Out of My Control
August 2002

[Squall]

The life is draining out of me and I've never experience such peace. The feel of blood flowing on skin brings a strange kind of warmth to my body that I have always craved. Lying here while looking up at the blurred shapes of tree branches waving in the breeze, I question why I have struggled so hard to this point. I knew my death would come sooner than most of my kind, and yet I tried to resist it, to fight it. If I knew it would be this blissful...

The sound of crunching leaves destroys my moment of paradise, perhaps the only chance to taste such happiness since I know the path to blessed realms are closed to me. And this intruder has the audacity to approach my future grave without asking permission. I despise this creature, a human from the smell of it, before even setting eyes on him.

I hear the sound of boots halting far too close to me before the bastard blocks my view of the calming trees that bid my soul to escape it's bindings. I can't focus on him, only the information that he is rather tall and broad shouldered seeps into my mind. Yes, it's a human after all. While my peaceful death has been stolen from me, he will certainly make this quicker which could be for the best. The shapes above me gain deeper and darker shadows, and I can only feel annoyance at him taking so long to put a blade through my chest.

*

A loud, deep tone drives from sleep as I start awake. Clutching my side, I realize sitting up was not the best option at this moment. My eyes widen slightly when I find myself on a mattress instead of the ground, sun light spreading across tan sheets that cover my body. To the side of the bed is a window with a view of the surrounding trees, the angle of the sight suggesting this is the second floor of some building. Looking back at my body, I move the sheets and lift up the large shirt that was put on me to examine the clean bandaging that covers so much of me. It appears I'm alive. How bothersome.

Lying back down, I turn my head on the pillow to look to the other side of the bed. A large human, I assume the one from before, rests in a chair with his legs propped up on the edge of the mattress. His snoring isn't so loud as when I had first wakened, my sensitive hearing probably playing tricks on me. This human must be more foolish than most, sleeping so close to an unrestrained elf. At least he doesn't appear as revolting as many of his race with a clean shaven face and short blonde hair.

With an abrupt snort, he almost falls from the chair when he wakes, light green eyes fluttering in the daylight. He rubs the bridge of his nose as he yawns widely and readjusts his position in the small wooden seat. His eyes shift towards me and widen once connecting with my gaze, his lips curling into a smirk.

"Well, good morning."

I narrow my eyes at his relaxed mood. Does he think that a few wounds could really prevent me from killing him right here?

Suddenly his hand is touching my forehead. "Hn, still a bit warm. Better than dead, I guess."

I knock the offending arm away. "Why?"

He straightens in amused surprise. "You speak our language. That should make things a heck of a lot easier. What's your name, fey one?"

"Why help me?"

"I'm Seifer Almasy. Now your turn."

Already anger is boiling within me, rather strange since I can usually contain such worthless emotions inside without effort. But this human with his irritating grin and mischievous green eyes has somehow weakened my reserve without effort. Ignoring the arguments of my body, I sit up quickly while maintaining eye contact with the man. Before he can react, I take his nearest hand to place it in a painful hold in the attempt to get answers out of the human. He swears at the applied pressure on his nerve points, and I would have smiled at the immediate disappearance of his smirk, except for the pain suddenly shooting in my own body. Releasing him quickly, I look down at my arm in confusion since it was one of the few uninjured areas of my body, thus there was no reason for the pain. ...Unless...

"Damn, I knew elves were fast, but you're something else. Some way to treat the man that saved your ass."

Not reacting to his comment, I focus on my arms and change my sight to view the magic around me. Instantly I can see the golden chains encircling my wrists as well as the long chains extending from there and my neck. Following the glimmering links, they of course go to the human. I never expected my life to get much worse, but then who plans for this.

"I died."

The human stops massaging his wrist to glare at me. "I believe 'almost' is the correct term in this case. How would you be attacking me otherwise, ungrateful elf?"

"At some point, I stopped breathing..." I can't finish the thought out loud.

"Don't go telling me you can taste the foulness of human in your mouth. Just remember that because of me, you are able to breathe again on your own, so there's no complaining allowed."

"Why? Why did you do it? You should've just let me die!"

"Believe me, I'm starting to rethink the decision. But you looked so pitiful that I couldn't just leave you behind." He says it with a sneer to make the point that he would have helped out a stray dog as well as if it had been in the same bloody state.

Forcing myself to take deep breaths, I try to regain my shattered composure. Losing the grip on my emotions won't aid me in this situation, and most likely only encourage this human. With a final disgusted look at the chains on my wrists, I refocus my vision so I don't waste energy on the sight. The human leans forward in his chair closer to me, obviously unafraid despite my earlier attack. Sweet Spirits, do I have to admit the control he now holds over me.

"Now that's settled, what's your name?"

Great, a human with a one track mind. With a sigh, I tell him.

A blonde eyebrow rises. "All right, now how about something I can physically pronounce. What's the translation?"

"...Squall." The word catches in my throat, such a horrid replacement for the melodic language of elves.

He smirks. "Nice to meet you, Squall. Give me your arm so I can look it over."

I blink at the sudden change in subject while he doesn't hesitate in taking my hand. Though I hide it from him, my teeth clench in irritation as he pokes and prods me, my arm seemingly frail in his large hands. Suddenly I feel vulnerable with this human, the close view of his muscled frame tells me that his strength could easily break me. And yet he has only shown good intentions with a harsh tongue. Makes me wary of him all the more.

"Hm, nothing seems wrong. Where was the pain coming from?"

"You."

He scoffs. "Humor me this once, tree boy. I could've missed something and I don't need you gaining an infection or anything."

I pull my arm sharply from his grasp. "Nothing is wrong. I felt the pain you were experiencing."

"Oh? And why would that be?"

"Because I'm living on your breath."

"If this is some kind of strange repayment for saving your life--"

"Your knife."

A pause. "What about it?"

"Cut your hand so that it bleeds."

He eyes me carefully, not as completely trusting as I had believed to this point. Perhaps without weapons in the fray, he believed it a simple matter to overpower me. Given I'm injured, I can accept the assumption without too much insult, but I'll have to correct his view of me in the near future. Eventually he takes a small knife from his belt and places it against the back of his right hand. Light green eyes staring directly at me, he slices through the skin. I hold up my own right hand next to my face, a bare dribble of blood trailing downward from a thin line.

Blonde eyebrows scrunch in partial disbelief. "What does this--"

I take the knife from his loose grip and make a parallel cut on my hand to the one he indirectly caused. His eyes dart down to his hand then looks back at me with confusion when he doesn't witness a twin slice appearing.

"In my tribe, self-preservation is everything. One who has to be saved by another becomes a slave."

He interrupts my explanation. "I didn't help you so that I could have a slave. Forget your tribe laws and do whatever the hell you want once those injuries heal."

I hold my fist closer to him. "Since I live only due to your breath, any injury that happens to you echoes in me and not the other way around. If you die, I die. I am a slave to protect my own wellbeing from this curse, not because of some law."

Eyes hardened with a glint of anger glare at me. "What kind of fucked up arrangement is that?"

I sigh. "You are my master, now. Deal with it."

He stands up abruptly, the wooden chair almost tipping over to the floor. "And you can so easily accept this? Just throwing your life away to me?"

"I already died."

"Almost!" He runs two hands through spiky hair, calmness slowly coming over him. "You know what, you're still on the mend. There's plenty of time to think this through. Go back to sleep." He turns and leaves the small room while muttering something demeaning to the elven race.

I lie down on the mattress as frustration mixed with exhaustion causes the beginnings of a headache. Humans, always trying to defy magic and fate. But I can understand why the blonde feels so adamant against this situation. There's no reason for him to want an extra burden in the form of an elf in his life. It is his own fault, though. While not at war in a formal sense, humans and elves have killed each other on sight over the past century. Despite that, this foolish human decided to go against common sense in an act to save me. He deserves what he gets.

*

The feel of hostility and eventual sounds of arguing wake me from a rare deep sleep. Light from the window is dim and hazy, most likely early morning. Not rising from the bed, I try to discern what the voices are speaking about. I'm not surprised that I seem to be the highlight of the terse discussion, someone witnessing the blonde carrying me from the forest. What confuses me is the large man's refusal to let them search his home. He already saved my life, a great deed to humans, and now he is protecting me from his own kind. I don't understand. I showed him that my pain doesn't reflect onto him.

Once I hear the closing door and receding footsteps of several men, I push myself off the bed, my teeth compacting at the feel of stiffness and ache from my body. With careful steps, I make it to the doorway and find a set of stairs leading down. Each step jolts some injury, but I place the pain aside to walk down the stairs with hopefully an air of control and ease.

"What the hell do you think you are doing?" I look over to the blonde who is leaning against the closed door, an amused smirk on his face.

"Leaving."

"Oh? And I thought you were my slave."

"I won't go far. Just out of your home."

"Think again, elf. You don't even have pants to your name at this moment. Go back to bed like a good boy and I'll bring you food."

"I don't need your protection."

"If you're talking about those asses, don't waste your breath. Like hell I'm going to let them roam my house whenever they get the urge to accuse me of something." He pushes up from the door and points upstairs. "Bed. Now."

I look in the direction of the stairs and find zero motivation to tackle the feat at this moment. Going down with some kind of dignity was hard enough. I turn back around at the sound of heavy steps and find the human walking towards me. Narrowing my eyes, I force myself to attempt the climb up without aid, but a healing ankle instantly refuses the hurried step. Before I can fall, an arm is around my chest while another pushes forward against my weakened legs as his lifts me into his arms. The thought of struggling out of his hold enters my mind, but any injury or scratch I cause will only reflect back onto me and I certainly don't need that at this time.

"You're rather high maintenance for a slave."

I don't appreciate his teasing tone. "Why bother?"

"Let's just say I respect someone who can get as fucked up as you were and yet still find the energy to scowl at me."

That seems to be fine human reasoning - save someone who glares angrily at you while forgetting the fact it could imply he would want to kill you for no other reason beyond a difference in race.

"Before you say it, no, I don't think you will murder me in my sleep. You talk death, but in the end you can't find it in you to commit suicide. According to your talk yesterday, it sounds like killing me would be the same as killing yourself. You wouldn't dare do it."

I catch myself staring wide-eyed at him, then try to hide my evidence of shock at his statement even though he must have already seen the response. How could a human figure out something so quickly based on a short, hostile talk?

With a gentle motion, he places me on the worn mattress. He then bends down further to pick up a forgotten object and holds it up. "You took my knife and only placed a minor cut on your hand to prove a point. I know you're fast enough to have caused some kind of damage to me if you wanted. And then there's the amount of time you've had to use this knife on yourself."

I look away from him. "You don't know me."

He chuckles. "And you don't know me. But by the sound of it, we'll have plenty of time to get acquainted."

"... ..."

"Before I bring up breakfast, you have to do something."

I look at him questioningly, my hunger overwhelming my pride.

"Say my name."

"What?"

"Knowing what little I do about elves, you will spend the rest of your life calling me 'human' unless I force you to speak my given name."

I can't help the incredulous expression that must be on my face. He can't be serious.

"I'll give you a hint. It's Seifer."

Spirits, he is serious. Not appreciating being treated like a child, I meet his smirk with a glare. Neither of us gives ground in the silent clash, our eyes never separating nor their intensity receding into defeat. Unfortunately, it is my empty stomach that demands me to surrender this one battle of our undeclared war.

"...Sei...fer," I manage to growl out.

His smirk widens in victory. "Good. I'll go get that food now."

Resting my head against the cool glass of the window, I listen to his heavy footfalls down the stairs. He wants us to know each other. The concept is strange to me aside from the fact we are of two different races. An outcast of my tribe, no one has dared to form anything beyond a strategic partnership with me. Even then, it meant nothing. The proof of which is being left behind to die without honor or ceremony. And yet this human... Seifer wishes to become 'acquainted' with me. I haven't the instinct to react to such a proposal except to reject it as a falsehood. But then why is there this feeling of trust for him.

{Continued}

Author's Note - I only have the barest ideas of a plot coming with this story, so please bear with me. It doesn't help that I have another story I'm attempting at the same time with me in an equally clueless state of where to take it. I really need to get someone else to write these stories for me. ^_-