By Athana Soulfire

-"Lay on, Macduff! And damned he be the one who cries; Hold, enough!"

(Enmity: The bitter attitude or feelings of an enemy or of mutual enemies; hostility; antagonism. A strong, sensed feeling of hatred, whether concealed, displayed, or latent.)


Don't you look at me like that, Leonheart.

Emerald eyes pierced right back into the icy blue that confronted him. A forest to the sea; and both somehow alight with an odd brewing of fire. Squall wasn't a man of many words, Seifer knew. The solemn boy, always alone and wary, never had been.

And yet...

Through the countless encounters he'd experienced with the slightly shorter young man, Seifer had come to recognize his ever-so-indistinguishable expressions with ease. Every emotionless look held a facet, just as every smile to Seifer's own lips held an emotion. But just what *was* it, behind those clear depths, that forced another classic smirk to Seifer's mouth and prompted his Gunblade higher in aim?

Was it the same churning feeling that gave his left hand the ability to raise and twitch in beckoning?

It didn't matter, he supposed. Seifer felt the heavy blade Hyperion slink forwards in his grasp and hold there. It pointed outwards, an arrogant extension of his own arm that mocked Squall's distant gaze. The young boy let a toil of brown hair sweep his eyes then, and the chalky gray earth rung with the strike of each heavy boot against it's cold surface. A charge. Squall's gunblade was low and strung with intention as the battle began.

How... amusing.

The cold air around them mimicked that first cut of blade against blade. It shattered the foreboding silence of predawn and shook throughout the ground with a clean, sharp vibration. Left to echo in the stillness a mere moment or so, there was a breath of air and a gasp far softer then anything the quickening winds would let normal ears hear. A slight howl tore up through the jagged landscape where they found rifts in which to blow- and again two blades did clash.

Watch your left flank... Seifer found his thoughts demanding of Leonheart. his blade had twice seen the fatal blow that might have been dealt as Squall's arms contracted for another slash with 'skill'. It was a better thing to let emotions carry your movements then a reliance upon simple knowledge. They made the cut cleaner. The force stronger. He could literally see that process of thinking running rampant behind Squall's icy eyes. The books and the practice he was instantly recalling. He knew he would need their guidance for this meeting- and yet he sought the wrong form of help.

I can teach you, if you'll listen.

And his silver coat flew behind him with the flowing grace of the wind. It caught the heavy cloth, making it appear that maybe he hadn't even moved. His blade came down, triple force with the momentum of his fluid spin, and it precariously skinned the clothing on that one vulnerable patch over Squall's side. Seifer's eyes laughed with a flash as realization dawned over his opponent. The boy changed his stance in mid-blow.

Oh, you'll listen...

The next ring of metal against metal sounded like a gunshot just above his head. Ears ringing, Seifer took the blow with a bend in his legs and kicked back up again to match it's ferocity. The black clad youth was beginning to aim stronger now- though Seifer had felt the slight quaver in the impact of his blade against Hyperion. Perhaps Squall's tremble had come from a shaken mind, realizing how easily death might have befallen him should his opponent have been anyone else.

This was a training session, wasn't it?

Maybe Squall found these encounters troublesome. He never seemed to want to be bothered. He never failed to lack enthusiasm for even the slightest of Seifer's advances when it came to the blade. The tall blonde, however, could live for them. His body demanded the fight- always. He didn't fear battle or pain. He didn't fear anything.

YOU are my ultimate rival. You are my only equal!

I respect you for that.
I will remember you for that.
And I will hurt you for that.

When the blades sang again- Leonheart staggered backwards under the sheer force Seifer applied to his strike. It was unnerving- watching those green eyes dance with a near demonic humor. The blonde knew and understood this, he always had. His enemies would cower under that gaze of confidence, defiance, and ruthless abandon.

They learned..

The strikes were becoming sharp and quick, the sounds of ice began to break at a more frantic pace. Clean, clear sounds- pure and harvested to memory for all the power it could generate in the raging blonde. He took the vibrations of each past strike and built it to a heat. The heat would burn in the clang of metal with each future blow. Seifer could not help but smile yet again as Squall began to react more forcefully. He was loosing that 'text book only' look in his eyes. He was starting to react before he could think.

When that dullness faded away from Squall's blue pupils, Seifer could again see that *other* spark. It was building with intensity- and flashing the way his own did with each strike of the blades.

Wasn't it strange- the way a man's mind could become the sword so quickly.

And Seifer Almasy would bring that unseen fervor from Squall's eyes.

He stepped back, only at an instant, and raised a black gloved palm to the boy in front of him. Squall had already drawn up his gunblade in preparation for a lunge- but Seifer would have time to complete his working. His smile was mocking, poise one of stern and ignorant venom. With a simple swirl of thought and energy, he summoned an inner Chi to his hand. It congealed to life- to fire. Used the will of his spirit to burn forwards and leave it's summoner untouched.

But Squall- he felt it's flame. The energy burst forth and shattered the ice of the air; the ringing of their blades. It's power shimmered off his clothing and stung at his face and hair even as the youth jumped backwards with the sudden pain. His right leg faltered, his body fell. Leonheart hit the rocky ground and skidded very slightly on his side before allowing his face to contort in a mix of hurt and hate.

But it wasn't there yet. The look Squall had seemed to subdue was not yet fully upon his eyes and face.

And so Seifer raised his blade again- an odd feeling sweeping his frame. Almost possessed- maybe mad. Entirely certain.

Show me.

And the gunblade swung down. Cleanly, deftly- slicing the air in two.

Slicing a gash down the left of Squall's face.

The blood splattered in a single stream of crimson fluid. It streaked the ground red- painting the gray earth a new shade with it's slick, wet color. The first thing to touch the boy's blue eyes was an immense shock. It froze the twin pools over, glazed them, brought him to stumble backwards one more time. There his head hung and shook once, and then Squall's gaze lifted a moment later. The ice was gone, the fury now burned. Seifer could see the other presence.

It's about time, Leonheart.

A gaze holding complete, burning enmity slaughtered all other emotion. The gloves of his hands gripped his weapon to a point that may have been painful- and his entire body pulsed upwards from the ground with a new speed and strength. The scathing sound of his weapon sheered over the ground- brought dancing sparks from it's surface. Seifer saw this- took it all in when another's eyes could not have followed, and gazed on.

He could move. Seifer knew he could move. He could thrust out his body and twirl from the attack with that never-failing grace his form would always provide in quantity.

And yet he did nothing- standing there. Possessed again- maybe mad.

Still certain.

The blade had come and gone faster then eyes could follow. Seifer felt the burn of searing metal touch his flesh- and that was all. Up the right of his face- across the bridge of his nose a throb began to beat. And he stood there, just as he continued to stand, looking into the eyes of Squall Leonheart.

Who, his mind realized- had collapsed upon the ground.

The silence that swept over them lay untouched as Seifer slowly took off one of his black leather gloves and ran his hand along the thick line of red that traveled his face. Slowly dissolving his ever-present smirk, Seifer's features took on a somber appearance. As if maybe he were late for an appointment. The chilling wind picked a few strands of blonde from his neat, still unruffled hair and let them flail as the youth slowly made his way towards Squall.

In the span of an instant- the intensity was gone. The blades had struck true and leaked that vital rage from each of their wounds.

"But you didn't disappoint me..." Seifer said quietly into the thick air. His boots quietly skimmed over the distance between himself and Squall. Click, click, walking easily while the other lay. He was limp now- eyes half closed. When his frosty gaze found Seifer coming slowly to his side, the youth made a feeble attempt to firm a grip over his gunblade.

You fear death.

You look at me as if I carry his Scythe.

Predestined enemies?

Ultimately friends, even if this time and place and future would never allow it. Two sides of the same mirror- both chipped. Seifer Almasy would never realize, then, what future awaited him. The way it would leave his pane of glass shattered like so many broken dreams.

The ringing of their blades still echoing deep into the silence, Seifer knelt beside his foe and hauled him- rather roughly, to one side. His eyes traced the wound- realizing with a start how similar it was to his own. He understood that the depth had to be a deeper thing, however, if it were causing Squall to subside into unconsciousness.

Or maybe it was a combination of things.

And so he spat out the blood in his mouth and ignored the sting of pain that cut across his face. Pain was an old thing- he'd grown accustomed to it over time. His rival seemed very distant now as Seifer picked him up and swung the lighter boy over his shoulder. His other hand clamped down over the two blades left discarded in their aftermath- and a steady drum of boots began away from their present location. That raw flow of power that had shot through the boys eyes was not something Seifer would easily forget.

Enmity... the generated field of blood and hate. When you don't look or think- when you WILL win the battle- because you are insane.

So Squall had felt it, eh?

Seifer knew the feeling well.

Athana Soulfire's Fanfiction