No Matter How Long
November 2003

 

[Squall]

If there is one satisfying thing about this monster of a building, it's the beauty of the old fashioned doors used in the guest rooms.  Doors that slam very nicely as I've discovered over the past few weeks.  And so, when I return to the room, I make certain to abuse that feature.

"Fucking Hyne, Squall.  Don't do that to me."

My mood lightens somewhat as I look towards the bed where a sleep rumpled Seifer relaxes out of his defensive position from on top the mattress.  Without time to spare, he falls back onto messed sheets and lazily stretches out his body clad in only faded boxers.  The thin knife in his hand is returned to some hidden spot along the mattress edge, a habit of his from too much time wasted on the run.  As I eye the fresher scars lining his body, my thoughts shift to the few stories I managed to drag out of the blond about that wasted year, and my vague smile easily turns into a sterner expression.  Stupid bastard, not trusting me to keep him safe.

"Sooo, I take it your appointment didn't go well?"

Blinking out of my thoughts, I look up into half-lidded green eyes, Seifer already looking about ready to fall back asleep.  With a glare, I ask him, "Why are you still in bed?"

He grins lazily.  "Wanna join me?"

"It's almost noon."

The smile widens as he lifts the covering sheet in an offering manner.  "You say that as if it would make a difference."

I hesitate, but unfortunately succumb to his odd logic.  How can this man make the unreasonable sound like a decent idea?  And I swear that I wasn't feeling tired only five minutes ago.  But before I can get onto the mattress, he sits up and stops me.

"Nuh-uh, clothes off."

"Seifer, it's the middle of the day."

"And?"

"... ..."

Green eyes bright, he moves to a kneeling position and places a hand at my shirt, but I manage to step away before he gets a firm hold on the material.  His trademark smirk not fading in the least, he asks, "Why are you so afraid to strip in front of me?"

"I'm not."

Seifer hums amusedly at my sharp reply.  "Then take off your clothes."

"This is ridiculous..."  I turn to walk away, but he quickly grabs my wrist, the speed of the move startling me.

"I can understand us not doing anything with you feeling like shit, and that's not to mention that episode with the morning sickness pills, but why have you been hiding your body from me?"

I don't reply as I keep my gaze directed to the offending hand on my arm.

"Squall," he says in that purring tone of his.  "I want to see you."

Vaguely, I shake my head and look up at him.  "You don't... You still don't understand..."

His smile softens.  "Maybe not, but I want to."

When I say nothing in response, Seifer slowly releases his hold on my arm, and then moves his hands beneath the large shirt to undo my pants.  All the while, intense green stay focused on my eyes, keeping me in a type of daze that I can't seem to break.  This is too new between us.  Whatever I've been looking for in life, I think I could find that with Seifer, whether it's peace or happiness or maybe just someone to keep my life interesting.  But to have this at the very beginning of our... hell, can I even call it a relationship yet?  Either way, it's simply too much, and I don't want him to understand that yet.  I don't want him to realize what this will demand of him if he chooses to stay.  I don't want to be left alone again when I need him.

As warm hands caress the revealed skin of my hips, I close my eyes, unable to watch while Seifer slowly lifts up my shirt.  Unsurprisingly, he pauses about halfway, and then continues to remove the shirt with my reluctant obedience.  A hesitant hand eventually settles on what I know looks like a stupid pot bellied stomach.  Only a month previous it didn't seem that obvious.  Maybe I looked a little fatter, but I probably could've used an extra few pounds anyway.  But now I look...

"Amazing."

My eyes snap open at Seifer's voice, and I stare incredulously at his smirking face.  "I look fucking pregnant."

"I know."  He grins mischievously.  "And I'm the one who did it."

I sigh.  "This isn't a game, Seifer."

His smile not fading one bit, he wraps an arm around my waist to pull me onto the bed, then rolling to make certain I'm beneath him.  "This wasn't a surprise, Squally-boy.  I could feel you changing, but I have to admit, it's strange to actually see how much that spawn is growing within you.  It's simply incredible."

Not allowing me the chance to argue, Seifer attacks a weak point on my neck, kissing hard at tender skin to make me inhale sharply.  With deliberate slowness, he trails down with the same rough kisses as his hands rise up along my back in firm, massaging motions.  Not experiencing his hands on my bare skin in weeks, I can't manage anything further than a few weak, half-spoken protests that we weren't done talking.  Eventually I just give up as I stretch out to give him better access.  Fuck, when did I become this wanton?

Reaching my chest, he gently bites a tightened nipple while asking, "So, what had you riled up earlier?"

I glare down at him.  "You're asking that now?"

"Yep.  And today, I'm getting all the answers to my questions," he states before licking heavily at the teased nipple.  "Now, why were you upset?  Was it the appointment with that munchkin?"

"No."

"Hmm, and you woke me up because..."

"It's nothing."

"Wrong answer," he says before blowing lightly across saliva dampened skin, causing a shiver to course through my body.

I grab his arm in a painful hold, but he doesn't relent and continues to make me feel chilled.  "Fine.  I'm sick of Laguna."

Seifer stops and looks up at me.  "Your father?  Why?"

"I hate how he's been treating me," I mumble, trying hard to not pout, a recent bad habit of mine that I hadn't noticed until Seifer decided to tease me about it.

Instantly green eyes narrow.  "Has he been giving you shit?  What has he told you?"

The sudden protectiveness in his voice makes me smile vaguely.  "Nothing terrible.  I just wish he had never found out about... this.  He's treating me like a glass figurine, and Hyne forbid I make a sound.  He'll call up Dr Telford before I can say that it was just gas or some other inane thing."

Seifer relaxes against me and smiles softly.  "Fuck, of course someone fussing over you would piss you off more than anything else."

I scowl at him, but it only makes him smile wider as his hand drifts down and he lightly fingers my beginning arousal.

"Though I probably shouldn't even ask, have you told the old man that you don't want to be labeled as fragile?"

"... ..."

"Right.  Listen, Squall, despite what you like believe, no one can read those thoughts in your head.  You have to share them if something is annoying you."

"... ..."

"Why do I bother?" he mumbles with a shake of his head.  "Anyway, how did that checkup go?"

I shrug.  "Same as the others, although Dr Telford seems more optimistic than a few weeks ago."

Returned to kissing along my chest, Seifer hums pleased at the good news.  At the same time, his hand wraps fully around my penis and strokes with a languid pace to my annoyance.  With him lying halfway on my body, I can't manage to thrust into his hold to make the gentle touch more satisfying.

"He did this heartbeat thing, too," I add while shifting to give the blond better access to a tender spot at my side.

"What heartbeat thing?"

After a couple deep breaths to steady my voice, I tell him, "It wasn't my heartbeat we were listening to."

It's obvious when the meaning hits Seifer a few seconds later, the large man going stone-still for a long moment before glancing up at me with wide eyes.  "He... you heard his heartbeat?"

I nod, interested that we both trust Shiva in her vague mentioning that a male child is growing within me.  "It was strange.  And very fast.  I thought something was wrong until the doctor told me otherwise."

"You heard his heartbeat... without me."

I nearly laugh out loud at his pout, something I don't think I've ever seen in a sincere display.  "I believe someone was sleeping."

"And you're the one who refuses to let me go with you.  Well, fuck it.  You're not going to visit this doc another time without me, and I don't care if my life or manhood is threatened in the process.  Shit.  Do you think he'll do that again today if we ask?  I mean, his main job is to be around to take care of the President and his underlings, so the doc can't be that busy, can he?"

"Seifer... you don't have to do this."

"Do what?"

"Play the excited father of ... this," I say, placing a hand on my swollen stomach.

"Why wouldn't I be excited?  I'll have a fresh young mind to corrupt into a new form of torment for you.  I can also teach him to wield a gunblade properly, unlike someone I know.  And when he is old enough, I can even give him a few tips about taking over the world.  Since Laguna should be a pushover for the kid, we'd already have one major capitol under our command without even trying," Seifer says with a wicked grin, making me second guess his sarcastic tone.

"Can't you be serious about anything?"

The smile fades with a sigh.  "You want me to be serious?" he asks, his voice suddenly sounding tired with a serious undertone that is unusual for Seifer.  "Then how about this - I have nothing, absolutely nothing to live for."

Speechlessly I stare at him, bewildered at the unexpected admission.

"Well, at least that's what I thought a few months ago.  You know it all - an orphan without a family, a prick without good friends.  Fu and Rai were there for a time, but I easily chased them away.  Fucking war..."  He laughs, the sound holding none of his typical snide humor.  "I was so pissed at Cid after the exam for saying that shit to me when you were standing right there, and I just had to prove that I was some badass who didn't need SeeD rules to hold me back.  Phft, we know how that went."

I say nothing when he pauses and his eyes shift to my midsection, his hand then settling on the bared stomach with his thumb rubbing softly along sensitive skin.  In the past months, I couldn't find it within me to ask him about the war, about what he felt concerning that time.  Mostly, I didn't give a damn.  Seifer is an unthinking bastard who does stupid things, and I understand that.  But while I can't deny that I've been vaguely curious if he held any regrets, I never expected him to tell me about it like this.

"I swore that you were going to kill me after the war for hurting you.  Maybe for hurting Rinoa and the other kiddies, too, but mostly because I really did a number on you.  And I wanted you to be the one to take my life, so I tried to stay alive and not get killed by some idiot bounty hunter.  Pretty pathetic, isn't it?  Staying alive so that you would be my executioner.  But it's worse, 'cause it turns out that I didn't really want to die.  If I did, I should've just walked into B Garden and asked if Pussyheart could come out and play.  Never in a million years would I have guessed that you wanted me alive.  You're supposed to be predictable, Squally-boy."

For some reason, I feel like I should apologize.  I'm not certain why exactly, especially when I think it is Seifer's fault for being an imbecile, but... things should have been different.  Easier.

"For you to tell me that I belonged with you... it was something I didn't dare to imagine.  But after you said that, I suddenly had something to die for again.  Something to live for."  Seifer smiles, the green of his eyes brightening.  "And out of fucking no where, I get a second impossible thing to live for.  A son I never thought I'd have.  Hell, I didn't even realize that I wanted a brat to screw up my life, but the other week when you complained about him sucking the life out of you, I felt... well, happy.  In my whole shitty life, I've never felt something so amazing."  His arm moves to wrap around my waist as he stretches out along my body, his face coming near mine.  His voice turning rough, he says, "I want more, Squall."

He barely finishes the sentence before I'm kissing him, the move more forceful than typical for me, but I have a claim to make.  I alternate between pressing my tongue hard against his and biting his lower lip without reserve, the faint metallic taste of blood soon intensifying the rough kiss.  Seifer doesn't try to take control of the kiss, allowing me to indulge in my possessive urge.  I should be furious at him for thinking that he has nothing but me and our child to live for, that he should at least think of himself, but I'm not.  Sadly, I'm pleased.  He belongs to me and he knows it.  That's all that matters.

"You're mine," I say in a quiet growl, my hand drifting down along his muscle hardened body.

Seifer smirks, his hand moving to my ass.  "And what does my master demand of me?"

Before I can think of a reply, my breath leaves me in the form of a whimper as fingers press into me.  Shit, it's been too long.  I've waited far too long for this.  Needing some kind of revenge, I grab onto his beginning of an erection and squeeze hard as I rub my thumb across the sensitive head.  The startled gasp from the blond makes me grin, but the brief victory is lost when he shoves his fingers deeper into me, callused skin brushing against my g-spot.  Apparently enjoying the sound it forced out of me, Seifer continues to assault the hotspot without giving me much chance to breathe, let alone think properly.

Not quite so inhibited, Seifer presses light kisses along my neck until reaching my ear, then whispering, "Think you're ready for this?"

"Yes," I hiss out immediately, almost annoyed at the blond for tempting the gods of pregnancy to damn me with morning sickness at a time like this.

He chuckles quietly, his fingers suddenly leaving me as he shifts away.  My eyes snapping open, I glare at him for playing the tease, but then notice him reaching over the mattress edge to where he had hid the knife.  But instead of the weapon, Seifer retrieves a tube of some sort.

I frown in confusion.  "What the hell else do you have hidden back there?"

Seifer smirks.  "Just some necessities - knife, grenade, flashlight, and some lube.  Though that last one is a recent addition," he says, tapping the end of the tube against my nose.

I shake my head, trying my hardest to not think about sleeping in a bed that had a live grenade in it over the past few weeks.

A light, sweet smell assaults my senses as the tube is opened.  Without a word, Seifer grabs my hand and places some of the clear gel-like substance onto my palm.  Moving my gaze to his eyes, I realize that he is giving me the choice about this first time between us.  It's oddly not a hard decision, my hand once again taking a hold of his erection in a firm grip as I coat the thick hardness with the lube.

"Show me how you got me fucking pregnant," I say, keeping my voice low.

His smirk turns into something completely perverted as he moves to kneel over me.  "With pleasure, princess."

When he spreads my legs and lifts one onto his shoulder, I suddenly feel ashamed with my stomach seeming a whole lot bigger in this position.  I try to cover the area with my arms, but Seifer stops my attempt and glares at me with scolding eyes before he bends over to kiss the small mound.  There's no need for words as he lifts up my hips to best position himself.  The entry is fast and rough, driving the breath from the both of us.

"Holy fucking Hyne... I knew you were a tight ass, but fuck..."

I can't help myself as I laugh lightly at the breathy comment, the resulting movement of my body causing both Seifer and me to inhale sharply at the pleasurable feel.  Taking that as a sign that I'm fine, Seifer begins a testing thrust, thus driving himself further into me.  It's surreal to finally be fucked by this man, this scenario never even occurring to me.  While the impossible pregnancy couldn't have been predicted, I also didn't imagine that our first time would be this... comfortable between us.  I thought it'd be rougher, something that was just a fuck.  For some reason, I never figured a bed into the situation either, it always happening in the middle of the desert or against a crumbling wall.  And certainly, I thought it'd be just the one time.  A quick fuck before one of us killed the other.  Hn.  Who knew being wrong could feel so good.

The sex is painfully and perfectly slow paced.  The sensations of his cock, his wandering hands, and even his heated breaths are more defined this way, enabling me to savor everything I can about this moment.  Everything else feels so fuzzy, even my thoughts of the future which have plagued me as of late.  There's only Seifer for now and the feelings only he can make course throughout my body.  Anger, hope, desire, need... everything that belies my attempts at being cold and heartless is Seifer's fault.

I can't be ice near his heat, and Hyne, I love him so much for that.

My eyes go wide at the stray thought, the timing in sync with my final release.  Seifer curses a rather colorful phrase at my reflexive clenching, and he barely manages a few more harder thrusts before warmth floods within me.  After pausing there for a time, he smirks in a lazy proof of conquest and pulls out from me before dropping next to my side.  It's almost frightening how easily his arm curls around my raised stomach, him uncaring about the semen there.

"You're amazing," he states before gently kissing behind my ear.

I distractedly hum out the affirmative, my mind still focused on trying to figure out where that one thought had come from.  I've know for some time that I need this man in my life, but to call it love...

"A shame we had to wait this long.  So many potential hours of fuck time wasted."

"Hn."  ... It has to be too soon to say I love him, to open myself up for that pain.  While I want to have him always at my side, while I have to make him mine, it doesn't have to do anything with love... Does it...?

Seifer moves up onto an elbow to scowl down at me.  "What, already comparing me to someone else?"

"Who?"  ... But what if I do want to love him?  What if I'm just afraid that he won't reciprocate such a ridiculous thing?  Soldiers, or rather heartless mercenaries who kill for money, should know nothing of love.  It should be beneath us.  And yet...

"That's what I'd like to fucking know," he growls out.

Pulling out from my thoughts, I stare at the abruptly upset man.  Clarity of the situation is slow to come to me, but when it does, I grin with amusement.  "Afraid you were inadequate?"

It's vague, but I catch Seifer's wince which he covers up by deepening his scowl.

Though I could drag this out, I feel too tired to be bothered by a sulking lover.  "Only two, technically three, people have fucked me.  And in Irvine's case, I was thinking of you the whole time."

"And the second?" he asks suspiciously.

I slap the back of his head.  "Only you would be jealous of a guardian force using your body."

He frowns in thought.  "But Selphie said there were others."

"There were.  None dared to even suggest fucking me, and I only got this far with two guys.  It was pretty sad in both cases," I say, implying that I'd rather not talk about it.

His resulting relieved smile is short-lived.  "Shit, as if I'm one to talk.  I've had--"

I press fingers against his lips to stop the words I don't need to hear.  "It doesn't matter.  But I'll warn you only once - I won't stand for an unfaithful lover."

A pale eyebrow arches at that.  "Lover, is it?"

"Would you rather 'fuck buddy'?"

He chuckles as he pulls away my hand, then gripping it tightly.  "Hearing you say that is almost as strange as 'lover', but I think I like the sound of the former.  Though just to make certain, say it again for me," he says while leaning in close.

"... Lover," I whisper, the word barely said before I'm kissed deeply, but briefly.  When he pulls a short distance away, I distractedly say 'lover' once more, earning another deep kiss.  I can't make myself stop saying it, the addition of 'my' at some point slipping into the repetition.  Only after one particularly long kiss do I feel satisfied and rest my head on his shoulder.

With a press of lips to my head, Seifer says in an almost unheard voice, "Thank you."


[Seifer]

I wake up late into the night hours, something instantly feeling wrong before I open my eyes.  I take a second to first analyze the situation based on my other senses, and when I'm not able to identify any warning signs of danger, I slowly open my eyes and scan the bedroom.  It doesn't take long before my eyes settle on Squall, the man oddly up and in a sitting position against the headboard as he grips onto the large shirt which no longer hides his growing stomach at this midpoint into the pregnancy.

"Everything okay, Squall?"

The man flinches before he turns to me, the soft glow of blue from his eyes highlighting the tears that glide down his cheeks.

"Shiva..." I whisper, at first startled and then somewhat upset at her for taking over my lion.  I lean up onto an elbow and ask, "What the fuck do you want?"

The possessed man attempts a smile, but fails miserably.  "I desire nothing more than what you have already given us.  Merely... I cannot exist in this body any further and I wished to say goodbye."

I scoff.  "You know, we thought you were only sticking around for a couple weeks, not five fucking months, so don't give me this crying act."

A nod.  "Normally, we cannot survive in humans for such a long time, but..."  The ice-cold eyes focus on me, almost peering through me.  "You both understand.  No matter how long, no matter what happens, no matter what it takes, you will care for one another.  Just as I will never let go of Ifrit.  I believe for that reason we were able to feed off of your connection to each other and survive in your bodies for an extended amount of time."

Though greatly bothered by the idea that we were used as apparent food for these demons, I bite back the urge to fight with Shiva since there are more important things at stake at this moment.  "While I've been waiting to have control over my own freaking body again, if you leave him... what will happen to Squall?"

A faint smile appears.  "Your lion is strong on his own power.  In truth, I believe my energy conflicted with his, making this pregnancy worse than it should have been at first.  My presence has been weak for some time now, and he was able to take over the protection of the unborn one.  I believe both will be fine after I must leave."

"Then why the hell stay and plague us with your presence for this long?" I growl out.

"I have been selfish," the possessed man states, his hand relaxing to rub lightly along the curve of stomach.  "I have never experienced such a miracle before and it became addicting."

"That isn't your child.  He belongs to Squall and me."

The vague smile widens.  "It pleases me to hear you say such words.  I do not understand you as well as this one, and I feared that you would reject the unnatural child."

I growl in response, wishing that I could better show the guardian force how much I despise being judged by her.

"Ifrit has already left your body," Shiva states in a quiet voice.  "And I shall go soon, but I have a final request."

"How dare you ask something more of us."

The glowing blue flickers in the darkness.  "Deny it if you wish, as you have already given us so much, but...  After the child has been born, return to the caves to summon--"

"Fuck no!  I'm not giving you my body again, you frozen bitch."  And damn her for being in Squall's body, making it impossible for me to attack the demon without harming my lion.

Pained eyes glance away from me.  "We cannot take your bodies or any human body again for centuries.  We need time to regain the energy we have lost.  But at the temple, we can see this world clearer and for a longer time in our spirit forms.  I beg of you, let us see this blessed child.  I desire to see what eyes this child born from such fathers will bear."

With all of my being, I want to deny the damn request, to tell her to fuck off.  But in the end, I know it isn't truly my decision, at least not alone.  Unable to speak for Squall, I remain silent as I glare into the softly glowing eyes which refuse to meet my gaze.  Gradually, that glow fades as a few more tears slip down the pale cheeks.  And, without her receiving an answer, there is a drawn out exhale before the stormy eyes return to their normal shade and blink with confusion.

"Squall."

He looks over at me sharply, his expression a shocked and questioning one.

"Hey, you okay?"

The dark-haired man frowns.  "Why ask that?"

I grin at the irritated tone.  "We're finally rid of those parasites."

His normal awareness still lacking, it takes Squall several moments to fully understand the meaning of my words.  Instantly, a hand goes to his stomach as his eyes go impossibly wide in panic.  His mouth opens in the attempt to speak, but he chokes on his voice.

I place my hand on his.  "Everything is good.  The ice bitch said that you can handle this without her messing around in your head."

He closes his eyes at the words and breathes deeply in relief, the action surprising me somewhat.  I know he hates this entire ordeal, within perfect reason of course, but I didn't really think about whether or not he could despise the pregnancy and yet still care for that piece of life hidden within his body.  To see him worried about our child's safety before his own... it makes me love him that much more.

"Lie down," I order softly.  "You should be tired."

He doesn't argue and moves to rest on his side, only then palming away the moisture from his cheeks.  Eyeing the liquid on his hand, he asks, "Shiva can cry?"

"Apparently," I say, not offering anything further in explanation for the moment.  I still don't want to fulfill the demon's request, but looking into the blue-gray eyes which everyone else misjudges as pure ice, I know that Squall won't deny the final plea of the guardian force.  Damn him for being a good guy.

After staring at his hand wetted with tears for a time longer, Squall shifts closer to me and curls somewhat to wrap the sheets tighter around his always chilled body.  I place my arm comfortably around his waist and bury my face into the thick brown hair which smells faintly of the sea.  Despite my frustration at the interfering demons, sleep eventually overtakes me as I listen to Squall breathe in a slow cadence, the man somehow able to calm me even when he isn't awake himself.

~ > < ~

Leaning against the doorway, I watch amusedly as Squall sits across from his father and, of all things, debates politics with the Estharian President.  At least they're going on about war politics, but I never imagined the quiet lion one to bother with stating his beliefs in such an aggressive manner.  Actually, I'd bet that he never did anything like this before, but there's something about this Loire character which compels Squall to correct the old man's idealistic views.  Hell, even I feel like yelling at the man to grow up and deal with harsh reality.

In the middle of Laguna's rant about technology's potential to bring peace if people wouldn't focus on creating the better weapon, Squall scowls in a familiar manner and shifts in his seat.  I only smirk at his discomfort, curious to see if the dark-haired beauty would dare to speak out first, or if he could wait out the old man.  Surprisingly, Laguna stops himself in mid-sentence and lowers his arm from his 'I'm making a point' position.

"Ah, is the little one having fun with his favorite squeeze toy?"

Squall's reply is to glare at me, his object of hate for this situation.

Chuckling, Laguna waves his hand to the side door.  "Don't let me keep you waiting."

With some effort, the brunet pushes himself up from the small couch and walks with less grace than normal to the bathroom.  I don't remember him appearing so beautiful.

"Care to have a seat?"

Looking away from the closed door, I stare into deep green before I decide to follow the implied order.  It's so simple to trust this man, to follow his word.  It doesn't surprise me anymore that he is Squall's old man, both of them holding the ability to lead so absolutely without their followers feeling oppressed by such leadership.  On the surface, neither appear the leader, and yet no one can imagine another in their place.  If only I could figure out how the hell they manage to do that.

Not even trying to hide his smile, Laguna asks, "How's your eye?"

With the black eye remembered, I lightly finger the bruised skin.  "It should be gone by tomorrow."

"And what did you say to deserve that beauty?"

"Phft, wish I knew.  I can't remember anything about yesterday morning."

The old man laughs.  "I still think you're being stubborn to not use a potion on that, especially since you refuse to have anyone junctioned with a guardian force near you or Squall."

"I don't like wasting healing materials."

He nods, the soldier in him understanding my reluctance to use potions on minor injuries.  "Then maybe you need to work on your dodging abilities."

I scoff.  "As if I ever see them coming beforehand..."

Leaning back into his chair, Laguna sighs.  "It's good to see him so lively.  I was afraid..."  He trails off in thought, his eyes taking on a guarded look that I have rarely seen on the man.  But a moment later, the typical warmth returns to the dark green as he asks, "Anyway, have you decided on your plans for the coming months?"

"Squall doesn't want to make up his mind, but I'm betting that he'll want to head back to Balamb.  He can't stop running that place, even when he's hundreds of miles away.  And from the sound of it, Cid is priming him for the headmaster position.  Though if you want my opinion, that lion has been in charge of B Garden since the war."

The old man forces a smile.  "He should go where he is needed.  But what about you?  I don't believe many trust you over there."

"Squall trusts me and that's all I give a shit about."

"And your son's trust, too, of course."

Hesitating, I shake my head.  "Nah, he'll probably hate me.  But that's fine by me."

Dark green eyes narrow in a familiar threatening glare.  "Don't think that you can handle what you can't even begin to imagine."

I look away from the intense gaze and stare at the closed door.  "I fucked up and I'm ready to accept the consequences for that.  I can't rely on the luck I've had thus far."

The president sighs.  "I thought I was ready, too, but I also didn't think that I would meet my son again.  It's strange to love a person without even knowing him, especially when I know he doesn't share that love for me.  I'm not so blind to think that he wanted to share this recent miracle with me, but rather he was forced to use me to get to Dr Telford.  I can't be certain if he would have ever told me about the child otherwise.  And for him to call me 'Laguna'...  I can't begin to explain that pain, and it's certainly something I would never wish upon another person."

"Can you blame him?"

"Of course not," Laguna states with passion.  "But you can't go into this with the belief that your own blood will hate you when you've done nothing wrong according to your training."

"It's not like I want to be hated, but I have to face that reality."

"You don't--"

I look back at the man, interrupting his 'love saves everyone' speech.  "I do.  This is my son and I will hide nothing from him.  I love him too much for less."

The resulting silence is broken by the sound of an opening door, and when I glance over at Squall, I stand at the sight of an unusual expression on the brunet's face.  With one of his arms wrapped tightly around his stomach, he hesitates before stepping into the main room and towards the sofa.

"Hey, you okay?" I ask, just about ready to bolt for the nearest phone to contact the doctor.  At eight months, a premature birth wouldn't be overly surprising, but unlike the pregnant women on this planet, Squall can't do a nature birth.  In fact, it'd probably kill him, but I'm not going to allow that to happen.

His expression hardens.  "I would tell you if something was wrong, idiot."

I'm able to relax at the words, and when he is in reach, I help the unbalanced man to sit on the sofa.  "Then what was with that face?"

Looking into my eyes, Squall says, "That door isn't soundproof."

There's nothing for me to say in reply as I reach out to take his hand and grip it firmly in a silent confirmation that I meant everything I said.  He smiles vaguely at that, his eyes telling me that we'll speak later about some of what I mentioned.

He then turns to his old man.  "I'm sorry, Laguna, but I've already warned you that I doubt I could ever see you as a father."

The president surprisingly smiles.  "I know that, and I've accepted it more or less, but I don't want to watch another person go through what I have."

Squall shakes his head.  "You can't be my father, but... I hope my son has a grandfather."

Laguna looks speechless for once.  "Squall..."

With a quiet laugh, the brunet presses our hands against his rounded stomach and says, "I feel bad for him.  None of us know how to raise a child, and yet he's stuck with us.  It'll be hard on him."

I scoff.  "As if an easy life could be more fun."

A mysterious smile in place, Squall leans against my side and says nothing more.

Laguna clears his throat.  "Well, sorry to be a nag about this, but since I expect my grandson to visit me at every chance possible, I want to talk with you both about plans for a nursery..."

~ > < ~

Staring down at my lion, I come to the annoying realization that doing nothing can be damn near impossible.  Lying on a gurney, Squall takes deep breaths as drug-hazed eyes gaze up at the ceiling.  One hand clutches at the sheets covering his body while his other hand doesn't spare any strength while gripping onto my hand.  But I don't complain since it's my own fault for forcing him to hold my hand in the first place.

"What am I doing?" he whispers in a slight slur.  "I can't... I shouldn't... This isn't happening."

"Too late to change your mind, Squally-boy.  You have to see this through to the end."

His eyes watering, he shakes his head.  "It's stupid.  We can't...  Hyne, what was I thinking?"

I place my free hand at his cheek and lightly press my thumb over his lips.  "It's just the drugs making you doubt yourself.  We're going to do this and everything will be perfect.  Understood?"

"... Why are you here?"

"You said you wanted me here."

His hand goes limp in my hold.  "Then, you don't want to be here?"

The question asked in a child-like way scares me for some reason, and so I hesitate while I attempt to think of the right response.  Sad how Squall always says that he is the one terrible at speaking, that he can't manage to say what is running through his head, but despite his few words, he rarely fails to say exactly what you need to hear.  Maybe not what you want to hear, but that's something only weaker people think they need to hear.  And I hate him for that ability which I can't mimic, especially at this moment when I can't think of one way to prove to him that I want to be with him no matter the situation.

"Seifer..."

Looking into hazy eyes, I realize that I'm losing him because of my hesitation.  And despite that realization, I can't make my mouth work to form the words I need to say.  I grip onto his hand with dangerous strength, silently begging the man to tell me what I can say to make things right once again.  Hyne knows that I can't do it by myself.  But Squall offers me nothing, so I do the one thing that I do know something about - I kiss him.  He doesn't react immediately, perhaps purposely to make me worry or maybe it's because of the pain killers he's on, but eventually he contributes to the hard kiss. 

After a time, I bury my free hand deep into his hair and break off the joining to tell him in a low voice, "Don't you fucking leave me."

Reddened lips form a soft smirk, his only reply.

The sound of an opened door and a high-pitched voice from behind me interrupts the moment.  "I'm sorry, sirs, but we should proceed to the operating room..."

I don't look back at the nurse when I speak in a growled tone, the ability to return to my Knight persona an oddly easy one.  "Take good care of my lion and cub, or I'll kill everyone standing here."

The nurse forces a laugh, the woman obviously uncertain about my sincerity about the matter.  But before I can have more fun at her expense, a hand slaps my back without reserve.

"Now, now, Seifer.  Threatening the medical staff won't make Squall any safer than he already is.  Come on, we should go to the observation room."  Forcing me to step back to give him space, Laguna places a hand at his son's raised stomach and lightly kisses the vaguely sweaty forehead.  "We'll be watching the entire time, and then we'll join you to see our newest addition.  All right?"

Squall nods tiredly.  "I want this over with."

Chuckling, the old man forces me to release the hand still within my hold.  "We know.  And as soon as I drag your protector into the next room, Dr Telford can get started."

Reluctantly I'm dragged away by the Estharian leader just as Squall is wheeled into the operating room.  It kills me to be forced to watch this all from behind glass, but the doctor is being annoyingly cautious about this matter.  But I have a feeling that his medical crap is a sham to keep an infamous murderer away just in case something goes wrong.  Either way, I have to live through the torture of watching my defenseless lion split open by a blade.  It's a small cut to begin with, but it bothers me to see him opened up so simply.  During the course of the operation, I don't understand much of what's being said over the speaker, but eventually I recognize one phrase well enough.

"What in the world...?"

Practically pressed up against the glass at that point, I ask, "What's happening?  What's wrong?  Squall!"

"Calm down, son."  Laguna steps over to the intercom, the limp in his step belying his steady voice.  "Doctor, what seems to be the problem?"

The short man shakes his head and steps aside.  "It seems my confusion about the lacking uterus has an explanation after all."

Staring into the horizontal incision, it's not hard to see the odd glow of blue and red swirling in a flame-like dance.  Though the sight should probably make me nervous, I instead feel relieved that the cub has been protected all of this time by more than flesh.  To think that Squall wanted to protect our child this much...

"It appears to be similar to barrier magic, but with different properties," Dr Telford says with interest as he unprofessionally pokes at the shield.  "I've heard of innate magic before, but to be revealed like this... simply incredible.  But we have more important matters at the moment.  Sir Leonhart, I need you to relax and lower the shield."

Squall mumbles something in an irritated voice to the doctor, and after a long moment of deep breaths, the shimmer of blue is lost to the fire of golden red.  The balding man tells Squall to try harder, that the child can't be born otherwise, but the shield doesn't fall.  So focused on the event in front of me, I nearly jump when a hand is placed upon my shoulder.

"Seifer.  It's okay now.  Let go."

"Let go...?

With a smile, Laguna nods.  "Your son will be safe, but first you have to let him free."

I stare at the old man for a long moment before I return to the view of the operation room.  My eyes easily meet Squall's tired gaze, the brunet smiling at me with an oddly knowing hint.  Smirking weakly at him, I nod and watch as the red light fades from the open wound.  The doctor hurriedly goes back to his duty, but I stay joined with the hazy blue-gray eyes of my lion.  Soon enough a loud cry echoes over the intercom, the irritating noise oddly beautiful to my ears.  Squall laughs lightly at the sight and sound of our son held in the nurse's arms, and then the man promptly falls unconscious.


[Squall]

A soft, not quite melodious song wakes me from deep sleep, the singing voice somewhat familiar, but I can't identify it straight away.  Blinking away the haziness of my vision, I look to the side and watch amusedly as Seifer attempts to sing a lullaby to which he obviously doesn't remember the words.  Glancing lower, I look at the whining bundle cradled in muscular arms, the sight of the newborn making me inhale in surprise.

Seifer looks over at the sound, his lips then forming an overly pleased smirk.  "About time you woke up.  This little guy has been waiting for his mommy all day."

"I'm not his 'mommy', idiot.  We already talked about that," I say with less force than I had hoped for.  Sitting up in the bed, I wince at the soreness of my midsection.

"Careful.  The munchkin said that your body is still going to be sore after all the changes it went through, and potions aren't going to help with that."  Moving to sit on the edge of the bed, Seifer gives me a better view of our apparently fussy child.  "Ready to hold him?  He's been antsy since he was born, and I'm guessing that it's because he wants you."

"He's too young for something like that," I mutter as I reach over and hold the babe as I was taught.  Staring at the reddened face of my son, I'm immediately overwhelmed by his existence and everything it implies.  "This... came from me?"

Seifer chuckles as he wraps an arm around me.  "Seems impossible, doesn't it?"

I nod dumbly, my eyes locked onto the newborn's scrunched face as he finally seems to relax in my hold and readies for sleep.

"I told you that he wanted his mommy," the large man whispers into my ear.

"Seifer..." I growl out softly, not wanting to disturb the child.

"So what's the little guy's name anyway?"

"I... I was thinking of Asher."

"Asher Leonhart?  A little odd, but I could get used to it."

My smile fades at his words and I try to remember what we talked about before the operation.  I vaguely recall being a panicked mess, that I had asked Seifer something important, but I can't grasp onto that memory.  Even so, it bothers me that he automatically assumed this child would take my name.  As if he held no real claim over his son, the child he unconsciously helped me to protect throughout most of the pregnancy.  And I never understood before what Ifrit meant in our last meeting about Seifer taking his overprotective nature to higher levels.

"Squall?" he asks after I'm apparently silent for too long.

"The name doesn't mean anything.  Whichever family name he takes, he is still our son."

After a quiet pause, Seifer places a hand at my chin and makes me look up into bright green eyes.  "I know that, and I'm not going anywhere.  Remember?  I'm going to use him to take over the world, and that means I'll have to start corrupting him while he's young."

Once again able to relax, I rest my head against the blond's chest so that I can watch the sleeping boy.  "Remind me to punch you later."

"Sure, princess.  I'll put that on your to do list right after 'castrate the bastard who got me pregnant'."

"I think there was a part about slicing off your dick and jamming it up your ass, but castrating will be good enough for the time being."

Seifer hums in a disapproving manner.  "Such language in front of my son.  You should be ashamed."

"Ashamed of you?  Constantly."

Laughing, he runs strong fingers through my hair and kisses the top of my head.  "Love you, too, Squally-boy."

I just smile, relieved that it's this easy between us.  While I silently thank Hyne for bringing this blond pain back into my life, I gently stroke a finger along the soft skin of my son's cheek.  He shifts at the light touch, but thankfully doesn't wake.  Moving lower, I take hold of a tiny hand that barely peaks out from the covering of the light blue fabric.  Reflexively the newborn grasps onto one of my fingers, the grip tighter than I would have imagined.  Eventually Seifer reaches over to cup our hands into his larger hold, his thumb lightly rubbing along the small arm mostly hidden in the blanket.  For a long time, there's nothing but the quiet breaths of our son, the calming sound surprisingly putting Seifer to sleep as he leans heavily against me and begins to snore softly.

Sighing, I speak quietly to the resting babe.  "Do me a favor and don't take after this idiot.  I don't think I could handle it, let alone the rest of the world."  The boy breaths deeply at that, something that I decide to take as a sign of agreement.  "And if you dare call me 'mommy', I'll murder your father."


[Epilogue]

[Squall]

As the final words of the summoning slip from my lips, I slowly open my eyes to view the swirl of a blue wind that eventually takes the shape of a slim woman.  Next to her, a reddish haze condenses into a fire demon easily twice her size, but Shiva shows no fear of her eternal lover.  Instead, she glances at him with a bittersweet smile as she folds her hands together to suppress her urge to reach out to him.

"Aunty Shiva.  Uncle Ifrit!"

I look down at the small boy trying to escape his father's strong hold.  An amused smile creeps into my expression as I say, "Let him go, Seifer."

Not bothering to hide his displeasure, the blond glares a silent warning at the summoned guardian forces before he finally releases the hold on his son's wrist.  Without hesitation, the young boy runs up to the demons and stops just before coming in contact with the kneeling Shiva.  Her delighted smile never fails to amaze me, especially after so many years of only witnessing her stony expression during an attack.

"I hate this," Seifer growls out while wrapping an arm tightly around my waist as if to protect me from the GFs.

I don't reply to the common complaint, something Seifer makes certain to mention every time we bring Asher here.  While I have given into his demand that I can no longer use GFs in battle or otherwise, I refuse to deny Shiva and Ifrit these visits with the child who wouldn't exist if it weren't for their interference.  On some level, Seifer understands that and may even be grateful to them, but that won't stop the idiot from whining.

As we watch silently, Asher speaks quickly to the guardian forces about his recent birthday party, the six-year-old used to the time constraint of these meetings.  Just as he barely manages to finish the story about Laguna accidentally dropping the birthday cake with lit candles onto Seifer's lap, the two spirits slowly fade into nothing, the sound of a melodious laugh complemented by a deeper chuckle still echoing in the cavern after their departure.

With an eerily familiar pout, Asher turns to face us.  "I didn't get to tell them about my new sword."

I smile at the mention of the wooden practice sword, easily the boy's favorite present for this year.  "You can tell them next time.  Your grandfather is waiting for us."

That brightens his expressions some.  "Can we ride that elevator thing again?"

Before I can remind Asher that he nearly threw up the last time we rode the long elevator into Esthar, Seifer replies with an overly cheerful, "Of course we can, kiddo."

"Yes!"  And with that, our son promptly runs to the exit of the temple and to the waiting car.

"Seifer..."

"Lighten up, Squally-boy.  He needs to build up a stronger constitution.  You know that he has a family reputation to live up to."

Shaking my head, I let the larger man guide me outside.  "He's not going to make it to seven, is he?"

Seifer chuckles.  "You said that about ages four through six, and he's still running around like a maniac.  Hyne knows where he gets all that energy."

"From me," I mutter while leaning against the larger man.

"Fine by me.  It just makes you easier to catch if you're too tired to run away."  Whispering into my ear, he adds, "You know, Laguna would be happy to take the kid off our hands for a few days."

I shiver when a wet tongue slips along the curve of my ear, the move making me murmur a 'we'll see' instead of my initial urge to reject the suggestion.  I guess it has been several months since our last chance to enjoy a night or two alone, and Seifer owes me a few favors that I bet he thinks I've forgotten about.  That should make it worth the worry associated with leaving Asher in my father's care.  At least Kiros and Ward manage to keep the 'grandfather's right to spoil his grandson' situations down to a minimum.

"Mmm, I like that smile," Seifer says in a rough voice, his pace increasing as we near the car.  But before he can push me to the passenger side of the car, I stop abruptly and swing the blond around such that we can kiss briefly, but deeply.  After I break the kiss, Seifer presses his lips against my temple before saying, "Thank you."

Stepping away, I wave the keys I stole from his pocket.  "No, thank you."

Half-heartedly he grabs for the keys, but I easily escape and stride up to the car Laguna gifted to us for our fifth anniversary.  Failing at an angered expression, Seifer smirks at me while slipping into the passenger seat.  From behind him, Asher fidgets in his seat while avoiding my gaze.

"Is something wrong?" I ask him.

Shyly blue-green eyes glance up at me from beneath dark lashes.  "Are you and Papa gonna have another kid someday?"

I freeze in mid-motion of putting on my seatbelt, my thoughts stalling at the innocent question.

Seifer isn't so inhibited as he laughs.  "Sorry, kiddo, but you are it for us.  We love you too much to spare anything on another child."

The boy pouts a little, him not completely believing the excuse, but there are no further questions about the matter.  At least for now.

During the long drive to the Esthar capital, it's no surprise when the young boy eventually falls asleep.  With the child's question still ringing within my mind, I ask Seifer, "Did you want more?"

He looks over at me, something about his expression telling me that he had been waiting for the question.  "You've given me everything, Squally-boy.  How could I ask for more?"

"Ham," I mutter while trying to fight a relieved smile.

His hand gripping my thigh, he says in a soft voice, "Maybe, but it's still the truth."

Placing my hand over his, I glance up into the rearview mirror and watch our sleeping son for a brief time before returning my attention to the desert in front of me.  It's sometimes hard to believe any of this is real, that I'm currently driving to visit my father with my husband and son.  Less than a decade previous, I would've laughed at anyone who could have told me that this was my future.  Perhaps the surrealism of it all actually helps me to better appreciate everything that I have been blessed with.  I have to enjoy every second that I can for fear that this could all be a simple dream and morning will arrive at any moment.

That in mind, I squeeze Seifer's hand and tell him, "Laguna mentioned a short while ago that he has been meaning to take Asher to that new amusement park, but he wanted to spend more than just a day there..."

Reversing the hand hold, Seifer pulls my arm closer to him such that he can kiss the underside of my wrist.  "Now that's what I'm talking about."

 

{Owari}

 

Author's Whining -- And another request done.  Bleh, I think I'm getting tired of mpregs.  It's impossible to make these things original after writing, what, seven of them within the same fandom?  Anywho, after that Seifer mpreg request and finishing 'Voice', I'm thinking of avoiding mpregs for a long while.  We'll see.  I have a few implied mpregs in mind that I may convince myself to write, which shouldn't be so bad without the whole pregnancy to write about. =P 

Anywho, hope you enjoyed this, Silverwolf, and thank you for your patience! ^_-