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fic: avoidant tendencies (ffviii)


Avoidant Tendencies
Written 13 July 2006
 

“Squall? What are you doing in here?”

Quistis peered around the doorway of the Commander’s office at the gunblader, who sat behind his desk with a distinctly more disgruntled glare than usual. He gave her a narrow-eyed look.

“You’re not supposed to be here for another hour,” the instructor pressed, thin brows drawing together in a disapproving frown. Before Seifer had been brought been back to Garden, Squall had been in the habit of overworking himself; it had taken the combined efforts of Quistis and the others, as well as a certain Knight, to convince Squall to follow a strict schedule that meant he should still have been in his quarters at that moment.

“Seifer’s ill.”

It took the woman a moment to link the two ideas together. Then her lips formed a little oh of understanding that turned into a knowing smile.

“So you decided to hide up here?”

Squall’s glare intensified.

“Admit it, Squally,” she said, knowing that the gunblader absolutely despised Selphie’s habitual massacring of his given name, “you’re running away.”

“I am not running away.”

“Who’s running from what?” Zell asked, coming up behind Quistis and peering over her shoulder into the office curiously. “You running away from something, Squall?”

“Seifer’s sick,” Quistis informed him.

Zell blinked at the blonde, then snickered.

“He is? Ew!”

Quistis turned to face Selphie on her other side. “Yes. Squall’s hiding up here in his office so he doesn’t have to deal with a grumpy Seifer.”

“He’s running away from his own lover?”

I am not running away!” Squall snapped in a not-quite-yell, slamming a fist on the desk. The three people in his doorway rotated as one to face him with varying levels of amusement.

Sure you’re not,” Zell smirked.

“So, like, why’re you up here and not pandering to Seifer’s every ill need, then?” Selphie asked brightly.

“Squall doesn’t pander,” Quistis observed solemnly. “I think he apathetically fulfills role requirements.”

Selphie gave her a strange look.

“Why are you all here?” Squall growled, and Quistis could have sworn she felt Shiva’s ice dripping down the walls.

“Morning reports,” she replied. She held up a stack of dossiers.

“Approval for security detail.” Zell showed his own papers.

“Bandwagon effect and morbid curiosity.” Selphie grinned.

Before Squall could come back with the cutting verbal blow on the tip of his tongue, the vid-phone on his desk buzzed with what he felt was distinct petulance. He picked it up with a quelling stare at the blatantly smug trio blocking his only exit.

“Leonhart.”

Where the fuck are you, princess? I need some tender fucking care!”

“I’m working.”

Seifer’s red-nosed, wan face glared at him blearily through the video feed. “You coldhearted son of a bitch. I’m puking out my guts to the porcelain god and you’re off pushing papers?”

“Garden doesn’t stop running because you’re feeling bitchy, Seifer,” Squall deadpanned. He did not need to look up towards the doorway to know that the other three were laughing—he could hear their poorly stifled snickers quite clearly.

Bitchy? Hardly. Bitchy is when you realized I was using LionHeart’s oil as lube.

Squall heard Selphie snort and start coughing uncontrollably.

Garden isn’t going to stop running because you took a single day off to care for your poor, suffering lover. The fucking school’s so efficient I swear that I lose a year of my life every time I walk by the power generators. Besides, you’re there an hour early. Who would’ve thought that the great Lion of Balamb would run away from someone with the Hyne-damned sniffles?”

Squall ground his teeth together. “I thought you were suffering. Who knew the sniffles could take down the great Sorceress’ Knight?” he sniped back.

Bitch. Fine. Be an ass and see if I give you a blowjob the next time you’re feeling horny.”

The vid-phone went dark, and judging from the rather solid thump and succeeding groan near the entrance of his office, Squall assumed that Zell had just thudded his head against the wall in what was likely an attempt to drive out the sudden mental images.

“Remind me to call ahead of time before I show up at your quarters,” Quistis muttered dryly. Selphie brightened beside her.

Oh, I didn’t do that once, and when I opened the door—“

“More like swiped the password and snuck in,” Zell interjected cheekily, and the girl blithely ignored him.

“—I could hear Seifer saying—“

“After-festival party,” Squall growled.

Selphie’s mouth suddenly snapped shut as a blush rose on her cheeks. The two blondes looked between a red-faced girl and a scowling-more-darkly-than-usual Commander quizzically, but Squall was not about to explain how he had managed to blackmail Selphie into silence. Such events were best left forgotten or until nights of drunken reminiscence.

“Well then,” Quistis coughed, straightening her SeeD uniform officiously and marching into the office properly to put her stack of papers on the edge of Squall’s desk, “I suppose we had best leave you to your escapist tendencies, Squall.”

Zell left his own reports and followed on Quistis’ heels with a jaunty punch to the air and a shit-eating smirk.

I’m not fucking running away, the Commander sulked. When he saw Selphie loitering in the doorway still, he raised a brow pointedly and watched her scamper off with a squeal with a sense of vindicated satisfaction.

xxx

It was two hours after curfew, and Seifer was sick, and cranky, and ready to unleash unholy fury.

I’m sorry, Seifer, I haven’t seen him since this morning.” Quistis’ face on the vid-screen was apologetic. “He dropped off a pile of paperwork at my office later on, but then he never showed up in the kitchens or cafeteria for lunch.”

“Fuckin’ bitch,” Seifer cursed in a pathetically nasal tone, and started rummaging around the bedside table for a box of tissues. Fucking ice princess.

There was amusement dancing along Quistis’ sympathetic smile. Sadistic harpy, Seifer mentally sneered. “Why don’t you try asking Xu? She’s the acting headmistress, she would probably know.

“Yeah, whatever.”

Half a box of tissues and several painkillers later, he was still having no luck in finding his insensitive prick of a lover. Xu, at least, had the decency to hide any amusement she might have felt at the Knight’s dilemma.

He was here about an hour ago,” the stern woman told him, and bit her lip, looking uncharacteristically suspicious and uncertain.

“What?” Seifer snapped, and sneezed.

I’m quite aware that the personal lives of my instructors are none of my own unless it interferes with their work.” Xu leaned closer to the vid-phone. “But are you two…fighting?”

“What the hell do you expect? We’re the only two fucking gunbladers in this shithole, of course we fucking fight!”

Xu’s eyes narrowed at his coarse language, but said nothing. “I didn’t mean in the training facilities,” she explained flatly.

Had he been in a better mood—or at least if his throat had not been so scratchy—Seifer might have made some snide inquiries about voyeurism and Xu’s taste in homoerotica, but as it was he gave the headmistress a look that would have killed a lesser person. “The fuck’re you talking about?”

Simply that I’ve never seen Squall so productive,” the woman replied mildly, her laconic reply only making Seifer more irritable. “Of course, he’s the hardest working person I’ve ever known, but he surpassed even himself today. He’s already reworked the curriculums for next year.”

This new information made the Knight’s mood turn utterly black. If I was in his way that much he should have fucking told me, instead of waiting for me to fucking hack up half my respiratory system to get his fucking work done.

Ignoring the cut-off sound of offense the headmistress made, Seifer hung up on Xu and flopped back against the pillows he had stacked between himself and the headboard. He hated trying to sleep sitting up, but lying vertically made his sinuses drain into his throat and sent him into a coughing fit that made him wish he could just curl and fucking die already.

He shifted under the bedcovers, the movement making the migraine in his skull flare even brighter. Even though he wore only a pair of boxers and a comforter, he was torn between feeling like his flesh was melting off his bones and freezing his ass off, and with a tortured moan he curled himself into a sad ball of miserable, snotty Knight.

Some indeterminable amount of time later, when he hovered in a daze between sleepless exhaustion and mucus-filled tissues, Seifer vaguely recognized the sound hissing sound of the electronic door opening outside the bedroom, in the living area of his shared quarters.

I guess it’d be more appropriate to call him ‘queen’ than ‘princess’, Seifer’s thoughts rambled. The ice queen. Motherfucking son of a bitch, is what he is.

He heard the familiar soft creak of leather and the rustling of what sounded like a stack of papers being set on the dining room table, which was in reality more a bar that separated the kitchen from the living room than any actual table. Squall’s long-sought-for presence suddenly made Seifer feel more surly than ever.

Eventually Squall’s quiet footsteps headed towards the bedroom and he pushed the half-open door fully wide. Seifer lay with his back to the door, wrapped up in the blankets to suppress a fit of shivers and leaning awkwardly against the stack of pillows so that only his messy, un-cared-for hair could be seen.

“Took your fucking time, Leonhart,” Seifer rasped, words further muffled by the thick blanket. “What’s the matter, couldn’t find enough children to traumatize?”

Squall’s movements paused, but the expected retort or muttered ‘whatever’ never came. Perversely, it fueled Seifer’s hurt ire.

“If I was such a fucking obstacle to your fucking work you should have had the balls to spill it,” he snarled, but his words came out sounding just bitchy instead of threatening. He coughed harshly, wincing when his ribs went into protesting paroxysms. “Fuck, Leonhart, you must be the kind of guy that jacks off to political reports and weapons diagrams.”

Seifer could not see Squall, removing his jacket to hang over the back of the desk chair, still mid-movement, storm-eyes staring down at the carpet so that slightly-too-long brown hair hid the expression of surprised anger that swiftly changed into understanding and then neutrality.

“You know what, Leonhart, fuck you,” Seifer growled grumpily, pulling the comforter completely over his head so that he looked like a strangely-shaped tumor.

He felt the bed dip in front of him, and lifted the blanket just enough to see Squall sitting on the edge of the mattress by Seifer’s stomach. Lean muscle shifted smoothly under pale skin and a sleeveless white shirt as he calmly picked up the used tissues that had been tossed carelessly aside, and dropped them into a small trash can.

“I have the next three days off from duty,” the Commander told the Knight in a quiet monotone.

Stunned by the fact that Squall had even heard of the practice of ‘taking days off’, Seifer could only stare. “…Wait, what?”

“I took care of the rest of the week’s work today.” It was late, and there were the faint beginnings of weariness under those pretty blue-grey eyes. “Barring a life-or-death emergency, I’ve instructed Xu that I’m not to be called in.”

Seifer blinked and stared some more for good measure, until another coughing fit forced him back into the pillows. When he was able to breathe properly again, he remembered what Xu said about Squall working more than usual that day, and wanted to smack himself for automatically assuming the worst.

I fucking hate feeling guilty, he groused, and punched weakly at his pillow.

“Have you taken the medication Kadowaki prescribed for you?” A blessedly cool hand pressed against his forehead. Had it been anyone else it might have been an affectionate gesture, but Seifer knew better than to think that it was anything more than perfunctory from Squall. He leaned into the touch anyways.

“Yeah.”

“Have you been drinking fluids?”

“Like a damn whore.”

The cool hand disappeared and the mattress dipped again as Squall shifted, lying on top of the comforter and facing Seifer. The blonde scowled.

“You’ll get sick if you get too close to me, you idiot.” Even if it was kind of nice finally having someone that cared just being there with him in all his hacking, snotty glory.

Squall shrugged a shoulder, somehow making the gesture look elegant and practiced even while lying down. “Technically, a person is only contagious seventy-two hours before the onset of symptoms.”

“Nerd,” Seifer mumbled. After a long stretch of silence, he added, “You sure you’ll be able to go three days without seeing the inside of that Hyne-damned office?”

Squall, lying on his side, had pillowed his head on a bent arm, and he did not look away. “Yes.”

“…Good.”

Oh, Hyne’s balls, now I’m feeling like a fucking giddy little girl.

“…You’re still an asshole, though.”

“Hn. You’re a bastard.”

Seifer managed to conjure a half-smirk, nowhere near its usual caliber but still rather incendiary. Even though his head pounded and his torso ached and Hyne, his fucking spleen felt like it was going to implode, he luxuriated in the feeling that all was right in the world and he would have three whole days with Squall caring for him like a prickly little housewife. (A housewife that was one of the most deadly people on the planet with the personality from hell, granted, but a housewife nonetheless. Not that Seifer would ever say as such. He treasured what separated him from a eunuch, after all.)

So busy was he luxuriating, in fact, that he missed the pouted little mutter of, “I was not running away.”


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Tags: - fic, f: final fantasy, p: seifer/squall
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