When I Heard Your Voice

Part 5

By Sukunami

Stifling a yawn, Seifer opened the front door and stared out at the sight of a smiling woman dressed in a bright yellow jacket.  Dazed green eyes eventually cleared and the blond man frowned at the unexpected appearance of the brunette.

"Selphie.  What the hell are you doing here?"

"I haven't heard from you in weeks and that's all I get?  You are no gentleman, Mr Seifer Almasy."  Passing by the large man as if she had been invited inside, Selphie scanned the living room while removing her light jacket.  "Where are my angels?"

His frown disappearing with a sigh, Seifer closed the door.  "They're both asleep in my room.  Just like I was," he added with an irritated mumble.

"Oh, I'm sorry, but it's only eleven in the morning.  Why would you be taking a nap already?"

Shaking his head in a sign that he didn't want to explain, the blond then asked, "But back to my question - what the hell are you doing here?"

"You know, normal people do like to drop by on occasion and see if their friends are alive.  Especially since you've been too bothered to pick up the phone and check in with me."

Rubbing his hand over tired eyes, Seifer relented and waved the small woman to the sofa chair before he stepped over to the kitchen.  "I need coffee.  You want any?"

"You know how I like it."

While heating some water, the blond said, "You should have just called, Selph.  It's not a good time to visit."

The woman huffed.  "And you said that the last time I called.  Really, I think I can handle the sight of a pregnant man."

"It's not that.  I told you--"

"I know, I know.  'It's complicated,' or so you say.  Well, I'm here now and I don't have three small children and one big child trying to get my attention, so talk."

Seifer didn't speak for the entire time it took him to make the two large mugs of coffee, one containing a touch of chocolate.  Even after handing Selphie her drink, he merely sat on the adjacent couch and gingerly sipped at the steaming liquid.  The brunette didn't prod the man any further as she sipped from her own cup, but from her posture, Seifer knew the woman wasn't going to leave the house until everything was explained in detail.  It didn't help that raising her three demons gave Selphie long lasting patience - she could probably sit there happily for days, if that was what it would take.  And thus, Seifer came to the decision to surrender early on.

"Squall isn't exactly... well.  And before you ask, both he and the baby are doing just fine, but the pregnancy has affected his connection with reality."

Frowning in worry, Selphie asked, "How exactly is that being 'fine'?"

"According to his parents, it's perfectly normal.  It has something to do with the chemicals produced within his body during the pregnancy at this stage.  But knowing that doesn't make it any easier."

"What do you mean?"

But Seifer barely heard the question, his attention immediately turning to the slow opening of the bedroom door.  Seeing the man of messed hair shyly peak out into the hallway, Seifer quickly set down his mug and stood up to approach Squall.

"Hey, love.  What do you need?"

Blue-gray eyes brightened at the sight of the large man.  "Maie anleh.  Ea ungrig."

"Hn, probably because you missed breakfast.  What do you want?"

"Anuel meanu... ehe arhin'as setu, efu ouve odle unput."

"Whatever you desire," Seifer said as he wrapped an arm around the wider merman and gently kissed him.  "Why don't you sit down while I get your food?"

Squall frowned as he glanced downward.  "Ea phet?"

"No, you're pregnant.  Remember?"

Gently rubbing the large mound of stomach, the merman then asked in a meek voice, "Ouvaie?"

Seifer hummed the affirmative as he placed his hand on top of Squall's.  "Yep, all my fault."

That earned the man a rare wide smile.  "Liesid Enutpen."

Smiling in return, Seifer carefully lead the merman to the couch and helped him to sit down.  Upon turning, he stared into deep green eyes that were both glittering with pleasure and soft with concern.  The blond was quick to shake his head at the woman and held up his finger in a sign to stay silent.  While Selphie was obviously unhappy with the order, she nodded her head in agreement.  As she studied the merman, Seifer stepped into the kitchen to make the dish of raw lobster and shark meat that was requested.  Eventually he handed the dark-haired man his meal and sat at his side with an arm wrapped around his expanded waist.

"Squall, Selphie is here to visit."

While chewing on a large piece of fresh meat, the merman stared at Seifer in question.

Sighing with a shake of his head, the blond said, "Forget it.  Just enjoy your meal and ignore what I'm saying."

As if it were a common request, Squall nodded and leaned comfortably against the large man as he ate his lunch.

Meanwhile, Seifer turned to the confused woman.  "Sorry, Selph.  Like I said, he doesn't really connect with this reality.  He only recognizes me because of our bond."

"It's okay, just, is he bothered by me being here?"

"Nah.  You could kick and scream, and he'd never notice you," he replied in a bitter tone.

Selphie cocked her head in a curious manner before her eyes widened in understanding.  "Oh, no.  Poor Adryan.  How is he handling this?"

"Not well.  He tells me that he can handle this, but I'm not blind.  It fucking kills him.  You should see his face when Squall walks past him without even a glance in his direction.  It's like he lost another mother."

"That's horrible.  Why haven't you sent him my way?  You know I wouldn't mind watching over the angel for as long as you need."

"I know, but Dray doesn't want to leave.  I think he's afraid that Squall will walk off in this condition and never come back."

Biting her lip with indecision, Selphie eventually said, "He has walked away once before, Seifer."

To that, the large man frowned.  "Squall didn't want to leave, but in his way of thinking, he did it to save my life.  So don't you dare speak lowly of him."

"I'm sorry.  I didn't realize... but how does something like that save your life?"

"It doesn't, but he didn't know that.  He thought..."  Seifer took a breath and held the merman closer.  "His society is very strict about who can have children.  It's this huge deal which involves figuring out the best possible pairing for healthy and strong kids.  Because of this, Squall had his 'intended', this bastard he was supposed to bond with and then bear his children.  I won't bother with details, but Squall thought that we had a similar system in which Fujin was my intended.  In short, it was a crime for me to impregnate someone else when I already had Fujin."

Selphie interrupted to ask, "But, he knew about Fujin beforehand, didn't he?"

The blond nodded.  "Yeah, but he thought she was dead or missing.  Either way, I would have some right to have another 'intended'.  But since she returned, I supposedly had to immediately take her back in and break any new bonds I had made.  Thinking that was the case, Squall decided to leave before I had to tell him to leave, or else I would subject myself to a potential death sentence.  In other words, it's a load of shit that I would've never agreed to."

Smiling relieved, Selphie relaxed in her chair.  "You know, I've been so worried to ask you about that day.  I thought there was some kind of conflict between you two or something.  So everything is better now?"

Seifer shrugged.  "I think I convinced him to talk to me before assuming something like that again, but half the time I haven't a clue about what's going on in his head."

"Maie anleh," Squall said abruptly as he rested his head on the broad chest.  "Ea hain.  Aese, ault maie hain."

"Shhh, I know.  I'll give you the potion in a little bit, but you can't take it before then."

With a soft smile, Selphie asked, "What is he saying?"

"It's nothing serious.  He's just sore and wants a potion for it, but he can't have it too often.  Bad for the baby and all."

"Poor thing, but I was actually curious about that first part."

"Oh.  That."  Seifer smiled fondly.  "It means, 'my only.'  Can you believe that he has been calling me that since our first night together?"

"You silly man, he has probably been calling you that since you were children."  Setting down her mug, Selphie stood and put on her jacket.  "Well, now that I know you are alive and well, I had better leave.  Say 'hello' to Adryan for me.  And Seifer, call me if it gets to be too much.  I can be a good listener at times."

"Thanks, but it's okay.  This should only last a couple more weeks, if that," he said, running his hand through thick dark hair in a massaging motion.

Selphie eyed the two men for a brief moment before stepping to the front door.  "Don't worry about getting up - I can show myself out.  And I hope to hear better news from you soon."

As the door shut behind the woman, Seifer mumbled softly, "I hope so, too."

Squall woke up into darkness, his stormy eyes reluctant to focus in the room lit only by moonlight filtered through the curtains.  Feeling confused and disoriented, the merman attempted to sit up, but he was bewildered by the extra amount of effort it took to move his body.  Then he abruptly remembered his situation.  Finally managing to sit upright, he placed a shaky hand on his incredibly large stomach and tried to estimate how far along he was.

"N-nh, ouve niede unputene?" a deep voice mumbled sleepily from his side.

Squall jumped at the voice and stared down at the man who still appeared asleep.  "When did you learn that?"

Seifer frowned before looking up with blurry eyes.  "Hn?"

"When... how did you learn my language?"

After a long pause, the green eyes seem to clear in an instant before Squall was entrapped in an almost painful hold.  "Thank Hyne.  I was going fucking insane."

Overwhelmed by the emotions flowing out of his bonded, the merman couldn't even return the strong hug.  But eventually he was able to ask, "How long was I lost?"

"Forever," was the immediate reply.

"Seifer, be serious."

"What makes you think that I'm not?" the blond asked before pulling back to look into the blue-gray eyes.  "It's been over two months since you started fading out on me.  That means you're well into the seventh month of carrying this demon around," he added while fondly stroking the pregnant stomach.

Squall was amazed by the amount of time lost to him, never before understanding what his bearer had warned him about numerous times.  And yet within that vague sense of missing time, there wasn't any fear or distress.  There was only the knowledge that he had been protected and loved.

"Before you ask, everything is fine.  You had your checkup with bhen-saer," Seifer cleared his throat, "I mean, with Chale the other week, and he said that everything was going well.  He's been worried about you carrying the extra weight, being out of the water and all, but your body is handling that just fine."

Squall blinked.  "'Bhen-saer'?  You call him that?"

With an embarrassed grin, the blond said, "Laguna is very persistent about me thinking of them as my bonded parents, and if I want them to teach me more of your language, I have to call them bhen-berenas and bhen-saer.  Since you only spoke in your language for the past several weeks, I needed the crash course ASAP."

Smiling softly, the merman was relieved that his parents had already accepted his odd choice in bond-mate.  But the smile was short-lived when a sense of dread coursed through his body.  Looking at the closed door, Squall suddenly realized the original reason for him waking at such a late hour.  Pulling out of Seifer's hold, he pushed himself out of the bed and took a few stumbling steps before he was able to regain his balance.  Not paying attention to Seifer's questions, Squall hurried out of the room and stepped to door across the hall.

Upon opening the door, a soft sniffle was easily heard in the dark room.  Squall turned on the lamp, startling the young boy who then lookup at the merman with wide hazel eyes.  Not bothering with words, the pregnant man sat carefully on the small bed and leaned forward to take Adryan into his arms.  Once shock left the boy, he wrapped his small arms tightly around the man's neck and sobbed out a mantra of 'berenas'.  Squall didn't try to quiet the boy, knowing that the youth needed to release the pent up sadness, anger, and worry.

Eventually Adryan wore himself out completely, falling asleep while still holding onto the merman with a determined grip.  With practiced care, Squall pried the boy loose and gently laid him back onto the mattress.  A firm hand was then at his shoulder, and he looked up into warm green eyes.  Seifer offered him a hand, soon helping the unsteady man to his feet.  Just outside of the once again darkened room, Squall was pressed back against the wall as the larger man bent over him.

"He missed you."

With no comment to offer, Squall nodded his understanding of Adryan's obvious pain.

"I missed you."  Once stated, Seifer leaned in to lightly kiss lips parted in mid-apology.  "And we are never going to go through this again."

Stormy eyes widened at the demand, and then narrowed in thought.  While Squall enjoyed children, he certainly could do without suffering through the pregnancy aspect.  But to declare that he would have only the one child, it would go against his upbringing and demands in life.

As if reading his thoughts, the blond said, "I spoke to your parents about this, and they reluctantly agree.  There's no guarantee that they could help us any other time, and I know that I can't do this without them.  Shit, there are still a couple of things you eat that I can't figure out what they are.  And with you being on land instead of water, it's a larger burden on your body."  Sighing, Seifer placed a calloused hand against the brunet's cheek and stroked carefully with his thumb.  "I know you think you should have numerous children, but you aren't trying to maintain the haidras population anymore.  You are with me, and I don't like you in pain."

"I can handle it."

Seifer scoffed.  "I'm telling you that I'm the one who can't handle it."

"But... we don't even know how I was impregnated."

"No, we do.  Rather, Chale and I figured it out.  The main ingredient of your potions for impregnation is alcohol, which is a relatively normal drink for us humans.  It's also part of the reason why you're always more... receptive whenever you have even a sip of wine.  But it took the larger dose of alcohol in that pina colada to equal the amount in your potions.  In other words, if we avoid alcohol, you shouldn't get pregnant."

"I can't..."  Squall hesitated while stroking his heavy stomach.  "Let me think about this.  I only woke a short while ago."

"No matter what you decide, I'm not going to help you get pregnant a second time."

Blue-gray eyes gained an icy edge as Squall leaned forward to stare directly into green eyes.  "I was born for the purpose of bringing new life into the world.  That is what I know and I can't believe otherwise without time to think it through."  Lifting a hand to run his fingers through short golden hair, he added, "And if I want more of your children, I will have more of your children."

Surprise was clear in the green depths.  "Squall..."

"Let me think this through and consult berenas.  But for now, I really need to piss and then I want to go back to bed."

With a resigned shake of his head, Seifer said, "Yes, love.  Whatever you say."

"That's better," Squall stated before pushing away the man who was blocking the most direct route to the bathroom.

It was a relatively peaceful morning with the winds stronger than normal as they made the house creak and whisper.  Standing in front of the large window that gave the best view of the ocean, Squall rubbed his ever-expanding stomach with a vaguely shaky hand.  The strong life within him was obvious, the child rather restless and constantly moving, especially when his father was nearby.  And yet, Squall knew there was something wrong and he wasn't certain about what to do.

"Hey, what's the deal giving me this headache?"

Closing his eyes, Squall tried to find comfort in his bonded's voice, but the anxiousness building inside of him still refused to disappear.  And so he turned his focus to containing his unease such that Seifer wouldn't suffer from it over their connection.

While yawning loudly, Seifer moved from their shared bedroom and walked over to the kitchen.  "I won't bother to ask if that little demon spawn woke you.  So, you hungry for breakfast?"

Though knowing that it would be a clear sign about his mood, the merman replied, "Some hot chocolate would be nice."

Seifer hummed at the request, but said nothing as he went straight to the task of making the warm drink.  Once he finished with pouring both the cup of hot chocolate and his own large mug of black coffee, the large man stepped over to Squall's side.  After giving the merman his drink, Seifer set his mug on the kitchen table before wrapping his arms around the pregnant man.

"Are you going to tell me what's bugging you, or do we play twenty questions?"

Squall sipped at the warm liquid before leaning back.  "I think something is wrong."

The strong arms squeezed tighter.  "Care to be a little more specific?  Is the little guy okay?  Are you in pain?"

Squall smiled weakly at the rapid questions.  "That is the problem - there's no pain."

"... And that's a bad thing?"

"The birth date is nearing, which means my body should be readying itself.  But I feel nothing."

After several moments spent in thought, Seifer asked, "Maybe your initial transformation is making things easier?"

Squall shook his head.  "I can't see how.  The birth canal still must form, and my milk sacks should be filling."

"Uh, milk sacks...?"

"How else do you suggest I feed our son?" the merman asked before drinking some of the cooled hot chocolate.

"I hadn't thought about it," Seifer mumbled as one of his hands drifted up.  "Where exactly are they?"

"Somewhere within my chest.  They won't become visible like your solas females, but it should be uncomfortable until I can get accustomed to the different feel."

A calloused hand gently brushed aside longish hair as Seifer kissed the dark blue mark on the exposed neck.  "And you feel nothing?"

Squall frowned in thought.  "Sometimes I wake up sore or I feel a cramp, but the mild pain always vanishes.  Something must be wrong."

Sighing, the blond retreated a few steps.  "I hate this, but I can't think of anything we can do except wait for your parents' visit in a few days."

The merman nodded, already coming to that conclusion before the large man had awakened, but by no means did it mean that he was comfortable with the decision.  Every minute was important for the growing child, and even a small complication could risk the babe's life.

After taking a deep drink of his coffee, Seifer asked, "Now, about breakfast."

Knowing that it was useless to argue, Squall said, "Toast and jam will be fine."

"Hn, alright, but I expect you to eat a large lunch later," the blond muttered while moving to the kitchen, his coffee mug held in a tight grip.

Meanwhile, the merman walked with awkward steps to the comfort of the couch.  After managing to sit without spilling his drink, he leaned into the large pillows and sighed at the relieved pressure from his back.  The hot chocolate didn't last much longer, the dark liquid reaching the perfect temperature such that it didn't burn his mouth, and eventually he set the empty mug on the end table.  Turning like that, Squall winced at a sudden cramp and tried to breathe through the sharp pain that seemed to have no intention in fading.


Trying to hide any signs of discomfort, Squall looked over at the sleepy voice and smiled vaguely at the boy whose pale blonde hair was sticking out in all directions due to static.  "Did we wake you, yeun?"

Adryan frowned as if offended and walked to the couch with his favored blanket trailing behind him on the floor.  With some effort, he climbed onto the couch and promptly found a position half-wrapped around Squall's swollen stomach.  Soon hazel eyes closed as the young boy looked about ready to fall back asleep.

With a vague attempt to calm the bed-messed hair, Squall stroke the boy's head as he willed his body to relax.  Fortunately, the pain in his midsection slowly ebbed away to a barely felt soreness and Squall sighed in relief.

"Hey, what are you doing up, kid?" Seifer asked with a grin as he walked towards the couch, a refreshed mug of coffee in one hand and a small plate of toast in the other.

Adryan grumbled a complaint while shifting closer to the merman.

"Gee, love you, too, you brat."  He handed Squall his breakfast before sitting next to the blond boy.  "So what do you want for breakfast, Dray?"

The boy vaguely shook his head.

Green eyes narrowed in concern as a large hand felt his son's face.  "Hey, you feeling okay?"

At the man's question, Squall suddenly realized that Adryan had been less than active over the past week.  And while he couldn't be certain, the boy didn't seem to eat very well, either.  The merman silently scolded himself for not noticing these things earlier, him believing that a child should always come before his own problems.  While thinking of what could be ailing the boy, Squall placed his hand over the smaller one on his stomach.  Stormy eyes opened in surprise at the coldness of the hand, a type of coldness the merman recognized well.

Quickly pulling away the boy's hand and forcing him to sit up, Squall looked directly into startled hazel eyes.  "Don't do that, yeun.  You're too young to handle healing magic."

Adryan pouted.  "But you're hurting..."

"It's far worse for you to drain your energy like this.  Enutpen, you could have died."

"But I don't like you hurting.  Laek doesn't either."

Momentarily stunned at hearing Adryan speak the name, Squall then lightly kissed his forehead.  "This pain I can forget, but your loss would be too much for your father and me to bear."

The boy sniffed, him close to tears.  "I'm sorry, berenas.  I just want the hurt to go away."

Quietly shushing Adryan, the merman pulled him as close as possible considering the awkward angle.  Hugging the boy, Squall took the chance to look up at Seifer and wasn't surprised by the questioning glare aimed in his direction.  The blond never did like being the last to know things, especially when it came to his son.

After a time of quiet sniffles, Adryan gradually grew limp in the brunet's hold.  Not speaking until that moment, Squall carefully straightened such that he could better look into sharp green eyes.

"He had been numbing the pain for me," he explained.

Seifer scoffed and glanced down at his son.  "I guessed that, but... Shit, I'm not prepared for this.  He's just a little boy.  My little boy.  Where in the world did he get these powers that could potentially kill him?"

Squall shrugged.  "There is a frightening power within you as well, but you don't have the ability to use it.  Your son does."

"Is that so?"  While taking the boy's blanket and covering the small body, the blond then said, "Actually, if we can believe this guy's dreams, it sounds like both of them should have that same ability.  Adryan... and Laek, was it?"

Hesitantly, the merman nodded.  "It's my first choice of names I've considered.  But we don't--"

"It's fitting.  Something to remind the kid about who he is."

Squall didn't bother to correct the man, figuring that he would eventually discover that the name meant 'link' in his language and not the 'lake' it sounded like.  But for the moment, the merman wanted to be selfish with that knowledge, that their son would be the true bond between them and not the band of dark skin on their wrists.

After a time of thought, Seifer said, "I think it's time for Dray to spend some time with Selphie."

"It would be best," the brunet replied in a quiet voice.

"He'll go kicking and screaming, you realize.  For a little guy, he's rather protective of you."

"He takes after his father."

Seifer grinned.  "Well, somebody has to look after you, and I certainly don't mind the help."

Fingering the worn blanket, Squall stared down at the small boy and said nothing of his thoughts.  Even so, he wasn't overly surprised when Seifer spoke in response to the silent statement that was foremost in his mind.

"He'll miss you, too, love."

Seifer despised feeling helpless, and yet it seemed a common occurrence in his relatively short life.  At first, he couldn't have the person he wanted, the merman trapped in his world of water.  Years later there was Fujin's difficult labor which bore Adryan, soon followed by the desertion of the white-haired mother.  More recently was the deadly sickness which took a firm hold of his son, that ultimately leading to the situation with Squall.  Finally there was the merman's cursed pregnancy, which had greatly worn on the blond's nerves throughout the final months.  And days before the inevitable labor, Seifer was certain that the event would destroy him.

Waking to a light shake of his shoulder, the large man stared dazedly up into blue-gray highlighted by the light of the moon.

"Maie anleh, I need help to the cavern."

To his sleep muddled mind, the request was an odd one, but Seifer had grown accustomed to granting any demand of the merman.  Such orders spoken in an emotionless voice were few, which implied that the demand had a purpose beyond the typical hormone enriched whines and complaints.

It wasn't until Seifer was mostly dressed that he realized the possible reason for the merman to wake him.  "It can't be time."

"Tell that to your son," Squall grumbled as he stepped to the doorway, the blond soon following him once he grabbed a duffle bag with random necessities.

As they walked to the cavern, the large man couldn't help but to feel confused about the situation.  Fujin hadn't held back in the least during her labor, Seifer suffering two broken fingers for the cause.  But now he was guiding a very pregnant man, who of all the things was smiling softly despite the widely spread contractions racking his body.  And if Seifer dared to offer more help than the man wanted over the moonlit ground, Squall would stop in place to the blond's great annoyance and remind him in a mix of two languages that he wasn't completely helpless.

When they finally reached the cavern lit by the magical orbs, Seifer left the merman to his own devises while he himself ran to the pool's edge and released an oddly colored fish to alert Squall's parents.  After watching that small fish dart to the underwater opening, Seifer turned and paused at the sight of his bonded removing his large shirt and tossing it on top of the already discarded pants.  The blond couldn't help but to feel a touch of sadness that he would never see the sight again, the rounded stomach such an amazing proof of life.  But he still wasn't certain if the cost of pain was worth that single life, and to imagine that Squall was expected to go through several pregnancies within his lifetime made Seifer both angry and ill.

With ever-knowing eyes, Squall gazed at his bonded for a brief moment before he stepped closer to the pool.  "Sit behind me," was his only order and final words until his parents appeared to find the bonded pair sitting as deep as they could in the cold water.

Chale was the first to speak, immediately approaching Squall and resting a hand on the bare stomach.  "Yeun, how far are you?"

The brunet shook his head.  "Ea... Ea connaut..."

The large merman shushed him gently, and then lifted lean legs onto his shoulders.  "Hold him steady," was his only warning to Seifer before he did something to make Squall tense and sigh out in a familiar manner.

Green eyes wide, the man asked, "What the hell do you think you're doing?"

"Checking the birth canal, which has opened most of the way."  Deep blue eyes glared with offense at the blond.  "What else would I be doing to my son?"

Swallowing, Seifer looked away from the piercing eyes.  "I didn't... it's just..."

With a quiet laugh, Laguna moved to sit next to the human.  "Be hurt not.  All be crazy when it be for intended."  Looking to the large merman, he added, "Or for our yeun."


The longhaired merman grasped onto his son's hand and lightly kissed it.  "Aie, yeun.  Ea heren."

Squall relaxed some at the declaration and rested his head back against the broad chest of his bonded.  "Maie anleh, dhenaut laefen ea."

Smiling and then kissing dark hair, Seifer replied the first phrase he had learned of the odd language.  "Ea nehaephre laefen ouve."

The words were still echoing in the cavern when Squall gasped out in pain, and Seifer was surprised to feel a wave of pressure within his own stomach.  Chuckling lightly in resigned understanding, the blond squeezed the man in his hold a little tighter and tried to prepare himself for the coming labor.  Given Squall's pain throughout the past week of Adryan's absence, Seifer was somewhat accustomed to the echoes of pain through their bond, but feeling the labor would be something completely different.

Closing his eyes, Seifer tried to force a sense of calm and protection through their link, hoping to distract Squall from some of the pain.  Focused like that, he barely connected with the rest of world, Chale's instructions merging with Laguna's consoling words to form a meaningless murmur.  But due to the physical sensations within his body, he recognized the progression of the birth.  He was silently impressed with the strength Squall was showing, nothing louder than a quiet cry leaving his lips.

Green eyes snapped open when Seifer felt the odd sensation of stretching with the final stage.  He was entrapped watching the dark water, his breath held as he hoped Chale was correct in his decision for the water birth incase the newborn was more merman than human.  For the first time, Seifer felt afraid at the realization that he may not be able to raise his son if the child couldn't safely leave the water until he was older.

His darker thoughts were interrupted when there was a flush of redness in the water, soon followed by a small dark object held in large hands.  Seifer tried to look closer at the newborn, but he was distracted by the body going frighteningly limp in his hold.  Glancing down at Squall, the blond smiled softly at the sweaty face relaxed in a well earned sleep.  After brushing aside damp hair and kissing the bared forehead, Seifer looked over at Chale.

The large merman had a rare smile on his face as he pulled the babe from the colored water.  Almost instantly the child began to cry out in protest, arms and legs waving around helplessly.

"Hyne..." Seifer whispered, unable to believe he truly had another son.

Chale nodded in agreement to the amazed tone, and then looked up to meet green eyes.  "After Laguna heals him, help my child out of the water while I examine this little one.  Then you may have your son."

Squall didn't open his eyes when he first woke, him not wanting to be awake, but something kept yelling and refused to let him sleep properly.  Shifting, he wondered at the hard ground beneath him, but he couldn't understand why Seifer would leave him to sleep anywhere except their bed.  Awareness came sharply when he identified the noise as the cries of a child echoing within the stone cavern.  The cries of his child.

Clutching the warm blanket tight around his chilled body, Squall sat up without effort, the oddity of that fact easily explained by the faint taste of blood in his mouth.  He tried to frown with disappointment at his parents for their step further into crime, but the expression was impossible once he saw the unhappy babe struggling in the larger merman's arms.

Seifer turned from watching the grandfather and child, and his smile widened at seeing the brunet.  "Well, lookie at who decided to join us.  About freaking time."

With experienced care, he took the small bundle of child and blanket from Chale's hold.  Almost instantly, the babe quieted and barely moved while he was held close to his sire's chest.  With a ridiculously proud smile, Seifer kissed the dark-haired child as he stepped out from the shifting water.  Once seated next to the merman, he gave Squall the warm bundle.

With part fear and simple amazement, Squall ran his fingers across the redden face and gently brushed away the moist trail of tears.  The boy grumbled a complaint and waved a small hand in annoyance.  For long minutes, Squall sat there and gazed at his son while his bonded did the same with his arm wrapped around the merman's back.  But eventually, Squall was able to ask the question he wished he could avoid.

"Is he healthy?"

Seifer grinned.  "Everything went fine.  We'll have to wait until he's older to see how much he got from your side, but Laek appears human at this stage."

Releasing his held breath, Squall leaned back against his bonded.  "This was worth it."

The blond tightened his hold.  "Wait until you have to change your first diaper."

Though the sarcastic tone was clear, Squall could also hear the undertones of uncertainty.  Even so, he decided against trying to alleviate the man's worry about him leaving just as his first love had.  It would have been a worthless statement to the blond who trusted actions above words, and the merman had no desire to defend himself.  He wouldn't leave his bonded and child, and it was as simple as that.

Interrupting the silence, Laguna cleared his throat.  "Time to go before noticed.  But say bye to leis-yeun?"

"Such greedy grandparents," Seifer muttered with an amused smile.  "Wouldn't even let me hold the little guy for too long."

Squall only shook his head while allowing the blond to steal the child from his arms.  Leaning back against stone, he watched as his bearer held his child tightly, the longhaired merman looking about ready to take the newborn with him before he reluctantly handed the boy to his bonded.  Despite his larger frame, Chale handled the babe with a far gentler hold and spoke a quiet chant that was supposed to ward away evil.

Returning Laek to his father, the large merman said, "We'll return on our normal night for a checkup.  But I should warn you that eventually one or more of the elders will desire to examine this child themselves."

Seifer frowned at the warning, but nodded his understanding.  "As long as Laek stays with us, they can look all they want.  But if they try to steal him away--"

"I won't allow that," Chale said in a flat voice, his loyalty to his son and grandson clear in the implied meaning.

Seifer smirked in reply.  "Then we're agreed."

After a prolonged goodbye from Laguna, including several tips to Squall about how to handle the days following birth, the pair finally let into the darkness of water and headed home.  With the two mermen gone, the cavern was overly silent for a time until Laek decided he didn't care for the lack of noise.

Seifer grinned down at his son before glancing up at his bonded.  "Ready to go home?"

"Home..."  Smiling softly, Squall nodded.  "That would be nice."


Sitting on the edge of his son's bed, Squall sang softly to the two children who had been reluctant to go to sleep after a long, exciting day spent at the ocean with Selphie's family.  As typical, Adyran quickly fell asleep to the song, but Laek was always difficult to coax to sleep.  Instead, his aqua eyes were wide as he listened to the tale about an epic hero and his devoted bonded.

Sighing, Squall bent over and kissed the young boy's forehead.  "Yeun, you need to sleep."

Laek pouted.  "But I wanna hear about the guys with black tails."

"You've heard it before."

"But I wanna hear it again.  Please, berenas?"

Before Squall could reply, a deep voice sounded from the open doorway.  "Nice try, kiddo.  Now get to sleep."

"But Saer--"

"No more buts.  You can hear it another time.  Anyway, your mother is mine tonight."

Laek grabbed his bearer's hand at the statement, his eyes shining with a child's desire to protect his loved ones.

Squall shook his head.  "I'll tell you more in the morning if you still want to hear the story."

Though the pout didn't disappear, the dark-haired boy nodded and reluctantly released his hold on the merman.  Lying back fully against his pillow, Laek closed his eyes in an attempt to sleep.

With quiet steps, Squall approached his bonded and shooed the man out of his way.  Instead, Seifer grabbed the waving hand and sharply pulled the smaller man tight against him, just barely allowing the merman to gently close the door behind them.  Trapped within the blond's hold, Squall had little choice but to let Seifer to led them away to the living room with its lit fireplace.  Once seated on the worn couch, the brunet was surprised when the man only leaned against him as a calloused thumb lightly caressed the dark band on the thin wrist.

"So, are you going to sing me to sleep tonight?"

"I didn't realize you needed the help."

"While I need all the help that I can get, it's not for that reason.  I just love your voice."

Squall leaned over to look at the green eyes highlighted with yellow from the flames.  "Is that so?"

"Hn, didn't I tell you?  I first fell in love with you when I heard your voice.  I remember it being dark out, and you weren't expecting me to be around for some reason...  Heh, no offense, but you've gotten better since you were a little minnow.  A lot better."

The merman frowned at the fish reference, but said nothing in reply to the man's attempt to coax out a reaction.

"But mostly, in your songs you tell me things that you can't spell out otherwise."  Seifer lifted the hand he had been stroking and kissed the dark skin.  "For instance, about how much you adore and worship me."

After a soft smile at the obvious plea for attention, Squall closed his eyes and allowed a song to take over his body and voice.  It was a short song which described their children, about their importance in the merman's life.  And it ended with the strong note that none of it would have been possible without Seifer, the man Squall believed to be his true intended in life, and not one decided upon by a group of old walruses.

Reopening his eyes, the merman briefly stared into heated green before Seifer was kissing heavily at his neck and the area of chest exposed from his shirt.  As one large hand stroked at the branded neck and the ever-present choker, the other hand drifted to places that made it hard for Squall to stay quiet.  Though the merman had to remind himself that he wasn't exactly complaining at the attention, and he then stretched out to give the man better access to the trickier spots to reach.

Thus it was somewhat annoying when some time later a familiar echo of fear coursed through his body.  While he had no desire to leaver, Squall always placed his children before his own wants.  It took some effort to slip away from Seifer, but the man was half-hearted in his attempt to make the brunet stay in place.  Used to the nightly interruptions, he knew that it was a bad idea to keep Squall away from either boy.

After putting back on his pants which had found their way into the hallway, Squall walked quietly to the closed doorway and slowly opened the door.  Blue-gray eyes widened vaguely before his lips formed a soft smile at the sight before him.  Laek had moved to join his brother in the small bed, and Adryan was holding onto the small boy tightly, as if the youth could somehow protect him from harm.  Given the boy's fear of his nightmare had already dissipated, Squall figured the dark-haired boy was already filling the role of protector.

Seifer was suddenly at his back, leaning forward to look into the room.  "Well, don't they look cozy.  Is everything okay?"

The merman nodded, once again closing the door shut.

"A sorcerer and his guardian...  I wonder what they are destined to do."

Squall shrugged.  "Maybe nothing.  Maybe more."

The blond scoffed.  "Do you have no imagination?  Hyne, they could save the world or something amazing--"

Placing fingers over the pale lips, the merman said, "Whatever may come, will come.  But for now, let them be children."

Though the green eyes showed some disappointment, Seifer nodded once with understanding.  He then grabbed the raised hand and pulled Squall closer to whisper softly into his ear.  "Thank you for staying."

"This is my life.  How could I leave it?"

With a somber gaze, Seifer stared down at the brunet before he leaned in for a gentle kiss, the bared emotions of the man easily overwhelming Squall through the simple touch.  Relying on the encircling arms to keep him upright, he let his awareness sink into that pool of fear, uncertainly, hope, and love.  When the touch of lips left him, Squall couldn't bring himself to open closed eyes as Seifer spoke quietly.

"I think I'll need help getting to sleep tonight."

With a small smile, Squall said, "I'll see what I can do."




Author's Whining -- *does a little dance*  It's done, it's done!  The ending sucks, but it's done at last, and thus my goal has been accomplished.  So there. =P  Anywho, for those who have been curious about my made up language here, I've listed some (certainly not all since you could figure this out yourself) meanings here that you may be curious about... btw, I have zero clue about languages, so don't question why I chose certain words since the answer is that 'it sounded kind cool'. =P

aa mene - too much
- please
Anuel meanu... ehe arhin'as setu, efu ouve odle unput
- lobster... or shark meat, if you have some
- bonded, 'in-law'
dhenaut laefen ea
- don't leave me
ea, maie
- I, me, mine, my
ea nehaephre laefen ouve
- I'll never leave you
ea niede ouve
- I need you
- their god type figure (whee, neptune backwards)
- mermen
maie anleh
- my only
ouve, ouvaie
  - you, your
ouve niede unputene?
- you need something?
- fat
- humans
ungrig arhin'as
- hungry shark
- youth, son/daughter

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