Blind Sight
May 2005

 

There was one time in his youth that Seifer had nearly died.  He had been with Irvine, the two boys attempting to walk across an icy lake after a dare from some older boys in their town.  Being early spring, it shouldn't have been a surprise when the ice cracked beneath their feet.  Frightened for his 'brother', Seifer had shoved the lanky youth back onto thicker ice, but the rough move caused the ice beneath him to break and the blond plummeted into frozen water.  Seifer couldn't remember what had happened afterwards, but forever within his mind were the unsettling memories of intense coldness and the overwhelming urge to sleep.

It was experiencing those same sensations now that made Seifer think of that time long ago, years before he had learned how to wield a blade, a decade before he knew of his destiny, and a lifetime before he had fallen in love.

The reminder of Squall helped the blond to struggle his way from unconsciousness, but it wasn't until he heard the agonized screams of the brunet that green eyes snapped open.  Seifer was immediately disoriented by the sight of black stone hanging high above him, but worse was his inability to move.  Something buzzed at the back of his mind, a vague memory of why he was lying in the middle of a cavern that was dimly lit by large pillars of crystal, but it was difficult for him to think clearly.  Managing to first move a heavy arm, Seifer tenderly examined the hurting region at the back of his head and removed his hand to discover it smeared with cooled blood.

"S... Seifer...?"

The weary call made Seifer turn his head, his eyes then widening at the sight of Squall lying limply on his side only a short distance away.  Tracks of dried tears mixed with dark dust trailed down his cheeks and his thick hair was more messed than usual.  Looking lower, emerald eyes then narrowed as they identified the dark bruising of fingers which marred the seer's long neck.

Not knowing how he managed to move, Seifer was suddenly kneeling at the brunet's side, though he didn't touch the lithe form in fear of hurting the seer.  "What's wrong, Squall?  What happened?"

To the fighter's surprise, stormy eyes of blue-gray shifted up to stare directly at his face.  "Seifer... I thought you were dead."

"You... you can see me?" Seifer asked while settling a shaky hand at the man's cheek.

"A-ah, your destiny has been fulfilled.  Hyne no longer has a need for me."  Clear eyes moistened vaguely as they glanced over the features of the blond.  "You are filthy."

Before Seifer could further question the unstable seer, Squall inhaled sharply as his entire body was covered by a chilling blue glow.  Rolling to his back, the lean body arched into a painful pose as pleading whimpers escaped pale lips.  Seifer reached out without knowing how to help the seer, but then promptly pulled back with a curse when a layer of frost had covered his fingers.  The glow shifted around the brunet as it slowly lifted from the taut body.  And when the blue light began to take the shape of a woman, Seifer felt his entire body go cold for a reason beyond the presence of the snow goddess.

With Shiva fully removed, Squall's body fell limply to the ground as the brunet sighed in pained relief.  Stormy eyes turned up to the hovering Spirit, but his hand stretched out to the stunned blond.  Holding the chilled hand tightly, Seifer watched as the two beauties stared at each other, only the vague expressions crossing Squall's face suggesting that the snow goddess was somehow speaking to him.  She turned suddenly, her pale blue skin sparkling as the damp air crystallized around her face.  Cerulean lips curled into a pleased smile before Shiva blew a kiss in parting, the Spirit then vanishing into fine mist.

"She couldn't help leaving without an 'I told you so'."  Turning to look at the Hero, Squall smiled bitterly.  "Shiva was always adamant that I belonged with you."

Seifer glared at the seer.  "Don't fucking play with me, Squall.  Why was she leaving you in the first place?  If she leaves you..."  The blond couldn't finish his question, afraid of the answer he would receive.

"While helping me to restrain Altemehsia, you came in contact with the sealed form of Hyne, and thereby released him."

Irritated by the calm tone of the seer, Seifer demanded, "What does that--"

Squall interrupted without raising his voice.  "You no longer have the voice of Hyne, Seifer.  He has been freed and he currently demands the presence of his children."

The fighter immediately looked over his shoulder, startled by the truth that the frozen body of Hyne was no longer present in the cavern.  Unable to remember when he had come in contact with the statue or even when Hyne had departed, Seifer unconsciously reached back with his free hand to touch the cut at the back of his skull.  The slight pain triggered flashes of memories, and with a horrified expression, Seifer recalled the moment when Altemehsia had grabbed him and used her inhuman strength to toss him aside.  For that split second in midair, the fighter had known where he would hit, but there was nothing he could have done.  In the next moment, there had been the painful impact against stone, the covering of darkness, and the Hero had sunken into icy unconsciousness.

Looking back to the prone seer, Seifer stared into clear eyes to find a mix of love and surrender in the stormy depths.  "But... if they leave you..."

The brunet's shadow of a smile widened vaguely as he closed his eyes.  "I thought you were dead.  And now, I can't stop myself from being disappointed that you're alive."

Tightening his grip on the hand in his hold, Seifer demanded, "What will happen if the Spirits leave you?"

"Only Griever remains out of stubbornness.  But once he leaves..."  Squall opened his eyes to stare up at the ceiling, to stare Heavenward.  "I will die."

Harder than he realized, Seifer grabbed onto the shirt of the seer and shoved down with a heavy hand.  "Then tell him to stay!  Don't let him leave you!"

"And let him suffer Hyne's wrath for me?"

"Yes!" Seifer yelled out, his desperate cry echoing in the cavern and making him realize how pathetic he sounded.  Regaining some control of his emotions, the blond restated, "He owes you.  They all owe you for every piece of shit that's been handed to you in this life.  Why do you have to die when we're... We're free, Squall.  You and me and nothing else."

The seer exhaled deeply as a blood red glow gradually formed around his body.  "I'll wait for you... in Hell."

Green eyes went wide as Seifer was pushed away from his lover by the crimson glow of the escaping demigod.  Sitting back on his heels, the fighter watched stunned as, unlike the slow departure of the winter goddess, the haze of red tore out from the seer and shot into the darkness of the ceiling above.  Startled by the abrupt display, Seifer wasted precious seconds before returning his attention to the brunet.  But Squall's eyes were already closed, his chest still, and his hand limp within the hold of the Hero.

Unable to react to the sudden death of his lover, Seifer continued to hold onto the still hand as he stared down at the face set in a serene expression.  Eventually the blond was able to move as he placed his free hand on a shoulder and shook the limp form gently.

"Come on, kitten, you know that you aren't allowed to die.  Come back to me like you always do."

Even though he spoke the words, Seifer knew in this heart that his voice couldn't be heard by the lost seer.  Choking back the urge to cry, the large man grabbed onto the unresponsive body and held him close.  Though the soul was missing, the body still smelled the same and the brunet was never really warm to the touch.  But even in his state of denial, Seifer found no peace from holding his lover.

"His spirit no longer belongs to the Earth."

Seifer jerked up straight at the low feminine voice, his emerald eyes flashing dangerously as he glared at the woman who stood next to the casket of black stone.  Hardly covered by an outfit of white silk, Altemehsia smirked with the arrogance of the gods, an expression that made Seifer itch for her blood on his hands.  But the urge to fight the resurrected goddess quickly vanished as he remembered that there was nothing left to protect, and though his sword burned at his side, Seifer remained kneeling with the deceased seer cradled in his arms.

Dark amethyst lips twisted into an intrigued smile as Altemehsia shifted her pose and ran an elegant hand through her long platinum hair.  "The last I remember, it took half a dozen Heroes to fight against me.  Am I now so weak that my Father chose to enlist a single Hero and his Protector?"

Seifer gritted his teeth at the taunting edge to the seductive voice, but looking at his seer, he recalled the sympathy Squall held for the damaged goddess.  "I'm not here to fight you," the Hero said as he reluctantly moved his eyes from the brunet and to the fair-haired woman.  "We already did what we wanted to do here, and this is our reward.  So kill me if you want.  It doesn't matter anymore."

Altemehsia stepped forward at the words, the jewelry at her ankle and wrists chiming with an unearthly ring.  Stopping a few feet before the Hero and his Protector, the goddess gazed with haunted golden eyes at the unmoving body.  "This face... Is he the one who saved me?"

"I don't know, do those marks on his throat look familiar to you?" Seifer asked with acidic sarcasm.

The goddess frowned as she lifted a shaky hand to her forehead.  Eyes closed, she spoke silent words and the purple markings lining her face and body began to glow a soft white light.  Amethyst lips parted in surprise as bright golden eyes snapped open to stare at the Hero.

"Was he able to heal you?" Seifer asked, not really caring either way, but he had to know if Squall's death was in vain.

Altemehsia didn't reply vocally.  Instead, she stepped closer such that she could kneel gracefully at the other side of the lost man, and with dark lips smiling sadly, she kissed the brunet's brow in a reverent manner.

"Don't ever touch him again," the fighter hissed coolly as he pulled the body closer to his chest.

The goddess smiled wider at the ridiculous threat, but as golden eyes lifted, her smile faded.  "A trei-pernula jarre...

Promptly covering the small glass jar with his hand, Seifer inhaled sharply at the unrealized coldness of the typically warm container.  Closing his eyes in defeat, he asked in a hoarse voice, "Why haven't you killed me yet?"

Altemehsia ignored the implied request.  "Tell me truthfully, Hero, did you steal this child's soul or was it freely given?"

Green eyes opened with an offended gleam.  "Why the fuck--"

"There is no time, boy.  What magic was used to create this trei-pernula jarre?"

Dark anger building within him, Seifer sneered at the goddess.  "I know nothing about the magic, but he cried a few tears, cut open his skin, and then begged me to jack him off.  After that day, he was under my complete control.  Does that answer your question?"

Chuckling softly, Altemehsia stood from the cavern floor.  "I will never understand why Father enjoys having men of such crude tongues to be his messengers on Earth.  I have always considered it counterproductive and unnecessary."

With no response to give, Seifer simply glared at the goddess and watched as she turned her back to him in a slow spin that made her thin clothing flow as if caught in an imaginary wind.  With a simple twist of her wrist and the faint chime of her jewelry, the air in front of her split open into a type of doorway.  Though not recognizing the view beyond the opening, Seifer reflexively clutched tighter onto his lover.

Glancing over her shoulder, Altemehsia smiled gently.  "Afraid, young Hero?"

"Where is that?  What are you doing?"

"I'm visiting an old friend, and you are coming with me."

"Why would I be stupid enough to go anywhere with you?"

"Don't be so hostile, boy.  I may change my mind to help you retrieve your lost Protector from Hell."

His mouth parted in surprise and his heart aching with renewed hope, Seifer stared at the goddess in disbelief.

"Heart, life, and love.  With that combination freely sacrificed to the trei-pernula jarre, you own that man's soul and it is your right to reclaim your property."  Turning her golden eyes to the doorway, Altemehsia added, "But I cannot guarantee the cooperation of my friend."

Seifer glanced down at the brunet in his hold, and smiling weakly, he kissed unresponsive lips in a silent promise to return.  The seer was positioned carefully on floor before Seifer stood stiffly and walked to the side of the goddess.  "So, why wouldn't Khaos want to help his lover?"

"I betrayed his heart," Altemehsia replied succinctly before stepping over the threshold.

Though hesitating at the use of magic he couldn't understand, Seifer followed behind the woman slightly taller than himself.  Stepping from the darkness of the cavern and into a tunnel of red-tinted stone, the blond fighter was surprised by the sharp drop in temperature.  His breaths frosting in front of his face, Seifer asked, "This is Hell?"

The goddess only hummed in reply, the lack of mist from her mouth and nose a somewhat disturbing confirmation to the Hero that he wasn't in the presence of a mere woman.  But in his mind, he had already deemed the woman too perfect to be anything except a goddess - dark purple markings amplified the pure whiteness of her skin, the thin cloth of her outfit hid nothing of her figure, and her golden eyes held a disturbing light which spoke of immortal knowledge.  And as only his footsteps echoed in the stone tunnel, Seifer wondered at the silence of her numerous bracelets and her anklet of tiny bells.

But those random thoughts were pushed aside as they turned a corner and came across an immense doorway of blood red stone.  The goddess paused before the entrance, her eyes shifting in a humanlike wariness that didn't suit the lovely woman.  That hesitation lasted a brief moment before Altemehsia waved her hand in a dismissing motion.  Instantly, the doors parted with an odd groan to reveal a large cavern of little light and ragged stone that presented an imagine which was hardly welcoming.

Walking into that room of red earth, Seifer remained several steps behind the goddess as she strode forward at a casual, but determined pace.  As they approached the far end of the room, the fighter continually glanced over his shoulders as he felt unseen eyes following their every move and he heard faint snickering beyond the tall stalagmite.  Eventually deciding that his wariness was the source of humor for the hidden demons, Seifer forced himself to look directly ahead as if unbothered by their unnatural gazes, but his hand never left the hilt of his sword.

::No further::

The rumbling voice startled Seifer and made him drop into a defensive stance as he grasped tighter onto his blade.  But once staring deeper into the shadowed end of the room, the blond saw a dark form seated on a warped throne made of black crystal.  Seeing the relaxed, almost bored posture of the creature, Seifer straightened and stepped next to the platinum-haired goddess.

Unsurprised by the presence of the demon, Altemehsia called out, "Brother--"

The creature barked a bitter laugh.  ::'Brother,' is it?  How pathetic::

Though vague, the goddess winced at the coolly spoken words.  "Please, don't--"

::Enough.  Why have you brought a human into my realm?::

Green eyes unable to see any features beyond the veil of shadows, Seifer whispered, "Ifrit...?"

After a moment of surprise, a truer laugh sounded from the demon as he rose from the large throne.  ::Ifrit lost his title as King of Hell long ago, but as no living human has visited and returned since those times, I suppose there is no reason for you to know that::

As the creature stepped from the shadows into dim light, Seifer was stunned by the nearly human appearance of the demon.  Long and slender horns of red curled up from dark gray hair, and as large black wings unfurled in an intimidating manner, the demon smirked to reveal bright white teeth and two lengthy fangs that overlapped smaller pointed teeth.  But despite those odd features, the creature of tanned skin settled into a very humanlike stance with his thumbs hooked in the pockets of dark pants.  Most attracting to the blond, however, was the sight of a familiar necklace at the demons chest, the small jar gleaming like molten silver in the dimly lit room.

::A-ah, so I have been given the chance to meet yet another Hero::  With a vague bow, he spoke without his lips moving, ::Welcome to Hell, dog of Hyne.  I am Khaos::

Though the trei-pernula jarre burned on his chest at the demigod's name, Seifer didn't react to the searing touch.  "I'm no dog of Hyne, demon.  It wasn't my fault that I was thrown into the bastard and accidentally released him."

Khaos straightened at the announcement.  ::Hyne has been freed?  Hn, then it is no wonder the spirits have been restless::

"I am the one responsible for Father being freed, but that is not why we have come here."

The demigod frowned at the goddess for her words.  ::'Father'?  When did you start honoring that man again?::

Her face impassive, Altemehsia stated, "I am whole once more, Brother."

Khaos stared at the woman for a long moment before his lips twisted into a hateful smirk.  ::Do you never tire of taunting me, 'Sister'?  But I have you fooled - my heart has turned to stone over the past thousand years.  There is nothing more you can do to harm me::

Nothing showed in the goddess' expression, but Seifer easily recognized the inner anguish of the goddess.  It was the same defeated coldness that once radiated from Squall and it enflamed something deep within the fighter as he witnessed the silent suffering of the deity for whom his seer was sacrificed.  Glaring at the King of Hell for his harsh words, emerald eyes were once more drawn to the necklace of the demon, and after a moment of realization, dry lips formed a slow smirk at the idiocy of the gods.

Drawing out his sword of silver and gold, the Hero sprung behind the platinum-haired goddess and held the blade at her throat.  "Then you won't mind if I killed her now," Seifer asked with a maddened sneer.

Crimson eyes flashed with an alien glow as Khaos smiled casually.  ::While I appreciate the sentiment, Hero, you cannot kill one of our kind::

"Perhaps," Seifer replied in a similarly cool voice, "But this isn't a sword made from human hands."

As the blade dug into pale skin, Altemehsia sighed strangely when silver blood slipped down her throat and onto her chest.  She didn't resist the Hero, but seemingly welcomed the threat of death as she slumped back against the large man.  Eyes closed, her amethyst lips curled into a satisfied smile.

Looking to the silent demon, Seifer smirked and explained, "The one person who meant everything to me healed this woman's soul and was rewarded with death.  She promised me his return, but now I see that she holds no sway over you.  Without Squall, this whore has no worth to me."

Receiving no argument from the demon, Seifer lowered his weapon and shoved the unresisting goddess to the ground, thereby giving himself a better angle at which to behead the fallen woman.  Sword raised high, the Hero stepped forward with a heavy foot and swung his blade down in a fast arc.

But metal never touched pale skin, the blade stopping several inches above Altemehsia as black fluid dripped onto her back.  Seifer smirked at the demon before him, Khaos appearing as surprised as the saved goddess below him that he was grasping onto the deadly blade with his bare hands.  Releasing the sword in a jerky motion, Khaos retreated a step while meeting emerald eyes with a horrified gaze of red.

Lowering the weapon coated with black blood, Seifer rested a hand over his cold trei-pernula jarre.  "Isn't it terrible how we'd do anything for the person we love?"

::The one I loved has died:: Khaos retorted brokenly.

"And she has been revived."

The demon scowled as his crimson eyes flicked down to the goddess sprawled on the ground in an undignified position.  ::She has lied before...::

Unmoving from the floor of red stone, Altemehsia said quietly, "Command me, my Lord, and I will obey."

Khaos stared at the goddess for a long moment, his necklace then flashing bright silver as he demanded, ::Heal me::

Immediately, Altemehsia lifted to a kneeling position, and with the musical chiming of her bracelets, she cupped the injured hands in a tender hold and proceeded to lick the calloused palms free of dark blood.  The demon hid none of his shock at the treatment by his goddess, and once regaining his sense, he jerked a hand free to place blood smeared fingers beneath her chin.  Forcing eye contact, Khaos stared intently at his goddess before his lips parted and an odd guttural language came from his mouth.  Altemehsia choked in relief as she nodded and silver tears crossed pale cheeks. 

Uncomfortable with the actions of the previously emotionless goddess, Seifer looked away and began the task of removing the blood of gods from his blade.  But even with his hands busy, the blond found himself thinking of his own lost love.  While trusting his instinct that the demigod wouldn't have kept his trei-pernula jarre if his love for the goddess was truly gone, Seifer was somewhat disappointed that the demon has chosen to stop the blade instead of attacking the Hero himself.  It didn't seem fair that he was still alive while Squall was alone in death.

"Hero..."

Seifer was startled back into awareness as he glared at the platinum-haired goddess and the winged demon at her side.  "Are you two done now?"

With a gentle smile, Altemehsia shook her head.  "I caused too much pain when my soul was torn apart, but I've been blessed with a patient companion."

::And for my goddess' return, I apparently owe you a favor:: Khaos stated as he walked forward with folded wings.  Giving no warning, the demigod reached out and grasped the fighter's necklace in a clawed hand.  The energy that radiated around the demon made Seifer feel sick at the pit of his stomach, but before he had the mind to push the creature away, Khaos retreated with an odd look.  ::He is not here::

Breathing heavily to drive away his nausea, Seifer demanded, "What the Hell does that mean?"

::Your lover is dead, but he is not here.  This cannot be...::

At the demon's confusion, the blond placed a hand over his necklace and said warily, "Squall had dreams.  There was a place of mist, a room that had a bed, but no door.  He couldn't describe it any better than that, except... he said he didn't belong there."

::And he doesn't belong there::

Startled by the new voice coming from the side, Seifer turned sharply as his hand went directly to his sword.  But the fighter didn't react any further as confusion overwhelmed him at the sight of the demon standing several meters away, a demon who held the same features as the King of Hell.  The only difference was the addition of a bright metallic band around the interloper's throat and a broken chain that hung from the collar.

::Griever...::

The intruder smiled softly at the call of his name, but remained a safe distance away.  ::I know, Brother - I'm not allowed to be here, but I was looking for these two.  My Master needs their help::

::'Master'?:: Khaos asked with disgust.  ::Who has dared to enslave you?::

Griever's fanged smile widened.  ::I gave myself to him willingly.  He's a rare man who has never failed to impress me::

"Squall," Seifer whispered in fearful certainty, and then demanded, "Where's Squall?!"

Crimson eyes shifted to the blond.  ::The Seer is not on Earth, nor is he in Hell.  Where else is left, dear Hero?::

Before Seifer could form an answer of his own, Altemehsia sighed with regret.  "Father, what are you thinking?"

A low growl built up in the Hero's throat, but he quickly suppressed his rage so that it could be better used at a later time.  Stepping to the collared Spirit, Seifer glared up into the creature's eyes and commanded in a low voice, "Take me to him."

::I would, but I am unable reach him.  That is why I came in search of you::  That said, Griever glanced over to the goddess with a silent question.

Altemehsia bowed her head in a slight nod.  "I will take you there."

But before the goddess could approach the Hero and Griever, her hand was taken into a clawed hold and she looked back into the shielded eyes of her demon.  They stared for a time before the King of Hell pleaded quietly, ::Come back to me::

Altemehsia smiled softly.  "Your command is mine to obey, my Lord."

Khaos returned the hesitant smile, and after kissing the pale hand, he loosened his hold.  ::Stay on your guard once you leave here.  Heaven is not a safe place::


Groaning quietly, Squall pressed his face into the cool softness of his pillow.  He felt exhausted and worn, but no matter how much he desired to sleep, a nagging sensation of wrongness kept him from returning to his unconscious state.  Stretching out with a searching hand, Squall frowned at the missing body of the large blond, but when opening his eyes and seeing his surroundings, the seer sat up sharply in wakefulness.  With a shaky hand, he shielded his eyes from the light of the strange room and tried to calm his breaths at the miracle of being able to see.

But as Squall relaxed, a sudden tear escaped him as he remembered why his vision had been returned.  His head bowed and his eyes closed, he whispered hoarsely, "Seifer...  Seifer, I'm so sorry."

"There's nothing to be sorry for."

Startled, Squall turned around sharply and stared with disbelief at the man standing just beyond the wide bed.  White mist curled around torn pants, bright light shone on tan skin smeared with black dust, and golden hair stuck out in all directions from dried sweat and blood.  To Squall's eyes, he couldn't imagine a more beautiful sight.  Reaching out for the large man, he was allow freedom pass the edge of the bed, but only up to his shoulder where a shield forcefully repelled him and kept him apart from the Hero.

Before Squall could consider his cage, strong arms were around him, nearly smothering him as he was held tightly.  "I'm here, kitten.  Everything will be fine now."

Staring over the man's shoulder, Squall suddenly felt numb and confused as he tensed in his lover's hold.  "How did you get here?"

"I have my ways," the blond murmured as he pulled back to gaze into blue-gray eyes.  "But you had me fooled - you said I would find you in Hell, but here you are in Heaven."

Helplessly, Squall lost himself in emerald eyes as strong hands moved to his shoulders and gently pressed him back onto the mattress.  Then hot lips were on his skin, searing something inside of him, and as rough hands slipped beneath his shirt, Squall gasped as the symbol existing on his chest burned with the impossible mixture of heat and ice.  Stormy eyes went wide as the seer made his first attempt to escape the larger man, but his wrists were quickly taken in a single-handed hold and pressed against the mattress.

"Come now, kitten, there's no reason to be skittish."

Cold fury took control of the seer as he glared up with icy eyes.  "You have no right to call me that."

A pale eyebrow rose in confused humor.  "What are you talking about?"

"Don't think you can play Seifer so easily."

Though the blond continued to play stupid for a few extra moments, he eventually broke out into a broad grin.  "It's been a long time since a human has seen through one of my masks."

Before anything more was said, loud thumping reverberated throughout the room and caused the surrounding mist to swirl in an invisible wind.  Both the seer and the man above him turned to stare beyond the foot of the bed where a crack of light had appeared in the 'wall' of haze.  The hand pinning his wrists tightened as another crash sounded and the large crack splintered into web of light.  In a confusing sight, the wall seemed to break apart as three figures were granted entrance into the room, but with a single wave of mist, the wall returned to its previous condition and Squall was overcome by the renewed sense of imprisonment.

"Squall--"  The true Seifer was efficiently held back by soft touch of the goddess, but the blond fighter made certain to have his anger known as he glared hotly at the deity.

Gazing at his lover, Squall was struck by the difference between the human and the god who had taken his form.  Everything was the same in sight, but the seer could sense something more to the arrogant Hero, something that made the man an irritating and irresistible force.  Smiling softly in relief and sorrow, Squall called out, "Seifer... you shouldn't be here."

"You shouldn't be here either, you fucking liar.  And what in Hell's name are you doing with... with..."  Pale eyebrows scrunched in ultimate confusion as the blond finally noticed the god mimicking his form.  "The fuck...?"

The god laughed lightly from his position over the seer.  "I'm afraid you've caught me at a bad moment, Hero.  While I imagine you want a reward for releasing me from my prison, now is not the time."

"You fucking bastard--"

"Enough, Father," Altemehsia interrupted coolly as she restrained the fighter once more.  "Why have you stolen that soul from Hell?"

"Ho-oh, so I'm your father once more?  Should I be flattered?"

"Do not be patronizing.  You are forever my father no matter what lies between us."

Green eyes changed to hard metallic blue though the god remained in Seifer's form.  "Then why do you never honor and obey your father?"

"Because, while I was created from you body, I do not share your mind."

"How convenient," Hyne murmured while bending down to press his lips on the bared stomach of the seer.  "Leave us.  I have my new pet to claim."

Altemehsia breathed a laugh.  "You do not want that human.  The Hero's emotions have affected your sense."

The god lifted slightly, his eyes narrowing in thought as he examine the brunet beneath him.  "Hn... Perhaps I was trapped in that human's shell for too many years.  But..."  Hyne smiled lustfully before resting his weight on the smaller man, thereby trapping him further as their lips met in a one-sided kiss.  The god then jerked back, growling as silver blood dripped from his mouth.  But the minor wound healed instantly as Hyne sneered at his captive.  "Cute, 'kitten', but I'll have you know that I've mated with demons who bore sharper fangs than you."

"Let me go!!"

Squall smiled at the fury of his Hero, the man now restrained by both Griever and the goddess of light.  "I have more than fangs," Squall stated lightly.  Taking advantage of Hyne's confusion, the brunet used a technique that Seifer had taught him to slip a hand free of its restraint and sharply grabbed the exposed neck of the god.  Instantly, the seer’s body was enveloped in a white light as stony eyes meet the startled gaze of the god.

Once collecting himself, Hyne smiled softly at the brunet, though his metallic eyes belied his casual amusement.  “Do you really believe that a human soul can contain the life of an eternal god?”

Undaunted, Squall returned the false smile.  “No, but Seifer can destroy whatever is left.”

Not allowing Hyne the chance to respond or react, Squall drew his energy inward in a sharp pull, thereby creating a flow of bheun poetir which attracted the power of the god.  At the first icy touch of Hyne’s life energy, Squall felt his entire being shudder at the enormity of the pure existence that was bared before him.  Though similar to the sensations he experienced while healing the goddess of light, the situation was entirely different.  Before, he had only explored the vastness of the deity as her bheun poetir tolerated his presence.  Now, Squall was offering himself as an emptiness that needed to be filled.  It was a ridiculous attempt to weaken Hyne, but even as Squall could sense the tearing of his already damaged soul, he did not dare stop the transfer of life.

Instead, the connection between human and god was severed physically, something Squall hadn't predicted as his closed eyes snapped open in disbelief.  From his extended hand, Hyne was escaping him in a flutter of white, and though Squall despaired at the loss chance for revenge, the seer's attention was quickly diverted to the sight of a dark gray cloud that hovered above him.  Staring into the shifting haze of energy, Squall instinctively retreated from that darkness, but the cloud seemed attracted to the damage soul as it lowered faster than the brunet could move.

Without warning, a shadowed blur crossed over the seer, making him wince at the expected collision of the large form.  But when there was no contact, Squall carefully opened his eyes to stare up at the face he had only dreamed about for years, a face that was currently contorted in pain.  Reaching up to relieve the blond of that pain, Squall was startled when his hand passed through tan skin and he couldn't feel the warmth of the man above him.

Despite the lack of physical contact, Seifer's eyes snapped open to gaze down at the smaller man.  Squall inhaled sharply at the dark gray that swirled in the emerald irises, but that sight was hidden momentarily as the blond closed his eyes and groaned quietly while shaking his head.  When opened again, once bright green eyes were even more intense given the dark ring that had formed at the outer rim of the expressive eyes.  They stared at each other for a time, no words passing between them as they took in the sight of the other man.

Eventually, Seifer broke the silence with a long and relieved sigh.  Pale lips then curled into a vague, disbelieving smile as the blond chuckled quietly.  But his humor faded with every words as he demanded, "Are you a fucking imbecile?!"

Squall frowned at the terse tone and looked away from the enraged gaze.  "No, and would you remove your arm from my chest?"

Startled by the sight of his hand resting on the mattress beneath the seer and not on the man's body, Seifer jerked back his arm with a horrified expression.  But after a thoughtful moment, he replaced his hand at the brunet's side and bent lower over the smaller man in a vague attempt of intimidation.  "What were you thinking to threaten a god like that?  If you were thinking at all, that is."

Not knowing what to answer, Squall replied with the first thing that came to mind - "He touched me."

"And that's your reason for threatening your existence?  Your soul was... it was blurring right in front of me.  It was as if you were about to disappear into nothing."

In a sharp move, Squall moved his hand to lift his shirt and revealed the large branding of a lost soul burned onto his chest.  "He marked me as his when I don't belong to him.  My live has always been for you, you bastard.  And now, how he tried to 'claim' me in front of you..."

After a surprised moment, Seifer murmured, "Stupid kitten," before lowering as if to kiss his seer, but then stopped when he realized that it wouldn't be possible.  Eyes narrowed in disappointment, the fighter asked, "What did you try to do, anyway?"

"It was the same as what I did to Adel's original form.  But just now, we were separated before the removal of life really began, and I think..."  The seer hesitated, for the first time consciously thinking about what had occurred.  Glancing past the blond and to where Altemehsia was holding onto the unmoving god, Squall sensed there was something wholly different about the creator of men.  "I think I accidentally tore out a piece of Hyne's soul."

Seifer turned sharply, his changed eyes focusing on the god who still held the shape of the Hero.  "Is he...?"

As if in response to the half-formed question, Hyne opened his eyes partway to stare at the pale arms wrapped around his chest.  In a drowsy voice, he asked, "Altemehsia... what have you done?"

"I couldn't let you be destroyed," the goddess stated while tightening her hold.

The god laughed slowly.  "A human killing gods...  Hero or not, he is only a man."

"No, more than a man."  Gently, Altemehsia took a limp hand in hers and placed it at her throat, the action drawing stormy eyes to the lengthy scar that Squall had yet to notice.  "The Hero caused this and I'm unable to heal fully."

Hyne straightened at that bit of information, his cold eyes narrowing as he examined the damaged flesh.  "How dare a human harm you a like common..."  The god paused once hearing his own words, his face then displaying resigned realization.  "He survived."

The goddess of light nodded at the odd statement, her golden eyes shifting briefly to the Hero before returning to the face of her sire.

Not explaining himself for the sake of humans, Hyne gazed intently at the pale face framed by dark markings.  "Knowing this, you saved me?"

"You are my Father," Altemehsia replied with wary smile.

A pained look crossed the god's features as he placed a hand on his chest.  "Damn it to Hell, what did that boy steal from me?"

Squall promptly shifted his gaze to the blond still straddling over him, his stormy eyes wide with dread as he studied the Hero.  Sensing that examination, Seifer looked down at the seer and lifted a pale eyebrow in a questioning expression.  Aside from the changed eyes, Squall couldn't sense anything different about the man, the same passionate arrogance radiating from the fighter as always.  Relaxing, the brunet smiled faintly at the anomaly above him, the Hero previously able to resist Hyne's more powerful soul and was apparently unaffected by his recent acquisition as well.

But not one to simply assume things, Squall lifted a hand with a desire to touch the man's cheek and asked quietly, "Do you feel any different?"

First displaying confusion at the question, Seifer frowned in thought.  "Not really, I guess.  But I don't care for this at all," he stated while trying to grab onto the raised hand.  "I want you back where you belong.  Now."

At the final word, Squall noticed a flicker of something in the emerald eyes, but he was then distracted as Altemehsia stepped to the bedside and helped her father onto the mattress.  Whether from his condition or due to the goddess' meddling, Hyne fell directly to sleep.  Altemehsia smiled softly at the god before focusing her golden eyes on the Hero and his Protector.

"Thank you for helping him."

Squall shook his head.  "I didn't intend to help him.  And whatever happened, I've left his soul damaged."

"What you removed, Seer, was a tumor on my Father's soul.  But we need not speak of that.  I imagine that you are eager to return to your body."  With a wave of her hand, a crack formed in midair and slowly opened to reveal a type of doorway which led into the darkness of a cavern.  "Go, Hero.  Your Protector will join you soon."

Though reluctant, Seifer slid off from the mattress and turned his back to the seer.  "Don't keep me waiting," were his parting words as he stepped into the magical doorway, the mist of the room then swirling violently to close that tear in dimensions.

::Your mate is demanding.  I'd hate to anger him::

Before the brunet could consider the demon god's teasing words, Squall was abruptly grabbed by a clawed hand and the world became nothing but a speeding blur.  The seer mentally tensed as past memories burst to life in his mind, forcing him to recall all of his previous deaths and his subsequent revivals.  He knew that Griever was leading him back to his body, back to Seifer, but something broke within him and he knew that he wouldn't survive another resurrection.

"No... no, no, no!"

The unfocused world swerved sharply, and before Squall realized it, he was lying on his back while staring up at an uninteresting ceiling of dark stone flecked with shining white crystal.

"Squall..."

At the low voice hinted with a threatening edge, Squall looked for the owner of that voice, but didn't find the man nearby.  Confused, the brunet sat up with some effort and glanced around the expanse of the circular room.  Once locating his lover, stormy eyes widened while staring at Seifer, the man hunched over a motionless body.  But then the seer realized he gotten what he had asked for.  Clutching his shirt of pure white, Squall stared at the strong form of his Hero and smiled.

"What has happened here?"

Squall didn't react to the voice of the goddess, his eyes completely focused on Seifer.

::He refused to rejoin with his body, and I cannot deny his wishes::

"What?  Why would you be so foolish to waste the chance to be with your love?"

In a detached tone, the seer said, "This is the fourth time he has cried over my dead body.  I don't remember him crying over much else."

After some silence, Altemehsia stepped behind the seated man.  "It's kind of you to want to spare the Hero more pain.  Kind, but utterly naive."

"I'm no longer blind.  I can see the damage to my soul," Squall stated calmly as he motioned to the wounds on his bared legs.  There were deep carvings into his calves, but instead of blood dripping from the pale skin, there was an aura of nothingness, of nonexistence that oozed from the cuts.  And yet, Squall wasn't afraid.  "Even if I returned to my body, how long would I last?  How long would it be before Seifer is mourning over my body for a final time?"

Altemehsia breathed a laughed.  "But child, you are blind.  Can you not see your Hero for what he has become?"

Squall frowned, not understanding the goddess' implied message.  Then a hand was before his eyes, blocking his view of Seifer until the long fingers spread to renew the man's sight.  Inhaling sharply, Squall stared at the form of his lover, the fighter now surrounded by a deep black mist that swirled around the blond in entrancing patterns.  And as Seifer bent down to whisper something into deft ears, the dark aura gained a sharper edge as the swirls moved in whip-like motions.

"He is no longer the Hero, but something more.  And I fear what he may do if you do not return to him."

As the hand lifted from his eyes, Squall blinked at the vanished sight of the dark aura.  "What... what has been done to him?"

"He survived," Altemehsia replied, the same vague statement Hyne had made before.  "When Father selects his messengers upon Earth, he always gives a part of himself to those humans.  Once their task is done, he reclaims what he had lost, costing the Heroes their souls and lives.  But once before, there was a Hero who had survived that separation, just as this Hero has continued to live.  That man was Sephiroth."

The seer straightened at the name.  "Sephiroth... the God Slayer?"

"Yes, the one who killed Hyne's creator - Jenova."

"Sephiroth," Squall repeated with a vague shudder.  "The enslaver of Masamune, the defeater of Earth's Weapons, and the one time King of Men... But according to the Bukre du Hieghen, he was insane."

"Sephiroth was more than merely insane.  Receiving the powers of a god twisted his fragile mind, and the only man who could control him, the one named Cloud, gave up."  Placing a hand at the brunet's face, Altemehsia made him look up into warm golden eyes.  "This Hero will blame us for your loss, just as Sephiroth blamed Jenova for Cloud's desertion.  Do not place this world at risk because you are afraid to live once more."

Cold eyes of blue stone glared back at the goddess.  "Even if you revive me, I cannot and will not control Seifer."

Altemehsia seemed taken aback by the venomous statement, and the demon god behind her laughed.  ::You are going about this the wrong way, dear Sister::

As Griever approached, Squall noticed for the first time that the demigod had gained a collar at some point and blue-gray eyes were instantly attracted to the sway of a broken chain that hung from the metal band.  He found himself reaching for that chain, but quickly drew back with uncertainty.

The demon god flashed his fangs in a pleased smile before he knelt at the seer's side.  ::It's not wise to show hesitation in front of your servant.  Take the chain and complete our bond::

Remembering the demon's pledge in his wandering dream, Squall scowled at the demigod.  "You willing chose to be enslaved?"

Griever chuckled in his growling manner.  ::It is not enslavement I've chosen, but a master who entertains me::

The arrogant reply drew a reluctant smile from the seer, and without needing another explanation from the rebel god, Squall took a gentle hold onto the bright chain.  Instantly, the metal grew in length to wrap around the thin wrist and formed a solid cuff that felt warm against pale skin.  Releasing the chain in surprise, Squall examined the heavy cuff.

::Now you can return to your mate::  At the questioning look of the seer, Griever smirked and explained, ::My power will strengthen your battered soul.  And until I'm given a command otherwise, I won't be able to desert you.  Do you understand, my Master?::

After a moment of thought, Squall nodded vaguely, the stoic man unable to otherwise express his gratitude to the demigod for giving him the life he wanted, a life where he wouldn't abandon his lover another time.  Griever extended a clawed hand, an obvious invitation, but Squall hesitated and glanced up at the mystified goddess.

"Will you return to Khaos?"

Dark purple lips formed a faint smile at the concerned question.  "Humans, always such curious creatures.  Why do you care about my heart at a time like this?"

"Hyne was unjustified in his punishment."

Her smile softening into a sorrowful expression, Altemehsia replied, "In my broken state, I had forgotten my compassion and my love, and because of that, I betrayed the one most dear to me.  All I saw was his strength, and I tried to abuse my power over his heart.  Even our bond, the trei-pernula jarre did not protect him from me as my soul was no longer the same.  I had hurt him, and now...  I don't know what may become of us."

::Khaos faced a god slayer to protect you, and you question his devotion?  You aren't as intelligent as you once were, Sister::  Extending his hand further, Griever told the seer, ::We should go.  Your Hero is becoming more agitated as we speak::

Squall glanced at Seifer and noticed how the man stroked his fingers through dark hair while also thumbing the hilt of his sheathed blade.  Though unable to see the dark aura Altemehsia had shown him, the brunet could imagine the violent storm of black that had to be encircling the ridged man.  Confident that he wanted and needed to be at Seifer's side, Squall never turned his eyes away from the Hero as he blindly grasped onto the large hand of the demigod.

From assured calmness to overwhelming agony, Squall first heard his screams echoing in the confines of the cavern before he felt the hardness of rock digging into his skin.  Every muscle in his body resisted movement, but he couldn't lie still as he tried to physically escape the cause of his pain.  Then there was the touch of searing heat at his shoulders, the burning contact on ice-cold skin making the seer cry out even louder.  But the touch didn't leave him.  Instead, Squall felt himself being moved and lifted, and then there was nothing except the unbearable heat.

"...fucking liar.  You stupid, fucking, asshole of a liar..."

The mantra of vulgarities penetrated the seer's haze of pain and gradually pulled Squall back into reality.  For a panicked moment, the brunet thought he had lost his sight once more, but regaining some calm, he realized that he was having difficulty opening his closed eyelids.  Moaning with frustration, Squall fought to move and look at his lover.

::Don't struggle.  Your body needs the time to remember how to live::

The growled voice was of little comfort, but when a hot hand stroked along his cheek, Squall was relieved as he finally managed to open his eyes partway and was greeted with the vision of his lover.

"What took you so long?" Seifer asked, his vibrant eyes revealing an overpowering amount of distress and anger.

"...sorry..." Squall replied in an incredibly quiet voice, unable to find the strength for something louder.  Once recovered, he would speak to the fighter about his hesitation and fears, just as he wanted to know if Seifer would understand Griever's comment about the 'god slayer' threatening Altemehsia's life.  But at that moment, Squall only wanted to gaze into bright green eyes surrounded by dark gray and to feel the coarse skin of a thumb brushing beneath his eye.

"I'm mad at you."

The seer hummed in agreement, understanding that he deserved the fighter's anger.

"You're lucky that you returned when you did.  I was just about to go back to Hell, and to Heaven if necessary, to cause some serious damage until I got you back."

Squall blinked slowly in confusion.  "You went... to Hell...?"

"Well, that's where you said you'd be waiting.  How was I supposed to guess that Hyne would try to steal you from me?"

A short breath left the brunet, the best laugh he could manage.  "Idiot..."

Seifer smirked at the insult, some of his anger disappearing to quiet relief.  "I'm the idiot, huh?  Who was the one who attempted the impossible and tried to kill a god?"

Squall stared at the man, stunned that the blond had no idea of his current strength and power.  But with most of his energy exhausted, the seer held his tongue and rested his head against a comfortable shoulder.  There would be time later for words, as well as other things.  They had the rest of their lives together, and that thought made Squall smile.

Huffing at the seer's actions, Seifer stood and lifted the smaller man with him.  "I wouldn't fall asleep yet, kitten.  There's going to be one pissed off old soldier once we get out of here, and I doubt he'll want to hear any excuses from me."

Never really believing that they would survive the revival of Altemehsia, Squall hadn't bothered to consider how upset his father would be with the brief note left for him.  But with the fighter's reminder, the brunet felt apprehensive toward his father's justified fury.  Hoping to escape that encounter if only for a few hours, Squall declared tiredly, "I've been dead..."

"Oh yeah, that's a good way to calm down a protective father from his ranting.  'Sorry, Laguna, but would you please stop your yelling?  You see, Squall has been dead most of the day and it really wore him out.'  I can see that going over real well."

Settling into the rocking motions of the man's stride, Squall hardly heard Seifer's argument.  With a mutter of, "Thanks... for handlin'... 'im...", the seer shifted into a more comfortable position and dropped off into dreamless sleep.


[Epilogue]

Holding onto the strap of his pack, Seifer walked lightly along the worn road covered in leaves of various colors.  While the ground was muddy from the previous day's rain, the bright sun of midday had already dried the trees of their moisture and the dead leaves were falling once more in a flutter of gold and red.  It was from that calming view when Seifer first saw a figure leaning against a large tree, the lean man appearing asleep with his eyes closed and his head bowed as dark locks flicked over his face in a slight breeze.

Feeling the exhaustion of his trip slipping away, Seifer smirked and increased his pace to approach the unmoving man.  "Why did you go and ruin the surprise?"

Squall lifted his head and frowned with his typical questioning glare.

"I wasn't suppose to come back until tomorrow," Seifer clarified once slowing to stand in front of the brunet.  "How did you know to wait for me here?"

The stormy-eyed man shrugged.  "I knew you were coming."

Breathing a chuckle, the blond bent down to claim a kiss from his lover, but didn't deepen the connection in fear that he wouldn't be able to limit himself to a mere kiss.  "Fucking Hell, I missed you."

Squall smiled faintly as he lifted a hand to caress the fighter's silver choker of thick metal chains and a wide unmarked plate.  It was a replacement for the pendant of Hyne that they had both grown to hate, and as Seifer was anxious about his trei-pernula jarre being on display for anyone to steal, there was a spot behind the silver plate to hide the small jar from view.  But the barrier of metal didn't matter as pale fingers stroked the choker, and Seifer shivered when the etched glass burned with the silent love of the seer.

Promptly removing that distracting touch, Seifer took a hold of the hand and kissed the fingers with a rough edge.

"What happened?"

The blond fighter hid a flinch at the question.  "I won first place, of course.  What else did you expect?"

Icy eyes narrowed with skepticism, but Squall didn't press the point as he pulled away his hand.  "We should go.  Selphie will have dinner ready later, and you smell."

Choosing to ignore the cool edge to the man's voice, Seifer smirked and asked, "Are you going to lick me clean, kitten?"

Huffing, the brunet escaped the larger man and immediately settled into a purposeful stride as he headed toward the city of Drasberg.  Seifer had to hurry to catch up, but then slowed to wrap an arm around the slim waist.  Squall didn't refuse the hold, but instead placed a cool hand on Seifer's.  It was a sharp contrast to the fighter's rougher skin, but despite the blond's opinion that Squall would make an amazing swordsman, the seer had chosen the path of a healer.  Even so, Squall didn't neglect his training with various small knives, but he denied every attempt by the fighter to have a sword in his hand.

Nearing the large inn partway into town, Seifer smiled at the activity of the city.  Later that week was the beginning to the harvest festival, an event that the blond had been looking forward to ever since he had wakened in the Church of Hyne with his living seer at his side and the memories of gods far behind him.  Though concealing that same anticipation, Squall didn't hide his lingering gaze on a play announcement that was nailed to a store front.  Recognizing the picture on the poster, Seifer knew it wasn't one of his favorite plays, but it would be enjoyable enough for the former blind man.

In addition to the excitement of the festival, people milled around in various groups to talk about the latest rumors from across the continent.  Since the spring months, there were tales of miracles and other strange happenings that ranged from healed beggars to fields receiving greatly needed rain.  Hearing ordinary people offer their theories about the unbelievable events made Seifer laugh, but as time passed, he was interested to know how more and more people were beginning to believe that their goddess of light had returned to bless the Earth with her kindness.  Seifer imagined that Altemehsia herself was spreading those rumors, but there was no way to be certain.

Interrupting the fighter's thoughts, Squall said, "We should go through the side entrance.  Ellone is still wary of you."

Seifer scowled at the mentioned name.  "I haven't hurt a damn hair on that fine body.  Why does she have to cringe every time I look her way?"

"With a few words, you broke the control Adel had over her mind, and thereby destroyed her life.  And that's not to mention your ability to single-handedly kill a sorceress.  Of course she would be terrified of you."

The fighter growled out a sigh as he wondered why he bothered.  While traveling to Drasberg from Squall's hometown, they had stumbled upon the young woman of dark hair and deep brown eyes.  Though a mess of dirt and rags, Seifer had instantly recognized the sorceress he had met in Adel's mansion.  While he was tempted to leave the woman to her fate, Squall had already approached the brunette and offered her food.  How he was convinced to bring the young sorceress to Drasberg with them, Seifer couldn't remember, but Selphie was ecstatic to have the hard luck case to watch over.

"And try not to stare at her during dinner," Squall reminded.

"Shit, I'm surprised you're going to let me sit at the table.  You sound more concerned about her than me."

The brunet said nothing in his defense.  Instead, he slipped from the fighter's hold and proceeded inside the large inn.  Resigned to the fact that his seer was upset with him, Seifer followed behind the smaller man and settled with the view he was given.  No one was wandering through the hallways as most of the inn's guests would arrive closer to the start of the festival.  That meant no one was there to interfere as Seifer tried to steal a grope of the tight ass before him, but Squall avoided each attempt with a hard slap to the offending hand.

Once reaching the Maple room, Squall stepped inside and left the door open for the blond.  Expecting a lecture at any moment, Seifer sighed and set his bag to the floor before he reluctantly closed the door to the obvious trap.  He didn't resist when a hand grabbed onto his shoulder and forced the large man to turn around.  But the demanding lips on his were certainly unexpected, and the cool hand slipping beneath his shirt sent deep shivers down his spine.  Instantly hyperaware of his seer, Seifer placed his hands at the ass he wanted to fondle earlier and lifted the man enough to press him flush against his body.  A soft groan from full lips made Seifer smile as bent down to attack the man's ragged ear with his mouth.  Squall bucked at the wet touch, but didn't retreat as his hand moved to the fighter's toned stomach and slipped downward.

"Fucking Hyne..."  Seifer groaned as he lifted his hips to experience more of the teasing touch.

"What happened in Hiels?"

The fighter stilled completely at the sudden question, and then leaned back to stare directly into the calculating gaze his lover.

"I know something happened, Seifer," he stated evenly as his fingers undid the ties to dusty pants.  "I felt your rage."

Hearing the hidden concern of the brunet, Seifer relaxed and pressed a warm hand on the man's cheek.  "It's nothing unexpected, really.  That sick fuck Klein came after me and demanded to know where you were.  And... well, I kind of lost control."

Squall exhaled the breath he had been holding.  "And you are fine?"

Seifer smirked in response before stealing a chaste kiss from reddened lips, and then promptly began to sample the man's long neck.  The unease of his Protector was understandable as there was always the worry that the darker powers residing within the Hero would be unleashed at any moment.  But thus far, Seifer recognized only one trigger that could release the demon within and that was anything which threatened to separate him from his lover.  Subconsciously, he knew it was related to whatever he had acquired from Hyne's divided soul, but Seifer had no desire to examine that theory in depth.  Squall was his, not even death able to separate them.  And with that certainty, the shadow existing within the fighter remained at peace.

"Horny bastard," Squall murmured as his hand dug into short golden hair.  "So, what did you do to him?"

A low growl built up in Seifer's throat as he bit at the man's shoulder, hard enough to draw out pearls of blood.

Gasping, the brunet rolled his hips forward, but he didn't relent in his questioning.  "Did you kill him?"

His growl transforming into dark chuckle, the fighter licked at the drops of crimson before replying, "I sliced off his cock and fed it to him.  But no, the fucker is probably still alive," he added without hiding his regret.

"Good," Squall responded coolly.

Seifer abruptly lost his hold on the seer as the man dropped sharply to his knees.  Deft hand were at his pants, and before he thought to mention his travel worn state, cold skin and warm wetness were caressing the sensitive region with a skilled touch.  Seifer hissed as his neglected cock was bathed by a careful tongue and the hidden area behind his sack was explored by gentle fingers.  Groaning whispers about his 'good kitten' slipped over dry lips as the fighter clawed a hand into thick brown hair.  But no matter how much he desired harder and deeper pleasure, Seifer didn't dare force the seer into something he didn't want.  Squall, however, knew exactly what his lover craved.  Placing his lips around the swollen head, the seer slowly took in the length of the blond, and with the same gradual pace, he ran a finger back along hot skin.  The insertion of teasing fingers into Seifer's anus and the touch of his cock against the back of the brunet's throat was too much for the pleasure hungry man.  With a low grunt and a sharp thrust, Seifer was given sorely needed release.

Displaying a mischievous smile, Squall stood with seductive grace as he helped to steady the momentarily weakened man.  "You still need a bath."

Seifer chuckled at the sincere words.  "I could've waited, you know."

"I couldn't," Squall countered as he stepped away from the Hero, his stormy eyes entrancing the blond until the man turned and headed to the attached room containing the pool of hot water.  "I'll start without you."

Moving before his body was ready and his pants were up, Seifer lunged forward to grab onto his escaping seer.  He managed to wrap his fingers around a thin wrist, but unbalanced, he fell to the side and brought the brunet down with him.  Groaning at the unintelligent move, Seifer carefully opened his eyes and stared directly into the incredulous gaze of the man sprawled on top of him.  Not certain he could speak, the blond smiled in what he hoped was an endearing fashion.

Squall scoffed at the attempt.  "I don't know why the gods fear you."

Placing a hand into thick hair, Seifer grinned at the common insult.  "Because if they touched me, they would have to deal with you."

A pleased hum escaped the seer, whether in agreement with the fighter's comment or from the massage by strong fingers, he didn't bother to clarify that to the blond.

"I love you, you know."

Eyes snapping open, Squall stared into the intense gaze of the Hero.  It was rare for either man to speak the direct words concerning what they already knew in their hearts, but seeing reddened lips curl into a coy smile, Seifer was reminded as to why he sometimes needed to say those simple, short words out loud.  Not breaking their eye contact, Squall moved forward until he was looking directly down into vibrant emerald eyes.  Almost everything was said by the once sightless eyes, everything except the one thing Seifer didn't look for in the stormy depths since he desired to hear the words spoken in the soft voice of his seer.

Blue-gray eyes narrowed in reluctant surrender, and with a shaky sigh, Squall replied, "I know.  And I..."  Shifting his eyes away, he finished sharply, "I'll never understand why I love you."

Laughing, the fighter kissed a flushed cheek.  "At least we're getting closer.  It used to be my fault that you fell in love with me."

Squall huffed.  "I'm not saying that it wasn't your fault, idiot."

"Whatever you say, kitten.  Whatever you say."  Sitting up with the smaller man in his arms, Seifer tongued the seer's ragged ear and asked, "Don't you keep mentioning something about a bath?"

 

{Owari}

 

Author's Whining -- And the epic headache is done with.  After sixteen chapters of hell, you'd think I would have a lot to whine about, but really, there isn't much to say.  I know this ending is rushed, but it was either this or another couple chapters of Hyne hiding away Squall or some angsty crap like that.  Frankly, I have more fun writing the interactions between Seifer and Squall than anything else, so I decided to avoid that other route.  Thank you for putting up with this story to the messy end, and I hope I don't have another monster fic like this one for a very, very long time.

Oh, PS, figuring that there are many unanswered questions still left, feel free to visit my livejournal to comment with questions.  You're probably not the only one wondering about certain things and I don't mind going into more detail when I can just talk about it instead of fitting it into a story.  Curse my overactive imagination for leaving plenty of side stories untold...