Wingless
March 2002

 

|Seifer|

For the first time in a week, the sky is clear with only scattered white clouds. The grassy ground makes squishing noises despite my light walking through the village. Everything is damp, but a day of sun should get rid of that. Already, the humidity of evaporating moisture can be felt this morning, especially in my wings. I hate the typhoon season. Since the downpour of water makes flying impossible and the two wings very heavy while walking, I have been trapped indoors for days. In the mood to stretch out, I of course look for my favorite sparring partner.

Our large town sits upon an island, so it isn't that difficult to hunt down the brunette. Gliding nearly a mile from the buildings of town, I begin to hear an odd sound coming up through the forest. It's certainly music, but I don't know of any instruments that has such a tone. I land a small distance away in an open area of the forest, and then walk slowly so I don't make any noise as I approach.

From the covering of the forest, I look ahead. Next to the edge of a cliff there is a familiar figure leaning against a boulder. In his hands is some kind of box with a handle and strings. It must be an instrument his father got from the humans we deal with. The melody is enchanting. He must have had it for a long time to be that skilled at the instrument without a person to instruct him.

Brown hair that was long enough to just pass his eyes flows gently in the ocean breeze. Strong hands move along the instrument while a booted foot gives a slow beat. He's wearing trousers similar to mine, but he also has a shirt and jacket on that the humans wear. It never was a secret why he doesn't have wings. Squall was born with black wings. In our legends, those with black wings held fearsome powers. A law was passed that any child born with the cursed wings must have them cut off, essentially cutting off the innate magic of the child.

I met Squall in our primary training. At first I recognized him as the boy who was born cursed, but seeing him up close, I couldn't understand why such a pretty boy could be cursed. I tried to make friends with him, but he never reacted to my kind actions. After a few months, I found out that he would react to a fight. It's been that way ever since.

With only the one training school in our village, I got to watch Squall grow up though I am a year older. There are basically three things you can become as a Letivian: an artisan, a magic user, or a fighter. Guess which one I chose. Even without wings, Squall is my top rival. I think the teachers were amazed that the boy could become so skilled at fighting. I knew from the first time his fist connected with my face that he was strong.

It burned me watching him through the years. With no other reason than some odd feature he had when born, adults spurned him and passed their ignorance on to their children. He was always encouraged to not play with other children as if his curse could spread from touch. During flying lessons, he would be made to run since the instructors couldn't believe he was capable of something else. Instead of having his scores posted with everyone else's, he is given a slip of paper since it would be too demoralizing to other students that he could be smarter than them. And yet, through it all, he keeps up that stony expression of apathy. I wonder how much he hurts inside.

The song ends and I feel his eyes glaring at me. I should know better than to think mere vegetation could hide me from him.

"Hey, Wingless Wonder." I step out from the leaves and branches, shaking out water droplets from my feathers. "Did you think that I could go a full week without playing with you?"

"… …"

Without warning, I pull out Hyperion and charge forward. He moves enough for the blade to miss his head, making it embed a bit into the stone. He glares at me, the stormy blues strangely lacking much emotion. Over the years, he's gotten good at that. It pains me to see him in such a way, as if he is slowly killing himself from the inside out.

"Come on, Squally-boy. You know you want to play," I sneer at him.

After a moment, I feel a touch of coldness. I fly quickly into the sky, pulling Hyperion out from the boulder as I go up. Twisting to the right, I barely avoid a few large icicles of his magic attack. I remember a couple of years ago when he first caught me off guard with his magic. I couldn't believe a guardian force would bless him given he no longer had wings. Our teachers had said it nearly impossible, thus explaining why humans couldn't use magic except for the Sorceresses of legends. But Shiva blessed Squall. She probably loved his personality.

I sneer down at Squall, enjoying the sight of him pulling out his blade. He never told me its name, but he must have named it by now. To fighters like us, the blade is the only thing that stops a killing blow. It's more personal than a piece of metal.

"Nice try, but now you'll have to suffer the punishment for missing."

I call upon my own magic -- the fires of Ifirit. How could I resist the poetic irony of flame against ice? At the same time as I launch several fireballs, I swoop to attack. This is going to be a fun day.


|Squall|

I stumble into the house just before the sun sets. Happy to note that Father is late for dinner once again, I go to my room to clean up and change. I set the guitar against the wall near my bed, relieved it didn't become a piece of firewood in that fight. I wasn't expecting Seifer to look for me so early this morning. He hates mornings. But I guess he was feeling cooped up after so many days of rain.

Stripping out of the filthy clothing, I head to the bathing room with a loose robe on. I didn't tell the maid to prepare warm water, so I settle with the cold water from the morning. It's better that way since I had a couple burned areas thanks to Seifer. I could use cure spells on them, but they were too minor for me to feel like bothering.

Seifer. He confuses me. Since childhood, we have fought and always at the blonde's prompting. If it weren't for him, I probably wouldn't have tried so hard to be skilled with a blade. And yet, when we fight there isn't hate or anger in those green eyes of his. Unless he is as good at hiding emotions as I am. No, I have lived with prejudice surrounding me all my life. I know its foul scent and harsh flavor. Only my father and Seifer don't have even a hint of it on them.

Perhaps that is why I dream of him at nights. Just him holding me and saying that no one else matters since he knows I am not cursed. It's a stupid dream, really. Seifer only wants to fight me, or perhaps it should be 'play' with me. My own father is afraid to touch me sometimes, even though I desperately want the contact. Why would Seifer bother if my own blood won't? Funny how the more I want it, the more I reject it since I'm scared of being bound by that need. I'm such the fool.

By the time I dress in clean clothes, Father summons me for dinner. It's a good thing he loves to talk or else meals together would be silent except for the sound of metal on plate. He of course rants about the hopelessness of the Council and the humans. Letivians are located around the world, but only in scattered villages. We have shaky relations with humans. Basically, they envy our wings and too many Letivians think themselves better than humans simply because they are literally above them. However, since Letivians are historically poor at growing food and other demands for survival, they need the humans' support. In trade, we offer our superior fighting abilities and skillful crafts.

Dinner ends but Father continues to talk as I enjoy a glass of sweet wine. I don't mind really. He is one of the few people that can talk to me without an awkward air. And it's amusing to watch both his hands and lavender-gray wings move along with his excited words.

"…and I hope you are listening to this. You will have to deal with this yourself someday."

Father is the current negotiator between the humans we work for and the Council. Frankly, I think the job is perfect for him. He has the personality that could make a wild wolf want to be his lapdog. Though he does have his idiotic moments and overly optimistic views, he is good at bringing peace.

I sigh at his comment. "Father, stop that. I'm not a child who doesn't understand my place."

He looks about to argue for a moment, but smiles weakly instead. "That's right. You have grown up. Eighteen years in about two months, isn't it?" Placing fingers around the bridge of his nose, he continues, "I guess I'd just like to believe that people could see you for you, not those scars. I'm sorry."

I shake my head. "You're not to blame."

After a short pause, "You know, I've always been afraid that you would hate me for it. That you would wish I had never been in your life."

This is the first time I've heard of it, though it doesn't surprise me too much. He feels guilt for things even if there was nothing he could do about. Unfortunately, I don't know how to console him. I'm nothing like Father in the social skill area. Instead, I take his hand that's on the table and squeeze it slightly. Without him in my life, I doubt I would have survived this long. Right now, he may be the only reason I don't try to end it. I know it would hurt him too much for me to take my own life.

He turns over his hand to grasp mine. "Squall. Thank you."

The sheer relief and love in his expression makes me a touch uncomfortable, but I'm glad he understands my silent words.

He squeezes my hand tightly. "I need to warn you. There are rumors of an inland city trying to raise a Sorceress. There's no solid evidence yet, but...be careful, my son."

I raise an eyebrow at this. A Sorceress. The legends are conflicting about the matter, but some say black winged Letivians allied with Sorceresses to control the world. If these rumors are true, she might persuade me to join her. Like hell I want to be the lackey of some witch, but some legends kept solely within this family suggest I may not have a choice in the matter.


I wake in the morning to the sound of water on glass. Jumping out of bed, I hurry into some already dirty clothes and head outside. Rain is my greatest friend. No one else is around since they hate the water in their wings. I obviously have no problem with that. Running in the downpour, I go to the cliff from the day before. It's my favorite spot to think and to simply be. A shame Seifer knows of it now.

Standing a couple feet from the edge, I look out into the ocean breaking under the pelts of water. Already soaked to the skin, I angle my face slightly into the rain. My eyes close and I let myself cry. No reason, really. Just an outlet for all the pains I keep inside. Without rain, I think I would have shattered by now.

"Squall?"

My eyelids fly open as I spin around. Seifer is standing under a large tree, eyes squinted in confusion. A few shades of blonde lighter than his hair, his wings twitch as water drops on them. What is he doing here? Doesn't he have anything else to do besides harass me? Why now? I should run, yell, do something, but I feel locked into place.


|Seifer|

This is a first. Squall was caught completely off guard and hasn't a clue as to what to do. This would be better if I had planned it. In actuality, I simply fell asleep against a tree after our fight yesterday. It was one of our longer and more intense battles. I woke up this morning with a few drops of water on my face. While I was deciding whether to run for the town and get soaked in the attempt or to try waiting it out under this tree, Squall comes through the forest at full sprint.

He stopped just short of the edge and stared into the ocean. Eventually he faced into the rain with closed eyes, looking completely at peace. Looking about ready to walk off the cliff. I called out to him to hopefully stop whatever insanity he was planning. He spun around with eyes wide open. Though there was too much water on his face to be sure, his eyes have an unusual red tinge to them. Could he have been…crying? Shiva's Lover?

When he doesn't do anything, I motion him over. "Would you get out of the rain? You're making me feel wetter than I am." He takes a small step backwards. "Damn it, I'm not challenging you or anything. Get over here."

"I'm fine here."

"Listen, you shouldn't do this. You're a bigger fool than I thought if you jump."

His eyes scrunch a little. He looks towards the edge and then back to me. "Why would you care?"

Because I wanted to be his friend as a boy. Because I wanted his body once puberty hit. Because I simply want all of him now that there is the chance I could loose him in about two steps. But he wouldn't believe any of that.

"I just do. Now get over here."

There's a tense moment when I imagine him saying 'liar' and running off the edge. In this rain, there's no chance of me being able to save him. Instead, he walks away from the cliff and towards the path he used getting here.

"You're full of shit."

He goes into the forest and I loose sight of him. Rain aside, I can't go after him. Though I can say to myself that he wouldn't believe me, it still hurt to hear it with his voice. I lean back against the tree and wrap my wings around me for warmth. How I wish that long ago I found another way to get a response from him. But what's passed, has passed. It's not like a kid thinks about a future relationship with a guy he wants to be friends with.


It took most of the day for the rain to clear up. Once I got home, I sat in front of a fire and enjoyed the feeling of dry warmth. I hate being wet. I was surprised the next morning when I didn't wake up with a cold. With my mother two years gone, no one would have been around to take care of me.

Since after lunch, I have been trying to hunt down a certain brunette. I went first to the cliff, deciding that the place might be some kind of personal spot for him if he goes there to play music. If so, I'm impressed he has kept it from me this long. He wasn't there after all, but there weren't footprints leading to the edge either. Hopefully a good sign.

Flying aimlessly along the cliff's edge, I notice a group of four people in the distance but only three sets of wings. I land nearby and stride up. The biggest of the group is poking a finger at Squall's chest. The brunette isn't fazed despite the other's additional six inches in height. That's my boy.

"Oh, lookie. Planning some fun, boys?"

The three turn around to face me while Squall refuses to acknowledge my entrance. I easily recognize the threesome. They were seniors in my group and decent fighters. Or rather the big guy was a good fighter and the two minions leeched onto to him to appear strong. I smirk as I guess what this is about. I slept through it, but there was to be a practice session with both juniors and seniors today. I bet Squall handed Big and Ugly his ass on a platter.

"Seifer. This doesn't concern you." The lackeys try to appear menacing as they nod their heads to the larger man's statement.

I hear a stifled cough. Glancing over to Squall, I notice a slight reddish tinge to his cheeks. Well, it looks like someone got sick this morning. Just like the idiot to go to training no matter. Probably made it worse. I can't trust him like this to handle three blades aimed at him.

"Sorry, lard ass, but I have claim on Wingless Wonder here for this afternoon. You can wait your turn … or you could try your luck with me." I sneer at him, counting on him to take on the challenge.

"Fuck you, Blondie."


|Squall|

I can't believe I got sick. I'm always in the rain, but this is the first time in a long time that I got sick from it. More so, I can't believe Seifer just saved me from a likely beat down. Him and the boss of the little group exchange some insults and then jump into the air. The two minions also flew up, but I know I'm their target.

One of them starts his dive down at me. I laugh inside at the simplicity of the attack. Seifer learned long ago to not try that with me. Calling upon the coldness in me, I form a thick sheet of ice just at the right time. Unable to stop, the idiot smashes into the solid wall. I sense the other coming from behind. Pretending I don't notice him until the last moment, I dive to the side and roll back to my feet. Misjudging his attack from my sudden move, the lackey breaks his blade on the ice wall. Using his moment of confusion, I take the hilt of Lion Heart and knock the guy unconscious.

My work done, I look up at the other fight. I'm surprised it's still going. I could beat the large man while sick, although it was a lucky hit. He underestimated his wingless foe. Still, Seifer was at full strength and had more skill than that lug. Then again, maybe Seifer was too used to fighting me. As I think this, Seifer gets in a hard punch and the large man falls to the ground. About time he finished it.

Seeing me watch him, he smirks and does some cocky flip in the air. I barely notice the feel of electricity before one of the lackeys attacks the unaware Seifer with a major spell. The blonde is hit dead on and thrown backwards pass the cliff and over the waters. Apparently unconscious from the blow, he falls from the air. Gods.

As I run to the edge, I drop my blade and take off the jacket. After yanking off my boots, I dive into air and lose my breath when hitting the salty water. I resurface just long enough to get some air and then start looking for Seifer. Even conscious, the blonde could die in the water. His wings that bless him with flight would become two heavy weights right now. Luckily the depth of the water isn't too great. I find him after my second resurface. Though weak from the illness, I manage to lift him from the shallow ocean floor and to the surface. Arm around his chest, I swim for the nearest beach, his wings dragging in the water all the way. The damn island is half cliff and he just had to fall on the wrong side. Finally I find a small beach surrounded by rocky faces.

Stumbling along the way, I pull Seifer along his stomach until we are a few meters from the water. After a few hard smacks to his back, he coughs up a good amount of water and breaths steady afterwards. For a brief moment I wonder how much I must care for the blonde to save him when I could have killed myself just then. But too tired to continue that line of thought, I collapse next to him and fall asleep.

 

{Continued)