[Timing - after chapter 2 of 'Choosing Life']
The sound of a quiet 'thump' wakes me from unexpected sleep, my vision blurry and confused in that brief moment before I glance down at the book that had fallen to the ground. And then my eyes start to burn from unwanted tears. I know that it's merely a book, one of the many purchased by Laguna, but the damn thing had opened to a page with an infant frowning from symptoms of colic. I have the insane urge to apologize for dropping the baby girl and making her cry, but thankfully I have enough sense to simply move my gaze. Unfortunately, that just makes me look at my swollen stomach which looks many times worse when I'm seated on the couch like this. Hyne, and this is only the sixth month out of nine. How can there possibly be any more room left in me for this little one to grow even bigger?
As if to critique the lack of proper space, the baby twists and makes a solid hit against my defenseless ribs with a stretched out arm. Little bastard. He must be Seifer's son if he is that unashamed to use cheap shots against me.
Leaning over with my gaze averted, I pick up the fallen book and snap it close before setting it onto the coffee table. That task done, I swing my legs over the edge of the cushions and push up with a groaning sigh, relieved when a quick stretch manages to remove from the soreness that had settled into my lower back.
"I'm done with this," I mutter while rubbing the back of my neck, the moment of whininess ending when I abruptly realize that I'm thirsty. Really thirsty. Damn, why didn't Dr Kadowaki warn me about these bodily swings in addition to the occasional emotional explosions?
Moving into the kitchen, I open the refrigerator and locate the pitcher of fresh lemonade that I had made earlier today in lieu of strangling Seifer when I had found Lion Heart missing this morning. Fucking bastard, he has the Devil's luck that I'm still feeling the relief of his return after too many months spent with him hiding from anyone in an uniform. That, and this house isn't big enough for my gunblade to remain missing for long. He'll learn what it means to steal something important from me.
After pouring the lemonade into a tall glass of crushed ice, I swallow down the sweetly bitter juice in under a minute, something my stomach oddly doesn't argue against. The absolute thirst driven away for the meantime, I pour a second helping of lemonade before putting the pitcher back into the fridge. Taking the glass in hand, I decide to wander to the back of the house where the smell of fresh paint fills the hallway.
Reaching the one-time study, I lean against the door frame and take a glance inside. Against my wishes for something more neutral, Seifer had insisted that we should use a bright color for the new nursery. He had rambled on about some psychological evidence that bright colors would help a child to mature into someone active and excited about life, but knowing Seifer, it was probably a load of bullshit. He just wanted to win with his choice of 'lemon meringue yellow' of all things. It amazes me that people think he's completely straight.
But despite all of that, I may have to admit that Seifer was right for a change. While bright and, well, yellow, the color is soft in nature and gives a warm feeling to the room that I couldn't envision when looking at the multitude of color samples. One surprise, however, is that Seifer had apparently decided to paint a wide stripe of plain white at the center of the walls, the separating line helping to soften the amount of yellow in the small room. Once the furniture we bought arrives, I can imagine that I may even begin to like this room.
"What do you think, lovely?"
Ending my study of the painted walls, I look to Seifer and don't reply immediately while taking in the sight of his body. Shirtless given his tank top being used as an impromptu bandana, the man's muscular and tanned body is revealed for my pleasure. It's only been six or seven months since we were mere students within the walls of Balamb Garden, but Seifer has managed to mature in body, if not in mind. Adding to his appearance, a light sheen of sweat covers his warm-colored skin, not to mention the splattering of 'lemon meringue'. Though painting shouldn't have been that difficult for the gunblader, the window is wide open to vent out the fumes of paint, but the same act has allowed in a warm breeze from outside. October or not, it's still a desert this far inland.
"You're supposed to be looking at the walls, not me," Seifer states with a wolfish smirk.
"I saw the walls. They're yellow."
"Don't be so stubborn and admit it - the room looks a lot better than you thought it would."
Seifer chuckles, the shine to his eyes suggesting that he has already claimed victory for this particular battle. "So, is that for me?"
I glance down at the glass of juice in my hand, somewhat confused by the concept that I would sacrifice my lemonade to this asshole.
In my moment of distraction, Seifer had covered the short distance between us and promptly reached out to grab the glass wetted with condensation. Too easily, the glass slips out from my hold, and before I can say a word edgewise, Seifer gulps down the cold lemonade in seconds. Sighing out in satisfaction, he wipes his mouth with the back of his hand before returning the glass to me.
"Damn, Shiva, for someone who can't make toast, that's pretty good stuff. Why'd you decide to make some fresh?"
Containing my building rage, I inch closer to the taller man and smirk lightly at my lover before I place a cold hand at his bare chest and glide my fingers downward. "Why did I make lemonade?" I repeat while grabbing the waistband of his worn jeans and fingering the edge of his boxers, the action drawing a low purr from the blond. "Because someone hid my fucking blade," I state before jerking forward on the loose pants and dumping my glass of ice down his boxers.
Seifer jumps beautifully at the assault and curses with the tongue of a sailor while he's forced to do a jig of sorts to rid himself of the frozen chunks. The volume of his yelling increases when some of the ice apparently gets lodged in a particularly unfortunate location. Driven to a full surrender, Seifers unzips his jeans and promptly removes both his boxers and pants in one smooth motion.
Kicking aside the clothing along with the invading ice, Seifer points at the pile and declares, "That is why you can't have your blade back."
I scowl at the man's attempt of reasoning.
"Don't look at me like that. When in your lifetime have you dumped ice down someone's pants, huh?"
"... I've considered it before."
"Which further proves my point - your ability to restrain yourself is practically gone. And tell me the truth, Squally-boy, how many times have you 'considered' killing me? Or worse, castrating me?"
"Are you suggesting that there was a time when you wouldn't have deserved it?" I ask in reply, curious if the blond was going to plead innocence.
After a surprised moment, Seifer chuckles at the response before the tall and very naked blond steps closer without fear. He places a hand beneath my chin, the sword-roughened fingers brushing against my skin in an enticing manner that coaxes me into leaning forward. Seifer bends down quickly, stealing a kiss before I have the sense to refuse him. The bitter-sweetness to his tongue is a new and interesting taste for me, something that encourages a deeper sampling as I press in close. Seifer hums out a light purr at my cooperation, the daring man then placing a large hand at the side of my stomach as he caresses gently. I should be frustrated at him by now, the idiot always managing to remind me of my current embarrassing state at the worse times, but as of our first night over a week ago, a lustful part of my body has been awakened after months of nothing, not even masturbation. Of course I haven't mentioned anything to Seifer about it since the arrogant bastard would assume that he is the sole reason for my dick's revival, but damn him to Ifrit's lair, Seifer has too easily figured out that I can be controlled by a well-timed kiss.
Eventually, Seifer is the one to break the joining, the green-eyed man smirking as he looks down at me. "You're not getting your blade back."
I grab the metal plate of his necklace and jerk the man lower. "Fuck me first and then we'll discuss whether you want to continue breathing or not."
The blond gunblader grins despite my threat, his hand moving over mine to decrease the amount of pressure I'm placing on his vulnerable throat. "Sounds good to me, love, but let's take this to the bedroom. I don't want you to 'accidentally' ruin my paint job."
I huff, knowing very well that I wouldn't be the one to make a mess of things. More likely than not, Seifer would have the both of us covered in yellow paint after giving some excuse that it was a sex game that he had heard about. And if that were to happen, there's no way in Hell that I would be the one to explain to my father why there was so much paint on the carpet of his former study.
Shoving aside the looming blond, I lead the way into the bedroom, making certain to place my emptied glass onto the dresser along the way. It reminds me of my lost lemonade, but the sudden need within me is enough to help me forget about the other reason I was upset at the man. Forced to use the bed as support, I remove my clothing while leaving on the necklace that has been with me for over a year at this point. I wrap a hand around my Griever pendant, thinking how strange it is that my necklace always feels cold against my bare skin, but whenever I touch Seifer's choker, it feels warm despite being made of the same metal.
Arms are suddenly firm around my chest, Seifer tonguing the back of my ear before he mentions, "I want to see you. Lie down on the bed for me."
It's hard to not shiver in response to the deep inflection of his voice and even harder to refuse the simple request. His arms reluctantly slip from their hold as I move onto the bed and use the spare moment to stretch out my body. Settling on my back, I look over at the unusually quiet blond. I instantly notice a strange gleam to the green eyes that has appeared more often as of late, a gleam of thought that doesn't suit the spontaneous man. In moments like these, I can only assume that he's recalling his numerous sins and trying to convince himself that he deserves to be at my side. I couldn't care less since I'm hardly an angel myself, but it won't help Seifer for me to tell him what to think and feel. I've already told him that I want him and I have no desire to repeat myself for the sake of his guilty conscience.
Eventually done with his thoughts, Seifer smiles slightly as his eyes narrow in an expression mixed between fondness and suffering. He kneels onto the mattress and places a hand at the underside of my pregnant stomach before leaning down to kiss the scar between my eyes that he gifted to me. I hum in light approval that the dense man was starting to remember that he has claimed me as his and I have never been ashamed of that distinctive mark.
There are no need for words after that, Seifer and I knowing this game by now. His hand buried in my hair, Seifer clutched hard onto the dark strands before he initiates a relatively brutal kiss. Teeth clash in the moment before tongues intertwine with a vigor that resembles our numerous duels. It's ridiculous, really, that we can't stand to surrender for even the simplest of things in life. Hell, I don't think I could convince this bastard to let me skip a meal without a 'loving' twist of his balls.
With a groaning purr, Seifer breaks the kiss and slips down to assault my neck. Meanwhile, his free hand moves around the curve of my swollen stomach and dips lower to toy with my neglected dick. Trapped by the weight of the large blond, I can do nothing more than claw my hands at the man's upper back. At least I can take solace in the fact that this pregnancy has caused my fingernails to grow faster than usual and I've been too occupied this week to cut the damn things.
Never voicing a complaint at his battered back, Seifer continues to lightly caress my penis while he leans up and smirks at me. "Is something wrong, darling?"
I glare at the cocky bastard. "If you don't live up to your promises, then I'll break that hand of yours and let you suffer when you can't masturbate, because I know damn well that you can't do shit with your left hand."
Green eyes wide in amused surprise, Seifer eventually shakes his head and mutters sarcastically, "And you want your blade back."
My response never sounds when the man amazingly does as he's told and wraps his hand tightly around my length. I thrust as best I can into that touch, but that damn lump continues to be a bane in my life. Sensing my irritation, Seifer chuckles as he moves down lower and tongues my stretched out bellybutton as if to mock my current helpless state.
"You don't need to do anything, love. Just let me have my fun," Seifer says with a conniving smirk.
His idea of 'fun' apparently is to torment me with his tongue at my dick and the brush his calloused fingers at that special spot just behind my balls. With my hands clutching uselessly at the sheets beneath me, I remember a time when Seifer wouldn't dare to consider giving me a blowjob. After all, that would have made him a bit too gay, meanwhile fucking a man could be defended as 'mistaken identity' or some bullshit reason he had come up with in his damaged brain. But once overcoming that mental hurdle and surrendering to his sexual nature, Seifer decided to become the master in all things, including the ways to draw the most embarrassing whines from me while using nothing more than a dexterous tongue.
It doesn't take long before wandering fingers wetted with salvia slip into my anus, the once forbidden realms opening for the blond. An odd sigh escapes me, a mix of satisfaction and relief as I feel those fingers probe and stretch deep within me. Seifer responds with a deep hum of his own, the man taking me fully into his mouth at that moment. I realize too late that the bastard had planned from the beginning to help me find release first, but I don't have the mindset to care about that fact. To show my irritation, I settle with tearing the wrapped tank top from his head and tossing it aside to the far corner of the room. Seifer huffs a chuckle at the action, his mouth too full for anything else as he continues with hard suction and a rough tongue.
His fingers still stroking within me and his mouth hot around my dick, it doesn't take long before my entire body stiffens and jerks out of my control. Seifer takes all of me as he pulls back, making certain to lick every bit clean.
"Don't leave it at that," I manage in a breath, my body feeling weak from satisfaction.
Seifer grins as he sits back on his heels. "I should leave it there after what you did the last time we played."
"You were horny and I wasn't. What else was I supposed to do?"
"Well, you could've told me to fuck off and handle it myself."
"I could've, but I didn't want that."
His grin softening into something fond, Seifer rubs a hand down the underside of my thigh. "I could say that I'm not horny today, but we both know that I wouldn't be able to keep a straight face with such an obvious lie. So, how do you want to do this?"
Instead of something verbal, I roll onto my side with an arm curled under my pregnant stomach. Never a man to be slow on the uptake when it comes to sex, Seifer promptly retrieves some lube from the nightstand. As he slathers on the clear gel, he uses his other hand to gently lift my leg and cradle it against his chest. Though this is nothing new or a surprise, my heart still pounds in that moment before his hardened penis presses against me and finds its way inside of me. It's nothing painful with that first entry, but I gasp at the stretching feel and hug my stomach tightly.
"Am I hurting you?" Seifer asks breathily.
"No," I say with a light laugh at his concerned tone. "You feel good, as always."
The green-eyed man smiles before bending down to place a kiss against my expanded waistline. "You're a liar."
Knowing that he's referring to our first night of sex, I think to argue that one bad time out of hundreds doesn't mean anything, but Seifer doesn't give me that opportunity as he pulls out slightly and thrusts in deeper than before. The blond falls into an easy rhythm, something I can't really contribute to aside from tightening at the right moments to make Seifer inhale sharply from physical pleasure. His hold on my leg gradually strengthens and his fingernails dig into my skin, the small amount of pain a welcomed addition to the sensations that are already burning throughout my body. Though if the bastard doesn't finish quickly, I may find myself aroused for a second time and I'm feeling far too hot to deal with that a second time.
As if knowing my thoughts, Seifer grunts lowly as he pushes himself harder to reach that final climax. His rhythm falls apart as he jerks into me and curses under his breath about having no stamina at his old age. I could remind him that he spent the morning painting, but it'd be wasted breath on my part.
Eventually bringing his body under control, Seifer pulls out from me and grabs a pillow per his habit, tearing off the pillow case before using it to wipe himself clean. I really need to teach him to have a damned towel on hand instead of ruining my poor sheets. Dropping the pillow case to the floor, Seifer falls behind me and presses his face at the back of my neck before licking sweat from my skin.
"Thank you, my lion."
I grumble at his continued use of pet names, but it's a lost battle. When his arm wraps under my swollen stomach, I place my hand over his and squeeze tightly in my wordless statement that he doesn't have to thank me for anything. I can feel Seifer's smirk against my skin in the moment before he shifts slightly and releases a deep breath that instantly worries me.
"I already took a nap," I complain with a halfhearted attempt to roll out of the large man's hold.
"Dozing for fifteen minutes on a couch doesn't count," Seifer argues with his arm hugging me a little more strongly. "And the fact that it happened in the first place suggests that you need something more."
I growl at his irritating logic.
"Just relax, Leonhart. If you're still awake in ten minutes, I'll get up with you and make you whatever you want for lunch."
I hesitate at the offer and decide to test my options. "Even if it involves tangerines and butterscotch?"
Seifer shivers in disgust behind me, but doesn't deny the request. "If that actually appeals to you, then yes, I'll even go to town to buy all of the tangerines and pickles you want."
Frowning as I settle into place, I complain quietly, "If you bring one pickle into this house, I won't need Lion Heart to castrate you."
Without realizing that I had fallen asleep, I'm wakened by... something. I suppose 'awake' probably isn't the correct term as I can't seem to be bothered to open my eyes. Soon enough, I hear the pad of footsteps and assume that Squall had managed to sneak out of bed without me. But then I sluggishly realize that the stubborn lion is still trapped against my body and isn't moving in the slightest.
"Oh my, that's a surprise."
I jump at the familiar female voice, and once sitting up to see Dr Kadowaki standing in the doorway, I feel very naked all of the sudden. Lying on top of the bed sheets and my pants located across the hall, I'm forced to reach over the waking brunet to grab a pillow to cover myself.
Squall groans into wakefulness as he glares at me from over his shoulder. "What are you doing?"
I point in the direction of the open doorway. "We have a visitor."
Surprisingly unbothered by that declaration, Squall looks across the room at the grinning doctor. "Dr Kadowaki... aren't you a day or two early?"
The portly woman laughs lightly at the question. "No, child, I'm on time like always. I suppose it's the fault of this one that you've forgotten what day it is."
Squall only grunts in response as he awkwardly moves to the edge of the mattress. "I need a shower before you examine me," is his final comment before he steps into the bathroom and closes the door behind him, the cold-hearted bastard never thinking of rescuing me from the critical gaze of the doctor.
"So, I see that you managed to find your way here."
Forcing myself to meet her dark eyes, I relax my grip on the pillow. "How could I avoid him when you made it sound like he was fucking dying out here?"
Dr Kadowaki smiles innocently at my accusation. "I said nothing of the sort. I merely mentioned that he could use some support at this difficult time in his life."
I want to growl at this woman, I really do, but I've learned the hard way that a soldier should never piss off the person who can make your life a living Hell as easily as she could save your life.
"Are you the father?"
Her tone softer than before, I manage to hold back my typical sarcasm. "Yeah, I'm the bastard who did this to him."
Dr Kadowaki tsks lightly. "Squall himself said it was the madness of the sorceress who caused him such trouble. And while he mentioned sex with someone, he never blamed that partner for any of this. I'm sorry, Mr Almasy, but you are not at fault for this particular crime."
Not given the chance to reply, I watch as the older woman mentions something about needing to set up equipment and walks down the hallway. It takes me a moment before I get off the bed and head to the dresser in search of clean clothing. Opening the drawer, I can't help a smile at the sight that Squall has been stealing shirts from me. Idiot, I don't know why he thinks he's hiding anything.
After throwing on a shirt and baggy shorts, I make my way to the front of the house and slow to a stop when I see the equipment the woman pulls out from a large piece of luggage she had brought with her. I had expected a small bag with the typical doctor type stuff like a thermometer, tongue depressor and that heartbeat thingie, not a suitcase filled with instrumentation I've never seen before. It's more worrisome than I'm used to feeling.
"He's okay, isn't he?"
Dr Kadowaki barks out a laugh before peering at me from over her glasses. "He is pregnant, dear, and there are good number of reasons why that sort of thing should be left to women. But that aside, yes, Squall is in good health. Most of this equipment is to check on the boy growing inside of him."
Feeling completely out of my element, I nod in acceptance of the doctor's word and make my way to the kitchen. From the refrigerator, I pull out the last two tangerines and begin peeling the small fruits, grateful for the excuse to busy myself while waiting for Squall. It doesn't take much time to remove the rinds and separate the pieces onto a plate, but luckily the dark-haired gunblader finishes his shower before I'm forced to face Dr Kadowaki alone once again. Quickly spooning some butterscotch into a small cup, I place it onto the plate and head into the main room where Squall is already seated in front of the doctor.
"As promised," I announce to the robed man, Squall not hiding his surprise at the prepared treat.
"Not yet," Dr Kadowaki says as she steals the plate from me before Squall can lift a hand. "While I'm pleased to see you eating again, young man, it will have to wait until after my examination."
The brunet valiantly tries not to pout, but it's a wasted effort as he eyes the plate being set out of reach.
Dark eyes seem to glitter, never a good sign from the doctor. "Now, if you choose to cooperate properly, then we can finish this quickly and you can have your snack."
Stormy eyes narrow on Dr Kadowaki, an expression that would make a less experienced doctor fear for her life. "You are a cruel woman."
"So I've been told," she replies conversationally while pulling out a tourniquet and rack that held a syringe along with numerous vials. "Shall we begin?"
Squall sighs before holding out his right arm. As the doctor wraps the rubber band around his upper arm, the dark-haired man glares at me from over his shoulder and comments, "This is your fault."
"A-aw, and the good doc was just telling me that you didn't blame me for this. Are you calling her a liar?"
He scoffs. "I don't mean the pregnancy. Neither of us could have guessed Ultimecia's intentions back then."
I shouldn't be surprised at the absoluteness of his voice, especially after the little chat with Dr Kadowaki, but it's different to hear it directly from Squall and know that he believes it fully. "If not that, then what exactly is my fault?"
Squall scowls at me, not even wincing when the needle pierces his skin. "You made me weak."
I blink at the accusation, unable to look at this man before me and consider him 'weak'. "What the Hell is that supposed to mean?"
"You know," he says while glancing in the direction of the plate of fruit and butterscotch. "And it bothers me that I didn't wake up when Dr Kadowaki first entered the house. Not that it matters, though," Squall directs to the doctor.
"Don't worry about me, dear. I know you gave me a key out of trust and not necessity," Dr Kadowaki says while continuing her task of drawing blood from the brunet.
Stepping directly behind the couch, I place a hand in wet hair and stroke the long strands. "You're an idiot, Squally-boy, but if it makes you feel better, you go ahead and keep blaming me for that shit. And if you're lucky, I may even give you more to complain about."
Squall grimaces at the thought. "That's what I'm afraid of."
The examination continues from that point, myself standing behind the dark-haired beauty the entire time as Dr Kadowaki pokes and prods the helpless man. Eventually she moves back to her bulky luggage to retrieve a small TV monitor and sets it on the coffee table. She attaches a cord to the bottom portion of the monitor and reveals a remote-like device of sorts, the numerous lights suggesting that it does more than I can assume. First placing a copious amount of gel onto Squall's protruding stomach, Dr Kadowaki rests the device on his skin and switches on the TV, the monitor coming to life with scratchy black and white imagery.
"One moment here," the doctor mutters as she presses more buttons and adjusts the angle of the odd equipment. "A-ah, and there we are."
I squint at the monitor, not understanding how her adjustments made anything better. "What is that supposed to be?"
"Our son," Squall replies softly, amusedly. Reaching out, he points as he describes, "That's his head and an arm curled under his chin. And those are his legs. When he moves just right, you can see all of him."
Though I can somewhat decipher what the brunet can see so clearly, it's not until the little one decides to stretch his legs that I can see the fetus amongst the other white blurs against black. I inhale sharply at that moment, unable to function beyond placing a hand at Squall's shoulder and squeezing tightly. Holy Hyne in heaven, that is really a person growing inside of Squall.
"As I've reminded you numerous times, I'm not a trained obstetrician," Dr Kadowaki begins while looking at the monitor. "However, there doesn't appear to be anything unexpected here. He's almost fully formed at this point and you are in excellent health. I've already talked to you about false labor, but I'm mostly worried about the chances of premature labor. I don't know what your body will do if there was a rupture of the membranes."
Squall shrugs. "There's nothing to be done about it now. We can only hope that this spell was designed to account for everything."
"In all technicality, if we do the surgery now--"
"I wouldn't finish that suggestion if I were you," Squall warns, his voice icy and unforgiving. "I've read the books and I know all about survival rates. I want my son to have the best chance at life, even if it means risking my own."
Dr Kadowaki sighs tiredly, a clear sign that this was a constant battle between the two. "Very well, we will continue as planned, but the moment your vitals begin to deteriorate--"
"We will talk at that point in time," Squall finishes for the woman, the obstinate brunet never one to fully surrender a fight.
"Don't worry, doc," I say while ruffling damp hair. "I'm here to keep an eye on this princess. Give me your number and I'll put you on speed dial in case something happens."
Squall knocks away my hand, his glare venomous and foreboding of harsh punishment that I'm not going to like in the least.
Dr Kadowaki, meanwhile, laughs lightly as she stands from her chair. "I've always believed that you two were destined for great things, but how could I figure that a child of all things would bring you together as something other than rivals."
I grin at her assumption. "Sorry, doc, but Leonhart and I have been together long before this war bullshit. It's been... Shit, I can't remember how long it's been. What's our next anniversary again, honey?"
"Our last one," Squall mutters as he wraps his robe tightly around his body and stands up with an angry growl. "I'm going to get dressed."
Unable to temper my grin, I watch the dark-haired SeeD storm off to our bedroom, the scratched and red region of his leg visible from the fluttering of his robe. Hyne, no matter how many times I mark that lion, I still want to do it again.
"Is it true?"
I glance over to the bewildered doctor. "Come on, doc. Given my reputation, do you really think I'd admit to dating a guy?"
She hums in disapproval, her lectures about safe sex always lost on me. "Then how did it happen?"
"I watched him suck on a spoon," I say with complete sincerity. When Dr Kadowaki glares at me with a raised eyebrow, I grin and add, "What can I say - he's really good at it."
The older woman shakes her head. "Honestly, leave it to two boys to ruin any chance of romance. Well, whether you are serious or not, I'm trusting you to keep an eye on him. Hyne knows why, but he seems to respond to you. Not even his father could coax him into resting when he obviously needs it."
I briefly consider mentioning that I'm very skilled at exhausting the stormy-eyed beauty, but for Squall's sake, I decide to hold my tongue. "He's important to me," I admit to the doctor, trusting her to be silent about the matter. "I won't let anything happen to him, not anymore. So if there's something I can do to help him through this, let me know and I'll do it."
"For right now, you being here is enough. As I believe I mentioned before, Squall was suffering from depression and it was steadily growing worse," Dr Kadowaki says in a somber tone. "But today, for the first time I can recall, he seemed excited about the child within him. I can only assume that he was excited to share him with you."
I stare at the experienced doctor, words simply not an option as my mind goes completely blank. Blinking stupidly, I step away from the portly woman and eventually turn to stumble toward the bedroom I've shared with Squall for the past two weeks. The dark-haired beauty isn't hard to find, Squall still dressed in his robe while seated on the edge of the mattress with his back to the open door. His chestnut hair hangs stiffly at the back of his neck, a strong contrast to his skin that has become paler in the past months, the tan from his travels during the war lost to his more natural color. Though I know otherwise, he seems frail while seated there, his arm wrapped loosely around his stomach and a hand clutched around his Griever pendant. It reminds me a little too much of that first night I arrived here.
"I thought you were going to get dressed," I say while stepping around the bed. "You'll catch a cold like that."
Squall doesn't bite back with his typical refusal of anything that he deems condescending or coddling. Instead, he keeps his gaze focused on the carpet beneath his feet. Briefly considering that I may have managed to truly upset the lion, I cautiously lower to one knee and place a hand in damp hair to force the stoic man to look at me. His eyes are the bluest I've ever seen them, the shields of metal gray hardly visible as he meets my gaze. I can't speak staring into those eyes, all my words feeling meaningless in the face of this man's exposed emotions.
"Did you see him?" Squall asks in a near whisper.
"Do you understand how real this is?"
I can only nod in reply, unable to describe how amazing and frightening it was in that moment I recognized the impossible son growing within Squall. Impossible, but very real and incredibly small.
"I want you to stay."
It's a simple declaration, something Squall has already said before, so it shouldn't be a surprise. But now that I remember his voice telling me that he didn't want to do this without me... fucking shit, did I really not give him an answer?
Tightening my continued hold on his hair, I pull him down such that I can kiss him properly in a wordless apology for being thickheaded. Eventually drawing a reluctant whimper from the man, I nip lightly at his lower lip before leaning back and releasing my hold on dark strands. Squall watches me expectantly with hazy eyes as I pull apart his robe and reveal the scarred body beneath. Smiling fondly at the body that has changed, but is still gorgeous in my bias opinion, I bend down and place a gentle kiss at the top of his pregnant stomach.
"As long as you want me by your side, love, I'll protect both you and Isan with my life. I swear this upon whatever is left of my soul."
Squall says nothing for a tense moment, his silence not overly distressing to me. I've long ago recognized that he has the inescapable need to think through the more difficult choices in his life and nothing can be more difficult than dealing with my sorry ass. Eventually, the dark-haired man gives me his answer by placing a hand at the back of my neck and wrapping his fingers around the chain of my choker. I don't bother fighting my broad grin at his restraining hold, the move signifying both his acceptance of my pledge and his return promise that I'm not going anywhere without his direct say.
But despite his acceptance, Squall quickly maintains, "This doesn't mean that I've forgiven you for hiding my blade."
I hum amusedly as I rest a cheek against his growing belly. "I wouldn't expect anything less of Shiva's Lover. Just remember that I can't serve you properly if I'm missing an arm or a leg."
Squall scoffs, obviously not swayed by the argument.
Silence reigns for a short while as I enjoy the feel of warm skin against my face and the occasional ripple of life that brushes against my hand. It's hard not to smile and wonder what demon we've spawned between us, but given Squall's 'savior of humanity'-genes, I can't imagine his son being anything other than a good kid with a hero complex. Which, of course, means that I'm going to have my hands full with keeping both my lover and my only child out of trouble in the years to come. Hyne's prick, and I thought my life was going to be dull after surviving that war.
"I need to get dressed," Squall argues softly, but doesn't push me aside.
Deciding that the difficult brunet would be more forceful if he meant it, I settle into a more comfortable position against him. "Tell me the truth, Squally-boy - what do you think about the baby room?"
"... It's yellow."
I chuckle at his stubbornness. "I'll bet Isan will love it."
"He's going to be an infant drooling on his own clothing."
"You're going to love it, too. Trust me on that one."
Squall doesn't argue immediately, the man lost in his thoughts in the moment before he places a hand deep into my hair and plays with the blond strands. "I suppose I can live with yellow."
I purr lightly at his softly spoken words and lean up into his massaging fingers. "I hope so, love, because you're stuck with it."
"Hn, I guess I am."
My grin childish and broad, I glance up at the dark-haired beauty who has forgiven me for my idiocies time and time again. I don't deserve him, something I'm certain Rinoa and Dr Kadowaki will enjoy reminding me any chance they get, but I have him. Hyne help me, I have him despite all of my sins. And I'm not going to fuck this up this time. Squall is letting me into his life and I won't let him regret that choice. He'll regret loving me, of course, but not the rest. All I can hope is that I'm allowed to remain a part of his life... and that I get through this in one piece. If Squall threatens my manhood one more time, I'm afraid that the poor thing may retreat back into my body.
"I want my tangerines, so move already."
With the sharp contrast between his casual tone and the merciless hand clutched at my hair, I'm given enough motivation to release my hold and move aside from the lion. I sit back against the bed and watch as Squall moves to the dresser, his walk not as graceful as it was mere months ago. Though I prefer the sight of pale skin as Squall removes his robe, I watch with some amusement as he proceeds to dress in a pair of dark sweatpants and one of my favorite shirts. Unashamed with his theft, he returns to the bedside and looks down at me with his head tilted slightly, the relaxed stance giving him a younger appearance despite the aged look to his eyes.
"Are you going to make dinner tonight?"
I refrain from taking the sarcastic route with the question, afraid that the slender brunet would change his mind about a meal if I were to mock him. "Yeah, I was planning on it. Did you have a request?"
Squall folds his arms over his chest, the defensive move amusing with him dressed in a shirt far too big for him. "Do you remember how to make that egg thing you did for cooking class?"
"You mean the one with the sausage and hot sauce?"
The man nods, the dried pieces of his chestnut colored hair slipping over his eyes.
"Well, that shouldn't be too hard. I might need to go to the store for more eggs, though."
White teeth dig into his lower lip and redden the pale flesh with obvious indecision.
I grin at the unintentionally seductive sight, unable to stay away as I push up from the ground and step in front of the smaller man. Brushing aside the strands of hair from his face, I look down into eyes of azure metal. "You can't fool me, so just tell me what else you want."
"Cantaloupe? Well okay, that's certainly a little random, but I guess I can pick one up while getting the eggs."
"No, I mean... Instead of sausage, can you do it with cantaloupe?"
I really shouldn't be surprised, especially when I gave him a plate of tangerines and butterscotch hardly an hour ago, but really... It's hard to not laugh. Actually, it's almost fucking impossible. I grab his hand and press my lips at his knuckles to suppress the urge before I'm able to respond, "Whatever you desire, princess."
Though the intelligent man must recognize that I'm on the edge of laughing at him, Squall chooses to ignore it. Instead, his pout lips curl into a simple smile of childlike satisfaction, an expression that greatly contradicts this complex and difficult man. And while I will always respect Squall as a skilled rival and as the person who saved the world from Ultimecia, I think this is the man I first fell in love with, the man who couldn't boil water and failed at hiding his disappointment about that fact.
Worried that my thoughts will cause me to say something very stupid, I release my hand from his and nod my head in the direction of the door. "Dr Kadowaki is probably waiting for you. I think you left before she was done with her lectures. And while you're doing that, I can run to the store and be back before you miss me too much."
Squall scoffs lightly, "Who would miss you?"
I shrug at the question, and then mention hopefully, "You did."
Blue-gray eyes go silent in that moment, Squall abruptly turning his back to me as he crosses his arms over his chest. Walking away from me, he eventually pauses at the the doorway and places a steadying hand on the frame. "I'm not going to miss you a second time."
The dark-haired man doesn't wait for my response, Squall stepping quickly into the hallway and out of sight before I can process what had been said in that somber tone of his. I unconsciously reach for my choker and lightly finger the edge of the metal plate while my eyes remain focused on the empty doorway. I briefly think about our lives spent together - two kids left unwanted in an orphanage, a couple of naive boys who held gunblades in callous-free hands, young soldiers drawn into a war that should've been left to more experienced men - and with those thoughts, I realize that I can't imagine my future without Squall involved.
My hand wrapped around silver, I smirk to myself and say to the empty room, "Don't worry, Squally-boy. Even if you regret it, I won't give you the chance to miss me again. You're just going to have to suffer with your choice of bringing me back into your life."
My promise made, I follow in Squall's footsteps to the doorway and plan a quick grocery list in my head. It's a gamble, really, as his tastes seem to change every day, but I've already learned the hard way that it's better to have some of his stable favorites on hand. After all, I wouldn't have hidden Lion Heart without feeling a true threat to my life.
And with that thought in mind, I add mini-bagels to my mental list. Don't ask me why they are different from normal sized bagels. All I know is that I have the scar to prove that one cannot be substituted for the other and I'll never make that mistake again.
Author's Whining -- This is a request piece that Gnome sent me a good three or four years ago, something that she has reminded me about ever since. With it being her birthday and given her guilt trip to those of us who couldn't buy tickets to Australia for her birthday bash, I decided to go ahead and fulfill this request of hers. Hopefully it's close to what you were thinking, Gnome, and have a great one even though most of us are thousands of miles away.
Gnome's request... rather a piece of motivation she sent back in 2003. I haven't a clue where the original request is located. ^^;
Hehe, couldn't help myself...but I doubt that I'll be doing a fic with Irvine and Zell getting a hold of a bottle of ice-magic. Isan and Seveyn on the other hand *smirks*