Frozen Heart
April 2003

 

[Seifer]

"There is no war!"

Groaning, I fall back onto the couch and rub fingers along the bridge of my nose.  All fricking live long day I've had to deal with hearing that damn statement out of that mouth.  A lovely and talented mouth, but it's really starting to piss me off.  At the sound of clinking silver, I glance up at the scowling wolf before me, his eyes somehow icier despite the heated rage.

"What do you want me to say, Squall?  That I haven't been part of the war between man and demon for most of my life?  That we haven't just come home from a battle of that war?"

"Not all demons wish to fight."

A snort of disbelief leaves me.  "In all my life, I have never seen such a demon."

He straightens, gray-blue eyes becoming strangely guarded.

"Oh, don't try to give me some innocent act.  If given the chance, you would've ripped off my head in that cavern without second thought, and then eaten my corpse for your first meal in decades."

"I know the scent of a murdering priest."

"So it's our fault, now?  Y'know, since you've mentioned it, I think I have noticed a few demons prancing around singing songs of peace.  It must be only the humans pushing this war."

He shakes his head.  "Shadow demons fight, but that village...  why did they have to be slaughtered?"

"You really think that we'd let a group of demons build up an army if we could stop them early on?  It's called prevention.  You know, making certain innocents don't get killed in the future."

"Those were innocents," he hisses out.

Sighing, I lean back against the couch and wave a hand.  "Go preach to a wall or something.  I'm exhausted and you're just giving me a headache without reason."

The wolf stares at me incredulously before turning sharply to move into the bedroom.  Left alone, I savor the moment of sitting motionlessness in perfect peace.  Almost six weeks we've been either traveling or else fighting to defend our lives.  A country further south sent a message requesting for the aid of priests, their capital city being under siege by a large army of demons.  Whether to protect his heart or perhaps discovering life too boring, Squall joined me in my duty under Hyne.  It isn't a bragging statement to say that the two of us caused equal or more damage than the combined kill of the rest of the monks that fought there.  If anything, it's almost a frightening thought that we control so much power between us.  Whatever restrains that power to obey our commands could potentially slip at any moment, and who knows what that could lead to.

It had taken only a day over a fortnight before the city was cleaned of the dark demons, and with payment received, we were to head directly back to the temple.  Given the others didn't care to travel with a blood thirsty demon, we let the rest of priests journey ahead of us while Squall and I spent an extra night in a deserted inn.  Traveling about a day behind them like that, we eventually noticed the odd detour the group of monks had taken.  Curious, I decided to trail their choice in direction.  A few days later after some time-consuming instances of losing their trail, we came across the evidence of an unplanned attack in which a well hidden demon army camp was left in ruins.  While I was fairly impressed with the monks for managing this on their own, Squall didn't speak a word for nearly a week afterwards.

Scoffing as I stand up, I decide that he certainly made up for all that time of silence with his sermons today.  I was only trying to be consoling with the cliché statement that war is hell.

Walking to the bedroom, I pause at the doorway and watch the figure lying on the mattress.  Turned into his wolf form of midnight black fur, Squall has curled himself into as tight of a ball as possible in the large canine shape.  Something in my chest aches at the sight of him like that.  I don't know if it's a fluke or not, but except for the times requiring speed, he only shifts into that form when he is overwhelmed by some kind of emotion.  It's like he is afraid that his mostly human form would expose too much of his thoughts and emotions, thus he prefers the relatively neutral or unreadable expressions of the wolf.

Socked feet on wood, I move quietly to the bed, even though I know Squall could smell me the moment I neared the doorway.  Lying down without touching the mutt, I look up to the ceiling with brief flashbacks of our first time on this bed coming to mind.  I don't think Squall has laughed so much in his lifetime as he did that night.  Foolishly enough, I could take such teasing from the wolf.  There's never a question of respect or honor between the two of us, thus a fuck could just be a fuck.  But that was seven months ago, and given the event of a couple weeks back, I now realize that something else snuck in between us without our... well, at least without my knowledge.  I don't think anyone can really guess what this wolf hides in that head of his.

"Starting to regret your choice?"

There's a time of nothing until the clinking of the bracelets as Squall transforms back to his natural form.  He then slides next to me and rests his head on top of my chest to listen to our hearts.

"It could've been yours again if you had let me die."

"It's warmer this way," he states softly.

Humming amused, I rake fingers through the dark brown hair and scratch lightly behind one of his black ears.  I barely remember lying near dead after stupidly setting off a trap that left me with a split open gut.  Squall was instantly by my side, and I think I laughed painfully at his eagerness to regain his heart.  Instead, he had sliced his wrist to pour lifeblood over the wound and perform some demon spell of healing.  Too weak to move afterwards, I could only watch as the wolf protected me through to the following day.  Stupid mutt, giving up his chance of freedom with such determination.

"I don't blame you."

I look at him confused.  "For what?"

"You can't help what you were taught, but I thought..."

"You're an exception, Squall.  I barely think of you as a demon anymore."  Rolling over on top of the wolf, I look down into somber gray eyes.  "Let's quit for now.  We're both stubborn and exhausted, so you know we won't get anywhere with this topic.  I vote for using our remaining energy for more relaxing activities."

Slowly he submits to my pleading look and trails a finger down my shirt to loosen the leather ties.  "You'll have to do everything."

"As you command, master instructor."

His tail wags slightly at my low voice and betrays the indifferent expression he gives me.  Grinning as I hurriedly remove clothing, I wonder at this relationship of ours, that one minute we can be arguing to our hearts' desires and the next moment we'd be wrapped around each other after stress relieving sex.  While I struggle with clinging pants, Squall lazily rolls onto his stomach and watches me coyly with a half-lidded gaze of deep blue-gray.

Soon straddling over bare thighs, I lean forward to wrap my hands along narrow shoulders for a strong massaging squeeze.  Bending lower, I press lips against his neck and trail wet kisses slowly along his spine before diverting to just below his left shoulder blade.  Squall arcs into that touch, a sound close to a pained whine coming from him.  While I abuse that sensitive point, my hands move down his upper arms and eventually to his sides with the harder pressure that he finds more pleasure in, rubbing out the knots and kinks that seem ever-present in the tense demon.  Reaching his hips, I shift my hands such that my thumbs brace the base of the tail between them and I start rubbing the sensitive flesh to wring out the most interesting sounds out of the typically stoic wolf.

After a time of torment, the dark tail suddenly flaps forward to nearly hit me in the face in an inadvertent signal to move on.  Moving back, I look down at him, his furry ears pressed back as flat as they can go while he pants out rushed breaths.  Placing hands at his waist as support, I lift him up and position myself at the ever tight anus.  Slowly I push my cock into warmth too cold for a natural body.  Shivering at that first feel of pressure, I hover at that spot with only the head of my hardness shifting back and forth within my wolf.  There's a warning squeeze before he shoves backwards, driving me harder into him than I'm used to.  Breath stolen from me, it takes a moment of recovery before I can speak.

"I thought I had to do everything," I remind while adjusting with a small thrust.

He releases a shaky sigh before mumbling, "Taking too long.  Wanna sleep."

Chuckling at his lie, I lean forward to kiss and lightly bite his shoulders and upper back.  At that angle, I can only manage more languid thrusts into Squall, but it's nicer this way given both of our tired states.  Eyes closed, I let my body flow with the rhythm that comes so naturally with this wolf.  Awareness of my body comes sharper to me this way - the clamping tightness around me, the feel of soft fur against my stomach, and the throb of heartbeats timed together.  For stunning moments, I'm not alone in my existence as everything blurs into a single overwhelming sensation that takes away my control.

There's a hurt gasp when I come deep into Squall.  Opening my eyes, I'm surprised to see I've bitten rather deeply into his flesh.  Mumbling an apology, I lick at the wound while shifting my weight such that we roll to our sides on the mattress.  I trail my fingers lightly across his stomach before reaching for his unspent erection.  He curls tighter into me when I start fisting his cock and occasionally rubbing a calloused thumb along the leaking slit.  Smirking, I also blow lightly into a ear to make it twitch under the simple torment.  His whines shift between pleasure filled and irritated as I toy with him.

"Sei~fer!"

Finally earning his release, I remove my hand to lick it clean of the spent fluid.  "You're too damn difficult, taking so long."

As he pants heavily in my hold, a quiet chuckle sounds from the mutt.  A sound I certainly don't care for.

"What?"

"I thought priests were unable to please someone else."

I frown, both upset at the mention of others taking claim of my wolf and at the sense that he's implying something.

Squall turns enough to meet my gaze.  "I've trained you well."


For the fourth time I nearly stumble to the ground in my haste up the small hill to the temple.  A strained whine comes from the demon in my arms, and I look down at his face flushed from an intense fever.  The other morning I had wakened to find Squall in this state, the wolf unresponsive to my calls since that time.  He'd only respond to touch, leaning into it as if cold despite his abnormally high body temperature.  I've held back this long before taking him to the temple, knowing that they'd be more likely to kill him than treat him, but I can't handle sitting back and watching him die before me.

The monk guarding the gate straightens at the sight of me, but he hasn't been foolish enough to try and stop my entry into the temple since long back.  If it weren't for the heavy load in my arms, I'd throttle the man for the look of victory in his eyes as his gaze settles on the sickly wolf.  I have to make do with a glare full of the promise to get back at him later.  Flinching, he opens the gate for me.

"...no..."

Startled, I stop at the hoarse whisper and look into barely opened eyes.  "Squall...  It's okay.  I won't let them hurt you, but you're really sick."

"no..."  It comes out more like a breath as he slumps against me, returning into a pained stupor.

"It's alright," I say more for myself.  "Everything is going to be alright."

By the time I reach the temple itself, Cid is already waiting at the entrance with several higher priests behind him in support.  The old man looks at me with the typical smile and amused stance, but something about his glance over of my wolf makes me uncomfortable.  Silently scolding myself, I think about the times that the head priest has prevented the others from harming the demon, the man most likely happy to take advantage of the extra strength Squall gives me.

"He needs treatment.  If you kill him, I kill you.  Simple?"

While the other priests stiffen at my tone, Cid chuckles lightly.  "Very simple.  Do not worry.  It shouldn't be difficult to relieve him of this ailment."

I follow the old man's lead into the temple, eventually setting Squall down on a thin mattress in the otherwise empty infirmary.  Brushing sweat dampened locks aside, I stare at the face filled with unease while Cid speaks with the healers, most likely convincing them to treat a demon.  In time a hand rests on my shoulder, the old man motioning for me to leave.  I open my mouth to argue, but he shakes his head.

"You would only distract their work."

Reluctantly nodding, I follow the head priest to the hallway.  Barely a step outside and there's suddenly a loud crash in the room.  I turn to find Squall struggling weakly against one of the healers as a pool of liquid on the floor widens from broken vials of unknown potions and an overturned water basin.  I rush to the bedside, forcing Squall back onto the mattress.

"Relax.  They'll help you."

"... no... please..."

"Everything will be fine.  You know I'll kill anyone who would hurt you."

"... please... child..."

"Heh, you know I hate it when you call me that.  Just because you're so freaking old--"

He groans in pain and tries to twist out of my hold.

"Squall, I'm sorry."  I place a sleep spell on the demon, him too worn to resist the flow of magic, and then leave the healers to their work.


It's not until late that night when I'm allowed to see the wolf.  I smile softly at the sight of him in restful sleep for once and trail fingers along the side of his face.  Some of the fever remains, but certainly nothing like it was earlier.  Quietly I speak a revive spell, Squall apparently still too weak to fight off the sleeping spell I had placed on him.  Eyelids open slowly, then fluttering in the torch light of the infirmary before remaining open.  He soon focuses on me, eyes narrowing in confusion and question.

"Hey, you.  How do you feel?"

"Where...?"

"The temple.  You were really ill and I didn't know--"

Squall jerks up into a sitting position, wincing in pain before wrapping arms around his stomach.  Eyes closed tightly, he growls out, "You fool."

"Give me a break.  I kill things, not cure them.  Nothing I did helped, so I had to bring you here."

"Didn't I tell you not to?"

"When you weren't unconscious from sickness, you were delirious and weren't making much sense."

"Gone...  He's gone..."  He presses a hand against his face.

"Who's gone?"  I try to place a consoling hand on him, but he slaps it away and glares at me with watery eyes, the never before seen sight stunning me.

"Our child!"

Blinking, I attempt to restrain an incredulous look.  "Uh, Squall.  We didn't have a child."

The statement makes the tears slip from his gray eyes, but his expression remains furious.  "Idiot.  Do you know nothing of demons?"

"Obviously not since I didn't realize that they could go insane and start dreaming up things that never existed."

He grips my shirt, twisting it such that breathing becomes difficult.  "I. Was. Pregnant."

"Wha... What?  That isn't--"

"I was," he snarls out, "and you let them kill your son."

"You were sick.  And this... this isn't possible..."

His hold falls from me limply as his tear-lined face voids of expression.  "You haven't a clue."  Without warning he shifts into the dark wolf and tiredly moves off the bed.

"Squall, wait.  If... if it's true, I didn't know.  You were so ill that I thought you were dying.  What else was I supposed to do?"

He pauses to look back at me with eyes of dead gray.  I can no longer move, barely able to think when he breaks that connection and then continues to the hallway at a weary, stumbling pace.  As I lose sight of him, I suddenly feel sick to my very soul.  Its source is more than the events just taken place here, something at the edge of my awareness that taunts me.  Trying to pull myself back together, I close my eyes and take calming breaths, but suddenly find that task impossible as I clutch my chest.

One heartbeat.  One throb of life without the echo the I've grown accustomed to.  An echo that I depended on almost as much as my own rhythm.

The urge for tears of mourning is immediately wiped away as fury overcomes me.  I move from the infirmary and make way to the office of the head priest.  My vision narrows dangerously as I ignore the cracking of energy around me in addition to the random calls of annoying monks.  Reaching the office, I barely notice that the doors seem to disappear before me rather than open.  Not like it matters.  Though surprised by the abrupt entrance, Cid plasters on his typical expression when he has to deal with me.  What's the old adage - don't show an animal your fear?

"And how--"

"What the fuck have you done?" I ask in a low voice, surprisingly driving a wince out of the old man.

"Your wolf was treated as you requested.  The demon was left unharmed."

At the simple statement and guarded look, I feel like the world has crashed around me.  Fucking manipulative bastard, using my words against me like this.  Yes, Squall was saved at my demand, but never thinking, never even able to guess about the possibility of another life within him, I left that life unprotected... I murdered our child.

"Boy, remember who you are.  This is a holy place of Hyne, a place you have defiled with the presence of that demon.  It gives you strength, thus I chose to let you to keep it given that you continued Hyne's work.  However, I had no reason to allow the existence of its spawn that could gain your power."

"You... knew..."

"It was mentioned in the old books that I reexamined given your... unusual pairing."

"Unusual?"

He sighs, then looks at me as if lecturing a child.  "Do you really think this wolf has true feelings for you?  The demon is using you, boy.  It tainted your mind such that you believe there was something between you, tricked you into bed to gain an offspring of your ability, and then would have led you to your death such that it could regain its heart.  You're a fool to believe otherwise."

Quietness suddenly fills me as I stare at this man, the person who raised me since a boy.  "Yeah.  I'd be a fool to believe."

"Boy--"

I shake my head.  "No more.  I'm done murdering."

"What murder?  These are creatures of the dark that live for war and death.  It's not murder to rid the world of their kind."

I barely hear him, my thoughts rushing down a new path of awareness that Squall had tired so hard to point me towards.  "Fuck.  Fuck, no.  Children.  They were children.  I was told that they were only smaller, less powerful demons.  But they were children in those villages.  Not army camps.  Simple villages."

Cid stands abruptly, yelling, "They killed your parents!"

It was a thought that could always anger me, that would easily bring out deeply seeded hatred.  But I don't have it in me anymore.  "Some humans murder, too.  Should the world be rid of all of mankind?"

"They. Aren't. Natural."

I hook a finger into my shirt to pull out the thin silver chain and pendant of Hyne.  A quick jerk and it snaps off my neck easily.  Tossing it onto the wide desk, I smile and turn to walk away.  "Goodbye, Cid.  Give my best to Edea."

"Boy.  I can't allow you to join their side."

I stop at the doorway, ignoring the presence of curious monks.  "I'm not joining any side, old man.  But if it makes you happy, go ahead and put me on the list of death or whatever you call it.  Just know that I'll slaughter anyone who tries to steal away whatever happiness I might be able to rebuild."

When there is no reply, I leave.  No one tries to stop me, so I figure Cid is giving me a running start before he'd be forced to call me a traitor to Hyne.  He's not such a bad guy.  Only a man who believes wholly in the teachings and laws of the temple, never questioning that faith.  Can't blame him after the amount of orphans he must have housed over the years, all demons appearing a plague on defenseless innocents to him.

Sighing as I step past the gates, I place a hand against my chest to reach out for Squall.  Already he is beyond faint, only a general direction felt instead of the clarity of his position that I didn't even realize I had gotten accustomed to.  I step in the opposite direction, though, to first head to the cabin to take whatever supplies I need.  Then I'll be able to hunt down that bothersome wolf of mine.


[Squall]

I had died.  There are no other words for it.  As I trudge through snow that brushes along my stomach in this form, I travel day and night without truly looking at my surroundings, moving at the same slow pace until my body forces me to rest.  I rely on instinct to lead me forward, my mind to wrapped up in the bothersome loop of hurtful memories and lost possibilities.

I don't truly blame Seifer for this happening.  He doesn't know anything as he should as a priest, relying on his strength and power more than his intelligence.  It doesn't surprise me he didn't know the signs of the first days of pregnancy, but I remember calling to him, telling him to protect the child.  If only he had waited a couple more days, just a little more time for the changing and visions to end.

Thinking of the visions, I stumble a bit as I walk and fall into the depth of snow.  I don't bother to stand back up, letting the blurry imagery pass through my mind as they would anyway.  Pregnancy in our race is a rare event that requires the blessing of Shiva for it to occur.  Male or female doesn't matter as it does to humans, our bodies differing to the 'normal' animals of this plane of existence.  Which is a joke in itself, the demon races living in this plane for over two millennia since the first mass summoning.  We might as well be considered creatures of this world by this time.

Thoughts drifting, I remember the form of a child held by the divine Shiva in my feverish visions.  I had to argue for that life, swear that I would protect and love the child despite the mixed blood.  Just when she had conceded and placed the child in my arms did I begin to sense the danger in the reality outside of my mind.  I tried to warn Seifer, yelled to him about the son I could see so clearly that had his eyes.  The bonding between maeter and child never even had the chance to complete before he was stolen from me.

With an inadvertent whine, I force myself to rise and continue forward while ignoring the desire to cry.  It's foolish.  The child existed for barely days within me and yet I'm mourning for him like a son I raised for decades.  Seifer wouldn't have even wanted the demon for a child, most likely only finding horror in the mere idea of it.  A priest to the end, seeing any demon as a creature from hell that wanted nothing more than to feast on defenseless woman and children.

There's abruptly an odd sound in the silence around me, and then I butt head first into a stick implanted into the the ground.  Focusing closer, I notice that it's an arrow lodged into the frozen soil beneath snow.  Though I suppose I should care, I can't manage to form the interest and move unsteadily around the arrow to continue on my path.

"I said halt!"

I pause at the voice and look up at the lean form of an archer, a new arrow aimed between my eyes.  Recognizing the lengthy auburn hair and piercing violet eyes, I almost have the desire to laugh at his attempt of hiding ears beneath a scarf of sorts.  Though I wish it wasn't necessary, I shift into my natural form and stand straight without a word.

Hesitantly the arrow lowers as Irvine gawks at me.  "Squall?  Shit, is that really you?"

I don't even bother to nod, raising an eyebrow in a 'who else' type response.

The demon lets loose a whoop as he runs up to me, thankfully stopping before getting too close.  "Blessed Shiva, we never thought to see you again.  After the first several decades without word, we all resigned to the worse.  Should've known only Hyne himself could kill you."

"My faeder..."

"Of course alive and well.  Where you've got skill, that guy has luck beyond reason."  He tilts his head.  "Uh, Squall.  Are you alright?  If you don't mind me saying--"

I don't wait for the obvious question, moving past him to the village ahead.

"One of life's constants," Irvine mutters as he watches me go.  Whatever.  I just want to be home.

Not too much longer and I'm walking within the decently sized village.  There's an occasional case of staring or whispering as I head to my faeder's house, but they know me well enough to not approach without reason, certainly with this being my first day back since my imprisonment.  The rest of the curious looks are from those too young to recognize me.

Reaching the door of dark wood, I take a calming breath before I knock roughly.  It takes several moments until the door swings open and reveals a demon of similar body frame to mine, but he doesn't bear the same muscle of a fighter.  The long-haired demon stares at me stunned from his position, dark green eyes unmoving from my face.  Dark brown ears twitch slightly as he tries to comprehend the sight before him.  He straightens slowly and steps closer before, of all the stupidity, poking me between the eyes.

"Faer," I scold, but resist knocking away the hand given the silver still on my wrists.

He releases something between a laugh and a sob before I'm wrapped in an almost painful hold.  "It's been so long.  I forced myself to believe that you would never return."

Carefully I return the hug, hoping the shirt he wears will shield him from my bracelets.  Shiva, I never thought I'd be so relieved to see this idiot again.

After a time, he pulls back to look at me better, tears free flowing from his eyes without shame.  "My precious son.  I forbid you to ever scare me like that again.  A faeder should never out live his children, understood?"

I nod with an attempt of a smile, it earning me a look of curiosity from the wolf.

"What's wrong?  ... Squall, your heart... Has it been stolen by another priest?  Why aren't you with him?  You could die like this.  You know better than to leave it unguarded like that."

Shaking my head, I ask quietly, "Can we go inside?"

He blinks a little owlishly, as if just now realizing where he is.  "Of course, of course.  You must be freezing to travel like that without clothes, no matter how necessary it may be.  Go sit near the fireplace and I'll get you something warm to wear."

It doesn't take long for him to get an old sweater of mine, refusing to let me put it on myself.  He laughs at the stupidity of the priest who left the bracelets on my wrists while he joined with my heart, thus granting me his immunity to silver.  Sitting with legs tucked beneath me, I hug the large sweater tighter around me and enjoy the warmth it provides.  My faeder sits heavily on the couch, his eyes not hiding the worry he feels.

"I lost an unborn child," I barely manage to whisper, finding nothing else important to tell him.

Dark green eyes widen in surprise and onto grief before I'm entrapped in arms once again.  "My poor child.  I don't know what to tell you to ease your pain."

I press my face against his shoulder in the attempt to stop tears that want to fall.  "I don't understand.  He wasn't even born.  Why does it hurt so much?"

"Because he was a precious life that you were denied."  He adjusts his position such that I rest against his chest and he sits more comfortably.  "I think it would be better for you to tell me everything so that I understand what has happened.  Though of course, no matter the details, you'll stay here as long as you need to heal."

I nod slightly while playing with the bracelets on a wrist.  In truth, speaking is the last thing I feel like doing, but my faeder has the annoying ability to make decent decisions when he has all the facts, otherwise making the worst possible choices when he doesn't know anything.  It's always safer to speak first rather than pay for it later on.


"Squall, would you please eat something?  You'll make yourself sick."

I continue to stare at the wall before me, curling a little tighter on top of my bed while in my wolf form.  Ever since speaking of the events of the last year, I haven't been able to find the desire to eat or move from my room except when necessary.  I've managed to eat a few times when my faeder's begging would become plainly pitiful to hear, but it hasn't been that productive in getting a response from me.  Closing my eyes, I think of Seifer briefly and wonder why he's taking so damn long to get himself killed.  He seemed rather good at getting himself into overly dangerous situations while I was around, and one can hardly imagine that changing too quickly.

The sound of knocking echoes upstairs, Faer sighing at the noise.  "I'll go see who that is.  Would you try to eat a little before I get back?"

I only close my eyes tighter, wishing for the peace of sleep.  Given the silence of the house, I easily hear when my faeder goes downstairs to answer the door.  Low voices carry to me, but I'm not interested enough to pay attention to the words.  At some point Faer became the designated leader of this village, and despite his attempts to convince the people that they should at least occasionally have someone else guide them, the majority of the relatively large town of demons refuses to listen to anyone but my faeder.  Thus it isn't a rare event for people to come to the house in search of a unbiased judge or with news of approaching dangers.

Loud footsteps on stairs surprise me somewhat, Faer typically allowing no one further than the den area into his home.  The scent that travels slightly ahead of that person, though, is what makes my eyes snap open in shock.  I try to collect my composure, chiding myself that this is exactly what the idiot of a priest would do.  Why should he care that he's practically surrounded by hundreds of demons?  He'd do anything to get what he wants.

"And there's my lost puppy.  Don't tell me you've been living it up here while I've been in a damned blizzard and freezing my ass off."

Seifer steps into the room without even considering to ask for permission, assuming that I'd want him with me.  When he comes too close, my whole body inadvertently shivers and I curl tighter in humiliation.  I think I've moved far past pathetic at this point.

Surprisingly the priest stops at my reaction and says nothing for several moments.  "You aren't eating."

Crap, the tray my faeder left.  Why does this human have to grasp onto details when it's inconvenient for me, and then be so damn oblivious otherwise?

"I'm going to count to ten, and if you aren't eating voluntarily by then, I'll happily shove it down your throat.  Understood?"

He wouldn't.

"1... 2... 7..."

Before I control myself, I glance back at the skipping of numbers.  The action only makes Seifer smirk as he continues the count.

"...8 ...9 ...10."

When I don't move, a predatory gleam enters those light green eyes and his smirk widens.  Blessed Shiva, he's being serious with his threat.  He only needs to take one exaggerated step forward and I reluctantly move off the bed to pad over to the tray set on the ground.  It's not the idea of being forced fed that gets me to obey his demand, but rather the mess it would more than likely cause.  A soup sodden bed doesn't make for decent sleeping arrangements.

He watches me like an overprotective maeter, making certain that I'm actually eating and not just pushing the random foods around.  Once satisfied, he says, "I've quit the temple."

I pause at lapping up some water to stare at him.

"Uh un, you keep eating."  He waits for me to follow the condition before continuing.  "I finally got a hold of what you've been trying to knock into my head over that last month before...  Anyway, I decided that I wouldn't be able to do 'Hyne's work' with that type of shit hanging over me.  With nothing better to do, I'll have to focus on my life goal of annoying you instead."

I scoff into warm soup.  As if he needs to actually focus on that goal when it comes to him so naturally.

"Well, I'll be...  How'd you get this bothersome pup to eat?"

I jump at the voice and look up into eyes filled with amusement.  I can't believe I didn't even notice my faeder's approach like that.

A deep chuckle rolls from Seifer.  "He dreaded the alternative.  Probably didn't want broth coating that lovely fur of his."

"Hmmm.  Well, I should thank you then, priest."

"It's Seifer.  I'm no longer a priest."

Dark green eyes shift to the large blonde with an examining look.  "You still smell like a priest, boy.  You aren't going to get rid of that stench easily, and people are certainly going to hold it against you around here."

The human shifts under the gaze, obviously uncomfortable.  "I just--"

"However," my faeder interrupts with his typical smile, "in this home you'll be safe.  Be grateful the Kinneas boy found you and recognized Squall's heart trapped within your body.  Normally I'd kill you right here for stealing what wasn't yours to take, but this pup still believes his heart is where it belongs."

A oddly bitter smile comes to Seifer's lips as he places a hand on his chest.  "I swear to protect it, sir."

"Ugh, no 'sirs' around here.  The name is Laguna, Squall's faeder.  And since you got him to eat something, I think you've earned a bed instead of sleeping on the couch.  I'll show you to the guestroom when you're ready."

The days follow much the same after that, Seifer the one to bring my meals with various threats if I didn't at least try to eat the prepared food.  Against what I would've believed, the human doesn't spend most of the day with me, instead giving me the time alone with my thoughts.  Of all the things to handle his boredom, he manages to build some kind of friendship with both Faer and Irvine, despite both having bad experiences with humans in the past.  By his talk during our times together, I imagine Seifer tricked my faeder into telling him the histories of demons, as well as his own personal adventures throughout his longer than average lifespan.  The long-haired wolf never could resist going into those long stories of his, especially if the audience was actually interested.

"Y'know, in all of our teachings, they never once said it was our fault in the first place."

Lunch finished long back, I stare at him from the bed as he talks.

"They called it a chance rupture between dimensions that caused the flood of demons to appear on this world.  Forget the minor detail that it required over fifty monks to focus their energies on the summoning chant to create such a rift.  If you ask me, we got what we deserved.  Arrogant assholes assuming they could control an army of demons as easily as a select few."

I huff.

"Aw, come on.  I'm not that bad.  Stuff I do mainly affects me and wouldn't lead to a plague on life like what those idiots did.  And before you think it, a plague on your life doesn't count."

It's times like these when I'm tempted to transform into my natural state, if only to smirk at his idiocy.  But it'd be too close to saying I'm healed inside when that isn't the case.  If anything, there's more pain at the idea that I won't have the second chance of a child with this man.  Irvine with his mate, Selphie, are a ridiculously fertile pairing, each of the three pups appearing about a half century after the other.  The reality is that I've lost my chance with this short-lived human.

Eventually a day comes along when Faer brings my breakfast, the event instantly making me curious despite myself.  For over two weeks, it had been Seifer to bring food to my room.  Perhaps at times my faeder or Irvine would join him, but the stubborn blonde always made certain to have his presence known.  Could he have finally given up on me?

"The honorable priest has the sniffles this morning," Faer says with an amused smile.  "Had to practically tie him down in his bed to make him get extra rest.  He sends a message though - 'Eat or I'll sneeze in your face.'  And oddly, I think he was being serious about it.  Strange person you've gotten attached to there."

I hop off the bed and spare only a glance at the food before moving out of my room.  For the first time I walk to the other side of this floor, nudging the door to the guestroom open as I slip inside.  Standing near the entrance, I stare at the large man half wrapped in messed sheets, Seifer obviously not having an easy time at trying to get any rest.  Perhaps for the first time I realize the burden I'm being on him in this state, the stress of living within a town of once declared enemies can't be doing anything good for him, forget being trapped with me in my basically unresponsive condition.

Abruptly Seifer sits up and calls, "Who's there?"  Before I respond, he groans and places a hand to his head as he falls back down to the mattress.  "Nnh, that really wasn't a smart move, Almasy."

I step back with the thought of leaving him alone in his agony, but the clinking of the damn bracelets alerts the blonde of my movement.

He shifts enough to better see me without needing to sit up, a lazy smile forming easily.  "Hey, it's my favorite mutt.  Don't tell me you got out of bed just to laugh at me."

It hurts to hear him say it like that.  I know he isn't being serious, but it's a true statement that I've only been thinking of myself.  Though easier said than done, I know that I have to let go of this pain.  I can't continue to torment myself over something that I had no control over.

Somehow, I have to start living again.

A sharp inhale of breath sounds in the room as Seifer clutches his chest, and then starts chuckling.  "Fucking damn.  Quick, come over here," he says while motion me to get on the bed.  When I hesitate, he waves faster.  "Come on.  Get that furry ass moving."

Suspiciously I jump up to the bed and approach the human.  He ends up needing to half-drag me closer and then forces me to rest my head on his chest.  With an irritated sigh, I relax in this position and listen to the double rhythm within his body.

"It's been silent all this time.  I thought I had managed to kill that little ice chunk of yours."

I sit up straight at the words and stare down at the grinning man, bewildered at the idea that my heart had stopped within him.  Was I truly that far gone into grief?

"So if this took almost two months, how long will it take before I get to see your lovely face again?"

Without me even thinking about it, I shift to my natural form, it being almost painful after all this time of living in the shape of the wolf.  I can't find anything to say, so I just look down into widened green eyes that slowly narrow into a partly pleased, partly sympathetic expression.  He wraps a strong arm around my upper back, guiding me to rest on his chest once more.  The drum of heartbeats soothes even more of the pain away, pain that perhaps I finally can let go and replace with the comfort Seifer offers me.

He wraps his other arm around me and squeezes tightly.  "I'm sorry."

It's such a simple phrase that should mean nothing, but at this single moment, it somehow fits everything I need to hear from him.

 

{Continued}

 

Author's Whining -- Whee, thinking one more chapter of this ficcie and then onto a story of my own for change. ^_-  Not that I mind doing requests, but it's fun to be selfish.

FYI, here was the original request (so blame Wolf!): "Squall is some sort of mystical creature who's been imprisoned for years. Seifer stumbles across him and frees him, and much yaoiness and happiness and angstiness ensues. Oh, and I'd like it to be an mpreg? ^_~ Except, with a twist. Squall has a miscarriage or something tragic happens involving the baby."