Pink Opium brought me out of my fanfiction stupor with her miraculous use of the word 'bint' and I don't even know what 'bint' means.

I'm semi depressed. I had a specific mood in mind for this chapter, with Quistis feeling bitter, but not quite being able to get truly mad at Laguna. She ended up . . . just seeming high. This is the closest I've gotten to fluff, and . . . . yeah. This could be one of those PWP One-Shots humming around, it's just that fluffy.

Well, its not POINTLESS fluff, so that redeems it, ne?

(¯`'·.¸(¯`'·. quistis .·'´¯)¸.·'´¯)

I should be angry at him, shouldn't I? I mused as I looked at him, annoyed looke firmly on my face. I had gone through about twenty different stages in the overly short ride here, and almost all involving me envisioning one Laguna Loire in some immense form of pain. However, now that he was here in front of me . . .

What was I supposed to be doing again? Ah . . . I looked at him distantly. I had to look at him distantly, you understand, because if I didn't I'd probably jump the poor man. He was wearing a tuxedo. He looked good in a tuxedo. . . a tragic understatement, but if I even began to go into the details . . . I stifled a cough.

I tried to gather the rather pitiful fragments of my consciousness together. He looked . . . The man was adorable, he leg was twitching, and he was looking at me like he was afraid I'd hit him. He had every right to be afraid of me! I was horribly angry with him, remember?

"Laguna, what exactly did you think you were going to accomplish by doing that?" I crossed my arms loosely. "I hope you didn't think I was actually not going to find out, did you?"

He gulped, and rubbed his head sheepishly. "Well . . . I can truthfully say that I, uh . . . "He looked up through his bangs. He looked . . . . like a puppy. I winced at my clichéd comparison, but he really truly did.

Laguna opened his mouth to continue, but I felt my hand snap up in a halting motion. You could have heard his mouth click shut; I really didn't want to hear him mumble out an apology.

An apology wouldn't really do anything, the look on his face showed he was sorry. His pride had probably taken enough damage; I glanced around the room in a cursory fashion before turning back to him. Laguna's face had changed to being slightly curious, although still worried and repentant.

I shook my head. What was I doing? I was supposed to be shrieking hysterically at him. Unfortunately for MY pride, I really couldn't do that without messing up all the plans Kiros and I had set up for Laguna to be here. No, a woman in a jealous rage would not be a good marker for the triumphant return of Laguna Loire, President of Esthar.

I looked him in the eye, and with a light click of my tongue, took on an admonishing tone. "Well? Aren't you going to ask me to dance?"

Laguna looked down at me, and blinked before his face broke into his wide grin. It wasn't the grin that made me catch my breath, or make my heart beat faster, or make me want to run quickly in the opposite direction. No, it was the eyes.

The eyes . . . was I dreaming? Did I see something in them beyond the happiness at having my forgiveness? Besides trust, friendship, besides his respect? Was I imagining things? Was I?

The dance floor was half-full. I don't remember getting there, but it wasn't important anyway . . . at least not compared to the next few minutes. Had you asked me at the time, I either would have told you it was the best day of my life, or perhaps slapped you across the face for interrupting me.

While most people would coin the waltz as the most romantic dance, the samba is probably the most sensual. More rhythmic, and more physical contact. As we slid into the classic dance position, and others around us did the same, I noticed that while there were young couples around us, there were also those whose ages differed more than Laguna's and mine.

I wondered, for some reason, if Laguna had ever had an affair. He was a far cry, to be sure, from the dirty old politicians I'd been fending off all night, but surely he hadn't remained chaste all those years.

I didn't wonder much more after that. The music started, and I realized as I slipped into the movements by rote that this was not going to be your average dance. For one, average dances don't bring a heat from your stomach to your face, and then back down to your legs. Also, average dances . . . just . . . .

I wasn't thinking beyond that point, and don't remember much until the end.

He was staring at my eyes, almost concentrating on me in the most serous way possible. The furrow in his brow denoted that he was deep in thought, but the way in he was staring . . . there was only one possible subject to his deliberations . . . me. I swallowed tightly.

The music slowed; we slowed as well, and the steps to the dance forced us to step almost hip to hip. I swayed far more boldly towards him then required, but Laguna took it in stride as we swirled across the floor. . . .

The music . . . . stopped.

I looked up at him almost dazedly. It . . . was over. I disentangled my fingers from the lock of hair I'd been toying with, and acutely felt Laguna's fingers slide from my waist back to his side. He was, I noticed with a giddy eye, blushing, although from the heat of my face I could tell his face wasn't glowing half as much as mine.

We faced each other for a good ten seconds, before we both realized just how close the dance had left us standing. I backtracked a shuffled step, and Laguna coughed and stepped back as well, muttering something I didn't quite catch.

I smiled at him in way I hadn't smiled in years, and he smiled back – not grin, no, he almost softly smiled. I was about to say something when the smile suddenly melted.

He was no longer quite looking at me, and he was standing strangely still.

Laguna stepped back stoically and raised his hands into the air. I looked at him quizzically before I realized. . . .

Deling was directly behind him, pointing a Magnum at Laguna's head.

(¯`'·.¸(¯`'·. laguna .·'´¯)¸.·'´¯)

I was tense. Hey, who wouldn't be, in my situation? I was interrupted from dancing with one of the most gorgeous women I have ever met by some prick with a gun.

"Well, President Loire," A familiar voice said with an audible leer.

Deling? He didn't really have the balls to do this . . . did he?

"We're going to turn around nice and slow," He oozed, and coughed before continuing, "And maybe you won't get hurt."

Wait . . . we're gonna what in the what-what in the who what where why now? I turned.

Deling had a gun to my head. What the hell was he DOING? This is NOT the place . . . in a back alley or somewhere no one'd see, I'd expect it of him, but here? I mean, no one was gonna try anything on him while he had a pistol shoved in my face, but he was so DEAD after this.

He was grinning wider than I ever did. . . . I blinked in realization.

The man had gone insane.

I was perfectly aware that this guy might shoot me at any second. Boom, I'm dead. I glanced at the door where Kiros had previously been, and wondered exactly where he had gone. Quistis was to my right, I think; I couldn't see. I was focusing more on the gun in front of me.

Hell, he was crazier then me. It's like we're in a kid's book, some idiot story . . . . 'we're all a little mad here,' wasn't it? I looked at him. "Okay. . . ." I held my hands up in a placating manner; DEFINITELY don't want to piss this guy off. "What are your terms?" I said calmly.

Deling smirked. I squinted one eye at him in disgust, but obviously he didn't notice, cuz he was too busy laughing. "So now you listen?" He rolled his head to the side. "I'm afraid it's a bit too late for you, but . . . that treaty would be nice." His manic grin faded to an amiable smile. "Save your country from my weaponry and all; you see, Esthar's really no use to me if it doesn't cooperate."

I was having a hard time taking the guy seriously at this point, although the gun he practically shoved up my nose was helping a bit. If he was going to bomb Esthar . . . . The guy was pretty much threatening world domination in front of every major world leader.

What an idiot.

I shook my head slowly, letting my serious face slip as an incredulous half- smile curled my lip. I waggled the fingers of my still upraised hands. "Sorry," I said, equally amiably, more cheery than even I thought I could pull. "I can't do that."

Deling's face instantly turned ugly. What, he was bi-polar too? How did this guy get followers? "I could kill you right now," he said slowly, his angry face forcing out that friendly tone, "you know."

As if I could forget that little fact. "Yeah," I said slowly. "You could. And Esthar would retaliate with. . . ." I cocked my head, as if thinking. "Severity." I narrowed my eyes, still smiling. "Galbadia's really no use to you if it's all blown up."

I didn't mind dying. I mean, hell, I was scared and kinda ticked I wouldn't be able to tell Quistis just how much I liked her, and stuff like that . . . . I didn't really mind dying if blowing up Galbadia was the result. I'd be quite HAPPY with that result, actually. Bastard.

He cocked the gun – completely unnecessary, but it's good for theatrics at this point. He shoved the shaking barrel so close I was cross eyed looking at it. I closed my eyes . . . . and waited. . . . . and waited . . .

And waited. I opened one eye, and the shaking pistol was no longer pointed at me.

My chest tied itself into a knot and trampled itself somewhere below my gut. It was pointed at . . . .


I felt my entire abdomen rise and flip over, to huddle somewhere behind my lungs. SHIT.

I tried to keep my face straight as possible, but obviously it didn't work because Deling was smirking again.

"Ah, what about now?" I heard distantly in a poisonous voice.

"Don't you dare, Laguna Loire!" Quistis didn't move or struggle – the strength in that woman amazed me – but her nostrils flared slightly in indignation.

Strong as she was . . . . that . . . . was a very stupid thing to do. Now Deling knew that she wasn't just a random bystander, that I actually knew her. Eh, well, SeeDs don't deal with hostages, they shoot them. I guess I couldn't expect Quistis to know hostage situation protocol.

I shot her a look. "Quistis, calm down." I know what I'm doing.

She quieted, but Deling peered at her face, and giggled. "Quistis? As in, Quistis Trepe? A hero of Time Compression?" He laughed louder. "Loire, you have a fine taste in women, if nothing else. I can and will shoot both you and your girlfriend."

Girlfriend . . . .hey, that'd be cool . . . . but the stunned look on Quistis's face told me not to comment on that. I shrugged my shoulders. "Look, my life is nothing compared to the well-being of my country, and . . . Quistis is paid everyday to risk her life." I didn't meet her eyes on that one. "My bodyguard is already making very important phone calls," I hoped, "So really, if you shoot us, it's no biggie."

He cocked an eyebrow in a way that eerily reminded me of Quistis. "And if I shoot her and let you live?"

Ah. I gulped.

THAT was a biggie.

(¯`'·.¸(¯`'·. author's note .·'´¯)¸.·'´¯)

VERY short . . . . and, oh . . . . right in the middle of their moment, too. Go ahead, hate me! Hah! Only a few chapters left. Lemme think . . . three, four more chapters . . . ?

This was THE hardest chapter to write, to date. Egad, I take forever with dramatics. . . . you'd expect me to be able to whip these things out faster now that we're close to the end!