Chapter 15

Alone, for the first time in months. I finished polishing the bar and reflected on how much quieter it was without Laguna around. How, I wondered, had I stood the silence before? I kept waiting for something to happen, for some new escapade or crisis, but there was only the sun shining through the windows onto the new coat of wax I was putting on the bar, and Ellone coloring at one of the pub tables.

Having Laguna and Kiros gone for a few days had given me some time to let the changes of the past few weeks settle in. I spent the days running errands I had been putting off, getting my hair cut, cleaning the houses, and inquiring about school for Ellone next year. It was hard to believe that she would be turning five before too long. It was a mother's constant refrain – the time goes by so fast. I also made a stop at the town clinic for some precautionary measures, because even though nothing permanent had come from my union with Laguna, I wanted to make sure it stayed that way.

Ellone put down her crayons and pouted up at me. "When's Uncle Laguna coming back?"

"I've been wondering that too, sweetheart." I sighed, glancing at the calendar. It had been four days since the duo had departed for Timber, and although I had faith that Laguna meant it when he said he was coming back, he was taking his time. Maybe he was busy with Timber Maniacs, or maybe he was making the rounds of every bar in town. It could be either one.

"I'm bo-ored," Ellone complained, flopping onto the table and knocking some of her crayons onto the floor. "It's no fun without Uncle Laguna around."

"I know, munchkin. He'll be back soon, I promise." I produced a deck of cards from behind the bar. "But, for now, maybe you could settle for playing War with me?"

"Oh, all right," she sighed, clambering up onto a bar stool.

I pretended to be offended. "What's the matter? Good old Raine isn't worth your time anymore? Not even with chocolate milk and a cherry?" Ellone perked up immediately. I gave her the promised treat along with half the deck, and we started to play.

"Ace of spades! What are you going to do about that one?" I teased Ellone, as I turned over the card. Unconcerned, she flipped over an eight of hearts, and reached out to take my card.

"Uncle Laguna says that eight beats one, so you won't get me!" she said, triumphant.

"Hold on a second here," I said. "Aces beat everything!"

"Nope," she replied.

I smiled. "I think Uncle Laguna has been letting you win."

"Uncle Laguna wouldn't do that," Ellone said. "He's bad at cards. He doesn't even know how to play Go Fish right."

I stifled a laugh. If he truly didn't realize that aces were trump, it would explain why Laguna was regularly taken to the cleaners at the soldiers' weekly poker game. "Maybe he can handle Old Maid, then. You could teach him."

"I want him to come ba-ack. How come he had to leave?" Ellone was crossing the line from bored into cranky.

"Now you're whining," I told her. "No whining allowed. Do you want to go play outside?"

"Oh, all right." She let herself down off her perch, and I took her jump rope out of the closet. I picked up a magazine and followed her out to the square.

Ellone started skipping, and I listened to her chant a counting song to herself while I read a gossip article. There was a sidebar on the same page about Julia Heartilly's smash success with "Eyes on Me," with some teasers about a follow-up single, and I looked it over. She might have written a tremendously popular song about my soldier, but I was the one Laguna was spending his nights with. She'd had her chance.

There wasn't much else interesting in the magazine, so I put it down and watched people come and go in the town square. Ellone hopped around the flower mosaic, keeping her feet in the dark or the light areas, depending on where she was in her invented game. It was a lovely September day, and there were a few pleasure boaters out on the river, punting by the town under the bridge. Some of the flowers in the pots and window boxes on the houses across the square were starting to fade. Soon it would be time to bring in the chrysanthemums and marigolds for a late-season burst of color before winter set in again. I amused myself by planning out what blooms would go where, sketching out layouts in the margins of my magazine.

Elle saw him before I did, preoccupied as I was. Her happy shriek bounced off the buildings, and she scampered off towards the bridge as fast as her feet would take her. "Uncle Laguna, Uncle Laguna!"

"Hey, kiddo!" Laguna called back, dropping down to her level. She barreled into him, and he let her knock him down, laughing. "Augh, don't kill me!" Her delighted giggles echoed across the square. Laguna picked himself up and hoisted Ellone onto his shoulders, and she wound her arms around his neck.

"You were gone a long time," I heard her say as the two of them made their way over to the pub. "Me 'n Raine were sad without you! Don't go away again, okay?"

"Whatever you say, Elle!" Laguna deposited Ellone in front of the pub and sprawled out, dropping his bag on the ground. "Hi, Raine!"

"You doofus." I smacked him in the arm with my magazine. "You took your time getting home! Where have you been?"

"Such a nice welcome from you! Did you miss me or somethin'?" he replied, giving me a coy glance. I didn't dignify his comment with a reply. "I'll take that as a yes."

Ellone tugged on Laguna's pants. "What did you bring me?" she asked, begging shamelessly.

"What, having your Uncle Laguna back isn't enough?" Ellone shot him a dark look, and Laguna heaved a big sigh. "No one appreciates me for myself." He dragged his satchel over and opened it up, rummaging around. "Oh, fine, it's in here somewhere."

"Please don't tell me that you put a gift for Elle next to all your dirty laundry," I groaned.

"No, it's in a plastic bag, I'm not that gross. Hah, here it is." Laguna produced a beautifully wrapped and somewhat squished box for Ellone. "Here! All the way from the city, just for you."

The lovely wrapping job was gone in seconds as Ellone demolished the brightly-colored paper. The smaller box inside gave her more trouble, and she let me open it for her as she danced in impatience. "Oh, pretty, pretty, pretty!" she sang, when it opened to reveal a sparkly star-shaped necklace – nothing valuable, but perfect for a little girl. "Can I wear it now?"

"Of course, silly," I said. "Come here and I'll put it on you." Ellone quieted long enough for me to clasp her gift around her neck. "What do we say to Uncle Laguna for bringing you a present?"

"Thank you, Uncle Laguna," she recited in a singsong voice, before throwing her arms around his neck and giving him a big kiss on the cheek.

"I saw it in a jewelry store," he told her. "I thought, who do I know who looks like a princess from the stars? That has to be Elle!"

Ellone held out her gift so it caught the afternoon light. "Elle is a star princess, yay! Look, Raine, it's shiny!"

I examined the crystal pendant while Ellone bounced with excitement. "Very pretty, little princess. Be careful with that, now. Uncle Laguna went through a lot of trouble to get that for you." I turned to him, curious. "What were you doing in a jewelry store?"

"Getting a present for Elle, of course!" he said, "What else would I do there?" Elle had picked up her jump rope and was back to skipping nearby, making up happy nonsense rhymes about princesses who fell from the stars. He turned to face me. "I got a kiss from Elle, but I didn't get one from you."

I gave him a flirtatious look. "I don't know. What kind of present did you bring me?" Laguna choked suddenly and hunched over his leg. I stood up, alarmed. "Laguna, I was joking. I wasn't expecting a gift, really!" Was that his bad leg, cramping so badly? I couldn't tell. "Are you all right?"

"Y-yeah. Sure. Just um… give me a minute." Laguna hissed through his teeth and stretched the offending leg out in front of him.

"Are you nervous about something?" I asked, puzzled.

"No, no, nothing. Everything's okay." He stood up to stretch, grimacing in pain. "Man, that smarts."

Laguna's cramping leg wasn't the only thing out of place. Belatedly, I realized that Kiros wasn't with him. "By the way, where is Kiros? Didn't he come back with you?"

"Nah. He stayed in Timber, and then he's going on to Deling City. He's gonna travel around, I think." Laguna was over his cramp, and he sat back down next to me, shoulder-to-shoulder. "He wants to go hang out with Ward for a while. He thought maybe I'd go with him, but yeah, I have other plans."

"Oh," I said, discomfited. "We didn't get a chance to say goodbye. I hope we didn't offend him in some way."

"No, that's not it. He'll be back sooner or later. Don't worry." Laguna gave me a reassuring smile. "Where's that kiss, hey?"

I leaned over and kissed him lightly. "It's good to see you. Elle was right; it was lonely with you away. She was an absolute pill without you around to play with. Are you hungry?"

"Staaaaaarving." Laguna patted his stomach for emphasis.

"Call Elle in, and I'll get you a snack." I stood and extended a hand to him. He took it and followed me up, then enfolded me in a bear hug.

"You don't know how good it is to get back," he said, resting his cheek on mine.

"Oh!" That from Ellone, who had left off skipping and was staring at us with wide eyes. Too late, I realized that up until then the two of us had been refraining from overt displays of affection in front of Ellone, but now the cat was out of the bag. Her face lit up. "I knew it! You can't hide from Elle! Raine loves Uncle Laguna," she said, pointing at me, "And Uncle Laguna loves Raine!"

There was no point in denying the obvious, so I didn't try. "Does that make you happy, Elle?" I asked.

"We're going to be together now, aren't we," she said. It wasn't a question.

"I think so, Elle," Laguna said. "As long as Raine lets me stay!"

"So. There's only one thing left to do!"

"An' what's that?" Laguna said, humoring her.

"Get married!" she announced, beaming.

"Don't start, Elle," I warned her, steering her back into the pub. "And don't you start anything either, Laguna."

"What? What am I starting, and why am I in trouble this time?" Laguna followed me inside.

I rubbed the bridge of my nose. "Never mind. Forget it. Bring your satchel in, would you? If you leave it in the back, I'll put your wash in for you later."

"You're gonna do my laundry for me?" Laguna was pleased. "Why?"

"I'm happy to see you, so I'm feeling generous. Enjoy it while it lasts." I ducked into the kitchen to find Laguna something to eat and returned with a plate. He was busy telling Ellone about the train ride into the city.

"…So the train was full of weird people, like gamblers and magicians and fortune-tellers! But when they heard my story about the princess I had to save, they said they'd help me – for a price." I leaned back against the bar to listen to Laguna's wild tale, which had Ellone enraptured. For all his prattle, Laguna was an excellent storyteller, and he probably would make a good writer indeed if he could manage to get his ideas onto a page.

"What was the price?" Ellone leaned forward.

"My soul," he whispered dramatically. "But I told them they could have Kiros's instead." Ellone giggled.

"Now that is a big fib," I said, slipping Laguna's lunch in front of him. "You'd never do that, even in a story."

"Eh, I guess you're right." Laguna picked up his sandwich. "Anyway. People like that, they like a good game, y'know? So, I said I'd play a game with 'em, and if I lost, they could take what they wanted. But if I won, they had to help me by telling me whether they'd seen the princess."

"Why did the princess get stolen by goblins anyway?" Ellone asked.

"Because of her special necklace. I think… maybe… it looked just like yours! Only she could make it work so that the stars shone at night. Everyone was missing the stars, and the queen was sad because she couldn't find her little princess, so she had to ask brave Sir Laguna to help."

Ellone kicked her feet. "I thought queens had lots of knights. How come she didn't send them all?"

"Yeah, but I'm the best," he told her. "When you want to get the job done, you have to send the best guy, right? The hero has to be strong and brave and dashing, and those other dudes didn't fit the bill. And I don't hafta wear armor, either, 'cause I have a gun, so I can be real light on my feet and fast!"

I pictured Laguna in full armor, tripping over his own greaves. "As long as you didn't have to follow a map to get to the goblins," I teased.

Laguna refused to rise to the bait. "Goblins are pretty stinky, so all I had to do was follow my nose. They'd turn up eventually."

"Speaking of stinky, could you please put your bag in the back after you've finished eating?" I checked the clock on the wall. "It's almost three, so I have to get started on opening the pub for the night."

"Is it that late? It's been a long day. Man, I'm wiped out. That walk back from the station gets longer every time. I couldn't find anyone to hitch with either. How do you get back from there when you go into town?"

I shrugged. "Call a taxi, or rent a car. Sometimes I can get someone in town to help me out."

"Yeah, well, doubt they'll bend over backwards for me. I gotta think of something else." Laguna stood and picked up his dishes. "I'll take care of these." He looked up at the clock. "Hm, isn't it..."

The words time for Ellone's nap remained unspoken, to avoid the inevitable protest to the contrary. "Yes, and if you really want to be helpful, you can take care of that for me."

"Hey Elle, you want to hear the rest of my story?" Laguna asked. Ellone nodded vigorously, banging her feet on her chair. "Meet me upstairs, and I'll tell you how it ends, okay?"

"Okay!" She hopped down and bounced up the stairs. "Does it have a happy ending?"

"You'll find out," he called after her, bringing his dishes into the kitchen.

"Thanks for that," I said. "I'm running behind."

"Eh, don't worry about it, I'll take care of her." Laguna waved a dismissing hand. "Go get started."

While they went upstairs, I checked the refrigerators under the bar and then the beer taps. One of the kegs was almost empty, gauging by the amount of foam I was getting, so I poured off what I could and left it for Laguna. If there was anything he could be counted on for, it was to finish any beer that looked lonely.

It took me a few minutes to disconnect the hoses, and then I hurried off to the back room to roll in a new one. I rolled up my sleeves and put on a pair of work gloves – moving the kegs around was hard and dirty work, but I was used to it.

"Hey. Ellone is in bed. Need any help?" Laguna poked his head in, beer in hand.

"Your timing is perfect. That would be great. Could you bring in a keg of the Plumed Hat Ale for me?" I stashed my gloves on a nearby shelf and reflected again how handy it was to have a man around the house.

"Yeah, sure. Which one is that again?"

I tossed Laguna his gloves so he wouldn't have to get his hands dirty either and motioned towards the far corner. "It's over there somewhere. It's labeled; you'll find it." While he picked his way towards the back of the room, I wound my way around the kegs and the shelves of supplies, mentally taking inventory of what I was going to have to order in the next month or two. I pulled down a plastic barrel of pretzels that was looking suspiciously low. "Have you been filching snacks out of here again?"

Laguna feigned innocence. "It wasn't me!"

"Then we have some very hungry squirrels around here." I shook the barrel at him. "This is for paying customers, not for that bottomless pit you call a stomach."

"Maybe it was Kiros," Laguna suggested. "He likes pretzels." I rolled my eyes.

He walked the keg up next to the door, and I dusted my hands off and made as if to leave. Before I could go anywhere, Laguna got in my way. He shut the door behind him and slid the bolt over, and it was clear he had something else on his mind besides moving beer around. "What are you up to, Laguna Loire?" I murmured, sliding back against the wall.

"That wasn't much of a greeting out there," he said.

"Mmm." I smiled back at him. "What would you have preferred?"

"Depends on how generous you're really feeling," Laguna purred, and lowered his mouth to mine. I returned his kiss hungrily, realizing even as I did so that we were in a dangerous situation. Ellone was asleep, the back room was secluded, and we'd been apart. Not for long, but enough to start feeling… anxious. Laguna pressed me back towards the wall, pinning me there, and I flattened my hands against his chest. He shrugged out of his jacket, leaving no doubt as to what he was after, as if there had been any in the first place. My heart beat faster.

He unbuttoned the top of my shirt and pushed my collar away from my neck, kissing his way down to my collarbone, and I decided that doing something naughty in the back room was a bad idea and tremendously thrilling at the same time. After all, I had missed him in a multitude of ways. I reached for his belt buckle, and he responded by starting to ruck my skirt up around my waist.

"Raine?" Ellone was calling from the tavern. "Raine, where are you? Where is Uncle Laguna?"

Laguna hung his head like a man who has been handed the keys to paradise but instead drops them through a grate. "Dammit!"

"Oh, fergodsake," I hissed. "You said she was napping!"

"She was almost asleep when I left!" he protested. "Oh man, I almost had beer and sex at the same time…"

I swore out of frustration. "She's been on pins and needles waiting for you to get back. I shouldn't be surprised. Go on, get the keg." I hastily rearranged my clothing and my hair.

"I'm not going to be able to walk upright for an hour," he complained. "This is so not fair."

"Then wait in here until you can! You know how to hook up the taps." I hurried out to see what Ellone wanted.

"Where were you?" she demanded, crossly.

"Getting ready for tonight, and you are supposed to be in bed, young lady," I said, sternly.

"I'm not tired. Want to play with Uncle Laguna," Ellone said.

Join the crowd, I thought. "If you don't take a nap, you're going to bed early, and that's a promise." She stuck her tongue out at me. "And you," I said to Laguna, who was making his way to the bar with the needed keg, "…are a bad influence."

"Oh, she's mad again," Laguna said to Ellone. She giggled. "We both got in trouble!"

I gritted my teeth, aware that Laguna was enjoying every moment of my rattled state, because he knew damn well he had caused it. "Behave yourself. Both of you. Upstairs, Elle. Now." She stomped off, whining all the way, and I knew she was tired despite her protests. I put my hands on my hips, exasperated.

Laguna dropped the wrench he'd been using to hook up the lines under the bar, and I glared over at him on my way up the stairs. "That was almost worth it to hear you swear back there, Raine," he laughed. "You'd kiss me with that mouth?"

"Later for you, pal," I said, annoyed.

"Promise?" he called, and I slammed the door to the upstairs behind me.

There wasn't time for shenanigans the rest of the evening. The pub was crowded enough to keep me running, and either I didn't notice where Laguna was most of the time or he had made himself scarce. It wasn't until I had shooed the last patron out that I thought to look for him. He had been around before Ellone went to bed, because I remembered him going upstairs to tuck her in, but I hadn't seen him since. Maybe he was over at his house, unpacking from his trip, or maybe he'd fallen asleep.

I tossed my cleaning towels into the laundry bin and surveyed the bar area. Nothing too out of place, and everything else could wait until the morning. I lined the chairs up around the tables and straightened the bottles behind the bar. It was too late at night for me to be sifting through Laguna's dirty socks, so my promise of doing his wash for him would have to wait until the next day. My legs were tired and my back ached, and it was past time to turn in.

There was a dim light coming from the second floor. I climbed the stairs and peeked over the railing, and there was Laguna, sprawled over the sofa and sound asleep. Scattered around him were several pages of writing, and a few more rested in his lap with a pen. I was irked to find him asleep – after our rendezvous in the back room, I'd half expected to find him waiting for me in bed with a rose in his teeth. He had clearly been hard at work on something else.

Curious, I tiptoed over and retrieved some of the fallen papers, which were written in Laguna's chicken scratch. The pages were out of order, and his scrawl made them hard to read, but eventually I started to put together a narrative about the perils of how drinking too much will change one's life in unexpected ways. I shuffled through and realized the story was about… Julia? Laguna had spent time with Julia, in her hotel room?

I considered rolling up the papers and giving him a fast smack in the head with them. "What is it about you, anyway?" I demanded of his sleeping form. "You can't hold a basic conversation with an adult without making an ass out of yourself, but you've bagged every woman from here to Deling City?"

Laguna stirred at the sound of my scolding, and it took him several moments to wake up enough to register that I was sitting across from him in an armchair, and that I had his manuscript in my hand. When he saw the gathered papers, he groaned. "Aw, Raine, you didn't read that, did you?" He closed his eyes again and put an arm over his face. "You weren't supposed to see those."

"Then don't fall asleep on the couch with your story all over the floor," I retorted. "Look at this mess!"

"I had a long day! The train ride was tiring!" he protested. "I promise you, it wasn't on purpose."

I refused to be dissuaded. "By the way, you never told me you slept with Julia!"

Laguna sat up and rubbed his eyes. "That's because I didn't sleep with Julia. Didn't you read that part along with all the rest? The whole point is that me and Kiros and Ward all got loaded and instead of me doing what she probably invited me up there for, I had more wine and slept off a drunk. Super romantic, huh?"

"How charming. Good thing for you, too, or you'd be spending the night outside, I swear," I said.

"That's why the title of the article is 'Alcohol Will Change You,'" he said. "If I hadn't sacked out in Julia's room, I might have tried harder to get back to her, and then you wouldn't be sitting here all pissed off over something that didn't happen."

"Hmph." I dropped the papers I was holding on top of the pages already in Laguna's lap. "Is this nonsense what you brought to Timber to show the chief editor?"

"It's not nonsense, it's called piece-of-life," he told me, crossly. "Kiros got me an interview with and I brought it with me. But, it got rejected." Laguna ran a hand through his hair, dejected at the memory. "He said to try again when I'd gotten some more experience."

"Slice-of-life," I corrected. "No wonder. Your article is full of spelling errors and malapropisms. Fix it up and maybe you'll have a better shot."

Laguna sighed. "Isn't that what an editor is for? That's his job!"

"No, it's your job to get your writing as good as you can before you put it on his desk, and then he takes it from there," I returned, tartly. "Maybe you write from the heart, but then you have to go back and fix the mistakes."

"Aaah, enough with this for tonight!" Laguna shuffled his pages into a pile and stuffed them into a folder. "If you think my writing needs that much work, then you can help me correct it, Miss Criticality."

"I agree. It's late." I stood up and shook out my skirt. "And yes, I would be happy to help you. I don't know about you, but I'm exhausted, and I'm going to bed."

"Sounds like a plan." Laguna started to follow me down the hallway and stopped. "I can stay, right?"

I gave him a long look. "If you have to ask that by now, you haven't been paying attention." He seemed pleased with the answer, but I didn't stay around long enough to continue the conversation. A hot soak in the tub was too much to resist after standing all night.

Laguna was already curled up in bed when I finished, the comforter piled up over his legs. I hung up my bathrobe and slid in next to him. "Do I get any blankets tonight, or are you going to steal them all again?" I asked, tugging on the sheets.

"I could ask you the same thing, space invader." He pushed the pile of blankets towards me.

"Thank you. Can you also give me that pillow on the floor next to you?" I arched my back and stretched. "These nights are hell on my back. I have to get more help around this place."

"I can help," Laguna offered. "What do you want done?"

"No offense, love, but you wouldn't make a very good waiter." I took the proffered pillow and stuffed it behind me.

"That's the first time you called me that," Laguna said, cocking his head at me.

"Called you what?"

"Anything besides my name or something like 'you idiot,'" he said. "I like it. Anyway, I know what I can do for you. Roll over." I gave him a look. "Seriously! I'm not gonna try any funny business. You'll like it, I promise."

He looked so earnest that I couldn't say no. "Whatever you say," I answered doubtfully. I settled myself on top of a pillow and waited.

"This'd be easier if you weren't wearin' anything, but..." He bent over me, pushed my pajamas out of the way, and he started to knead the knotted muscles in my lower back. "How's that?"

I closed my eyes in bliss. "Very, very, nice. Where did you get this particular talent?"

Laguna chuckled. "Not telling."

"You never stop surprising me." The rhythm of his hands was soothing, and I found myself drifting off to sleep, which was not what I'd had in mind. Fortunately for me, it wasn't what he had in mind either, because the hands on my back began to wander in a very distracting way. I shook myself awake and turned over to face him.

"I thought you weren't going to try any funny business," I murmured.

"Oh, yeah, I did start something earlier, didn't I?" Laguna pressed forward to relieve me of my shirt. "It's all part of my plan."

"Did your plan include having Ellone wake up at a bad time?" I asked, returning the favor with his pajama pants.

"No. But it definitely had somethin' to do with this," he said. "And you did say later."

"I did." I slid my arms around his neck and kissed him hard. "I have to give you a reason to come home, don't I?"

"It's a good reason," he answered, and I hooked one leg over his hip and we fell together into the blankets.

Later, with our itch nicely scratched, I lay with my head on his chest. The day had been so busy that we hadn't had any time to spend together. "How was the trip into the city?" I asked.

Laguna yawned. "Tolerable. We took the express, so we didn't hafta stop at every teeny town between here and Deling City. Tell you one thing, if I'm gonna go anywhere from here on a regular basis, I'm gettin' a car. The walk to the station is too damn long."

This was news. "You need to go back on a regular basis?"

"Maybe. If my stuff starts selling, that is. I mean, monster hunting is fun and all, but it doesn't make us a whole lot of money. And, if I stick around here, I have to pitch in with you and Elle, right?" Laguna touched the tip of my nose. "Besides, you could come too."

"Us? Leave Winhill? I'm not sure about that," I replied. "What about Esthar?"

"What about Esthar? If you're trying to protect Elle, then moving her around is actually a good idea," Laguna said. "They move Deling around all the time, or someone would have shot him by now. Besides, I'm not talking about going forever. We could all go, like for a weekend or something. Haven't you ever been away from town?"

"Well, yes," I answered. "All of us kids would go to Timber for the weekend, before they moved away and I didn't. I used to visit my friend in Deling City, before Elle's parents died. It's a lot harder to travel with Elle in tow."

"Y'know, she's old enough now that it wouldn't be so much of a problem, and I bet she'd have a great time. We could go to Deling City - there's no way Esthar would show their faces there, because they'd get their butts kicked. I know all the best places, all the best bars -" Laguna's enthusiasm bubbled up, and I found myself considering it.

"Hm. Piano bars?" I teased him. "Not that we're bringing Elle to a bar..."

Laguna groaned and rolled his eyes. "Aw, knock it off, Raine, she's the one who has to be jealous of you now."

"I know. I'm sorry." I settled down against him and wrapped my arm around his waist. "If I said I'd sleep on it, would that be enough?"

"Fair enough. As long as you mean it about sleep, 'cause now I'm really tired." Laguna yawned again. I got up long enough to wriggle back into my nightclothes, then settled down against his back. "G'night, babes."

"That's a terrible nickname, Laguna," I murmured into his hair.

"Fine, I'll think of something else," he muttered hazily, and then we were asleep.

A/N - Thanks to Jaina for the beta read! I'm looking for a beta - drop me a PM if you're interested.