Frozen Heart
April 2003

 

[Squall]

He looks best like this, fallen deeply asleep with the moonlight from an open window covering his body.  Almost innocent, though this priest could never be truly innocent.  And I have to doubt that Seifer would even want to be referred by such a harmless term.  Carefully I brush fingers along golden skin turned pale blue in the illumination of the clear night.  He stirs with a hum under my cool touch, then tenses and relaxes quickly in a sign that he is awake but playing asleep until he can figure out what woke him.  Trailing my finger down his chest at this point, I move my hand such that the bracelets chime quietly to assure him that I'm the one being annoying so late into the night.

Slowly his eyelids open to reveal a deep green color as he watches me amusedly.  "Is someone not sleepy?" he asks in a rough voice.

I shrug while trying to stop my traitorous tail from wagging before Seifer notices the brush of it against the bed sheets.  By the brief shift of his eyes and a small smirk, I realize that it's too late.  He raises a hand to my cheek, just the tips of his fingers sneaking back into my hair while a thumb rubs gently below my eye.

"What is this about, Squall?"

"I need to feel life within me again."

He frowns, uncertainty crossing his expression.  "Squall--"

I shake my head.  "I know I'll never be blessed with that type of life again, but I need... I want to feel something again."

The lazy smile is back as Seifer wraps an arm around my shoulders and pulls me close for a chaste kiss.  "Certain you're ready for this?  It hasn't even been a week since you finally said something."

"Shut up, Seifer."

"Yep, those were your first words, too."

I don't bother to comment, instead reform the contact between us and slip my tongue directly into his mouth.  He moans at my unusual forcefulness as I block his attempts to take some kind of control.  Once he finally relaxes and submits to my whim, I slowly draw his tongue into my mouth.  Sucking on the very tip, I tease that bit of tongue for long moments before letting Seifer stroke his tongue against mine roughly to be rid of the ticklish feel I caused.  After a time of continuing that wet friction, I break the connection of lips and sit back to look down at the priest while my hand moves further down his body to the loose pants he wears at night.  When did this human, this killer become so desirable to me?

He stops my hand by grasping it in one of his, and then sits up straight next to me.  First flashing a sly smirk, Seifer kisses lightly at my cheek and trails down with far too tender kisses that make me ache inside.  Moving further to my chest, he ignores my always sensitive nipples and instead brings loving attention to the faded scar line caused by his silver dagger and several before that.  The gentle care paid to that one area is almost painful as my breaths turn shaky and I place an arm around his shoulders for a sense of solid support.  After a time of torment, Seifer moves back up across sensitized skin with the same soft pressure as before while avoiding my attempts of drawing him into a real kiss.  The last press of lips brushes across the one scar that doesn't cause me pain, the one mirrored on his face in plain view as my mark on the priest.

Straightening, he teasingly blows into an ear before telling me to wait a moment.  With fast ease, he rids himself of the loose pants and readjusts the pillows slightly before leaning back against the headboard.  Grabbing my upper arm, he leads me to straddle over his thighs with my back to him.  Rising and lowering in small circles, I rub his mostly harden manhood against my ass, unconsciously whining at the desire to have it within me.  Seifer chuckles at the sound as he supports my movements with one hand and reaches forward with the other to stroke my erection.

In time I maneuver back to drive the thickness deep into my body, gasping and tensing at the always overwhelming feel of heat from Seifer.  Instantly protective arms are tight around my chest as he forces me against his body and holds me still.  I smile bitterly at the human for knowing exactly what I want from him, and I spend long moments savoring the throb of his warmth and life.  I have to consciously keep the tears from forming at the feel of completion.

"When did you become so damn noble?" I find myself asking.

"You know I'm still a bastard deep inside," he part laughs in reply. 

I wonder if Seifer even notices how much he has changed since first releasing me from my prison.  Certainly the idiotic part of him will never die, but at some point he seemed to open his eyes and realize that the world isn't as simple as he once thought.  Humans.  Always unpredictable.

After awhile the heat becomes too much for me and I have to start moving to create distracting friction.  The priest easily supports my movements, losing himself in the overwhelming sensations of sex.  I can almost feel that moment when our hearts combine into one beat as Seifer once described to me.  It's almost like there was nothing before this man and there will be nothing after him - forever 'us'.  My frantic movements stop abruptly at that climatic thought and I tense around the solid warm, then smirk at the feel of heated release.

Once again we pause in that position as I lean back against him with Seifer remains deep inside of me.  Lazily fingering the cum spattered on my stomach, I taste the bitter fluid with a vague smile.  Rarely do we climax together.  It's a good thing we had tonight, my body and mind feeling rather numb after this first experience of life within me since....  I think I've healed as much as I can now, scars never a simple thing to be rid of, even if I had wanted to be rid of that mark in my life.

As if sensing my thoughts, Seifer places a spread hand onto my chest with a finger covering the scar line.  "I missed you."


"I was thinking that I should leave here pretty soon."

My hands pause in mid-movement of cutting the steak on my plate.  With an attempt at being casual, I look up at Seifer sitting across the table from me and silently question the unexpected announcement.  Faer is fortunately more vocal than myself.

"Whoa, what brings this on?"

Seifer shrugs while sipping at his drink and then stares into the glass.  "I'm just thinking that I should take advantage of this break of good weather for traveling."

"But why, boy?  Aren't you happy staying here?"

At the question, green eyes immediately meet mine.  "Of course, but this isn't exactly my place and I don't care for being a burden."

Sighing, I glance briefly to my faeder before stating, "Then I go, too."

"You don't have to, Squall.  Stay here for a little longer and catch up to me whenever you feel like it.  Trust me, I'm not going out to look for any kind of trouble.  There's just that little matter of me figuring out what the hell I'm going to with the rest of my life."

"I don't see why you can't do that here," Faer huffs.  "I rather thought you were enjoying yourself while living with us.  But if you must go, I want you to promise that you'll take good care of this one."

"Now wait a damn moment.  I'm not taking Squall from here.  I'm just saying--"

"I won't leave you again."

He glares at me, obviously not happy with my stubbornness.  Serves him right for not speaking to me about this beforehand.

"You don't know about this either, do you?" my faeder asks amusedly.

While I return to eating dinner, Seifer turns his glare to the long-haired wolf.  "Don't know what?  That your son is pain in the ass?"

Faer laughs softly.  "Come now, certainly you've known that for some time.  No, I was referring to the bond you formed."  When there is only silence in reply, he happily continues with this new opportunity to talk at length.  "Tell me, do you really think it was by chance that priests of Hyne discovered the ability to bind a demon to them?  That one day a monk decided it'd be a good idea to slice open the chest of a demon, steal the heart, and place it against his own chest?"

"I never really thought about it," Seifer says slowly, probably hating that phrase by now.  So much he never questioned about his own life, about what every action meant in the whole scheme of things.  I almost pity him for the amount of conflicting information he has been given in the past months.

"It is a ritual of ours that a human somehow learned of in the past.  For us, it's a completely consensual act in which one person receives the heart of another.  The bearer of the two hearts gains the strength of their combined power while the giver of his or her heart receives, for lack of a better word, the health of the bearer.  In your case, Squall was able to receive your immunity of silver given it was harming him during the time of the ceremony.  Other sicknesses have been healed in the same fashion."

Cautiously, green eyes move to stare at me but I don't meet that gaze.  "When you say a consensual ritual...?"

"I knew you were a smart one if you'd apply yourself.  Yes, it's our form of marriage that the priests of Hyne quickly managed to taint for us.  In my Ades-faeder's time, the scar line on one's chest was something to rejoice and cherish.  But these days, it is impolite to comment on that mark with the assumption that the person is properly bonded.  Enslavement under a priest is rarely something most wish to speak about, let alone remember."

"Squall.  Look at me."

I follow the order hesitantly and look into the ever sharp eyes of the blonde.  Faer is right - Seifer is too intelligent when he bothers to think things through.  Thankfully for me, it seems to be a rare occasion.

"How long?"

How long have I considered him a true bonded, my spouse?  I don't think I have the exact answer for that myself.  "Since I decided I preferred you alive."

Pale lips slowly form a soft smirk.  "Fuck, and you never thought to tell me?"

I shrug and return to my meal.

"Annoying ass, so that's why you're being stubborn.  Truthfully I don't want to take you from here, but isn't my presence causing just a few issues?  I don't want people to stress with a killer near their children."

My faeder laughs.  "Oh, they aren't too worried.  Granted they won't try to form any type of friendship with you at this point, but they don't worry about you getting out of control."

Seifer looks at him incredulously.

Smiling, Faer points at me.  "Knowing of my child's abilities, how many priests do you think could force him to surrender his heart?"

"None," the blonde replies too quickly.  Perhaps he has been wondering that for some time himself.  And it's interesting that he doesn't think to include himself, probably too arrogant to accept his relatively easy win over me.

"Three times he has lost his heart in the past, offering himself as a sacrifice to protect our village.  Funny how easily a human, a priest especially, will 'forget' certain things in exchange for increased power.  And those were times of absolute necessity in which a battle would have won us nothing.  In short, Squall is highly respected in these regions.  Add in my status from merely living too long, and people are certain that you've been rendered harmless."

The blonde scowls.  "But Squall in unable to hurt me.  How can they so easily believe that he has me under control?"

"He doesn't need to injure you in order to prevent you from hurting our kind.  You should've seen the second priest that believed he held absolute control over my son.  The man was a wreck within the year, constantly suspicious of Squall and yet too greedy to be rid of the power the heart magic gave him.  I forget, how did he die in the end?"

"I tricked him into shadow demon territory."

"A-ah, yes.  That was a rather grisly death.  Barely managed to retrieve your heart that time, I believe."

I shrug, then push back my chair to stand as I pick up the empty plates from the table.  Moving to the kitchen, I begin to clean the dishes when strong arms encircle around my waist and Seifer rests his head on my shoulder.  He says nothing, though, just continues to be a burden while I finish cleaning the few items.  Even when I'm done, he only holds me for a time while rocking slightly.  Sighing, I lean back against him and wait for him to say whatever he need to say.

"Why didn't you ever lead me into a trap?"

I scoff.  "You're paranoid and arrogant, thus you never gave me a chance.  Offering sex didn't even work as it should have."

He laughs.  "So do you really think it's okay if we stay here?"

I only nod, my faeder already saying all that needed to be said about the matter.

"Fine, but I'm trusting you to tell me the moment I'm causing problems."

"You always cause problems."

"Stupid mutt.  And to think I'm stuck with you until I die.  Wonder what I did to deserve this horrendous fate."

I almost remind him that he doesn't have to consider our binding as a marriage in his terms, but knowing this fool, he'd probably take it as an insult if I even suggested that he could do something relatively dishonorable like that.  Anyhow, I don't want to chance him attempting to prove his loyalty by getting me mixed up in one of those human traditions.  I seem to remember something about one of partners being required to wear a white dress.


[Seifer]

It's an uncomfortable experience to think you were living in the light, walking forward through the years while seeing everything around you as what it should be, and then suddenly the true sun breaks through to illuminate the things that were hidden in unrecognized darkness, giving them a new shape and meaning.  I had a set path for my life, what I might have seen as the only one.  But now I just feel lost, like a child walking in circles while trying to find his way out of a forest.

I've tried to regain what I was, to rebuild my sense of confidence and pride, but instead I end up like this, staring at a darkened ceiling in the middle of the night.  I killed children and my dreams will never let me forget that.  I may not have known, and I certainly was told otherwise, but reliving some of those moments in my nightmares, I should've know.  Such wide, fearful eyes staring at me in confusion.  It was supposed to be a trick to make us pity them just before they'd attack, but in truth, they had no concept of death, let alone how to defend themselves.  I'm such a fucking fool.  Maybe it would be for the better if I don't go back to what I was.

There's a quiet groan in the night as Squall rolls closer to me, most likely wishing to steal my heat.  I don't mind.  His cooler body rarely fails to calm me at these times, pulling me back into sleep.  Sighing, I unfold one of my arms from beneath my head and place a hand to his back.  Instantly I sit up at the feel of the heated body and roll Squall onto his back.  Placing a hand to his even warmer face, I try to wake the demon, but he doesn't respond with anything more than a quiet moan.

Worry taking control of my mind and body, I rush out of our room and head to the old wolf's bedroom.  Several times Squall has mentioned that another pregnancy is impossible between us, my death from age more likely coming before he could ever bear another child.  That being the case, he could truly be sick this time.

I pound on the closed door for a time before opening it myself to wake Laguna.  In the middle of the room, a dark wolf stumbles sleepily towards me.  Finally noticing my entrance, he woofs a little.

"Fucking Hyne, I can't understand you like that.  Would you wake up already?  Something's wrong with Squall."

At the mention of his son, the wolf turns into his human form and yawns widely while running a hand through long strands of hair.  "And what is wrong exactly?  Did he kick you out of bed again?"

"As if I'd wake you up for that," I mutter under my breath.  "He has a fever and won't wake up."

Dark eyes from shadows narrow curiously before Laguna walks past me into the hallway and further into Squall's room.  I follow behind and stand at the doorway as to not interfere with the examination.  It bothers me how powerless I am with such simple things as a sickness.  Perhaps I should've paid more attention to those lessons after all.

"Blessed Shiva," Laguna whispers under his breath.

"Will he be alright?"

My words startle the old wolf from staring at his son.  "Alright?  Oh, I dare say more than that.  Maybe...  no, it shouldn't have anything to do with you being human..."

"Laguna, would you focus here?"

Smiling too widely for my likes, he steps forward to grab my arm and drag me to the bedside.  "It seems that a child is still possible between you two."

"But, you both said--"

"Yes, I know what we said, but just because it hasn't happened before in our knowledge doesn't imply that it can't happen.  I suppose Shiva wishes for the strong offspring that you and Squall would certainly have."

I stare dumbly at the figure on the bed.  "He's... pregnant?"

"Technically not yet.  Come, you need to join him.  I wouldn't doubt that Shiva wishes to speak with you as well."

Beyond words at this point, I look at the old wolf questioningly.

"Our goddess doesn't work like your Hyne who lets any proper pairing have children whenever they wish it.  Shiva cherishes every life she creates, thus makes certain that the parents truly desire to care for their child.  Why she waits so long between each birth of a child by a coupling is beyond us.  Anyhow, hearing that she had first blessed Squall with a child without your presence was surprising, perhaps revealing the importance of having a child of your blood.  This only solidifies it, but I don't believe Squall can fight for the child in his current state.  He'll need you there."

"There...?"

"Just lie down with him such that your chests are touching and..."  He waves a hand, "...well, follow your bond.  Since you were able to follow Squall here, I think you can figure out what I mean.  Don't worry, I'll be here to look over you both."

With a deep sigh, I reluctantly follow the old wolf's orders and climb back into bed with Squall.  As if waiting for me, the brunette moves tightly against my body with a small whine of pain.  Not having a clue about what Laguna wants me to do, I simply close my eyes while wrapping my arms around the warm body and pulling him even closer.  Given Squall is right with me, I don't see how I can follow the bond any further, but I focus on it to at least humor the old wolf. 

After a time of nothing, I open my eyes with the intent of suggesting that my human blood may prevent whatever it is that should happen.  But instantly that line of thought is gone as I'm partly blinded by the glare of light.  Eventually my vision clears as I find myself surrounded by thick mist and somehow standing though there's no obvious ground beneath me.  I turn in the attempt to see or hear anything in this place, but there is only the grayness of the concealing mist.  Pushing aside other questioning thoughts, I easily focus on the bond to Squall and let it guide me forward.

As if stepping through a doorway, I shortly end up in an area of clear air but everything is still lit by the same muted light.  I first notice Squall, the wolf kneeling hunched over on the ground.  Standing a short distance before him is an other worldly woman of ankle-length blue hair streaked with gold, her hardened eyes focused on my demon.  I'm running before I think to, Laguna's words of Squall being unable to fight in his state ringing in my ears.

"Don't you lay a fucking finger on him, bitch!"

While the woman looks up with amusement clear in her expression, Squall turns sharply to stare at me with wide eyes.  "Seifer?  How...?"

Still watching the woman cautiously, I go to the wolf's side and ask, "Are you alright?  Did she hurt you?"

A melodious laughter sounds at my words.  <I would never intentionally harm my own, priest>

Though a little unsettled by the woman speaking to me without moving her lips, I dare a glance at my demon and find no obvious damage.  "Laguna said something about fighting..."

"Of course he would send you here.  No, the fight is with words, not in the way you think," he says, hurt underlining his tone.

"What's wrong, Squall?"

<He is afraid of my gift.  But no matter.  It is you I had wished to meet>

I look into the cool eyes of the demon goddess, anger and frustration of the past months talking over my words.  "What, felt like damning the priest who killed your followers?  Wanted to curse me in person, bitch to man?  You didn't have to drag Squall into this for that."

She smirks.  <You should have been one of Ifrit's for such passion>

"Don't patronize me.  How could you give him a child when you knew it was only going to be taken from him?  How could you torment him like that?!"

"Seifer--"

"No.  I take my responsibility for what happened, but what about this fucking god?  She knew, and still she let you get hurt.  'Never harm her own,' my ass."

<But I did not know, priest.  I cannot see the lives of those lost in your world.  I could only sense the safety my child felt while under your care>

I glare at her for pushing all of the blame back onto me, but Squall silences the heated words I wish to say, him taking a hold of my arm and pulling me down to kneel on the ground with him.  At first I'm irritated to be forced to show respect to this god, but the wolf's continued hold on my arm despite his neutral gaze makes me realize that he only desires my closeness.

<But that is past.  At the present it is my wish to grant another child of your mixed blood, however your mate refuses that life>

Surprised, I look at Squall in an attempt to see beyond that apathy he displays too easily at times.  "And why's that?"

"... ..."

Cupping his chin, I force his gray-blue eyes to meet mine.  "This is what you've wanted.  Why can't you accept it?"

"I lost one child."

"And you may lose another.  Shit, you know I'm going to die before you, but that has yet to stop you from keeping me around.  You are stronger than this, Squall."

Icy eyes soften under my gaze and reveal some of the desire within him, but he's too afraid of the pain this caused.  Battle wounds can be healed and forgotten, but this cut him deep where it's impossible to heal completely.  And it pains me that there's nothing I can say or do to make things better for him.

"This is entirely your choice, but I promise you that I'll protect the mutt with my life."

A hint of a smile appears.  "Would be a mutt, wouldn't he?"

"Heh, part-wolf and part-priest.  Who knew such a combination could be viable."

"Especially with you as a faeder."

"Oh, sure, go ahead and pick on me when I can't fight back.  Just wait, I'll make that mutt like me more than you and then you'll be outnumbered."

His smile widens slightly.

<Then it is decided>

The sudden burst of light startles me, forcing me to close my eyes tightly until it returns to less blinding levels.  Carefully I reopen my eyes to dim lighting and scenery that disorients me at first until Squall moves within my arms.  I push him back from me, but the wolf still seems to suffer from a fever and doesn't wake when I croak out his name.  Coughing, I discover my own skin feels warmer than normal.

"A-ah, you're awake at last.  I was a bit worried with you both taking so long."

"How long?" I manage while rolling to my back and glancing at the old wolf who walks up to the bedside.

"You're well into the fourth day.  And don't worry, Squall should only take a short while longer than you.  Since you're up, I'll go make some hot food for you both.  I trust you to not let him move much when he wakes since his body needs plenty of time to adjust.  You really shouldn't move either after such visions."  He walks to the open doorway while mumbling something about humans and Shiva, then pauses to look back and say with a broad smile, "Oh, and congratulations."

Well after the old wolf leaves, Squall stirs within my hold before I notice his eyes opening just barely.  When I laugh at the exhausted look, he groans and curls tighter against my body while closing his eyes in the attempt of escaping back into sleep.

"How do you feel?"

"Bloated."

The seriousness of his response makes me laugh even louder than before.  "You're going to be a grump during this whole process, aren't you."

Squall lifts up then to stare at me directly in the eyes.  "You have no idea."


"I had no fucking idea," I grumble to myself while walking through the village.

It's been over three months since the deceivingly innocent beginning to all of this, and day by day, Squall has been growing more insane.  For some inane reason, he refuses to take a step outside of the house as if lightning would strike him dead.  With Laguna gone to mediate some argument, I'm left to handle the issue of cravings.  Despite living here for a couple months shy of a year, everyone is still wary to approach me, especially without Laguna or Squall with me as chaperone.  While I'm happy enough to sit at home with the increasingly touch-hungry wolf at my side, I've learned that it's easier to cure these cravings of his from the beginning before something precious to me is endangered.

With one step into the small general store, I know I'm in trouble as several heads turn at my entrance.  Suppose I still smell like a priest to these demons.  Sighing, I walk to the front table that Laguna always approached to speak with the small female wolf of brown hair that I've only seen a few times in the past.  Amazingly her smile doesn't falter much at the sight of me, green eyes narrowed in unrestrained interest.

"Good day, priest.  Something you need?"

I've given up trying to remind people that I'm no longer a priest - it just isn't worth the breath.  "Happen to have hazelnuts on hand?  'Cause I'd like to get a load of them."

"Hmmm, think I can handle that.  Just the nuts, though?  Certainly Laguna could've picked them up on his weekly trip tomorrow."

"Just the nuts, please," I reply, a bit surprised that she is actually attempting a conversation with me.

After making a short trip to a back room, the young looking wolf comes back with a decently sized bag filled with the hazelnuts.  "And how will you pay?"

"Don't think my money counts for much here.  Any chance you can bill it to Laguna for later?"

"Depends.  What are the nuts for?" she asks while leaning forward on the table, her tail wagging rapidly, which is something I've learned to take as a suspicious sign in all cases.

"Squall asked for them.  I'm just paying servant for the moody mutt."

That makes her hum before climbing over the table, and then suddenly grabbing my shirt front as she takes a deep breath.  Green eyes widen before she rushes out of the store with a call to a 'Wylde' to keep an eye on things, all the while dragging me forward by my shirt and ignoring my demands for her to let go.  Damn demons are stronger than they look.

Not bothering to knock, she enters Laguna's home.  "Squall!  Get your sneaky butt out here."

The wolf in question sits up straight on the couch at the sight of us, and of all the things I could have expected, he launches forward and bolts for the stairway in escape.  Finally releasing my innocent shirt, the female wolf chases the faster demon to the second floor and prevents him from locking her out of his room.  At this point highly confused, I trail after the duo at a slower pace to find Squall almost cowering on the bed as the other wolf leans over him.

"Shame on you, Squall.  You know pregnancy is something for the whole town to cherish, and you're hiding it from us.  There needs to be a ceremony and of course the reception afterwards.  To think that Laguna was supporting this attitude of yours."

He sighs.  "Selphie, the child is half human."

"Well, of course, silly.  That's what happens when you mate with a priest.  I don't mind myself.  Do you know how many hours of Irvine-free time this human has given me?  I'd kiss him if I knew that you wouldn't get jealous over it."

"Wait, you're Selphie?" I interrupt.  "The Selphie?"

Vibrant green eyes focus on me as she smiles.  "The one and only in this village.  Seifer, right?  Sorry for avoiding you, but while Irvine says you're a good guy, it's hard to trust anyone human these days.  And I have my boys to look after.  But if you're fetching food for this difficult wolf, then you certainly can't be that bad."

"No offense taken," I state with a grin, trying my hardest to hold in laughter.  By the lanky wolf's description over the months, I swore he was married to a behemoth of a female demon.  Then again, if even Squall fears this innocent appearing wolf, it might be best to watch myself around her.

"As for you, mister," she says with a finger pointed at Squall, "There will be a ceremony.  There will be a party.  And you will go through the whole day with a smile befitting an expecting maeter.  Got it?"

"... ..."

"Let me ask again.  Do. You. Understand?"  Even I wince at the dark tone of voice.  What in Hyne's name did Irvine take on as a mate?

"Fine."

Instantly Selphie smiles sweetly at receiving the reply she wanted.  "That's better.  I've got to head back to the store before that youngest of mine hands out freebies to any female he sees, but I'll be back tonight for some planning with you.  Tell Laguna that I'll bring dinner here."  As she passes by me to exit the room, she pauses to pat my cheek and say, "You know, you are quite a cutie up close.  You shouldn't let Squall try to hide you away here all the time.  Visit me whenever you feel like it, especially if you need tips with handling this one."

"Thank you... I think."

With a light bounce to her step, she travels downstairs and out the entrance.  Why do I have a feeling that tonight should be more than interesting, especially if she is bringing all of her boys.

From the bed, Squall mutters something along the lines of, "She wasn't supposed to be at the shop today."

"Well, don't know whether to feel sorry for you or not, but it's your own fault for not warning me to keep clear of her.  At least I got your hazelnuts."

He scoffs.  "Nothing is worth the curse of Selphie."

"Come on.  How bad can this be?"

Turning his head to better look at me, the wolf smirks.  "Wait until you see what you have to wear at the ceremony."


[Squall]

"Seifer," I growl out in warning for perhaps the sixth time this afternoon.

He just chuckles at my side, continuing to tickle my ear with a small twig.  What is it about the reflexive twitching that amuses him so damn much?  With a quick move, I manage to rip the stick out of his hand and toss it in the general direction that the other twigs have met their fate.  Sweet Shiva, who's brilliant idea was it to spend some of the day outside?

Still grinning like the idiot he is, Seifer leans against me while wrapping an arm around my waist and across the huge lump that I have to constantly remind myself is a beautiful life.  Against all possible belief, the priest seems to enjoy me just fine this way.  I have to wonder if it's because I'm easier to catch.  I can't even take my wolf form in this state.  Or maybe it's the general fame he has gotten in the village, the other demons in so-called awe of Seifer's courage to get me pregnant.  It wasn't amusing the first time I heard it, nor the at least fifty times after that.

Clasping my hand with his, I relax under the spotted sunlight beneath the tree that Seifer had chosen for us to share a small lunch.  Suddenly there's movement from within me, the unborn child somehow always aiming for where his faeder's hand can feel that gentle sign of life.  Or maybe it's my pregnancy muddled mind thinking such ridiculousness.  In the last eight months I've cried more than in my entire life, not to mention eating things I never believed edible before.  And Seifer certainly has laughed more than appropriate.  I obviously haven't been torturing him enough.

A gentle breeze blows over us, the scent it carries making me straighten.  At another deep breath, I pull away Seifer's arm and motion for him to help me stand.  He smiles uncertainly as he lifts me to my feet, a strong arm encircling my waist to steady me.

"Do you sense anything?" I ask him.

"Sense anything?  Like what?"  Before I have a chance to reply, the blonde straightens and holds me tighter while glaring in the direction of where the wind had come from.  "How the fuck did they find us?"

So it was the stench of humans in the air.  Did Seifer ever smell that bad?

"Go back to Laguna and have him send help.  I'll try to stall them."

"I'm going with you."

"Squall--"

"You die, I die.  I might as well protect you.  And Faer will be alerted by broken wards if the monks get too close."

"Stubborn mutt.  Fine, but stay close to me.  You aren't nearly as mobile as you're used to."

As we walk further from the village, Seifer already starts chanting various protection spells around the two of us.  I can't resist a small smile at the feel of condensed magic surrounding my midsection.  The child stirs within me, whether sensing his faeder's energy around him or just the general tenseness of the air, I can't be certain.  I foolishly try to calm him by rubbing my stomach and whispering meaningless words to a child that can't even hear me.

When we finally come in view of the group of priests, Seifer and I stop in part-shock and part-fury as we wait for them to approach us.  Barely standing, Irvine is held captive by one of the elders I recognize from before, a silver blade placed firmly under his chin that burns the lightly browned skin.  The twenty or so monks all stare at Seifer, perhaps believing him my prisoner all this time but now realizing that the blonde truly left by his own will.

"You traitor."

Seifer snorts.  "No, deserter would be a better term to use.  Traitor implies that I took another side."

Dark eyes shift to me, then narrowing on my swelled stomach.  "We had prevented this thing from exploiting your essence."

"And I corrected the damage you caused.  But enough civility.  What the fuck are you doing here, Whiskers?"

The man tenses at the name, pointing his knife at Seifer in a sign of threat, but before words leave his mouth, the blonde casts a summoning spell that launches Irvine out of the elder's grasp and to our feet.  The sable hair wolf groans at the rough treatment, and I have to sigh in sympathy as I remember Seifer doing the same trick on me time and time again.  Focusing on my own magic, I spread my hands to cast a healing spell on Irvine while ignoring the yelling of the priests and the bursts of magic made worthless by our shields.

A powerful wind spell erupts from Seifer, a couple younger monks dropping beheaded from the attack.  That silences everyone else as the blonde man speaks in a low voice.  "I know Cid didn't send you after me since he would've respected my warning that I would harm anyone who dares to threaten my chosen life.  Sorry, but it seems I have no choice except to kill everyone of you to protect this village."

From that general declaration of war, it's a blur of magic and blood to me, a mass of large wolves joining shortly after the first several deaths of priests.  At some point Selphie approaches the two of us, carefully taking Irvine out from the battlefront.  I separate from Seifer then, joining the younger demons further back to heal those wounded by hexes and silver, as well as help form defensive barriers around our kind.  But aside from mostly caring for the larger injuries and handling the silver no one else can touch, I keep the connection between Seifer and I open without resistance as he draws on my power to battle the more experienced priests.

Softly such that no one can hear me, I pray to Shiva that this ends soon.


[Seifer]

Sometime after the sun sets but before it gets too dark, I stand over the fallen priest that had taught me nearly half of the magic I know.  Dark eyes are open, staring accusingly at my legs as his mouth hangs open as if still attempting for that final breath.  His hand clutching his frozen throat, I find it ironic that he died from the simple strategies that Squall taught me.  Why waste the force of a spell on the entire body when focusing it on specific regions causes far more damage.

Glancing up, I look at the bodies of those I had fought with in the past, but I can't find a reason to mourn them.  Perhaps I truly have turned my back on the rightful god, my morals lost.  But for my created happiness I will do anything.  And fuck, this way I'll have a future eternity in hell spent harassing my demon.  What can be wrong with that?

Turning away from the remains of the relatively short fight, I search out Squall for a dose of comfort, though I'd be insane to mention that out loud.  Not too far away I find the wolf, an easy smile coming at the sight of him kneeling over a wounded demon and carefully plucking out silver from the bared chest.  Apparently finished, he sits back as Selphie takes over the healing, a warm light radiating from the prone figure.  Before I call out a greeting, I notice the wolf wince as he rests a hand on his beautifully large stomach.

"Everything alright in this corner?"

The two demons look up at my approach, both looking a little worse for wear.  "We only lost four, so I suppose it's a win for our side," Selphie states quietly.

I hold back cliché consoling comments, instead focusing on Squall.  He notices my gaze, then holding out an arm to aid him to his feet.  His exhaustion is obvious as he depends too much on my tired body, but I don't mind the extra weight.  When he winces again, I know that I wasn't imagining something from before.  I almost question him, but he silences me with a simple look and then pulls me lightly in the direction of the village.

We more stumble than walk the short distance, the collection of buildings an oddly warming sight.  Since when did this place become home to me?  The door to Laguna's house is wide open, the place most likely serving as a base of operations.  Barely three steps inside and the old wolf is before us with a relieved smile.

"Thank Shiva, you're both safe.  Being the target of those priests, I feared that you would be overwhelmed.  I take it that all is finished?"

"Yeah.  I think a couple dogs are chasing down a few stragglers, but I haven't felt any of Hyne's magic for some time so all are most likely dead."  Feeling a shiver from the brunette at my side, I glare down at the silent wolf.  "But something is wrong with Squall."

Dark green eyes widen.  "It can't be time."

Squall nods, not meeting his father's eyes.

"But..."  He shakes his head.  "Seifer, take him upstairs quickly.  It looks like your son is as impatient as you."

Stunned by the announcement, I can't move until Squall pinches burnt skin.  Carefully I help the heavily pregnant wolf to our room, thoughts flying randomly in my head.  Shit, I was supposed to have at least a couple more weeks to come to terms with having child truly entering my life.  After helping the never bashful demon out of torn clothing, I let him drag me to the bedside as he attempts to find a comfortable position.  Not caring to witness the 'blessed event' that Selphie has described in far too much detail, I kneel such that I watch only Squall's face.

Laguna soon arrives with water and blankets, and from there the torment of all mothers begins.  Given there is nothing I can do beyond being a convenient outlet of pain, I continue to let him hold onto my hand that may never function correctly again.  With my only experience of birth being what Selphie has told me, it takes far longer than I imagined.  Hell, I can't even remember what exactly I had imagined this would be like.  But given the two wolves seem relatively calm about the process, I take my punishment for impregnating the demon.

Long into night is when I feel the first flutter within my chest.  I ignore it for something unimportant, and instead focus on the task of wiping persistent strands of moist hair from his eyes and forehead.  Later at the second and then third odd beat of his heart, I finally turn to Laguna with worrisome thoughts.  He avoids looking at anything but downward, muttering phrases of 'almost' with halfhearted confidence.  Before I can question him vocally about something feeling odd, he smiles with unhidden relief.

"There he is, Squall.  Just a little longer."

And for the first time since I've known the man, he was right.  My wolf collapses back onto the mattress, eyes half-lidded in an expression somewhere between victory and near death exhaustion.  Gray-blue eyes settle on me, a vague smile appearing at the first whimper of coldness.  I look at the reddish-purple life Laguna cradles while gently cleaning the mutt, the old wolf crying freely as he sets bright eyes on the tiny form.

"Remember your promise."

Confused by the hoarse order, I return my focus to Squall.

"With your life..."

A stupid grin on my face, I brush fingers across cool skin.  "Damn right.  I'll protect both of you with my life."

Eyes closed as if to sleep, he leans into my touch while exhaling a quiet sigh.  With a final flutter in my chest, there's suddenly no more.  No heartbeats.  No renewed breath.  Just no more.

"Squall...?"  It doesn't happen like this.

"He had little energy left," Laguna starts with a broken voice.

There's supposed to be blood, or signs of agony, or something.  Not this.

"The fight had already taken so much from him, and bringing this one into the world took all that remained, including his life energy.  He just barely made it this long."

"Come on, we both know that nothing can...  Fuck, come on, Squall.  Look at your son."

"Seifer--"

"NO.  I'm the one that's supposed to die long before him.  This isn't fucking happening!"

"I know what you are feeling..."

His words fade from my hearing as I look at the asshole looking too damn peaceful without me.  Already I can feel the lump of ice within me, vacant of life.  The ceased beats of over a year past was painful, but I never realized how much worse it could be without the hint of soul that had still connected me to Squall. 

I can't.

I simply... can't.

There is sudden pain that wakes me and I find myself staring into enraged green eyes as Laguna holds me against the wall somewhere across the room.  "Don't you dare.  Don't you fucking dare after what you promised him."

"I..."

"Do you think I don't know your pain?  That I don't know what it feels like to lose the bearer of your child and the owner of your soul?  Every morning I wake up to the feel of her cold heart within me, while every night I go to sleep with the vague hope of it ending, but I always wake to this world.  I still continue to live despite my deepest desires.  I lived for Squall, my precious son, and now I'll live for his son, but damn me if I'm letting you desert us."

"My fault," I barely manage to say.  My fault that he was forced to bind with me.  That he was impregnated.  That he was drained of the energy he desperately needed.  My fault that he died.

The old wolf sneers.  "Yes.  Your fault.  Now make up for it."

"How...?"

"Teach your son.  Make him strong."

I sink to the ground when Laguna releases his hold and walks to the bed.  Teach him, is it?  I feel the corner of my lip twitch in a vague curl at the demon's suggestion of revenge.  Perhaps this is what that bitch Shiva wanted after all - a child strong in the magic of two worlds.  Well, we shouldn't disappoint a god, should we.  A hand to my chest, I think of the return smirk that Squall would offer me.

Looking up when Laguna stands before me, I soon find myself with a lump of blanket in my arms.  The mutt rests quietly in the warm folds of the cloth, already proving his bloodline by refusing to cry loudly after his birth.  I finger the pink, floppy ears that are barely covered by dark fur.  At some point the tears start to fall onto the blanket, but it doesn't matter.

"Hydres."

"... I don't recognize it.  Is that some human name?"

I shake my head.  "It's a mythical sword made of water.  This one... Hydres will be a sword of revenge."

"As you wish, priest.  Just...  don't forget to love him."

Amazingly I laugh at the suddenly meek tone from the old wolf.  "How could I not love this mutt?  He's already like Squall, giving me the silent treatment like this."

I bend down to kiss the mostly bald head and whisper near a tiny ear such that Laguna can't hear the words.  "I will teach you everything that I know, everything Squall taught me.  When you are stronger than anything I could be, I'll ask you to kill your maeter's murderer."  Leaning back against the wall, I ignore the old wolf's curious gaze as I gently rub the spot of forehead where Squall and I bear our scars.  "Don't fail me, young Hydres.  I'm counting on you."


[Epilogue]

[Hydres]

Sitting in the dimly lit room, I watch over the resting form of the large man while my tail thumps out a random rhythm in a sense of keeping time.  He's not too old for a human, or at least that is what he tells me, but he already looks a decade older than Ades-faeder.  Sometimes I believe that it is a facade since Faer is certainly stronger than anyone I know, far more powerful than these wolves that live for centuries, but I know the truth that I won't have this man around for most of my life.

He calls me his sword of revenge.  No, he doesn't want me to kill any priest that crosses my path.  In fact, I think he gets far more enjoyment when I play with them and set the weak fools free.  Only those who discover the location of our village die without discrimination, while the others hopefully learn some lessons in humility and life.  Perhaps one day I can help achieve the vague dream of making humans understand that they are killing families, not just the murdering shadow demons.  Ades-faeder certainly has high hopes for that while Faer typically takes a stony expression whenever it's mentioned.  He doesn't think it's possible, but he can't argue when he is a living example of the possibility that humans can join with demons.

He calls me his sword of revenge, and I never guessed his meaning behind it.

'Show me.  Show me your sharpness, my sword, and cut down your maeter's killer.'

It's amusing in a way.  I always appreciated how Faer never blamed me for driving Mae to that point of death, though I wondered if he hid his true feelings of bitterness for me.  Now I know that he truly never thought me at fault, instead taking the full responsibility for that lost life himself.  I don't know whether to be hurt or not at the idea that his life with me has been his punishment, but... Yeah, I'm still grateful that the bastard stuck around.

"Fucking mutt.  I thought I said, 'don't heal me'."

Forced out from my thoughts, I look into the half open eyes and smirk at his attempt of a scowl.  "Funny, I only heard 'heal me' for some reason."

"Shit."  He motions me closer, which earns a suspicious look from me.  "Oh, just move over here for Hyne's sake.  What can I do to you in this state?"

"Plenty," I mutter, but I still move to sit on the edge of the mattress.

He cups a hand on my cheek, his eyes taking on a strange coloring.  "Have I told you how much you look like that idiot?"

My eyes widen at the words, myself unable to hold back surprise.  Cautiously I reach up to place my hand on his.  "No.  You haven't."

"A-ah, guess I've been avoiding that subject for what," he laughs bitterly, "twenty-five years?  Hyne, I'm pathetic."

I hold my tongue, almost afraid to hope that he'll actually talk about Mae.  Sure I've heard plenty from Ades-faeder and the Kinneas family, but their stories always end, 'but when he was with Seifer, he was different.  Happy.  Only that priest could pull out something from deeper in Squall.'  As a pup I learned never to ask Faer about the short time with my maeter, but I've always wanted to hear the story in his words, with his insight.

He moves his hand, taking mine in his and placing it on his chest.  "I doubt you can feel it, but it's in there.  This damn frozen heart that burns me every fucking day of my life.  Don't know what I'd do without it," he adds with a weak smile.  "But you are probably sick of hearing about Squall."

I shake my head and clutch at his shirt.  "Please?"

With a deep breath and an exhaling sigh, he sits up to lean against the headboard, myself refusing to release his shirt as he continues to hold my hand.  "It all started with this incredibly stupid fool who thought it'd be a great idea to take a shortcut over a mountain range in the middle of winter.  About a week later, I had cracking pants, a killer urge for a cigarette, and the single most lucky day in my life..."

 

{Owari}

 

Author's Whining -- First off - Blame Wolf!  She completely asked for this ending and I'm giving it to her despite not caring for deathfics myself.  Truly, I've had no problems with Squall lately and prefer him alive, so this is purely Wolf's fault.  Email her about it because I'm taking zero responsibility. ^_-  Yes, Hydres is a stupid name, but really not feeling creative name-wise at the moment.  No, there will be no sequel, so please don't ask for one.  Anywho, time to move on to other fics with a bit less angst...