Fire Petals Chapter 15
Irvine peeked into Selphie's room, saw that she was asleep, and entered quietly. Her usually perfect, flipped-up hair was now scrunched against her face, sticking out in odd places. The dishevelled blankets rose only to her knees, and Irvine pulled them up to her shoulders. He thought she looked particularly adorable like this. Then, suddenly, she violently kicked them off of her again, mumbling gibberish as she slept. Startled, Irvine jumped backwards, knocking a picture frame off her nightstand. It landed on the floor with a rather loud crash. "Shit!" he hissed, trying to find it in the darkness.
"Irvine . . . what are you doing here?"
"Oh! Selphie, you're awake . . ." *Damn it all to hell. Why'd I have to go and wake her up?*
"Uh-huh . . . now I am . . ." Selphie rubbed the sleep from her eyes, yawned, and stretched, releasing a little squeak. Then, as though something in her head just clicked, she sat up and began to look wildly around her. "Irvine . . . where's Rinoa?"
"Seifer Almasy, report to the sorceress' chambers immediately." the words seemed to boom over the P.A.
Seifer's eyes opened with a start. *She wants to see me* --he looked at his bedside clock -- *at one in the morning? What's going on?* He struggled for full consciousness and crawled out of bed, grabbing his overcoat on the way out.
When he reached the chambers ten minutes later, sorceress Mayaden was waiting for him, fully dressed. He wondered if she ever slept. "Seifer, I have decided to give you new orders."
"New orders? Did I fail you in some way?"
"No . . . though I know you would if given the chance. I realized that the . . . instructions I gave you are too complicated for a mind such at yours."
*What?? Too COMPLICATED??* Anger mixed with hurt as Seifer sorted through her words. He'd always prided himself on his intelligence. He remained silent, feeling that he wouldn't be able to mask the angry tone in his voice. *I should tell her about what I did. But . . . I didn't find out any information that she'd think was useful . . . I did put him through hell though . . . I put Rinoa through hell.* As this realization, he began to fee somewhat guilty. He actually hadn't planned for his anger to go so out of control.
"I want you to kill him." Mayaden said sinisterly, interrupting his thoughts. Seifer was a little shocked.
"Kill Squall? How?"
"It's very simple. When you are in his body again, just . . . jump off a cliff or hang him or shoot him or something. Very easy."
"But, your highness . . ."
"What? Have you now switched sides?"
"No . . ."
"If you decide to be a coward, I will simply have someone else take your place. And I will have the guards cast you out. You will no longer be of any use to me. Tell me Seifer, have you ever heard of a cowardly knight?"
"I haven't. I am here to grant your wishes." Seifer hid behind his Knight facade, not wanting to let Mayaden see his uncertainty.
"Good. I'll give you until tomorrow to make sure you're not a coward. Dismissed."
"Hey! Zell! Wake up!" Zell jumped out of bed in an instant, startled beyond belief. There came a soft knock at his door. *What the hell is Selphie doing here? I was having a really good damn dream: Rinoa kissed me.* He unlocked the door, squinting down at her rumpled hair and nightie, then up as he realized Irvine was there too.
"What's up?" Zell asked, trying not to sound pissed as he scratched his butt.
"Have to seen Rinoa? She's not in my room!"
*Oh shit. I forgot. It wasn't a dream. And now they're gonna know about it.*
"Uh . . . yeah I have . . ." he stalled, trying to think of some kind of excuse for what he knew they'd find out.
"Great! Where is she?" Selphie asked as Irvine peered past Zell into his room.
"Uh, she's in--"
"Here!" Irvine interrupted, slightly shoving Zell to the side to get in the room. Rinoa's arm was moving around next to her as she slept, searching for the body that had just been there. After a few seconds, she stilled.
"What's going on?" Selphie asked, squinting up at Zell. All eyes on him, he felt he would break under the pressure of their stares.
"Uh, well . . ." he scratched his head and finally decided to tell as much of the truth as he could without getting himself in trouble. "Rinoa was sleepwalking and I found her. She was scared, so I said she could stay in my room, that's all."
Irvine narrowed his eyes, "And then what happened?"
"She went to sleep."
"In the same bed as you?"
"Uh . . . yeah . . ."
A smile washed over Irvine's face as he punched Zell in the shoulder. "You're learning! How fard ya get?"
"Irvine!" Selphie elbowed him in the side. Irvine grunted. Those little elbows were *sharp*! "She's upset! I doubt anything *happened*, RIGHT, Zell?" she said, or more *demanded.*
"Good. I don't want *you*--" she poked him in the chest, "--taking advantage of *my* friend, especially at a time like *this*."
Both men were taken aback by Selphie's sudden change in demeanor, especially Irvine, "Holy defensive there, Sef." he chuckled, adding: "You're cute when you're mad."
"Well, I know *you* two wouldn't defend her."
"Hey!" Zell interrupted, "Just because Irvine here's a man-whore, doesn't mean I'm--"
"There you are!" The trio whipped around to find Quistis peeking her head through the doorway, "I have great news!"
"Did Squall finally decide to give in?" Irvine asked.
"No." Quistis replied, "We found Sis."
Seifer had been sitting on his bed, staring at the wall, for hours now. The order to kill Squall had been like a punch in the gut. His life-long rival didn't deserve to die, he decided. Maimed, tortured a little, maybe, but *killed?* If he was gone, where would Seifer find his challenges? Squall was the only person he might have trouble defeating in training. Who would he make fun of and fight with? Chicken-wuss was too easy to piss off. But it took a lot to get a rise out of Squall, and whenever he did, Seifer's self-assurance received at well-needed boost.
He loved to hate Squall. He even used him to blame his problems on. It seemed that was what he existed for. Seifer needed him to boost his own confidence, and if he was gone, Seifer wasn't sure *how* he'd manage to keep his own self-worth fulfilled.
*Do I really NEED him? No, that's stupid, I can't, I've wanted him dead for YEARS now. And now, when I have the chance, I chicken out? . . . I have to do it. If I don't, Mayaden will . . .disown me. I can't let that happen. I would have nowhere else to go.*
Without allowing himself the chance to change his mind, Seifer left to tell the sorceress he'd made his decision.
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