The pile of neatly stacked papers left on my desk this morning seems to glare at me, demanding for my glance over and signature before I'm scolded by Kiros. But it's so gray and dreary outside with the monsoon season nearly underway, and I just don't have the motivation. ...And if it were sun shiny out, I'd be too distracted with the need to enjoy the good weather. ...And certainly before noon is simply too early for me to concentrate properly. ...After lunch I'm typically too lethargic from the good food I'm always fed.
Hyne, why I'm I president of this so-called technologically advanced society again? Oh wait, probably because everyone else is too smart to actually want this job.
Sighing, I slip on my pair of cursed reading glasses and pull out the abstract for the first packet of legal boredom. At least I can look forward to Ellone arriving in town around dinnertime for her stay overnight. It's been months since I've seen the young woman, who in my eyes will always be the little girl with dirt permanently smudged on her tiny nose. Though I suppose I should give myself a wakeup call soon before she asks for my blessing to marry that White SeeD guy... What was his name again...?
No, that's not his name. I think it started with a 'T' or maybe 'Z'...
Blinking, I look up straight into Kiros' face currently set in the ever popular 'why do I put up with you' expression. I smile weakly and flick the piece of paper in hand to show that I had started reading the material he gave me.
"So that's where you got it from."
I straighten at the quietly muttered voice, then glance around my robed advisor. "Squall...?"
At the sound of his name, the young man turns from scowling at the large, smirking blonde to his side and meets my gaze with tired gray eyes. Arms crossed tightly around his body, the brunette looks cold despite the blue sweater and a heavy black trench coat he wears, the size too large for him. I guess the weather is worse outside than I thought.
"Squall," I say while standing, the sheet of paper dropped to the desktop and my glasses pushed back on top of my head. "What a lovely surprise, and great timing as well. I need a break anyhow."
Kiros scoffs with the clear meaning that one needs to actually do work before taking a break, but I choose to ignore him.
With the same cautious expression as the past times we've met since I informed him about my father status, Squall approaches the desk while I step briskly around to grab him into a firm hug. Eventually his arms come around me in an extremely delicate hold, the action always making me smile widely. It's amusing how we're the same, and yet complete opposites. Both afraid of the other not being real, but I grab hold and dare him to disappear, while he is careful enough to make certain I don't suddenly vanish into thin air.
Clapping him on the back, I pull away to look over the person he brought with him. The large man certainly doesn't compare to Ward in size, but this one certainly has the intimidating stance down. The golden hair is short and naturally spiky in a soft way, several long strands hanging down his forehead where a somewhat familiar scar cuts through almost to his cheek. His smirk is still in place from earlier, but softened with a different kind of amusement as he watches us.
"Dad, this is Seifer."
Seifer... Seifer... nope, not ringing any bells, though the way he holds himself reminds me of someone. And that's odd - the scar is much like Squall's but the mirror image and maybe a bit deeper.
A sigh. "Seifer Almasy. Ultimecia's Knight?"
...OH. That 'Seifer'. "You're the one Squall met in the orphanage. The other gunblade specialist."
Clear green eyes widen in disbelief. "...Yeah, but--"
I step in front of him and hold out a hand. "Good to meet you in person."
He glances down at the offered hand without moving, then meets my gaze again. "Listen, I'll be the first to admit that I fucked up your country. You don't have to act this way."
"Funny, I thought that it was the sorceress who was behind everything."
"It's not that simple."
I laugh at his frown. "What, you want to be punished for a crime that isn't yours? Fine, then. You'll have to suffer through lunch with me while I torture you and my son with the ramblings of an old man."
"Actually," Squall says to get my attention. "We have a reason for coming unannounced."
His voice more serious than normal, I rein in the excitement at seeing my son and wave to the seats in front of my desk. "Then sit and tell me everything."
The young men take their seats, Squall holding himself tightly once again, while Seifer somehow manages to look comfortable in the small chair as he sprawls out, long legs stretched out far before him. As I sit on the edge of my desk, I notice Kiros and Ward take their typical positions towards the back of the room, giving us space for 'privacy' but they'll certainly be hanging onto every word spoken.
"I... I need help."
The soft words shock me for a moment, the proud brunette never one to say something like that without reason. "Of course. Anything. What do you need?"
A relieved half-smile appears before he speaks. "I've been sick for over a month. I don't want to alarm anyone at the Garden..."
"A month? Squall, why didn't you come sooner? This could be something dangerous to you."
The blonde snorts, reminding me much of Kiros.
Tired eyes glare at him. "It's nothing serious."
"As if you could say that. You wouldn't even go to Dr K for a general checkup." Seifer then mutters, "Stubborn pain in the ass."
"We'll contact my person physician straightaway for you. Though, may I ask what's wrong? Or would you rather keep it private."
He shrugs. "Just been nauseous for weeks. Maybe more tired than normal."
"You're fucking puking twice a day, Squally-boy. Don't make it sound like less of a problem than it is."
Blinking, I look up to catch gazes with Kiros and Ward who aren't even trying to keep up the appearance that they aren't listening in. The darkly skinned man stares at me with wide eyes, his mouth partly open as if ready to speak out that this isn't happening. Well, at least I'm not the only one leaping to conclusions.
Returning my focus to the young men, I wince at the feel of cramps shooting up my thigh. "Um, may I ask... something personal?"
Squall tilts his head in a type of nod.
"Are you two... involved?"
The stormy eyes widen slightly. "That's none--" He stops himself, then glances to the carpet before nodding.
Though at first appearing surprised by the admission, the blonde grins happily as he watches Squall with intent green eyes.
"Forgive me for pressing, but is this an intimate relationship? And for how long?"
My son looks up sharply, his tone anxious when he speaks. "Do you know what's wrong with me? Have I infected Seifer somehow?" He presses a hand to his face. "What was I thinking to...?"
"No. I doubt he's the one we need to worry about." With eyes closed, I waste a moment while I think this through quickly, then stand up from the desk. "If you wouldn't mind, I'd rather wait for Ellone to be here. Luckily, she's arriving this evening. Until then, we can enjoy some lunch and you can tell me all about this relationship." A pout unintentionally comes to my lips. "Been together for months and never thought of telling your father. I'm crushed."
Winking, I motion for them to get up from their chairs. "I'll bet you're starving after the trip here from Balamb, and a little food may help to settle your stomach some. Anything you want, it's yours."
~ < > ~
Locking the door of the guestroom, I turn to face the other two people in the room. Dark brown hair covering his face, Squall sits on the corner of the large bed, obviously lost in his own world as he stares down at the pattern design of the carpet. Ellone stands near him, one arm crossing her body in that nervous stance of hers as she stares at me unhappily.
"I'm sorry for asking you to do this."
With a vague smile, she shakes her head. "I don't mind using my powers for you or Squall. I'd never deny you two my help. But the secrecy you request of me... What are you hiding, Uncle Laguna?"
Cupping her doll-like face with my hand, I smile reassuringly. "There's no reason for you to know about all of my past, but a piece of it is important for Squall right now. Will you let me protect your cherished memories?"
Dark brown eyes study me carefully before she nods. "Then I won't watch what you wish to show him."
"Thank you," I say before kissing her forehead.
Moving to the opposite side of the bed, I hop onto the mattress, the resulting bounce waking Squall from his dazed state. He looks back at me, gray-blue eyes shielded of the vast amount of emotion I know must be there. If only I had chosen differently, perhaps he could have been happier... but that is the past, and sadly, I know there was no chance of me making the decision to keep the boy close to me.
"Unless you want to fall forward onto the floor and hurt yourself, I suggest lying down."
"... ..." With an abrupt motion, Squall moves back onto the mattress and stretches out on that side of the large bed. Considering the number of times he's done this and ended up sleeping on the dirt ground, I imagine he appreciates the vague comfort of a soft bed, even though he'd never admit it. Where in the world did he get that pride from?
The mattress dips near me, Ellone sitting on the edge of the bed before she places elegant fingers on my forehead. "Think about the time you need to show him. Use my power."
Taking a deep breath, I close my eyes and focus on years long in the past...
"You're talking to the doctor and that's final," Kiros declared in a frustrated tone.
Though unable to escape with the darkly skinned man pushing him from behind, Laguna resisted as much as he could with his leg acting up. "I don't wanna!"
He was scolded with sharp 'tsk' sound. "Just how old are you?"
"Really, I didn't mean to throw up on your boots. I'll buy you new ones. Promise!"
"If only your loyal subjects could hear you now."
At that Laguna frowned. "I won't be king. Just president until things stabilize. And come on, they'll certainly vote me out for someone better when the next term comes around in a few years."
Before the longhaired man realized what was coming, Kiros shoved him forward, the door sliding open just before Laguna could smack head first into the solid metal panel. Stumbling as he tried to regain balance, the brunette soon found himself in the arms of an older man, blue eyes twinkling in amusement behind half-moon glasses.
"Why, President Loire, a pleasure to meet you in person. I assume you are here for your appointment."
After being helped to his feet, Laguna turned around to glare at his friend, the dark man sending him a small wave before the door slid shut. A wrinkled hand gripped his shoulder in a gentle, but forceful manner and directed the longhaired man to a raised examination bed. Sighing, Laguna surrendered to his fate and hopped onto the hard mattress.
"Now, according to Advisor Seagill, you've been having episodes of nausea for the past couple weeks--"
"Nh, actually, over two months."
A white eyebrow rose. "And you didn't seek any medical attention?"
"We were kind of busy." He smiled weakly, but the doctor obviously wasn't satisfied with the answer.
"I think the best thing to do right now is to do a standard blood examination, as well as a body scan. With you traveling across the world, not to mention your history of contact to numerous monsters, there's no limit to what you may have been exposed to. Let's just hope you aren't contagious."
Laguna blanched at the latter comment, not realizing that he could have subjected his close friends to something dangerous. But they obviously weren't having the same stomach issues, so he hoped that was a good sign. After selecting a cylindrical object from a tray of instruments, the doctor lifted Laguna's hand and placed the pointer finger inside, the longhaired man wincing at the sudden prick into his skin.
Then taking the device to a computer setup, the older man adjusted his glasses while reading the screen. "Let's see here... normal... normal... Oh. Well, that's certainly not normal. My assistant must not have cleaned the needle properly after the last examination. Looks like we'll have to take another blood sample..."
~ < FLASH > ~
Blinking, the longhaired man glanced up to find his two closest friends staring worriedly at him. Friends... no, they were more than just friends after everything they had been through. Always so loyal to their bumbling leader, and yet Laguna wasn't too certain that they'd stick around after the things he needed to say. Still, they deserved to know.
"Did the doc figure out what's wrong with you?"
Laguna only nodded, wishing he knew where to begin.
"Well? Is it something serious? You're kind of scaring us here."
He raked a hand back in the long strands of hair, then rubbed the base of his neck nervously. "Looks like I'm pregnant."
After a stunned pause, Kiros snickered at the announcement. "Is it that time already for us to have that discussion about the birds and the bees?"
Pouting, he glared at the smirking soldiers. "I'm serious. Listen, you don't know everything about me and I certainly didn't realize about some things that had happened in the past. But the short of it is that I'm two and a half months pregnant."
Though the grin was gone, the darkly skinned man was still looked far from a believer. "Laguna--"
"Don't scold me like that, Kiros!" It was then stark silent in the room, even Laguna himself looking surprised at his outburst. "I... I'm sorry. This isn't exactly easy for me."
In a more soothing voice, Kiros suggested, "Then why don't you try explaining how this could even be possible?"
After a deep breath, the longhaired man began. "The shumi race. Ever notice they all look the same? That none of them look obviously male or female? Well, it's because they're both. When I was there recovering from injuries, they kind of 'fixed' me as they thought was proper. I didn't even realize before now what their healer meant by making me whole again."
Both Kiros and Ward held serious expressions at that point, carefully looking over their leader as if expecting to see these supposed changes that had taken place. Laguna felt like laughing, wanting to remind them that they hadn't noticed anything in months, so nothing should be different now.
"Wait," Kiros started hesitantly. "If you are really pregnant, then someone else..."
Closing his eyes, he said with an odd smile, "I'm married."
"... To Raine."
Reopening his eyes, Laguna chose staring at the carpet as the safest option. "Raine's mother had a very difficult pregnancy, and used plenty of various potions, antidotes, and the like. Perhaps too many. Though she looks female, has that low feminine voice as well as small breasts, Raine is most definitely male. But because of her outward appearance, she prefers everyone thinking and referring to her as a woman. It's certainly easier considering the closed-minded people of that town." He fingered the ring on his hand. "It was completely by accident that I found out. I thought she was, um, calling me for help one night. It was a severe shock to me, but in the end all that mattered was the person who took care of me when no one else would, the person who laughed with me and protected me. Made me feel loved and needed... Though I have to admit, her secret was the reason why it took so long for me to propose."
Hand to his face, Kiros stared at his leader between spread fingers. "We went back to Winhill briefly to inform Raine about the situation... Sweet Hyne."
Ward nodded his stunned agreement.
"Kiros..." The longhaired man reached out a hand for some kind of comfort that it was somehow still okay between them.
Black eyes wide, the dark man stepped away from that hand before turning sharply and striding for the exit.
He stopped at the call of his name, but didn't turn. "It's too much right now. Give me some time to think it through." And he left.
Looking at the closed door, Laguna was surprised by a large hand resting on his shoulder. Dark green eyes shifted up to stare at the scarred face of his friend, finding no disgust in the calm expression. The intent eyes only relayed words of comfort and unwavering support.
"Thank you, Ward. Sorry for always causing you both so much trouble."
The mute man smirked as if to say, 'at least it's never dull.'
~ < FLASH > ~
Staring at the hamburger on his plate, Laguna frowned and poked it with a thick steak fry. Then sighed loudly, and poked it harder until the fry broke in half. Holding up the piece of fried potato, he had the expression of a child who had just broken a new toy.
"Weren't you starving just five minutes ago?"
"But it's missing something..." He bit his lip, trying to figure out what the lunch needed.
Kiros shook his head, smiling amused. "Why are you going through this hell?"
Blinking, Laguna glanced up from his plate. "Hell? What do you mean?"
"You had morning sickness for four months, your back and leg have been acting up, your moods have been swinging off the scale, and that's not to mention the pain of hiding this from the public. What better definition of hell do you need?"
"But..." Laguna placed a hand on his swollen belly, the mound flatter than he had feared it would be. "You haven't a clue what it is like to feel a life in you. Sometimes when I'm lying awake at night, I think I can feel his heartbeats and it's just amazing. There's no words for it."
"Always the dreamer," Kiros muttered under his breath.
The longhaired man smiled. "This is an innocent life that's nothing like the death we're always so wrapped up in. Can't you at least understand that?"
The office entrance abruptly opened with a hiss, the large robed figure of Ward stepping through with more grace than one of his size should be able to achieve. Smirking, he approached the desk and held up something to show Laguna.
Green eyes immediately lit up. "A chocolate bar. Of course! Thanks, Ward!"
Dark skin paling in color, Kiros looked away as the candy was placed on top of the hamburger patty.
"Hmmm, what do you think - ketchup or mustard?"
~ < FLASH > ~
In the darkness of night with only white moonlight illuminating the room, Laguna sat on the edge of a large bed and placed a hand on a narrow shoulder, shaking it gently.
"Kiros. Wake up."
Eyelids snapped open as he sat up straight, the dark man taking several moments to look around in confusion before realizing there was no sense of danger. "Laguna. What the fuck are you doing here?"
The longhaired man smiled widely. "He's moving. Give me your hand."
He looked incredulously at the man. "You're waking me up at... crap, three in the morning for this."
"But this is the first time you'd be able to really feel it. I've noticed him shifting a bit for awhile now, but this is so much stronger. Come on, give me your hand." Lagana reached out and grasped a cool hand.
Kiros snatched away his hand from the light hold. "I not going to touch that."
Green eyes widened in hurt. "Why?"
"Hyne, do you really think you're giving birth to a child, Laguna? None of this is natural, and I'd rather not associate with it myself, but I would never desert you. Even so, stop trying to get me fucking involve at every turn."
Laguna stood up quickly, shock and betrayal masking his face. Tears almost poured down his cheeks before he turned sharply and walked as fast as he could for the doorway.
Laguna didn't stop at the command, moving a bit faster as the door quickly opened and closed with his exit. As he went through the building aimlessly, he tried to stop the tears that flowed, but it was obviously a lost battle. When the held in sobs soon made breathing too difficult to continue walking, he carefully lowered himself to the floor of the hallway and stared out the large window that held the scene of a night sky slowly being covered by storm clouds of the approaching monsoon season.
A shaky hand rubbing his large midsection, Laguna realized the truth behind his friend's words. He would never think it himself, but too many other people would see this child as a monster, an unnatural thing that should be eliminated. Given the highly unusual circumstances, Laguna was rather set in the idea that there was something special about his growing son, something fate desired of him. No matter what, the child had to survive, preferably far away from the people that may discover his background.
"Sorry," he sniffed. "I'm sorry, my unborn son, but it looks like I may not be around for you."
Suddenly a large figure blocked the view of the window, Laguna refocusing his tear blurred vision onto a concerned expression. Dressed in an old shirt and sweat pants, Ward lowered onto one knee and cocked his head questioningly at his friend.
The longhaired man smiled weakly. "Did I wake you, too? Sorry. I'm just such an-- ow. No fair going for the ribs."
Blinking, Ward glanced down curiously at the rounded stomach.
"Um, yeah, he's really moving now. You can even feel him through the skin." When the man didn't move, Laguna asked warily, "Wanna feel?"
Eyes narrowed, Ward hesitated before placing a large hand on the pajama covered area. A much smaller hand gripped the hand and moved it slightly to the right to where the growing child was currently stretching against. Shock crossed the scarred face as he looked up at his leader.
"Amazing, isn't it?"
A lopsided smile formed as he nodded in reply.
"This is the first time it could really be felt, you know..." A couple tears escaped his eyes before Laguna continued. "I'm sorry. You've been so great about all of this, and I probably should've gone to you first, but I really want Kiros to..." Biting his lip, he couldn't finish his line of thought.
Smirking, Ward moved his hand from the sign of life to ruffle the long, sleep messed hair in a sign of, 'it will all turn out fine.'
~ < FLASH > ~
There was a quiet hum as Laguna tiredly woke from sleep that had been anything but restful. His body was worse than sore from long hours of labor, especially when a baby was certainly never meant to go out that way, but apparently the shumi magic had accounted for everything about reproduction to make it possible. Painful, but possible. Hazily he wondered why women would dare go through something like that more than once. At the sound of a tiny sneeze, he smiled softly as he realized the simple answer to that question.
Stretching and rolling over to look at his son, Laguna was stunned in mid-move at the sight of Kiros holding the small newborn, the dark man apparently the source of the soothing hum of a lullaby. Dark eyes shifted from gazing at the child, the man's expression somewhere between awed and guilty.
"He was crying. I hope you don't mind."
Laguna shook his head, incapable of words.
Looking back at the resting infant, Kiros said, "I've been an ass. I got so wrapped up in what is 'right' and not what was actually happening. I..." He swallowed hesitantly, and then smiled. "You have a beautiful son."
"Thank you. It means a lot that the godfather approves."
"I don't deserve that."
"Whatever! You and Ward have watched out for me during the whole pregnancy, forget the years before that. It'd be my honor if you decide that you want to be his godfather along with Ward."
"Your unmatched naivety amazes me." Sighing, Kiros sat down on the mattress edge and handed the baby over to his father. "Laguna, are you certain that you can just give up this child?"
"Raine will take good care of her son, and it'd be best for him to stay far away from here at least for now. Even if we cover up his origins, there's still too much instability in this country, and Galbadia isn't letting the war drop. Anyway, Raine deserves some time with Squall."
A black eyebrow arched. "'Squall'?"
Smiling as he watched eyelids flutter open to reveal large gray-blue eyes, Laguna explained, "I thought it fit with the way this little guy was screaming when he first popped out. Reminded me of Raine during a tantrum whenever I got myself hurt."
It hurt waking up from that quasi-sleep, the rush of sadness mixed with the feel of enchantment that comes with the birth of life momentarily overwhelming me. It's been too long since I've revisited that beautiful part of my past, and I've always been able to take the strongest memories in pieces, not all together like that. And certainly never with the clarity that Ellone's powers gave those moments.
As I sit up a bit unsteadily, there's the echo of movement next to me on the bed. Preparing myself for the worst, I turn slowly to look over at Squall. Gray-blue eyes are wide as he stares at me with parted lips, though the shields on his emotions are amazingly intact. Aside from the general state of shock, I can't tell how this revelation has affected him.
"So..." For the life of me I can't think of anything to say.
"Why did you show me that?"
I breathe a pathetic laugh. "Would you have believed me if I just outright told you?"
After a moment of thought, he shakes his head. "But, why...?"
Cautiously I move closer to him. "Squall, you are my son." I hate the need to be cryptic, but Ellone is still in the room and I can feel her brown eyes set on us worriedly.
The young man stares at me as he thinks, eyes slowly widening as he makes several connections. "No, no, no..."
He shrugs off the hand I try to place on him in comfort, then jumps off the bed still muttering the mantra of 'no'. Though he has to pause at the locked door, the brunette soon bolts into the hallway and out of sight. I hear someone calling out his name before the door closes once more.
"It's okay, dear. I just shoved a lot of choices onto him that he never knew he'd have to make. Actually, I think he's taking it rather well. I couldn't move for hours when I was faced with the same problem." Turning to face her, I smile in the attempt to relieve her worries. "Thank you for doing this when I know it takes a lot out of you."
"As I said, anything for you and Squall." She moves closer to me, taking a hand in hers. "Now that you're eternally grateful to me, I have a question to ask before I leave in the morning. It's about Loren..."
"Loren? Who's that?"
She sighs. "The man I've been dating for over a year?"
"No, that's not it. I swore his name started with a 'T'... Terrance, wasn't it?"
Her laughter is lighthearted and musical. "I think I know the name of the man I want to marry."
~ < > ~
Uncertain about what to do with myself, I go to the office instead of directly to my rooms despite the lateness of the hour. I have to fight back the temptation to check in on Squall, but I've learned how important it is for the boy to sort through his emotions and thoughts before coming to a conclusion. I almost lost him as a son when I pushed the issue too hard at first, desperate for an immediate response from the young man about whether or not he could forgive me for my desertion. Thankfully Kiros had interrupted and let my son escape so that he could think in private.
Sighing, I unlock the door to my office and step inside with the vague notion about reading those damn reports that have been sitting on my desk since this morning. If nothing else, they should help to put me to sleep.
"What the fuck did you do to him?"
I start at the growled voice, blinking at the sight of the large blond in my chair. "How'd you get in here?"
Seifer flashes a smirk. "I let myself in. Now," he slowly stands with his words, his expression turning deadly though the smirk stays in place. "What the fucking hell did you do to him?"
"Is something wrong?"
"Yes, something is wrong. Squall runs from that room like a man on fire, and you don't think something is wrong? He even locked the door to his room on me, refusing to say shit."
I can't help a smile while hearing this - he breaks into my secured office with no problems, and yet he won't dare intrude on Squall's space. Interesting. And then there's the trench coat he wears now, certainly fitting him much better than when my son had it on earlier. It must have been quite the feat for him to get Squall to wear it in the first place.
"Do you love my son?"
Green eyes narrow, mimicking a familiar icy glare. "Don't you push this onto me. I'm the one asking the questions."
"And I have your answers, but they depend on what you tell me. Do you truly care for Squall, or are you going to run at the first hint that things will change between you two? And I mean drastic changes."
Seifer surprises me, him not answering spontaneously like any other youth would. Instead he glares at me while thinking out the possibilities of what I could be implying. He'll never guess the right situation, of course, but it's relieving that he understands that there is more to a relationship beyond sex and companionship.
"Does... does this have to do with me?"
I blink, not understanding the question. "You?"
"My past. My crimes."
"Oh, Hyne no, my boy. While, yes, you are involved, it's nothing in the way you could imagine and certainly not your fault."
"Don't call me 'boy'," he mutters while raking fingers through short hair.
"You haven't answered me yet."
A low growl comes from him. "I would never leave him, all right? Never. But if he... Once he realizes... Fuck, why are you making me say this?"
"Never say never," I warn before turning around.
"Hey, where do you think you're going?"
"To talk with Squall. It's not my decision to tell you about this, but I'll try to convince him that you have the right to know."
A short time later, I find myself staring at the closed door to Squall's room in the building. All of the SeeDs that visit Esthar on a regular basis have their own rooms here, but naturally my son was given a larger room within the wing where I sleep. Turned out to be a good decision considering the nights we have spent in my study room, talking most of the night away. Well, me talking the night away as he would listen with a bored expression that didn't quite hide his true interest in what I told him. Hell, he didn't read all those Timber Maniacs without reason.
I knock on the door lightly. "Squall? Do you need anything in there?"
There might have been a sound from within the room, but it's too hard to tell.
"Listen, I know you don't want to hear it, but you aren't alone in this situation. There's a worried young man in my office right now who looks about ready to kill someone if he doesn't find out what's wrong with you."
The door abruptly slides open, Squall not looking at me as he stands in the open portal with his head bowed. "You tell him."
"And you know that he wouldn't want to learn about this from me."
Sighing, he places a hand to his face and massages his temple.
"You know, he cares deeply for you."
A secretive smile appears, his only reply.
"I think he has some right to know, maybe then help you with the decisions you need to make."
"I'm keeping it."
The sharp tone surprises me, but a broad smile quickly replaces my shocked expression. "Very well, but that still doesn't get you out of telling Seifer."
He scoffs. "What am I supposed to tell him? 'Surprise, I'm carrying your baby because you fucked a freak'?"
Both Squall and I flinch at the deeply toned voice, then slowly look over to the blonde standing wide-eyed and confused just a few meters away. When neither of us replies to his question, hard green eyes narrow and he approaches us with his black trench coat flowing perfectly to highlight the intimidating stride. I step back at his silent demand to give him space to tower over Squall. The shorter man looks at him uninterestedly, already covering up the surprise of being overheard.
"What are you doing here?"
"I got bored waiting in that office. Now, what is this crap about you being a freak and whatever that was about a baby?"
Sighing, he replies quietly, "Reasons don't matter. The short of it is that I'm pregnant."
They stare for a time before Seifer says cautiously, "But you don't throw up just in the morning..."
A snort of laughter escapes me. "They call it morning sickness, but it's actually an all-day-event."
Squall huffs at that knowledge.
"You're serious..." He leaves the obvious unspoken that Squall never lies when he is being serious, which is about ninety-five percent of the time. Seifer looks down, then carefully places a hand with spread fingers on the thus far flat stomach. "Mine?"
"Have you noticed me with anyone else in our bed?"
He clutches the sweater. "And?"
"I refuse to kill an innocent life."
A smirk slowly spreads, a touch of mischief shining in his green eyes. "I thought you said it was half mine."
Sensing the direction of their mood, I clear my throat to remind them of my presence. "Considering your decision, I'd like you to stay here so that you and my first grandchild will receive the best care Esthar has to offer. Naturally, Seifer is welcome to stay if you desire it. And there's no limit on how long you can live here, or if you want an apartment in town, I can help find you one. In fact, an intern was talking about these new condos along the outskirts of the city that are apparently cheap for the excellent quality, but I don't want you to worry about cost. Leave the condo, furniture, and baby supplies all to me. And... and now I'm starting to ramble."
A dark eyebrow hitches up in disbelief. "Your 'first' grandchild?"
Of all the things to pickup out of that unplanned speech... "You're young and active. Things happen."
Squall looks at me bemused while the larger man chokes on his breath.
"Anyway, just let me spoil you like a father should."
An odd, stunned expression crosses his face before the brunette laughs.
He shakes his head and tries to control himself, eventually stuttering out, "K-Kiros once told me that... I looked like... that I looked like my mother."
While Seifer looks severely confused, I growl under my breath that I'll have to speak with my advisor about this bit of information.
Hysterics back under his control, Squall palms moisture from his eyes as he tries to regain composure. "Um, before, you asked if I needed anything... Is there a way to get some food this late?"
"I think we can slip into the kitchen without any problems, and I certainly know that it's unwise to deny a pregnant person food. Anything specific you want?"
He shifts his footing almost shyly. "It's absurd, but that hamburger idea sounds good."
"Heh, that one was always my favorite." Patting his back, I guide my son out from the doorway of his room and direct him towards the elevator. "Though if I may suggest, you should pass on the ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise. Sweet relish complemented the chocolate far better than the rest of them."
From the brunette's other side, Seifer looks at us both strangely. "Uh, relish and chocolate on a hamburger?"
I don't bother to respond, letting Squall's glazed expression and unintentional lip licking say it all.
"Shit, you better be pregnant." He grins foolishly while his arm slips shamelessly around Squall's waist and he rubs a hand protectively over the hidden stomach. "So, does this mean I get to call you 'mommy'?"
Author's Whining -- Mwaha, I'm expanding my mpreg corruption to other FF8 characters. No one is safe! ...On another note, please forgive me for writing this one-shot. Just something about the evilness of the idea made me write it. ^_^;