Anything & Everything
By Elise Maxwell
“Now, pull it down through here like this.”
Seifer watched closely as Squall pulled the bit of fabric under another and tightened it. He followed the example and grinned when the brunette nodded impressed.
“Very good.” The shorter man smiled. “You just learned to make a tie.”
“And these are worn at social functions?” Seifer asked fingering the bit of fabric on his chest.
“Most of the time,” Squall replied pulling the tie on his neck loose. “Sometimes they wear bowties but it depends on the person and event.”
Seifer nodded, as if he understood what in the world a ‘bowtie’ was and undid the knot on his neck. He handed it to Squall and watched the young man place them back into his father’s wardrobe. He’d been at the mansion for only a week and already he’d learned so much. He yearned to learn so much more.
“What else are you going to teach me today?”
“I’m not going to teach you so much as I’m going to show you.” Squall closed the doors of the wardrobe and turned to the blonde. “I’m going to take you out. To a fair.”
“A fair?” Seifer asked curiously.
His face must have been amusing because it caused Squall to chuckle. “I have a feeling you’ll love it.”
“If you say so.”
Seifer’s eyes popped at all the new and interesting things he saw in this fair. He watched in avid interest as people played games—Squall even played a few, mostly shooting targets. He won a little chocobo doll and made Seifer carry it around. The blonde felt a little embarrassed to carry it, but the brunette gave it to him so he had an attachment with the little plushie. When Quistis asked to hold it, he hugged it fiercely making her giggle. He did let her hold it—for a little while.
While she and Seifer were staring up at the Ferris wheel, she stepped to the side a bit and bumped a tall, red haired cowboy. When she looked over to apologize, her face lit up and the cowboy picked her up and spun her around. Seifer watched this interaction with interest wondering what type of friendship they shared.
“Seifer, this is a friend of ours, Irvine.” Squall gestured to the cowboy who ever so smartly tipped his hat to the blonde as he put an arm around Quistis. “Irvine here has been gone at college all year.”
“But I had to come back and see this gorgeous blonde here.” The cowboy grinned at Quistis who brushed the compliment off. They began to talk and ignore the fact that the other two were even there.
Seifer could tell that Quistis was completely smitten with the sweet-talking red head and the two led them into another part of the fair. Seifer kept his peace, not wanting to interrupt their cuteness or try to draw attention to himself. They still hadn’t thought of his story for why he was there in the first place. He dropped his thoughts as he looked at Squall who had obviously caught the bug but hadn’t voiced it.
“Later,” Squall mumbled with a slight wink and the blonde nodded knowingly.
While they browsed the ‘Freak Show’ Seifer smirked at the oh-so-fake bearded lady but couldn’t help but feeling that someone was watching him. He could feel the little hairs on the back of his neck standing up and worry swept through him. He tried to shake the feeling as he scanned the crowd nervously wondering why he felt so uncomfortable. His eyes finally came to rest upon a tank near the edge of the grounds but people blocked his view so that he couldn’t see what it held.
“Squall.” Seifer pulled on the sleeve of the brunette’s shirt.
“What?” The shorter man turned and looked at the blonde. “Is something wrong?”
“Come on.” Seifer took his hand and pulled the stumbling man across the field to the tank. Once the crowd got bored with whatever was in the tank they dispersed and left Seifer to stare through the glass at what was being held captive.
There, in the water, was a mermaid. But it was no mere mermaid fake, Seifer knew this mermaid. Someone he’d thought was dead for so long.
The young seeming mermaid pressed her hands against the glass and mirrored Seifer’s gaze of surprise and anticipation. She surfaced air enough for her head to fit in the tank.
“Seifer?” she asked, her voice caressing his very soul. It was she.
“M—mother?” His heart cried as his hands touched the glass in the spots where hers were. “I thought… you were dead.”
“Better dead that to be captured,” she quoted. “I’m sure that’s what they told you.” Seifer nodded in reply. “Yes, well, I agree somewhat.” She looked away. “The men who run the show, they’ve been good to me, but the sea sings in my veins, love. I don’t know how much longer I’ll last just in a tank.”
Pain showered Seifer’s heart. “I’ll get you out,” he told her sternly.
“What powers do you have child?” she whispered as some people walked by. She blinked for a moment at the three behind him, who were staring at her quite shocked. “And who are your friends?”
Seifer blinked, caught off guard. “Oh, sorry. This is Squall, Quistis and Irvine.” He motioned to the three standing behind him. “Do you think you guys help me?”
“Of course!” Quistis answered immediately. “Keeping her caged like this is wrong.”
“Quistis,” Squall growled.
“She’s his mother,” she hissed back as a few people passed and Irvine watched the whole conversation more confused that anyone.
“I know, but what if we get caught?” the brunette asked.
“We won’t,” Seifer told them. “I can put whoever guards her to sleep.”
“Your powers still work?” the mother asked.
“For a short time. We’ll have to be quick.” Seifer turned back to her. “We’ll be back tonight to get you. Be ready.”
She nodded and smiled hopefully.
“Excuse me?” Irvine finally got everyone’s attention. “What in the hell is going on?” He then pointed to the tank. “And what does she have to do with it?”
“Kaeli,” the mermaid replied.
“I’m sorry miss Kaeli.” Irvine replied calmer.
“She’s Seifer’s mother.” Quistis spoke the obvious.
“Your mother?” the cowboy asked to get a hesitant nod. “Please tell me this is a joke. Mermaids don’t exist.”
“You’re not supposed to know.” Seifer looked away hoping Irvine could just trust them. He never counted on this happening.
“So then why are you here?” Irvine looked at the mermaid.
“I was captured,” she said, her voice taking a sad note
“What are you doing here? She’s your mother?” Irvine’s patience was wearing and he seemed to be losing a bit of his sanity at that point. Seifer realized that he would have to earn the cowboy’s trust.
“Irvine!” Quistis hissed. “Can we speak about this somewhere else?”
“I agree,” Squall crossed his arms looking about uncomfortably.
Seifer turned to his mother. “We’ll be back tonight,” he told her hurriedly. She nodded and he group said their goodbyes before making their way out of the fair quickly, Irvine in the lead.
“Okay.” He stopped after they rounded a corner into an alley. “What the hell is going on? Why are you here and what the hell are you?”
“Irvine!” Quistis punched his shoulder. “Don’t you think we’re a bit smarter than that?”
“Well I don’t know who he is!”
“He has a right to question Quistis. Let him do so.” Seifer stepped forward. “My name is Seifer. Yes I was a merman.”
“Are you using them? Did you come here just to rescue the mermaid?” Irvine asked suspiciously.
“No! I thought my mother was dead!” the blonde blurted out. “I didn’t know she was in there any more than you.”
“Then what are you doing here?”
Seifer opened his mouth to reply but stopped remembering what Squall said. The idea of two men together isn’t thought of highly. Could he say something without hurting Squall? Seifer didn’t want to hurt him, not after all he went through just to get here to be with the brunette. He looked at Squall, searching his stormy eyes for an answer. What should he do?
“He’s here for me.” Squall replied, his eyes never leaving Seifer’s as their fingers became entwined. “He gave up everything for me. And I’m willing to give up everything for him.”
Irvine’s mouth formed an ‘O’ and he nodded in understanding. “Hey, well I’m sorry I was so…”
“Doubtful? Don’t be. Like I said, you every right to be.” Seifer sighed. “I just—I never knew she was here. You came in at a really weird situation.”
“I can see that,” Irvine agreed. “Now what?”
“We go to the ocean.” The blonde turned.
“Seifer!” Squall stopped him as he tried to start off. “Where are you going? We can’t just barge in there and steal your mother. We have to wait.”
“We can’t wait!” Seifer’s oceanic eyes held heartbreak. “I thought my mother was dead Squall. The least I can do is save her before that fair leaves. Tonight is the best time.”
“But we have to plan this!” Squall tired to rebut. “We need time.”
“We don’t have time and I already have a plan!”
“Squall, for one minute stop listening to your head and start listening to your heart!” Quistis interrupted finally. “You know very well that if it was your mother, you’d save her too.”
The brunette stopped, sadness creeping into his porcelain features. He gritted his teeth and stared back with a little more pride. “Alright, I’ll help.”
“That’s the spirit!” Irvine grinned. “I’ll help too!”
“Good. We have to get to the beach,” Seifer repeated and started off. “Rinoa’s going to meet me there today. Then I can tell her about my mother.”
“So she can get help?” Quistis asked, keeping up with his fast pace.
“So she can tell her father that his high priestess is still alive and needs help.”
“Your mother is a priestess?” Squall asked incredulously.
“How does that work?” Irvine followed this up.
“I’ll explain it sometime later.” Seifer stopped and looked around. “Which way do I go now?” Squall pointed to the left and the blonde smiled suddenly. “Mother will know I chose well.”
The brunette blinked. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
Seifer touched noses with him. “I think you know what I mean.” The comment made Squall turn beet red before running to catch up with Seifer who had already walked away.
“You have a way with words,” Squall told him awkwardly.
“It’s a gift.” Seifer winked.
“I hate you guys.” Quistis muttered making Irvine chuckle in reply.
“We have lots of time.” Squall told the three following him as they entered his home.
“Time for what?”
The group turned to see Vinzer Deling waiting in the atrium of the mansion.
“Oh, hello Mr. Deling. I didn’t know you were expected today.” Squall stood straight greeting the city official.
“You can call me Vinzer, Squall.”
Vinzer cleared his throat. “Right, Leon.” He smiled as his eyes rested on Seifer. “Who is your new friend? I don’t recall meeting him before.”
Seifer froze wondering what kind of story Squall would come up with.
“This is Quistis’s cousin Seifer. He’s visiting.” The brunette kept a level gaze with the older man. “You see the resemblance don’t you?”
“Oh, yes.” Vinzer smiled at the blonde man and walked closer to him. “Now that you mention it, yes I do see it.”
Seifer frowned insecurely as the man circled him. He looked to Squall, whose eyes had narrowed. Jealousy? Anger? Fear? He didn’t care; he just wanted to be away from this unnerving man.
“Seifer, why don’t I show you the kitchen?” Quistis took hold of his arm as Vinzer stepped back. “You and Irvine can help me prepare dinner.”
“Sure.” The blonde nodded to the older man and walked away with his ‘cousin’ and their friend.
“Did you need something Mr. Deling?” Squall asked as they walked away.
“I needed some documents. I called Laguna and he accidentally faxed them to himself instead of me,” the man answered.
Squall chuckled unexpectedly. “I’ll get them for you. Please wait here,” he told the man as Seifer and Quistis rounded the corner, away from the tension.
Seifer let out a breath and Quistis stopped, one hand on her forehead. Irvine snorted and leaned on the wall, his demeanor dark. He could tell that this Deling fellow had everyone checking themselves twice. The man gave Seifer the distinct feeling that he had something unnoticed going on below his smooth surface.
“Are you alright?” Seifer asked.
“Yeah.” Quistis leaned on the wall. “That man, there’s just something about him.” She shook her head and he could tell that she couldn’t put her feelings into words.
“I feel it too.” He put a hand on her shoulder. “You’ll be more comfortable farther away from him. Now, will you teach me how to cook some of your amazing human food? Your cuisine is delicious!”
Quistis laughed, her lighthearted nature returning. “Such a charmer Seifer. Why did you have to fall for Squall?”
“So you could be with Irvine,” he said impishly to get shocked looks from the other two. He tried his hardest to keep from laughing as the two turned a most interesting shade of red and avoided one another’s gaze.
“I meant, why couldn’t you stay in the ocean.” The blonde girl muttered and glanced at Irvine.
Seifer snickered and Quistis turned her heel and led them off to the kitchen. Cooking would be interesting indeed.
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