Belong to Each Other
On my hands and knees, I take deep breaths to calm my quaking body. The second I feel steady enough, I push up from the ground and the sickening mess that had been breakfast. Three days of this damn stomach illness and I didn't seem to be getting any better. If it had happened sooner I'd blame the damn youko, but it has been over a couple of weeks since our parting ways. Since our night...and morning of so-called bonding.
I shake my head to rid myself of his image, as well as pull my hand away from stroking that damn scar he gave me on my neck. It doesn't matter anymore. Less than a week from now and I'll be wed with a human woman as I should. She of course loved Selphie's dress, trying it the moment after I just returned home. I told Rinoa that she looked lovely, and she truly did, but for the first time I consciously realized the void within me. I don't know if it was Irvine's words or those moments with Seifer that made it more apparent to me, but now I recognize that some kind of emptiness fills my entire being. Worse, I don't even seem care about that fact.
Lifting up the small deer I'd killed as well as a fat rabbit in my other hand, I make my way back to town. The young deer sells well to the butcher as most of the game I hunt does. Pocketing the several coins, I take the rodent home for dinner. Every step nearer to the small house, 'something' becomes stronger to my senses. Before I reach the door, it's opened for me -- my beautiful wife-to-be smiles at me widely from the doorway.
"Sousuke! Lookie at what I got for us." In her cupped hands is a partially opened bag of gold coins.
"What is the meaning of this?"
She pouts at the harsh tone. "I met with this nice man that wants to spend the night here. He doesn't like how filthy inns can be, and he handed me this bag as payment for only one day!"
I walk forward forcing Rinoa to make way for me. Only a brief moment of searching the room and I find the demon sitting back in a chair as if he owned the place. It isn't his being here that surprises me much, but the unrestrained ears and tails that he bares. How could he walk into town like that and not frighten anyone, let alone not cause a call for arms.
"So, you're the man of the house." He stands and holds out a clawed hand to me. "The name's Setsuna. I hope you agree to shelter me for an undetermined time."
I glance at the hand, then move my focus to his aqua eyes. In them is the clear enjoyment at playing this game and something that may be...relief at seeing me. Side-stepping the larger man, I go to the kitchen with my kill.
"He stays with me in my room," I say without turning.
Rinoa comes near me and whispers loudly. "But Sou-sou, we could start sharing the same bed. We are to be married soon."
I drop the rabbit down on a table and face the dark-haired woman. "So, you would give a stranger free rein of the house?"
"He seems really nice. Why can't you be more trusting?"
"He stays with me. It's for your safety, and since you obviously already agreed to let him stay, it's the only thing I can do."
She grimaces as I hit the truth. Why else would she already have the gold in hand? This woman believes in the good of people too much. It's foolish. Humans in general don't deserve to be trusted as much as she thinks, and this happens to be a youko she is dealing with.
Placing a hand on my stomach, I resist the wave of nausea threatening me. Without another word to her, I head to my bedroom to gain some kind of peace. Noticing the door takes longer than it should have to close, I turn around to face the demon that's been plaguing too many of my dreams as of late. He is quiet as his eyes examine me closely.
"Why are you here?"
"You called for me."
He strides up to me but stops just before touching. "For the past two nights, you've called out my name in your sleep."
"That shouldn't count."
A tender hand goes to my cheek, strands of hair threaded between his fingers. "You don't look well. What's wrong?"
"None of your business."
He smirks. "I'd have to argue about that one. Let's see - nauseated most of the day, and yet hungrier than usual. Perhaps more tired as well."
"What did you do to me this time?"
His expression turns sour, eyes narrowing in thought. The warmth of his hand leaves me as he backs away with a forced laugh. "I should have waited. Spirits, I should have... You won't forgive me this time, will you?"
The hurt tone frightens me for some reason, but I only stare neutrally at the demon. "Talk."
"Remember the spell I placed our first time, the one you accepted?"
"... ..." I know exactly what he is speaking about, but I had thought it a part of the so-called bonding process.
"It was a spell for you to accept my seed. A spell to make you pregnant."
"And thus the necessity of a spell, human."
I turn around to face the bare wall to escape his eyes. Placing my hand lightly onto my stomach, I somehow discover the truth in his statement. There is life within me, no, several lives. It's impossible, unbelievable, yet completely true and well beyond my scope of thought.
"I'm sorry. I didn't think--"
"The one giving the seed performs the spell. Since you have no magic, well..."
"You said... in repayment of our separation, you told me that you would need one month of my time."
"A-ah. To give birth and recover. The cycle for pregnancies of youko children is about four months."
"Listen, you won't understand, but I've lived a long time. Almost two hundred years. I've never been able to bring myself to bond with someone. Sure I've had my flings, many flings, but I've never bonded since I decided at some point that only a natural bonding would do. I've waited for so long and finally I find my destined, but you want nothing to do with me. I thought I should take my single chance at having a child..."
"Seifer. What is it you want me to say?"
It's quiet as I wait for his response. The silence makes the soft laugh that follows almost loud. "You know, we're too much alike. I've spent my life pushing emotions aside because I didn't want to waste them on someone who wasn't my bonded. Now, I think I've forgotten how to truly care for a person, especially how to treat them right. As for you, you never learned how to feel in general, have you?"
I squeeze my eyes shut, trying to will him to stop telling me what I already know. The void within me seems to throb in reaction to his words.
"We're both just cold bastards that go about it differently. In a strange way, I wonder if we respect that in each other. Or maybe it's just mutual pity."
There is the sound of him lifting up from the bed and socked feet coming up from behind me. Warmth covers my back as he hugs me loosely, light kisses covering my neck.
"I'm sorry for always doing these things to you. I swear to never do so again."
"Even once did you consider what I would think."
Arms tighten around me. "I was afraid to."
"But you thought you could simply use my body and take my children away from me."
A pause. "Your children...?"
"It's my body, so I assume these are my children as well."
"I thought... I mean, yes, of course they are your children, but you don't want to be pregnant."
"While obviously this wasn't planned, I know how I want to raise my children."
"Heh, you don't seem the type."
"I swore to never abandon them."
"Squall, you can't raise them here in a human village, especially not with that woman. They will have youko features along with developing, otherwise known as out of control, magical abilities. That aside, this Rinoa would probably forget where she last left one of them if you let her help in their care."
"You are mocking my future wife."
"Just because she has good taste, it doesn't make her more intelligent. Letting me in the house without any means of defending herself. She may be a sweet girl but where's her common sense?"
"Speaking of common sense, why are your features in plain view?"
A couple tails wrap themselves across my thighs as the third rubs up and down a leg. "Please, never compare me to her a second time. For your information, I'm wearing a talisman that makes me look human. Because of our bond, you can see right through my spells and the like."
Without warning, the constant feel of nausea peaks into full sickness. I roughly push Seifer away as I make for the pail that was in the room for this purpose. On my knees, I empty the last of whatever was left in my stomach since the previous episode. It isn't much, but my body continues to heave even once everything is gone. While taking cleansing breaths, the feel of rubbing motions at my back surprises me. I look back at the squatting blonde, his eyes returning my gaze with concern.
"Are you okay?"
I nod, but don't attempt at regaining my footing just yet. It's strange with him near me like this. Rinoa always bolts into another room when I'm about to puke, reasonably not caring to witness the event. Yet the demon is here right behind me to be a calming force. I didn't realize how much I needed such a thing.
"Anything you want? Water?"
I can't help a vague smile from appearing on my lips as I stand up shakily. "I have dinner to make."
Green-blue eyes blink in part confusion. "Let me get this right. You hunt and cook for her? Does she do anything in this house?"
I sigh. "It's easier to just do it myself."
His eyes narrow. "You need rest and not to be doing all of that crap."
I glance at him but walk for the door and open it anyway. A quick look into the main room tells me Rinoa went shopping with the recently acquired coins. For the better, perhaps. The gold must be blood money, trinkets the demon picked from his kills. I could never spend it myself knowing that fact.
Once in the kitchen, I prepare the evening meal. Seifer helps with pealing and cutting vegetables, his sharp eyes on me the entire time to watch for weakness. The silent hovering that should bother me is warming somehow. Maybe if he was vocal about his worries it would be irritating. As is, it only makes me feel wanted and cared for. When did that become important to me?
I should be furious with him. He used my body without second thought, and yet I can also identify with him. The youko was grasping at every chance to make some kind of normal life (whatever that is for a demon) and to leave his mark on the world. While I have given up hopes for 'normality' long ago, I can understand how reckless a person can get when everything goes against him. Since Seifer held no malice in the action, I think I can forgive him. But this certainly makes my life more difficult than I'd care for right now.
Warm sunlight shines onto to me in shifting spots through the leaves of the tree as I wake up from a light doze. Still holding me tight around my waist, the fox demon hums some nameless tune softly. He tricked me into this position with him when I was too exhausted to resist after our sparring match that lasted most of the afternoon. This is one brief moment in my life when everything was clear - I only want to be with Seifer.
"How do I leave her?"
His humming stops for a stunned moment. "Just do it. Get your things and go. It's not like you owe her anything, right?"
"I promised years ago to always watch over her. To protect her."
"Yeah? What's your point? Despite the fact this is probably just some foolish pledge made by a pup, it's insane of you to marry her when all she seems to want is a personal knight and maid wrapped up in one."
"You do know that she smells of other men."
I can't help a small smile. "Irvine mentioned something like that. It's because of me."
"Since you both aren't getting what you want, just break it off and leave. I'm starting to notice you stress over the simple things and yet handle bigger issues without such an ordeal." He rubs my stomach gently to further his point.
"Do it tonight. Better yet, right now."
I have the impulse to laugh out loud. Two days before my wedding and I am planning to run off with a youko in order to give birth to his children... our children. How could something be so utterly outrageous and perfect at the same time?
Seifer pushes forward a little to urge me to stand up. Before I realize it, I'm following him into the bar where Rinoa spends most of her time. Selphie once dared her to sing on stage, and since that day the dark-hair beauty couldn't give up the attention of being admired by the several townsfolk and travelers. Generally not caring for the alcohol or the company, I have avoided the bar since Irvine moved. He was the only one who could successfully drag me there.
My eyes adjust to the dim light of the main room just in time to see Rinoa singing from the lap of some man I don't recognize. He could be a traveler, but then again, I tend to avoid the town and its people in general as well.
She looks up at our entrance, halting the song in mid-refrain. Dark eyes go wide just before she jumps up from the confused man and then straightens out her tight dress. Charming smile back in place, Rinoa strides over to us with the grace of a noble woman.
"Sou-sou, what are you doing here?"
"We need to talk."
"Can it wait? I'd hate to keep everyone waiting."
From the corner of my eye I can see Seifer smirking at us. It gives me the desire to go forward with this so that afterwards I can pinch one of those sensitive ears for enjoying my misery. "I'm leaving tonight."
"For where? Our wedding--"
"Oh, you silly. If this is about what happened when you walked in, don't worry. It's part of the act. He doesn't mean anything to me."
"It's not that."
She presses her body against mine as a smooth hand caresses my cheek and up into my hair. "How sweet, you're nervous about us getting married. Don't worry. In a couple days we'll be happily wed and together forever."
"I love someone else."
Her hand stills and grips hair with a painful edge. "Don't you give me that, Sousuke. Couldn't you come up with a better lie?"
"You know, it's all your fault that it is rough between us. You don't dare show anyone a touch of emotion for who knows why. But that's okay with me. I love you anyway. And now you claim to care for someone else? I know that isn't possible, so stop giving me bullshit!"
"Alright slut, off of him."
The two of us look up at the looming blonde who no longer held the amused grin of moments ago. Hesitantly Rinoa takes a step back to distance herself from the incensed Seifer. I resist a relieved smile at the intervention.
"How crude of you. Sou-sou, say something."
A glimpse of moisture in her eyes makes me straighten. "This is my fault, and there's certainly no reason for you to forgive me. But you can't stop me either."
She pauses to palm the water from her eye. "Why? Why not me? What can I do to make you love me instead?"
"Do... do you really love her?"
I almost correct her question, but decide it wasn't worth the trouble. "Yes."
Dark eyes look at me with something between disbelief and pain, then she turns away sharply. "Fine. Leave me, then. Forget everything you promised to me and just leave. I can find a replacement for you before you even leave this room."
"I know." I glance at Seifer briefly for him to follow and I head for the exit.
"Wait." I don't even bother turning around to the voice. "Even for a moment, did you--"
And it was done. The future I had imagined for most of my life was thrown aside like it meant nothing to me. Actually, that is the case, isn't it? For maybe the first time I'm taking the road I want to travel. Sure, I was practically shoved onto this path by the youko, but now that I'm here I know it is where I belong. It scares me more than anything I've faced before, and yet I am content. Maybe even something more than that.
The water is as beautiful as it was weeks ago. The night air is cooler on my exposed skin and being knee deep in the pond doesn't help that fact. Never stepping into the woods before thus month, I hadn't ever imagined such a soothing place. Despite the peaceful scenery, my mind is a whirlpool of thoughts and uncertainties that was slowly drowning me. Pressing my hands against my stomach, I wonder if I'll be able to prepare myself in time for these lives. It's too fast like this.
"You're thinking so hard it's making my head hurt."
The water around my leg moves when he steps up behind me. Arms encircle my body as he places his hands on top of mine and pulls me into his bare body.
"Do you know their names yet?"
"I haven't thought of it."
He laughs with puffs of warm air hitting the back of my ear. "Foolish human. Don't think, just focus on them for a moment to learn their intended names."
I look down into the darken water in hesitation. This youko magic and destiny type talk is unsettling to me, simply requiring too much imagination on my part. But with Seifer waiting for something, I take a breath and decide to at least try to identify those lives within me. With closed eyes, I concentrate within to find whatever I may. The overwhelming energy of life startles me at first before I brush against one such bundle. Instantly I seem to recognize that spirit, my heart aching in both wonder and fear.
"Kei... and Rai, the twins. Then there is..." I open my eyes. "Hana."
It takes me a while to notice but Seifer has grown extremely still, not even a breath released against my skin. Nervousness creeping into my thoughts at doing something wrong, I wait out the silence.
"A girl... Is Hana a girl?"
I nearly lose my balance as he swings me around to face him. Lips press against mine roughly in a short kiss. "I knew you were special, but Spirits, I never imagined this. We're having a girl! And three pups total, no less."
I can only stare at him without a sound, confusion replacing the nervousness of before.
"Don't tell me you haven't wondered yet why youko's would bother creating a spell to make a male pregnant. For whatever reason, females are rare in our race. But you..." He breaks off the talk with a broad smile. Already the proud father before the 'pups' had been born.
"How am I to bear three children?"
He brushes some hair from my face. "Don't worry. Two is the norm for male pregnancies and up to six has been known in the past, so three is nothing special. Also, I know an excellent birther that we will go to when it's time. He will treat you right."
Against my better judgment, I feel calmer with the demon's words. The moment is lost however when his hands move from their resting place.
I turn my back to him quickly, but I can't escape the enclosure of his arms. "Seifer! We can't do this."
"Hmmm, why not? The pups are sealed tightly in you. Nothing we do will harm them."
I resist moaning as he rubs the skin surrounding my penis, intentionally depriving it of touch. "Give me a reason to believe that."
"I'm hurt you don't believe me." I scoff at the fake tone of sorrow. "Alright, I asked the birther before coming for you, just incase you would have a change of heart. It's good to be prepared."
Leaning back into his chest with closed eyes, I hate myself for wanting him to go further and then deeper with those fingers. "Fine. If the children have nightmares about snakes coming to eat them, you have to stay up with them."
He chuckles with a low tone. "It's a deal, Sou-sou."
"Every time you say that again, you'll lose a tail."
His hands leave my body abruptly as he takes a step back, coldness left in his place. Before I can question him, my feet lose contact with ground in a disorienting move. Cradled in his arms, I glare at his smirking expression.
"Am I some damsel in distress now?"
He laughs deeply as he walks to dry land. "I'm bearing enough bruises from our match yesterday that I know better than to consider you helpless."
The ground is cool against my skin in contradiction to the heat above me. Leaning my head back, I give him access to my neck. Fangs that have ripped through flesh many times before gently nip down my throat. A rough tongue lingers in one place that I can only assume as the point where my pulse can be felt the strongest. At the same moment, a careful claw strokes against the scar that remains from our first encounter, the scar I find myself touching whenever thinking about the youko, especially in the past weeks.
"Did you want more?"
All movement stops for several heartbeats before he speaks. "I crave you more than anything."
"Then take it."
There is hesitation before the sharp entrance and painful pull of his claw ripping through my skin. Instantly I know that he is following the existing line and I can't help a smile at the irony - this was a moment before death to me weeks ago, and now it's a moment before new life. The demon draws out my blood like nectar, and I hold slight envy of him since I still remember the sweetness when tasting his blood.
He lifts up his head long enough to suck on his own fingers briefly, moistening them with saliva mixed with dark blood that could be seen even in the dim light of the partial moon. Returning his mouth to savor the bleeding wound, his hand quickly goes to the opening that was never intended for these purposes. Patiently he slides those fingers within me, waiting for my moaned consent to continue further.
Never losing contact with my neck, he shifts his body to the side such that he could raise one of my legs. Rolling me over slightly, he straddles the leg still resting on the ground. He whispers something and faint blue light glows in the night before I feel the healing energy at my throat. Straightening up, Seifer smirks at me as his eyes seem to sparkle in the dim moonlight. He moves back to position himself at my entrance, wetness of precum causing a chill to travel up my spine. With a simple and unpleasant push forward, I am filled by him. Closing my eyes, the sensation of his throbbing cock within makes me feel alive as if I depended on his heartbeats rather than my own.
He rocks in and out of me with a strange mixture of tenderness and unending lust - attempting to move slowly, yet inadvertently increasing the strength of his thrusts bit by bit before catching himself and returning to a measured rhythm for the cycle to start anew. The pleasure is maddening, driving me closer to the edge that I wish I could balance on, but Seifer always manages to throw me off that cliff into a freefall of bliss.
My breaths heavy, I open my eyes to view the still water of the pond. His arm lies limply across my side as his tails rub lazily along my legs. I wonder why he must always do that, but I'd rather not ask since he may stop - the softness of that white fur feels nice.
"What made you chose me?"
"I wanted you."
"Yeah, but why? Mind you, I'm not complaining, but it was a sudden change from keeping a promise to running off with me."
"I just wanted you. Nothing else." I grab his arm to pull it tighter around me. "I'm tired, Seifer. Go to sleep."
He obliges me silently with a kiss on still raw skin, the last thing I am aware of before surrendering to exhaustion.
"I still don't see why we have to do this."
Ignoring his persistent complaints, I knock sharply at the dark wood. After a short wait, the door swings open. Hair tied back in a short ponytail, Irvine stares at me with an uncomprehending expression, a toothpick threatening to fall from his open mouth.
"Irvy, who is it?"
Selphie peeks around the lean body, her eyes going wide as she mouths an 'oh'.
"Damn, does anyone in this group actually talk out loud? Either let us in or tell us to beat it."
Irvine's eyes go wide when he changes his focus to the blonde. He looks between us several times before pointing at Seifer.
"He won't bite anyone. Can we come in?"
Scratching the back of his head and smiling a lopsided grin, he moves aside to grant us entrance. Without the taller man in the way, I immediately notice the change in the small woman.
"Selph, when did you give birth?"
"Over a week after you left. Our baby girl is sleeping if you want to see her."
"I don't want to disturb. What's her name?"
"Amber. She has light brown eyes that are almost golden. She's absolutely gorgeous."
She motions me inside with an exaggerated wave and pushes me into a chair to sit down. Seifer follows me in, but chooses to lean against the closed door instead of taking an offered chair. I don't miss Irvine's suspicious, yet curious glare at the blonde.
"Sousuke, what are you doing here? Today was supposed to be--"
Her glance shifts to Seifer then back to me. "Irvine told me about what you said at the bar. Did you leave her because of him?" The question of 'did he force you to' was implied in her inquiry.
"Un. I chose Seifer."
She leans in a bit closer to me. "Is he really a youko?"
With a sigh, I look over at the demon. "Might as well show them your real form."
Seifer shrugs and speaks a few words. Always seeing the demon as he is, I only know he lifted the human illusion when Irvine straightens with increased tension and Selphie smiles widely.
"How amazing! I've always heard of youko, but I never thought I'd see one. And you two are together?"
I nod once with a vague smile at how characteristically well she is taking the odd situation. Everything is happy and good in the way Selphie views this world.
"Ah, you're smiling. Irvine, look! Sousuke is actually smiling."
Seifer chuckles as he walks up to stand behind me. "You have strange friends, human." Over my shoulder, he holds a hand out to the woman. "You can call me Setsuna."
"Oh, Sousuke told us something different." She grasped the hand without hesitation.
"Only he can call me by that name. To everyone else, it's Setsuna."
They release the handshake, Seifer's hand going directly to massaging my shoulder. Selphie blinks a couple times at the statement, and after reaching some kind of mental conclusion, she jumps to a new idea with a mischievous grin.
"Say, you want to give the new mother a present, right?"
I raise an eyebrow at this, somewhat fearful of the glint in her eyes.
"I want to see you two kiss."
"Selphie!" Irvine's shocked call interrupted anything I could have thought in response myself.
"What? They probably do it all the time, so what's the problem if I'm watching? It should be... educational."
My astonished stare at the girl is broken when his hand grips my chin and turns my head to the side. I want to resist that contact, to deny him the response he desires of me, but as always I lose myself in the sensation of the simple joining. He smiles into the kiss and then retreats, our tongues left in open air for a brief moment.
"Mmmm, thank you for the gift."
"Truthfully, the pleasure was all mine."
I'm startled back into the world by the short exchange between Selphie and Seifer as an unstoppable heat rises to my cheeks. Damn that demon and his games.
There is amusement in the girl's eyes, but she thankfully refrains from commenting on the blush. "What are your plans now, Sousuke? Knowing you, I assume the house and everything was left in Rinoa's hands."
"This wasn't her fault."
She points a finger at me. "And it's not yours either. Just because you two weren't made for each other, it doesn't mean you have to give her everything you earned with a life of hard work."
Sighing, she sits back in her chair. "So?"
I shift nervously, not quite sure how to go about this. "I was hoping that we could stay here a couple months."
"That shouldn't be a problem."
"The thing is I want to help you, to learn how to care for a baby."
She blinks a bit in confusion. "I certainly won't mind considering this lazy bum who runs at the mention of changing time, but may I ask why?"
"Youkos... they have magic, and well, I'm pregnant, Selph."
The room becomes dead quiet, the faint swaying of Seifer's tails against the fabric of his pants is almost loud to me. I stand up, preparing myself to leave. I truly wanted to gain some experience with a baby before three were dropped into my life, but not if it meant losing the two people I currently consider as friends, people I can rely on.
Before I can say anything, Selphie jumps up with a cry and hugs me more strongly than that small frame should be capable of. "You're having a baby! Oh, Sousuke, I'm so happy for you. Of course you are going to stay here. We'll take good care of you, right Irvy?"
Glancing to the side, I notice Irvine smiling with an amused air. "You speak for the both of us, doll face."
"I don't want us to be a burden..."
"Nonsense. You've done enough for us over the years."
It is comfortable in Selphie's arms. I would guess it similar to being hugged by a mother or sister though I don't have much to compare it to. I didn't want to admit it to myself, but I was afraid of going through this without some kind of help. Certainly Seifer would be here for me, but I assume we both are too inexperienced at this. I don't want three children dropped into my life without some kind of preparation.
Selphie looks up as a muffled sound comes from another room. "Alright, time for lesson number one - diapers."