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Poor Unfortunate Souls

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The wreckage wouldn’t stop following him

Bits of broken wood and debris were drawn into the path of his footprints along the water’s surface, refusing to let him forget the damage he caused. The tidal wave had capsized the commercial fishing boat not even twenty miles away from shore, all because one foolhardy captain had tried taking his harpoon gun on bigger game.

The cut on Squall’s upper arm was still bleeding where one of the harpoons had nicked him, but the small wound was hardly a price to pay.

No one had the right to take shots at Shiva, no matter how rare and terrifying a sight such a large tiger shark was. She was swimming far below the surface now, but remained under his feet as he continued to put distance between them and the overturned ship. He’d need to stay on one of the other islands for a few days as long as he and Shiva could be discreet about it.

But right now, he didn’t care if a boat happened to see him walking along the sea line, dragging what looked like a large blade made of water behind him causing V-shaped ripples to form. They’d be white caps by the time they reached shore, carrying the evidence of the senseless tragedy that just occurred.

Which made it literally impossible for Seifer to pretend Lelouch hadn't been telling the truth. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he had been hoping it wasn't as bad as he was told, hoping there was still a chance Squall had held onto his soul.

Nope.

"Holy fuck," the words fell out of his mouth before he could temper them. Squall was... a terrifyingly beautiful sight on the water like that. Being a sea witch suited him, but... Well, Seifer had liked him just the way he was, too.

Despite himself, the blood trickling down Squall’s arm alarmed him. He knew a sea witch could take more damage than that, but Squall had recently been human and… Even so, walking around with an open wound was no good for anyone. It made Seifer wish he had pockets to keep handkerchiefs in, not that he would have planned ahead for that kind of thing, anyway. It was just one more frustration on top of this impossible situation.

He dove down from the sky to fly alongside Squall’s slow promenade back to shore. There was nothing for it. He had to jump right in. “Hey, Ice Princess.”

….

It’d been over a year since anyone had called him that. And there had only been one person to ever risk calling Squall that.

It paused the undine in his tracks, one of his elongated, blue-green ears flicking in recognition. Squall had no idea why the hand on his gunblade began to shake, but he met a pair of sea green eyes anyway, fearless, shameless. Emotionless.

Two blinks, and Squall carried on his way like nothing happened at all.

Seifer carried on with him. He always had talked enough for the both of them. "So I heard you acquired some new powers and lost a soul, but I hadn't realized the deal came with a sweet new blade."

Normally this would be the part where Squall would glare and look at Seifer like he was an idiot for opening his mouth. Of course he still thought Seifer was an idiot, but there was no urge to waste the energy on contorting his expression. Squall kept walking. “It didn’t.”

“So where’d the sweet new blade come from?” Usually talking about a man’s sweet blade got some communication out of the guy.

“I made it,” came the blank reply.

Seifer almost fell into the waves, “You fucking made that?”

“I needed it,” was Squall’s explanation.

“I can understand wanting it desperately from the depths of your soul, but needing it?”

“What soul?” Squall quipped back without missing a beat, wondering why he was bothering to explain anything at all. ...Which was painfully just like old times. “I can’t swim with Revolver.”

Seifer tried not to wince, but it was hard. He wanted Squall to have his soul back, by condemning him to marriage if necessary.

...That was a terrible joke, Seifer had to admit even in his own mind. It was necessary. And he wanted it. It might still be condemnation to Squall, though.

“So the Jesus thing you’re doing now is just for kicks and giggles?”

The sea witch shrugged, splashing up a bit of water with the tip of the blade he’d named Lionheart, “I like being in the water, but I can’t breath in it. Maybe one day.”

Seifer’s first thought was how odd that was. Squall had fishy appendages but no fishy benefits? It would be just like Lelouch to make purely aesthetic changes.

He didn’t realize his hand was reaching out to touch those aesthetic changes until exactly that moment, and then he retracted his hand like he’d been burned. Burned was better than losing the hand, which might have happened if he hadn’t caught himself.

Although…

“Can I touch?” Worth a shot.

….

Squall’s ears twitched and his grip nearly faltered again. His chest was doing something funny and he didn’t like it. At all. His stormy eyes narrowed a fraction over at the blond until he couldn’t see him anymore.

Because Shiva answered for him, violently jumping out of the water in the space between the two men with her teeth bared. The shark even managed a moment of eye contact before she crashed back into the ocean below, fully dousing Seifer and Squall in her wake.

Even dripping wet, Squall kept walking. And then offered just in case it wasn’t clear, “No.”

Seifer was very glad his pants were a nice, thick fabric and thus did not become immediately sheer upon introduction to water. His wings, however, didn’t fare so well. They felt heavy, and he had to flap them double time to flick as much water off as he could. This would be easier to do while standing, but, well, fuck.

And also. Holy shit, a shark nearly ate him. What the actual fuck. Just to be careful, Seifer added about twenty feet between him and the surface of the water. Immortal didn’t mean shit didn’t hurt. And also. Holy shit, a shark nearly ate him. Where the fuck did that even come from? Had Squall turned into fucking Aquaman or something? In fact, that was a question worth repeating.

“What the holy fucktastic shit was that?”

Squall actually made sure to look at Seifer this time when he answered, “Shiva,” like that was all he needed to know. Meanwhile, a gray fin had popped back up from the murky depths and was now swimming in leisurely circles around Cupid’s shadow.

Which was really not okay.

Seifer flew to catch up to Squall, but didn’t dare chance getting any closer to the water. “A pet shark.” Had Lelouch mentioned that? It didn’t really matter. It had not been enough warning. Although the name Shiva was pretty cool. But Shiva had tried to eat him, so…

“So anything else changed beside the ears?” If he couldn’t touch and Squall wouldn’t elaborate, time to ask a new question.

It really wasn’t any of Seifer’s business. Squall didn’t have a clue why the God of Love was even following him for this long. Or why he’d even showed up in the first place. Had one of his little ‘projects’ been on that fishing ship? “Does it matter?”

“I would think so.” After all, having a fish dick would be pretty concerning, Seifer thought.

Squall shook his head and resumed looking distantly out over the ocean, “It doesn’t.”

“So no fish dick?” Because that had to matter.

The undine managed to hold on to his frown when he blinked up at Seifer confused. Had he… heard that right? “What?”

“You know,” Seifer clarified by miming crudely with his fingers, “like dolphin penis?”

It was unclear whether Squall was glaring at Seifer to better explain himself or immediately drop the subject, but he kept right on glaring and didn’t say a word.

“I’ll take that as a no,” Seifer nodded to himself. Then, because he couldn’t let the well of conversation dry up, he turned his attention to that bleeding arm, “Gonna get that looked at?”

Squall’s glare faded back to nothing as he regarded his own arm, fresh blood trickling down after Shiva’s stunt had washed the wound clean, “It’ll heal. Nothing new.”

“Can I at least wrap it for you? Or something?”

The sea witch tilted his head and frowned all over again, “Why?”

“Because you’re bleeding,” Seifer answered like it was obvious, because it was, “Doesn’t it hurt?”

“Nothing hurts anymore.”

Those words, and the sudden sadness they made Seifer feel, stopped him in his tracks. It wasn’t that he was trying to ignore the situation; it was that he still didn’t fully comprehend the true scope of it. If Squall really didn’t feel anything…

Seifer desperately hoped that what they had was not lost.

But if it was, there was only one way to get anything like it back.

“Marry me.”

….

Squall’s chest was doing that… odd, uncomfortable thing again. Lionheart disappeared like he wasn’t able to carry the weight anymore, and Shiva seemed to get more aggressive, agitated as she swam close enough to the surface that her tail was able to kick up a splash.

Seifer had fucking proposed. What the shit?

“...No,” he repeated, quiet and casual as if he were turning down a drink offer, and not a life-changing commitment.

“Why not?” It was a reasonable question, “You’re an undine.”

But that wasn’t a reasonable explanation. If Squall could still feel his heart, it probably would have shattered again at Cupid’s simplified and superficial proposal. “That doesn’t mean anything.”

“It’s everything. It’s common knowledge that undine seek marriage to gain a soul and thus immortality. You should be eager to marry me and I’m eager to be loyal to you for the rest of our lives.”

“I gave up my soul willingly. I don’t want to marry anyone.”

Seifer found himself closing his eyes, struggling to comprehend the scope of that problem. “Fuck, Squall… Why? Why would you willingly give up your soul?”

“Because,” Squall still wasn’t sure why he was bothering to explain, but for some reason he wanted Seifer to know. Something in him wanted the man he used to feel so much for to know. The look in his eyes was a haunted sort of calm, empty, the kind of calm that meant nothing was calm at all, “Now it doesn’t hurt anymore.”

The God of Love sighed, running a hand through his hair. Aside from the fact that hurting was a part of life, “Why didn’t you tell me? I had no idea you’d fallen in love.” Which was embarrassing to admit, but things like that were always harder to see from the inside, “...I thought I’d left before you could.”

“Whatever,” Squall shrugged with all the indifference he had left. So many memories were flashing through his mind then, replaying every bittersweet moment he’d spent with the winged man while he’d considered Squall worthy of his time. Too often did he have these flashbacks and the undine no longer understood their purpose aside from a heavy sinking feeling in his gut. “It’s nothing now. It’s never been… anything.”

“It had to have been something or you wouldn’t have given up your soul,” Seifer argued, wishing they could be face to face for this instead of several yards away because of water and a snap-happy shark.

“Maybe,” Squall conceded to that point, “But it’s gone now so it doesn’t matter. Why is it any of your concern?”

Seifer gave him a look, “Because I want you to marry me.”

“I don’t want to marry you.”

Seifer got that the first time. “I’m going to change your mind.”

“I doubt it.”

The God of Love smirked, “You always did doubt me.”

“I didn’t doubt that you’d leave me one day.”

Seifer shrugged. What more could he do? “I didn’t argue that one.”

“You’ll do it again,” Squall made it sound like that was just the way it worked, and in his reality, it did, “Once was enough.”

“Not this time; not if we’re married,” Seifer did argue it, this go ‘round, “Not if you’re an undine and we’re both immortal.”

“Find another undine to marry,” Squall suggested evenly, but he’d staggered a step or two. And then he was kneeling with his hands braced on the ocean’s surface, eyes following the swirling form of his only companion below. The heavy sinking almost had him nauseated, and for whatever reason, his heart was pounding in his ribcage. Sometimes he reached points like this, where he needed to re-settle himself, get his limbs back under control, regroup and push onwards like he wasn’t still trapped in a pathetic human body.

This was the worst it had ever felt though. There had never been a strange… clenching sensation that almost made it hard to breathe. “All those titles and definitions only mean something to you.”

Fuck the shark, Seifer needed to be closer to see what was happening and… try to help. He dropped from the sky and hovered his hands over Squall’s shoulders and back, searching for something to… press or massage or brace or something. “I don’t want just any undine. I want you. I wanted you, but you were just going to die, before. If it hurts so fucking bad to watch someone leave, imagine how bad it is to watch them grow older every day knowing they’ll leave whether they want to or not because they have to die. So yeah, maybe the immortality thing doesn’t matter so much to you because you don’t know what it’s like yet, but it does matter. You could be immortal now. You just have to marry me. And I want you to marry me!”

Squall had to take a deep breath before he was able to get back up on his feet where he could much more easily take the steps he needed away from Cupid. Having him so close was way too much right now. Too much what, Squall had no fucking idea. “Stay away from me, Seifer. You already turned your back on what we had. It was worth giving up. So I gave up too. That’s all there is to it.”

“I didn’t know you were in love!” Seifer shouted after him. This was ridiculous. Squall wasn’t even listening. It was going in one ear and right out the other. “I thought I was sparing you!”

“....I guess you did,” Squall spoke after a contemplative pause and a tilt of his head, “I’m spared now. I’ve been spared of everything.”

“Damn it, Squall!” An edge of desperation was creeping into Seifer’s voice, “We could be together.”

“We could have been,” the undine corrected, remembering how much he’d wanted that before, how much he’d lit up seeing Seifer every day, how Cupid actually made him smile, how the winged man just being there seemed to mend the aching void in his heart…

Until he’d gone and ripped that void even wider.

"No," Seifer's voice was firm in this, "we couldn't. You had a mortal life to live that I didn't fit into."

“Seifer, you were the only thing I had left worth getting out of bed for. Becoming this seemed more worthwhile than slitting my own throat.”

In his frustration, Seifer rubbed his face with both hands then mussed up his own hair, "I had no idea I was so important to you. I only knew I could be. Fuck."

"Nothing's important now. You were fine after you left, right?" Squall already knew the answer. To his knowledge and the dismay of his naive wishful thinking, this was the first time Seifer had ever checked on him since their parting, no matter how many times he'd stared longingly at the sky, "Go back to your immortal life, Seifer. There's nothing for you here."

Which was the point at which Seifer realized debate wasn't helping. He couldn't argue Squall around and he wasn't sure Squall even cared, so Seifer decided to default to the stubborn bastard he knew himself to be.

"There's an immortal you. Marry me."

Unfortunately, Squall was an even worse stubborn bastard. “No.”

"I'm just going to keep asking."

“And I’ll keep saying no. I have no reason to marry you.”

"You have all the same reasons you had before."

“No, I don’t. I told you, I gave all of that up.”

"You gave up the feelings, but all the practical reasons remain the same, with an added immortal bonus."

“What practical reasons?”

"I'm sexy and I have a sword."

Squall was not even remotely amused. “Then you’ll have no problem attracting some other immortal. You can leave me alone.”

Seifer shook his head, sadness returning to his eyes, "If you loved me once, you can again. Marry me."

Squall was tired of repeating himself. This time when he kneeled down to the water, it was to climb on Shiva’s back, a foolproof way of making sure the God of Love couldn’t follow him. “The point of giving up my soul was so I can’t again. Ever. So don’t waste your time.”

The water was already up to the undine’s chin by the time the last words left him. For whatever reason, he kept watching the winged man as they sank lower, somewhat of a farewell in his eyes before they swam off.

Hopefully this would truly be the last time Squall would have to consider the remnant what-ifs of his past.

Those hopes were in vain.

It wasn’t like Seifer hadn’t befriended the asshole, before. He knew one passing conversation wouldn’t be enough. He knew Squall’s walls were airtight. He knew it was going to take a long, long time of beating on them with fists before he would make even a dent.

But that was okay. Mostly. Because Seifer was immortal and had patience on his side. As long as he could wear Squall down within the undine’s natural lifetime, they would be fine.

So he didn’t leave for as long as he could reasonably stay, chatting up his would-be lover every chance he got. When he had to go spread some love in the world, he worked fast and efficiently and got his ass right back to Hawaii when he was done. Squall was afraid that he would leave? Seifer just had to show him that he wouldn’t.

Except more often than not, Squall found himself wishing Seifer would leave.

The man had always been obnoxious, cocky, persistent, pushy… Those qualities were easy to counter with his natural nonchalance. It was the moments when he got ...sentimental, emotional, and…. proposal-y that the sea witch was having a hard time dealing with day after day.

That and Cupid kept trying to inch in his personal space where he was not allowed. It made Squall extra defensive, and Shiva by proxy. Nine times out of ten, Seifer would end up drenched by the end of the day for some reason or another.

But he kept coming back.

After a full month, Squall was getting used to seeing those fluffy white wings shimmering in the sky, a deep, masculine voice pestering him with some inane question, two sets of footprints going on for miles along the shoreline… His little episodes still came and went. They seemed to sync up whenever their arguments got heated, as if Seifer was having some kind of profound effect on him, but there were other times when the cherub, just by being there, made the moments of weakness go away.

If it weren’t for the glistening patches of scales that continued to form down his arms, Squall would have been questioning if his undine status was wearing off.

Another half a month later, he’d adjusted enough to Seifer’s presence that they were able to start sparring again, but his answer to the blond’s forever question still wouldn’t change.

That was okay, too, because it even surprised Seifer how he didn’t tire of asking.

It felt great to spar again. Seifer ran into trouble about as often as any spirit, which meant nearly never. He hardly got to use Hyperion to defend himself, and then trying to convince another spirit to spar him was like pulling teeth. They all had jobs to do and most of them didn’t find fighting as fun as Seifer did.

It hadn’t been that long, to Seifer anyway, since the last time he had sparred Squall, but he had thought that was a thing of the past when he left the mortal to live and die naturally. Getting another chance to spar him, getting the chance to spar him whenever he wanted for eternity, was incredible.

That, alone, was motivation to marry the prissy bitch. The fact that he actually liked, loved, Squall was icing on the cake.

The heat on the beach in Hawaii combined with the effort Squall always made him put in meant Seifer was covered in sweat and panting, but still verbally taunting his fiance because it wouldn’t be a proper spar without it.

“So what if we make it a wager? I win, you marry me.”

One of Squall’s ears twitched, something he did often around the blond, in a display of mild irritation. Or maybe at this point that was just what they did when he heard the word marry. It was hard to tell.

But Squall’s answer wasn’t. He shook his head and readied his stance, the aqueous blade of Lionheart aimed dangerously at Cupid. “Nice try.”

“Worth it,” Seifer shrugged, going in for another careless attack. And it was. Whatever repercussions Squall could dish out were easily balanced against the possibility of him eventually saying yes.

Squall easily parried Hyperion’s edge, that blade he could never fathom how Seifer wielded with one hand the way he did. Careless it might have been, the way Seifer handled his weapon was so artistic. He couldn’t not admire it, soul or no soul.

But he was pretty damn good with Lionheart too. The brunette went for an upwards slash and posed his own wager, “If I win, you don’t ask for a week.”

A week was easy. As long as Seifer actually kept track of the days and didn’t forget, that is. He could do a week. “Deal,”

…. Squall hadn’t expected him to agree, but it certainly put an extra fire in each move he made. There was still one detail to figure out though, “...You didn’t say what else you want if you win. Not that it’s happening.”

“I want to marry you,” Seifer reiterated with a hard jab, “Why should I want anything else?”

There went the ear-twitch again. Squall came at the spirit even harder. “I’m not deciding eternity on a spar.”

“Why not? It’s thrilling,” Seifer teased, retreating quickly to get out of the way of Squall’s harsh swings, “Fine. Then if I win, can I make love to you?”

Stormy eyes widened a fraction at Seifer’s audacity to even suggest something like that and made sure his next strike was aimed low . Fuck and he had to phrase it that way too, like it would mean something. The sea witch didn’t appreciate it. “No. I’m not handing over my ass on a spar either.”

Seifer smirked even as he skipped out of the way, “Or you could have my ass. I’m not opposed.”

Squall was right back up to chase him with another quick slice, “Not happening. Think of something else.”

At a certain point, Seifer was going to start assuming Squall was saying no just to spite him. “A kiss.”

Even Squall was noticing how much of a broken record he sounded like. Not that there was much left of him that wasn’t broken. “No.”

“A passionate embrace?”

Another swing. “No.”

“A passion less embrace?”

“....Fine.” At least passionless, he could handle.

"But what I really want is to marry you," Seifer reminded.

"And I want you to shut the fuck up about it," Squall answered coldly, "Fight me instead."

"I am fighting you," Cupid smirked, looking altogether too pleased with himself, "in the hopes that I'll get to marry you."

...

Squall's attacks grew progressively more violent. He didn't appreciate being toyed with either. "I wouldn't marry anyone that won't fight me seriously."

That put a frown on Seifer's face, "Who fights you more seriously than I do?"

“You’ve never taken me seriously, Seifer,” Squall argued, the blade of Lionheart at Cupid’s throat.

A position Seifer held back with nothing but the hook at the bottom of Hyperion, "I took you seriously enough to be in love."

Squall only relented enough to spin around and go for the blond’s side, “You wouldn’t have left if you were serious.”

"I left because I was too fucking serious," Seifer argued, blocking the new strike with just a tilt and a turn of his blade.

Squall quickly turned to the other side, aiming for the gut, “And that’s why I’ll never marry you.”

"Situation's changed," Seifer retorted simply. It was a very straightforward concept and he didn't honestly understand why Squall hadn't gotten it yet, except that the brunette just enjoyed being stubborn, "You don't have to die, anymore."

“If I wished for my mortal soul back, you would leave again,” the undine pointed out, rising to standing position.

“If you marry me, the soul makes you immortal,” Seifer declared solemnly, also leaning out of his stance into something more relaxed, but ready, “We would never have to leave each other, again.”

“But that’s the only reason you’re here. It’s only worth it to you because there’s a loophole and that isn’t why I chose this,” Squall lowered Lionheart since it seemed their battle was going to continue verbally for the moment.

“There’s tons of reasons,” Seifer argued quickly, warily. Squall made really good points, “But it was the deciding factor. I don’t like watching the people I love die. And I know that isn’t why you chose this. You never expected me to come back. But I came back to offer you an alternative to dying and feeling nothing while you’re at it. You can marry me, and I’ll never stray for the rest of eternity. That’s a promise.”

Promises meant very little to man who involuntarily collected broken ones. Perhaps the only promise anyone ever made good on for Squall was from the Blue Fairy who made him what he was now. “You strayed once. I don’t need any other alternative.”

Seifer couldn’t argue that, exactly. He could only show how changed the situation was. “I’ll wear you down, eventually.”

Squall’s hand tightened on his gunblade feeling the oncoming… chest clench thing. It all sounded so cheap the way Seifer talked about it. ‘Oh, no big deal, I left you at your lowest point, but I’m back now to fix it because now you can be like me.’ Like all that pain and anguish and wishing for death didn’t matter. Seifer didn’t actually see him, he saw his potential status as an immortal and nothing more. Who wanted to accept a marriage proposal like that ?

Someone would probably expect more out of Cupid, but Squall was pretty done with having expectations for anything. “Unless the humans beat you to it.”

...Well that was fucking ominous. Seifer gave the undine a suspiciously confused glare. What was he trying to say? It didn’t sound like Squall meant to go marrying some random asshole, so, “Humans beat me to what?”

“Wearing me down,” Squall clarified with a shrug, “The humans aren’t very fond of me around here.”

“You do sort of destroy their shit a lot.”

“Whatever.”

"I won't let them," Seifer declared suddenly, tone as serious as it ever was, "The humans will just have to put up with you because you aren't going anywhere."

Squall tilted his head. “Why? You’re going to protect me?”

"Did you think I carried Hyperion for funsies?" Seifer asked with a raised brow, "But no, you don't need me to protect you. If you need me, it'll be to back you up."

“I don’t need anyone.”

Seifer scoffed, “Except your shark, apparently.”

“Shiva doesn’t give a shit if I’m mortal or not,” the sea witch explained pointedly.

“That’s because Shiva, in general, does not give a shit.”

Squall sighed, growing tired of such a pointless conversation, like many of their conversations, and raised Lionheart again, “Are you giving up then? Are we done?”

“We’ll never be done, Squall,” Seifer said as if it were the easiest, most obvious thing in the world, and slid back into a defensive stance, “Not ever again.”

The next two weeks passed much in the same way, Seifer spouting his superficial romance to Squall’s dry apathy amidst barely civil conversation and surprisingly heated spars. Squall did not understand why Cupid ever bothered to return day after day; the undine was cutting him no slack to honor his persistence.

Today was one of those rare days that Squall managed to successfully avoid the winged man. He’d spent most of his time out on the water, swimming with Shiva until he was sore and wishing that he would have gotten underwater breathing out of his deal with the Blue Fairy. He would have loved the option of a true hiding place where he could momentarily escape the surface world, and every way it scarred him.

At the moment, he found his solace hidden beneath a secluded pier where he’d curled up for a quick nap. That left Shiva to swim on her own while he slept, idly circling the perimeter staying as low as possible to avoid any stray attention from either boat or human.

She couldn’t avoid the attention of the God of Love apparently.

Squall had opened his eyes to the sight of his beloved shark jumping high out of the water to catch what looked like a red piece of meat and the undine was extremely confused.

Up until he heard a familiar voice.

“Okay,” Seifer said as he flapped his wings and slowly lowered himself back to a safe distance above the water, “I’ll admit to some level of intelligence. You couldn’t be just any dumb animal and still know when to come to Squall or figure out that Seifer will feed you free steaks.”

Cupid thought it wasn’t just him when Shiva’s fin ominously rose and fell in the surf like a warning. The shark was smart and making a fucking point about it.

“I’m admitting it, okay? You don’t need to keep threatening. You are an intelligent, self-aware, sentient being with a sad inability to speak. Which means you can’t really say no when I make a deal with you for joint custody. How does every other weekend sound to you?”

Cupid ended up with a face full of sea water. The shark certainly knew how to say no without a word.

“Do you want another steak or not?”

...And then came another period of quiet. Seifer hovered above the surface full of anxiety and anticipation. Those teeth were fucking coming. And Seifer was ready.

Which stopped him from cursing violently not at all when Shiva burst from the surf, jaws open wide and surprisingly nimble for such a large, heavy animal. It was almost graceful, the way Shiva nearly killed him. Again.

Only after she was back in the ocean and Seifer had been covered in sea water once again did he dejectedly drop a steak and let it sink below the surface. He was confident she was eating them even when he couldn’t see her close her jaws around them. What fish would be stupid enough to try taking it from her?

“Look, I can tell you’re important to him, okay? He listens to you,” And if Seifer felt silly talking to a fish, it was nothing compared to his desperation, so he shrugged the whole thing off, “So all I’m asking is that you put in a good word for me, alright? You don’t even have to stop trying to kill me.”

Shiva slowly elevated up to the surface again, her snout barely above the water, and it was hard to tell what those black eyes were focused on from afar, but Squall could always feel her gaze. She was looking to him for his opinion without outwardly giving anything away.

And Squall was having a hard time processing all of this. Seifer was seriously trying to bribe his shark? With food, of course, because how else would you bribe a shark, but the winged man was actually showing her some respect. Which… he reluctantly had to give Seifer credit for.

There wasn’t a chance in Hell that Squall was going to let himself be won over via bribe though. Then again… something about Shiva’s tail so leisurely swaying back and forth in the water like she was comfortable made Squall a little more at ease too. It was a step in the right direction if the blond was serious about him, because he’d have to be serious about Shiva too.

So Squall gave a most serious nod and Shiva circled around for a running start when she jumped at Cupid again with an open mouth of razor teeth.

Thankfully the jump wasn’t as high; couldn’t be without the same level of deep sea jet propulsion that came from diving for a couple minutes, so Seifer was able to skip off to one side, leaving steak behind in his wake. Her jaws sealed around the meat as she slammed back into the water and Cupid sighed dejectedly. The main problem was, “I have no idea if you’re agreeing with me or not. I lack Squaqualad’s powers of marine communication.”

And Squall preferred it that way. He liked having a connection to someone that was his and no one else’s. A connection that wouldn’t be severed as soon as he found himself attached…

So Shiva was allowed to play as much as she wanted, and Squall was going to sit back and watch, wondering what Seifer hoped to gain.

The tiger shark’s head was above water again, staring with those black eyes up at the God of Love. She opened her mouth again, wide and expectant.

Seifer’s sigh this time was fondly exasperated as he dropped another steak right where she wanted it, “If you think being cute is going to make me stop harassing you, then you’ve learned nothing from my time with Squall.”

Although it was hard to tell who was harassing who here. Steak in mouth, Shiva dove back down deep into the water where her shadow was barely visible to enjoy her free meal and offer no response to Seifer’s negotiating.

“I’m not being unreasonable,” Seifer reminded, despite how far below the surface the shark currently was, “I’m just trying to help you live forever. Putting up with my shit is only a small price to pay for immortality, isn’t it? You should be on my side!”

When Shiva appeared again, her fin was circling ominously beneath Seifer like there was a chance of him dropping himself or all of the steaks in the water. That was as far on Seifer’s ‘side’ she was willing to go.

Seifer sighed as if the shark had said some profound, hard truth and allowed another slab of meat to fall below the surface, “I know it’s not about the immortality. I know that. It’s about the love. But love isn’t all powerful. It cannot conquer all. It’s just as much subject to time and death as everything else is, and I’m just not that strong. But immortality is a bonus. It’s a good bonus. People have killed for it. So that’s gotta be something. Doesn’t it?”

Shiva had quickly snatched her steak before it sank too far and swallowed it down before her head was above the surface again. Staring. Or as much as a shark could stare still swimming in circles, but her attention was clearly on the man floating mid-air.

If the God of Love wasn’t strong enough to believe in his own damn element, then what was it any good for?

It was a good question, and one that Seifer struggled with all of the time. He knew the answer, on his good days. But you didn’t live as long as he had without having some really bad days. “I can’t believe how badly I fucked this up,” He said quietly, mostly to himself under the pretense of still talking to Shiva, “I should have known. I should have seen it. It’s my fucking job to see it, and I was so God damn wrapped up in myself that I just… Fuck.” Cupid ran fingers through his hair that, in its wet state, left it in uneven, bumpy little rows that curled at the ends.

A gray, curved tail whipped sharply against the water, like Shiva didn’t want to hear any excuses. Yes, the situation was fucked up. Fucked up enough that she existed because of it. But the situation didn’t need defining, it needed solutions. And those black empty eyes were fixed on the only man who could do it. If he cared enough, that is.

She was the judgiest shark Seifer had ever met. Not that Seifer had met a particularly large number of sharks or anything, but the statement still stood.

He eyed her flatly as they judged each other. Seifer wasn’t really sure what he hoped to gain from this, but at least it hurt less when Shiva snubbed him compared to Squall. She was almost refreshing, the way she was willing to indulge him as long as he fed her. If only Squall would be willing to indulge him so long as he, Seifer wasn’t sure, fucked him? Fought him? It was a toss up what really mattered to him.

Except, of course, staying.

The God of Love groaned and covered his face with his hands, which was a little gross because one had been touching raw meat, but that really wasn’t likely to kill him by this point, so. The expression of frustration was more valuable to him. He needed the outlet. He needed every outlet he could get because it was destroying him from the inside.

“All I can do is love him,” Seifer finally said, tone resigned and defeated, “Love him the way he deserves, the way I should have the first time. Either it will be enough, or it won’t.” And Cupid sounded so fucking sad when he said that, even to his own ears.

But Shiva was there to effectively distract from the drama and melancholy by serving the cherub another generous helping of sea water.

There wasn’t much more that could be said. Only time and persistence would tell if those efforts would finally be able to bridge the void between heart and mind in their beloved sea witch. After all, Squall clearly cared for her in some way and all she’d ever done was be there for him.

The extra splash was her way of saying ‘Good luck, kid,’ and then she was under, swimming towards the pier to pick up her mortal companion.

Squall had a lot to think about.