Anything & Everything
By Elise Maxwell
“Come and get some.”
“Is that a threat or an invitation?”
“You take all the fun out of practicing.”
“Well you should know I couldn’t let a quip go undone.”
“Rinoa, I’m going to kill you.”
“You wouldn’t dare Seifer.” The young mermaid’s brown eyes danced a mischievous jig as she readied to square off against her best friend.
“I’m sure your father would understand that I was doing him a favor, princess.” Seifer grinned and swam around behind Rinoa. “Besides, it will be a while before you can become queen. Torture sounds fun.”
“Masochist.” The black haired mermaid retorted as she glanced back at him.
“It’s one of my many kinks.” The blonde merman winked at her.
“Maybe I should take you up on the offer.” Rinoa turned to him and smiled. “You're the most handsome merman in these parts.”
“Yeah, yeah.” Seifer waved a hand and swam off a bit. His reflection wavered on a shiny rock in front of him. Short strands of hair waved like a field of wheat in the wind—something he’d never even laid eyes upon. And his eyes—they matched the water in which he floated. It was as if his reflection was looking right through him and into the depths of the sea, where he’d been born.
“No self loathing now,” Rinoa chided and swam over to touch his arm, but he ignored her advice. Even though he was the princess’s best friend, was the best looking merman for leagues, and could have any pick of partners for leagues, he still felt… lonely. It always seemed like he didn’t belong. Being an orphan never helped either.
“Seifer.” Rinoa moved to block his view of the mirror. “Let’s go up to the surface hm?” She smiled. “Let’s go bask in the sun.”
The blonde returned the smile for her worried nature. “Sure,” he agreed and followed her to the surface, for in the air he felt like he could belong.
Cool mist caressed his pale skin as he listened to the waves crash over and over… Long chocolate brown hair floated in the breeze and cloudy gray eyes opened to see the same color reflected in the sky. He took a deep calming breath to taste the salt on the wind, but his body hesitated and became rigid as he sensed someone nearby.
“Leon. It’s Leon.”
“She named you Squ—”
“I don’t want to be named after the thing that killed my mother!” The young man gritted his teeth. “Sorry Quistis. I didn’t mean to snap at you.”
“The people… in the town…” Quistis sat next to the brunette who called himself Leon.
“They knew. They just didn’t want to accept it.” He sighed. “It was my fault. She died saving me.”
“She loved you.”
He stayed silent for a moment in contemplation. “I know.”
“Then why deny the name she gave you?” Quistis asked.
“When the people in town… when they say my name, it sounds like they're blaming me for her death.” The young man bit his lip. “Like a constant reminder.”
She nodded. “She was well loved here.”
“Laguna told me that she died giving birth to me,” the brunette told her after a moment.
“Trying to protect you?”
“And he finally told me the truth a month ago. The people always looked at me odd. Now I know why,” he mumbled and turned to Quistis. “You can still call me Squall. You voice doesn’t condemn me like theirs.”
She smiled and stood with a nod. “Come, lets go talk some more over lunch okay?” The increasing roar of the surf almost drowned her words out.
Squall nodded and followed in suit. He paused and looked back at the sea. He felt a tug at his heart as he turned away. A blast of wind hit his back and he stopped to enjoy the rushing sensation.
He saw Quistis’s long blonde locks flair out in the wind as she turned to him. His eyes caught her face change to fear and his stomach dropped.
“Squall!!” She yelled and pointed behind him, as everything seemed to stop. A huge wave seemed to hang above him forever as he tried to scramble across the rocks to his friend. The descending water smashed Squall’s body into the rocks before retreating. He grabbed futilely at the slippery rocks as gravity and the water pulled him down toward the rapids.
Squall’s hand caught on a small rock and he used every ounce of strength he had to pull himself up. He saw Quistis lying unconscious on the rocks. His eyes widened when he noticed blood on the rocks under her head, which faced the other way.
She slipped on the rocks, he thought as the adrenaline hit his veins. The brunette then grabbed another rock and pulled himself up farther. Suddenly he realized everything had gone quiet again and he looked back only to be washed away and under the roaring sea.
“Phooey!” Rinoa crossed her arms as Seifer surfaced. “It’s all cloudy and icky today.”
“There’s someone on our rocks anyway.” Seifer pointed to the jetty (?) on the beach.
Rinoa turned to see a blonde girl join a brunette girl who had been on the rocks. “The nerve of those humans! That’s our rock.”
Seifer chuckled at her mock anger. “Silly little mermaid. They don’t know. Hell, they don’t even know we exist.” He paused, “Most of the time.”
“True,” the princess mulled over his observation and didn’t notice him move closer to the shore.
“Don’t you think they're sitting too close? The waves are getting more dangerous,” the young merman pointed out. “They should leave.”
“Who cares? It’s not even sunny out. We don’t need the rocks anymore,” she told him.
“Crap,” the blonde watched the waters build their way to the shore. “This is getting rampant.”
“And that matters to us?” Rinoa received a glare. “What? Okay, I’m trying to ignore the fact that they're people, but they're humans Seifer. We’re not supposed to go near them. If a human found one of the merfolk, they would get caged.”
“You have no faith in people.”
“And get shown around as some freak for people to act like we’re animals to be taunted? Your mother was lucky.”
“Don’t talk about my mother that way!” the blonde growled.
“Better for her to die and blend with the sea than live and be caged for eternity.” Rinoa sighed as Seifer began to swim to the shore. “The call of the sea becomes unbearable and they lose the will to live.”
“The sea is what makes us cold!” Seifer threw back.
“We are the sea!” Rinoa yelled as a wave crashed on their cove. “Oh no.” She turned with Seifer to search the rocks with their eyes. “There she is!” Rinoa pointed at the top edge of the rocks where the brown haired girl tried to climb up despite the slippery rocks.
“I thought you didn’t care.”
“I’m just not supposed to.” She frowned at him.
“A king’s word,” Seifer agreed and shook his head. “She’s going to get hit again then washed out to sea.” He moved closer. “I’m going to save her.”
“Seifer!” Rinoa reached after him as he disappeared under the murky depths of the raging sea. She looked up to see the girl on the rocks get swept into the water by another wave. “Ugh!” She gave up and followed the blonde to the shore.
So close… Seifer reached out to the body that had been pushed farther below the surface by the current. He grabbed the young girl’s arm and pulled her upward. Once his arms were wrapped firmly around her waist he hauled her to the surface.
“Thought you could use some help.” Rinoa said as he surfaced and took one of the girl’s arms. She helped him take the girl to the shore. They dragged the human as far up the beach as they could and laid her out. As they did so, the ripped and torn shirt on the girl fell open to reveal that she was really a he.
“Wow.” Seifer looked the young man up and down. His body was so thin with wiry muscle that he mistook the boy for a girl. The long hair didn’t help any.
“Such beautiful hair.” Rinoa threaded her fingers through it and cradled the man’s head. “Is he alive?”
Seifer placed a hand on the man’s chest and leaned close to his lips to hear a shallow sound. “It seems so.” He looked the human over. The man’s thin body was riddled with bruises and scratches from the rocks he’d been pummeled against. “I wonder what he was doing out here on a day like today.”
“I happen to like cloudy days.” One stormy gray eye opened to startle the two merfolk. He then opened the other and fixed them both on the blonde. “I also prefer to be alone thank you.” He turned his gaze to Rinoa and frowned. The shells on her chest must have confused him. He raised an eyebrow and looked down. “Holy shit!” The man scrambled backward into another sharp rock but didn’t seem to notice. “You aren’t going to hurt me are you?”
“I figured he’d ask what we are,” Rinoa mused to Seifer who cocked his head questioningly at her.
“I know what you are!” The young man seemed frustrated.
“We saved you buddy,” Seifer replied. “And you should be more worried about your friend.” He pointed up at the rocks where he’d last seen the blonde girl.
“Oh Hyne! Quistis!” The young man climbed up the rocks as the two seafolk shrugged and waited innocently. He didn’t seem to be a scheming bastard. Maybe humankind had potential.
“Oh, geez,” they heard the young man mumble. “Come on Quisty, wake up.”
“Wha…What happened?” the girl called Quistis woke up.
“The wave must have knocked you over,” the boy told her. “You’re soaking like me and you hit your nose; it’s all bloody.”
“Come on, let’s wash your face off.”
“Are you okay Squall?”
“I’m fine.” The man called Squall helped his friend down the rocks. Once the girl had finished puttering over her nose, she stopped dead in her tracks and stared at the seafolk lying on the shore. It must have been shocking to see not one, but two merfolk resting on the beach—one with the stereotypical deep sea green fins and a princess with coral pink pearlescent fins. Seifer suddenly felt very insecure under her gaze.
“Quisty, come on,” Squall said and dragged her to the water. “The blood is all over your face.”
Seifer inched his way over the water-slicked sand to the two humans as the female washed her face. “You’re bleeding too… Squall.”
The brunette stopped and let the blonde woman rub at her face as he stared at the mystical being beside him. “I know.”
“It stings, right?”
“Here.” Seifer raised a hand to the man’s chest.
Squall flinched back. “What are you going to do?”
“Because I can,” the merman replied has his palm touched Squall’s bare and dirty chest.
“What do you want in return?”
“Something.” Seifer glanced over at Quistis who had begun to listen discreetly. “No more stunts like this. Be more careful. The sea is a vengeful thief. It takes more lives than it gives.”
The brunette pursed his lips and closed his eyes tightly before nodding quickly. “I know.”
“You seem to know so much,” the blonde began to concentrate, feeling power flow through his arm and into the man in front of him. “Healll….” His voice reverberated around him as his cool healing power swept out of him and into the patient.
Squall gasped as the power rushed through him healing the minor scrapes and scratches about his body. Even the air smelled crisp and cool from Seifer’s power alone.
As his power dissipated Seifer opened his eyes and frowned. Squall’s face still bore a scar on his forehead. The scratch hadn’t bled much so he thought it would heal like the rest. He traced a finger along it, wondering why it was still here.
Seifer blinked as he realized Squall was staring at him with a blank but slightly surprised face. “Sorry,” the merman let his hand drop. “I couldn’t heal it. There’s a scar on your forehead.”
“What?” Squall asked.
“Here.” Rinoa tried to scoot over to them.
“I’ll help you,” Quistis offered and assisted the girl in her movement.
Once close enough Rinoa nodded to Quistis and smiled. “Thank you.” She leaned over and touched the water, drawing some of it into the air to make a mirror for the young man.
“Whoa.” Squall gazed at the water amazed before remembering why it was there in the first place. He leaned closer and inspected the scar on his forehead. “Why couldn’t you heal it?”
“I don’t know.” The blonde merman shrugged. “Maybe it binds you to something. Even me.”
“Your mother?” Quistis asked quietly.
“What about your mother?” Rinoa asked innocently as she let the mirror dissolve back into the water. “You can trust us,” she said when Squall hesitated. “Who are we gonna tell?”
“The king.” Seifer grinned cheekily getting a laugh out of the humans as Rinoa rolled her eyes.
“My mother tried to save me from a storm one evening when I was still a baby.” Squall pulled his knees to his chin. “She died. They never found her body.”
Seifer shook his head. “My mother was hit with a fisherman’s spear. She dissolved into the sea when she died, before they could… well, reel her in.”
“Seems like you lost your mothers to each other’s worlds.” Quistis’s brow was furrowed in thought.
“Seifer,” Rinoa murmured to the blonde. When he looked up at her she nodded to the sea and he noticed two skulls peering around a rock and immediately recognized them.
“We better get going,” Seifer told the humans as Rinoa inched into the water.
“Wait!” Squall crawled closer to him. “Will I see you again?”
“I’m sure our paths will cross once again.” The blonde smiled and slid into the water after Rinoa, leaving the two on the beach to watch them disappear into the depths.
Once far enough away, the two stopped to wait for the two who had been spying on them. Soon enough a small brunette mermaid followed by a blonde male with high spiky hair joined them. The male’s fin swished back and forth annoyed as the female considered them thoughtfully.
“Did they hurt you?” The male asked as he crossed his arms.
“No, Zell, they did not hurt us.” Rinoa rolled her eyes.
“What were they like?” The female with Zell cocked her head to the side.
“Quite nice actually. Want to meet them Selphie? I’m sure they’re still on the beach.” Seifer smirked.
“No,” Zell countered. “I think we’ll all go back to the palace and forget about the humans. Basking on rocks is one thing, getting too close to the humans is another.”
“Come on Rin!” Selphie grabbed her arm. “I found the weirdest shells today, I need your help with them.”
“Okay,” she nodded and waved with a reluctant look.
“Please don’t make her end up like your mother.” Zell gave Seifer a pleading look.
Seifer frowned at the Zell and his exotic cerulean fins. “I wouldn’t dare let anyone take or hurt her.” He began to swim slowly after the girls. “You were up there too.”
“I’m supposed to keep tabs on her. I’m one half of her guard.” Zell sighed. “I know you’re the other half, but I need to know where you are.”
“I know, I know.” Seifer rolled his eyes. “Let’s just go protect our charge for now?” The blonde led the other merman away with an odd feeling, like he was turning his back on something…
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