Bonding By Instinct

BY : angelofinnocence
Category: Final Fantasy VIII > Yaoi - Male/Male
Dragon prints: 883
Disclaimer: I do not own Final Fantasy VIII, nor do I make a profit from this work of fiction.

Bonding by Instinct

Prologue: Unexpected 

Squall was in the middle of sifting through and skimming mission reports from the monstrous pile currently taking up a healthy portion of the low coffee table in his SEED issued apartment quarters. It was late, very late and so it stood to reason that he would be relatively startled when there was a sudden loud pounding on his door, the sound abruptly interrupting the quiet of his quarters. He sat back, tossing the file in his hands back onto the pile before he stood up, stretching muscles that were cramped from being in one position for too long before he made his way to the door. He was slow to press the palm of his right hand to the panel next to the steel door in order to disengage the lock mechanism, fully expecting to meet with the sight of Questis or Nida on the other side of the threshold with some all-important emergency that required his immediate attention.

                What he did not, could not have possibly imagined upon opening the door was the sight of one Seifer Almasy, disheveled, exhausted, red-eyed with two obviously heavy bags strapped over one broad shoulder and a screaming, tiny bundle squirming irately in his arms. The brunette commander was dumbstruck.

                Squall blinked exactly three times before Seifer spoke in a rushed and desperate sounding tone, “Leonhart, I didn’t know where else to go.” Squall didn’t respond immediately, the incessant wailing of what could only be an infant in Seifer’s arms ringing in his ears and drowning out the words the tall blond had spoken. Before he could stop himself, or even fully consider what he was doing, the commander was reaching for the bundle.

                Seifer looked uncertain for only the briefest of moments until his gaze met that of the stoic brunette and Squall demanded, “Give her to me and come inside.” With those words, relief flooded the blond and he allowed Squall to take the crying baby from his hold. Squall immediately curled the child into his chest and began rocking her, making soothing shushing sounds as he cuddled the baby girl close to his chest with shocking ease, as if it was perfectly natural for a trained mercenary commander to exhibit such skills. The brunette turned into his apartment, not bothering to wait for Seifer, fully expecting the larger man to follow him.

                As soon as the door slid shut with a hiss of hydraulics behind him, Seifer let the heavy bags slip from his shoulder, dropping them to the floor with a muted thud, running shaking hands through the tousled blond strands of his short hair nervously. Deep green settled on the sight of his long-time rival and one-time enemy humming to his daughter whom was finally quiet and seemingly asleep peacefully in the slim brunette’s hold.

                “Squall… I,” Seifer paused, trying to find the right words to explain his impromptu visit in the middle of the night and he began pacing unconsciously, “I didn’t know where else to go. I never expected, that is, I didn’t know that Rin could die during childbirth. She was so excited, you know, about the baby and everything. I never really thought too much about it, but it was okay, because she was gonna be there. She was supposed to be there. And then she wasn’t. She was just gone and I panicked…”

                “How long?” Squall asked as he moved to set the sleeping babe on the sofa, carefully boxing the tiny girl in with the throw pillows Selfie had insisted he have. It was the only question he asked when Seifer had finished his panicked explanation.

                The blond seemed to deflate somewhat, his pacing slowing and then halting altogether. “Ah, two weeks,” he answered before his feverish gaze focused on Squall, glassy with what could only be unshed tears, voice wavering dangerously when he continued to speak, “What am I doing Squall? I can’t raise a kid. I wasn’t ever supposed to be a dad. I… I-.”

                “Too late,” Squall interjected, moving idly to his kitchen to retrieve two mugs of coffee from a recently brewed pot. Seifer’s brow furrowed at the harsh statement and his mouth opened and closed as though he wanted to argue the reality of it, but Squall was right. It was indeed too late to deny his fatherhood, given that his offspring was currently curled up on Squall’s sofa surrounded by a moat of throw pillows.

                The blonde’s broad shoulders slumped dejectedly, absently accepting the steaming mug Squall offered him. He couldn’t understand how the brunette could be so calm, how he had taken the infant and managed to coax her to sleep so easily in a matter of minutes when Seifer himself had been unsuccessful in doing just that for the past two weeks. He’d only gotten sporadic hours of sleep when his daughter had completely exhausted herself crying and more or less passed out. The lack of sleep had left his nerves shot and his mind in a state of unravelled half-thoughts and self-doubt. He couldn’t be a father; that much was clear to him, especially since it was obvious that his daughter hated him and she couldn’t even clearly see him yet.

                Squall hummed a sound of acknowledgement, watching Seifer over the rim of his mug as he took a sip of the dark liquid within. “What do you want to do?” he asked after a moment of quiet contemplation, the sound of his voice making Seifer jump slightly, jerking him from his jumbled thoughts abruptly.

                It took several long seconds before Seifer could get his mouth to function, “I… I don’t know. How am I supposed to do this?” His voice had lost any semblance of confidence as he practically fell into a kitchen chair, his eyes pleading as he looked at Squall. The brunette inclined his head slightly, taking another silent sip from the steaming mug in his grasp as he leaned a pert rear against his kitchen counter, grey-blue gaze surveying his old rival; he’d never seen the cocky blond look so desperate or so lost before.

                “I’ll help,” he said finally after what had felt to Seifer like an eternity. A breath of relief he hadn’t realized he’d been holding left his lips and he relaxed more fully in the kitchen chair. He hadn’t really considered why he’d chosen to seek Squall out when he had steadily been losing himself, but he had come back to Garden because it was the only home he could really recall ever having. He had to suppose that Squall, though a rival for as long as he could remember, was as close to family as Seifer had. He hadn’t expected Squall to offer to help, hell, he hadn’t even expected the commander to let him in, yet he had still somehow instinctively made his way to Garden and subsequently his childhood rival. There was the realization that Seifer had come to Squall because he knew unconsciously that the brunette was the only one he could trust entirely not to judge him and he had blindly trusted in that instinctive knowledge when he’d decided to show up on Squall’s doorstep in the middle of the night with a screaming baby.

                “Thank you,” it was belated, but was the most sincere verbalization of gratitude that Seifer could ever recall making. A sense of calm settled over him, as if the knowledge that Squall was going to assist him erased the stress of the past two weeks. Squall would know what to do.

                “What’s her name?” Seifer blinked when the unexpected question came, breaking through his idle thoughts, the brunette not bothering to acknowledge the thanks as though what he had offered to his rival was only natural and required no gratitude.

                “Annabelle,” the name rolled from Seifer’s tongue without much thought as his gaze instinctively sought out the sleeping infant in question.

                A soft smile ghosted over Squall’s lips as he watched the tall man seated at his small kitchen table, the unconscious seeking gaze of the blond landing on the sleeping baby not escaping his notice. He would never had imagined Seifer Almasy to be a father, especially at the age of twenty-three, only a few years after he’d been the knight of an evil sorceress, an enemy with a bounty on his head, but it was irrelevant now with the reality of the situation displayed before him in blatant view.

                Squall had been informed that Rinoa had hooked back up with his rival when their relationship had never progressed passed that one-time platonic kiss they’d shared in the depths of space and he had been more or less content hearing of it. In his opinion, Seifer had deserved to be happy; they all did after what they’d seen and done during the sorceress war. He’d missed the cocky blond, had always wished for his return to Balamb, but had never sought him out or tried to coerce him into returning to Garden once he’d heard of his former rival’s reunion with his one-time sorceress.

Seifer and Rin had seemed happy together and he’d had no right in his mind to take what happiness they’d built away from the couple. He had never expected to hear from either of them again, though Rinoa, being the kind of person she was, had been known to send an email now and again to update her newly acquired friends on her life and of course to get updates on all of them as well. It had been several months since he’d received word from the bubbly sorceress and had simply assumed that she had been too busy living the newlywed lifestyle she’d always dreamed of with her handsome knight. He’d had no idea that she had become pregnant during that time. And now she was dead. Her death was unexpected and left Squall with a bitter taste in his mouth, but at least her life had not been given in vain, but in place of her daughter’s instead. Seifer’s daughter. He wasn’t entirely sure how he felt about that, but he supposed there would be time later to sort through the mix of emotions the knowledge incited.

“Do you have formula? Diapers? Clothing?” the brunette asked suddenly, pulling himself from his own inner musings and drawing Seifer’s attention once again.

“Uhn, in the blue bag,” Seifer replied distractedly, gesturing with one hand to the bags he’d dropped by the door as his gaze remained transfixed on his sleeping baby.  Squall gave a single nod in response though the gesture was entirely lost on the ex-knight and set his coffee mug down on the counter top before he moved to the bags. He picked both up from the floor, eyes widening just the slightest at the unexpected weight of them, but he didn’t say anything as he lifted them. He threw the black duffel onto the made bed in the guest room and plopped the navy blue one on the kitchen table with a loud thump that startled Seifer. The tall blond jerked slightly and turned his head, green eyes settling on the brunette once more.

He blinked as he watched Squall unzip the bag and begin sifting through its contents, pulling out several items. Squall could feel the eyes on him and it made his skin burn. “Why don’t you go take a shower while I feed, change, and redress Annabelle? Then we can all get some rest,” he suggested, hoping to give the blond a distraction as he began preparing a bottle of formula with meticulous precision. When Seifer hesitated, unmoving from his seated position, Squall gave him a pointed look, stormy eyes narrowing in demand. It hadn’t been a real question, but a command disguised in the form of inquiry instead. Seifer grumbled as he got up, making his way to Squall’s bathroom without directions, unable to argue with the commander. He’d almost missed the taciturn brunette’s glares and couldn’t stop a small smile from upturning the corner of his lips as he closed the bathroom door behind himself, leaving his daughter alone with the other man.

Several long moments later, Squall heard the water start up and heaved a sigh, giving his head a little shake before moving to retrieve the sleeping infant from the sofa. He easily coaxed her into sucking from the warm bottle, still half-asleep in his hold. He hummed and swayed quietly as Annabelle ate, easily losing himself in the calm of the moment.

Once finished the formula, he burped her before setting her out on his kitchen table to change her diaper and clothing. Her tiny face scrunched as the cooler air hit her naked skin and he winced when she began to cry. He changed her and dressed her as quickly as possible, the red face, fresh tears and keening wail tearing at him.

When she was fed, clean, and redressed, he swaddled her in a warm blanket and picked her up once again, holding her close against his chest and carefully placing her head against the steady beat of his heart as he began humming and swaying again. The warmth, sound, and motion easily lulled the distraught baby back to sleep, but he continued on even after he was sure she was soundly slumbering once more.

Finished his shower, Seifer held his clothing in a balled up clump against his chest, a dark towel secured around his waist as he exited the bathroom. He stopped dead when he entered the main living area of Squall’s apartment, wide green eyes immediately focused on the sight of his former rival humming and swaying, eyes closed with the tiny bundle that was Seifer’s daughter held tightly against his chest. The tall blond leaned against the wall and simply watched the surreal scene silently. Squall looked natural like that, totally comfortable with a baby in his arms and it reminded Seifer of his own shortcomings. Squall would make a wonderful father, of that Seifer was sure, and yet, he wasn’t the one with a baby to raise.

Seifer frowned. Squall even looked happy with an infant nestled in his arms. Somehow, the picture before him seemed right, fit in a way Seifer was certain he would never be able to achieve himself. How was it possible that a person that was so known for being ice could present such a beautifully natural picture, so warm and inviting? It wasn’t fair and yet Seifer was relieved to realize that he had made the right choice in coming to Squall for help. The brunette had been the perfect person for the situation.

“Go get some sleep Seifer. I’ll keep care of her until morning,” Seifer nearly jumped out of his skin at the sound of Squall’s voice, even hushed as it was. The brunette’s eyes were still closed and he wasn’t even facing Seifer’s direction. The blond shook his head; he didn’t think he’d ever understand how Squall could do that, see without seeing at all.

His unoccupied hand scratched at the back of his neck sheepishly as Seifer shifted, straightening from his leaning position, “I can’t ask you to do that.” It was an attempt to argue, instinctively voiced in response to the embarrassment he could feel crawling beneath his skin, acutely aware of his inadequacies as a father.

“You didn’t. I’m offering. You’re obviously in need of a good night’s sleep, so take the offer and stop trying to be stubborn. Go to bed and everything will seem better in the morning,” Squall’s tone was still quiet, but left no room for further argument.

Seifer sighed huffily, but moved to the spare room where his black duffel was waiting on the bed. He closed the door behind himself before dropping both his dirty clothing and his towel to the floor. He rifled through the bag briefly before finding what he was looking for, dressing quickly in a pair of loose sweat pants, not bothering to search for a shirt or underwear for the moment.

When he emerged from the guest room, Squall was already gone from the kitchen. It took only the briefest of moment’s for Seifer to locate the missing brunette and his baby girl. He swallowed hard as he watched his former rival strip from the doorway to Squall’s bedroom. His throat was dry as jade eyes followed the movement of clothing being removed with a subtle grace, revealing pale, supple flesh, smooth and soft looking, the colour of milk, contrasting beautifully with the dark chocolate of spider web fine hair. Squall was beautiful, breathtakingly so and Seifer had a hard time placing the realization now that it had been presented to him so abruptly. How had he not noticed before?

The tall blond gave himself a mental kick as Squall pulled on a grey short-sleeved shirt and slipped into a pair of light grey plaid pajama pants, all the while seeming unaware of the green-eyed gaze upon him as he moved to crawl ever so carefully into the bed next to Seifer’s sleeping daughter.

Seifer bit his lip unconsciously as he stood stock still in the doorway, staring after his former rival. Everything seemed to come so easily to Squall and for that Seifer envied him ferociously, though he was also glad for it. He moved to turn away from the sight as Squall turned off the reading lamp beside him, but paused when he heard that hushed voice once more, “Goodnight Seifer.”

The broad blond could feel his blush burning all the way to his ears. Squall had known he was there the whole time, had clearly felt his staring. He couldn’t say anything in response, unable to trust in his own voice as he turned tail and escaped into the guest room, consumed with questions about himself and his former rival that there were no simple answers to.

 

TBC…

Soo… what do you all think? R&R please and thanks. I love feedback. 



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