Disclaimer- Yeah, the day I own Final Fantasy VIII is the day the emperor of China steps down and makes way for a democracy to better China's relations with the United States. China still has an emperor right?

Author's notes- I've decided to put up the prologue of two of my other stories to give you a chance to read each before you vote for the one you'd rather have. This one takes place a few months after the epilogue of Darkened Ice for those of you that want a time frame to go by.

Also, because this is new story and I can't get my italics to work for anything, here are the things you'll need to know if you're new to reading my stories:

"..." spoken words

'...' thoughts

____ change in character pov/situation

~*~*~*~ -passing time in later chapters

Prologue:

Negotiations

The summer night air forcefully suppressed even the slightest breeze with its mugginess. It was quite normal for Deling, as were the thunderstorms that would be following after. Caraway rubbed his temples as he tried desperately not to loose his patience. It had been a rough night and things weren't going well. Things weren't going well at all. He leaned back in his chair and stared at the horrendously bland colored ceiling. How he hated the man before him, and yet no matter how he tried to avoid it, he had no other choice but to talk to him. His country's economy depended on it. He allowed his eyes to linger on the ash gray ceiling above him for only a moment longer as he looked across the room to the man that was leaned against the farthest window sill. It was becoming common knowledge that he didn't support nor even favor the man in the slightest, but it annoyed him to no end the lengths that he was going through to be difficult.

He stared at the raven haired president with contempt and wondered just what was so special about him. Why had he never been able to hold the same place in his dear Julia's heart as this man? Why had the pitiful excuse for a galbadian soldier come back from the dead to haunt and torment him? How was it that he swayed public opinion by merely speaking of his feelings or just plainly smiling? How did he manage to end a war that Galbadia's greatest generals, including himself, could only barely defend against? And what on the planet could have possibly persuaded him to allow his daughter to marry into that man's family? He massaged his temples at the thought. It was obvious the man's conniving persuasiveness ran in the family. It worried him to see how blindly his angel loved that boy while being completely ignorant to everything he could see that wasn't right. It was all a damn conspiracy.

________________________________________________________________________

The heavy air reminded him of years ago. When he were younger, and still a member of galbadia's army, he and his two companions had frequented the lounge not too far off. Actually, he could see the top of the hotel from this window. When he was younger he imagined that he'd never want to leave Deling. It was where his first love was. It wasn't his true love, only his first. For that reason alone he'd never forget it, despite how far off he'd journeyed. He ran his fingers along the base of the window sill and studied the dulling paint. He had assumed that the presidential palace here would've been better taken care of. He leaned heavily on the sill for support. Caraway, when he glanced in his direction, was staring daggers.

To the best of Laguna's knowledge, he couldn't even begin to fathom what he'd done so wrong to upset the Galbadian President so much. In all honesty, he didn't want to be in Deling. He hadn't wanted to come. The years in which he loved this city were but a memory to him. Things had changed, he had changed. He adjusted his right elbow on the sill and then tried to bend his right knee just a bit. It was no use. His leg was stiffening up; and it seemed that every silent moment that passed made it worse. He had wanted to sit at one of the chairs closer to the other man's desk, but the tension in the air made him nervous and thus he remained by the first thing that he'd been able to lean on.

They were supposed to be negotiating privately. However, as of yet, neither of them had spoken a word. He knew Galbadia was on the brink of an economic collapse. The newly elected President Caraway was almost desperate. Almost. He was still stubborn enough to try and manipulate resources and people that he didn't have on his side. Laguna frowned at the thought. He was trying to manipulate Estharian resources. The people of Esthar had been abundantly accepting and supportive of him, and there was no way he was going to be taken advantage of or manipulated by the man across the room. The silence was shattered as Caraway slammed his hands on his desk. Laguna looked up at him quickly.

"What the hell do you want me to do!" He shouted rather than asked. "My country's economy is collapsing and you won't budge. Don't you realize what you're doing?"

Laguna stared at the man behind a mask of false confusion. He had learned quickly that the General, rather President as he was referred to now, had a habit of explaining his intentions accidentally when he played dumb. Perhaps it wasn't the most honest thing to do, but it kept Esthar in good shape, and his people with jobs and homes.

"You have the resources! You said it yourself! Virtually thousands upon thousands of square miles of mining land!" Caraway slammed his hand down again. "Do you not realize the number of jobs that land could open up if you'd allow me to buy but just some of that land. "The number of families you could help," Caraway tried pulling at Laguna's soft side.

"The number of weapons that could be made from the iron deposits, the number of airships and undersea vessels that could be fueled with the oil pockets. The number of Estharian citizens that could die should Galbadia decide to try and take over the world again?" Laguna added.

Caraway's face reddened. He knew Laguna was manipulating him. He couldn't stand it. He'd been baited and he took that bait; hook, line and sinker. Nothing agitated him more than when the man across the room for him had the advantage. He always seemed to have the advantage. He kicked at the carpet as he neared Laguna. He could see the former soldier tense. Caraway smirked slightly. Mabye he still did have a few good cards left in his deck after all. A knock at the heavy door diverted his attention.

"I asked not to be disturbed," Caraway growled. "Unless there's been a national disaster leave me alone!" Laguna looked to the doors and back to him nervously. 'Good,' Caraway thought. 'Be afraid of me you damn thorn.'

"Its urgent Sir!" The voice on the other side responded. "It appears that we're under attack Sir!"

Caraway paled at his security chief's voice and looked to Laguna. His eyes narrowed as he sent the other man an accusing stare. Laguna shook away his accusations with a simple head gesture. Just then, the twin doors were knocked open, and two men burst in, rifles ready. The man on the left took a shot at Caraway and narrowly missed his right hip. The Galbadian president lunged backwards and slid over the top of his desk to land painfully on the floor. Keeping his head down, he fumbled through his keys to find the one that unlocked his bottom drawer. He needed that gun. Another shot splintered the wood just a few inches away from his face. He could hear the man's rushed footsteps as he came in for the kill. Was this the key? 'It better be,' Caraway thought as he forced it in the keyhole.

On the other side of the room, Laguna wasn't fairing as well. He lay doubled over on the floor behind the maroon couch and clutched his stomach tightly. The stinging was nearly unbearable. His thoughts fell immediately to his baby grandson. He couldn't stand to leave him. Nor his father for that matter. It had been so hard, but he had succeeded in gaining Squall's acceptance and forgiveness, and he couldn't just leave like this. He was tired of being the wanderer in life. He had found what he was always looking for and he wasn't about to give it up without a fight now. His right hand struggled with the pistol he had concealed just inside of the leg of his boot.

"Come on," He pulled at the small metal weapon. He could feel the coolness of the metal just out of reach of his finger tips. Why couldn't Kiros have insisted on coming along this time? Or even Ward for that matter? He grimaced in pain and queasiness as he tasted the blood that was beginning to seep into his mouth and would no doubt drip onto the carpet. 'Great,' His mind panicked. 'Internal bleeding.' "C'mon, please," Laguna choked through his clenched and blood encompassed teeth. He would get the damn gun if it were the last thing he did. He frowned at the thought. It looked like it would be the last thing he did. "No," He willed himself to reach for the gun again. His mind replayed the events of his past. Everything from his childhood to Winhill, from Esthar, to the first time he saw Squall carry his grandchild into the living room. His mind lingered on the small child. He began crying at the image of the boy's face with his gorgeously mismatched eyes. 'No!' Laguna willed himself to continue. He couldn't give in. Another shot, or at least what he thought was a shot pierced through the heavy air. It was getting hard to hear. His senses were going. Finally! He held the small pistol in his grasp. He pulled himself a few inches so he could get a shot and was knocked backwards by a second shot that rolled him across the floor. Everything grew dark as he felt the pistol flying from his grasp. This wasn't happening.

Caraway pulled the gun out and fired off a blind shot at his attacker. He heard the man cry out and risked a glance around the corner of his desk. He'd hit him! He'd actually hit him! The other man fell back suddenly and made a mad rush to get out of the room. Caraway stayed ducked down until he heard the agitated shouts of his men. He rushed over to where Laguna lay sprawled on the now nauseously red floor. This was not good. The last thing he needed was to be accused of attempted assassination of another president. He panicked. Wait! He wasn't dead was he? As his security squads poured in the room he wiped away the blood that seemed to coat the other man's neck as he searched unsuccessfully for a pulse.

"Don't just stand there!" He screamed. "Call a damn copter!"

************************************************************************

Believe it or not, this is the beginning or a romance. Can't you just feel the love? Seriously though, this is the beginning of the Seifer/Ellone fic, and before too long I'll have the Quistis/Nida one up. I'd really appreciate your reviews and comments on this prologue. Wait, reviews are your comments aren't they...its early in the morning. Can you tell?