When I Heard Your Voice
June 2003

 

"... and so, surrendering to the pleading smile, they followed Laguna's lead."

Closing the front door behind him, Seifer was surprised to hear the familiar voice speaking in amused tones from the living room area.  After briskly rubbing cold hands together, the large blonde shrugged off his lengthy coat and hung it in the front closet.  Heavy boots were then removed as the merman's voice carried over to him.

"Of course, they should have counted on their friend's horrid sense of direction to get them lost.  In Laguna's mind, however, he thought that they rather liked the adventures that typically started with the words, 'Well, that doesn't look familiar.'  On that day, mere moments after the infamous words had been spoken, they found themselves trapped in a sunken ship with a group of frenzied sharks circling just outside."

With a tender smile, the blonde man walked soundlessly into the larger room.  His smile widened at the sight of Squall sitting in the middle of the couch, Adryan leaning against his one side while Laney was resting on the merman's lap from the other direction.  Before him sat Cal and Davis, the boys unusually still as they stared with widen eyes at their storyteller.  Behind them the fireplace held a nice flame, Seifer enjoying the warmth of it after his long walk in the darkened evening.

"How'd that happen?" asked Davis, the elder of the two Kinneas boys.

Squall smiled softly in amusement.  "Well, Laguna thought it would be good practice to fight a lonesome shark they had come across.  But before they had even attacked, Laguna cut himself on his own spear.  The scent of blood attracted at least fifteen more of the creatures and forced the three friends to race for shelter, which ended up being the ship Laguna wanted to explore in the first place."

Seifer had the urge to laugh, remembering plenty of stories about the merman named Laguna and his two friends - Kiros and Ward.  But the blonde didn't dare make any unnecessary sounds as he moved to sit on the couch.  Adryan stirred at the sinking cushions, a small smile forming when hazel eyes focused on his father.  Pushing up from Squall's side, the blonde boy moved to Seifer's lap and rested his head against the broad chest while keeping his eyes focused on the merman.

Cal scooted closer to the couch.  "How did they get out?"

"Well, truthfully, the sharks weren't much of a problem once Ward and Kiros handled the few small enough to sneak into the cracks of the ship.  When the smell of blood had faded, the sharks eventually wandered off for easier prey.  No, the hardest part was dragging Laguna away from the ship before their bearers could discover that they were missing.  And let me tell you, sharks are nothing compared to what an upset sire can do.  Kiros was also worried about the fascination Laguna held for the sharper objects in the ship."

Davis admirably stifled a yawn before asking, "So, did they get into trouble?"

"Not a chance, buddy," Seifer spoke before the merman could.  "It's bedtime for the lot of you.  Squall can tell you more stories another time."

Though the two Kinneas boys huffed at being ordered to bed, they went without a vocal complaint knowing that their uncle wouldn't let them get away with anything, especially if they resorted to whining.  Laney was already fast asleep, Squall easily carrying the young girl to her own room.  Adryan stood up on the couch cushions, giving his father a quick hug before jumping off to the floor and hurrying to catch up to the other boys.

In time Squall returned from putting Laney to bed, the dark-haired man then tiredly dropping to sit next to Seifer.  Smiling, the large blonde slipped an arm around the lean waist and pulled the merman closer.  It had been several months since their first night of sex, and yet, whether because of their extensive past or some other reason, Seifer felt like they had been together for far longer.  He couldn't remember it being this natural to hold Fujin, some body part always in the way or the angle uncomfortable, but with Squall, it was always a simple pleasure to merely sit for hours with barely a word spoken between them.

"How are Selphie and Irvine?"

Seifer smirked.  "Alive.  They got through the worst of their colds, but they're both exhausted.  Irvine nearly collapsed after answering the door when I first showed up.  I hung around to make them another large batch of soup that should tide them over for a couple of days."  Making a show of looking around the living room, he continued to say, "Well, since everything seems in place and nothing burnt, I guess you didn't have any problems here?"

Frowning, Squall half-heartedly glared at the blonde.  "The children were perfect.  Stop making them seem like demons."

"They are demons.  Even Selphie admits to that."

"Whatever," he huffed while shifting to rest his head against Seifer's shoulder.

"Don't tell me that they finally wore you out."

"... ..."

Recognizing the slight tensing of the body pressed against him, Seifer looked down at dark brown hair.  "What's wrong?"

"It's just been awhile since I've told stories about Laguna..."

There was no immediate reply from the blonde, green eyes turning their focus to the flames in the fireplace.  His first reaction was anger at the apparent fact that he still wasn't good enough to make the merman happy, but that brief flare of emotion passed quickly once Seifer reminded himself that he wouldn't be any better in a similar situation.  Being forbidden from ever seeing Adryan again would be torture, especially if Seifer knew that his child was waiting just out of reach.  And hell, simply being taken from the world he knew and understood would have probably destroyed him from the beginning.  But Seifer couldn't deny that it still hurt to think that Squall wished for another life as he slept in their bed.

An unexpected brush of coldness against his forehead made Seifer return his attention to the merman, his gaze meeting one of intense blue-gray that seemed to peer right through him.  Instinct made him want to escape such a piercing look, but in the same sense, he couldn't pull himself away from staring into the stormy depths.  Meanwhile, Squall brushed aside the ever-present strands of blonde that would fall over Seifer's forehead, elegant fingers then carefully tracing the long scar that cut in a steep slope from almost his hairline and down across the bridge of his nose to his right cheek.  Seifer was tempted to touch the mirrored scar that existed on Squall's face, but he felt rather entranced by the blue-gray eyes and didn't have the desire to move.

Slowly such that their eye contact didn't break, the dark-haired man moved to straddle muscular thighs and wrap his arms over broad shoulders.  When Squall closed his eyes, the blonde couldn't help a brief feeling of loss at the broken connection.  Pale lips then parted slightly as if to sigh, but instead it was a quiet song that escaped the merman.  Green eyes widened slightly at the almost physical sensation of the song as it seemed to wrap all along his body and slowly seep through his skin.  His blood burned within his veins and his heart ached with every clearly felt throb of life, and yet the song continued to force its way deeper into him, into his very mind and soul with its heated touch.  Seifer wanted to plead for its end, to stop the pain, but there was also the determination to not release the aching heat that was somehow a part of Squall.  A part of Squall that he dearly wanted.

In the end, it was the merman's choice as he let the song taper off, the burning sensation within Seifer not receding with the song as if hot embers were left deep inside of him.  His eyes had closed at some point during the song, and he could no longer will them open as he tried to collect himself.  Sudden coldness pressed against his lips as Squall kissed him gently before parting a bare distance, soft breath flowing over golden skin when he spoke softly to Seifer.

"This is my love for you, something I can't express otherwise."  He then leaned in closer, his cheek pressed against Seifer's as he wrapped his arms tighter around the larger man.  "Forgive me.  I wish for everything when I should be grateful for what I have."

Seifer opened his eyes slowly, the bright green gaze falling upon the flames within the fireplace that no longer held the same heat as before.  Thought his expression was neutral, he savored the words that were spoken in a muted voice, words that were clearly meant only for him to hear.  Once again able to move his body, Seifer slipped his arms under the merman's loose shirt to touch the cool softness of bare skin as held the slim form close.  Time was meaningless as they didn't move, both holding onto something that was denied for too long.

"Papa?"

Reluctantly, Seifer reopened his eyes once more and looked over at the embarrassed youth.  "Yeah, Dray?"

"Sorry, but can we have some water?"

There was the sincere temptation to say 'no', but he nodded instead.  As Seifer leaned back and released his hold, Squall placed a foot back on the ground before standing up.  Before the blonde could push himself up as well, a hand was placed against his chest as Squall leaned over him.

"I'll get their water if you handle the fire."

Seifer smiled amused.  "Of course.  We can't have the fire burning unattended while we go to bed, can we?"

The only response was a vague smirk from the merman before he straightened and motioned Adryan into the kitchen.

As green eyes followed the pair for several moments, the blonde man was amazed by the sense of rightness when he realized that Squall had almost completely taken over the role that Fujin had left behind years ago and that Seifer could never fulfill given his father role as well.  But guilt followed soon after that realization, Seifer wondering if it was fair to have someone practically replace Adryan's true mother, a goodhearted woman who had been simply young and overwhelmed. 

Sighing at such conflicting thoughts, he stood with a stretch and a wide yawn before walking up to the fireplace, new thoughts already forming about ways to spend the night that wouldn't wake up the children.

~ > < ~

"Here we go," Seifer said as he sat heavily on the couch and handed the brunette a large glass.

Blue-gray eyes narrowed suspiciously as Squall examined the cold, white slush.

"Trust me this time.  I should have made something like this for you months ago.  Anyway, tonight we deserve a celebration after nearly two weeks with those brats."

"They weren't brats," the merman muttered before he placed his lips around a thick straw and sampled the drink, stormy eyes then widening in surprise at the flavor.  "It tastes sweet.  Like that one fruit..."

"Pineapple.  I probably should've know better than to try wine on you, especially when there are plenty of fruity drinks that you would enjoy more.  So, you like?"

Squall nodded while sipping more of the frozen drink.

Laughing after a long sip of his own portion, Seifer set his glass down on the table.  "Careful.  You don't want to get a cold headache."

"Whatever."

Bending over, the blonde grabbed bare feet and pulled them up onto his lap, forcing Squall to stretch out and shift his sitting position on the other end of the couch.  As the merman laid back and closed his eyes, Seifer took one of the feet in hand and massaged along the underside of the foot with a firm press of his thumbs.  While working his magic on the sensitive foot, he watched Squall carefully for signs of discomfort.  It had barely been six months since his exile, a time when the dark-haired man had at first refused to even look at his legs.  In the months after, the simple suggestion of a foot massage would make him pale in disgust.

"Do they still bother you?"

Swallowing a mouthful of the pina colada, Squall didn't open his eyes.  "What?"

"Your legs.  Does it bother you to look at them?"

His eyelids twitched before hesitantly opening, blue-gray eyes defiant with a silent 'see, I'm fine with it' that Seifer didn't believe for a second.

Lifting the leg such that the foot rested on his shoulder, he moved his massage up to the calf.  "They're beautiful, you know.  Lean and tight with muscles," he said before lightly kissing the captured leg.

"... They're plain," Squall mumbled, then quickly turned his attention back to the drink in hand.

"Hmmm, you just don't have the eye for a gorgeous set of legs."

Whatever the merman was about to say was quickly cut off when Seifer began to nip and suck beneath the slightly bent knee.  The blonde had to hold onto the leg tighter as Squall first squirmed in a vague attempt to get away, but then moaned quietly as he arched back into the couch pillow.  Chuckling, Seifer continued his attack at the hot spot while his free hand moved to massage the matching site on the other leg.  It wasn't until a strangled 'maie anleh' escaped pale lips that the blonde ceased his rather unfair assault, Seifer then smirking down shamelessly at the flushed face.

"Lovely and tasty legs indeed."

Lust filled eyes glared at him.  "Ungrig arhin'as, is this all you think about?"

"Your legs?  Nah, I prefer to think about the entire package."

Drawing his leg back from its resting place on the broad shoulder, Squall leaned forward and wrapped an arm around Seifer's neck, his ice-cold glass pressed against exposed skin.  "Then why we are still on the couch?"

A blonde eyebrow arched high at the almost aggressive tone.  "My, my.  Don't tell me--"

Words were quickly silenced by the joining of lips, Seifer happily forgetting his taunt as the sweetly flavored tongue stroked hard against his.  The kiss ended quickly, however, as the blonde stood up from the couch and leaned over to take the smaller man into his arms.  Attempting to be nonchalant about being carried to their bedroom, Squall slowly finished his drink and coyly refused to meet green eyes.

Grinning wide, Seifer kneeled on the mattress and laid out his merman with an experienced hand, stealing the empty glass from a limp hold and dropping it carelessly to the floor.  There was a quiet murmur about making a mess, but Seifer easily ignored him while resuming their previous kiss.  Unlike times before when he allowed Squall to hold in his moans for fear of waking someone too young to view such activities, the blonde worked to drive the louder noises out of the typically stoic man.  While he kissed hard and his hands journeyed to the more sensitive areas along the lean form, Seifer resisted a sharp cry of his own when ice-cold fingers snuck down his shirt collar and began to massage taunt muscles.

When it eventually became too warm for comfort, their barrier of clothes were quickly removed and tossed in various directions away from the bed.  That done, Seifer immediately began to kiss down the center line of the lithe body, then settling at his favorite tease point where he nibbled at the rim of the bellybutton.  Words unknown to the blonde slipped from the merman's mouth as he panted with obvious need.  Smirking at the other's lack of control, Seifer started to move lower to what he knew his lover wanted, but he was stopped by a suddenly painful pull of his hair as he was made to look up into deep blue eyes.

"Aese, maie anleh.  Ea niede ouve."

Smirking, Seifer took the hand from his head and pulled it down to kiss the underside of the wrist.  After releasing the hand, he rolled onto his side to then wet his fingers before pushing them into tight heat, trying to quickly prepare the opening for his ready erection.  It was still strange to feel within that channel, though certainly not the surprise it was that first night.  While the first inch or so was typical smoothness, just beyond that were some kind of villi, almost thin fingerlike projections which caressed and seemingly pulled as if to draw his fingers in deeper.  Though a very odd feeling, the way they would almost always teased the slit of his penis when he was buried deep within the merman was a torturous and amazing sensation.

Squall suddenly pushed himself back, fingers easily slipping out of him as he glared at Seifer with the clear message that fingers weren't enough.  His smile one of pure lust, the blonde moved to his knees as he lifted slim legs to then position his hardened length at the prepared entrance.  Squall moaned with a relief filled sigh at the first penetration, a breathy laugh leaving the blonde man when he looked down at lovely creature who panted in pleasure.  After adjusting to the feel within the merman, Seifer began a slow rhythm of thrusts that he knew would quicken despite his desire to be gentle with the smaller man.

As they moved together, slim arms soon encircled his neck and elegant legs tightened around his waist, Squall taking away the option of gentleness from Seifer as the brunette met each thrust with a hard counterthrust.  In time the fast and sharp rhythm had taken complete control over their actions, any protest of their bodies forgotten under the need to reach for the final pleasure.  As a brief warning, the unusual villi stiffened around his erection and added sudden pressure along the sensitized length, forcing Seifer's release at the same moment of the merman's ultimate orgasm.

Panting afterwards in the attempt to regain lost breath, the blonde was mildly surprised to discover that Squall still had the energy to hold onto him tightly.  Lowering such that the brunette's weight settled on the mattress without being smothered by his larger body, Seifer then tried to pry the legs from around his waist so that he could remove himself from Squall and more comfortably rest next to the merman.  The lean legs only tightened at his touch.

"Dhenaut laefen ea," came a sudden whisper, Seifer freezing at the words.

"What does that mean?" he asked more harshly than he intended.

Squall didn't respond, only breathed deeply as he continued to cling onto the larger man.

During the brief silence, Seifer was unable to figure out why the words bothered him.  "Tell me what it means."

"It's nothing--"

"Squall.  Just tell me.  Please."

"It means, 'Don't leave me'..." he replied softly.

An echo of the first words suddenly came to Seifer, except it was a much younger voice that spoke them within his mind.  "That night when I left to become a mercenary... you... you wanted me to stay?"  When there was no reply, he asked, "Why didn't you tell me?  I mean, so that I'd actually understand?"

"... It wasn't my right to say such things."

Mixed emotions flooded Seifer as he sounded something between a laugh and an annoyed growl.  "You hopeless idiot...  Alright, that's it.  You're going to start teaching me that language of yours tomorrow."

It took a moment before Squall laid back on the mattress to be able to meet the man's gaze.  "What?"

"I don't want to miss anything else important from you.  Think you could try teaching it to me again?"

Slowly, a weak smile formed.  "You were a horrible student."

"Hey, you're teaching Dray just fine.  Can't you just add me into those lessons?"

"He's more advanced than you," Squall stated as fact, suggesting more than the concept that Adryan had been already receiving lessons for the past few months.

"Fine, then lessons start now.  How do I say that I'll never leave you?"

There was stunned silence before the whisper of, "Ea nehaephre laefen ouve."

"Um, e-ah ne-half leaf oven?"

Squall didn't bother to hold back any of his laughter, his whole body shaking in amusement beneath the larger man.  Seifer was able to smile at his own humiliation if it meant such free laughter from the stoic merman, but then he was awkwardly reminded of the fact that he was still buried deep within the brunette.

"Uh, Squall..."  Fingers pressed against his lips to silence him.

"Lesson two - menegh means 'more'."

"Hmmm, I think I guessed that one weeks ago," Seifer said in a rough voice before stealing a kiss from smirking lips.

~ > < ~

Scratching wet hair while yawning wide, Seifer stumbled to the kitchen table where morning light beamed down on the most heavenly sight of a large mug filled to the brim with coffee, nice and black.  It wasn't until about halfway through the cup when he noticed Squall sitting at the table.  His lovely mouth also seemed to be moving in a manner that suggested speaking...

"What was that?"

Amused, Squall shook his head.  "I said, 'would you like some breakfast?'."

"Oh.  Food.  Yeah, that'd be great," he said before returning his attention to the life giver that was caffeine.

Still standing with his mug in hand, Seifer vaguely noticed the brunette get up from his chair to retrieve something from the kitchen area, Squall eventually returning with a plate stacked with several thick pancakes.  As the blonde finished his coffee, the haze of green eyes slowly faded while he focused on the vision of the merman, a lovely image after such a long night.  Seifer smirked when he received a glare for his intense staring, Squall then purposefully sitting with his back turned to the blonde.  Still smiling, he reached out to lightly massage the long neck, callused fingers brushing along the chain of the silver choker.

"That's odd..."

Squall's questioning hum was laced with a moan of pleasure.

"I always thought this symbol was black, but it actually looks dark blue in the right light."

Muscles instantly tensed under his hand.  "What?"

"Um, this symbol on your neck.  I just noticed--"

Seifer was abruptly knocked back when, without a sign of warning, Squall stood up from his chair and ran straight for the backdoor.  By the time the blonde could focus on something beyond the burning spot of coffee on his shirt, he glanced up to see the brunette already running out of sight behind the slope of the small hill.  After dazedly thinking that it was rather impressive for the merman to sprint with such speed, Seifer snapped fully awake with a loud curse and ran for the open doorway.


It wasn't until he ran into the waves that Squall remembered how the water of the ocean would no longer soothe his wounds, but instead aggravate them as salt and scrapping sand attacked the numerous deep scratches along his legs from a previous fall.  But even that pain was minor to his need to reach the ocean, to reach his bearer.

"Berenas!"

A small voice in his head scolded him for the cracked voice that sounded near sobbing, but Squall didn't care about his appearance to his bearer, someone who didn't believe in the masks of ice anyway.

"Berenas...!  Berenas!"

And then he was prevented from going any further into the surf, a powerful force wrapping around him and keeping him in place.

"Squall--"

"No!  Let go of me!  Berenas!"

"What are you doing?  Do you want her to die for you?"

The sharp words somehow made their way beyond the panic, immediately ceasing the merman's struggles to free himself as he went limp in the strong arms.

"Shit, what's wrong with you?"

Staring vacantly into the waves that would flow as high as his chest, Squall spoke distractedly.  "I've lied to you..."

Seifer was silent for several moments before pulling the limp body closer.  "Let's get dry and warm.  Then you'll talk."

The brunette vaguely shook his head.  "I can't... anymore..."

"What, going to drown yourself, now?  I don't think so.  Even if you were stupid enough to do it, I wouldn't let you.  Come on."

He let himself be taken back to shore, his rebellious feet stepping automatically as the large blonde continued to press him forward.  It was like a hazy memory from that point, Squall vaguely noticing as they eventually entered the house.  Wet clothes were stripped from his body before he was forced into a warm shower.  It was then a gentle but firm hand that dried him and tended to the cuts on his legs.  It wasn't until the moment something hot was placed into his hands when he finally seemed to wake, finding himself sitting on the couch with new clothes on and a mug of hot chocolate cupped in his hands.  After staring mystified at the steaming drink, he looked up to see Seifer sitting across from him on the sofa chair.  The range of emotions within the vibrant green eyes was easily read by the merman, nearly undoing him, but he quickly changed his focus back to the swirling chocolate in hand to avoid those eyes.

"What did you lie to me about?"

His hold tightened around the mug.  "I... I've let you assume things."  He paused, almost hoping that Seifer would decide that he didn't want to know, but the rare patience that the man was showing proved otherwise.  "When I've mentioned my father or bearer in the past, you have always assumed that they were the same person.  They are not.  Berenas means 'bearer'."

"I don't understand.  'Berenas' is 'mother', right?"

Squall nodded.

"Wait, I thought the person you've been trying to contact, this bearer of yours... I thought she was male," Seifer said with a quiet, embarrassed laugh.

"He is."

There was a pause.  "Okay, start from the beginning here, 'cause I'm beyond confused."

"In my race, the females, mermaids as you call them, are not fertile.  None can bear children.  Among the males, about half can produce viable seed, and of those remaining, around a third of them are able to carry children while the rest are infertile."  Blue-gray slowly looked up to meet stunned green.

"So, two males... wow, okay.  But why didn't you tell me before?"

Squall shrugged.  "I did, but you were young and didn't understand, so I stopped bothering to correct you."

It was only a matter of time before Seifer abruptly stood up from his chair and stared down at the merman.  "Wait a moment... which... are you?"

"... A bearer."

In a quiet voice, as if not really wanting to know the answer, Seifer asked, "And what does this have to do with earlier?"

"My symbol..."  He couldn't continue to look at the man, instead directing his gaze to the safer sight of hot chocolate.  "I'm pregnant.  With your son if the symbol has truly turned blue."

It was dead silent after the announcement.  Though tempted, Squall refrained from delving into the other's emotions to gain a hint of what the man was thinking.  Focusing on the cooling drink, he sipped at the hot chocolate, barely tasting the sweet richness, but it did calm some of his unease.  When Seifer finally broke free of his shocked state, the brunette refused to look up when the man stepped directly before him.  A frustrated sigh sounded before the large man knelt down to meet Squall's gaze.

"Is it so terrible to bear my child?"

Stormy eyes flew wide at the question.  "No.  No, it's not...  I didn't..."  He bit his lower lip, for the first time truly realizing that it was Seifer's child within him, not just any child.

Though at first smiling in relief, the blonde then frowned.  "Why did you run then?"

"I shouldn't have been able to get pregnant.  There's a potion we have to take.  And truthfully, being pregnant isn't a... nice thing."

The man's frown deepened.  "Can you die from this?"

"No, but some have been known to kill themselves to stop the pain.  There are medicines to help, but there aren't many safe options that wouldn't harm the growing child.  That is why bearers are rather spoiled - allowed to explore ships for fun, allowed to learn anything we wish..."  Smiling weakly, he looked directly into worried green eyes.  "...and allowed to be friends with a human child."

"If that's true, then why were you exiled?"

"I willingly gave my blood to a human."

"So?  You've done the same for me several times over the years."

The merman shook his head.  "This time I was seen.  I was to be bonded when something felt wrong, dark.  I left before the ceremony had started and hurried to the beach where I found you calling for me.  My intended had followed and witnessed the offering of blood."

"Squall--"

"It was my choice.  I knew he was watching and I made the decision to save Adryan.  It had little to do with you."

A small laugh sounded.  "Okay, I surrender.  And I have to admit to being selfish since I got both Dray and you out of that event."  Sighing, Seifer stood to sit next to the brunette and slip an arm around the lean waist.  "So, you left someone at the altar for me?"

Frowning, Squall looked over at him.  "It wasn't for you, and what does an altar have to do with anything?"

The blonde only grinned foolishly with a strange glint to his eyes.

"... Are you really okay with this?"

"Truthfully, don't think I believe it.  Not that I don't believe you, of course, but hell, even with Fu, I didn't truly realize what I was getting myself into until she really started to show."  Sudden deep laughter escaped the man.  "A-ah, fuck.  Selphie is going to go crazy about this.  She always thought I need more children, though I think she just wants others to suffer having plenty of children.  And Hyne knows she'll end up having more demons."

"They aren't--"

"Demons.  The whole lot of them," he said with a wide smile.

Squall scowled.  "Stop that."

"Hn?  Stop what?"

"Tease me when... I'm scared," he admitted reluctantly, annoyed that the man could take all of this so lightly.

Sighing, Seifer held the merman tighter and rested his head on a shoulder.  "And you don't think I am?  Last time someone had my kid, she ran off.  And the idea of you in more pain because of me certainly doesn't settle well, but no use worrying now about what will happen.  We can only tackle everything as it comes."

Nodding slightly, Squall slowly finished off his warm drink as they slipped into comfortable silence, both men focused on their own thoughts about the coming months.  The merman was still afraid despite the blonde's strong presence.  He figured that it was mostly because his first pregnancy wasn't supposed to have gone this way.  He had always counted on his bearer and sire to be close by, one ready to comfort as only his bearer could, and the other ready to pommel his intended if he wasn't handling his responsibilities properly.  While he had never said it in words, Squall cherished his parents for their constant love and support.  But now their presence wouldn't be there for the hardest months of pregnancy, and Squall wasn't too certain if he could handle that.

~ > < ~

Something was being annoyingly loud and it took several moments for Squall to understand why it was so dark at the same time.  When he was being moved away from comfortable warm, he whined and clung onto it tighter.

"Come on, lovely.  I have to answer the door."

Eyes slowly opened to brightness.  "Seifer?"

"You've been sleeping all morning and I still have the door to answer, so think you can wake up and move over a little bit?"

Squall frowned at the highly amused tone, and then sat up while stifling a yawn.  "All morning?"

Standing, Seifer walked quickly around the couch towards the front door.  "Yep.  I think you exhausted yourself with all that running and stress.  Hell, I needed that nap, too, so don't worry about it."

Rubbing his eyes, the brunette leaned back into the couch cushions and tried to keep renewed panic away.  Their talk that morning seemed like a far away thing, almost like a dream that wasn't true.  But placing a hand on his neck where the symbols of his status were etched into skin, he could feel the slight warming of the letters as they reacted to the changes within his body.  It had already begun and there was no going back.

There was the sound of a door opening.  "Well, hey, what are you doing here?"

"Adryan," called Selphie's voice with a scolding tone, that quickly followed by the padding of feet. 

The young boy was soon standing in front of the seated merman and staring at him with wide hazel eyes.  Or rather, he was staring at his midsection.  Squall didn't speak as he vaguely heard Selphie apologizing in the background, his attention more focused on the blonde haired boy.  Without looking away from that spot, Adryan stepped closer to pull himself up onto the couch next to the brunette and then place a small hand against the shirt covered area.  The boy smiled softly before resting his head on the merman's chest.

"He's gonna be really strong, y'know.  And protect me," the child said in a hushed voice.

Surprised, Squall wrapped an arm around Adryan's back and raked fingers through pale blonde hair.  "How do you know?"

"Dreamed it last night.  Never dreamed of him before, but he was cool."

The brunette could feel the hopeful relief within the child's voice, something about the tone easing his own worries about the coming pregnancy.  To dream of him, Adryan already seemed to hold a deep bond with the brother who was barely alive, that giving Squall something else to focus on beyond the inevitable pain.

"What's this about?"

At the voice, Squall looked up to find a young woman standing next to the couch, Selphie smiling wide with a satisfied gleam to her eyes which was always present when Adryan found comfort at his side.  Uncertain how to answer her question, the merman remained silent.

"Oh, I hope you aren't upset that I ruined your fun with Seifer.  As I just told him, our little angel here was determined to come back home.  He didn't want to tell me why, though.  Is everything okay?"

The sincere worry in her tone caught Squall a little off guard and he looked to Seifer with a questioning gaze of what he should say.  The blonde just smiled and raised an eyebrow in his own silent question.  There was a moment of hesitation before Squall nodded.

"Alright," Seifer started while approaching the petite woman, her completely unintimidated by his height.  "I want you to sit down and you aren't allowed to move from that chair until I say."

Her green eyes seem to glitter when she clasped her hands together.  "O-oh, this must be good.  What is it?"

"Nice try.  Sit and stay seated, then we'll tell you."

Pouting, but her excitement obviously not damaged, Selphie took the seat across from Squall.  "Should I bark now?"

"If the urge comes to you," Seifer said while moving to half-sit on the couch armrest next to the merman.  After taking a deep breath, he said, "Alright, you already know about Squall, so there's nothing much more to explain except that their race is quite different from ours, but...  well, Squall is pregnant."

It took a few seconds, but soon a cooing 'oh' escaped the woman, quickly followed by an angry 'oh' which confused the merman.

"Seifer, how dare you make me sit here."

The blonde man laughed.  "And what, have you tackle Squall and squeeze the life out of him?  I think not.  You can sit there until you can contain yourself."

"You're so mean, telling me something like that and...  o-o-oh, come here, Squall," she begged with arms held out wide.

Seifer leaned over and whispered, "I wouldn't if I were you."

Uncertain about the situation, the merman simply pulled Adryan a little closer and hoped the excuse that the boy was comfortable would help him escape the woman's order.  The move made Seifer chuckle deeply while Selphie frowned in mock hurt.

"Fine, be that way."  And then her bright smile flared back as she said, "This is so perfect.  We'll have to go shopping immediately.  I remember Seifer tossing out all of Adryan's old things when he thought he'd never love again and all of that nonsense.  You'll need a crib, clothes, bottles--"

"Selph," Seifer interrupted with an amused and yet serious tone.  "Thank you, but we have other things to worry about first.  There's plenty of time to buy things, and trust me, you'll be in the loop.  Just...  Do you mind if it's just the family here tonight?  I mean, if I let you get started--"

The petite woman waved her hand, her expression changing once more into something more motherly.  "I understand.  You both must have found this out recently considering that I saw you yesterday and you didn't mention a thing.  And sorry, hon," she said eyeing Seifer, "but I know that you wouldn't have been able to hide a secret this big.  Well, I take it that I'm free to move?"

At the blonde's nodded, Selphie immediately moved to place a gentle kiss on Squall's forehead.  "Congratulations.  And don't worry, Seifer is a natural when it comes to handling someone who is pregnant.  Irvine worships the ground he walks on."  Straightening, she then kissed the blonde man's cheek and smiled warmly at him.  "Come by whenever you're both ready for me.  I'll resist harassing you, though I may call if you take too long to keep me updated."

"Thanks, Selph.  I appreciate it."

As the brown-haired woman let herself out with a call of "and be good to my angel!", Seifer sighed and placed a hand at the back of the merman's neck, fingers rubbing gently along colored skin.

"You okay?"

Blinking, Squall looked up into green eyes.

"You were getting rather pale while Selphie was going on.  Sorry, I should've better prepared you for how excited she gets about things like this.  Even Dray knows better than to mention something big to her, right kiddo?"

The boy nodded, though avoided his father's gaze.

"So, care to tell me how you found out?" Seifer asked, green eyes sharp on his son.

When Adryan remained silent while clutching the shirt beneath his hand, Squall asked softly, "May I tell him?"

The small body tensed, but he still nodded in a quick motion.

Looking up, the merman paused at the sight of intense green, the man obviously upset that he didn't know something about his own son while someone else was trusted with the secret.  Despite the silent threat in those eyes, Squall smiled at the evidence of love and concern.

"There is power within your son, something that hasn't developed yet.  One day it should mature into what the world needs, but for now, it merely plagues him with dreams of possibilities of what will be demanded of him."

Turning his attention to the child in the merman's hold, Seifer said, "The dreams... I thought you told me that they stopped, Dray."

"Sorry," the boy mumbled.  "I didn't want to bother you no more."

"Stupid kid," he said before ruffling the pale blonde hair.  "So, these dreams are more than dreams?"

The merman nodded.  "Not truly the future, but possibilities.  And apparently our unborn one has made his appearance in those potential futures."

Adryan sat up at that, smiling slightly.  "He gonna be strong like you, Papa.  And he'll call me 'solas' and I'll call him 'haidras', and he'll always be there..."

Failing at a smile, Seifer leaned over to grab his son and lift him onto his lap.  Hugging him tight, he whispered harshly, "Don't you dare hide things like that from me again.  Maybe I can't do anything, but I want to know when something hurts my boy.  Understood?"

"Un.  Sorry, Papa."

Squall briefly smiled at the sight of father and son, then stood up from the couch.  "I'm going to the pier.  Alone," he added when Seifer looked about to stand.

Neither argued, though green eyes examined him intently before Seifer apparently decided that the merman wasn't about to do something stupid.  Just as the father mentioned something about lunch to the young boy, Squall left through the backdoor at a rather languid pace compared to that morning.  He walked slowly to the pier, letting vague memories of times with his own family come to mind as he stared at the hazy horizon of the ocean.


Bare feet sounding on wood, Seifer walked along the pier until he reached a silent figure who sat with his back against a thick post and a single leg hanging off the edge.  Squall never turned at the blonde's approach, almost as if he was afraid to move his eyes from the expanse of dark waters which could reveal his bearer at any moment.  Leaning against the opposite post, Seifer glanced down at the moonlit face, then turned his gaze to the ocean as he pretended to not notice the tear stained cheeks.

"What are you expecting, Squall?"

"... ..."

"Alright, but don't blame him for following the rules.  As you said, it was your choice to risk exile."

"... I know," he replied, the soft voice hoarser than Seifer could ever remember.

"Well, dinner is ready, and even if you aren't hungry, Dray is worried about you.  Care to come back home?"

"Home?"

Seifer sighed.  "Too pretentious of me?"

There wasn't a reply, the blonde then looking back down at the merman who continued to stare at the ocean, but had moved his arm to rest over his stomach.

"Squall..."

"Tell me what to do."

With a shadow of a smile, Seifer moved from his spot to then sit behind the smaller man.  Covering bare, chilled arms with his more muscular ones, he rested his chin on a shoulder and spoke softly, "You know I can't do that, but I'll always be here no matter what you may decide."

Neither talked after that, Squall leaning back against the warm chest while they sat in the darkened evening.  Eventually the cold ocean wind became too much for the merman, his body shivering as he shifted back to steal more heat from the blonde man.  Laughing softly at the stubbornness of the brunette, Seifer pushed himself up from uncomfortably hard wood.  Without a spoken word, he forced Squall onto his feet and led him away from the dark ocean and the world it hid out of reach.

 

{Continued}

 

Author's Whining -- I swear, this story was supposed to have been a lot further by the end of this chapter.  Ah, well, hope you all are still enjoying the ride.