Chapter One: Denial

I looked over his shoulder, peering at the documents spread over his desk and snorted softly in disgust. Presidential, political, I always thought it looked the same.

"Can't any of that crap wait?"

Sigh. "If only it could."

"You realize it's almost 21:00 don't you?"

He looked up at the window then at the clock on his desk. He muttered a curse as he looked back up at me. "No, I didn't. I'm sorry; I thought it was at least two hours earlier. I missed dinner, didn't I?"

"I rescheduled for 21:30. Come on. You need out of that suit, into a shower and a change of clothing so we can get you to dinner. You'll feel better after you've eaten." I leaned back up and patted his shoulder as I stepped to the side to let him up.

He stood with a grace that belied his years. The slight silver sheen in his hair glinted as he pushed it all back from his face and tied it back again. As he turned to face me, putting down the pan in his hand, he smiled, then turned back to his desk to rearrange a few folders, set them aside and switched his computer into Lockdown mode. As the computer's monitor went dark, he finally took the steps toward me. His hands rested on my shoulders as he grinned. "Thanks," he said quietly, then pulled away and started for the door. "21:30, right?"

"It's now 21:03. You'd better get moving. I'll wait for you by the door."

"Can't I go -anywhere- without an armed escort?" he whined.

"You're the President of Esthar! We're paid to guard you. Of course you can't!"

I fell into step with him as we walked toward his suite. Sometimes it felt wrong to be walking beside him like that. Like somehow, he and I were still supposed to be merged as one. A wicked grin made the corner of my lips twitch slightly, but I quickly schooled my expression, and glanced up at Laguna. Luckily, he was oblivious.

I scowled at him instead. "Stop thinking about work," I ordered, trying to use the same voice I used on my squads of cadets.

He turned to look at him just as we reached his suite. "Army talk doesn't affect me much anymore, I'm afraid. Even it is you using -that- tone. That just makes me wonder about you."

I scowled at him again, then ushered him into the suite

I was already in dress uniform, a pain in the ass to wear at the best of times. I never minded them when he was formally dressed, though. We looked much more 'official.' It only took him a few moments to shower and change into something a little more formal than his typical business suit, something that made me envy him a little. No one with hair that long should be able to shower in less than five minutes.

His hair was still damp as he pulled it back again, and he took his place at my side before we walked down the halls and back to the lift.

Our chosen restaurant was close enough to walk to with time to spare.

Once we were seated in a semi-private area, closed off from the rest of the place, he raised an eyebrow at me.

I gazed back at him, then answered it. "So, you wanted to talk to me about something?" I asked.

"Yes. I'm going to drag your memory back to that first time we met face to face."

I made a face. "Why?" It's not as if I don't remember. I looked down at my menu to cover the pained look I knew must be in my eyes. Yes, I remember the first time I saw him.. He was nothing like the statue in the Shumi Village, nothing like the pictures taken while he was younger. NO, he was a hundred times more beautiful. Time had claimed him so gracefully that if it wasn't for the hints of silver in his hair, I would swear he had never aged.

I looked up at him, and let my eyes trace the curve of his porcelain cheek, the pout of his lips, the sparkling emerald of his eyes. I held his eyes with mine as I answered, "What about it?"

You seemed to take meeting Kiros and Ward just fine, but you stared at me for quite some time as we all spoke."

"I'd never gotten to see you face to face before – it wasn't like you often looked in the mirror or anything. I was used to seeing both Kiros and Ward by then."

Laguna smiled and shook his head. "You were looking at me differently – the same way you looked at me on the Ragnarok before you realized who I am, and I realized who you were. You were eying me up like you might have wanted something more than conversation from me."

I blanched. He looked down at his menu.

If nothing else, I had to give the man credit for letting me have a moment to collect myself. "I…" What? What was it that I'd wanted? Yes I eyed him like a potential lover. I also took notice that Kiros chose to shoot those looks down by telling me I had Raine's eyes. And only then did Laguna and I really look at each other, and his eyes widened as he whispered my name.

"Squall?" I looked up at him. "Did you?"

I nodded, my eyes dropping to my own menu.

"Badly?" he asked softly. I nodded again.

"It was before I even realized how much older you are."

Laguna smiled. "If it's any consolation-"

"Are you gentlemen ready?" Both of us looked up at the same time, both with hare-in-headlights looks. "I can come back, if you need a moment."

"No no, it's all right. Squall?"

No wonder why he was made Esthar's president. Smooth, diplomatic, and charismatic to a fault.

My eyes skimmed the menu and I hastily ordered a pasta dish that looked interesting. Laguna took the few moments I took customizing my order to decide on something similar. The waiter left, and I forced my heart back down into my chest. "You were saying?" I prompted.

"I was saying, if it's any consolation, you weren't the only one looking."

I raised an eyebrow. "What?"

Our waiter returned with water glasses and the bottle of red wine Laguna ordered for us to share. Once he had left again, Laguna answered.

"Before I knew you were the son I thought lost to me, I was checking you out. The leather, the scar, the storm brewing behind your eyes, the way you spoke with such will and conviction regarding Rinoa – the way you covered it so well by always saying "Whatever" – and then, on the Ragnarok someone spoke your name, and my heart sank. What kind of political leader tries to bed his own son?" He shook his head. "Having you around did help, often. But I do remember watching your eyes as they took me in – weighing me – and not just as the President of Esthar. Not just as Laguna Loire either."

I nodded. "And what kind of military leader would I be trying to bed my father… I mean…" I paused. "At least we know that neither of us minded it."

"And we've acknowledged it." He picked up his wine glass and sipped from it. "So… Do you still see me that way?"

I blinked and looked up at him over my own wine glass. "What way?"

"As a potential lover."

I nearly choked. He smiled.

"You can't be serious!" Could he?

"Actually, Squall, I'm quite serious. We both know, we can't produce offspring, and-"

"Laguna, it's incest!" I hissed.

He sighed. "I know, but look at the situation for a moment. Before we knew, we were both eying each other up. If we didn't know, would we be lovers now?"

I paused to think. If I'd had my way, we would be. But that was before I knew he was my father. I looked at him again. His eyes were on me, his expression patient. He was no less beautiful than the last time I saw him, in that Presidential audience room, or in his office, or on the Ragnarok.

"Probably, yes," I admitted.

"You see? But now comes the harder question - Do you still want me, Squall?"

"Laguna, that's not a fair ques-"

"Do you want me, Squall?"

I felt the heat rise to my cheeks. I couldn't lie to him. "Yes," I whispered.

Laguna was silent for a moment and I looked up - he was silent because our dinner had arrived. I took a few deep breaths to drain the color from my cheeks, then looked up at the waiter, shifting my wine glass to the side so he could put down my plate.

Once we were left alone again, the only noise for a few moments was the soft sound of cutlery as we began our meal. After several long moments of this odd silence, I heard Laguna set down his fork and pick up his wine glass.

"Do you see my point, Squall?" he asked quietly. I sighed and looked up from where my eyes had been focused on my water glass.

"I understand where you're coming from. But the fact still remains-"

"That I'm you're father, I know."

"Then you understand why I can't"

"No."

I sighed and picked up my water glass and drank from it to cool the heat of the words rising to my lips. "Laguna/think/ about this. Think of the scandals it would cause. Think of the people we know and love!"

"Why would they have know, Squall?"

I set my glass down and picked up my fork again, only to push my pasta around on my plate. Why /did/ anyone have to know? It's not like I've never kept secrets in the past. It's not like all of us tell each other everything that happens in our lives. But… "I can't lie to them about something like this, Laguna. What if something happens? We'd have to tell them sooner or later."

"So we tell them what they need to know and nothing more." Laguna was swirling the wine in his glass, watching the whirlpool of deep red it created, avoiding my gaze.

"And if one word about us leaks?" It pained me to shoot his ideas down, considering what I truly wanted, but I knew it just couldn't be. No matter how much we both wanted it.

"I'm good at denying things, you know." He looked at me, his eyes dark with sadness. "But.. I can't deny /this/ any longer. Not between us, even if that's as far as it goes."

I drained my wine glass. The pain that filled his voice in those words were tearing me in two.

"One night, then."

"What?" I stared at him, wondering just what he was thinking.

"Give me one night with you." Now I could see that he was pleading. I continued to stare at him for a long time before I finally gave him an answer.

"All right," I said, not believing what I was actually saying. "I'll give you tonight."

He nodded, and I had to look away from him. The look in his eyes now was full of longing, and the undercurrents of a desire so desperate that it hurt to look at.

With heavier hearts, the both of us finished our meals, passed on dessert, then walked back to the Presidential Palace. For once, he was completely silent the whole way.

I was the one to finally break the silence as we entered the personal corridors. "Your rooms or mine?" It was cliché and I knew it, but it made him smile.

"Mine," he answered, not looking at me. I didn't comment; I stayed at his side as we walked.

The door slid open, and I had him enter ahead of my as guard protocol demanded - until he was safely inside with the door closed, he was to be guarded. I stepped inside, and the door slid shut. I did a brief check of his rooms without moving from the foyer then let the lock click shut.

The moment the lock triggered, I was against the door, pressed against it, with Laguna pressed against me, his mouth on mine in a kiss so demanding, so searingly hot, that my eyes closed and I sagged a little, his hands sliding down my sides to grip my ass in a death-grip.