What's In a Name
"Baram... Gerad... Sabin... Setzer?!" Laguna muttered in humored disbelief as he read through a letter from Raine, the third since he informed her of his impossible pregnancy. Her first letter treated his announcement as a joke, but when he sent a picture of his changing body and a copy of the ultrasound that showed the growing baby, Raine immediately changed her tone to one of support and excitement for a child that she never imagined having. As such, her latest letter included a long list of names for the coming boy and Laguna chuckled at the suggestions. "Where in Hyne's name did she get these old fashioned ideas?"
The moment of lightheartedness didn't last, however, as Laguna thought about sharing the list with Kiros for a good laugh.
Setting the collection of papers onto his desk, Laguna leaned back and rubbed a hand along the bulge of his stomach that had yet to stop growing. Only a month earlier, the baby's kicks could be felt from outside of his body, but that first incredible moment was forever tainted as the day when Kiros showed his true thoughts about the unnatural pregnancy. Laguna didn't blame his friend for the rational belief, but he felt somewhat betrayed that nothing was said sooner. After everything they have survived together, Laguna felt guilty for inadvertently forcing the straightforward man to play a supportive role in something that disgusted him.
A knock sounded against the door, and at the call to enter, Ward appeared with a stack of books in hand, but they weren't the aged leather bound books that the large man usually studied. Instead, they were brand new books with shiny pink and baby blue covers that the scarred soldier showed no shame in carrying throughout the Presidential Palace.
"Oh, are those the books Raine wanted?" Laguna asked as he pushed up from his chair, dangerously losing his balance when he leaned one way and the chair swiveled in the opposite direction.
Fast on his feet despite his size, Ward grabbed a flailing arm and steadied the man before Laguna could hurt himself.
"Thanks, Ward," Laguna said in a relieved breath, his free arm cradling his swollen stomach. "Hyne, I've been such a klutz since I started getting really big."
The large man smiled broadly, the laughter in his eyes a reminder to Laguna that he wasn't too steady on his feet before the pregnancy.
Choosing to ignore that look, Laguna stole the books from his friend and glanced through the titles that Ward had selected from the local bookstore. With the town of Winhill resistant to the influences of the outside world, Raine had difficultly finding any useful material to help her raise a child. She made it quite clear in her letters that she feared relying on her nosy neighbors and Laguna shared that dread, not holding it beneath some of the women to assume that Raine had kidnapped the child or something worse. The story they had decided upon thus far was to say the child belonged to her sister who was killed during war activities. Not the cleanest story, but believable with the amount of tragedies caused by stray bullets and incorrectly identified targets.
Laguna jumped when a consoling hand settled on his shoulder, and with a startled blink, he found himself crying with fat tears accumulating on the cover picture of a laughing baby. "Oh, when did that happen?" Laguna said with honest surprise.
Ward smiled faintly as he nudged a tissue box toward the Estharian president.
Accepting the offer, Laguna dabbed at his eyes and wiped his nose. "What a mess," he muttered before glancing at Ward's concerned expression. "I'm fine, it's just catching up to me that I'm doing the easy part. Raine is going to have it tough with both Ellone and this guy to watch over. I wish I could be there for her."
Dark eyebrows furrowed, Ward's suggestion that Esthar wasn't technically Laguna's responsibility to claim.
With a weak laugh, Laguna shook his head. "No, no, Raine would scold me if I left this country without a suitable president to run the place. She was so proud of us for helping these people and it would break her heart if someone took advantage of them in this vulnerable state."
Ward smiled with a pleased curl of lips, the soldier showing his own amount of pride in his charismatic friend.
Despite the loyalty of his partner in crime, Laguna couldn't help questioning if Kiros still shared that pride in their choice to battle a powerful sorceress for the sake of a country they had no reason to save. But it wasn't something Laguna could ask the man, Kiros bolting for someplace unknown the morning after their argument. It wasn't an uncommon event for Kiros to need time to think, but it had been a month and Laguna was beginning to worry that he had lost his close friend.
Fiddling with an used tissue, Laguna asked, "Has Kiros contacted you yet?"
The large man sighed in frustration and shook his head, but promptly pointed to his watch as if to say that Kiros would come around in due time.
Sharing in Ward's sigh, the Estharian president glanced out a nearby window, and while looking at the dark rain clouds building in the sky, he hoped that his friend would return soon. Even if Kiros wasn't convinced that the coming baby was something wonderful, Laguna wanted both of his child's godfathers to be there for the incredible event.
After some minutes of silence, a rustle of papers sounded and Laguna looked over to see Ward's curious expression at the handwritten papers. "That's Raine's latest letter. You should read some of her name suggestions, and then help me figure out how to tell her that there's no way I'm naming my boy Clyde."
A strange cough-like noise escaped the man, Ward unable to truly laugh since his vocal cords were ruined. He then shrugged, apparently fine with the selection of names.
"Aw, come on, you can't side with her. Those names are so out-of-date! If we were talking about a normal child, I would consider some of them, but this child shouldn't have existed if you consider the odds against it. Hyne must have a plan for him, which means he's going to do something amazing and he'll need a proper name. A good name that people will remember and say with pride."
Snickering, Ward moved his hand in a 'let's have it' motion.
Laguna crossed his arms over his chest and pouted in thought. "If I had a name, I'd tell Raine and be done with this nonsesnse, but I can't think of anything that feels right. I don't know, maybe I need to wait until he's born to figure it out."
The presidential adviser shrugged in an unhelpful manner.
"What, don't you have any suggestions? You're always the one who has the good plans."
Ward smirked and poked a large finger at the center of his friend's chest.
Laguna sighed at the silent statement. "Fine, fine, my choice to have the child, my problem to name him. ...But can't you give me a hint?"
Shaking his head, the large man turned and offered a small wave as he made his fast retreat from the office, Ward very aware of his weaknesses to Laguna's pleading tones.
Left alone, the Estharian president slumped back into his chair and glared at his swollen midsection before he childishly poked at the side of unsightly bulge. "Why can't you just tell me who you are?"
In sharp reply, the baby kicked at the nearest organ, enticing a startled grunt from Laguna.
"All right already, I'll pick a name for you, but don't blame me later if you end up hating it." When nothing happened in response, Laguna rubbed his hand at the wide curve and said softly, "There's a lot of people waiting for you out here, but don't worry, you won't let us down. Just do your best and we'll be there when you need us."
As the baby shifted slightly and settled into a comfortable position, Laguna closed his eyes. A piece of his conscience spoke up that he should be doing work and not napping, but Laguna ignored the voice that sounded like Kiros and pledged that he had no intention of sleeping. He only wanted to think of a name that would suit his important child. As he ultimately began to drift off, Laguna listened to the patter of rain against the window and fell into dreams of rain storms.
Author's Whining -- Heh, I should've expected Chibi Risu-chan requesting a ficlet from this story, especially considering how she did 'Eyes on Me' for the story. ;) Anywho, I hope this explains why Laguna was so surprised to see Kiros holding Squall after the birth. I didn't really mention that Kiros was gone for weeks after their argument, the man wasting that time wrapping his head around Laguna's latest misadventure.