sheathed, the larger man did nothing further except to tease the vaguely shaking brunet with his skilled tongue and lips.

Groaning in frustration, Squall used his leg for leverage as he shifted forward and back, the force and speed not as hard as he desired, but with the hand still tight around his wrists, it was the best he could manage with the blond taunting him.

With a quiet hush, Seifer said, "Stop for moment and relax."

Reluctantly, the blind man followed the order, but he couldn't prevent the sporadic clenching of his anus around the thick intrusion.

"Good," the fighter said in a whispered breath.  Leaning forward, he licked the curve of an ear before saying, "It's alright, Squall.  I'm here and I won't leave you alone."

Sightless eyes widened before closing in a relieved expression.  "Please..."

In reply, Seifer gently kissed the lowered eyelids, and then leaned back to better position himself to thrust into the willing body.  Squall lost himself in his constant darkness, forgetting his burdens and pains in exchange for the simpler sensations of driving hardness, groaning breaths, and increasing heat.  His eventual release came hard and unexpectedly fast, leaving a metallic taste in his mouth as the seer realized he had bit his tongue during the climax.  Shortly after, Seifer found his own satisfaction and knelt with panting breath over the prone man.

"My wrists hurt."

The bruising grip instantly loosened at the declaration, but the hand didn't release its hold.  "Is that blood on your lips?"

Squall huffed, then turned his head so that he could spit out the bloodied saliva.

"Shit, that must have been some orgasm," Seifer stated smugly.  His free hand cupped the seer's chin to make him face upward.  "Let me help you with that," he said, then bringing their lips together in a soft kiss.  His lips moved vaguely against Squall's, creating a cold breeze which flowed between their mouths and healed the minor wound with ease.

"That wasn't necessary," the seer muttered as Seifer pulled back.

"Do you really think I'd leave you with a reason to be crankier than usual?"

"... ..."

"Point made," the fighter said with amusement, only then removing himself with a quiet grunt.

As the man made to lie down, Squall pointed out, "You left a mess."

"So I did.  I'll have to take care of that later."  He promptly wrapped his arms around the brunet's chest and pulled him up against his heated body.

His wrists finally free, Squall lowered his arms and attempted to massage the soreness away.  A gentle breeze then flowed over his exposed and sweaty skin, causing him to shiver and shift back further against the accommodating blond.  Resting there with the heavy scent of sex wrapped around him, Squall reached out with one hand and fingered the cool grass at the edge of the blanket.  It was a peaceful and reviving moment as soft breaths of the soon sleeping blond caressed his neck, but the seer couldn't help to wonder how long such tranquility could last.


The sunlit meadows of grass and wild flowers eventually gave way to thick clusters of trees and bushes as they continued to travel further west than south while skirting the base of a large hillside.  Seifer was intrigued by the discoveries of fruit and flowers he had never seen before, but living in the central regions of the continent for most of his life, he wasn't surprised by the occasional differences.  He only wished he was better with words to describe everything to the blind man.

Glancing back at his traveling partner, Seifer smiled at the soft brown tan that the man had gained during the weeks of walking.  The fighter still clearly remembered the day they met at the coliseum when the seer had given him the useless warning about his potential death.  Squall was pale and sickly in those days, not to mention too thin despite his obvious strength to travel days without the convenience of sight.  But now he was a different man with his stride more self-assured instead of rushed, his eyes lacking deeper shadows, and his words still sharp but holding more hope than before.  In all, he was gorgeous.

Without warning, Squall stopped in place as an odd expression of anxiousness crossed his face.

Slowing to a halt and turning to face him fully, Seifer asked, "Something wrong, kitten?"

Not replying, the blind man looked to the edge of the thick forest which reached out from around the hill.  Curious, the fighter followed the direction of the man's gaze, and when he saw nothing of interest, he shook his head for thinking that the seer was purposefully staring at something visible.

"Do you need a rest or something?"

Cloudy eyes not shifting, Squall said, "It hates me..."

"And what hates you exactly?"

The brunet shook his head dazedly.  "Before us... that place...  It's screaming at me."

A pale eyebrow raised, Seifer looked back at the innocent looking forest.  "Well, I guess we could walk around it."

"No.  This is where you're supposed to fix your sword."

The fighter scoffed.  "There are such people called blacksmiths, you know."

"You need more than they can offer."

"And I'm supposed to find something better in a forest?"

Squall's only reply was a light glare in the blond's approximate direction before he began walking toward the forest.  Smirking at the idea of a blind man leading the way, Seifer shifted his pack into a better position on his shoulders and then followed the dark-haired man.  Their pace slowed once they entered the fairly dense forest, Squall refusing any aid the blond offered.  As they went deeper, Seifer was surprised by the sense of unease building in his chest.  While trying to convince himself that it was only the seer's odd behavior getting to him, the fighter couldn't stop the need to finger the dagger sheathed at his side.

Sometime later, Squall stopped and leaned heavily against an aged tree.  Concerned, Seifer approached the brunet, for the first time hearing ragged breaths from the fit man.  Placing a hand on the bent neck, the fighter was surprised by the severe shaking of the lithe body.

"Squall, what's wrong?"

The seer shook his head.  "I'll be fine.  There should be a cave nearby."

"And?"

"That's where your sword will be remade.  I didn't see how, though.  It didn't make sense."

Seifer sighed and glanced over the cliff area covered in vines.  "It's not worth it if you're suffering from simply standing here."

"Then leave me and get this done."

"Are you crazy?  I haven't forgotten yet about what happened the last time I left you alone."

"There is nobody to hurt me.  It's just this place..."

Uncertain, the fighter looked back at the blind man.  "How long will this take me?

"Not long."

"And you'll wait at the entrance of this supposed cave?"

Squall nodded tiredly in reply.

After a defeated sigh, Seifer said, "Then let's find the damned place and get the fuck out of here."

The cavern wasn't difficult to find despite the entrance being hidden behind a thick collection of vines.  Dropping his pack to the ground, Seifer removed the broken sword which had been wrapped in a thick fabric.  That clutched under his arm, he shifted his attention to the unsteady seer.  Brushing aside dark strands of hair, he cupped his hand around the attractive face and leaned in close, pausing a bare moment to savor their closeness before lightly kissing parted lips.

"Stop delaying," Squall muttered into the kiss.

Smirking, the blond said a sarcastic, "Yes, sir."

Reluctantly leaving the blind man behind, Seifer entered the cave with a show of confidence he didn't quite feel.  After a short distance into the fairly narrow tunnel, the blond tripped and nearly fell to the hard ground.  Glancing back at the interfering object, he was surprised by the sight of fairly large crystal of deep purple sticking up from the ground.  With the decision to check it out later, Seifer resumed his journey deeper into the cave.  It wasn't for some time before he questioned his ability to see his way through the tunnel, but that abnormality was discounted when he noticed a faint light further ahead.

Eventually Seifer found himself in an expansive room covered with the same purple crystal as before, but with the greater collection of the crystals, the faint light they contained was obvious and somewhat unnerving.  Ignoring the unease he felt, the fighter glanced around the room and found no other entrances to the cavern or anything else of note except an obvious altar of black stone standing at the far wall.  Sharp green eyes studied the inanimate object for some time before Seifer decided that he was being ridiculous and approached the dark altar.  After several slow steps, purple light abruptly flashed from under foot and startled the blond as he stumbled back several step.  Eyes wide, he watched as a series of lines lit up to form odd lettering around the altar, gradually approaching the stone before alighting it with the same deep purple glow.

Sounds of cracking alerted Seifer into covering his face before the altar exploded and riddled the room with bits and pieces of dark stone.  Coughing from the dust, the fighter lowered his arm to stare dumbly at the remains of the altar, or more importantly, the darkly skinned beast standing on top of the scattered pieces.  The muscular body of black and blood red coloring was revealed as large bat-like wings unfolded and shook sharply to be rid of bits of stone.  Stretching out its large form, the demon growled deeply and the purple crystals shone brighter at the vague command.  Jaundice yellow eyes then narrowed and peered down at the blond man, the lack of discernable pupils making its glare more intimidating.

::Why have you disturbed me, human?::

Somehow meeting the unnatural gaze, Seifer took a challenging step forward.  "Well, I think I'm here about a sword."

Nonexistent lips of the demon pulled back to reveal sharp teeth in a vicious sneer.  ::So another Hero appears for my help.  How... boring::

Holding back his curiosity at being 'another Hero', the fighter shrugged.  "Help me or don't help me.  I personally wanted to go to a proper smithy, but I was instructed to come here."

The yellow eyes narrowed in offense, but Seifer didn't flinch under the threatening gaze.  His boldness earned him an odd chuckle from the demon just before its clawed hand flicked up and the bundle containing the broken sword instantly flew into the inhuman hand.  The blanket burst into black flame, and as the ashes fluttered to the ground, the demon examined the silver blade.  With a neutral grunt, the dark beast fitted the two pieces together, and at the divided line, deep purple light flared around the edges for a bare moment.  Then grasping the hilt, the demon slashed the blade downward to prove its mended state.

"Nice trick," Seifer murmured, truthfully surprised by the ease with which the sword had been fixed.  "So what now?  I thank you and leave you to your rest?"

A sharp toothed grin formed.  ::You think it would be that easy, human?  No, the warrior chosen by Hyne deserves far more::

The echoing sound of rushed steps briefly distracted Seifer as he slipped back a foot to better see the entrance to the expansive room.  His attention divided, he didn't notice the sudden movement of the demon until too late.  The dark beast suddenly close, the Hero's own blade had been raised high in clawed hands and drove downward in the center of the fighter's chest.  Green eyes wide, Seifer stared helplessly into the vicious sneer of the demon.

"NO!"

The shout reverberated in the room of crystal, the purple light flaring to match the anguished call.  Glancing behind him, Seifer stared at the form of his seer and tried to say something, anything to the man, but his breath was gone.

::The Protector:: the demon hissed in a venomous tone.  The clawed hands released their hold on the hilt of the sword, letting the fighter drop to his knees.  ::How dare you show yourself here::

Squall didn't reply as he advanced despite Seifer's mental calls to escape.  The demon sneered at the bold nature of the brunet, then extending a hand in the man's direction.  Darkness swirled briefly in the leathery palm before the orb of magic launched over the fallen blond to attack the blind man.  Seifer heard the seer's footsteps pause at the strike, but they then restarted to prove the man's unharmed status.  Yellowed eyes narrowed with a dangerous gleam just as large wings snapped back to lift the demon into the air.

Helpless to stop the demon or protect his seer, Seifer carefully touched the hilt pressed against his chest and instantly hissed at the overwhelming flare of pain the gentle touch caused.  Breathing shallowly, he couldn't understand why he was still alive and was forced to suffer through listening to the sounds of Squall fighting the unnatural creature.  Each pained cry of the blind man tore through Seifer, while every surprised noise of the demon brought a weak smirk to pale lips.

Eventually the fight moved into the blond's view and green eyes widened as he witnessed the power Squall kept hidden within his lean frame.  Holding his silver knife in one hand, the blind man waited for the flap of a wing or other noises by the demon before he'd whisper a sharp command and fling a curse in the beast's direction.  More often than not, the magical attacks would land against leathery skin and cause a low grunt to sound through sharp teeth now coated in greenish blood.  But Squall was sporting his own burnt flesh from dark magic and cuts from physical attacks.  Seifer could only shake his head weakly, wishing that he could force his unresponsive body to move.

The seer suddenly stopped in place with his eyes closed and his arms crossed in front of his chest while he murmured a quiet spell.  The dark beast chuckled and quickly took advantage of the situation, but before his outreached hand could connect with vulnerable flesh, Squall's eyes snapped open to reveal glowing whiteness.  The crystals of the room flared with the glow of soft purple before white light momentarily blinded Seifer from viewing the scene.  His sight eventually returning, the blond stared at the heavily panting brunet who stood unsteadily in the same position as before, but the dark beast had been driven away.  Glancing further back, Seifer smiled weakly at the sight of the demon lying on its back and unmoving.

Hesitating for several moments while listening for movement, Squall eventually turned toward the fighter and took an uncertain step forward.  "Seifer...?"

Trying to speak, the blond ended up coughing and choking at the taste of blood.

The sound was enough for the blind man as he slightly shifted his direction before walking with more confident steps.  "What happened to you?"

Seifer wished he could point out the stupidity of the question, but instead, he noticed fast movement from the corner of his eye and stared horrified as a black blur tackled the unsuspecting seer.  Squall landed hard against the wall made of crystal, a sharp cry emitting from the brunet before a clawed hand clamped around the long throat in a strangling hold.

::Protector:: the demon hissed, its burnt and tattered wings fluttering with fury.  ::I pray the demons of Hell feast upon your soul::

Sightless eyes opened wide when an inhuman hand settled on his chest and claws slowly dug through the thin shirt and deep into his body.

Watching the bright red blood soak through cloth, Seifer's vision snapped to black and white as everything was given a golden hue.  Grabbing onto the hilt of his sword with both hands, he pulled on the blade despite the intense pain of the metal sliding through his body.  Eventually he was forced to grab onto the blade itself, cutting his hands as he slowly removed the sword from his chest.  Once extracted, the weapon clanged to the floor as Seifer screamed out in agony when he suffered through the sudden sensation of being burned alive.

Once free of the short-lived pain, Seifer glared in the direction of the demon, his oddly colored sight making it difficult identify the object in a clawed hand.  Sickness flash through the fighter as he recognized the still beating heart which glowed with faint silver, but his nausea was quickly replaced by overwhelming fury.  Blindly grabbing onto his sword, Seifer launched up onto his feet and charged the bewildered demon.  The seer and heart were dropped to the floor as the dark beast attempted to defend itself, but the fighter was too fast for the creature and the wide blade of Hyperion buried deep into the muscular chest.  Clawed hands reached out and wrapped around the man's throat, attempting to strangle the blond.  Seifer sneered at feeling no pain from the attack, and then placed a hand next to the impaled sword.  Speaking a sharp word he didn't know, the fighter felt the entire body shudder beneath his hand before the demon went limp such that only the sword held the creature up right.  Its eyes remained open, but the light of before was gone and replaced with a coldness of death.

Breathing shaky breaths, Seifer wanted to slice the demon open and remove every body part before setting the body outside for animals to fed upon.  His entire being screamed that he wanted revenge for Squall in some meager way, even if it only meant the lack of a proper burial for the beast.  But instead, Seifer reached out a hand and lightly pressed his fingertips against the deformed face.  Unwanted tears slipped down rough cheeks as Seifer reluctantly spoke words of sending for the demon.  Dark mist immediately seeped from the creature, its flesh and body dissolving along with the foul cloud, and with the final word, the blond was left with an aged skeleton hanging on the sword.  Letting the bones drop to the ground, Seifer stared briefly at the oddly human frame which didn't match the demon's previous form.

Blinking away moisture from his eyes, the blond was briefly unbalanced when his vision returned to normal.  Green eyes then caught the sight of his sword, the blade no longer the simple silver of before.  Golden lettering flowed along one half of the blade while marks of dark gray were etched on the other half.  Splitting the two halves was a raised line of white gold which extended to the very tip of the silver blade.

But the sword held little interest to Seifer as he hesitantly turned to face the fallen form of his seer.  With unsteady steps, he approached the unmoving body, and then dropped to his knees to the side of bloodied body.  Gently cupping his hand around the man's head, he moved Squall to rest on his lap.

"What's this bullshit?" Seifer muttered to the unresponsive man.  "You said you couldn't die, you bastard.  How could you lie to me like that?"

Bent over the lifeless body, the blond angrily wiped away the tears which blurred his vision of the brunet.  Fury burned in his chest, Seifer hating the man for getting close to him with the promise that the Hero wouldn't be without his seer.  Shakily, he placed a hand over the gaping wound in the chest he had covered with kisses on more than one occasion.  He wanted to heal that wound, but the uselessness of the task prevented him from speaking a single word of healing.

Unexpectedly, the lithe body rose up into a taut arch and an inhuman scream ripped out from the seer.  Though startled, Seifer didn't move from his position and was eventually able to move in order to stop Squall from clawing at the rock floor before he could cause damage to the elegant fingers.  White light with a greenish hue flashed from the open chest wound, causing a sharper scream from the seer as blood trickled over pale lips.  Confused and a bit frightened, Seifer moved the brunet to the floor to gain leverage and hold down the thrashing man.  Green eyes flicked over to the discarded heart from before, now engulfed in the same white-green light as it slowly vanished from view.  Having no other idea of what to do, Seifer pressed down harder on the struggling body and rested his forehead against Squall's while whispering meaningless words in a soothing tone.

After a time which felt like an eternity, quiet settle over the room even though the echoes of screams still rang loudly in the fighter's ears.  A soft choking sound came from the brunet, making Seifer sit up instantly and stare down at the man.  Stormy eyes were open and surprisingly clear as they shifted and gazed directly into green eyes.  But as Seifer watched, clouds of whiteness swirled in the dark pupils and quickly settled to result in the familiar sightless glaze.  Another choked sound left Squall, it being more discernable as a held back sob.  But despite the man's obvious pain, Seifer couldn't stop his wide smile as he placed a hand against a tear-wetted cheek.

"I want out of here," Squall declared in a rough voice.

"You come back to life right before my eyes and that's all you have to say?"

"There is still a sickness here...  It hates me..."  A frown then formed as the blind man reached out to touch the blond.  "You're safe?" he asked with deep concern.

The simple question startled Seifer as he placed his hand over the one resting on his healed chest.  "Apparently... I'm pretty certain that I should be dead, though."

An odd smile crossed lips darkened with drying blood.  "You're hard to kill."

Deciding to accept that answer, the fighter retrieved his changed sword and quickly sheathed the weapon before taking the smaller man into his arms.  Squall grumbled at the treatment, but otherwise didn't argue given his situation.  While enjoying the chance to hold his living seer close to his chest, a part of Seifer also hated the fact that the man needed to be carried.

"Wait.  My knife..."

Smiling softly that Squall cared about the weapon, the fighter said, "It's at your side."

Once the blind man found the silver blade and clutched it against his chest, Seifer stood up with an exaggerated groan to earn himself an unamused glare from the brunet.  With careful steps, the large man carried his load out of the cavern, though he made certain to 'accidentally' kick the aged bones during his exit.  Eventually walking out into open light, Seifer took a deep breath of fresh air and relaxed at the lack of tension which had nearly suffocated him in the cavern of crystals.

But that moment of relief quickly passed when Seifer eyed their apparent audience which his adjusting vision hadn't noticed upon exiting the dimly lit caves.

"Seifer...?"

"Who... What are you?" the blond asked, trusting Squall to understand the message that they weren't alone.

The group of five creatures chattered nonsense at the stern tone, a couple of them moving back a step with worried expressions.  All of the pale creatures stood shorter than Squall's height, bared lengthy and pointy chins, and lacked all apparent body hair.  But most distinctive were their huge hands which seemingly extended to their elbows.  While Seifer didn't notice a visible weapon among the group, he was learning that there was more to fear than simple blades and sticks.

One of the strangers wearing a bright red robe dared a step forward before bowing deeply.  "Forgive our unannounced meeting, but we felt the presence of the Hero and wanted to offer our services."

Seifer sneered at the odd creatures.  "To what, bury me?"

The group shifted nervously and resumed the murmurs in their language before the apparent leader rose his absurdly large hand.  "Indeed, other Heroes have died at the touch of the cursed one.  But you survived, proving your strength."  The dark eyes of the creature then shifted to Squall, its hairless eyebrows raising in surprise.  It turned sharply to the others and burst out in a new string of gibberish which was slowly getting on Seifer's nerves.

"Tell me what you're saying, or I swear to kill every last one of you."

One of the creatures squeaked at the threat while another hid behind a tree ridiculously too thin to protect it from harm.  Only the leader seemed fairly unbothered by the man nearly twice its size.  "Again, forgive us, but we had never heard of a willing Protector surviving this long.  It is... an exciting prospect."

Green eyes narrowed as he held the blind man closer to his chest.

"Enough, Seifer," the seer said while shifting in discomfort.  When the tight hold loosened a degree, Squall looked toward the strangers, his gaze too high for the short creatures.  "You never told us who you were."

Dark eyes still wide in awe, the leader bowed clumsily.  "Forgive my rudeness.  We are shumi, our names unpronounceable in your language."

"Shumi?  What the fuck are those?" Seifer asked while forcing himself to not crush the man in his protective hold.

"They can be trusted," Squall stated, burying a hand deep into his dark hair in a sign that his voices were being overly loud.  "They honor the Spirits and their wishes."

While the creatures started their whispers once more, the fighter stared down at the brunet.  "Are you certain about that?  I mean, these things aren't human and we haven't had a great track record with beasties."

"Don't be offensive," the seer said tersely.  Then resting his head on a broad shoulder, he spoke in softer tones.  "I'm sorry.  I swear that I had no knowledge that you would be attacked in there."

"Which gives me good reason to not trust these... things."

Vaguely shaking his head, Squall said, "There was comfort in my vision, but I misplaced it.  It wasn't in the cavern where we would be safe, but with these people."

The shumi leader dared another step forward.  "A-ah, the Protector honors us."

Glaring at the creature for its interruption, Seifer said, "Listen, shamu, if I trust you, it'll be because this man convinces me to trust you.  Until then, shut up."

With a sigh, the seer shifted his clouded eyes in the group's direction once more.  "Forgive his rudeness.  It hasn't been an easy afternoon."

"Forgiven," the creature said with a bow and something that may have been a smile.

The need for Seifer to further vent his frustrations was prevented as a cold hand rested on the side of his neck.

"Trust them," Squall said with confidence, but his exhaustion was also apparent to the blond, and that more than anything forced him to surrender despite his suspicions.

"Fine," the fighter said with an unhappy sigh.

The odd smile of the red-robed shumi widened.  "Most wonderful.  We would be privileged if you would join us at our sanctuary.  But first, if I may inquire, what has happened to the cursed one?"

"I sent him," Seifer stated simply.

That caused another round of chattering from the creatures who had gained some boldness as their leader continued to be unthreatened by the Hero.  But instead of ceasing their talk, the four clothed in dark robes waddled toward the cavern entrance and went inside.

The fighter scoffed.  "The little bastards don't trust my word."

The leader quickly shook his head.  "Not at all, Hero.  We merely wish to grant the human a proper burial."

"That was no human in there," Seifer said in a dark tone while thinking about the claws which had ripped through his seer.

"He was the cursed one, but you saved him.  You are truly a chosen warrior of Hyne."  Turning and waddling away from the cavern, it continued to say, "Come.  You will eat and rest in our sanctuary."

"Wait, our packs--"

"The others will bring them.  Come.  The elders will want to meet the Hero and Protector."

Staring at the slightly hunched back of the shumi, Seifer frowned.  "I don't want to trust them."

"Then don't," Squall replied.  "But I'm unbalanced with this stupid child Spirit rattling on in my mind.  I need to rest somewhere safe."

"And you really think we'll be safe with these shemees?"

"Shumi, and yes."

Sighing deeply, Seifer squeezed the blind man tightly in a silent response that he trusted Squall's judgment, and then followed after the small creature.  Stepping carefully through the fairly thick foliage of the forest, the fighter tried to not think about the day's happenings, and instead focused on the warm weight in his arms.  Apparently needing extra closeness, Squall lightly nudged his face against Seifer's neck.  Whether on purpose or not, the blond didn't care as he savored the warm breath of life against his skin.  His thoughts hardly focused on their journey, Seifer considered his chances of finding a comfortable dungeon where he could lock up the difficult seer and keep him safe from any possible harm beyond a sore ass.  His thoughts continuing along the line of chains and shackles, the blond had enough distractions to get him through carrying his seer without complaining about the brunet's love of pastries.

 

{Continued}

 

Author's Whining -- Evil muses making me write this stupidly long chapter...  Anyway, be happy and relieved since I'm no longer doing the ending I originally had planned for this story.  That dream/future walk Squall does in the beginning of this chapter was the ending I wanted to do, but no, everyone got worried about poor Seifer.  That, and I would feel bad about dragging people this far with the story to have it become a quasi-deathfic.  Then again, I originally came up with this damned story for the purpose of killing off Seifer, so I was stubborn with giving up that ending.  Really, Seifer doesn't technically die.  It's just a case of Seifer being unable to connect with this world.  And yes, since Hyne feels Seifer's desires, the god ends up with a crush on Squall, but that goes nowhere since Squall only wants Seifer.  Whee, angst is fun... and now I don't get to do it except in Squall's dreams. =P

Anywho, yes, this story gets continually longer as new people decide they want to appear.  And I never imagined that those stupid shumis would decide that they wanted a cameo.  Since I haven't played the game in years, I don't remember if they had a specific way of speaking.  I seem to remember Norg having a fururushi or something noise, but the regular shumi had a normal way of speaking... *shrug*  In the end, this is an AU fic, so I can do whatever the hell I want.  So there. ^_-