Anything & Everything
By Elise Maxwell
“Do I believe in what?”
Laguna looked bewildered at his son. “What in the world brought this on Squall?”
“I don’t know.” The brunette young man shrugged and flopped into a chair in front of his father’s desk. He fiddled with the front of his shirt absentmindedly. It had been a week since he’d seen the merfolk and for some reason they were still in the back of his head. He couldn’t just forget about them like any other person, but then again, they weren’t normal.
“Is this about your mother?” The black haired man asked suspiciously.
“No.” Squall frowned. “Why would it be?”
“Some people say your mother was as magical as the mermaids.” Laguna smiled.
Squall scoffed. “She would have survived if she’d been a mermaid.”
Laguna stood and walked over to his window overlooking the ocean. “I can’t say that I don’t agree.”
The young man considered his father. A melancholy entered his father’s face and he looked much older than he was. Squall wondered how hard his mother’s dead really had hit him. He never considered his father’s feelings in his scheme.
“You’ll be gone for a while?” the son asked.
“Yes, I’ll be at the capitol speaking with the king.” Laguna nodded and returned to his seat. “Vinzer will be taking care of things.”
“I don’t trust him.” Squall muttered.
“Neither do I but I’ll do what I can for now.” The older man fixed a gaze on his son. “Be careful.”
“And on a lighter note,” his father smiled, “have fun.”
Squall chuckled. “I’ll try.”
“Regular as clockwork.”
“And what might that be Ultimecia?”
“Vinzer, you’re late.”
“Laguna held me up longer than planned.”
The mermaid turned from her crystal to look at the wizened man. “I trust you agree to our bargain?”
“Even below the surface they call you a witch?” He asked smugly.
“My powers have dwindled.” Ultimecia spat. “I am banished from the ocean to this simple cave. But I have managed. They think I can’t do any harm.” She turned her angry gaze to the advisor. “I will be a great sorceress in your world and rule.”
“We will be immortal.”
“Of course,” she smiled and jumped into a pool connected with the sea in her cave. “Yes?”
Two faces surfaced from the pool and smiled at her.
“He’s at the cliff again,” one merman said.
The other merman nodded. “Watching the human, just as you said he would be.”
“Zone, Watts, good job.” She gave them a mischievous smile and turned to the human above. “Vinzer.”
“Yes sorceress?” The man stepped closer to the pool.
“Once I catch this merman in my snares, I need you to plant a seed of doubt in his mind.” Ultimecia stared at him cold. “Do you understand?”
“My immortality is at stake.” He grinned. “I wouldn’t fail for anything!”
“Good.” She turned back to her lackeys. “Now go. Let the fool hear about my most amazing powers.”
The two mermen grinned and submerged once again, ready to carry out their task.
Ultimecia glared at the corner. “He will be mine!”
Seifer stared up at the young man on the cliff. Even on a beautiful and cloudless day such as this, the human called Squall always seemed sad—like he was missing something. The merman supposed that Squall missed his mother. The human would never think about him. Merfolk weren’t supposed to go near humans. So then why was he always watching the man on the rocks.
“What are you doing?” Zell’s voice hissed in his ear.
“Go away!” Seifer snarled.
“You come here every damn day. Why!?” Zell pushed the other man down to look over his shoulder. “Geez, I thought you’d be staring at some hot girl. What’s so great about him?”
Seifer scowled. “He just looks sad, okay?”
“Prince Seifer to save the day eh?” Zell put his hands behind his head. “You are something, man. A merman who falls in love with a man on the shore.”
“Shut up!” The sea green eyed man growled. “I’m not in love with him!”
“Suuuuuure!” Zell laughed as the larger man tried to strangle him. “Okay, okay! Look, the only being who could turn merfolk into humans was Raine. She died a long time ago dude so chill. I’m sure another of us has the same power.”
“Like who?” Seifer crossed his arms.
The two blondes turned to see Ultimecia’s lackeys. “Who?” Seifer asked.
“Ultimecia was banished before we were born for using dark powers. Rinoa’s father cast her out for trying to rebel against him,” Zell whispered.
“She has the power,” Zone told them and swam closer.
“Can you take us to her?” Seifer asked.
“Ooooooh.” Zone doubled over. “My stomach!”
“No way man.” Zell turned Seifer to face him. “That woman is pure evil.”
“I’m sure I can bargain with her somehow.” Seifer shrugged. “If I don’t like the bargain, I’ll just leave.”
“I can take you to her sir!” Watts saluted. “Follow me sir.”
“I’m coming with you.” Zell grabbed Seifer’s arm.
“Good. I might need you.” Seifer told him and nodded.
“He can’t come in.” Zone crossed his arms.
“Why not?” Zell protested.
“Whoa.” Seifer pushed the spiky blonde back. “If I need you, you’ll hear me. Trust me.” He winked and followed the other two in and heard Zell grumbling behind him.
As Seifer was led through the passageway to Ultimecia’s cave, he noticed the walls lined with shelves that held bottles. In the bottles were all sorts of odd creatures that he’d never seen before. Seifer figured they were of her own creation and vowed he wouldn’t end up that way. His two guides turned up and Seifer saw air above the water. When he surfaced, he noticed that bottles also lined the shelves in the air of the cave. His eyes rested on a creature that stuck out in particular. A bottle in the corner held a small but bright white angelfish. He wondered why she kept this beautiful fish along with the rest of the ragged ones.
“Ah, so good of you to come.”
Seifer turned to see Ultimecia lounging on the rock floor of the cave, not far from the pool in which he floated. He noticed a crystal lying near her.
“You’ve been watching me,” he accused.
“I scrye and certain things seem to catch my interest.” Her gaze penetrated him. “You in particular.”
“Why me?” Seifer narrowed his eyes. He didn’t like this situation at all. She seemed to have all the power. It wasn’t good.
“You seem in need of powers that I have,” she replied with a pretty smile. “I can help you… for a price.”
“What price?” The blonde moved back a bit as the mermaid sat up and slid into the water.
Ultimecia floated closer to him and looked him over. “You seem a strong youth.” She smirked. “My powers aren’t what they used to be. I could use a boost.”
“You want my powers?” Seifer balked and swam backward to hit the rock wall. “No way.”
“Only if you fail. Should you accomplish your task, you keep everything.”
“What’s the deal?”
“Down to business,” the mermaid said smugly. “Good.” She swam away and carefully took her crystal from the rocks and brought it back to him. “Here’s the bargain.” She held the crystal up to him to illustrate. “I will use my powers to turn you human.” A figure of Seifer turned human in the crystal. “You have one month to get a confession out of the boy. The trick is he has to say ‘I love you.’ If he does, your legs are permanent and you keep them until you die.”
“And if I fail?”
Ultimecia held up her crystal. “You give me your powers and immortality.” She looked at the precious stone she held. “This will suck the power and life out of you should you fail. But trust me, it wont hurt. Not as much as the fact that he doesn’t love you.”
“Who said I loved him?” Seifer growled.
“Your eyes scream it,” she replied. “Don’t deny your feelings for him. Let them flow free so he can love you back.”
The blonde pursed his lips. “My feelings mean nothing to a human.”
“But they could,” she countered.
“I’ll… think about it.” Seifer nodded a farewell and submerged to leave the cave.
Ultimecia smiled at her servants. “He’ll be back.”
Seifer stared miserably into the mirror before him. Never before had he been so close to feeling complete and horribly empty at the same time. He’d felt a tug from the beach for so long and wondered why he hadn’t answered it before. The sea was intoxicating, but the earth… it felt so warm and welcoming.
He would miss the friends he’d made—especially Rinoa. They’d been best friends since childhood. He’d even miss the overprotective Zell—for all the times that the cerulean tailed male had gotten him out of trouble. And Selphie had always tried her hardest to cheer him up anytime. Seifer was grateful for all their love, but he had to find out—could he experience a love beyond the bond of friendship?
“Oh, I didn’t know you were in here.” Rinoa’s voice floated to him from the doorway.
“I came to say goodbye,” Seifer replied as he turned to her. A pretty hand rose to her mouth in surprise. “I’m sure Zell told you I saw Ultimecia.”
“Please don’t go!” She rushed to his side. “You’ll lose your immortality!” she pleaded. “What if Ultimecia tries something!?”
“I don’t care anymore! Rinoa, I’ve never felt this way about anyone in my life.” Seifer held her shoulders and stared into her sad eyes. “He… He makes me feel!”
“Oh.” Rinoa looked down. “I understand Seifer.” She smiled at him. “I want you to get what you deserve. And you really deserve this because, of all people, I know you’ve never loved anyone this much.”
Seifer hugged her tightly. “Thank you so much.” He sighed when she returned the embrace. After a moment, he slowly let go. “Will you come with me? I have a feeling Ultimecia wont help me get to the beach.”
“Of course.” The princess smiled, her eyes bright. “I’m going to miss you.”
“Save the goodbyes for later hun, because I plan on seeing you everyday,” the blonde told her.
“Then let’s get going buster!” She grinned. “I want to see you walk with these gorgeous legs.”
“Practice makes perfect.”
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