Broken Wings
April 2004

 

Lying back on a thin mattress, Seifer was entertaining himself with the rhythmic taps of his thick claws against metal bars, the beat then joined with the slower rhythm of his boot against the bed frame.  The green-eyed man was never the patient sort, only able to endure long stretches of nothingness if he knew something would eventually meet a fiery end.  As it was, there was only one thing to look forward to while imprisoned at the rebel base, but Squall had apparently forgotten all about him in the past weeks.

Eyes closed, Seifer let his mind wander as he thought about the dark-haired man and his late night visits.  The first time it had happened, it was a surreal event to the wakened blond, his fuzzy mind thinking that an angel had come to show him some mercy.  But then Seifer had quickly regained his senses and recognized that it was the winged-man who had come to relieve some built up tension.  While the visits following that one were sporadic, Squall couldn't last very long without the proper touch, and for a reason which evaded Seifer, the brunet trusted no one else to pleasure him.  Though, of course, the blond soldier had little to complain about with the given situation.

At a familiar whispered noise, his chapped lips formed a pleased smirk, that being the only outward sign which proved he heard the quiet sound of feathers as he continued his tapping.  The padding of feet could soon be heard, the light steps halting in front of barred door.  After the swipe of a card and the press of buttons, the door slid open and nearly took the clawed hand with it, but Seifer didn't vocalize a complaint to that fact, and instead moved his hand to the concrete wall in order to continue the random rhythm.  His attempt to feign disinterest faltered, however, when he heard the unzipping of the shirt made specially for the winged-man.

With a half-lidded gaze, Seifer looked to his side and glanced over the lithe body as it was slowly revealed to him.  Either unnoticing or uncaring about his audience, Squall casually unzipped the other side of his black sleeveless shirt before pulling it over his head.  After a brief stretch backward and a small flutter of the large wings, the brunet then set to the task of removing his pants and dark boxers.

"Haven't been sleeping well?"

Free of clothing, Squall turned to meet the observant gaze but said nothing since the rings under his eyes were something he couldn't deny.

With an exaggerated grunt, Seifer swung his legs over the mattress edge to sit up straight.  "It's been awhile since you visited.  Did you miss me, angel?"

There was no verbal reply as the winged-man smiled faintly, and then walked the short distance forward such that he straddled a leg thick with muscle.  Sitting on that leg, Squall placed cool fingertips on the scaled cheek and stroked gently before he then moved his hand into short hair and forced the smirking man to bend down for a deep kiss.  Seifer had no reason to resist him as he joined in the rough mouth play.  Though still cautious about his deformed hand, he gently ran the back of his claws and fingernails along chilled flesh before he squeezed the tight ass.  The brunet responded beautifully to the touch as he whimpered and moved forward to rub his beginning arousal against the clothed leg.

Breaking the kiss, Seifer leaned back to gaze into the blue-gray eyes already moist with overwhelming desire.  "Yeah, I've been bored without you, too."

Squall scowled lightly.  "Why are you still dressed?"

The blond laughed deeply at the annoyed tone.  "Because you haven't been doing your job properly."

With a sudden and loud move, feathered wings spread outward at the same moment the man stood up and stepped back a bare distance.  Looking much like an avenging angel, Squall sneered at the seated man.  "Get up."

Meeting the stony eyes, Seifer pushed up from the bed and took a step forward to prove his height over rebel leader.  Undaunted, the brunet met the challenging gaze while he reached forward and grabbed onto the pants of the worn Imperial uniform.  Not breaking their eye contact, Squall removed the thin barrier of cloth and let the material drop down the muscular legs.  After a vague smile and a teasing kiss pressed against the scaled cheek, he shoved his hands against Seifer's chest to force him back on the bed.  Tripped by the pants around his ankles, the large man fell hard onto the thin mattress.

"Fuck, must you be so rough?" the blond asked with mock hurt, unable to completely hide his smile.  "I'm in a delicate state, y'know.  Held prisoner for weeks on end, never seeing the light of day, and fed the worse--"

"Shut up, Seifer."

The former Imperial officer smirked at the hissed out command, then holding out his clawed hand to steady the man as Squall moved onto his lap.  Cold hands slipped beneath the gray shirt, the chilling touch causing golden skin to jump slightly.  The shirt was removed without too much trouble, though Seifer knew his hair was doing strange things judging by the secretive smile of the brunet.  Squall placed his hands on the bared shoulders, then sliding his icy fingertips down the scaled upper back.  The touch which crossed from scale to skin caused a pleasurable shiver to course through Seifer's body and a delighted hum to rumble in his throat.  Showing his appreciation, the blond leaned forward to kiss the long neck, his lips covering the dark scars which his claws had created when he had freed Squall from his collar.

A needy sound escaped the winged man as he pushed his hips forward and rubbed his erection against the muscle-hardened stomach.  Chuckling, Seifer moved his unchanged hand along smooth flesh, and after stroking the man's inner thigh with the back of his fingernails, he grasped onto the stiff organ with a fisted hold.  At the none-too-gentle touch, Squall released a shuddering breath as he rested his head on a shoulder and raised his hands to bury his fingertips deep into blond hair.

"Tell me what you want, angel."

The brunet growled out, "Fuck me," before biting the exposed throat.

Seifer groaned at the painful attack, but his smirk didn't falter as he pumped his hand along the strained erection.  "Shit, did you forget to eat something before coming down here?"

After light licks against the wounded throat, Squall sat up straight to stare heatedly into green eyes.  No more words spoken, Seifer smiled softly at the sight of pained desire in the blue-gray eyes, and after gently brushing aside lengthy bangs with a clawed finger, he leaned back against the wall for better positioning.  One hand steady on a broad shoulder, the winged man lifted up onto his knees and used his free hand to help guide Seifer's hardened cock to his opening.  Unlike times before, Squall impaled himself slowly onto the thick length, sighing softly when the last couple inches slid inside of him.

Entranced by the blissful expression of his angel, Seifer didn't shift his eyes from the man's face while he moved his hands to the lean waist and then squeezed lightly in a silent signal.  The hand at his shoulder tightened before Squall lifted up onto his knees and moved back down in a hard drive.  The repetitive motions soon gained speed and a rougher edge as they continued, forcing the winged man to move his other hand to Seifer's chest for better support.  At a particularly hard downward shove, the blond groaned in bliss as his whole body tensed at the shock of pleasure.  Squall hissed in pain and arched back before renewing the previous rhythm.  Licking his lips, Seifer spoke his apology in a rough voice as he willed his deformed hand to relax.  Stormy eyes flashed coolly at the apology and pale lips formed a secretive smile before the thrusts became harder and deeper with the help of the large wings.

Seifer came first into constricting heat, his low grunt soon followed by a softer whine which escaped the brunet as he found his own release.  With an exhausted smirk, the blond wrapped his arms around the slim waist and lifted the man high enough to remove himself from the comforting tightness.  With practiced handling, Seifer maneuvered the smaller man to lie down on the narrow bed such that one wing rested over them both and the other hung limply over the mattress edge.  The white feathers were blessedly cool to the touch despite the annoyance of them sticking to sweaty flesh.

After a short time of recovery, the stoic man was surprisingly the first one to speak.  "This could be more comfortable."

Seifer smirked at the implied question he had been waiting for.  "I'm not joining your little army, Leonhart."

"But why?" the rebel leader asked, some of his frustration escaping within the simple question.

"The same reasons I told you weeks ago.  No matter how much I enjoy our romps, I'm not willing to risk my life over a good fuck.  This way I have a decent bed, regular meals, and mind-blowing sex, and I don't have to lift a Hyne-damned finger for any of it."

Squall huffed.  "I can't believe you're happy like this."

"It's not the best situation, but..."  Seifer sighed as he grabbed onto the base of a wing with his deformed hand.  "You don't want me as a soldier if I don't have something to fight for.  I'm quite the lazy bastard."

"Then how could you fight for Ultimecia?"

"Fame and power, including the occasional reward," the blond stated with a suggestive thrust of his hips.  "And before you say it, no, you can't give me the same.  I know you don't want to hear it, but you aren't going to win this war, and losers never become legends."

There was a silent moment before Squall lifted his wing and pushed at the bare chest before him.  Though Seifer wanted otherwise, he didn't try to keep the brunet in place, and instead watched as the lithe man bent over to retrieve his clothes from the cement floor.

"You're bleeding," Seifer stated dully as he flexed his clawed hand.

After glancing down at the two deep puncture wounds at his lower back, Squall shrugged and started to dress.

"And where are you off to in such a hurry?"

"A meeting," the rebel leader muttered with disinterest.  "I need a shower first."

"Rather late for a meeting, isn't it?"

"Wars don't follow a nine to five schedule."

No more words passed between them as Squall finished dressing in his sleeveless shirt and dark pants.  He then removed the card from his pocket to unlock the barred door, his skill at blindly punching in his code greatly improved since his first visit to the cell.  Once the winged man had stepped through and the door was closed with a loud clang, Seifer reluctantly swung his legs over the mattress edge and sat hunched over with his elbows resting on his knees.

"Hey, Squall."

The rebel leader paused and glanced into the cell.

"Come back soon, alright?"

A hesitant nod with the silky shift of dark hair was the only reply Squall offered before continuing his steps toward the prison wing entrance.  Seifer didn't move from his seated position as he listened to the receding steps and debated about the rush of getting dressed.  Pale eyebrows then scrunched in thought when he heard his angel speaking with someone else down the corridor.  Recognizing the arguing tones, Seifer leaned up from the bed and retrieved his boxers and pants from the floor before standing straight.  Though wishing that he had the chance to clean up, the blond had a good feeling that he was going to have a visitor at any moment, and shortly after zipping up, he got his visitor.

"Nida..." Seifer stated in a surprised breath, not having seen the dark-haired man since the other prison months back.

After an uncomfortable shift of brown eyes, the smaller man sighed and met the blond's gaze, but said nothing as his lips twisted into a pathetically weak smile.

Green eyes narrowed with understanding.  "Wanted to finish the job, is it?  Well, go ahead.  I won't stop you."

"Finish... the job?"

"Yeah.  Spying, assassinating... basically the same thing, right?" Seifer said with a confident smirk.  "And, hell, you certainly deserve your revenge, so I don't really mind."

Dark eyes went wide before Nida held up his hands in a denying motion.  "I won't... I mean, I can't...  Fucking hell, Seifer, I'm not here to kill you.  What makes you think I could do that?"

A pale eyebrow arched.  "Well, there is the matter of our last meeting."

"You mean when you saved my life?"

Seifer scoffed.  "I sliced you up.  I'd hardly call that a sane method of saving someone's life."

Hands lowered, Nida showed a familiar amused expression.  "You are such a prick, did you know that?  I've been avoiding you all these weeks because I thought you'd be a rational person and despise the person who betrayed you for over seven years.  Instead, here you are, worried about giving me a couple of deep cuts.  You saved my life, you stupid bastard, and just moments after you learned that I was the enemy."

"Like you said back then, you were a spy before you were my friend, and Squall told me the basics about your motives.  In the end, it was nothing personal, so I won't hold it against you."

"You're something else, Commander," Nida said with the shake of his head.

"What about you?  If you were so afraid of me, how did you get the guts to finally come down here?" the blond asked in a light tone, hiding his relief to have his friend back this simply.

"Truthfully, it wasn't my decision.  Squall just now ordered me to talk with you.  He said something about you whining about being left alone in your cell."

"That little prick," Seifer muttered while picking up his shirt from the floor and slipping it on.  "So if you weren't planning to visit me, then what are you doing here in the cell block?  Got a new girlfriend I haven't heard about?"

Nida grinned suggestively.  "Squall asked me to remind him about the meeting tonight, and since he wasn't in his quarters, I figured that he was here."

"Hell, don't tell me that Leonhart's visits are common knowledge."

"Hardly.  There are a few trusted guards and myself who know, and of course his father knows, though he is certainly the least pleased about the whole matter.  Loire doesn't understand why Squall has to rely on you to... relieve his stress."

Seifer smirked happily at the thought of unintentional pissing off the rebel king.  "Serves him right for leaving his son within my grasp for that long."

"Right, well, just remember our rule about too many details," Nida stated with a raised hand.  "But listen, technically I'm supposed to be watching over Squall, so I should get going."

"Now why in the world would that man need a babysitter?"

"It's just precautionary.  He's still recovering from that coma of his, so someone watches over him to make certain he doesn't suddenly collapse."

After a stunned moment, Seifer asked, "Coma?  What coma?"

Dark eyes widened vaguely.  "He didn't tell you?  Ah shit, he's going to kill me.  I had better--"

Before the man could walk off, the former commander launched forward and slipped his arm through the bars to grab onto the brunet's uniform with his clawed hand.  "Tell me, Nida."

"He probably didn't want you to worry," the dark-eyed man said, obviously divided between his fear of the Lion and his fear of the Dragon.

"Nida..."

Squeaking as thick claws pierced through his shirt, Nida surrendered to the warning tone.  "A few weeks ago, he was shot out of the sky and he fell hard.  I wasn't there, but when his team brought him back, he was quite the mess.  The healers did what they could, but he didn't wake up until four days ago.  Since then, he has suffered occasional fainting spells, so that's why there is always someone assigned to watch over him."

Eyes wide, Seifer asked, "Then what the hell was he doing down here?!  He should've been in bed."

"He has been fine for the past 36 hours, and... well, the truth is that he's been a complete ass to deal with, so I 'accidentally' left my card key in his room and then decided to take a walk.  A very long walk."

Releasing his hold on the ruined uniform, the blond stepped back from the barred door.  "And he came here."

While scowling at the holes in his shirt, Nida scoffed.  "He wanted to see you the day he woke up, but Loire doesn't trust you around Squall when he's weakened.  As you know, healers can cure wounds and poisonings, but a body still needs time to recover, and Loire thought you'd take advantage of that."

"... Let me out."

With an uncertain laugh, the dark-eyed man stared at his friend.  "What do you mean?"

"Let me out of this cell, Nida.  And then take me to Squall."

Though initially hesitant, the former spy stepped over to the locking mechanism and slipped out a card from his pocket.  "A good thing Squall thought to return my cardkey before he walked off," the man muttered before the barred door slid open.  With a vindictive smirk, Nida then ordered, "Hands behind your back."

A pale eyebrow arched high.  "Do you have a kinky side that I don't know about?"

"Perhaps, but right now, my only concern is to keep people from panicking about an escaped prisoner."

Without many more words, the two men left the wing of cells with Seifer in the lead and hands held behind his back as if bound.  Standing behind the blond, Nida had his hands over the wrists to hide the fact that there was nothing which could prevent the larger man from causing mass havoc in the rebel base.  The late hour was to their benefit since few people were roaming the hallways, especially in the corridor where most of the officers resided.  Even so, Nida's hold was painfully tight as they approached an unlabeled door.

It wasn't until after the second string of knocks when the door finally opened, revealing a shirtless and damp angel.  Surprise was briefly visible in the typically stony eyes, then replaced with a lightly scolding glare in Nida's direction. 

"I probably should have known better than to leave you alone with him."

Releasing his hold, Nida held up his hands and took a step back.  "I refuse any and all responsibility.  And for the record, he tortured me until I told him what he wanted to hear," he added while pointing at the gashes in his shirt.

His eyelids closed in a silent sigh, Squall told him, "Wait out here until I'm done with Seifer."  That said, he turned sharply and walked inside as his implied order for the blond soldier to follow him.

Seifer waited to speak until the door slid shut and beeped once automatically locked.  "Why didn't you tell me you were in a fucking coma for three weeks?  How could you be stupid enough to let yourself be injured like that?"

"It wasn't any of your business," he replied with a harsh edge, "and I wasn't being stupid."

"Oh, yeah?  Then tell me, angel, what happened to land you in the infirmary?"

Squall hesitated before stepping to a dresser.  "It was a standard search and destroy mission, but the explosives didn't respond to our trigger."

"And being the good little hero that you are, you flew over to rewire the damned thing," Seifer finished for the man, his voice coated in sarcasm.  "You know what, you're right.  You weren't being stupid.  You were being fucking insane and probably deserved to get shot."

After pulling out a black shirt from the dresser, Squall slammed the drawer shut.  "Did you escape from your cell just to inform me of that fact?"

"Somebody obviously has to."

With a deep scowl, Squall put on his shirt and zipped up the two sides.  Completely dressed, he then asked, "Why does it matter to you?"

Glaring at the winged man, Seifer found he had no response for the question, something he unconsciously avoided during the walk from the cell block.  He didn't love the man before him, or at least not the gushing type of love which he had seen friends suffer through time and time again.  And if he wanted to be truthful, he had a few sickeningly sweet relationships in his past where pet names and extremely long goodbyes were sadly commonplace.  It was from those experiences that made him doubt that anything he felt for Squall could be considered love.  But to hear that the man had been seriously injured while he had been lying on his back and doing nothing...

Interrupting the blond's thoughts, Squall said, "Forget it.  You know the conditions about releasing you from your cell."

"And I told you that I won't join your pathetic rebel squad."

"Then I'll have Nida escort you back."

"No chance of that one either."

The brunet sighed.  "You can't have it both ways, Seifer."

"Sure I can," he countered, then stepping forward to place his changed hand beneath the man's chin.  "I'll fight with you and watch your back, but only in a mercenary role.  In other words, no one better give me a damned order unless I happen to be fucking said person."

A dark eyebrow twitched.  "As long as you don't word it that way to anyone else... then fine."

Seifer smiled broadly at the acceptance to his terms, but before he could further show his appreciation, Squall pressed cold fingertips against his lips.

"I have that meeting to attend.  Stay here and feel free to use the shower.  I'll see you in a few hours."

"Are you saying that I smell?" Seifer muttered against the fingers, then licking them.

Jerking his hand away, Squall stated, "Yes," before walking around the larger man and exiting his quarters.

Green eyes didn't move away from that door for a long time, the former Imperial officer half-expecting guards to burst through at any moment.  But when nothing happened and his skin began to itch at the idea of a hot shower, Seifer scoffed at his paranoid nature and removed his worn uniform, which was then promptly dumped in a small trash can at the side of a metal desk.  With the lagging thought that he didn't have any other clothes to change into after his shower, Seifer smirked and pondered over all the possibilities of what his angel would do once finding him naked in bed.


Filthy with dust and blood, Seifer couldn't stop smirking at the lovely sight of battered wings which had lost some of their whiteness over the past weeks of fighting.  Of course Squall would be cleaning the lengthy feathers at his next free chance, but Seifer favored the wings in an impure state which he felt better suited the rebel leader.  Once entering the small living quarters, the large man placed his hands at the slim waist and pulled Squall against him so that he could better attack the pale neck.  Though moaning in bliss at the grazing of teeth, the brunet broke out of the man's hold.

"I can't believe you have the energy for that," Squall muttered while removing his clothes with lethargic motions.

Getting to work on his own clothing, Seifer pouted childishly.  "You were the one who got the damned hand-job on the flight back here.  What about my needs, hmmm?"

"They don't matter," he stated, tossing his soiled and torn shirt in a corner of the room.

"Damn, you must be tired," the blond commented as he watched the discarded shirt soon joined by its matching pair of pants.  "I don't think I've ever seen you make such a large mess before."

"Whatever..."

Quickly stripping of his crusty clothes, Seifer made it to the bed before the brunet and took his usual place with his back pressed against the wall.  Squall briefly scowled at the man's apparent energy, but still chose to join the larger man in the relatively small bed.  Once fitted together with practiced ease, the winged man sighed warm breath against the broad hairless chest.

"Why do you bother having your own quarters if you're always here?"

"To keep up appearances," Seifer murmured as his clawed hand stroked along the naked body pressed up against him.

"People are blind if they haven't noticed us yet.  That room could be put to better use."

"Hey, that's my hard earned room we're talking about.  Five fucking months of my life wasted on your stupid little morals and good causes.  You aren't going to take that room away from me without a fight."

"But you never use it," Squall stated with frustration as he abruptly grabbed onto the scaled hand to stop its motions along cool skin.

"Just because I'm not in that room, it doesn't mean I'm not using it.  People will pay good money for privacy in this damned base."

After a moment of silence, the rebel leader muttered, "I didn't hear that," before shifting to be better positioned for sleep.

Seifer chuckled quietly.  "A-aw, you can't handle the thought of your partner breaking the base rules while making some money on the side?  Well, when this war is over and I buy you some expensive oils for those wings of yours, you'll be worshipping me for my business techniques."

"I thought you said we couldn't win."

"And I stick by that comment, but I've already devised an escape plan for when things turn sour around here, and I'm taking you with me whether you come willingly or not."

Squall sighed, showing his thoughts about the plan.  "Why are you still here?"

"Don't know, really.  I guess I don't have anywhere else to go," Seifer said as he freed his hand and moved it so that he could raked his clawed fingers through dark hair.  "What about you?  I don't see you trying to get rid of me yet.  Well, aside from getting me involved in those half-thought out attack plans of yours.  Really, timers can be set for longer than twenty freaking minutes, y'know."

After a time of thought, the lithe man shrugged.  "Feels good," he murmured, his exhaustion revealing itself in the low voice.

With a soft smile, Seifer said, "Go to sleep, angel.  I'll fuck you in the morning."

"That's what you think," Squall growled half-heartedly, soon asleep with drawn out breaths.

For the blond, however, the urge to get his own rest was gone as he continued to stroke deadly claws through thick hair.  Five months.  That was the length of his 'mercenary' history within the rebel army, and yet it was hard for Seifer to remember his past without the man in his hold.  Everything was oddly simple as compared to his life in the Imperial Force.  The rebels were lacking in so many ways from technology to capable soldiers, but Seifer hadn't anticipated the difference strong hearts could make within an army.  These people were fighting for their very lives and future while the members of the Imperial Force were only fulfilling a duty.  While a pathetically small chance, Seifer was beginning to believe that the rebels could win their fight against the Empress.  And though there were several variables to consider, he figured that the outcome would most depend on who died first: Ultimecia or Loire and his son.

Seifer scowled at the reality that the Empress was nearly impossible to kill, which was proven by her 'miracle revival' months back.  It was a devastating blow to the rebels since her awakening from death 'proved' to her followers that Hyne had blessed the sorceress to rule over common men.  But judging by reports from spies, the Empress hadn't fully recovered from the knife implanted in her skull.  She may have been sadistic before, but madness had taken over the woman.  And with madness came foolhardy decisions, or so the rebels hoped.  But all Seifer had noticed in the past months was senseless cruelty in her methods.  It made him ill to think about her most recent demonstration when she sacrificed orphaned children and somehow drew cheers and praise from her followers over the gruesome event.

The crack of a whip made Seifer sit up sharply in bed with his clawed hand held out before his face.  It wasn't for several seconds until he finally recognized the sound as loud knocking which had wakened him from a dream.  With his unchanged hand pressed against his face, he cursed his conscience for tormenting him about the massacre he had witnessed on the vid screen and could do nothing about.  But the moment of self pity had to wait with the knocking started up again.

Muttering that he was coming, Seifer tiredly made his way out of the bed which Squall had vacated at some point.  With a single glance at the closed bathroom door, the blond grinned at the thought of his angel cleaning up his body and wings.  It was a wonder at times that the obsessive compulsive man was a legendary swordsman who had been bathed in blood more than a few times in his life.

Once dressed in a pair of boxers, the blond unlocked the door and slid it open.  "This better be good," he growled out before setting eyes on the cause of his wakeup call.  Once seeing the reddened eyed gaze of his friend, Seifer immediately straightened to full alert.  "What's wrong?"

Nida opened his mouth as if to say something, but then shook his head.  "Is the General here?  It'd be easier to say everything at once."

Frowning at the deadened tone of voice, Seifer stepped aside to let the dark-eyed man enter the small quarters.  Instead of choosing a seat, Nida went to the window and stood in a manner which clearly meant trouble to the former commander.  Fortunately tense silence didn't last long as the bathroom door opened and Squall exited while drying his hair with a small towel.  Stormy eyes took in the scene immediately as he paused, and then moved to the dresser for clean clothes.

"I assume you can tell me everything while I get dressed?"

Nida nodded sharply, moving into his news without preamble.  "Ultimecia learned about the location of 'Haven'.  She had discovered two of our spies and tortured the information out of them.  And when she was done, she had the bodies delivered as a warning.  They were still barely alive, but only because of some kind of magic... they won't live..."

Watching the man teeter on the edge of breaking down, Seifer was surprised when Squall moved over to Nida and hugged him tightly.  It wasn't exactly a friendly hold, but the former spy seemed appreciative of the solid contact.

"When did this happen?" the winged man asked in a soothing voice.

"This morning... but we just heard," Nida replied in a hiccoughing manner.  "They're tryin'... to evacuate everyone... but so many..."

Hushing the sobbing man, Squall carefully led him to the bed and forced him to sit down.  Not understanding the situation completely, Seifer watched on while his clawed hand twitched open and closed.  He had never witnessed Nida succumbing to anguish like this, and his chest burned with the desire to kill someone for causing the generally cheerful man such pain.

"Stay here until you calm down, and then I'll see you in the war room.  I assume my father is waiting for me there?"

Nida nodded sharply, his breaths still extremely ragged.

Squall turned to face the blond, the intensity of cold flame in the stormy eyes stunning him.  "Get dressed."

While automatically following the man's order, Seifer glared at the man in a silent demand that everything will be explained once Nida wasn't an issue.  The winged man returned the glare in his own wordless demand to hurry the fuck up.  Still slipping on his shirt, the blond followed after Squall into the corridor, leaving behind the silent Nida to deal with his apparent grief.

"What the hell was that all about?" Seifer hissed out once the door slid shut.

"I'm not completely certain, but there was a girl Nida had convinced to join our side.  She's been a spy for nearly four years now, and I believe they were close."

"Ah shit, you don't think she was one of the people who got caught, do you?"  When Squall didn't correct his assumptions, the former commander raked fingers through his hair in a troubled gesture.  "Fuck.  I thought there was someone he was seeing, but he never admitted to it...  But how come you know so much about him?"

It was silent for a time, the brunet not speaking until they reached the elevator and the doors closed.  "I've known him since we were young....  I was a part of the group who found Nida sleeping on the burnt ruins of his home.  My father tried to approach him, but he was terrified of any adult, so I was the one to convince him that we wouldn't hurt him.  He then refused to leave my side for a few weeks after that."

"Hn, so that's why you weren't bothered by dressing in front of him."

The winged man shrugged.  "We were never that way, if that's what you're asking.  After a year or so, he got over his fears and started to make friends with the other orphans.  I haven't spent much time with him since then, but I guess he's the closest I'll get to having a brother."

The quiet ping of the elevator sounded before the doors opened, and Seifer stepped out first.  "What about this... 'Haven', was it?  I don't remember hearing about it before."

"Do you really think I would tell a traitor everything I know?"

The former Imperial soldier scoffed.  "I'd be ashamed to call you my lover if you gave away secrets without thought about the consequences."

After a shake of his head, Squall explained, "'Haven' is a highly protected base hidden in the Highlands mountain region.  Its purpose is to house people who shouldn't be involved in this war - our families, orphans, seniors...  Ultimecia knows it'll take more than a surprise attack to destroy our defenses."

"And so she decided on psychological warfare with those spies.  Sounds like our Lady."

The winged man stopped suddenly, forcing Seifer to turn and face him with question in the green eyes.  Not looking at the blond, Squall said, "If you're planning to desert us, do it now before this battle starts."

"Where the hell is that coming from?"

The burnet glanced up, his stormy eyes soft with a somber glow.  "This could be it.  If we can't protect 'Haven', there's nothing left to fight for."

With a slight frown, Seifer stepped up to the smaller man and placed his scaled hand around the back of the long neck.  Stroking his clawed thumb along pale skin, he said, "I can't promise much about the future, but I swear that I would never desert you in a battle."

The corner of soft lips curled into a bare smile.  "We shouldn't make my father wait even longer."


Running through narrow hallways lit by emergency lights, Seifer muttered out random profanities concerning senseless birds who should be locked in cages for their own safety.  The difficulties of the last weeks were starting to show on the large man - dark rings had formed under his eyes, his body bared bandages from various wounds, and his stride lacked some of its typical energy.  As Squall had feared, the battle to protect 'Haven' was going to be the final battle in the twenty-five year long war, and it didn't appear that the rebels would survive much longer.  Every resource was being put into their final defense, but Seifer knew that the Empress was far from exhausting her own reserves.  He knew every important ship in the fleet, and only half of them had made their appearance on the battlefield.  And the Imperial Army had always outnumbered the rebels easily ten to one, which didn't account for those rebels who couldn't fight.

But the Empress had apparently become impatient waiting for the inevitable end to the war.  While she had chosen an airship which didn't stand out among the other vessels, Squall had felt her approach with an almost maddening gleam to his eyes.  With Nida's navigation skills and a sharp shooter among the rebels, they had forced the ship to make an emergency landing away from the main battlefield.  Foolishly impatient, Squall left their ship before it had landed and flew to the downed airship to face the sorceress.

And that left Seifer to chase after the winged man, his scowl never faltering despite the enjoyment he found at seeing the blood spattered walls and numerous fallen bodies lying on the metal floor of the corridors.  While he was furious at Squall for being an idiot hero yet again, Seifer had to admit that the sickening pull within his chest was agitating him even more.  The sorceress was calling for him, coaxing him that he belonged within her service.  And though the man hadn't spoken of it, Seifer figured that Squall's recent strange behavior over the past day must have been caused by a similar pull, it most likely being stronger for him with too much time spent as the sorceress' pet.  But while the brunet's rash action made better sense, it didn't stop the former commander from continuing his random curses.

A flash of light and a muffled scream from a side corridor made Seifer slow his pace and reach for his gun, but he quickly remembered that the weapon had a single emergency bullet left, the rest wasted on the men he had encountered in the ship.  Keeping the revolver free in its holster, the blond tightened his grasp onto his blade, the hilt of which made specially for his scaled hand.  With a cautious pace, Seifer approached the doorway left partly open due to the lack of main energy in the crashed airship.  His breath stalled at the first glance inside.

Encircled by magically formed vines, Squall was on his knees with his arms held up to protect his face from the whip-like attacks.  One wing hung at a sickening angle, obviously broken and still bleeding despite the already soaked feathers.  Meanwhile, across the large room, Ultimecia looked on with her golden eyes shining brightly and her dark red lips curled into a vengeful sneer.

"It seems we have a guest," the sorceress purred before glancing to the doorway.  "My golden dragon.  I was hoping to have the chance to rescue you from this disobedient pet."

Though wary of the woman's intentions, Seifer sheathed his sword and stepped inside.  "Your Highness," he greeted with a slight bow of his head.

She hummed appreciatively.  "I hadn't the chance to view upon your changes before you were stolen from me.  Yes, those golden scales suit you better than I imagined."

While his clawed hand twitched vaguely, the former Imperial soldier didn't respond to comment as he forced himself to meet her glowing gaze.  He hadn't noticed it from the doorway, but her eyes were now mismatched with her once injured eye baring a silver hue to the golden glow.  The sight of which gave him hope that if one scar remained, perhaps her brain didn't heal completely from Squall's attack, thus validating the rumors of her recent mental illness.

"However, it is a shame that the process was interrupted before you had reached your full potential.  No matter.  I will correct that once we return to the palace.  You deserve the wings this one tried to deny you."

Seifer showed no surprise at the comment, already learning from Squall about the numerous 'improvements' the silver-haired woman had planned for him.  While the leathery wings vaguely appealed to him given his envy over Squall's ability to fly, he dreaded the nearly full body of scales and the pointless horns which would have added to the dragon imagery.

"Why so silent, my dragon?  Are you afraid that I would punish you for being tainted by this one?" she asked as a vine lashed out and drove a pained grunt from the winged man.

At the words, the blond suddenly understood that the sorceress didn't realize how it was his own men and not the rebels who had rescued him that day many months ago.  "Perhaps I am, your Highness."

"It is reasonable for you to fear me," Ultimecia stated with an aristocratic smile.  "And do not misunderstand me.  I know about your activities with those who defy my rule, but I don't blame you.  You are my masterpiece, and I will have you at my side."

"No..."

Startled by the raspy voice, Seifer glanced over at the kneeling man who had lowered his hands to glare at the sorceress.  The lithe body was shaking from pain, and yet the battered man appeared confident as he met the softly glowing gaze of the silver-haired woman.

"I won't give him to you," Squall stated in a firmer tone.

"That isn't your decision to make," Ultimecia replied threateningly.

In a rapid sequence which Seifer almost didn't catch, the thorn-covered vines vanished into green mist hardly a second before an invisible force slammed into Squall and flung him across the room to impact against a metal wall.  The sharp cry of the brunet still echoed in Seifer's ears as he watched Squall drop to the floor and lay unmoving in an unnaturally limp position.

An inhuman growl sounded in the room, and though a part of Seifer was impressed that he could make such a noise, he didn't focus on that thought as he turned his attention to the smirking sorceress.  His sword instantly in hand and held low, the blond soldier spirited toward the woman before she thought to glance in his direction.  Golden eyes widened in surprise at the fast approaching man, but she didn't react otherwise.  Though her casual stance set off red flags in Seifer's mind, he continued to follow through with his attack as he stopped before the woman and transferred his momentum to the upper slash of his blade.  The sudden resistance inches before the woman wasn't expected, but the clawed hand had a firm grip on the hilt and continued to force the blade forward.  Though its speed had been greatly reduced, the sword broke through the magical barrier and sliced the pale skin at the base of her long neck.  But before he was able to register the damage he had done and plan a follow-through attack, a flash of bright light blinded Seifer and he lost all sense of direction.

"Why must all of my pets defy me?!" the sorceress shrieked hysterically.

His eye sight returning, Seifer found himself halfway across the room and lying on his side.  Still disoriented and his body aching from the rough handling, he didn't attempt fast moments as he looked for his missing sword, and then silently swore when he saw his blade resting at the feet of the sorceress.  Shifting his eyes up the length of the tall woman, Seifer tensed with anger at the sight of the minor wound which the sorceress could most likely heal without effort.

Eyes closed, the silver-haired woman shook her head in a frustrated manner before she glared at the fallen soldier.  "I gift you with your body, and you repay me like this?  I make you better, more than human, and you dare to cause me such shame?"

"I never wanted this," Seifer hissed back.

"Your feeble mind never knew such improvements were possible."

Continuing to glare at the sorceress, he discreetly moved his unchanged hand to reach for his gun, but discovered that he had lost the revolver during the surprise attack.

"You will learn," Ultimecia stated in cool tones.  "You are my masterpiece and soon you will desire nothing more than to please me."

Seifer wasn't given the chance to retaliate as the sorceress raised her hand.  White flames briefly danced along the elegant fingers before the magical fire engulfed the blond soldier.  He yelled out at the expected pain and covered his face with his arms, but soon feeling the coldness of the metal floor against his skin, he quickly remembered the purpose of the flames.  Lowering his arms to the floor with the intent to push himself up, Seifer watched on helplessly as he was abruptly enclosed within the familiar bubble of magic.  Growling, he clawed at the deceptively fragile looking shell, but the barrier hardly bent, let alone tore at his attempt to escape.

Ultimecia smiled fondly at the trapped man and approached with unhurried steps.  "Do not fear, my golden dragon.  I won't let you escape me again."

As Seifer glared at the sorceress, he could already feel the scaled area under his eye burning from magic and there was also the sense of tiredness which was slowly overcoming him.  Even so, he continued his ineffectual attempt to claw himself free from the magical enclosure.

The silver-haired woman shushed him as if he were a child and reached out to place her hand on the bubble.  The loud crack of gunfire abruptly sounded, and due to him glaring heatedly at the smug face, Seifer watched in awe as a bullet impacted with the magical shield protecting the sorceress, and though it slowed greatly by the barrier such that Seifer briefly saw the small projectile, it broke through and hit its target of the undamaged golden eye.

As she screamed out in pain and fury, the bubble burst without warning and dropped the stunned blond to the metal floor several inches below.  Though he should have known better than to turn his back to the sorceress, Seifer looked in the direction of where the shot had come from.  A proud smirk came to his lips when he saw Squall kneeling with the blond's gun in his hands, but that smirk quickly vanished when Seifer noticed that both of the feathered wings hung oddly at his sides and the brunet was clearly favoring his right leg.

Stormy eyes bright with unnamed emotions shifted to Seifer.  "Kill her," he ordered in an almost desperate tone.

Like many times before, the stony-eyed gaze cleared the blond's mind of all fears and worries, enabling Seifer to focus on the task at hand.  With grace he rarely showed, the large man curled his legs beneath him and launched up onto his feet.  Running to his dropped sword, Seifer kept one eye on the sorceress who was vaguely trying to escape the room with stumbling steps.  His clawed hand grasped onto the dark hilt of his blade, Seifer turned with a vicious sneer on his lips as he set his sharp gaze on the injured woman.  Reverting to his typical stride, Seifer stalked the sorceress several steps before his eyes glanced over at his battered angel.  Green eyes glinted with rage before Seifer raised his blade high and ran the final steps to the silver-haired woman.  As he yelled out something akin to a roar, the heavy sword swung down and beheaded the sorceress in a single blow.

His breaths ragged and his body shaking, Seifer stared down at the murdered woman.  "That's it?" he asked no one in particular.

"Expectin' fireworks?" Squall replied, his words slightly slurred.

With his sword held loosely at his side, the blond stepped over to the winged man.  "Can you walk?"

His response was a weak scoff.  "My foot isn't exactly facing the right direction."

"Hn, are you sure that this isn't some ploy to get me to carry you?" Seifer asked with reflexive sarcasm.

Squall glared lightly at the large man, but his retort was cutoff by the sound of numerous footsteps.  Spinning around with his bloodied blade held before him, Seifer eyed the partly opened doorway and readied himself to defend his helpless angel.  Once the first person stepped through, however, all the tension evaporated from the blond.

"Nida, what took you so fucking long?"

The dark-haired man jumped at his name, but then relaxed once seeing the large man.  "We got delayed... but sorry, am I interrupting something here?"

Abruptly remembering his bare state, Seifer fought the urge to cover himself like an embarrassed school boy.  "The bitch was having her fun at my expense.  So are you going to stand there and gawk or are you going to hand over your jacket?"

After slipping off his uniform jacket and tossing it to the nude man, Nida looked down at the beheaded woman.  "That's the Empress..." he stated with numbed surprise.  "Does this mean it's over?  Did we win?"

"No," Squall said in his quiet way.  "There are still those below her who command the armies, but they won't last long without their 'divine leader'.  The end is near, but I'd hardly call it a win."

A bitter laugh left Seifer as he finished securing the jacket around his waist.  "Enough of this 'no one wins a war' philosophical bullshit.  Assuming Nida cleared the way for us, I think it's time to get our asses out of here."

The stony-eyed man smiled softly and nodded.

Nida finally moved his eyes from the beheaded corpse and looked at his leader.  "Holy shit, Squall... you're--"

Cutting off the man, Seifer said, "I've got him.  Just make certain no one takes advantage of us while we're walking around like lame prey."  The large man bent down and carefully lifted the highly injured angel.  At Squall's loud gasp, the blond looked into the slightly glazed eyes.  "Hey, are you going to be able to hold on?"

After a moment to regain his breath, the brunet spoke quietly such that only Seifer heard him.  "Don't let them... take my wings... please..."

Shushing him softly, the green-eyed man kissed the sweaty forehead.  "I'll tell the healers to make you whole again."

With a pained smiled, Squall closed his eyes.  "Thank you... for not deserting..."

The winged man drifted off into unconsciousness, becoming a heavy burden to the already exhausted blond.  Even so, Seifer couldn't contain his broad grin at the lithe man who appeared remarkably small in his tight hold.  After a sharp command for Nida to lead the way, the former commander walked steadily out of the large room, never looking back at the murdered sorceress or his sword resting in the split blood.


[Epilogue]

A warm breeze slipped through an open window, causing the sheer curtains to flow with the melodic ringing of a distant wind chime.  His face half-buried in a pillow smelling of roses, Seifer hummed appreciatively as he fought against his drowsy state.  His changed hand clawed lightly at silky sheets with every motion along his back.

"Ready?"

Seifer frowned at the question.  "No, don't... feels good..."

"I have to remove the dead skin eventually."

A half-hearted growl escaped the blond.

"I'll take that as a 'yes'," Squall said with an amused air, just before rubbing his warmed and oiled hand along the scaled upper back.

"Ow, ow, ow!  Not so rough, you sadist."

The brunet chuckled.  "You can handle a broken arm with hardly a grunt, but you become a baby whenever molting season comes around."

Hiding his pout against the pillow, Seifer suffered through the removal of shedding skin from his golden scales.  Over the years, Squall had gotten skilled at doing it as fast and as painless as possible, but the juncture of scale and skin was always hypersensitive, especially when new scales made their appearance.  And Seifer had the suspicion that his angel enjoyed causing him pain in the name of 'helping'.

Finished with a scaled area at the back of his leg, Squall said, "Alright, time to roll over."

The blond eagerly followed the order and sharp green eyes focused on the nude form kneeling at the foot of the bed.  The stormy-eyed man hadn't changed much since the first time Seifer had met him, and the differences there were along the lithe body highly appealed to the large man.  Various scars covered the lightly colored skin, many of which caused by Seifer himself during their rougher moments in bed.  The blue-gray eyes had lost their shadows and pained gazes, replaced by the brighter gleam of hope and pleasure.  And pristine white feathers gleamed in the early morning light, but the right wing would forever hold its noticeable arch from the bad break at the end of the revolution.  Even so, Squall rarely missed out on his daily flights to keep his wings strong.

Finished with the scaled patches on the legs and arms, Squall sat on the toned stomach of the blond.  "You're smiling," he stated suspiciously.

"And you're beautiful."

The brunet scoffed lightly while placing oil onto his fingertips.  "Would it kill you to call me handsome on occasion?"

"No, but 'handsome' just doesn't suit you."

Choosing not to retort, Squall leaned forward and began to treat the scaled cheek.

Seifer closed his eyes with a soft hum at the gentle touch, once again fighting sleep as the irritated area was soothed by the oil.  Hearing the faint chimes again, he smiled.  "I like it here."

"I believe that was why we bought this flat."

Smiling wider, Seifer said, "I thought it was because you wanted to protect everyone from me."  He then added, "Think Nida will forgive me for ruining his jacket?"

Squall scoffed.  "It was his own fault to not see the signs that you were molting.  And he has forgiven you for the other shirts and jackets you've shredded beyond repair."

Apparently done with removing dead skin, the winged man leaned down further to initiate a soft kiss.  Seifer responded eagerly as he raked his unchanged fingers through thick hair and coaxed the brunet to deepen the joining.  The kiss eventually broke and Squall moved to rest tiredly against the larger man's body.

"At least you don't seem afraid of the dragon in me," Seifer muttered while kissing dark hair.

"I know how to handle you."

"Which includes whisking me away at midnight?  You do realize that we haven't slept in over thirty-six hours because of your stunt."

Squall shrugged.  "You wouldn't admit that you needed to get away, even after you tore off the sleeve of Nida's jacket."

With no further desire complain, especially since the massage had soothed away the irritating burn of his scales, Seifer stroked claws along cool skin.  "Why have you bothered keeping me around this long, o' wise Senator?"

The brunet made an irritated noise at the title his father forced upon him.  "Maybe I should leave you here when I go back."

"I'm serious.  Aren't you bored of me yet?"

After a short time of silence, Squall shifted closer against the larger body.  "You're like my wings."

"What, angelic and perfect?"

A rare snort a laughter escaped the man.  "Hardly...  No, I despised my wings at first, and I think I will always hate the damned things, but I can no longer imagine my life without them.  And I don't really want to live without them.  Or you," he added almost shyly.

With a smug grin, Seifer said, "Well, it's a relief to know that I'm not just a living fuck toy to you."  Feeling the pout forming against his skin, the blond laughed.  "Alright, alright.  I love you, too, you feather-brained idiot."

Squall sat up sharply, his eyes narrowed as he glared at the prone man.  "I didn't say anything about love."

Laughing louder, Seifer reached up to stroke his claws along the pale neck.  "Yes, you did."

The typically stony eyes wavered at the firm tone and he frowned in thought before lying down once more.  "This is love?"

"Fuck, don't sound so disappointed."

"I'm not.  Just... surprised."

"You didn't think you'd end up with a bastard like me," Seifer stated for him.

"Perhaps, but... I thought relationships were different."

The blond chuckled.  "Have you been watching soap operas behind my back?  Or is it that Nida has been boring you with his tales about his new girlfriend?"

"I don't have time to stare at the vid screen," Squall replied, which meant that he had been listening to their dark-eyed friend over drinks during too many evenings.

"Well, his adventures in romance work for some people.  Meanwhile, there's our type of relationship which is... easier."

"Easier..." the brunet repeated as if testing out the word.  Eventually his arm moved to encircle the larger man's waist and squeezed slightly before he adjusted the position of his head on the broad shoulder.

Smiling softly at the silent acceptance of their relationship, Seifer closed his eyes to block out the dim morning light and focused his attention on the ocean-hinted scent of his lover and the quiet chiming which sounded with the gentle breeze.  A large wing shifted to cover both of the bare bodies, and Seifer found the caress of the lengthy feathers more appealing than the cool sheets beneath him.  Pale lips forming a smug smirk, the blond shifted to kiss dark hair.

"G'night, angel.  I'll fuck you when we wake."

An irritated huff sounded.  "If you must."

 

{Owari}

 

Author's Whining -- Whee, I'm so terrible, needing to put such sickening sap into everything I write. =P  And such a cheap ending, too.  Eh, I guess I could've gotten another chapter out of this fic, but I'm horrid at writing action/battle scenes, so I prefer to avoid them at all costs.  And as I always say - the faster I finish one fic, the sooner I can start another one.  Though, in this case, it's 'the sooner I get to finish another request'.

Anywho, there's your fic, Ruth!  I really hope that you liked it, and thank you so much for the wonderful pictures, the insightful comments, and the lengthy emails.  And good luck with everything you have going on in the future!