Squall Leonhart stood silently near the center of the room, staring intently at the large monitor set in the wall before him. The images on the screen were constantly changing. Seemingly random bits of video and film were clipped together, forming an endless montage centered around one person – Delgadia Garou. Seed had been watching the man for months – ever since they'd first gotten word from one of Garou's former allies that Garou was planning an attack on the Garden. Unfortunately they didn't know how or even when. Their informant had been murdered within minutes of informing Seed. The raid on Delgadia's headquarters had turned up nothing, he'd left his family behind and disappeared underground along with dozens of supporters.
Garden staff and a few select members of Seed filtered in and out of the room, creating a faint buzz of motion around Squall that was completely ignored. He'd been like this for days, so intent on learning Delgadia's plan that he'd spent every waking hour pouring over every scrap of information Had he been listening he would have noticed that some of the conversation was about him and his obsession with the video.
One of the room's many doors slid open with a sigh, allowing a confidant blonde to stalk into the room, white coattails fanning out behind him like a banner. His eyes scanned the room quickly, taking in every detail before ignoring everything to concentrate on one person. The echo of Seifer's boots died as he stopped abruptly in the center of the room, scant inches away from the Garden's Commander.
Out of all the voices in the room, only one penetrated through Squall's intent concentration. His eyes pulled away from the screen slowly, visibly forcing himself to turn away.
"What?" There was annoyance in the Commander's voice but that was commonplace even on a good day. The fatigue Seifer heard there wasn't common, nor the slight undercurrent of worry.
"You need sleep." On another day Seifer might have simply demanded Squall come with him at that very moment. Neither of them was in the mood for a fight, at least not with each other.
Squall turned back to the screen. "I'm fine."
Seifer knew better than to go head-to-head against Squall in terms of stubbornness. Thankfully he had more than one manner of persuasion at his disposal.
"Just a few hours," Seifer said slowly. "You're tired. Your eyes are tired. Take a break for a little bit. Rest your eyes."
There was little Squall could hide from him. He glanced away from the screen for a quick second. Squall was considering it – he wanted to, knew he needed to, but he couldn't let himself rest when the Garden was in danger.
Seifer wasn't above playing dirty. "If you keep it up you're going to miss something." Seifer spoke very carefully. He kept his voice emotionless, no incrimination, no pity. Just pure logic to appeal to Squall's rational side. "Just a short break and a quick nap to clear your head, make you nice and sharp for when you get back."
Squall wanted to argue with him. He wanted to rage and say that he wasn't weak, that he didn't need to stop. Thankfully Squall had never been one to let his emotions rule him. He shifted sideways slightly, finally looking away from the screen and running an hand through his messy hair.
Seifer allowed himself a small smile of triumph. He linked his arm in Squall and turned to escort the Commander back to their shared rooms.
Squall froze. "Wait." The brunette turned back, one hand resting on Seifer's arm as if forgotten.
Pulling completely away, Squall took two steps towards the screen.
The techs littering the sides of the rooms jumped into action. The video footage scrolled backwards across the screen.
On screen, Delgadia was talking to a small group of his men. A tiny boy clung to the terrorist's hand.
"There." Squall stalked towards the screen with renewed energy.
Seifer couldn't see what the fuss was. "What?"
"There." Squall pointed at the boy's hand. Not the one holding onto Delgadia but the one clutching a tiny toy. "Damn."
"We still have the kid's stuff right?"
A short female in uniform stepped up, clipboard clutched to her chest like a shield. "Yes, sir, Commander. It's in storage."
Squall's eyes turned to Seifer. "Get it," he ordered. "I want to know what the furby heard."
Seifer had a feeling this wasn't going to go well, but he complied anyways. "Alright. As long as you take a short rest."
Squall opened his mouth to protest. Their eyes locked across the room. The corner of Seifer's mouth quirked down in a frown. He crossed his arms, raised an eyebrow.
Squall's mouth shut with a click. "Fine. Go."
Seifer turned away with a strong feeling of victory.
Seifer barely resisted the urge to start swearing. His first impression was right. This wasn't as easy as he'd thought it'd be.
How the hell was he supposed to interrogate a toy?
The tiny stuffed... thing stood on the coffee table in front of him, pink fur sticking up in haphazard clumps. He'd been trying for almost an hour to get real words out of the thing but all he'd gotten was that strange cooing language.
At his wits end, Seifer had started flipping through the manual, at a loss for other ideas. He couldn't threaten the toy with violence, much as he'd love to hack at the thing with his gunblade right now, and every question he could think to ask kept getting him nonsense in response.
"Wee..." Seifer glared at the toy. He couldn't believe he was doing this.
"Wee-tah." He kept his voice low, barely above a whisper. Squall was sleeping in the other room and there was no way he was going to let Squall hear him reading from the toy's manual. "Wee-tah-kah-wee-loo." That was the only thing in the phrases they gave that seemed like it might be even remotely useful.
"Kah-may-may-u-nye," the toy responded. It said that a lot.
Seifer frowned and flipped through the manual to check for a translation. Maybe if he dealt with this thing in its own language. What had it said? Kay-mah?
"Say that again," Seifer told the toy.
Seifer found the phrase on the third page and swore. 'I love you' indeed.
"What the hell are you doing?"
Seifer looked up with a mix of embarrassment and guilt. Squall stood in the doorway to the bedroom, staring aghast at Seifer and the furby.
Seifer frowned. "I'm trying to interrogate this bloody toy like you told me to. These things are impossible to get information out of."
The expression on Squall's face darkened as he stomped across the room. Part of Seifer felt a bit guilty that he hadn't managed to get the information they needed. That part was overshadowed by the much larger part that wanted to smash the stupid toy into tiny little bits.
Squall grabbed the toy off the table without a word. With his other hand he reached into his pocket, pulling out a switchblade. The knife snapped open with a solid click and Seifer's jaw dropped as Squall viciously stabbed the toy in the back. The blade cut down the furby's back, little bits of stuffing appearing around the newly formed opening. Squall flicked the knife closed with one hand before reaching inside the furby and removing a small, square microchip.
"I meant for you to have one of the techs analyze the memory chip," Squall bit out.
The gutted toy hit Seifer square in the chest as Squall stormed out of the room, furious. Seifer's gaze slowly fell to his lap where stuffing and tiny gears spilled from the toy like blood.