Living Life
November 2002

 

[Part One]

[Isan]

What is it about extra sleep that makes the day that much brighter?  Walking down the boardwalk of the small fishing town, I take my sweet time to enjoy the smell of the surf and the feel of the late morning breeze.  For the past couple weeks of 'vacation', I've been helping out Aunt Fujin and Uncle Raijin on one of their fishing boats, which meant waking up earlier than I'm certainly used to and getting to work on ropes and pulleys before the brain could barely reach the functional level.  At least once we made it out to sea it was worth the early wakeup call.

But today the three of us stayed on shore since my parents should be by at any moment to treat us all to lunch and then take me back home.  A sort of payback for leaving me here while they could spend the rare chance of 'quality time' together.  As if they didn't spend almost every day together to begin with, but how could I resist my father's childish pleas. 

With Esthar Garden under heavy maintenance for these last two weeks, everyone had been forced out of the place that was home to many.  Dad was grinning ear to ear at the thought of no responsibilities for the short time period, demanding that he and Mom get time alone far away from Esthar.  And so, I had the choice of going to another Garden, as many students had to do, or else spend time with one of several aunts and uncles.  It wasn't a hard decision to come here since I see little of the one-eyed woman and her large, kindhearted husband.  That, and I can never get too much of the sea.

"Such a fucking girl!"

Stopping in place, I look for the source of the voice, but don't see anyone in view beyond a few women out shopping.  Most everyone else of the small town are the fishing type and should be out to sea by now.

"Shut up, you dumb ass.  Do you want..."  I can't hear the rest of the words, the second voice much quieter than the first.

"He's just a queer.  Who'd care?"

Well, so much for a lazy morning.  I turn from the boardwalk onto the pier and walk down about halfway before jumping to the beach below.  Only a few meters ahead of me under that pier are three men in perhaps their mid-twenties that surround a figured curled defensively in the sand.  They get in a couple more kicks before noticing my entrance.

"What the fuck do you want, kid?  Get out of here."

"Oh, sorry about that.  Thought you were calling for me earlier."  I smile at the confused faces.  "So you aren't looking for a fag to fight with?"

"What are you, this guy's boyfriend or something?  I'd go skipping back home if I were you."

"Nah, don't know the guy, but you've certainly caught my eye."  And I wink at the man.

The punch that comes at me is pathetically slow and unbalanced.  It's an easy matter to grab his wrist and pull his body into my raised knee, the squeaky exhale of air making me smirk.  Have to give the other two credit for leaping to the rescue of their friend, but that's about it for them.  With a couple well placed punches, one of the idiots is left with wet pants and the other will need about ten minutes to get his breathing back to normal.  Still able to move their feet however, the threesome slink off, the noisier one of the group yelling back something about next time.  Whatever.

Turning around, I find the target of pointless hate now kneeling hunched over.  Long white hair full of sand and bits of dried seaweed covers his face, so I can't tell his reaction to the beating.  Bending down on one knee, I try to sneak a peek of his face.

"Hey, you okay?"

He pulls an arm closer to his body.  "I'll be fine, thank you."

The words sound too dead for comfort.  I risk placing fingers in the thin strands of hair, and when he doesn't react badly, I draw back the lengths over his shoulder.  The fair skin is dusty and scratched, the corner of his mouth puffy from a blow to his face.  Even so, I can tell he is a very attractive person.  Fucking idiots, probably thought him gay only because of the rather feminine features he bears.  Glancing downward, I notice that his hand is bending in a direction that it shouldn't.

"We better get you to a doctor."

He shrugs away from me and stands on his own power, his back to me.  "I heal fast.  Don't worry about it."

"Even if you have cure spells, you shouldn't use it on a break like that.  It needs to be set first."

"It's nothing.  Thanks again."

I resist a laugh when the injured man walks away carefully along the shifting sand.  Given my family, I'm all too used to the 'I am fine' lines and when to recognize the understatement of the truth.  Standing up, I stretch briefly before walking quickly along the other side of the pier.  We meet face to face on the boardwalk.

"The doctor is in the other direction."

He looks up, giving me the first clear glance into stunning reddish purple eyes.  "And I'm going this way."

"Why?"

His expression is one of frustration more than anger.  "I just don't care for doctors, all right?  Can I go now?"

"You know, the doctor here is great.  Treated my uncle for a leg that was broken in two spots and he had nothing to complain about.  Ended up giving the poor doc a big hug for being gentle, but I think that might have been the drugs working."

A pale eyebrow raises in a 'I care why?' type of statement before he attempts to sidestep me.  Reflexively I grab for his shoulder to stop him, earning a sharp gasp in response that makes me release him immediately.

"Shit, I didn't mean to do that."

"It's fine," he says before continuing to walk past me, but then stops a moment later while focused on something behind me.

"There you are, you damn brat," comes a deep voice.

Turning, I smile at the approach of my parents.  "Give me a break.  I bet you've been looking for maybe ten minutes."

"Try eleven.  We could be making our orders now, but no, we have to hunt down your sorry ass."

"Hey, you're the one that left me here so that you could have Mom all to yourself."

The smirking blonde says something under his breath, receiving a deadly glare from the smaller brunette.  Yep, not knowing should be a safe option this time around.

"That's... Headmaster Leonhart and Commander Almasy of Esthar."

Smiling, I look at the relatively wide-eyed guy.  "That they are."

"Then..." he shifts his gaze to me, "you are Isan Almasy?"

"At your service.  And you would be...?"

He just stares at me dazedly as if not believing that I could be real.  This is one of my most hated issues with being the 'son of legends', but sometimes it has its perks as well.

"What happened?"

I look up at my mother's voice, the twosome now stopped in front of us.  "Just some assholes showing their lack of worth in the world.  This guy got pretty badly beaten up, though.  Trying to get him to see the doctor for his wrist, but says he doesn't care for them."

Without word or warning, Mom takes the damaged arm in hand and examines it.  "Looks clean enough.  This will hurt."  And he snaps the bone back into place, only a loud breath coming from the surprised white haired youth.  With a confused hurt look, Mom shakes out his own hand.

"You okay, Squall?"

"Yeah.  Got a shock or something.  How about you, boy?"

He nods his head.

After rescanning the wrist, Mom casts what I assume as Curaga, the blue magic flowing over various wounds and quickly healing them.  "That should do it."

Taking his hand back, he bows slightly.  "Thank you.  I wish there was something--"

"My pleasure," Mom interrupts with a dismissing wave of the hand.  "Isan, your aunt and uncle are waiting.  We should get going."

"Ah, right.  I'll meet up with you in a sec."

"Don't keep us waiting too long, kiddo.  We've worked up an appetite over the past two weeks."

"Seifer..."

Grinning, Dad offers an arm to the smaller man, which Mom promptly refuses by pitching the arm to get it out of his way and then walking in the direction of the restaurant.  A practiced pout of hurt on his face, Dad follows quickly after while mumbling something about the quick change in attitude.

"So, are you okay now?"

Massaging his wrist, he nods.  "It feels completely healed, and nothing else hurts anymore.  But--"

"You heard the man.  Don't worry about it.  And I didn't get a reply before - what's your name?"

"...Seveyn."

"It's too bad we didn't meet under different terms, Seveyn.  I didn't realize that there were more people my age around here."

He looks up at me a bit numbly, but who can blame him after all he's been through this morning.  At least the wide-eyed reverence of before was gone, replaced with a more aloof gaze.

"Well, if you're ever in Esthar, visit the Garden there and ask for me.  Who knows, maybe we'll have something in common."

A small smile forms, his whole expression brightening.  "Maybe.  Thank you again for all your help."

"No prob."

I stand there longer than I intended, watching Seveyn walk away in the direction my parents had come from.  The white hair, though still messed from the beating before, flows softly in the breeze as it brushes against his lower back.  One could mistaken him for a woman this way except for the strong stride in opposition to his apparently shy nature.  With closed eyes, I think of his face, youthful and yet there was a strange kind of maturity that shouldn't have been there for one his age.  That is, if I assumed correctly that he is within a year or two of my own sixteen years.

With a sigh, I force myself to turn from the view and hurry towards the restaurant since a smart person doesn't leave the infamous Seifer Almasy hungry for long.


[Squall]

Though the glaring clock tells me it's hours before a reasonable hour, I wake up feeling good.  Too good, actually.  Though still hazy from just waking, I manage to take off the worn boxers I favor sleeping in, the brush of cloth against a beginning erection making me inhale sharply.  Rolling over, I place a hand on Seifer's bare chest and lightly trail fingers along his skin before sneaking my hand into his shorts.  I stroke his penis for a long minute before he shifts and groans.

"Squall, if this is a cruel attempt to wake me up for work..."

Can't blame him for wondering that since I have done it before.  Many times.  Pressing against his body without losing the slow rhythm of my hand, I stretch out to kiss him, a clumsy attempt in the darkness.  Seifer hums his content against my lips and a large hand moves under me to cup and squeeze a cheek of my ass.  The kiss deepens and I start to grind against his hip along with the tempo of the hand job, everything still kept mellow and slow under the haze of sleep and pleasure.

Eventually I break the joining of lips and roll to my other side so I can have the position I want.  After a spared moment to rid himself of boxers, his arms come around my chest and Seifer pulls me into a spooning position while kissing along my lower neck.  Hyne, even now it amazes me how warm his body is against my skin.  Hooking my leg back over his, I fumble briefly for his arousal.  After a few strong strokes to entice a deep groan from the man, I guide the hardened member to where I need it most.  It hurts some from perhaps too little preparation and no lubrication, but the ecstasy is worth that minor pain.

He thrusts slowly in and out of me, keeping the same languorous pace as before.  There are no real words for how it feels, this physical connection between us making me ache with emotion every time.  Tonight it seems especially painful with the mix of pleasure, low burning passion, and the silent declaration of love.  I can barely remember the time when I thought love couldn't last, but it's been over sixteen years since he left me last and if anything, our need for each other has only grown.

"Seifer..."

He hums pleased against my neck, hearing the words that I don't have the breath or focus to form at this moment.  One of his hands drifts from my chest, but I quickly grab it to stop his intention.  I only want to feel the bond between us and nothing else but the bliss from that connection.  Sensing the pressure within me, I know it shouldn't be long anyhow. Seifer's thrusts into me gain a harsher intensity, telling me that he is close as well.  All it takes is one well placed thrust and orgasm takes over my existence, filling every living cell with electric pleasure.

It takes longer than normal to regain my sense of self from that overpowering bliss.  I hear Seifer breathing deeply as he holds me tight and his softened member left within me, still radiating warmth into my body.

Puffs of heated breath brush against my skin when he laughs quietly.  "And you said that you wouldn't be able to live through another fuck for at least a month."

"Then make it two months."

"It wasn't me who started this tonight, so why should I be punished?" he asks in a mock hurt tone.

I don't reply, sleep already threatening to retake me into her arms.

"Say, I've got a stupid question..."

"Hn?" I ask at his hesitation.

"Where am I...?  In you, that is."

Half asleep, I struggle with the question for a few moments before understanding strikes me and all remnants of sleep fly from my mind.  Tearing his arms off of me, I move forward, his dick sliding out from me, from where it shouldn't have been.  Seifer attempts to grab hold of me, but I dodge the large hands and run from the bedroom and into the bathroom.  I lock the closed door, a pounding fist soon connecting with the solid metal.  I ignore Seifer's calls as I lean petrified against the door.  Gradually I'm able to move a hand to my crotch and carefully feel the area behind my penis.  At the light touch of loose skin moist from sex, the strength leaves my legs and I slide to the floor.

This can't be happening.  I'd happily call it a dream if it weren't for the coldness of the bathroom floor on my skin.  Even so, this can't be happening.  It's been nearly seventeen years, so why tonight of all nights does the spell reactivate itself?  It's insane, impossible, and just isn't happening to me.

"Damn it, Leonhart!  Talk to me here!"

Pulling my knees to my chest and hugging my legs, I try to force myself to calm down from panic.  Just because... this happened, it doesn't mean I'm pregnant.  Maybe.  But we never were able to figure out which spell exactly the sorceress had used on me, or even if she had done it correctly.  I suppose there is the possibility that it cycles.

"Squall..."

Hyne, I don't think I can do this again.  Isan is the pride in my life, but I have to believe that he was a rare chance.  Always so accepting of what he was and has never been upset at fate for the strange set of cards he was given.  Has never been upset at us for giving him a difficult life.  I love him so much, and I don't know if there is enough within me to love a second child like that. 

But... if I am pregnant, I'll go through it once more.  I can't take an innocent life after so many have been lost by my hand.  And the chance of losing a child like Isan is as equally painful as being impregnated once more.

The pounding and yells have ended some time ago, Seifer probably back in bed by now, trying to get some sleep despite his frustrated state.  From the cabinet, I pull out a couple large towels.  Using one as a blanket and another as a pillow, I lie back on the tiled floor though I know I won't get much sleep if any tonight.  First thing in the morning, I should visit the infirmary and Dr Takamura, a man highly recommended years ago by Dr Kadowaki when Esthar Garden was being built.  He knows all about my previous condition, more so to understand Isan's special case that may interfere with standard treatments.  And while I trust the intelligent and iron willed man with my life, I'm certain he'll find this event far too interesting for my like.

Sighing, I place a hand on my stomach and close my eyes tightly in one last hope that this is merely a dream or illusion.  I hate being pregnant.


[Isan]

Still not quite awake even after the shower, I groan at the sound of loud knocking and drag myself out of my room.  Pressing the button to release the lock on the front door of the suite, I'm confronted with the view of one unhappy man.  It's all I can do to not smile.

"What'd you do to Mom this time?"

"Don't even start with me, kid."

Moving aside, I let him into the dorm room.  "Lee should be done any minute now.  He made up some coffee, and it looks like you could use the boost."

A grunt is all I get in reply, but I know how much he needs his 'morning cup of heaven'.  I personally go with Mom's view that it looks and tastes like mud, but my roommate always makes a bit extra just in case.  Since he can't stand the cafeteria's coffee, Berkeley stole an old coffeemaker from his home along with four mugs.  Wonder if his mother ever figured out just which of her seven children took the stuff.

I hand the man a cup of steaming black coffee.  "I've always been curious why he locks himself in the bathroom."

He sighs after a long sip of the dark liquid.  "I'm disappointed in you.  Haven't you being paying attention in your courses?"

"Hn?"

"It's a fucking strategic point.  With running water, he could hole up in there for days if he really felt like it.  Not to mention it causes me the most irritation, aside from locking me out of the whole apartment."

Shaking my head, I realize that I should've known rules of war apply within their relationship. 

Abruptly the bathroom door slides open, Berkeley rubbing a towel roughly in his short black hair.  He stops in place when he sets eyes on my father and tries vainly not to smile.  "Uh, Commander.  Didn't know you were showing up this morning."

Dad glares at him with a look that dares the younger man to try and say another word.  Apparently appeased at ridding the smile from Berkeley's face, Dad goes into the bathroom with the coffee cup still in hand.

"I'm proud of you, Lee - you didn't flinch this time."

He laughs weakly.  "That's because I was frozen solid from fear.  Man, what happened this time?"

I shrug.  "He didn't say.  It's been almost a whole year, though."  Since he can't stand others knowing his business, Dad always comes to my dorm room for a shower instead of the general use one next to the training center.  With Berkeley as my roommate since I first started SeeD training, we're the only ones aside from Mom that know of the typically bi-annual 'lockout from the bathroom' fight.

"Normal 2-1 odds, and I put 200 gil on him forgetting an anniversary."

"Whatever.  Mom has a worse memory than Dad, so I doubt that one.  400 gil that he tried to get some action despite their fourteen days of fun."

He winces.  "How can you even think of your parents like that?"

"Trust me, live most of your life with them and it's hard not to."

He laughs with a shake of his head.  "Riiight, too much info."

"So, where were you last night?"

A wide smile forms.  "Nuala's roommate won't be back until this afternoon, so I spent some extra time with her last night."

"Oh?  Did you finally get past the clothes boundary this time?"

He scoffs.  "Give me a break.  Just because you have the looks to get any girl you want...  Nevermind.  So, how was your vacation?"

"I can't complain.  Spent the majority of my time on the ocean.  Also met a guy."

"You... met a guy.  Why don't I like the sound of that?"

"Come on, you know I'm bi."

"So you say.  Only seen you with the ladies, though."

"I've dated guys, just no one I'd care to showoff.  And you have to admit that mainly the ugly, butch types find their way into Gardens.  Male or female."

"Alright, I'll give you that," he says before stepping into his room, returning moments later with a laptop in hand.  "I've got to run to class.  See you at lunch?"

"Nope.  I have the cavern test today, and then we're meeting my Granddad for dinner.  Doubt I'll be back until late."

"You know, it still amazes me how you call the most powerful people in the world Granddad, Dad, and for goodness sake, Mom.  How many months was the Commander locked out of the house for that one?"

I shrug.  "Too young to remember.  And you had better get going before Instructor Koenig fulfills her threat of slicing off something important for being tardy one more time this semester."

He glances at his watch.  "Shit!  Why didn't you tell me it was this late?"

With Berkeley gone, I get barely a minute to myself before Dad steps out of the bathroom, looking only a bit more refreshed than when he first showed up.  Putting the empty coffee cup on the table, he straightens out to stretch.  Looks like he had a long night.

"Let's get going, kiddo.  The sooner we finish this, the sooner I can have a little chat with your mother."


[Seifer]

Resisting a yawn, I trail behind Isan as we head towards the training area, mildly wondering when the hell he got so tall, and if he dare grows over another four inches, I'll officially disown him.  Then again, from his point of view that'll probably only be a bonus.  The kid is unusually silent during the short walk, already focusing his energy into the upcoming fight.  So much like his mother in that sense.

Thinking of whom, Squall had better be more open to discussions once I get back from this.  I know something wasn't quite right with that delicious act of physical bonding last night.  And while it should be impossible, I recognized the strange angle and feel from a lifetime ago.  It took me awhile with my mind thrown from sleep straight into sexual bliss, but I noticed the difference.  And fuck, I didn't expect Squall to freak out over the possibility that I had--

"Hey, Commander."

Blinking, I focus onto smoky green eyes narrowed with amusement.  "What?"

He nods to the side and the Garden faculty member waiting impatiently for a reply to a question I didn't hear, forget not even realizing we had already walked this far.  Well, I've done this enough times so I can guess what the question was about.

"Right, I'm going to watch his ass through the test."

The hooded faculty member shakes his head.  "Very well.  Based on your previous tests, you are to travel in the Night Cavern and defeat Diablos.  How much time do you choose?"

"Twenty minutes."

So much like his mother in all the wrong ways.  "Cadet, you do realize there are no penalties for choosing a longer amount of time."

He looks back at me, a familiar smile on his lips.  "Twenty is enough."

"Commander Almasy, as in previous trails, we request that you hold back with your aid in battles."  The tone is firmer than times before, but then I've never walked through the caverns with my son testing.  Of course they wouldn't understand the reality that being my son will only make me expect more of Isan.

The door to the caverns slides open, Isan starting forward in a sprint.  Sighing at the lack of time for a slower pace, I run after the young man to better watch his back.  Have to hand it to the Estharian engineers for creating such lifelike caverns for the mere purpose of training and testing.  Ice, Fire, and Night Caverns for three of the primary guardian forces Shiva, Ifrit, and Diablos.  Not shabby whatsoever, and all the newer or remodeled Gardens have these rooms, but of course our Garden was the first.

It's strange watching Isan fight his way through the monsters, never calling back for my help.  His style certainly resembles mine with its aggressive edge and the touch of flare.  Only occasionally does he use both hands on the dark gunblade of his, a bad habit from his mother.  While I have been his primary instructor for the gunblade, Squall couldn't resist the chance of dueling another blade user.  And certain things simply flow through our common blood - the need to fight in order to prove just how alive we are.

We make it to the far corner of the dimly lit room in good time, the summoned Diablos looking rather bored while waiting for our approach.  Noticing us, the demon straightens to its full height and spreads its wings out wide in the attempt to intimidate.  Isan doesn't appear bothered, quickly settling into a ready position for the real battle of the caverns.  I take my place next to him, prepared to fight the demon for easily the fiftieth time, though it's rarely been with my own students.  Most potential gunbladers have escaped from my training techniques either by taking up a new weapon or else transferring to another Garden.

Isan moves first, the swipe of the dark blade and pull of the trigger timed perfectly.  Diablos flinches just enough to show it's been injured, but we still have a long way to go until this ends.  Before I can start the words for a shielding spell, the demon attacks the one who caused the slight wounding.  Lengthy claws slash downward, abruptly slowed by the wall of a barrier that I know no one placed.  I stare stunned at Isan, the prepared spell forgotten.

A deep, sickening laugh echoes in the fake walls of the cavern.  "Ah, so the child has grown this much.  Show me.  Show me why I should bother to let you live."

Something resonates within the boy then, and he dashes forward to cause easily twice the damage as before.  I feel a bit out of place at that point, taking a step back from the battle before me.  In a strange way, I think I saw this coming, the true potential of the so-called Ultimate Knight.  Hell, both Squall and I think him too strong for his age and experience, but now I almost feel like he's been playing with us all this time.  Blue light of a curing spell shines around the young man, making his face visible for a brief time.  I smile then, recognizing the pure determination within his expression.  Sighing, I place Hyperion back into its holster and relax against a near wall to watch the fight.

He's grown up, the lion cub.  The kid bears the same messed hair that isn't as long as Squall favors it, but otherwise he took more after my genes.  He's several inches taller than his mother, and certainly has a heavier frame like mine but not very broad shouldered.  Maybe with age.  The idiot also got my arrogance, but at least he has the strength to back up that attitude.  And watching every stroke of Mor-uial, I wonder if he has more strength than even he realizes.

The battle ends with barely a minute to spare, Diablos conceding the victory to Isan and vanishing into dark mist.  The young man looks to be shaking from exhaustion, but he still manages to walk before me, his smirk one of conquest.

"Told you twenty minutes was enough."

I scoff.  "Haven't you ever heard of safety buffers?  Idiot.  And don't think you can distract me from what I just saw."

His smile tones down a degree.  "Too much to hope for?"

"Upstairs.  Now."

He nods warily, my young boy replacing the warrior of moments before.

I ruffle his hair and shove him towards the exit.  "Let's go, brat.  Your mother will be proud to hear you passed the first round of SeeD testing."


[Squall]

There's the smell of brownies before I even open the door to our suite, which instantly makes me suspicious.  Seifer always manages to use food to his advantage, and I'm not quite certain I can handle that at this moment.  Sometimes I regret insisting on a kitchen when Esthar Garden was being built, but then I remind myself of the cadet days of cafeteria food.  Unlocking the door, I'm overwhelmed by the chocolaty smell that makes me hungry when I'm certain wasn't a moment earlier.  A few steps into the suite, I find Seifer and Isan sitting at the table with brownies in hand.

"We're eating with Dad in a couple hours, so don't fill up on that." They start a little at the sight of me, knowing they were caught in the act of snacking before a meal. 

"Hyne, Squall.  Where've you been all morning?"

"... ..."

His eyes narrow, not happy with the lack of reply.  But then he glances down at our son, his expression warming.  "Well, I've got some good news and bad news.  Want to tell him the good news, kiddo?"

"I passed the Night Cavern test," he says with a brownie filled smile that makes him look years younger.

Shit, I had forgotten all about the test today due to other things.  "Congratulations.  You trained hard for it."

Sefier grins.  "And the bad news is that I lost the bet."

I raise an eyebrow at the statement.  "Under twenty minutes, hmm?  Impressive."

Isan shakes his head.  "Is there anything you two don't bet about when it comes to me?"

"Not much, kiddo.  And yes, it was impressive.  A bit too impressive if you ask me.  Care to explain how you were able to use commands limited to higher level GFs?"

I look at Seifer, silently questioning his words.

"The battle with Diablos.  Our son was using abilities such as auto-protect, counter, recover, and others when he shouldn't be allowed access to the demons with those powers.  This isn't to mention the higher attack power I've never seen him use before."

Glancing at the boy, he looks about ready to curl in a corner once given the chance.  "Isan, come over to the couch."  I go ahead of him, relieved at the chance to be sitting down, but before that I turn and hold my surprised son close.  "No matter what, my love for you will never change," I say quietly into his ear.  Such expressions of affection still makes me feel awkward, but I know how much the words are important to the boy.

He releases a relieved laugh while returning the hug.  "Thanks, Mom."

"Now," I pull back from him and take a seat on the couch.  "Anything you want to tell us."

Sighing, he plops down onto the cushions.  "I... I didn't mean to hide anything.  It's a recent thing.  You know I've just started into the GF courses and, well, I can't junction."

Seifer scoffs, taking his place behind me on the armrest.  "Didn't look that way to me."

"It's not so much can't, but I don't need to.  That power, their strength... it's just there for me to use.  All that stuff about sorting in your mind what you can use, I don't understand it since I can draw on most anything I want without all that trouble."

I nod, almost relieved to hear this.  We've been waiting to figure out why the sorceress would risk impregnating me and keeping me alive long enough to give birth to a child that would take years to mature to usefulness.  But now I think we are getting a glimpse of the power she desired to control.

"As for summoning...  It's like the GFs are ready to come whenever I need them, and all I have to do is think about it.  They also kind of stay longer than normal."

"What do you mean by 'longer'?"

"Come on, Seifer.  He's been doing that since an infant."  When the two set of green eyes stare at me in confusion, I continue.  "Already forgot about Carbuncle?  What was that name he used... Carby, I think?"

"Holy shit, it was that flee bag GF?  I thought Carby was a toy from Laguna."

"Mom?"

I smile at the memories.  "You may not remember, Isan, but at times I'd find you in your crib and later your bed curled up with Carbuncle.  Whenever you felt afraid, mostly.  I haven't seen the little thing since you were five."  Ah.  When I told him that being too different makes people fear you.  How quickly he learned about the things that set him far apart from his peers, learning to ignore those powers and strengths.  I wonder how strong he would be now if he had been trained from the beginning to exploit his abilities.

Seifer sighs.  "So, now what?"

"It's not for another couple months until the final SeeD examination.  Isan, I think you should start figuring out what exactly your limits are with these abilities.  I don't need to hear about you passing out in the middle of a battle because you went too far."

He nods, smiling with that lopsided grin that reminds me of Seifer before a challenge.  Like father, like son, and I know I'm going to have gray hairs before I'm forty despite Laguna's apparent everlasting youth.

"Well, that was our big announcement..."  Seifer lets the sentence hang, knowing full well that I should have my own announcement to make.

Taking a deep breath, I focus on Isan.  "As your father is implying, I have my own news.  It appears that you are going to be having a brother or sister."

"What?!"  A hurt look must cross my face since a smile quickly replaces his look of shock.  "No, I mean wow.  But I thought...  You know..."

"That I couldn't get pregnant again?  Well, looks like I was wrong."  A warm hand rests on my neck, trying to massage some of the tension away.  Seifer is silent for the moment, but I know his enthusiasm will eventually show through.  For whatever the reason, he enjoyed the idea of me pregnant before, yet at the same time he hated himself for missing most of it.  This time he'll be suffering with me from day one, even though he never seemed to consider my treatment of him as suffering.

"This is so cool.  I've always been kind of jealous about Lee and Nuala having kid brothers and sisters.  Just let me know what I can do to help, Mom."

Seifer laughs.  "You say that now, but wait another few months."

"Like you should talk," I grumble.

"Don't worry, I love you no matter how bitchy you get."  The large man leans over to kiss the top of my head.

Resisting a growl at the condescending treatment, I stand up from the couch.  "We might as well head into Esthar.  Dad won't mind if we're early."

"Whoo, hope the old man doesn't have a heart attack when he hears this news.  You might have to take over as president for him."

"... ..."  The next nine months are going to kill me, if not Seifer first.


I wonder at what point in our relationship did touching Seifer become more comfortable than being separated.  It's nice like this, the larger man sitting with his leg extended out on the couch and myself sitting in front of him, lying relaxed against his body.  The tray of brownies is within reach, though I haven't been able to taste much of anything today.  Instead I savor the feel of Seifer's warm hands on my stomach.  For the past half hour or so, we've been just sitting here in silence as he lets me recover from the dinner in Esthar.

Dad was ecstatic at the announcement of another grandchild on the way.  He offered the vacation home I had lived in for several months last time, as well as the medical facilities of the presidential building for when the time draws close.  I feel a bit guilty for ruining Isan's victory today in the caverns test, but he seems both pleased and shocked at the idea of a brother or sister.  In reality, I don't think the idea has quite hit him yet.

"So," Seifer says to break the silence.

"So?"

"What's the plan?"

"I don't know."

He laughs.  "You've been thinking about it all day.  You can't tell me you haven't come up with something."

"... I think I'm going to resign as Headmaster."  Being both Headmaster and caring for an infant wasn't easy all those years ago, and while Esthar Garden runs much smoother now than it did at the beginning, I sincerely doubt I could handle the dual responsibilities.  No matter what, I'll have to take about a year off for when my pregnancy would be visible in addition to some time to care for the baby.  I might as well retire with that being the case.  I already have my replacement lined up in case of my death, so technically I could leave now if I really felt like it, but I would rather spend a few months to help her get a good feel of the position.

"That's fine.  I've been ready for retirement since I was ten."

"Seifer--"

"I'm not leaving you, Squally-boy.  I'm only here because you wanted me as Commander."

"... ..."  I smile faintly, though ashamed at myself for being happy about his absolute loyalty to me.  Seifer still hasn't a clue about how far he has gone beyond the punk kid of long ago.  He has kept his word, making Almasy a respected name.  And yet I doubt he even realizes that the SeeD soldiers under his command would gladly die for him.  It hurts to know how little he thinks of himself, despite the typical cocky words and actions.

"But what happens a year or two from now?  You know you'll get bored."

"... ..."  A frown replaces my smile as I set eyes on the binder left on the kitchen table.  Laguna has certainly been getting more persistent over the years, and with the elections coming fall of next year, he's gone all out.  Polls showing my apparent popularity with Estharian citizens, graphs displaying the productivity of the Garden under my leadership, and even random comments from other leaders across the world declaring their interest in working with me.

"Try speaking out loud, Squall."

"Why does he harass me about this?"

"It probably has something to do with the fact that you haven't been convincing in your refusals.  You're just too afraid to admit that the idea interests you.  Or rather, you like the idea of serving the people you weren't able to completely protect all those years ago."

"... We've been together too long."

There's a quiet chuckle.  "Since you have never refused a contract from the Estharian government, it's quite simple to assume you hold a bias for that country."

I sigh, feeling frustrated.  "He's going to convince me while I'm pregnant and vulnerable, isn't he?"

"Probably.  The old man only appears the bumbling innocent, but we know better."

"Don't you dare tell my father before I'm ready."

"And when will that be, hmmm?" he asks, sounding far too amused.

"You aren't helping, Advisor."

"Hey, just wait a minute here.  Why do I always have to get jobs that are glorified titles for being your lackey?"

"So I can keep an eye on you.  Obviously."

He scoffs.  "Obviously."

"Seifer."

"Hn?"

"I don't want to be pregnant."

"I know.  But just think of all the pampering you'll get this time around."

"You. Will. Not. Tell. Anyone."

"Heh, sorry, Squally-boy.  Should've told me before I called up Selphie while Laguna kept you busy.  That girl comes up with party ideas at the drop of a hat, doesn't she?  By the way, she'll get back to us about the baby shower."

Groaning, I curl tighter into his body and hide my face in a large pillow.  Why does fate hate me this much?

 

{Continued}

 

Author's Whining - Well, there it is.  The first chapter.  For those curious, no, Squall did not randomly get pregnant.  Well, kind of, but I have my ways.  As for why, Squall is 34 yrs at this point in the story, so he could still easily handle any problem that I decide to come up with for Isan.  Knocking up Squall was the simplest way to make both him and Seifer too occupied for that, thus leaving it to the lion cub who will eventually take the leading role in all of this.  Just taking my time to set things up.

Huggles to Miss Dincht for being my enthusiastic beta.  BTW, she just put up her own site, and it's about time! ^_-