Author: Naomimon PM
Laguna goes missing and Squall sets off to find him. Along the way he learns more about his father and himself. YAOI SquallZellRated: Fiction T - English - Drama/Romance - Squall L. & Zell D. - Words: 7,901 - Reviews: 5 - Favs: 1 - Published: 06-15-05 - id: 2438560
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Irvine got out the shower and grabbed the nearest towel. He loved having showers here. The president always got the best of everything and that included shower facilities. Irvine noticed how fluffy and soft the towel was. He even gets the best towels. Irvine had to admit that this was a pretty sweet gig that he had landed himself. He was in charge of getting rid of the monsters that still infested Ester. As a bonus of being one of the people that help save the world from Ultimecia while he worked here he got to stay at the presidential palace. He loved it here. He slipped on some jeans and went to see what Laguna was up to.
Laguna could be a little weird at times and he couldn't quite get over Irvine being sent to help him instead of Squall. They had only just discovered that they were father and son and Laguna thought that Squall might have wanted to stay with him and get to know him. He knew that he would need time to adjust to having a father but he also hoped that he wouldn't take too long. They had already lost so much time together and he wanted Squall to know about his mother Raine.
Irvine found Laguna in his office at his desk, which was filled with documents that had to be signed by the president. Laguna looked very irritated. He hastily scribbled out one signature after the other. His hair was falling out of his ponytail and he looked completely stressed out.
Irvine walked into the room and sat on the couch near Laguna's desk. "You work to hard." He said as he laid back lazily on the sofa. His long wet hair flowed freely around him as he found a comfortable position.
"You don't know what work is!" Laguna shot back at him but eyes never leaving his work.
"Hey! I work." Irvine sounded insulted.
Laguna looked up from his paperwork at Irvine who was looking very relaxed. "Shooting things is not work."
Irvine got up from his comfortable position on the sofa and walked over to Laguna's desk. "Hey I know about you ya know. Don't forget that I have seen your past. I seem to remember you running around with a machinegun and killing monsters for a living." He opened the bottom draw in Laguna's desk and took out a brush.
"I fought so the people that I cared about would be safe." Laguna said as Irvine took his hair tie out and started brushing his hair. He relaxed into his chair. "What's your excuse?"
"Hey everybody has got to earn a living and it is something that I am good at." He finished Laguna's hair and looked at him for a while. "You know you should leave your hair down more often."
"It gets in the way of all this damn paper signing!" He threw his pen at the stack of papers still waiting on his desk. He sighed. "So what's new at Garden?"
"Don't you mean what's new with Squall?"
Irvine grinned and then sat on the corner of the desk and started brushing his hair. "Well he finished his studies but is staying on as the leader of SeeD but not the leader of Garden. He said that he was a fighter and that is the only way that he can serve the Garden." He continued to brush his hair.
"What about that girl of his . . . Rinoa?" He stretched out in his chair.
"Oh that is over. Once things settled down they realized that they didn't have anything in common and they split."
"That must have been hard on him."
"Not really. He felt like he was forced into the relationship anyways."
"So what has he been doing?"
"He's been hanging around with Zell a lot. I think that they are becoming very close. He has started growing his hair longer."
"Really?" Laguna's eyes went wide. "I couldn't imagine that."
"It is something that you kinda have to get used to ya know. He got rid of the lionheart and went back to his old revolver."
"He said that since the only sorceress left is Rinoa he wouldn't need such a powerful weapon. He prefers his revolver anyway."
"Tired?" Irvine put the brush down and stood up.
"No. Not really. Just sick of all this paperwork. It puts me to sleep." He stretched and yawned again.
Irvine grabbed Laguna's arm. "Come on." He pulled Laguna out of his chair. "We've gotta get you outta this office. It's time to have some fun." He dragged Laguna out of the office. "First of all we gotta get your clothes changed. How are you supposed to pick up chicks dressed like that?"
"Well you aren't dressed any better!"
"What?" Irvine looked down and realized that he was still just wearing jeans. He giggled. "Well we'll get you sorted out first."
They went to Laguna's room and Irvine started going through his wardrobe. Laguna sat on his king-size bed and watched. Four weeks ago it would have seemed strange that a half naked man was going through his wardrobe but since he had gotten to know Irvine it seemed to be perfectly normal.
"Hmmmmm." Irvine mused over the clothes they lay in front of him.
"What?" Laguna asked.
"I don't know if any of your clothes would attract chicks." He said as he dug deeper into the wardrobe.
"What's that supposed to mean?" Laguna was hurt.
"I don't think that a man of your age can attract women anymore." Irvine always knew just how to get a rise outta people.
"I'm only 44!" Laguna protested.
"Yeah, way past your prime." Irvine chuckled to himself.
"That is not true!" Laguna stood up and struck a fighting pose. "I could still kick your ass!"
Irvine crawled out of the wardrobe with a black singlet and black jeans. "I don't think so." He threw the clothes to Laguna. "Here put these on."
Laguna caught the bundle of clothes and started to undress. "I'll show you!" He mumbled as he took his blue shirt off.
Irvine leaned against the wall with his arms crossed across his chest. He suddenly had a great idea and ran from the room. Laguna finished changing.
A few minutes later he returned with his trademark cowboy hat. "Here." He said as he put the hat on Laguna's head to finish the look.
"What do you know, you actually look good. For an old guy." He grinned.
Laguna walked over to a full-length mirror and looked at himself. "Hello hansom." He said as he checked himself out.
Irvine picked up a pair of old boots. "Do these still fit you?" He asked.
Laguna turned around and looked at the old boots. "Yeah corse they do."
"Then put them on." He said as he headed out the door.
"Where are you going?" Laguna asked as he started to put the boots on.
"Hey, I've gotta put some clothes on too you know." He turned and winked at Laguna before leaving the older man to put his boots on. He thought nothing of it as he tied his laces. Irvine was like that, it was just the way he was. Laguna picked up his keys and wallet from his bedside table and then looked at his mobile, "No interruptions tonight." He said as he walked out the door.
He headed down to the guest room where Irvine was staying. He almost bumped into him as he walked out the door just as Laguna reached it. Irvine's hair was tied back into a tight braid. He was wearing a black leather long coat with a crimson red vest underneath. A pair of skintight leather pants covered his long legs. A pair of combat boots that resembled Laguna's completed the outfit. He gave Laguna a wicked grin. "So? How do I look?" He asked.
Laguna blinked a few times before finally saying, "Very cool." No wonder he was a lady's man. He had the type of body that most women drool after and he new how to dress.
Irvine put his arm around Laguna's shoulders. "Come on let's go." He grabbed Laguna's keys. "I'm driving."
Laguna didn't protest. Despite his age Irvine was a good driver.
On their way out of the palace they passed several guards. They looked at Laguna in a weird way. "I'm going out for a while boys." He said as he gave them a little salute. They saluted back. "Sir!"
Irvine grinned. It never ceased to amaze him how respected Laguna was. Although he was a complete klutz he was the most powerful man in the world. His rise to power resembled Squall's so much that it was scary. Both father and son had both been hailed as heroes for defeating Sorceresses but their personalities couldn't be any more different. Irvine sighed, at least there was one of them who wasn't afraid to have a good time.
They walked through the streets of Ester, which were pretty desolate. Some of the shop windows were boarded up and there was an eerie silence in the air. The recent monster arrivals had scared all of the citizens indoors. "Awwww!" Irvine moaned. "How are we supposed to have fun when the place is deserted?"
"We could always go to Galbadia." Laguna suggested.
"And just how do you suppose we get there?"
"Well I am the president you know." Laguna poked him in the ribs. "I still have the Ragnarok. We can go anywhere we want."
"Excellent!" Irvine yelled enthusiastically. He grabbed Laguna's hand and ran to the Air station.
Half an hour later they were at a bar in Dollet having a few drinks. Irvine was checking out the local lady's and Laguna was having a conversation with the bartender.
"Yeah you sure get some weird types in bars nowadays." The bartender was saying.
"Really?" Laguna was glad to be talking to somebody who wasn't kissing his butt.
"Yeah." He was whipping out a glass with a white cloth. "Take that woman over there for example." He pointed at a rather attractive looking blonde woman in a green dress sitting by her self on the other side of the bar.
"What about her?" Laguna asked wondering what could be wrong with such a fine looking woman.
"She's a man."
Laguna chocked on his drink and almost spat it out all over the place. "WHAT?"
"She goes around to bars all over the world and tries to pick up rich men. I feel sorry for the men she goes home with." He laughed.
Laguna laughed as well. He didn't get out enough. This really was a welcomed change of pace. He turned to Irvine who was making eyes at a pretty little thing in a black miniskirt and blue boob tube. She had long brown hair but her eye colour was covered by her blue shades. He nudged Irvine's arm and moved his head in her direction letting him know that he should go for it. Irvine shook his head. "Not really my type." He said as he turned back towards the bar.
A devious grin spread across Laguna's face. He nudged Irvine again. Irvine turned to him.
"What about her?" Laguna asked pointing to the blonde woman.
"Not bad." Irvine said. "Why don't you go for her?"
"No! Um . . . she's not really my type" Laguna said trying to keep a straight face. The bartender chuckled.
Irvine thought nothing of it. "Alrighty then." He patted Laguna on the shoulder and made his way over to the blonde.
Laguna turned back to the bar and downed his drink.
"That wasn't very nice you know." The bartender said as he refilled Laguna's glass.
"Well he shouldn't have called me old." Laguna said grabbing some peanuts and munching on them. He couldn't help but be pleased with himself. He had finally gotten one over on Irvine! He had used his weakness against him: Women. He had a permanent smirk plastered on his face. Wait until Kiros and Ward hear about this!
Suddenly there was something poking into the back of his neck.
"Chuck chuck!" Irvine made the sound with his mouth. "If I had my gun here," he pressed harder on Laguna's neck, "You would be a dead man."
Laguna couldn't help it anymore. He burst into laughter.
"Irvine growled. "Really funny Laguna!" He took his hat of Laguna's head and hit him across the head with it but Laguna kept on laughing.
"You're a sick man Loire." Irvine said as he put the hat back on Laguna's head and sat back down.
Laguna just wiped a tear from his eye and grinned at him. "Come on." He put his arm around Irvine's shoulders. "Lets get going."
"But it's still early." Irvine whined.
"I didn't say that we were going home did I?" Laguna paid the bartender for their drinks.
Irvine grinned and they walked out of the bar and into the night.
Squall was woken from a deep sleep as the intercom blasted his name.
Squall. Come to the headmaster's office at once!
He groaned and rolled over. He put the pillow over his head. "Go away!" He moaned.
Suddenly the pillow was taken off his head. "Rise and shine sleeping beauty." Came a chipper voice.
"Piss off Zell!" Squall pulled the blanket over his head. He hated how cheery Zell could be in the morning. Squall was defiantly NOT a morning person. Ever since he could remember he hated getting up too early.
Zell pulled the blanket off Squall, "Come on it's important!" Zell complained. It was irritating how stubborn Squall could be at times.
Squall sat up. "Ok, ok I'm up. Now what is it?"
"I think you should get dressed first." Zell blushed.
"Huh?" Squall looked down and realized that he was completely naked. He blushed wildly and quickly covered himself up.
Zell giggled. "Just get dressed and then come to the headmasters office" He said as he left the room.
Squall groaned again. It was going to be one of those days. He dressed quickly then headed to the 3rd floor.
When he got the he saw Zell talking to the headmaster.
"Are you sure that you should give this mission to Squall?" Zell asked Cid.
"He's our best SeeD, and I think that he would want to do it." Cid answered.
"Do what?" Squall asked walking towards them.
Zell and Cid were both startled.
"The new mission." Cid said as he walked over to his desk.
"What mission?" Squall turned to Zell. Zell turned his head away and look at the floor. He didn't want to be the one to tell him.
Cid handed him the folder from his desk labeled URGENT. "The president of Ester has been kidnapped."
Squall went white. "Wh-what?" He turned to Zell who still could not face him. "What happened?"
"He was last seen exiting the Presidential Palace three days ago." Cid said but then went silent.
Zell breathed out heavily. "He was with Irvine."
Squall froze. He didn't know what to say. Was Irvine a suspect? Was he kidnapped too? Or worse what if he was killed trying to save Laguna from the kidnappers? He opened the file that he held in his hand. He read through some of the stuff there and then looked up at Cid. "I'd like to take the mission."
"I thought that you would." Cid said and then turned to Zell. "Will you go with him?"
"Of course I will." Zell replied. He smiled and patted Squall on the shoulder.
Squall smiled back appreciatively. He could always count on Zell.
They left the Garden that afternoon and headed to Balamb. Ester had been searched all over relentlessly for the past three days straight and they had not found a trace of Laguna or Irvine. A witness said that she had seen them head towards the Air station, and the Ragnarok was missing which meant that they could be anywhere in the world. Squall had decided to search all of the cities and see if they could get any leads on where they may be.
When they got to Balamb their first stop was the Ms Dintch's house. Zell hadn't seen his mother in a week and thought that since they were in town he might as well say hello. Also Ms Dintch was a leader in the community in Balamb, if anything fishy had happened then she would know about it.
"Hey Mum." Zell said as he walked in the door Squall followed him in. She was in the kitchen at the stove as usuall. "Hi Zell." She replied not looking up from her cooking. "Would you like some lunch?"
"Not thank you Mum, we came to ask you some questions." He walked over to a chair and sat down. Squall stayed standing.
"Questions?" She turned from the stove. "What questions?"
"Has anything weird happened around here lately?" He asked.
"Not really." She answered whipping her hand on her apron.
"Are you sure?"
"Well there was a bit of a ruckus down at the pub the other day."
"What happened?" Squall asked sounding impatient.
"Two men got into a fight." She answered. "I don't know who they were. Nobody does."
"What do you mean 'nobody does'?" Zell asked. In Balamb everybody knew everybody it would be strange if nobody knew who the men were.
"They were two strangers." She turned back towards the oven.
"What did they look like?" Squall asked.
"I didn't see them. I just heard it from Joe."
"The barkeep?" Zell asked.
Ms Dintch nodded.
Zell got up from his chair. "Thanks Mum." He walked over to her and kissed her on the check. He headed out the door and towards the pub, Squall followed.
When they got to the pub they found out from Joe that one of the men was tall and young with a long braid and the other was older, short with dark hair and a cowboy hat. As soon as Squall heard that one was wearing a cowboy hat he knew it was them. They were seen in Balamb Three days ago. That didn't get them any closer to their current location.
They asked everybody else in town but they got the same story from everyone. Nobody knew where they went.
Squall and Zell left Balamb and headed to Timber on the train. Squall didn't want to go to Timber because that was where Rinoa was. They didn't have a bad breakup but he still didn't really feel like seeing her. To tell you the truth they didn't really get along. When they were together she was always trying to change him. She couldn't just accept him for who he was. The only person who didn't seem to mind his antisocialness was Zell. Everybody else was trying to get him to do things that he didn't want to do or go places that he didn't want to go. Zell just wanted to hang out with him, but could understand when he needs to be alone.
As the train pulled into Timber station Zell looked over at Squall. He could tell Squall didn't want to be here. "Don't worry Squall." Zell tried to sound reassuring. "We probably won't even see her."
Squall managed a weak smile at Zell to let him know that he appreciated that fact that he was trying to cheer him up.
Squall looked out the window and saw what he was afraid of. Rinoa. She was standing on the train platform that the train was stopping at.
"Shit!" Squall hissed and ducked under the window frame.
"What?" Zell walked over to look out the window but before he could see what had frightened his friend Squall grabbed his collar and dragged him down to the floor next to him. Zell grunted as he hit the floor and Squall quickly covered his mouth. "Shhhhh!" He hissed.
Zell struggled out of Squalls grip. "Jesus Squall what's wrong with you?" He whispered.
"Rinao's out there!" Squall whispered back.
Zell slapped his forehead. He knew that Squall didn't want to see his ex but this was taking it a bit far. He sat up and peeked over the windowsill. He could see Rinoa talking to that guy that was always trying to pick up on her.
"Is she still there?" Squall asked.
"Yeah." Zell kept watching and waiting for a chance to get off the train without being spotted. Rinoa and the guy started to walk away in the direction of her stupid Timber Owls excuse for a hideout. "All clear." Zell announced as he stood up.
Squall stood up and ran a hand through his long hair. "Thanks." He said and they exited the train.
They wandered through Timber and asked around about Laguna and Irvine but nobody had seen them. Exasperated they tried the bar.
The owner of the bar told them that two men fitting the description had been at the bar two days ago. One of the men had been harassing a waitress and the other was playing cards. The owner hadn't seen them around before but the shorter one with the cowboy hat looked familiar.
It was getting dark so they decided to stay at the hotel. As they were getting their rooms the owner gave them a very stern warning. "Don't you even think about making a mess in the room up there. We just got it cleaned up and repaired after the last customers trashed it."
"Who did it?" Zell asked.
"A couple of hooligans. The young one looked like he was the type, but you would have thought that the older one would have know better!" She handed Zell the key to the room.
Zell turned to Squall. "It may have been them."
"How long ago did it happen?" Squall asked.
"About three nights ago." The owner answered.
"Thanks." Zell said as they headed to their room.
As they entered the room they felt out of place. Everything looked so new. The table didn't have a scratch on it and the window was clean and clear. The linen was fresh and as if it had never been slept on. Zell tiptoed into the room which made Squall chuckle. Zell had the best sense of humor.
Squall sat on one of the beds and Zell flopped onto the other.
"So they went to a pub in Balamb three days ago then to this hotel in Timber and then to the pub two days ago." Zell said getting the story straight in his own head.
"Yup." Squall said.
Zell sat up on his elbows. "At least we're getting close." He smiled an encouraging smile.
Squall took his jacket off and threw it on a nearby chair. "I know." He said.
Zell kicked his sneakers off and then took his jacket and threw it onto the same chair as Squall's. He then rolled over and crawled under the blankets. He yawned loudly, which made Squall feel very tired. He followed suit and took off his boots and crawled into be as well.
In the morning Squall woke up and looked around the room. Zell wasn't to be seen. Then he noticed the sound of the shower. He yawned and sat up. He ran his figures through his hair and noticed that his hair was tangled. Having long hair was cool but it was hell to look after. He got out of bad and noticed that he was only wearing pants. He looked around and saw his t-shirt lying next to his bed. He must have gotten hot last night and taken it off. He looked around for a hairbrush but he couldn't see one. Then it occurred to him that there would be one in the bathroom. He looked at the bathroom door and could still hear the sound of the shower. He pondered whether or not to go in there. He was pretty sure that Zell wouldn't mind so he opened the door.
The bathroom was covered in steam. It took Squall a moment before his eyes adjusted. He looked around for a brush and found one on the sink. He felt wrong staying silent while Zell was standing just a few inches away, behind a glass screen. "Morning Zell" He said trying not to sound awkward.
"Hey Squall." Zell chirped back. "Whatcha doing?"
"Had to get the brush." He replied. Feeling a lot more comfortable he started brushing his hair.
Zell slid the glass door open and stuck his head out. "Could you hand me a towel?"
Squall took a towel off the rack and handed it to his wet friend.
"Thanks." Zell smiled as he wrapped the towel around his waist. His hair was wet and fell onto his face and over his tattoo.
Squall grinned in amusement.
"What?" Zell asked looking in the mirror to see if there was anything on his face.
"I've never seen you with your hair like that." Squall replied using a hand towel to scruff up Zell's hair.
"Hey!" Zell grabbed the towel from Squall then stuck his tongue out at him.
"Come on. Get dressed." Squall patted him on the butt. "We've gotta get going soon." He headed back into the room and got dressed himself.
After they dressed and had breakfast they went to the train station. Squall was surprised to see a familiar face there. The woman that Laguna had helped 17 years ago was standing on one of the platforms. She walked up to them.
"Hey again," She greeted them. "You would not believe who I met the other day!"
"Uhhhh . . . . who?" Squall asked sounding uncertain as to what she was talking about.
"The soldier! The handsome Galbadian soldier who rescued me so many years ago! But he isn't a soldier any more and he has gotten so old."
"Did he have anybody with him?" Zell asked.
"Oh yes. He had a friend with him. A tall, young man with long light brown hair. He was very handsome but a bit young for me."
"Did you see where they went?" Squall asked.
"They got on the train to Deling."
"Great! Thank you Miss." Zell said as he grabbed Squalls arm and ran to the platform that the Deling bound train leaves from.
"Deling? How the hell are we supposed to find them in a city that size?" Squall moaned.
"Come on Squall. Chin up. We'll find them." Zell patted him on the back. "No worries."
The train pulled up and the got on. Squall relaxed into his seat. Zell looked out the window and a frantic look suddenly swept across his face.
"What?" Squall asked.
"Rinoa!" Zell pointed out the window and Squall quickly turned to look.
"Where?" He looked around franticly but he couldn't see anything. He turned to Zell who was laughing hysterically. "Why you!" Squall launched himself at Zell and they started to roll around on the floor together wrestling. But they soon burst out into fits of laughter.
Zell got off of Squall and gave him a hand up. They sat back down and relaxed.
"You ever do something like that again and I'll kill you." Squall said to Zell in a less then threatening tone of voice.
"Hey," Zell patted him on the back. "It was just a joke. Nothing wrong with a bit of fun hey?"
Squall smiled a little.
The train took off down the track and they had a pretty uneventful trip.
When they reached Deling they could hardly recognize the city. For one thing it was mid-morning and for another all of the Galbadian posters and banners had been taken down. There weren't many people on the street and those that were had a looks of defeat plastered on their faces. An old woman looked up at Squall and gave him a sullen look. Everybody knew that he was the leader of SeeD and the Galbadians didn't take kindly to SeeD's after the Sorceress' defeat.
"Are you sure that we should be here?" Zell asked with worry apparent on his face.
Squall breathed out heavily. "Laguna and Irvine came here so we have to come here."
Zell sighed. "Yeah, I guess." He walked with Squall down the nearly deserted street.
The brunette looked around at the shops. So far Irvine and Laguna had frequented pubs and hotels. There was no reason to believe that they wouldn't do the same here. He headed towards the Deling city hotel trusting that Zell would follow him. When they got there Zell asked questions at the service desk and Squall wandered down stairs. He looked around the desolate area and saw a few men talking in a booth. They looked like they may have been soldiers once but they had lost the spirit to fight. Drown in the bottom of a bottle. He felt sorry for them and felt partly to blame. He knew that what he had done was for the good of all of them but somehow he had taken away their way of life and their will to live. It was strange that human nature gave men the will to live as long as they killed. It was strange and a little sad.
He moved across the dining room towards the piano. It was dusty and look like it hadn't been used in years. He remembered what he had seen through Laguna's eyes. Julia playing a song that had no words while Laguna sat in a corner booth with Kiros and Ward. He looked over at the booth where he they would sit and it looked eerily empty. Squall was only eighteen but he could still feel a sense of loss. It was not his life but he felt the weight of the emotions that his father had felt weighed down on his shoulders. He suddenly felt alone. He felt the loneliness that his father must have felt after Raine had died. He suddenly felt sorry for the old coot, and the need to be with his father and heal his pain.
Zell came up behind him and put an arm around his shoulder. He knew what Squall was thinking. You didn't spend a year being a guys best friend without learning how to read him. "We'll find him, don't worry."
Squall ran a finger along the dusty piano. "Did you find out anything?" He said as he examined the dust on his finger.
"Yeah actually. They were here a for a while, up until last night."
"What happened last night?"
"They left to see General Caraway in his mansion."
"You mean Rinoa's dad?" Squall said in surprise. Why would his father want to see him?
"Yep and the next bus there will be here in . ." He looked at his watch, "Five minutes. Let's go." He grabbed Squalls arm and led him out the hotel.
The bus ride was short. Deling may be a busy place but it was relatively easy to get around with the bus services.
They got off the bus outside of Caraway's mansion. Squall looked at the building for a while. What was he supposed to say to the man? Hi remember me? I'm the one that broke up with your daughter and broke her heart. He shook his head. If he was going to find his father then he would have to bite the bullet and see Rinoa's father.
They walked up the steps of the building and Zell rang the doorbell. Squall scratched his head nervously and Zell gave him a comforting smile.
The General opened the door and looked at the two boys standing in front of him. He automatically knew who they were. He remembered them from the Sorceress assassination attempt. The brunette he had met on several different occasions when Rinoa had bought him over for dinner introducing him as her boyfriend.
"Squall my boy!" He beamed as he put his arm around the young man. "It is so good to see you." He dragged Squall into the house and Zell followed. He took them into his meeting room and sat on the edge of his desk. "So what brings you here son?"
'Son'? Squall thought. Rinoa mustn't have told him yet. He looked the man in the eye. "We are looking for my father." He said bluntly.
"Your father hey? What would he be doing here?" Caraway pored himself a drink.
"Excuse me sir but do you know who his father is?" Zell asked sitting in one of the seats.
"Can't say that I do son." He sipped his drink.
"He is Laguna Loire." Squall said.
Caraway almost spit his drink out. "Present Loire?"
"He was here yesterday with that sniper from the assassination attempt on Edea last year."
"What was he doing here?" Zell stretched out in his seat. He hadn't gotten enough sleep last night. He kept having dreams of a half naked SeeD commander and that kind of freaked him out. He had to have a cold shower when he woke in the morning.
"He came to talk to me about Julia."
Squall could hear the sadness in his voice. Julia was his late wife and he missed her. He could understand that, despite what people may say about him having a heart of stone.
"He was her first love you know. Her true love." He looked down at the ground. "He wanted to know how she had lived, if she was happy and of course . . . . How she died." He paused for a moment and then looked up at Squall. "He's a good man you know. He would have made Julia very happy."
Squall was surprised. He was starting to see a whole new side of his father. He wasn't just a president. He was a man. A man who had been through a lot and come out on top. Squall turned and walked from the room.
Zell stood and watched him leave. He didn't completely understand what was going through the brunette's mind but he knew to leave him alone. He turned to Caraway who looked confused. "Do you know where they went when they left?"
"Uh, yeah. Laguna said something about a small town that he used to live in. I think they may have gone there." The General said.
"Thanks." Zell left the room and found Squall waiting outside the front door of the mansion. "Hey." He said as he put a hand on the taller mans shoulder. "They went to Winhill last night."
"I might have known." Squall headed to the car rental service. "He seems to be retracing his past."
Squall let Zell drive the little red convertible to Winhill. Not many people trusted the blonde enough to let him drive but surprisingly he was a good driver. Squall closed his eyes and let the wind blow through his hair. He was thinking about his father's life. There was one thing that he had learnt from it: don't wait for the last minute to do what matters because it might be too late. It made the SeeD commander think about his own life and the choices he was making. He had never really thought about it before. He opened his eyes and looked over at Zell who was concentrating on the road. The shorter man had always been there for him and never asked anything in return. It wasn't just because Squall was his commander either. It was because they were friends. Friends. Squall had never had a real friend before. He liked Zell. He wondered what Zell thought of him. "Zell."
"Huh?" Zell looked over at Squall. "Oh, I thought you were asleep."
"Do you like me?" Squall asked hoping that Zell would say yes.
"What do you mean by 'like'?" Zell asked sounding a little worried. He wasn't sure if Squall had caught on to him. He really liked Squall but was afraid to tell him.
"Well, are you my friend?"
"Oh!" Zell breathed a sigh of relief, "Of course man!"
"What did you think I meant?" Squall closed his eyes again.
"Never mind man," Zell focused on the road, "it doesn't matter."
Squall felt like it did matter but knew better than to push the subject any further. He was just starting to understand their friendship and was worried that he would do something wrong and ruin it. So he just relaxed and enjoyed the ride.
Zell looked over at Squall. He had his eyes closed and looked so peaceful. Zell felt like he had hit the jackpot. The commander of SeeD was his best friend! Even though he wished they could be more than friends he was happy knowing that on some level Squall cared about him.
It was getting dark and Zell was getting tired. Squall looked over at him. "You wanna stop and camp out for the night?" He asked.
"Sure thing." Zell pulled over to the side of the road. "You got a tent?"
"Yeah it's in the boot." Squall got out of the car and opened the boot.
"Why am I not surprised?" Zell said sarcastically as he got out of the car. He walked around the area that they had stopped in. It was mostly grassy with a few trees scattered around but nothing much. He was glad that it was summer because otherwise there would be no shelter if it were to rain.
Squall was already setting up the tent so Zell went to get some firewood. The brunette watched the blonde walk into the woods but didn't worry. Zell had Diablos and had Enc-none equipped.
By the time that Zell had returned with his arms full of wood Squall had set up the tent and sleeping bags for both of them.
"You weren't long." Squall said as Zell made a campfire.
"Yeah well you know me, I'm good at practically everything!" He said as he finished.
"Move." Squall said.
"Huh?" Zell looked over just in time to see the fireball come towards him. He jumped out of the way as it hit the wood and started their campfire. He looked over at Squall who grinned at him.
"I told you to move." Squall said.
"That was NOT cool Leonheart!"
Squall shrugged and pulled some food out of his bag. He threw a package to Zell.
"What's this?" The short blonde asked.
"I thought you would like them." Squall said while setting up a hotplate over the fire.
Zell opened the bag and his face lit up. Inside were wieners and hotdog rolls. "Wow Squall. Thanks man."
Squall shrugged in response.
"Where'd you get these?" Zell asked while casting a water spell into a pot.
"I borrowed them from the cafeteria." The SeeD Commander said sarcastically.
"Don't let Seifer catch you doing something like that." Zell teased.
To tell the truth nobody really knew why Cid had let the rouge blonde back into the Garden let alone the Disciplinary Committee. Not that they were complaining. It was nice to have things almost back to normal, although Seifer had eased up on Zell a fair bit.
"Good to have thing back to normal." Squall said.
Zell could swear that Squall felt at ease with the way things were at the moment. He seemed almost at piece with the world. People were always trying to get Squall out and doing new things but the truth was that Squall was happy the way he was. In his own strange way he was happy.
Zell started to cook the wieners in the pot of now boiling water. "Yeah," he replied, "even if that means Seifer breathing down my neck again."
They both laughed.
When the hotdogs were done they sat and ate together in silence. No doubt Squall was off in his own world again but Zell didn't want to disturb him. He was happy to just sit there and eat his hotdog.
"How do you know when you're in love?" Squall suddenly asked.
"Huh?" It always took Zell by surprise when Squall awoke from his trances. "Oh . . well I don't know. You just know."
"Well you like to spend time with the person. You can't imagine being without them. You worry when they're ill or injured. You would do anything to make them happy. When you're not with them you think about them. It's just a lot of stuff like that." Zell tried to explain the best he could.
"You do things for them that you wouldn't do for anyone else without thinking twice. They're the first thing you think about when you wake up and the last thing before you fall asleep. You feel a need. A need to be with them and to know what they're doing when you're not with them. You need them. It's hard to describe." He looked over at Squall. "Why do you ask?"
"I don't think I've ever loved anyone. Not the way that you describe it. I love Sis and my Father but," He paused and looked up at the sky, "it's not enough."
"You want somebody to love?" Zell asked looking at him.
The brunette nodded and a tear ran down his check.
"Are . . . . are you lonely?"
Squall nodded again, unable to speak.
Zell moved over to the taller boy and wrapped his arms around him holding him tightly. "I'm here you know." He whispered. "For as long as you need me."
Squall hugged him back tightly not wanting to let go. "Are you my friend?" He asked again.
"Yes I'm your friend." The blonde answered.
"Will you be more than my friend?" Squall asked sounding a little unsure.
The words came out of Zell's mouth before he even knew what he was saying. "Yes Squall. I love you and I want you to love me too."
Squall leaned up to look into Zell's eyes, "I love you Zell," he said before their lips met for the first time. The kiss was soft and tender and neither man wanted it to end. They spend their first night together under the stars hoping their time together would never end.
Zell parked the car just outside of Winhill and got out. Squall was sleeping in the passenger seat and hadn't noticed the car stop. Zell walked over to the other side of the car and knelt down. He brushed some hair out of Squall's face. "Squall wake up." He said in a soft voice. "We're here."
Squall opened his eyes slowly and looked up to see Zell smiling at him. He got out of the car and stretched.
"Have a good sleep?" Zell asked.
Squall yawned in reply.
They walked into Winhill and automatically knew where to find Laguna. The old house that he and Ellone used to live in. They walked through the town and towards the house. When they got there they were surprised to find Irvine sitting on a chair in front of the house.
Irvine looked up, "Well howdy fella's." He said as he waved at them. "What are you doing here?" He got up out of his chair.
"What are YOU doing here?" Zell said. "You and Laguna have been reported as missing presumably kidnapped!"
"What?" The cowboy screamed.
"Where's my dad?" Squall asked.
"He-he's up stairs." He pointed towards the house.
Squall walked in and went straight up the stairs. He found Laguna standing near the window holding one of the flowers from the bar.
Laguna turned around and saw Squall standing in the doorway. He didn't know what to say. What do you say to a son that you never knew existed? Suddenly Squall came towards him and hugged him tightly. Laguna instinctively hugged him back.
"You scared me." Squall said squeezing him just a little tighter.
"I-I'm sorry Squall. I didn't mean to." Laguna said holding his son close.
"So kidnapped huh?" Irvine said twirling his hat on his finger.
"Yeah, people have been looking for you for four days now." Zell said while shadow boxing.
"Well that's the last time I try to have a little fun." Laguna said as he walked out the front door with Squall behind him. "Looks like we better be heading back to Ester." He turned to Zell and Squall, "You guys wanna come with us?"
Zell turned to Squall who nodded. "Sure thing Sir." Zell said. "But where did you put the Ragnarok?"
Laguna smiled. "We just had a cloaking device installed on it. It's right outside the town."
They left the town and got onboard the Ragnarok. Irvine flew them back to Ester.
When they got back to Ester there was a lot of explaining to be done. But fortunately Kiros and Ward were happy to help. After all the fuss was over Squall and Laguna went into his office to talk privately which Zell could understand. Irvine was out working so that left Zell to wander the halls of the palace alone.
He looked at the paintings on the walls and shadow boxed for a while. He had to wait for Squall so they could go back to Garden and make their report to Cid. He hoped that Squall didn't regret last night. He heard the door to the office open and turned to see Squall walking towards him.
"Ready to go?" Zell asked.
"Actually I was wondering if you could go back and make the report? I want to stay here with my dad for a while." Squall said.
"Oh," Zell's heart sank, "ok then Squall. I guess I'll be seeing you around." He turned to leave but Squall grabbed his arm.
"I'll be expecting you to be back as soon as you're done." Squall turned him to face him. "And that's an order."
Zell saluted. "Yes Sir!"
Squall leaned in and gave him a little kiss on the cheek. "Hurry back." He said as he smiled at him.
Zell was shocked but quickly shot Squall his trademark grin. "Sure thing Squall." He quickly kissed Squall on the lips and ran down the hall towards the exit.
Squall blushed and ran his fingers through his hair. This was the most fulfilling mission that he had ever been on and he felt that things were just going to get better.