Don't You Look At Me Like That

By Rosa Heartlily

Using the track 'Don't you look at me like that' by M.J. Styler, 1983
From the album 'Midnight at the Lost and Found' by Meatloaf

I still dream of you wakin' up, openin' your eyes
Like a little girl I once knew
Walkin' to the window, lookin' down on the street
You walk with me, and I walk with you

Seifer jerked awake, sweat pouring from his body. The sheets were tangled around his legs, and clung to him with the tenacity of some malign, tentacled sea creature. He struggled vainly for a few seconds to free himself, but then gave up until he had calmed down enough to think rationally.

He sat still for a moment, allowing his breathing to ease down; his heart was a runaway train pounding within his chest. The fight with the sheets had not helped the confusion in his mind where the last strands of his dream still clung like wet silk, cold and clammy.

In his dream it had been a balmy summer's day. His legs were wet because he had just got out of the shower; clinging to them was the towel he had thrown hastily around his waist when he heard the knock at the door. He didn't have time to go downstairs to answer the door, so he thrust his head out of his bedroom window, drops of water falling from his blond hair like diamonds.

And she was there, her weight on one leg, hands on hips, squinting up at his face against the sun as she stood in the street below. She was smiling up at him in that way she had, dark eyes dancing, cherry lips pouting. Her long hair was caught up in a pony-tail, tied with a blue ribbon which perfectly matched her one piece swimming costume. Around her waist, a blue sarong with a pattern of silver stars scattered over it.

'There you are at last,' she said, mock angry. 'I thought you were going to leave me standing here all day!'

He mumbled some kind of apology, something totally inadequate, but she didn't seem to notice. She tossed her pony-tail over her shoulder and turned towards the group of teenagers sitting in the car behind her.

'I told you he wouldn't have forgotten!' she cried triumphantly, then turned back to him. 'Come on! We're going to the beach for a picnic, remember?'

And then he had awoken out of this vision of bliss into the cold pre-dawn light, alone.

Well I thought it all over, it doesn't make any sense
Why did it fall apart, when it seemed so innocent?
You and I were like a light from a fallen star
You can't go back, you can't run away from your heart

That Summer on the beach, that perfect Summer. How could he have failed to fall in love with her?

She was as perfect as the weather. Her exquisite face, just like that of a china doll; her dark eyes, so full of fun and mischief; her hair, black as ebony, smooth as silk. Her figure.......... Better not to go there, he told himself.

And she had seemed as happy as he was. They met every day on the beach, swam in the clear blue sea, shared long walks, and long kisses, under the moon. They rarely spoke, he reflected, but that hadn't mattered. They said all they needed to with their eyes, fingers, mouths.........

Of course, he made more of it than there was to the other male SeeD Cadets who were also spending the summer at the beach. As far as they were concerned he had enjoyed her every way and every how - and she had enjoyed it too. But the reality was, they had never got past kissing and the odd fumble beneath sandy clothes.

Sitting up in bed, he smiled a little to himself at the golden memories, and then scowled. So how had it all gone wrong when everything was so perfect? He trawled his memory, and found it - that short, bitter scene which he had tried so long and so hard to forget.

He had gone to their usual meeting place, a huge rock which lay several yards away from the cliffs which encircled the bay, like a child's abandoned toy. They would spend the entire day here, leaning against its rough, sun-warmed surface, talking of nothing very important, or just enjoying the silence of each other's company.

'There you are!' no mock anger this time - this time she was really livid. Sparks seemed to flash from her eyes, and the stomach of Seifer, brave SeeD Cadet, turned to water.

'Babe, what's up?' he asked, charm glowing from every pore.

'Don't you 'Babe' me!' she snapped. 'I know what you've told those creeps you hang out with - about me, and what you're supposed to have done with me.'

He couldn't look her in the face; his own blazed scarlet with shame.

'Well, what have you got to say for yourself? I'm waiting........'

There was nothing he could say, nothing to ease the shame he had thrust upon her, the guilt he felt, himself. He raised his head in time to see her turn on her heel and stalk off down the beach. He called after her, but she either didn't hear, or chose not to. Even if she had, he had no idea what to say to her to make everything right again. He knew in that moment that he would never see her again.

Don't you look at me like that, 'cause I fall all over again
And I just can't hold on to your love anymore
Don't you look at me like that, 'cause I start all over again
And it just can't be, like it was once before

And then, she re-appeared in his life as suddenly as she had left it. She had come to Balamb Garden looking for him, he learned, at the party they held for the new SeeDs. Of course, he wasn't one of them - and it wasn't likely he ever would be.

He had met her in the corridors the next day, and she had smiled up at him in that way she had, dark eyes dancing, cherry lips pouting. Her long hair was loose across her shoulders. He ached to reach out and touch it.

Suddenly, she flashed a grin at him, play-punching him on the arm.

'Hey, Seifer! Long time, no see.........'

It was as if nothing had ever happened to mar their relationship, as if no cross word had been spoken between them. For three days, they were blissfully happy, spending every waking moment together. But she had come on a mission, to recruit SeeDs to kidnap the Galbadian President. And he wasn't a SeeD.

Not long after that, he had left Balamb, seeking personal glory and adventure. And he had found it, too.

It had been fun, in a way, being Knight to Sorceress Edea. But then he had learned that Edea wasn't the real source of the power she wielded, and he had switched his allegiance.

Don't stand there in the rain, lookin' like some long lost angel
You and I were like a light from a fallen star
You can't go back, you can't run away from your heart

Then had come the worst day of his life, the day he knew he had chosen the wrong side. Now Knight to Sorceress Adel, he captured Rinoa and threw her to her enemy.

She had pleaded with him, dark eyes now awash with tears, but he had ignored her. The whisperings of the Sorceress were much louder to him, her promises of personal power, of untold glory, of any woman he chose.

For hadn't Rinoa turned straight from his arms to his rival's? How long had it taken before he meant nothing to her? Before Squall meant everything?

He wanted to shout it at her, scream in her face, demand to know the truth. But Adel whispered to him, 'Give her to me!', and he obeyed.

Don't stand there in the rain, lookin' like some long lost angel
(No, I never could turn away from you)

But then, something seemed to snap inside him. As a slow, cruel smile of triumph spread over Adel's face, he suddenly saw through the lies she had fed him. He cried out, throwing himself forward, but he was too late. His fingers closed on empty air.

He threw himself at the feet of Adel, pleading with her, begging her to return Rinoa to him. But Adel took no more notice of him than she would have taken of a fly.

Something else did capture her attention, however. The sound of running feet made Seifer turn his head, as Squall and two of his friends charged into the room.

Weapons flashed in the light of Adel's chamber as Squall's allies prepared themselves for the fight, but Squall's gunblade gleamed a dull silver as he drew it slowly out of its sheath and took up his battle stance. Seifer watched in fascinated horror as the three SeeDs fought the Sorceress, blasting her with spells, and tearing her to ribbons with their weapons.

Seifer's eyes were constantly drawn to Rinoa's pale face as she hung helplessly from Adel's chest. She looked like a broken ragdoll, her dark hair dropping forward, hiding her face. Squall and his allies had to be careful that they did not inflict damage on Rinoa as well as Adel, reducing the number of spells they could cast, and preventing them from making use of their Guardian Forces.

As the battle raged, Seifer sat back and watched, conflicting emotions pouring through him. He was furious with himself for being so easily seduced by Adel's lies, and furious with Squall for saving Rinoa, when he should have been doing it himself. But he was relieved to see that Squall and his friends were winning against the Sorceress; at least Rinoa would be safe.

And suddenly, it was all over. Adel gave a final, bone-shaking scream, and then vanished. Rinoa collapsed on the ground, breathing hard, barely conscious, but undoubtedly alive. The three SeeDs were at her side in an instant, reviving her with potions, holding her, comforting her.

As she sat there, surrounded by his former classmates, she glanced up once and looked across the huge room towards Seifer. Even from across the distance that separated them, he could see the coldness and hatred in her eyes. He dropped his own gaze, unable to confront her appraisal of him; it was too close to his own. When he raised his head again, her face was hidden by Squall's back.

Rinoa left with the SeeDs, without any of them once looking back at Seifer.

Don't you look at me like that, 'cause I fall all over again
And I just can't hold on to your love anymore
Don't you look at me like that, 'cause I start all over again
And it just can't be, like it was once before

He had put it all behind him now, got on with his life. His old 'posse' had welcomed him back with open arms, and he sought comfort in their friendship. On the few occasions he had seen Rinoa since the defeat of Ultimecia, he had been glad to see her happy, although the sight of her smiling up at Squall twisted in his guts like a knife.

Yes, the past was definitely the past - over and done with.

But she still came to him in his dreams sometimes, her smiling lips and dancing eyes taking him back to that Summer, as if nothing had ever changed.

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