Belong to Each Other
August 2002

 

Walking back to the human's home, I rub my tender ear to appease some of the ache.  I'm really starting to rethink my allowing Squall's friends see my true form despite the activated talisman around my neck.  To my side, the longhaired man chuckles lightly at my misery.

"Sorry, my fox friend.  I should've warned you to stay out of reach when Selphie is in her motherly moment, which lately seems to be whenever Sousuke is around."

I manage a sneer.  "At least I can leave that woman whenever I feel like it, unlike you."

Irvine just smiles at the comment, apparently not too bothered by the idea of spending the rest of his life with the overactive girl. 

Against my better judgement, I have come to enjoy the man's mild tempered company over the last few weeks.  Not many people can hold his drink like this man, and he has excellent strategies at escaping fatherly duties.  Not that he neglects his mate when he is really needed, but a man has to live beyond the household and diapers.  I never imagined a small thing like a baby could have so much come out of it.  And the smell...

I look down at the small basket of fruit that has caused me the touch of trouble tonight.  Squall was obviously antsy this evening, well, at least to the three of us that could read his subtle actions.  Selphie managed to drag it out of him that he was craving strawberries.  Foolish me, I told him that we would get some fresh ones in the morning.  While the brunette seemed happy enough with the decision, Selphie grabbed my ear in a painful hold and explained with a sweetly threatening voice that when a pregnant person craves something, it's the duty of the one responsible for the child to get the food at that exact moment.  Apparently used to such nightly food runs, Irvine led me to an older man who also knows the pains of being a father and sold me a basket full on the spot despite the late hour.

"At least you haven't gotten to the strange cravings yet.  Do you know how hard it is to find orange sauce in the middle of winter?"

"Please, spare me."

"Eh, you should have it easy.  I can't imagine Sousuke being as demanding as my sunshine."

I finger my ear again.  "She's far too strong for her size."

"Glad to hear you've realized that.  Everyone else thinks she is some kind of delicate flower."

We finally get back to the home, Irvine opening the door for me.  With a brief look inside, I discover only the perky brunette sitting in the main room and Squall no where in sight.  "Oh, give me a break.  Don't tell me he went to bed already."

Selphie frowns at me.  "You have no room to complain, mister.  I know what it's like carrying one angel, but three?  You better worship him for the next months or I'll never forgive you."

I can't help but smile at the small woman, knowing full well that she could make my life hell.  "Very well, then where has my lovely master run off to?  I come bearing gifts, as you see."

"Amber was really fussy after feeding, so I let Sousuke put her to bed.  He handles her so much better than me."

I blink at her as I set the basket down on the table.  "What do you mean?"

"What do you mean, what do I mean?  Haven't you noticed he gets up during the night?"

"I thought he had to pee a lot."

She smacks her forehead.  "Men!  One's just like the other.  For your information, he gets up with me whenever Amber cries."

I think she continues some kind of lecture, but my attention turns the main bedroom of the house and Squall's scent.  Walking lightly, I go to the dimly lit room and push the door completely open.  Squall cradles a tiny human in his arms while swaying gently to a melody he sings in a soft voice.  The girl tries vainly to keep her eyes open, but her blinks turn longer and longer until she is still in his hold.  Continuing the song, he carefully sets her in the cradle and watches her sleep.

I step up behind him and pull him close.  "I thought you were here to learn, not to take over as the mother."

"Experience is the best way to learn."

"If it makes you happy, kere.  Speaking of which, I have a whole basket of sweet berries waiting just for you."

"Mmm, thank you."

I lead the smaller man to the outer room, Selphie instantly brightening at the sight of him.  It's amusing how much she has gotten into the thought of him bearing children.  Squall seems blissfully ignorant of her enthusiasm, or perhaps he just chooses to ignore it.  He takes a couple strawberries before sitting down, closed eyes proof of his satisfaction.

Taking the small basket in hand to set it in my lap, I sit next to the brunette and place an arm around his neck.  "Is my master happy now?"

He quirks an eyebrow.  "Master?"

I just laugh in reply, purposely ignoring the threatening glare from Selphie.

Squall shrugs and takes a few more berries.  "They're good.  Thank you."

"Whatever you desire, kere."

"What is that that you keep calling him?"

I look up to the girl.  "Kere?  It's basically mother in your terms.  Pare is father."

Squall blushes ever so slightly at the thought, embarrassed at being considered a mother.

Selphie pouts at us.  "It's so sad you both will be leaving us in a month.  I still don't see why you couldn't stay at least nearby."

"You say that now, but wait until you get a hot foot by one of these brats."

"Not brats, angels.  Any child of Sousuke would have to be angel, even if you're the father."

I resist the urge to stick out my tongue at the girl and smile instead.  I can't help but like a person who isn't afraid to exchange jabs with a youko, even if she believes Squall has me under some kind of control.  It's been strange living a relatively solitary life and then suddenly finding myself bonded and, dare I say, friends with humans.  This certainly wasn't something I had expected to end up with.

The three humans start some idle talk, or rather Selphie talks and the two men listen with feigned interest, while I sit back and watch Squall nibble on the red fruits with a relatively neutral expression.  It's bothersome to me how much he hides his thoughts and feelings behind invisible walls.  Just because he doesn't complain, it doesn't mean he is happy with me or with his situation.  What would I give to crawl into that head of his and discover the treasures hidden there.

Before too long, Squall falls slightly against my shoulder, then jerks back up straight.

"Looks like we passed someone's bedtime."

Squall glares at me halfheartedly, hating the fact I was right.

"Go ahead and I'll get you some water."

With a sigh, he nods to Selphie and Irvine for a good night.  He leaves for our temporary bedroom as I head for the kitchen in search of a cup.  Selphie hands me a freshly washed one, but doesn't quite let go of the handle.

"Can we talk to you for a moment?"

I blink at the question, then nod slightly.  After filling the cup with water, I return to the main room to sit in front of the couple.  "Make it quick, will you."

"I won't pretend not to be upset that you are taking our Sousuke away from us, but I can understand given the situation.  I just want you to know that if you ever hurt him, we will hurt you down like the dog you are."

I sneer at the threat.  "No need.  The day I intentionally hurt Squall, I'll kill myself."

Selphie sighs, then smiles distractedly.  "I don't know what he's told you, but the three of us grew up at the same orphanage."

My ears perk a little at the comment.  Squall hasn't told me anything in detail about his past, nor I to him.  I guess we both rather not speak up about things we don't care to remember.

"He was always more mature than the rest of us, acting a bit like an older brother.  While he isn't obvious about it, he can't refuse to help someone.  Just like Rinoa.  She played with us at the orphanage since we were her same age.  One day there was a bad storm when Sousuke and Rinoa got separated from the rest us.  It was that night he promised to always look after her.  We know he was only trying to keep her calm, but Rinoa thought it was a confession of love.  He never corrected her.

"Watching him with her like that for so many years, it bothered us.  He didn't hate her or anything, but he just wasn't happy.  Then again, we never knew what could make him happy.  And now he has you."  She pauses to eye me a bit.  "I still haven't a clue if he is happy, but I know he is comfortable with you in a way I've never seen.  That also means you can hurt him more than anyone else.  And I swear--"

"Dog meat.  Right."  I can't help smiling like an idiot.  Squall isn't against being near me.  I can work with that.

"Just, with him leaving, I feel like we can't watch over him anymore..."

I sigh at the continued guilt trip, and stand up.  "Alright, alright.  I'll see what we can do about that, but for now my master is waiting for his refreshment.  If you don't mind."

She smiles and shakes her head.  Meanwhile, Irvine smiles a lopsided grin at my surrender.

With quiet steps I walk to the bedroom, but halt in the doorway where I'm momentarily awed by the sight of Squall lying on the bed, the light of a flickering flame highlighting his features.  In so many ways he is perfect for me - in beauty, dry wit, and hidden strength.  Not to mention being level headed enough to keep me out of danger.  For all the wrongs in my life, how in the world did I end up deserving him.

Stormy eyes blink lazily open and he focuses on me.  "What's wrong?"

"Nothing.  I just heard something very nice about you."

"Oh?"

I approach the bed and set the cup on the small table before sitting on the edge of the mattress.  "It seems you don't mind being with me."

He frowns.  "What makes you think I did?"

"You don't say much either way.  It makes a demon like me worry."

Rising up from his position, he looks intently into my eyes.  A hand creeps up my back, soon thin fingers raking through short hair.  He leans forward to take my lips into his just as his hand reaches my sensitive ear that twitches in pleasure when he scratches it lightly.  His mouth parts against mine, inviting me entrance inside.  How could I deny him?

Wrapping my arms around his growing waist, I gently lower Squall back onto the bed trying to smother him with my kiss while also making certain to not put too much pressure onto his midsection.  The taste of strawberries and his own natural sweetness is something I could easily get drunk on.  With a final lick of his lower lip, I pull back to look into drowsy blue-gray eyes.  After a quick peck to the corner of his mouth, I turn around to blow out the nearby candle.  Settling to his side, I hold the man close to me.

"I'm sorry... for being so tired."

I chuckle softly.  "You're bringing three pups into the world, something your body was never meant to do.  I think you are allowed to be exhausted."

"Still--"

"Hush.  I am able to enjoy you like this as well, you know."  I rub the warm flesh under his shirt, savoring the silky feel.

"I liked doing it, too," he says in a muted voice.

With wide eyes I stare at the vague form in the darkness.  He's never admitted this out loud before, well, despite those lovely moans he can produce when coaxed during the act.  Laughing lightly, I rub my cheek against his hair.  "There will be plenty of time for that, my destined."

"And just exactly how long is that?"  A touch of suspicion in his words.

"Oh, I haven't mentioned it to you?  Because of our bond, you share my lifespan."

"... Has it really been two centuries for you?"

"Almost."

A hand goes to his temple.  "How can you live so long?"

"Take every day as it comes.  And," I kiss his head, "find someone who makes time meaningless."

"You're ridiculous."

Hearing the fatigue in his voice, I choose not to answer and let sleep overcome the smaller man.  Sometimes this is my favorite moment when all there is in the darkness are the calming breaths of Squall and his slow heartbeats that I can barely hear from this distance.  It is the purest form of peace that I can imagine.


My body feels impossibility heavy as I lie flat on my side, the thought of movement almost a foreign concept.

"Seifer, what's wrong?"

I look at the blurry vision of Squall, the man much larger than mere weeks ago.  Unfortunately I can't answer him, shifted against my control into canine form.  With barely enough energy to blink let alone shift back, I only whine in response.  I hate sounding so weak.

He sighs while cradling my head in a hand, his thumb stroking the fur under my eye.  "You're really warm.  Just nod if this is nothing life threatening."

I manage the barest head movement, hopefully easing his worries.  It's been years since I've been this ill, but I can't imagine it something dangerous.

Leaning over, he kisses my forehead and whispers into my ear.  "I'll get you some water."

I want to stop him, to tell him that I don't need any special treatment, but he walks out the door before I can even twitch a tail.  Growling at myself, I feel angry at making Squall take care of me when he is obviously the one who should be resting.  As an afterthought, I wonder if Selphie will get upset at me for lying around like a lazy mutt.

"Oh, my.  I've never seen him like this."  Speak of the devil.  "Setsuna, if you're faking this..."

Squall walks in behind, a bowl in hand.  "There's no reason for him to, so be nice Selph."

Quickly he is by my side, helping me to my stomach and thus in a better position to lap up the water.  I manage perhaps a third of the bowl before lying my head on a small section of available thigh space.  Closing my eyes tightly, I try to will the pounding in my head away.

"The poor dear.  He really does look out of it, doesn't he?  If there's anything I can do, just let me know."

"If you could leave some of the meat uncooked this evening, maybe he'll be hungry enough for it."

"Will do.  What about you, Sousuke?"

"I'm fine.  Thanks."

At the same time there are receding footsteps, I'm grabbed from under my forelegs and lifted up a small distance.  Opening my eyes, I watch as Squall gets more comfortable on the bed into a partial sitting position while angling me to lie on his chest.  Once in place, a hand goes to my neck and massages it in slow, calming motions.  Then he begins to sing in that soft voice of his.

Overwhelmed by the exceptional attention he was giving me, I rest in both bliss and agony, somewhat disappointed as sleep came closer.


Dashing through the forest, I snarl at my own stupidity and weakness.  Almost three weeks I was recovering from sickness, and Squall never told me.  In and out of feverish sleep, I thought it had been a week at the most, but instead we passed the date we were supposed to leave for the birther's house by two weeks.  In the rushed trek up north, a damned wheel of the wagon shattered just before reaching our destination.  With Squall too heavy and in too much pain to walk it, I shifted forms to run to the birther in hopes he had a better functioning means of transport.

Finally the cabin comes into view, an older female youko of light tan ears and tails tending to the small garden out front.  Transforming back, I yell to get her attention.

She stands, a hand going to her waist.  "Setsuna.  We've been expecting you for days, and what are you doing strutting about without clothes."

"Sai-kere, there isn't time.  Squall is in pain.  The wheel broke--"  I lean over as I pant, trying to regain breath.

"Oh, dear.  Keiji!  Get the horse hitched up.  The human boy is in labor!"  She turns to me with a glint of anger in her eyes.  "We told you to come sooner since humans tend to give birth early.  What's wrong with you?"

"I got sick.  Didn't even realize how much time had past.  And do you have some clothes for me, or do you enjoy seeing me freeze."

She crosses her arms.  "I think I enjoy watching you freeze.  You left that poor boy all alone."

"What was I supposed to do?!"

"Well, as long as there are wards guarding him, I may be able to forgive you."

My eyes open in realization.  "Ah, shit.  Sai-pare!  Hurry up!"

"You didn't?  Oh, Setsuna.  How could you?"

"I, I was in a hurry.  He was in so much pain, and I didn't think...  Sai-pare!"

"Yeah, yeah."  A gruff voice called from the side of the cabin.  "Give me ten seconds and we're ready."

"Here."  A pair of old pants are placed into my hand.  "I'll lecture you later."

"Thanks, sai-kere."  I kiss her temple before walking away while putting on the pants in an awkward hop.

Soon enough, I'm back into the forest, sai-pare not going as fast as I'd like him to but probably as fast as reasonably possible.  I direct the older youko forward, focusing all my senses into locating Squall.  After an achingly long time, the horse suddenly balks to the side, forced to a stop by the experienced youko.  Two wolves dash right by us through the trees, never giving us a second glance.

Jumping off the small wagon, I run further up the road.  I find Squall leaning back against the broken wagon, blood splattered on his face and body.  Panic flooding my body and mind, I run up to him while sidestepping the few corpses of large wolves.  He glares at my approach, his breathing heavy and forced.

"God damned youko.  I swear, I'm going to rip off your tails and sell them for scarves if you do anything like that again."

"Are you hurt?"

"I feel like I'm going to fucking explode!  Imbecile!"  He throws his head back, trying to take calming breaths.

"Well, damn.  Are you certain he's human, Setsuna?"  Sai-pare brings the wagon near, hopping off the seat once the horse stops.

"It's alright now, Squall.  He's here to help."

"He can't do any harm compared to you," he growls out.

The older youko laughs at the insult directed at me, and places a hand on the swollen stomach.  "My name is Hamaru, boy.  Sorry about the hopelessness of my son's pup here.  I promise he was raised to be better than this."

Blue-gray eyes open a crack to look at him.  "You're... his grandfather?"

"That's right."  He pats Squall before standing up straight.  "Enough chitchat.  We have three gorgeous pups to bring into this world.  Setsuna, lend me a hand here."

After loading the smaller man into the wagon, I hold him close while we rush back to the cabin.  With him unable to speak while suffering from the added pain caused by bumps, I get momentary relief from Squall's anger.  Once we make the short distance, Sai-kere instantly hovers over the hurting man, several glances full of displeasure aimed at me.  Squall is placed down onto his back in the main room of the cabin where blankets, a large cradle and other materials were waiting for the event.

"You should've seen it, love.  He killed three wolves, and who knows how many injured.  I bet only strong pups will come from this one."

"Oh, stop talking about him like an object.  What's your name, sweetie?"

"Sousuke..."

She places a hand on his cheek to gain his attention.  "I have some bad news, sweetie.  It's too late for any kind of medicines.  They'll only take affect once we're done here, so there's no reason for them."

"Just do it now, or else give me back my dagger so I can finish this."

Sai-kere smiles and pats the pale, blood smeared cheek.  "I like you already, Sousuke.  You'll do fine in this family."

Kneeling by his other side, I grab a sweaty hand.  "I'm here, Squall.  Sai-pere is the best there is.  You're in good hands."

"You are never touching my body again."

I smile.  "Come now.  You have to accept the spell every time, so you--"

"NEVER!"

Sai-kere laughs at us all too knowingly.  "Give yourself a decade or two to forget, dearie.  You'll be back here again like this."

"Never again..." he says in a pained voice.

Sai-pare washes his hands in the nearby bowl of water, and then rolls up his sleeves.  Looking warmly at the prone man, he smiles.  "Shall we get started?"


A loud thump wakes me from sleep, the feeling of coldness somewhat confusing me.  Before I have the chance to sit up, sai-kere runs into the dimly lit room and kneels down to the floor.

"Oh, sweetie.  You shouldn't try to stand up just yet."

"But the twins... they're hungry."

She helps Squall up from the ground, myself moving in time to lift him back into bed. 

"That's why you ask for a hand, child.  You're far too fragile right now."

He scoffs at his weakness, clearly not enjoying his helpless state.  Meanwhile, sai-kere takes the two boys from the cradle, handing one of them to Squall.  He looks down at them, blinking in part confusion.  Turning up to the older youko, he stares with questioning in his eyes.

"Silly child.  Just do it like a female would.  The pregnancy spell changes your body to accommodate for it even  though it may not appear so."

Disbelief clear on his face, he directs the pup to his flat chest.  Instantly, the small thing goes for the nipple and apparently gets something from it since he sucks happily there for a long time.  Squall smiles down at his son, fingering the ears of light fuzz with a tender touch.  He kisses the redden forehead when the pup finishes his meal, then trades with sai-kere.

While the second twin feeds, he glances up to her.  "I thought female youkos were rare."

Rocking the pup in her arms, she laughs quietly.  "We are.  In fact, in the three centuries I've been with Keiji, I've only seen fifty born.  Maybe half of them survived."

"What do you mean?"

"Don't worry, sweetie.  Your pups are healthy and strong despite the early birth."

Once he finished, Squall hands the second pup to the older youko, and she places the twins back into the cradle with a kiss on each forehead.

"Get your rest while you can, dear."  She kisses his forehead in much the same way.  "And if you don't mind, I need a word with your bonded for a moment."

I don't have time to react before she grips my ear in a painful and familiar hold, dragging me out of the bed.  "Ow, ow!  Damn old vixen.  Let go!"

A vague smile on his lips, Squall just waves in a little goodbye to me.

After an agonizing trip to the main room, I'm forced to sit down.  "That really hurt," I say while massaging the tender flesh.

"It was meant to.  I told you explicitly to keep an eye on him, and what do I find but him sprawled on the ground."

"I had a hard time too last night.  So I fell asleep.  He could've kicked me awake or something."

She sighs.  "Are you blind?  Don't you see how much this is taking out of him?"

"I know that.  I know, but what can I do when he doesn't tell me anything?"

She pauses to look at me carefully, her lips forming a bitter smile.  "Sorry, dear.  I guess when I see you, I see your good for nothing parents.  You look so much like your pare."

It was my turn to speak with anger.  "I am not like them.  They may have made me, but you might as well be my kere for all they matter."

"I'm sorry it's like that, but at least you know better.  Treat that child well or I'll come after you for abusing him."

"Shit, we does everyone assume I'd hurt him?"

She smacks me in the ear.  "And don't you be using that language in front of the pups.  Understood?"

"Yes, sai-kere."

My lecture time done for the moment, I head back to the room and Squall.  He lies on his side looking at the cradle of pups, eyes half lidded in weariness.  For the first time I've known him, he looks frail and lacking any kind of strength.  Recognizing it as a momentary thing, I decide to take advantage of it while I can.  Crawling into bed with him, I grab him by the waist and make him straddle over me.

"What are you thinking, Seifer?"

"You look tired, kere.  Anything I can do to help you?"

He blushes slightly while looking down at me.  "Let me lie down."

"Alright, but first."  Extending a claw, I make a slice into my neck, mirroring the scar on his.  "How about a taste?"

He looks uncertainly between me and the cut, unconsciously licking his lips.  "I shouldn't..."

"Oh, stop trying to be so human."  I smile teasingly at him.  "More so, it might make you feel a bit better."

Leaning forward, he hesitates briefly before licking the thick liquid.  I rub his arched back while enjoying the feel of his needy mouth sucking on the one thing only I can give to him.  Hopefully the blood full of life energy will help him regain strength faster than on his own.  With a final lick, he stops sooner than I would have liked, but obviously he still lacks education in being more selfish when it comes to his desires.

Redden lips are fixed in a satisfied smile.  "Thank you."

"Do you know how much I love you?"

His eyes shift to the side.  "Hn."

I bend up for a chaste kiss, the taste of my own blood adding an interesting hint to his own flavor.  "I would do anything for you."

His gaze returns to mine, his eyes probing within me.  "What's bothering you?"

Damn him for being able to read me better than I can him.  "I...  Sai-kere made me realize something.  My parents were assholes, never caring for much more than themselves.  Kere got pregnant with the foolish idea that they could make great warriors or something.  They never realized you have to actually take care of the babies first.  My brother died as an infant because of their carelessness.  I've been conflicted since a pup - afraid, terrified of bonding in the chance I could be like them, but there was also the desire to have a family, to prove I wasn't like them.

"Then I saw you wandering like a fool in the woods.  I was drawn instantly.  When I realized you were my destined, I saw the chance to prove my worth as a pare.  But now I can see clearly that I was just like them, having pups for some kind of status and not because I truly wanted them because they would be my pups, my pride."

His stormy eyes peer into mine, a beautiful intensity to them.  Wiggling out of my hold, he lies down on top of me, his ear placed firmly on my chest.  "Your heart is so strong.  I bet the children... our pups got that from you."

"Squall, don't--"

"Do you know what you looked like when you found out we were having a girl?"

I stare at the top of his hair, confusion quieting me.

"You were ecstatic, and I was overwhelmed by indirectly bringing you so much happiness."

Vivid memories of that night come back, the honor and joy I felt at hearing our pups' names for the first time returning to me, as well as the overpowering amount of love I suddenly felt for my bonded.

He yawns.  "Stop worrying, pare.  They will love you as much as I do."

Wide eyed, I try to get a glimpse of his face, but Squall had already curled up on me slightly to get some rest.  With a lopsided grin, I curse him silently for saying something like that and then falling asleep before I could drag more out of him.  The first time hearing such a word from his lips, I close my eyes with a mind full of bliss.  For a long time I lie there, listening to the several quiet heartbeats in the room, the faster beats of the pups complimenting Squall's drawn out rhythm.  I was wrong before - this is true peace.  I will do anything to protect it.


[Epilogue]

[Selphie]

Braiding a child's hair just isn't the same as the dolls of old.  Why did this angel have to get my energetic tendencies?  Amber trapped between my legs, I try my hardest to get the mess into some kind of order.  The knock at the door ruins my attempts, the girl escaping the hold at my startled jump.  With a sigh, I stand up to see who is bothering me in the morning.

Opening the door, I'm stunned into silence at the sight of the handsome brunette.

"Hey, Selphie.  Remember me?"

I jump him, putting both my happiness at seeing him and the anger at his disappearance these three years into my hug.  "Sousuke!  Where have you been?"

A weak tug at my dress draws my attention.  "Dooon't.  You're hurtin' kere."

Loosening my hold, I look at the young girl, tan fox ears flat against her blonde head as aquamarine eyes glare at me.  "Oh, my."

"It's okay, honey.  Kere is more than used it.  Hana, this is your aunt Selphie."

The small ears perk up at the name, perhaps already knowing stories about me.  Taking the side of her skirt in hand, she does a clumsy but adorable curtsy.  "Peazed to meet you, aunt Sefie."

I can't help returning the curtsy, my eyes moist at being called an aunt.  "Can I have a hug, dear?"  She takes a small step back.  "I promise, it won't be as hard as the one I gave your kere."

The instant she nods, I take her up into my arms with a bit of a spin and hold her close to rub noses with her.  Hana giggles at the play, and returns the nose rub.  Setting her down, she goes back to Sousuke to grab onto his pants.

"There's someone I need you to meet, Hana."  Turning around, I call for Amber.  She skips over to the doorway, no shyness at the appearance of strangers to the house.  "Amber, this is your uncle Sousuke and his daughter Hana."

Amber smiles widely.  "Hallo!  Wanna see my room?" 

Hana looks up to Sousuke, and after his nod, the two angels run into the house.  Of course Amber would be excited to see a girl her age to play with.  I just hope she won't be too rough.  Then again, Hana should be used to having the two brothers.

"Where's everyone else?"

Sousuke's vague smile has a hint of slyness to it.  "The twins of course found the one puddle of mud between here and home.  I made Seifer clean them up."

"With an unfair threat, at that!"

We turn around to look at the approaching blonde, one arm encircling the midsection of a boy with dark brown ears and hair, intensifying the light green eyes muted by a gray hint.  The other boy of identical appearance had his arms wrapped around the thick neck, his one fluffy, dark tail swaying happy behind them.  Setsuna sets them down in front of me, a strong hand on each head to keep them in place.

Nodding to each in turn, he says, "This is Kei and this is Rai."  Sousuke coughs.  "Okay, so reverse what I said.  I still don't get how you tell them apart.  Alright brats, this is your aunt Selphie.  Be sure to protect your ears from this one."

I pinch my fingers for effect, laughing when the boys cover there ears in part fear.  "Well, come on in.  There are a batch of cookies that I made just this morning."

"No cookies until after lunch.  That goes for you too, Seifer."  The three whine for mercy, but they are obviously are aiming at the wrong person.

While the children do their adventuring of the house, I force Sousuke and Setsuna to sit down while I start the water for some tea and then return to the main room.  "You should've notified me that you were coming.  I'm completely unprepared."

"I was hoping for the surprise."

"Oh, you certainly did that.  But I don't have anything ready for you to stay the night.  And the hotel has been charging ridiculous prices as of late, so I won't let you stay there."

"It's fine.  We live only a few miles away now."

I straighten in shock.  "What?  When?"

"Just last week.  We've been getting settled in.  And you did say you wanted us nearby."

"Oh, Sousuke.  For that, I can forgive you for never visiting and only writing on occasion."

Setsuna leans in close to his partner.  "Well, I've been keeping him busy."

"Damned youko," he mutters under his breath, an unrestrained smile belying his true thoughts.

Wetness threatening my eyes once again, I decide to check on the water in the kitchen.  For a while there, I had thought Sousuke would never let himself find love or happiness, but I guess fate had to bite him in the neck to change his point of view.  Growing up as orphans was never easy for us, my greatest wish in life was for all of us to find our own happiness.  Goes to show wishes can come true if you wait long enough.

 

{Owari}

Author Notes - Just wanted to say I'll never write another mpreg.  It's simply too embarrassing. *blush*  I hope you liked it though, Ponder.  I have to say it was an experience writing this, and certainly a bit of a break from my other stories.  Thanks for all of your support!