Out of My Control
It hurts to breathe, to move, to think. It's almost worse that I know exactly what is causing that pain, but even if I could move my hands, I wouldn't be able to remove the necklace. I learned long back not to touch the metal encircling my throat, yet my hands still hold painful burns from what I do in sleep.
"What do we have here?"
Looking up from my kneeling position, I stare directly in dark green eyes. Glaring at this man, I'm determined not to show my fear of him and why he may be interested in me.
"Quite an eye you've got there, sir. I'm selling the lad for fifty gold."
Not shifting his gaze, the stranger replies, "Fifty? Rather cheap for a child slave these days."
The fat man chuckles. "The boy is fifty. The necklace is five thousand."
"Now, why would I pay so much for such chains?"
"The boy has dark powers and the necklace controls them. He'd kill you otherwise."
Frowning, the stranger kneels in front of me. "You don't look well. Are you ill, boy?"
I finch at the hand he places on my cheek, but lose my balance in the process. Falling to the side, I land hard on my shoulder which is already sore from my wrists being bound behind me for the last few days.
"Spirits, your wrists..." Immediately he pulls out a knife, my bindings soon cut.
"Hey, now. Until I see some gold, he isn't yours to do as you wish."
A man covered in a dark cloak steps into view, a strange looking sword placed smoothly to the fat man's throat. I've never seen the bastard get sweaty so quickly. Have to say that the sight pleases me, a small smile coming to my lips.
"Child, do you have a name?"
I open my mouth, but all that comes out is a painful cough.
"Laguna, we must leave. Now."
"You hear that? We have to go, and I'm taking you with me. Will you let me carry you?"
I can only stare at him, my eyes wide. He is taking me... as a slave? I don't want to be a slave anymore.
"I'm not doing anything until he lets me. The child probably thinks I'm some scary man who's gonna lock him in a cage or something."
"Settle it later. I can see the guards coming."
The stranger sighs. "Sorry, boy. We don't have time."
And then I'm in his arms, but not the way I've been carried by various owners. More like mother did before I... Safe. Could I really be safe now? No, he called me a slave before. He's stealing me from the fat man so that he doesn't have to pay all of that money. Why? Why does life have to be like this?
I wake to hazy light and a fresh smell that only belongs to early morning. It's been a long while since I've dreamt of my past like that, old memories probably stirring with me returning home only months after my declaration that I was leaving for good. While I had truly meant to keep my distance from those important to me, this should be the safer option for both Squall and me. Hard to believe I'll be home before sunset.
"Who was that in your dream?" So, he can see even my dreams now.
I hold Squall tighter, savoring the feel of his cool skin against me. "That, fey one, is the man I would die for."
"In name, not blood. It's because of him that I learned to contain my powers and was able to live again as a part of his group. The guy has quite the collection of misfits. Kiros and I are rather certain that Laguna is determined to save lost souls one by one, no matter what trouble he'll get himself into. Needless to say, Laguna will love you."
"That dream... it is why you were upset about me becoming your slave."
"You are not my slave."
"Yes, I am. You spoil me."
"I hate those chains. Maybe Ellone--"
"Seifer, it cannot be undone. And... I wouldn't want it to."
"What kind of bullshit is that? You like being wounded and strangled and forced to be with me no matter? Don't be ridiculous."
He shrugs out of my hold, smoothly gaining his feet. Stormy eyes glance down at me with words and emotions clear in the depths but are left unspoken when he turns around to handle morning tasks. How I wish I could put a name to everything I see in his eyes, somehow sort those identified aspects into an understanding of his thoughts. Instead, I'm always left second guessing everything I believe as fact about Squall, never certain of what he wants or fears. He wouldn't want those chains removed if given the chance... While watching him place the strip of dark blue around his head, I have to wonder if this elfling will be the end of me.
The closer we get home, the further my thoughts seem to fly. For once, the elfling's quiet nature is a pleasant relief as I drown in the randomness of my mind. While logically I should know that Laguna will receive us both with open arms, I feel ashamed for running back after my noble action of sparing them my troubles. I'm such a fool.
It's the sudden feel of coldness that alerts me back into awareness of our surroundings. Stopping in place and looking back, I find Squall glaring to the side of the trail and a frozen arrow held hovering before him. I raise a hand in the signal for him to hold fire. Shit, lost in my thoughts, I haven't a clue how close we are to camp. It could be one of the elves hunting me down, but I'd rather not risk the chance of harming someone of Laguna's group.
"I suggest you reveal yourself. His aim is better than most."
A familiar chuckle carries from the trees in response to my warning, obviously unafraid.
"It's fine, Squall. Just the welcoming party."
Whether he hears me or not I'm not certain, but stormy eyes narrow in concentration and then suddenly the arrow is set loose.
"Squall! I told you--" A laugh interrupts me.
"His aim is true, kitten. Where did you find his likes?" A slender figure wrapped in dark clothing walks onto the path and picks up a broken wooden arrow from the ground.
"Damn it, Kiros. You actually fired at us in order to test him?"
"I wasn't aiming for anything vital." He smiles at his supposed joke, white teeth contrasting with dark skin.
Taking a few steps to meet with him, I grab his wrist and he mine as we pull each other close for a hug. "Good to see you alive, you damn elf."
"And you, kitten. Laguna will be overjoyed to find you returning home." Glancing to the side, Kiros' smile quickly vanishes. "I did not realize that you would travel with his kind."
The unusually harsh tone surprises me. "And what exactly is 'his kind'?"
His narrowed gaze does not avert from Squall, my elfling silent at the obvious insult and condescending glare.
"Kiros. This is Squall, someone very important to me. At least pretend to be respectful."
"Take off that covering. Others will not appreciate being deceived as I have been."
Waiting a few moments to prove he wouldn't jump at the elf's requests, Squall removes the piece of cloth that hid his pointed ears. When he wraps the dark blue material around his wrist instead of tucking it into a pocket somewhere unseen, I know I must be grinning like a fool. But that smile drops when I get a good look of his eyes - dead as stone. Strange how I thought he let so little be revealed of his emotions, but witnessing such icy shields at this moment, I never realized the volumes he has allowed me to see.
"We had better go. Laguna would hate me for keeping you to myself for too long." The words lack the levity I am used to. Shit, and this was supposed to be a safe, welcoming place for Squall.
As we walk closer to camp, I question the older elf about any happenings within the last months, and there aren't any surprises from what he tells me. The typical contracts with various countries for battles over strips of land, as well as a few assassination missions. There was only a single attack by the tribe of elves that are attempting to kill me, but it appears thus far that the others don't wish to press their luck against my tainted powers.
Entering the camp, several heads turn in our direction, a few of the men yelling a 'hello' and 'knew you'd be back' type statements. I don't fail to notice the expressions of the two other elves within the group aside from Ellone and Kiros. I wish I could pull the elfling close to me and assure him that I didn't realize there would be such a poor welcoming for him. There should be time for such words later in private.
Kiros enters the captain's quarters first. "Laguna, there's someone here to speak with you."
"Ugh, do I have to? It's almost dinner--" Dark green eyes blink several times before the man stands up from behind the desk. "Seifer."
"Hey. Still have a room for me?"
"Do I still have a room... Get over here you good for nothing kid." After dropping my pack to the ground, I meet Laguna partway across the room, the shorter man forcing the air right out of my lungs with his hug. "How are you, my boy?"
"Just fine, old man. And by your strength, I know you're healthy as ever." As I take a step back, I also motion Squall forward, breaking the staring match between him and Kiros. "Laguna, this here is--" A slap to my face interrupts me. Glancing down, I come across brown eyes narrowed in anger. "What the hell was that for, Elle?"
"How dare you chain this poor child to you."
"Like I meant to. I was only trying to save his life."
"By binding his life to yours?!" She raises her hand again, but it's halted before its strike.
"Don't touch him."
Even the kindhearted Ellone is unable to prevent her cringe at the half-elf's hold as she eyes Squall carefully. "Forgive me. I forgot that you would feel his pain. It's just I'm extremely ashamed of what he has done to you."
He releases the slim wrist. "He isn't at fault."
She breathes a pitying laugh. "Of course you wouldn't think so."
"What is that supposed to mean, Elle?"
"How long has he been like this?"
"Almost two months, I think. Why?"
Sorrowful eyes glance at Squall. "By now he is fully your slave, unable to deny any of your orders. His very thoughts are probably overruled by your own wants and desires. Of course this child could never blame you for anything."
"What?" I look straight at Squall, his stare still guarded and cold. "Is this true? You're just doing whatever I tell you?"
There's an infinite pause before he replies, "Yes."
Next thing I know, I'm walking out of the building and away from the mercenary camp. None of it is real. His desire to be with me, his consent for me to claim his body, his simple acceptance of what I am. All of it lies. Spirits, there's actually an ache in my chest at this unintended deception of his. When did Squall become so deeply ingrained into my life?
I soon reach the river and unable to travel further in this direction, I decide to take my anger out on an innocent tree. Though my sword is available at my side, I punch barehanded at the solid object, reveling in the pain that covers my thoughts and other aches. I get in a long string of hardy punches against crumbling bark before the existence of a familiar presence makes me stop.
I can't bring myself to face him. "Sorry, no more orders for you. You can scamper away for now."
"Be a good slave and leave me alone."
There's a frustrated sigh. "Have you considered which orders I've been following from you?"
"Oh, I don't know. 'Relax and let me fuck you,' comes to mind first."
"Hmm, and not the demand that I shouldn't be your slave?"
The idea is slow to seep in through muddled thoughts, but finally I can turn around to face Squall and to look into bright eyes that lack the shields of earlier. I smile weakly. "And yet you continue to insist that you are my slave."
"I also say that you spoil me."
I reach out a hand to touch him, but he takes it in two hands, the skin of his knuckles damaged and bleeding to match my self-inflicted wounds. I don't bother to apologize since I'm certain Squall knows by now that I'd never intentionally hurt him in this way. Instead I watch as he kisses and licks gently at the injured area of my hand, slowly moving downward to take a couple fingers into his mouth, sucking them clean of blood. For a creature recently introduced to the world of physical pleasures, Squall can seduce better than any of my past partners. I suppose I could be biased, though.
"You can't go back, you know. I will never follow your orders blindly as I should."
"Good." Gripping his chin, I move in close for a taste of the willful elfling. His response to my touch is beautiful, sweetly hinted with true emotion. I can barely hear the twitch of ears against hair, knowing of the action since he does it whenever his body is sensually stimulated. Breaking the kiss, I remove my fingers from his chin and quickly lap up the spots of blood I left on that fair skin.
"That long haired human is worried about you." And thusly, Squall returns us to unsatisfying reality.
"Laguna. His name is Laguna. He'd be crushed if you only called him 'human'."
I concede with a deep sigh. "Well then, we better head back. If I'm lucky, our room could be ready and waiting for us."
Dinner warm in my stomach, I feel content leaning back on my hands while seated on the ground a fair distance from large fire. More than I'd like to admit, I missed being surrounded by a large group of people. Though several men have left and some new faces are among the group, this is still family to me. There's nothing quite like the feeling of being home.
But the air is a bit tenser than I'd care for. Laguna is oddly quiet tonight, only offering nervous responses when prompted, which leads into ramblings of nonsense before tapering off into silence. The dark skinned elf keeps his distance from Squall and obviously wouldn't be here if it weren't for Laguna's request. Only Ellone seems relatively normal, her mood lightening instantly when I had informed her that Squall isn't my loyal servant. Though she makes certain not to touch the half-elf, she does her best to raise the dark atmosphere of my welcome home.
"Ah, you're originally from the north? How wonderful. Most of the elves I meet are from the south."
"... ..." He looks into the flames, not offering comment. I'm surprised Squall has told her as much as he already has. Ellone always did have a way to open people up by seeming the older sister or the like.
"Do you know the dances? I've only heard stories about them."
Hesitantly he nods. Well, this is something new.
She clasps her hands. "Could you do one?"
He glares at the large fire, an apparent negative to her request.
Who am I to pass up a chance of witnessing a display of his grace. "Come on, Squall. You're hurting the young lady's feelings. One dance shouldn't kill you."
His body tenses and I can make out his eyes scanning around at the numerous faces of men and women that surround our fire and others, all of the people wrapped up in their own conversations. He's nervous. For some reason the idea excites me, seeing a weakness in the elfling that I haven't believed possible within the stubborn fool.
I lean close to him, my lips against his ear. "One dance, and I'll return the favor with a full body massage."
The ear twitches to reveal his thoughts about the deal. A creature untouched for most of his life, a firm massage is more erotic to him than the actual act of fucking. Not that I mind. I could never get tired of feeling that incredible skin of cool softness.
Sighing in defeat, he stands but then holds out a hand to me.
"Ah ha, no. I don't dance, fey one. Ask Elle."
Stormy eyes are firm, giving the clear ultimatum of my participation or nothing.
I take his hand. "If you end up bruised and damaged, don't blame me later."
Smirking, he helps me to my feet and leads me to the open area in front of the fire. I'm not quite sure what I was expecting, maybe something along the lines of the partnered dancing I had witnessed at the formal functions Laguna had dragged me to a few times. Instead, Squall releases his hold on me and almost immediately starts into a string of light, almost playful attacks as slaps and sweeps replace punches and kicks. Caught off guard, I retreat several steps before gaining a vague understanding of the 'dance'. Hesitantly I defend myself against his attacks, gradually finding the rhythm Squall sets. When I get in my own hit, the elfling grins slightly to show his satisfaction at my quick study.
Suddenly the rhythm changes, and I realize that this is the true form of the 'dance', the moves before only meant to loosely prepare me for this. Though I have never cared much for hand combat, one should always be prepared in the case a weapon is broken or lost. But this... it's somehow much more than a simple sparring match. Being in the middle of it, I can't quite tell, but his style of fighting has changed as if to mimic another person.
"It's a story," Squall says quietly in the elven language, the melodic tone matching the flow of the 'dance'.
"These dances tell stories of important battles within elven history."
"Heh, and what am I? The clumsy human in this one?"
With amazing speed, he moves behind me. "You play it well."
Reluctantly enjoying myself too much to be offended, I continue to follow his lead. It's nice like this, being able to spar the elfling without worrying about the unfair advantage of him acquiring both direct and indirect wounds. But gradually the tempo changes yet again into an oddly unsettling but familiar feel. His pace increases even more while my slower moves gain a stronger edge to them. Almost as if Squall's target in this retelling was to maim while I needed a one hit kill due to his rare and brief openings for attack. I don't know how long we 'dance' like this, nor do I know exactly where we traveled during the intense movements. All that matters is dodging the quick strikes and finding the chance to get in my own hits.
It comes to a sudden halt, our left arms coming in contact between us and held there in the cross as we stare into each other's eyes. We're both breathing hard as thin moisture trails down our faces from the exertion of the 'dance'. I want him. Opening up my fist, I cup my hand on his cheek, my thumb brushing the beads of sweat from above his lips. Squall leans into the hold, exposing his lean neck to me. Before I know it, I'm biting into that neck and savoring the blood that flows unrestricted into my mouth.
Squall shivers under my painful hold, but he doesn't show any resistance, and instead rakes fingers through my hair, gripping as best he can on the short strands. He lets me have what I want of him, as if it has always been mine to take.
The horrified cry from Ellone jerks me back into bothersome reality, until I realize what exactly I had been doing. I can hardly breath let alone speak as I stare at the damage I caused. Squall looks at me dazedly, blood still seeping from the wound on his neck. The injury I purposefully caused. Fucking shit, what's wrong with me.
Flickering to the side of my vision distracts me, forcing my attention away from the elfling in my hold. I find Ellone on the ground, shaky hands covering her mouth as she looks at us in fear. Near by is Laguna, forcefully being held back back Kiros, the elf glaring at us as he would any enemy. And before them is arching black lighting, slowly spreading outward from me.
"No," I manage to whisper. It's out of my control, the darkness approaching those I love and possibly other innocents around me. I had it contained, so why does this power escape me now? Fingers brush my cheek, and I turn my gaze instantly back to the exhausted half-elf.
"You can't just contain it. Dominate that power."
"I can't." This power within me is too sickening for me to even care to touch it, let alone control it. I've never wanted this dark energy.
He takes a deep breath and grasps the back of my hand, pulling it out to the side palm up. "This is a part of you. Focus."
"Seifer." He leans up with an unsteady motion, his lips pressed momentarily against mine. Lowering from tiptoe, Squall smiles knowingly at me with the blood redden lips. "Do this."
Fuck him for this irrational belief in me. Closing my eyes, I try to find a grip on that power and pull it back into me, but it escapes from my attempts. It's almost teasing in the way I can't capture the chaotic energy. I shake my head and look at the brunette in frustration.
"Don't try to grab it. This power is yours and will obey your summons. Simply call it back to your hand."
And somehow that makes the difference. Defining that single point of return, the blackness surprisingly condenses into a swirling ball of energy hovering above my hand held steady only by Squall's determined hold. Slowly I close my hand around the dense ball, the shock of the dark energy flowing within my body making my legs collapse beneath me. Weakened himself, Squall falls to the ground with me and leans heavily against my chest.
He doesn't respond and moves limply within my grasp, almost sliding to the dirt before I hug him close to me.
"Let go of me, Kiros."
I look up at the growled tone and find Laguna walking towards us, the only one it seems who would dare get this close. Even Kiros stays where he was left behind. Leave it to the old man to act first and not even consider it something dangerous to do.
"He's alive." While faint, I can feel the elfling's heartbeat within me. Of course he could never die of something so simple as a loss of blood. Hell, when I first found him, I was surprised that any blood was left in the small body.
Laguna releases a breath. "Thank the Spirits. Seeing that dark energy flow into him, I swore there was no way he could survive."
"We can talk later. Can you walk?"
"Yeah, but Squall--"
"I'll take him."
Laguna kneels to the ground and pulls the unconscious elfling from my hesitant hold. Easily he lifts Squall into his arms and starts to walk off. Sometimes I forget that the old man is as much as a warrior as anyone in this camp. Unsteadily, I get to my feet and follow the man while trying to ignore the feel of fearful eyes on me. At least no one thinks to attack me.
Soon Squall is laid to rest on a mattress and Laguna tends to the neck wound while speaking. "First, I must say that the sparring match was something incredible to behold. I haven't a clue how you read the movements of this one. They were just blurs to me. Ellone was very pleased and, though he'd never admit it, Kiros was enjoying himself as well. Quite the show.
"Then something changed. I couldn't follow the difference that took place, but the atmosphere got heavy. Ellone and Kiros had rather stunned expressions as they continued to watch. Some time later, the match came to a sudden halt, the two of you looking at each other with raised arms. I think it was then when that energy of yours started to encircle your body. But you didn't seem to notice, instead leaning in closer to Squall. At that point Kiros had a firm hold on me, so I could only try and call out to you. You didn't hear me, I suppose. When you... bit into Squall, his body was filled with the dark energy and it spread outward from him. Finally Ellone's cry reached you, but I had feared it too late until I saw the young one move..."
I can only stare horrified at the sleeping form. It should have taken his life instantly. I almost killed him after all have sworn to him, after everything he means to me. Why must I be cursed like this?
"How do you know that dance?"
I look up to the doorway. "Elle?"
"I don't. I only followed Squall's lead."
"Impossible. You can't just do that dance with no training. How do you know of it?"
"You're the only one to teach me about elven matters, Elle. And no one has taught me anything before this camp."
"What of this half-man?"
"Don't blame him. I knew nothing of these 'dances' before tonight, so why don't you just tell me what the hell I did wrong?!"
"Seifer, calm yourself." The soft voice of Laguna instantly drains my rising anger and frustration. "Right now this young one needs rest and comfort, and I can tell that you are the only one he trusts to offer such things. We will talk at length tomorrow."
Against the elf's protests, we are soon left alone in peace. A rush of tiredness overwhelming me, I blow out the candle and take a moment to enjoy the quiet darkness while my vision adjusts. After removing my clothes, I crawl into bed with the resting brunette. Almost instantly he curls towards my warmth, thick hair brushing under my chin. That trust hurts, wanting it so much and yet knowing I don't deserve it after tonight.
Tomorrow. Tomorrow I will make certain to ask Ellone if there is anyway to remove Squall from his chains, even if it means my life. But for now I can only be selfish and hold this lithe form close to me as I wait for sleep to take me from this world.
Author's Whining -- Be prepared to be amazed - I actually figured out how I want to end this ficcie! Two more parts and that will be it for this story. Whooho! Got to love random ideas that come while you're sniffing too much iso-propanol in the lab. But just to warn you, this in no way means that I'll be finishing the fic really soon.