One Man's Blessing
September
2008

 

Leaning back against the mirrored wall of an elevator, Squall fussed with his slate-colored tie that was a match to his silk shirt and complimented the dark gray of his suit, the jacket of which draped over his bent arm.  The costly outfit had been purchased by Seifer in the days before their vacation to the Caribbean Islands two weeks earlier.  In theory, Seifer had made reservations at certain restaurants which required a jacket and tie, but by the end of the four day trip, they had only made it to the first reservation which had no such dress code.  Granted, Squall had gotten dressed for all of those dinners, but never made it past the hotel door, and he was of the growing assumption that Seifer simply enjoyed to play dress up with his new toy.

A quiet ping sounded and the elevator doors parted to reveal the plush office that Squall had never felt awkward visiting.  The design was well suited for the power games of large companies, which meant little to Squall as he focused on the polished desk owned by Seifer's accidental choice of a secretary - Selphie Tilmitt.  Though more mature than the active girl Squall remembered from his past life, she was rarely without a mischievous curl to her pink lips and her friendly nature never failed to uplift his spirit.  Without her presence at Seifer's side, Squall was certain that the bastard would have lost half of his employees and most of his clients within a matter of weeks.

"Oh, Squall, look at you!" Selphie cooed once the dark-haired teen stepped into view.  Rounding her desk, she walked up to Squall and batted his hand away from his tie.  As she readjusted the knot, Selphie said, "You look so handsome tonight.  Is Seifer planning something special for the two of you?"

"Weren't you the one to make the dinner reservations?"

With an admirable pout, Selphie complained, "Seifer treats me like a lowly servant who doesn't need to know anything.  You would think that after all of these years, he could tell me something as simple as why I needed to make a reservation for three and not two."

Ignoring the woman's attempt to gain information from him, Squall commented, "I thought you've only been Seifer's secretary for a little over a year."

"Details, details.  He still owes me an answer."  Patting the teen's chest, Selphie took a step back.  "Now, that looks better.  Let's see it with the jacket."

Though suspicious of the eager gleam to green eyes, Squall decided to humor the simple request to put on the dark gray jacket that was too warm to wear during the ride over from the cafe.  Once slipping on the jacket, Squall was startled when Selphie abruptly grabbed his left hand at the moment it peaked through the sleeve opening.  Her oddly victorious smile faded into a pout as Selphie studied the hand, and then turned it over to check the other side, making Squall feel like he had performed some kind of magic trick.

A deep chuckle sounded from the nearby doorway, followed by Seifer stating, "You aren't going to find anything, Selph.  He doesn't tan like I do."

While Squall showed his confusion at the comment, Selphie brought her hands together and asked suggestively, "Does that mean you have something to tell me?"

"I don't know what you're talking about," Seifer said as he stepped to the teen's side and draped his left arm over Squall's shoulder.

Squall glanced at the limply hanging hand and discovered the reason behind Selphie's odd eagerness - during their vacation under the sun, Seifer's already golden skin had gained a warm tan across his body, except at the light band of skin around his fourth finger.  Briefly closing his eyes in disbelief, Squall wasn't excited at the idea of telling too many people about their engagement until he himself had gotten accustomed to the idea.  While they had been married in their past lives, Squall was still adjusting to the memories of two worlds and was worried how much of his love for Seifer was attached to that other world and not to their present existence.

Irritated by Seifer's games, Selphie glared at the large blond.  "Perhaps I need to remind you that I'm the one in control of your schedule, so if you ever want to see Squall again, I suggest telling me what I want to know."

With a chuckle that didn't quite hide a waver of concern, Seifer relented, "Easy now, Selph.  It's not that I'm trying to hide something from you, but well, it's not exactly official yet."

"But you asked, right?" Selphie prodded.

"Actually, this guy was one step ahead of me," Seifer said as he smiled possessively at Squall.

With a suppressed squeal of excitement, Selphie darted forward to give Squall a tight hug.  "You have bad taste, cutie, but you won't regret it."  At Seifer's hurt 'hey', Selphie laughed at the reaction before giving her boss a hug along with a kiss to his cheek.  "I'm so happy for you.  The moment Squall stepped in this office, I knew he was the perfect person for you, and I have an instinct about this sort of thing."

Seifer glanced at Squall, them sharing a moment of curiosity about whether or not Selphie had other memories to support her 'instinct'.

"Ah!"  The abrupt cry refocused the twosome's attention on the brunette, her expression suddenly serious as she grasped Seifer's hand.  "You have to let me plan the wedding.  A couple of friends and I have started a side business to plan weddings, parties, that sort of thing--"

"Wait a minute here, weren't you complaining a few weeks ago that you don't have enough time to shop or sleep because I work you too hard?  I seem to recall you swindling two additional weeks of vacation time out of me." Seifer asked suspiciously.

With a roll of her eyes, Selphie countered, "For my side business, of course.  Keep up here, boss.  Anyway, let me plan the wedding.  I would even do it for free, my gift to you."

"What's the catch?"

Grinning ear to ear, she replied, "An unlimited expense account to play with."

With a bark of laughter, Seifer asked, "You do realize that it technically can't be a real wedding, right?"

"And do you realize that both you and Squall are too bothered by details?" Selphie said with a dismissive wave of her hand.  "No, you're the type to scream off the rooftops that you're in love, so I know damn well that you'll want to say your vows in front of friends and family."

His smirk amused, Seifer leaned heavily on Squall's shoulder and looked down into blue-gray eyes.  "Well, what do you say?"

Squall pulled his gaze away from entrancing jade, not wanting his resolution to waver.  "We agreed to wait on decisions like that."

"... So we did," Seifer agreed softly before looking to his secretary.  "Sorry, Selph, but like I said, it's not official yet.  We made the decision during our trip to the islands that we still need one last blessing before we can be open about this."

Though initially deflated by the explanation, Selphie regained a pleased smile.  "Well, I suppose it's good to see Squall forcing you do things the proper way.  Shall I assume you're having dinner with Leanne?"

Surprised, Squall asked, "You know her?"

"Just when I'm checking in on my favorite cutie or looking for my wayward boss," Selphie replied with a wink.

As Squall stared in disbelief at the resourceful woman, Seifer chuckled and said, "Not that you need to know, but Leanne saw the proposal as it happened and she hasn't voiced any arguments against it in the time since then."

"Oh, then the dinner tonight...?"

"Nice try, Tilmitt, but this time, it's not a concern of yours."

Though reluctant, Selphie sighed out a surrendering breath.  "Fine, I know when I won't get anymore information out of you, but don't think you'll keep it from me forever."

"It never crossed my mind," Seifer said as he encouraged Squall to turn and head in the direction of the elevator.  "Now, if you don't mind, we have reservations and I don't want to be late."

"Of course not," Selphie said with a small wave.  "Good luck to you both and I'll see you in the morning, boss."

"Not if I'm lucky," Seifer murmured under his breath, something only Squall heard as he was lightly shoved into the elevator.

The moment the doors closed and the button for the lobby pressed, Squall wasn't surprised when a warm hand settled on his cheek and angled his face to best meet Seifer in a drawn out kiss.  The blond tasted of stale coffee and smelled of faded cologne, wholly different from the blood and burnt gunpowder that Squall remembered from his other life, but it enthralled him all the same.  Concerned by his sudden desire, Squall pushed the larger man back and glared at him for not knowing the proper time and place for his actions.

With a light laugh, Seifer commented, "You looked tense, Shiva, and I couldn't help myself."

"And why shouldn't I be tense?"

"Because Laguna is overly fond of you and he would never step in the way of your happiness," Seifer replied as he brushed a hand through chestnut-colored hair.  "It's just a formality, remember?"

Squall sighed at the man's unwavering confidence, but didn't attempt an argument.  Compared to the obsessive brunet, Seifer was able to adapt quickly to any situation and flaunt his trademark arrogance such that he somehow gave the appearance that everything was going according to his greater plan.  Meanwhile, Squall was a man of schedules who relied on a sense of normalcy in his life, whether it meant strategizing against militia groups or pouring coffee for a hundred patrons a day.  Though the sudden revival of his memories had brought Seifer back into his life, Squall was still unbalanced by the new realities of his life and he was searching for some kind of equilibrium between the two lives he knew.

Ensuring Seifer remained a part of his life was a large part of that, but figuring Laguna into the equation was also important for a reason Squall feared to label.

At the ping of the elevator, Seifer squeezed his arm around the teen's shoulders and reluctantly released him.  "Everything will be fine.  Trust me for once."

"I always trust you," Squall countered irritability, earning a pleased look from his lover.  "But that doesn't mean I never regret it afterward."

Scoffing, Seifer led the way outside of the building.  "Well, there's no way I can be wrong this time.  I would even place good money on it."

Though tempted to take that bet, Squall decided that he really had no reason to be anxious.  Laguna had supported them from the beginning with no sign of opposition, but if that was true, Squall had yet to see it in the man's gaze that he believed the relationship was anything more than a passionate fling.  For Seifer to announce that they wished to practically marry, all Squall could imagine Laguna saying was...

~ > < ~

"Are you insane?!"

With a disappointed sigh at his intuition being correct, Squall said nothing while glancing at his dumbfounded lover, Seifer apparently never questioning the possibility of Laguna voicing his disapproval.

"What are you saying here, Loire?"

"I'm saying that there's no way I can approve of... of this!"

Waving his hand outward to support his statement, Laguna hit an approaching waiter who nearly dumped a plate of seafood alfredo onto the oblivious man.  Immediately apologetic, Laguna leaned back in his chair and smiled diplomatically at the startled man, winning him over in the matter of seconds and without a single word.  As the waiter placed the dinners in front of the three men, he joked about being a stuntman in his past, only Laguna offering a laugh as Seifer glared at his friend and Squall stared without hunger at his meal that had been nearly lost due to Laguna's carelessness.

Once the waiter left in a rush, Seifer growled out, "I don't understand why you're so surprised.  You helped Squall move into my home, for fuck's sake."

"Because I thought it wasn't a permanent situation," Laguna said as he placed a hand over his eyes.  "You told me Squall was in a bad spot, which I observed for myself, but you never mentioned keeping him around like a pet."

"Squall isn't my 'pet'," Seifer defended harshly.  "He's my partner in all things, and while the government may not recognize our marriage, I had hoped that our friends would."

"Partner in all things?" Laguna scoffed.  "You've know each other for two months.  How can you possibly think you're ready to marry him when you can't possibly know each other?  God, Seifer, I thought you were smart enough to recognize the difference between lust and love."

"You ass, I'm not the one who proposed to a cheating singer, and if you remember, that was despite my warnings otherwise."

"But I did listen in time," Laguna retorted with a pointed glare.  "And now you should listen to me.  Squall is a good kid, but we both know that no one is going to see it that way.  The only details anyone will care about are that Squall was down on his luck and you lifted him out of the gutters to drop him into a penthouse suite, more specifically into your bed.  Are you willing to risk your status and business partners because of someone you picked up in a cafe?"  Not letting Seifer respond, Laguna looked to Squall and said, "Meanwhile, you have no clue who you are dealing with here.  Seifer Almasy is a bastard of a business man who doesn't understand the meaning of mercy.  He could have easily joined his father's company, but instead decided to prove himself by working his way into a company that had no links to the Almasy name.  In one year, he organized a hostile takeover such that he became the vice president in control of his division, the youngest in the company's history.  Are you certain that you want to get yourself involved with someone like that?  Seifer may be gentle in bed, but once you step out of line, who knows how he'll react."

"Now wait a fucking--"

Under the table, Squall grabbed onto Seifer's arm to silence the harsh words that would only worsen the situation.  Ignoring Seifer's glare, Squall slowly and purposefully smiled at the younger version of his father.  "What makes you think Seifer is gentle in bed?"

With a startled blink, Laguna sat back in his chair and glanced between the two men.  "Well, I've met a few of his lovers.  They were the young sort who didn't understand the meaning of confidentiality."

"Then that's one difference," Squall said as he slid his hand along the heated arm and interlaced his fingers with Seifer's, showing that he didn't care about the playboy's past relationships, if they could be labeled as such.  "I understand what you're trying to say, Laguna, but I don't care.  I didn't get involved with Seifer because of a single attribute, but because of everything he is and what I know he can be."

"And I don't give a shit what people think about us," Seifer interjected while squeezing the hand within his.  "If people want to underestimate me because I picked up a man seven years my junior, then let them.  They'll learn damn quick that it's a dangerous game to base business decisions solely on their opinions of who warms my bed."

Laguna sighed tiredly at the arguments and rubbed at the bridge of his nose.  "The two of you are crazy.  You don't understand how this can ruin your lives."

Seifer breathed a laugh at the idea.  "But don't you see, Loire?  My previous life has already been shattered into pieces because of Squall's appearance and I have no intention to return to that old existence.  Anything that is 'ruined' because of my stubbornness can be replaced with another contract or another job.  And truthfully, if something collapses because of my choice in a partner, I want nothing to do with it.  For a business deal to be that fickle, it was doomed for failure in the first place."

Watching Seifer speak without doubt or worry, Squall felt some of his apprehension fade at the man's unending arrogance to make the world bend to his will.

Laguna didn't share in that relief, the long-haired man looking somewhat pale at being unable to rescue his friend from a damning decision.  "I'm sorry, Seifer, but I can't agree to this.  It's a mistake no matter how you look at it."

With a gleam of betrayal in his eyes, Seifer glared at his closest friend.  "We need your blessing."

"Why?  You've never needed my permission before whenever you got some idiotic idea in your head.  Why does it matter now?  Because you want someone to blame when everything falls apart?  Because you're afraid no one else will approve and I'm supposed to defend you?"

"Seifer doesn't need your blessing," Squall interjected softly.  "But I do."

"Don't say it like that," Seifer scolded lightly, but couldn't argue against the truth of the situation.  While the blond wanted Laguna's blessing, Seifer didn't need that permission like his younger lover did.

Stunned by the admission, Laguna stared at the dark-haired teen.  "I... I don't understand.  Is it because I'm Seifer's friend?"

"Something like that."

Laguna groaned as if wounded and placed a hand over his eyes.  "Squall, I like you.  You're a good influence on this idiot and I enjoy your company, but it isn't about that.  It's about your lives, and truth be told, I thought you would be the voice of reason here.  While a master in the business world, Seifer always makes a mess of his personal life, but you... You're supposed to be smarter than him."

Studying Laguna's slumped posture, Squall saw that they were asking too much of the man who only wanted the best for the people around him, whether they were dear friends or complete strangers.  To Laguna, there was no good explanation for the idea of marriage to arise beyond mutual attraction and sexual compatibility, and from that view point, Squall was grateful for the man's concern.  However, Squall knew he was ultimately a selfish child who wanted the family that had been torn away from his life and he was willing to risk anything for the outcome he desired.

"What if you understood why we're so serious about each other?" Squall asked and ignored Seifer's wide-eyed stare of surprise.

"Don't you think I've tried?" Laguna said with an erratic wave of his hands.  "I was there when you were unconscious for days and Seifer would watch over you without eating or sleeping unless forced to, but it doesn't... it just doesn't make any sense."

Squall nodded at the statement, and then waved down their waiter who was looking rather anxious a few tables away.

"Is something wrong with the food?" the waiter questioned, though his nervousness suggested that he had overheard some of their conversation.

"It looks fine, but something came up and we must leave.  Can these be boxed to go?"

While the waiter collected the untouched plates, Seifer focused solely on his dark-haired lover.  "Are you sure want to do this?"

"Laguna doesn't understand and he won't until we share everything with him," Squall stated softly.  "And really, who else could we trust?"

"You're right," Seifer said as he squeezed the hand in his and leaned over to brush a kiss close to Squall's ear.  "You're crazy, but you're right."

Laguna stared with a mystified expression at the pair, an eyebrow lifted high in an incredulous arch.  "Uh, if this is an offer for a threesome, I'm really flattered, but I don't think it'll help matters much."

After a stunned moment, Seifer burst out laughing at the assumption and failed several times to speak out in an effort to convince Laguna that they weren't about to prove their love through sex.  Not helping the situation, Squall only smiled softly at the befuddled man and felt confident in his decision to entrust Laguna with the secret of their past lives.  There was no guarantee that the man would believe them, let alone if he would stay after learning all of the awkward details, but Squall trusted the long-haired man to listen and that was all he wanted.

~ > < ~

Sitting by himself on a white couch, Laguna cringed when the leather creaked with his every fidget, something he couldn't control after several minutes of tense silence.  Across from him, Seifer occupied the sofa chair that matched the couch's design, but the blond didn't share in Laguna's anxiousness.  Instead, Seifer sat with his chin perched on a fisted hand and stared at his young lover as if nothing else existed in the expansive room.  Meanwhile, Squall had rejected the offer to sit with Laguna and chose to lean against the wall with his blue-gray eyes focused on the nearby window, a position the brunet had maintained since arriving from the restaurant.

Frustrated at being the only one uncomfortable with the extended silence, Laguna moved to the edge of the couch and tried not to let the groan of leather embarrass him.  "So, what exactly do you want to tell me?"

Squall looked away from the window and directed an unreadable expression to the long-haired man, but Laguna thought he could detect a measure of fear from the stoic teenager.  "You may not believe us."

Scratching the back of his head, Laguna sighed and said, "Well, I suppose we won't know that until you tell me this secret of yours."

Squall breathed a laugh at the obvious, his dark lashes lowering in a coy-ish display.  "You always know the right thing to say."

Though uncertain if the teenager could legitimately use the word 'always' when their history dated back a couple of months, Laguna decided to grin at the statement he took as a sincere compliment.

After a brief glance at that pleased smile, Squall lifted his gaze to dark green eyes and eventually said, "Seifer and I have a history beyond the months you know about.  Years, really, or maybe better described as a lifetime spent together."

Confused, Laguna looked at Seifer and frowned at the man's fond stare at the brunet.  "Is that some kind of play on words or something?  Because Seifer told me that the first time he met you was when you fainted in that cafe.  And trust me, I would've noticed if he was trying to hide something from me in the years before that."

"I didn't mean in this life."

Laguna stared at the teenager for the unexpected and rather fanciful response.  "'This life'...?  You can't mean..."  When Squall didn't offer any help to the flustered man, Laguna was forced to suggest, "Reincarnation... or something?"

The dark-haired teenager smiled guardedly in reply.

Unable to help himself, Laguna sputtered out a disbelieving laugh.  "So what, you two knew each other in the Civil War?"

Seifer's focused stare didn't leave his lover when he warned, "It's not that simple, Loire."

While Laguna's laugh dwindled to uncertain coughs, Squall crossed his arms over his chest.  "What Seifer means is that the other life we remember isn't from this world.  Though similar to this planet in shape and environment, it was a war-torn world of deadly mercenaries, a wide range of monsters, and complex magic."

"Magic?" Laguna questioned harshly.  "You're trying to tell me that you... that both of you think you came from a world that sounds like some sci-fi TV show?  Seifer has pulled pranks on me before, but this--"

"I know how it sounds," Squall interrupted, "but we are very serious about this and I'm willing to prove it to you."

Laguna didn't like how the teenager's arms tightened around his body at the offer, but more worrisome was the deep scowl Seifer was showing.  It was an expression Laguna hadn't seen since sophomore year in college when one of their fraternity brothers stupidly bragged about slipping a roofie to some nameless freshman girl.  Seifer got him alone later that night, landing the bastard in the infirmary for two days before Seifer bothered to use his family's resources to get the man expelled.

"Let's say you can prove it," Laguna said carefully, not wanting to ignite Seifer's restrained anger.  "What would that accomplish?  Why are you so desperate to make me believe you?"

"Because... in that world, you were my father."

Dark green eyes slowly widened as Laguna processed that information, but instead of speaking out that the idea was preposterous, he immediately thought of a single moment over a month back when Squall first woke from his coma and called him 'Dad'.  On that day, Laguna had brushed it off as nonsense from an injured brain, but thinking back over it, he realized that Squall's voice had been painfully relieved when speaking that single word.

At a loss of how to handle the situation, Laguna stated the only thing he knew as fact - "I'm not your father, Squall."

"Not in this life," Squall agreed softly.  "But in all of my memories, you are the only parent I've known."

Speechless, Laguna stared at the young man who had no blood relation that Seifer could find despite an exhaustive search.  The last Laguna heard, Seifer's hired detective found records about an older couple who had adopted Squall as a newborn babe.  Regrettably, the couple died four years later in suspicious circumstances, which ultimately left the boy in the hands of the foster care system.  While Laguna wasn't close to his own family, it wasn't a pleasant thought to imagine having no family whatsoever.

After a minute of silence, Squall sighed and unfolded his arms from their tight hold.  "You don't understand, and you won't until I've proved the existence of that other life to you."

Concerned at the defeated tone, Laguna pushed up from his seat with the idea to approach and console the teenager, but just as he got to his feet, he was startled by the sight of intricate frost crawling along the window closest to the youth.  Not looking at Laguna, Squall pressed back against the wall, his expression one of determination mixed with pain.  Seifer had launched up from his chair at the sight of frost, but though within reach of the teenager, Seifer didn't dare invade the area of cold mist around the brunet.

Confused and somewhat frightened, Laguna was firm in place when he witnessed a foot of pale sapphire impossibly step out from Squall's unmoving leg.  Adorned with a silver anklet, the bare foot touched the ground with an ethereal chime that seemed to announce the arrival of the foot's owner as she slipped free from Squall's body.  The woman was like no beauty Laguna had ever imagined - frost-like designs decorated azure skin, streaks of golden hair shined from within frozen blue strands, and perfect icicles hung like jewelry from her pointed-ears.  And when she smiled with snow white brightness, Laguna felt all of the strength drain from his legs and he dropped back onto the leather couch with a dull thump.

The impossible woman tittered at the inelegant display, and though Laguna lost most of his breath at the divine sound, he had enough air remaining to whisper an awed, "Faerie..."

"And once again, you insult me," the creature scolded lightly as she approached the seated man.  "I am nothing like those insignificant fireflies."

Laguna wanted with all of his soul to apologize, but he couldn't find the voice to speak when she bent down and placed an icy hand against his cheek.

"So young, my dragon slayer," the woman said with an appraising air.  "If you had been older, Griever would have given you that child."

Eyes wide in surprise, Laguna glanced behind her to find Seifer seated on the ground and Squall cradled in his arms, the teenager taking deep breaths as he let the blond fuss over him.  Distracted as such, Laguna didn't notice the movement of the ice creature before firm lips were pressed against his, the sensation much like cold silk against his warmer flesh.  The tender kiss lasted a bare second before a sudden breeze of mist and snowflakes swirled around them.  Straightening as her body slowly broke apart, she smiled at the speechless man and mouthed the words, 'until next time,' before fading completely.

Once noticing the woman had disappeared, Seifer asked hostilely, "Do you believe us now?"

Still disoriented and feeling like he had one too many drinks, Laguna lifted a hand to his lips and flinched at the touch of cold flesh.  "I'm not certain if I could call it 'believing' at this point."

Squall closed his eyes at the response he didn't want to hear, the pained expression causing a dull ache in Laguna's chest.  Knowing that he owed something to the young man, Laguna stood up from the couch and walked none too steadily toward the grounded pair.  Seifer directed a warning glare at his friend, the sharpness of emerald eyes surprising Laguna, but he didn't feel truly threatened.  Instead, he considered Seifer's willingness to place his young lover above a friendship of several years as another piece of evidence that Laguna didn't understand the bond between them.

Kneeling down, Laguna automatically reached out toward Squall, but hesitated before brushing long bangs away from stormy eyes.  "Did it hurt you to do that?"

Squall shook his head, his bangs sliding back into place.  "It only hurt the first time she left me.  Since then, there isn't pain, but she always manages to knock the wind out of me."

"That's not to mention how you didn't get enough sleep last night," Seifer added irritably, but didn't offer an explanation as to why Squall had been restless.  Instead, Seifer looked to Laguna and asked in an anxious tone, "Do you remember it now?  That other life?"

"Why?  Because Squall showed me that..." Laguna waved his hand in search of a proper word, "...non-faerie of his?"

With a disappointed sigh, Seifer shook his head.  "Damn, I thought... When Shiva spoke to me, she gave me back my memories.  I thought she was planning to do the same for you."

"She couldn't," Squall interjected.  "Laguna isn't like us.  You and I were chosen children by the Guardian Forces, thus the reason you once controlled magic without the need of junctioning to a GF and I was the only one who could threaten you in battle.  But Laguna... He was always a simple soldier who did impossible things."

Seifer scoffed angrily, "Of course, because heaven forbid we have anything easy in our lives."

Fighting against laughter born from panicked confusion, Laguna repeated, "'Guardian Forces'?  'Junctioning'?  God, I'm half-tempted to have the both of you escorted to the nearest psych ward for observation, but..."  Brushing a thumb at his lower lip, Laguna said, "You've made it very hard for a reasonable man like myself to think that there isn't some truth behind the madness."

With a light chuckle, Seifer questioned, "'Reasonable man', huh?"

"More or less," Laguna stated with a tenuous grin.  "And while I'm beginning to understand why you asked for my blessing, I don't think I have the right to bless anything when I don't know the details.  Since you're using those past lives as an argument for your right to marry, I want to hear everything about them, from your first childhood memories up to your last moments on that world.  Is that fair?"

Though Squall seemed daunted by the amount of narration that would be required, he agreed with a nod of his head.

"I also want the promise that the ceremony won't happen for a year."

"What--"

Laguna instantly directed a scolding finger at Seifer.  "I don't care what the two of you 'remember'.  The fact is that you both live in this world right now, and from what I've heard and seen thus far, I doubt there are many similarities between that place and this reality.  If this relationship is going to work, you have to love each other because of what you are now, not what you remember.  And while a year isn't long enough, I imagine that I won't be able make either of you wait longer than that."

Seifer glared at his friend for the lecture, but when Squall placed a hand on top of Seifer's, he relaxed with a sigh and muttered, "For a guy who says otherwise, you certainly sound like a damned father."

"Is that a yes or no, blondie?"

"... Can you give me a fudge factor of a week or two?"

Though initially confused by the request, Laguna then recalled that the twosome had shared a birthday earlier that month.  Thinking that Seifer's plan was to give himself a simple anniversary to remember, Laguna laughed at the scheming man.  "If that will stop you from something foolish, then fine, you can have your buffer.  But don't expect to get anymore favors from me where this is concerned."

"Sorry, but there is one more," Seifer said with a manipulative grin.  "You'll be my best man, right?"


Breaths rushed and heartbeats pounding, I hurry down the plush corridor while wearing my wrinkled pajamas and a ratty robe that Kiros had thrown at me in the moment before I bolted from my personal chambers.  My eyes focused on the doors that seem too far away, my mind keeps repeating the words of my advisor, closest friend, and lover -

"Squall arrived a short while ago and... he doesn't look good."

I didn't bother waiting around for details, overwhelmed by the need to comfort the son I had foolishly left behind in the past.  It's probably presumptuous of me to assume that I even have a son, but I can't help myself.  Two years ago, blood tests confirmed that we're related, but that does nothing to amend the fact that Squall was left alone in the world.  A father is more than blood and I've been doing my best to show Squall that I understand how it's his choice to accept me and not the other way around.

Automated doors slide open just fast enough for me to avoid an embarrassing incident against the solid barrier, but I still manage to trip on the corner of a retreating door.  Hopping inside my office, I hold onto my balance long enough to stumble to a stop several feet in front of my bloodied son... and a less filthy blond kneeling next to the seated brunet.

"Squall...?"

The young man blinks at the call of his name, his blue-gray eyes glassy and dead when they look up at me.  The boy is an utter mess of dark mud and dried blood that covers almost every inch of his body, the visible patches of skin appearing sickly pale in contrast.  Though panic threatens to overpower me, I realize that little of the blood belongs to Squall, only a few faded scars of magically healed injuries noticeable along his body.  Still, there is very little to be relieved about with Squall's unexpected appearance.

When Squall remains silent, I place a hand at his head and stroke the dark hair stiff with blood.  It is a sad state of affairs when it's more worrisome to watch Squall lean into my touch instead of his more typical action to knock it aside.  Glancing at the blond, I scowl at the familiar face.  "Who are you?"

Green eyes narrow in disbelief.  "You've got to be kidding me.  You're the fucking president of Esthar and you don't know what the infamous Sorceress Knight looks like?"

Though I'm surprised by the declaration, it isn't due to the man's former identity, but rather because this is the first time I've met with the person Squall risked everything to protect over a year back.  Sadly, I abused the situation for my own purposes - I promised to grant Seifer Almasy amnesty for his controlled actions during the war, but only in exchange for monthly visits from Squall.  Those occasional lunches and dinners with the young man have built up our relationship to its current state, but I doubt Squall has yet to forgive me for the selfish request.

After growling something under his breath, Seifer declares, "Listen, I don't know what your relationship is with Squall, but he got fucked up in our last mission and he kept..."  With clenched teeth, the blond finishes, "He kept whining that he had to come here."

I glance between my son and Seifer, something on the edge of my understanding frustrating me about his tone and words.  "May I ask what happened?"

"It was a mess.  We were hired to check out a monster outbreak down south and stumbled upon a group of nasty fuckers, mutated from the normal monsters we recognized.  After killing that lot, we were able to follow their tracks and locate an underground lab that was the source of the outbreak.  They had plans to create some kind of army of controllable monsters and it backfired on them ten-fold.  Good riddance, I say... But the problem is what they left behind."  Seifer holds his silence for a tense moment, his green eyes guarded as he glares at the blood stains covering Squall's body.  "They weren't just testing on monsters, but trying things on humans, too.  Some were adults, but most... War creates bodies and orphans and those scientists took advantage of it."

"Blessed Hyne," I whisper as I look at Squall's dull gaze, afraid to imagine what was seen through those eyes.

"While most were still alive, none of them were right in the head and several were in terrible pain.  No cure spell could save them, and really, not one person or child asked to be saved.  They only begged for death... and Squall did that for them."

No words could be spoken, horror stealing away my voice while I stare at my son.  I feel sick with the thought that I once wondered if anything could break his icy composure, but I never imagined something as appalling as this.  Unable to say anything of worth, I lean forward and hug Squall close despite the filth covering his body and the identifiable stench of vomit.  Squall doesn't respond immediately, but a soft sob eventually sounds and he presses his face against my neck, hot tears felt against my skin.

"Dad..."

My chest tightens at the word spoken out of heartfelt agony.  A part of me mourns the fact that this will always be the memory of when Squall first accepted me as his father, but I'm otherwise honored that I'm the one he searched out for comfort.  Holding him closer to my body, I shush him in an attempt to relieve his worries.  "You did a fine job, son.  You freed those souls from a living Hell and no one will ever blame you for that."

Squall clutches onto my robe, but says nothing else while crying tears tainted with dirt and blood.

"You're... his dad?"

At the stunned voice, I look over at Seifer who had traded his act of hostility for honest surprise.  "He didn't tell you?"

"No... All he said was to come here... and I thought..."

Eyeing the young man, it's not hard to recognize that Seifer seems more surprised about being kept in the dark compared to my father status.  "And what is your relationship to Squall?"

Seifer frowned at the question, appearing much like a lost boy.  "Right now, I'm not too certain."

"... mine..."

At the weak voice, I pull back from my son, but he doesn't look up.  "What was that?"

Blue-gray eyes are distant and cold when Squall repeats, "He's mine."

Though initially stunned, Seifer laughs at the concise statement.  "Well, I guess that clears up that."

At Seifer's pleased approval, I can only stare at Squall and dumbly think that, blood tests aside, he's definitely my boy.


[One year later... within a week or two]

A half-empty champagne glass in hand, Laguna leaned back against the concrete railing that was the only barrier between him and a fifteen story drop to the street below.  Unconcerned about the precarious height, Laguna enjoyed his vantage point over the celebration that had begun shortly after the first kiss between two husbands and Seifer's subsequent announcement of an open bar.

Everything had been planned to perfection by Seifer's secretary, the rooftop venue being her surprise until the last possible moment.  Though her secrecy had initially worried Seifer and Squall, they were both impressed and very pleased by the rooftop garden.  Laguna, however, was more impressed that the weather decided to cooperate with the outdoor event, especially when both the wedding and the reception took place under the wide open sky.  Glancing up at the full moon, Laguna wondered if the good weather was yet another sign that the two men belonged to each other.

"Uh, hey there."

At the deep voice, Laguna straightened and looked at the mismatched pair standing in front of him - a large brute of a man with dark eyes and a cautious smile, and at his side, a petite woman with silver hair who looked about ready to topple from the size of her pregnant belly.  Though Laguna had never met the pair before the wedding, it was hard to confuse Raijin and Fuujin with any other couple at the reception.

"Yer the best man, right?" Raijin asked with a hand scratching the back of his neck.

"That would be correct," Laguna replied as he smiled encouragingly at the painfully flustered man.

"Good, 'cause you see, we've been tryin' to talk with Seifer fer the last hour, but he keeps runnin' off with his, uh, partner and Fuu thought we could talk to you instead."

"Certainly.  Is something wrong?"

"Ah shit, no, nothin's wrong," Raijin said with a goofy grin.  "The food is great and we're happy to be here fer Seifer, but we're wonderin'... well, not many people were invited and we aren't too certain why, y'know, we were.  We hadn't talked in years and then we get his letter that he's marryin' a guy...  It's kinda strange, y'know."

Laguna smiled at the odd pair, vaguely curious about their possible reaction if he told them the truth about Seifer wanting his 'faithful posse' around for the big event.  Instead, he settled on a version of the truth, "Given the nature of their marriage, Seifer wanted to invite everyone who had influenced his life such that he ultimately met Squall.  I believe he mentioned that watching you two create a life together encouraged him look for the same type of relationship."

His grin broadening, Raijin placed a heavy arm around his comparatively tiny wife.  Fuujin, however, didn't seem to believe the explanation like her husband, her crimson eyes narrowed in a suspicious manner.  Even so, she seemed to let the matter pass when Raijin hugged her tightly, the woman kind enough to let him have his moment of pride.

Her expression softening into something unreadable, Fuujin asked, "You Laguna Loire?"

Only partly surprised she knew his identity, Laguna nodded in response.

"Wrote 'Storm's Call'?"

A faint embarrassed blush came to pale cheeks.  "Well now, I didn't expect anyone here to have read that."

"Wait, that's that book you made me read, right, Fuu?  It was good, y'know," Raijin said as if surprised a good book existed in the world.  "Are you gonna write another one?  'Cause you know, Fuu and I like it all, 'cept the endin' where Storm ends up likin' the wrong guy and she kisses Rin while Xero is on the run and all.  Storm is too good for that lazy bum Rin, y'know?"

With a sheepish smile, Laguna replied, "Well, I have some ideas, so I may decide to write another book.  Depends on how the first one does, I suppose."

After a few more questions about the book and Laguna's promise to send them a signed copy, the mismatched pair wandered off with comments about Fuujin needing her sleep and finding Seifer before their departure.

Sighing at the unexpected discussion, Laguna finished off the last of his champagne and stared up at the starless sky while thinking about his reasons for writing the book that was released two months back.  Ultimately, it had been a fluke for him to write it, a poor mixture of learning that he had been a writer in his past life and being told the most incredible story about mercenary children, confused love, and saving the world.  He couldn't help writing the story, but the decision to publish it... Laguna knew he was stupid to do it, but he never thought the company would actually pick it up.

"So, I'm a girl, huh?"

And with that question, Laguna realized, in retrospect, that using a penname on the book would have been the intelligent thing to do.  Reluctantly lowering his gaze from the night sky, Laguna was partly relieved to discover that only Squall had approached him and Seifer was nowhere in sight.  While Squall may toy with the idea of murder, Seifer was the one who wouldn't bother restraining himself from committing the act.

Not quite certain what to say, Laguna stared at the dark-haired teenager who was neatly dressed in a white tuxedo with a shiny gray vest and a small branch of pale blue forget-me-nots pinned to his jacket.  Though eighteen that day, Squall seemed too mature compared to the stereotypical college freshman who often times prioritized alcohol and late night parties above studies.  Instead, Squall was very serious about earning an MBA and eventually helping his new husband in the cooperate world.  While Laguna had never mentioned it out loud, he found it an interesting twist that Squall was no longer a hero, but rather a coconspirator in taking over a world.

Squall smirked lightly at Laguna's extended silence.  "Don't tell me that you actually thought you could keep something like this from us."

"I was hopeful," Laguna admitted.  "I mean, neither you nor Seifer are the types to browse the fantasy aisles of a bookstore, let alone pick up one of those books.  I thought the odds were on my side."

"Hn, while that's true, my library has a display area for new releases.  Your name in one-inch lettering is rather conspicuous."

"Damn, I definitely didn't expect that.  When did libraries start getting new books?"

"Never mind that," Squall stated with a fist planted against his hip.  "Why did you make me a woman in thigh-high leather boots?"

Laguna laughed weakly at the question, uncertain if Squall was toying with him or else truly angry about the matter.  "So, you read it, too?"

"Along with Seifer.  He bought several copies once I told him about it, and after his numerous comments about my heaving breasts and quivering thighs, he's lucky that I still wanted to marry him today."

"That's not good, not good at all," Laguna bemoaned while turning around and resting his arms on the wide concrete railing.  "Listen, I have no qualms against you and Seifer being together.  Hell, I've had my fair share of male partners, as well as female, so it has nothing to do with that.  But... when I started writing the book, it was too hard.  I tried to envision that fight where you and Seifer marked each other for life, but the consequences of that moment were too intense for me handle.  I wanted to write it correctly, I really did, but it was easier to make 'Storm' an entirely different person."

Squall joined Laguna at the railing.  "Any reason why it was me and not Seifer you decided to change?"

With a breathed laugh, Laguna said, "Don't tell Seifer, but my original plan was to make 'Xero' a female character.  It made the most sense considering the story and I could've had a great fight between 'Xero' and a female 'Rin' over 'Storm', but it didn't help anything.  And that's when I realized it was your fault I was having such trouble writing the story.  More than all of that sorceress business, your determination to love Seifer despite his treachery, despite those who warned you against him, and hell, despite Seifer being Seifer... It's not what normal people do and I couldn't wrap my head around the source of that love.  So, I made 'Storm' female and changed her personality enough that I wasn't overwhelmed by thoughts of your greater morals and intense love.  I just wanted to write the story and make it fun, and I didn't mean to offend anyone..."

Squall placed a hand at Laguna's shoulder and squeezed firmly.  "I'm not offended.  Surprised, but I thought that maybe the publishers made you change the story into something that would appeal to a greater audience."

Blinking at the suggestion, Laguna said thoughtlessly, "That would've been a good lie."  At Squall's disapproving look, he amended, "But of course you and Seifer deserve the truth."

"Like being told in the first place?"

Laguna groaned at the inconvenient fact.  "I'm not going to live this down, am I?"

Squall didn't reply, his eyes distant when he instead asked, "Did it help you to remember anything?"

Straightening, Laguna stared at the young man who was his son in that other life, and by Shiva's words, should have been his son in his current life.  "Squall... I'm sorry, but the book was written from what you and Seifer told me.  Nothing more."

"No, it was foolish of me to ask," Squall said softly, not completely hiding his disappointment.  "I already knew it was impossible.  It must be bothersome for me to continue asking."

"It's not bothersome," Laguna insisted, and then hesitantly added, "While I don't have any memories, I had a dream once."

Squall turned sharply at the admission.  "A dream?  When?  Why didn't you say anything?"

A hand lifted to scratch the back of his neck, Laguna explained, "It happened the night after you summoned Shiva.  I didn't mention it to you or Seifer because I was afraid... Listen, it might not be real, Squall.  And I don't want you to get your hopes up."

The brunet said nothing while staring at Laguna, but his stormy eyes plainly stated that there was only one way to know if the dream had been a true event or not.

With a deep sigh, Laguna began, "It took place in the presidential palace.  Kiros woke me up because you had arrived, but you were a mess.  Seifer was there and he told me about a mission where some mercy killings had taken place.  Your spirit was broken, so I held you for a time and... it was the first time you called me 'Dad'."

Squall frowned at the description, disappointment seeping into his gaze.  "I don't remember those events."

"But I do."

Both brunets turned at the deep voice and Squall was immediately enveloped within strong arms to be held with his back against his husband's larger body.  "Seifer, if this is a joke..."

Seifer scoffed bitterly as he rested his chin on a narrow shoulder.  "Nothing like that can be considered a joke.  While I cherish all of my memories of you, I could damn well live without the ones from that mission."

Though the subject was far from pleasant, Laguna found himself smiling at the sight Seifer clinging onto his young lover.  The large man had a matching white tuxedo to Squall's, but Seifer wore a pale green vest compared to the brunet's shiny gray.  Laguna recalled Selphie's curiosity behind their decision against traditional black tuxedoes, but neither man was able to explain how the dark color reminded them too much of death and they didn't want it associated to the beginning of their new life together.

"I'm glad you found each other."

Both men glanced up at the statement, Squall with an unreadable expression and Seifer with a fool's smile when he said, "It's a damn good thing that you finally approved.  Squall would have never married me otherwise."

Laguna looked at the dark-haired teenager and fought against an urge that had been plaguing him for months.  It was a ridiculous desire that would only hurt Squall in the end, but ever since finishing the book and dedicating it to the young man, Laguna had been struck with the idea of adopting him.  While their friendship already swayed in the direction of a doting parent and an indulging child, Laguna knew that Squall had already refused Leanne's offer of adoption, which led him to assume that Squall didn't want a 'sham' parent in his life.  The last thing Laguna wanted to do was make the request and force Squall to respectfully decline, something that could potentially cause an unwanted strain on their relationship.  It was a chance that Laguna wasn't willing to take, and with Squall's marriage taking place that day, it seemed there was little use of a legal father in the teenager's life.

"...ey, Loire.  You still there?"

Laguna jerked back at the snap of fingers in front of his face and dropped his champagne glass in surprise.  The expected chime of shattered glass, however, didn't sound and Laguna stared at the hand that cradled the cup of the flute, saving it from cement ground a foot below.  It was a nice hand, he thought dumbly, with long fingers stretched around the curves of the champagne glass and a silver pinky ring beautifully contrasting with chocolate-colored skin.  Following the lines of the hand, Laguna lingered briefly on a dark leather bracelet decorated with two hanging silver pieces, the design making him think of twin blades.

A soft chuckle sounded as the hand moved back, forcing Laguna to lift his gaze and look at the owner of his sudden obsession.  All thoughts of breathing left him once seeing the familiar face, but he still managed to whisper, "Kiros...?"

With a curious smile, Kiros commented, "Sorry, but have we met before?"

Laguna blinked at the statement, momentarily lost with the idea that he wasn't supposed to know the person in front of him.  Shifting his gaze to the newly wedded pair, he winced at their shared interest over his recognition of someone from a life he claimed he didn't remember.  Unable to explain that he remembered Kiros from his single dream about that time, Laguna scratched the back of his neck and sent a beseeching look at the accommodating brunet.

"Kiros and I share a class together," Squall explained, though his gaze remained suspicious.

"Oh... Then you're a freshman, too?" Laguna asked, surprised and somewhat disappointed that the man was much younger than him.

Chuckling, Kiros shook his head.  "I'm a junior this year.  Squall went head first into some advance courses and we got to know each other when he needed some help with his studies."

"Oh..." was the best response Laguna could offer, lost in thoughts of why Squall hadn't brought up Kiros earlier.

Kiros grinned with warm amusement before turning his attention to the newlyweds.  "In any case, I wanted to apologize for being late.  My baby sister had car troubles and a slight problem with the fact that she should have been grounded tonight.  Unfortunately, I'm impossibly weak to her needs."

Squall smirked lightly at the account and squeezed the hand at his shoulder.  "I understand how that can be."

With an exaggerated huff, Seifer tightened his hold around the smaller man.  "I don't remember hearing any complaints from you when it comes to serving my needs."

"Probably because you aren't listening," Squall taunted with feigned disinterest.  When Kiros coughed from the effort of hiding a laugh, Squall looked at the dark-eyed man and said, "Thank you for coming, Kiros.  While it may sound strange to you, it means a lot that you were here to support us tonight."

Though visibly confused by the honor, Kiros bowed his head and replied, "It's a pleasure to be here."

Squall smiled softly at the response, an expression that quickly faded when a singsong voice sounded behind them, repeatedly calling for "Boss-man and wife."

Seifer chuckled at the sight of his secretary-turned-wedding-planner waving at them from the edge of the main party area.  "Looks like we've been discovered.  We had better see what Selphie wants before she does something crazy, like sneak into our hotel suite with plans to draw us a champagne bath or scatter rose petals on our bed."

Squall's nose wrinkled with distaste, the young man then escaping Seifer's hold to stalk in the direction of the excitable woman wearing a headset.

"Well, it's a shame that we have to run off," Seifer said with a smug grin, a little too amused by his lover's irritation.  "Seagill, it was good to see your mug again," he said with light punch to the man's shoulder.  Moving to Laguna, he clasped his friend's hand and jerked the smaller man close to speak softly into an ear, "This is our gift to you, so don't fuck it up."

Startled to inaction, Laguna could only watch as Seifer winked and then hurried after his new husband to prevent any injury to his secretary and her clipboard.  Eventually realizing that he had been abandoned to his fate, Laguna turned and stared at the man he knew nothing about except what he briefly felt in his dream.  And yet, it was those absolute emotions that were making it hard for Laguna to think and breathe within Kiros' presence.

The dark-skinned man smiled and offered, "Do I need to get you another glass of champagne?"

"... Huh?"

His smile widening, Kiros lifted the flute he had saved earlier.  "This one is empty and you look like you could use something to drink."

"Oh, thank you, but I'm fine.  Seifer was just... Well, he was being Seifer, I suppose, and his favorite game is to fluster me," Laguna replied with a weak laugh.

Kiros hummed lightly, tapping the edge of the glass against his lower lip.  "In other words, you're easy to fluster?"

"Unfortunately."

The corner of full lips slid up into an interested smirk.  "Good to know."

Laguna blinked at the statement, but wasn't given the chance of thought when Kiros stepped close until almost touching and reached behind the long-haired man to set the glass on the wide railing.  Laguna stared up in surprise while the slender man left his arm in place and turned to lean back against the concrete support.  Standing side by side with the person who had been his best friend and lover, Laguna became hypersensitive to the arm resting on the railing behind him and the occasional brush of the man's jacket swaying with the breeze.  It was a cruel existence, and yet, Laguna could only hear Seifer's warning to not 'fuck it up'.

"So, how do you know the happy couple?"

Laguna glanced over his shoulder at the generic question, but when staring into deep pools of black, he realized that Kiros was trying to calm him with a casual conversation.  Or as Kiros probably saw it, something that shouldn't fluster him.  Smiling softly in relief, Laguna looked toward the main event and found the newlyweds dragged into a family situation with Seifer using Squall as a shield against Niklas and Lorena Almasy.  While the pair had been initially disappointed with Seifer's choice in a homosexual relationship, they changed their opinion once meeting Squall six months earlier, pleased to discover that he was an intelligent man who could control their reckless son better than any previous girlfriend.

When a hand bumped his arm, Laguna was reminded that he still had a question to answer.  "Ah yes, I met Seifer during college.  We were roommates for a time, and then became friends who owned a townhouse on the beach.  I didn't meet Squall until he moved in with Seifer."

"Were you disappointed?"

"Hmm...?  Ah, no, no, no, Seifer and I... We were never...  When I say we owned a townhouse, I meant in a timeshare sort of way and...  Well, technically, we still own it, but that's not the point... You see, it's not that I'm against being... with a guy, but Seifer isn't my type, and... God, I can't even imagine... and Squall would kill me--"

Soft snickers grew into full laughter as Kiros bent forward, the action causing him to lightly wrap his arm around Laguna's waist in support.

Pouting at the reaction, Laguna crossed his arms over his chest.  "It's your fault for asking a question like that."

While struggling to control his laughter, Kiros said, "Damn, I should've listened to Squall sooner when he mentioned you."

"... Huh?"

Kiros straightened with a deep breath, his voice steady when he asked, "So, if that blondie isn't your type, who is?"

"I... don't want to say," Laguna muttered, suddenly terrified with the realization that his taste in men had always leaned toward the dark and gorgeous.  To think he had been subconsciously looking for Kiros, but could have just as easily lost him during meaningless sex... that didn't settle well.

"Very well, then what if I asked you for a dance?"

"That could be a mistake."

Kiros breathed a laugh.  "I don't see how a dance could be a mistake."

"In my history, dancing leads to one too many drinks, which ultimately ends up in a string of clubs with even more dancing and more drinks.  Then suddenly it's morning and I wake up in an empty bed, unable to recall if the sex was good enough for my aching ass and massive hangover."

A dark eyebrow lifted high, Kiros commented, "That's rather honest."

With a grimacing smile, Laguna apologized, "Sorry, I thought... you seem like someone who prefers straight answers."

"I am," Kiros agreed as he stepped forward, the arm around Laguna's waist encouraging him to follow.  "Since dancing and drinks are out of the question, how about helping me scrape up some dinner.  I haven't eaten all night because of my sister's stunts and I'm starved."

Stunned, Laguna moved without thought of resistance.  "You still..."

"Dinner first," Kiros said with a persuasive smile.  "Then we'll talk about that empty bed of yours."

Gazing at that smile, Laguna wondered if he was making too many assumptions based on a life that he couldn't remember aside from a momentary dream and the glimpse of emotions he knew existed in that life, but he had no memories to understand that love.  He then recalled his numerous lectures to Squall and Seifer and his warnings that they couldn't create a relationship solely on remembered emotions.  That they were still together a year later and obviously in love was either proof that Laguna was wrong, or else that he was right and they had learned to love each other in their current existence despite their past history.

... Or did it matter?  Glancing to the other end of the rooftop, Laguna easily located the newlyweds, Seifer laughing with his head thrown back and Squall smiling softly at whatever had caused the laughter.  They had found each other despite the odds and made something of it, but Laguna wasn't certain he was as strong as them to risk losing the love they once knew.  Relationships were tricky and there was no guarantee that things could work out the same way a second time.  But... even if it was boarding on insane to attempt a relationship with a man he once knew, Laguna couldn't help thinking that he liked the way long fingers rested on his hip.

Uncoordinated with his focus elsewhere, Laguna abruptly tripped over his own foot and he bumped into Kiros, the slender man just barely keeping him from collapsing to the ground.

"Are you okay there?"

Staring up at the partly concerned, partly amused expression, Laguna couldn't hold back a soft laugh.  "Have I mentioned the other reason why dancing with me would be a mistake?"

"Hmm, I don't see anything wrong with this situation," Kiros commented, not releasing his supportive arms around the man who had already regained his footing.  As such, Laguna couldn't form any distance between them without placing a hand someplace on Kiros' body that he would later regret.  Kiros laughed at the man's befuddled expression and said, "Sorry, I'm not usually like this, but there's something about you..."

Laguna glanced up at Kiros' humored smile and instantly realized that he had lost to whatever game Fate was playing.  With light chuckle at his defeat, he decided to give the obvious response to Kiros' unfinished statement - "Maybe we knew each other in another life."

His smile broadening, Kiros commented, "That would make things easier, wouldn't it?"

"Hn, maybe," Laguna said, and then added under his breath, "I guess we'll have to find out."

 

{Owari}

 

Author's Whining -- I swear, this was the ficlet that didn't want to end. =P  Anywho, I know that it doesn't answer everything from the main story and I've left more questions in place, but hey, that's what I do.  I can't make it easy on you guys, right?  Well, I hoped you liked this Gnome and Annakas.  If not, well, you're not getting another ficlet, so you're screwed. *laugh*