- - -

because you never know, you never know / you never know until you go

- - -

Kiros found Laguna standing outside the door to the guest suite they'd set up for Quistis and Irvine, staring at the doorknob in the particular, peculiar way that meant he was seeing something else entirely.

"Laguna," Kiros said gently, "you're being creepy again."

Laguna looked up, sharply, and Kiros was a little surprised at the haunted look in his eyes. But then Laguna shook his head, and smiled a bit, wryly.

"I still wish he had come," he said.

Kiros bit his lip. "You know Squall's too busy," he began.

Laguna's shoulders sagged. "Yeah, I get it. He's doing the same thing to me that I did to him." He turned away from the door a little, as if heading to his own room for the night.

"Laguna," Kiros said, "what are you talking about?"

-

"I'm talking about this room," Quistis repeated, a little louder. "Don't you think it's a little... much?"

Irvine, somewhere around the corner, continued to ignore her. Quistis heard the sound of a door opening, and then Irvine's hoot of delight: "Holy hell, Quisty, there's a freaking hot tub in here! Thank you, Squall, I have died and found heaven in Esthar."

Quistis sighed and rubbed at her temples briefly. "We certainly don't need this much space. What are we going to do with all those bedrooms?"

Irvine stuck his head out around the door-frame, waggling his eyebrows. "Do you really need to ask, darlin'?"

Quistis threw a pillow at him. It wasn't exactly a loss; she had about a dozen more, lying artistically on the long low cushion she'd chosen as her bed. Each bedroom -- the suite had about six -- was arranged and decorated differently, according to some sort of ancient sleeping custom. Irvine had immediately claimed a room he'd promptly renamed the "Love Suite", a wide bed with silky sheets and a padded headboard. Quistis had been drawn to the low round sleeping mattress in the Shumi style, mostly for its simplicity -- although the pillows ruined that somewhat. Pillows, however, could be moved; or, she noted happily, thrown.

"I'm keeping that," Irvine said, grabbing the pillow and tossing it in the general direction of his room. "The Love Suite needs a couple more pillows."

She stood up, in pursuit of her wayward pillow. "Irvine, you realize we have to security check this place in its entirety. Do you really want to come home from a long day of trailing Laguna and have to check under every bed and in every closet before we can have a conversation?"

"Quistis," Irvine said with a broad grin, "it is so, so, so worth it."

"Fine." She groaned. "I'll start the bug scan. You can clear all the windows."

"Bug scan?" Irvine glanced at her, curious. "Do you really think Laguna'd bug this room?"

-

"Of course I think so," Laguna said, frowning at his bowl of ice cream. "He's trying to teach me a lesson, see? 'Here's what happens when you pick work over your family, dad. Isn't it an awesome feeling? You total jackass.' I can hear him thinking it from here." He reached for the jar of fudge and liberally poured another swirl into his bowl. When in doubt, Laguna thought, ice cream heals all wounds.

Kiros made the face that meant he was trying hard to not roll his eyes. "Laguna," his friend said. "What have I told you about drawing conclusions from other people's actions without any real evidence?"

Laguna paused in thought, spoon still in his mouth. "It makes an ass out of you and me?" he tried, around a mouthful of ice cream.

Kiros paused -- then shrugged. "Close enough. You have no idea what Squall's thinking. Don't interpret his actions like that. It's not fair to him or to you."

Laguna pointed his spoon at Kiros; ice cream dripped haphazardly on the table. "He's my kid, Kiros. I would bet I know exactly what he's thinking."

"Really." Now Kiros did roll his eyes. "And what's that?"

-

"I have no idea," Quistis admitted. "Do you?"

"Nope." Irvine leaned forward. "But I'm pushing it."

"Irvine--" Quistis snapped, but it was too late. For a moment, nothing happened -- and then there was a grating sound, and it was suddenly raining inside the glass-walled chamber.

Not raining, Irvine realized belatedly, as he looked upwards to see the openings in the bright-blue tiles, equipped with a series of nozzles. Steam rose from the floor.

He looked at Quistis, soaking wet; she lifted a hand to push her sopping bangs out of her face, staring at him. After a few really tense seconds, she -- chuckled. Irvine breathed a sigh of relief; she started laughing, in earnest. Irvine glanced around frantically, looking for any kind of off button, as Quistis Trepe howled in laughter and the fancy multi-tiered jets sprayed warm, fresh-scented water down on them both.

Finally, when he'd figured out how to turn off the shower, and they'd both stepped out into the bathroom, she caught her breath and asked him: "Does Laguna honestly expect all of his guests to take their showers in a stall made of glass?"

-

"No way," Kiros said.

Laguna looked up at him in alarm, and Kiros took the opportunity to close the carton of ice cream before Laguna ate himself sick. Again. "Have you ever considered," he said slowly, watching Laguna's face, "that this is actually a good thing?"

"How is it a good thing?" Laguna spread his arms, angrily. "I made him a blatant invitation and he just ignored it."

"Maybe," Kiros said, deliberately, "he's making the same mistake you did."

Laguna froze, his mouth open, and Kiros pressed his advantage. "Squall's doing the same thing you did after Adel: letting his responsibilities dictate who he is. How can he criticize you for it when he's guilty of the same thing?"

"Easily," Laguna muttered. Then his face brightened. "No, you're right. It gives me some leverage the next time we argue!"

Kiros shook his head. "No, Laguna, it gives you a way to approach him. It gives Squall a chance to think about it -- about the situation, and how easy it is to let other people tell you what to do. Even if he's doing it deliberately," he added, soothingly, as Laguna's eyes strayed towards the carton of ice cream again. Ward, always the silent watcher, picked it up and headed back towards the fridge in Laguna's kitchenette.

Laguna bit his lip. "But what if he doesn't take it that way?"

-

"Don't be ridiculous." Quistis backed up, bumping her head on the table. She hissed, and ducked lower to scoot out backwards. "Now try it."

A happy beep told her that she'd fixed the problem with the plug. "Everything's loading a-o-k," Irvine said, grinning down at her.

"Everything except my head," she grumbled, carefully standing and brushing invisible lint from her skirt while she waited for her scalp to stop throbbing. Eventually she headed over to stand behind Irvine, watching over his shoulder while the screen loaded, adding more and more detail with each scan of their surroundings.

"Now that's odd," Quistis murmured. She glanced at Irvine. "It looks like you were right. Laguna hasn't bugged anything in this room -- or, at least, nothing that our scanner can pick up."

"Sweet." Irvine glanced up at her. "Does this mean we can have a slumber party and tell each other our deepest, darkest secrets? I'll go first: I've always wanted to make out with a Garden Instructor in a posh Estharian hotel room designed to sleep a family of moombas. Your turn." He gave her an innocent smile, although the corners of his mouth twitched.

Quistis snorted. "Here's a secret: I occasionally harbor a secret desire to stuff pillows into your mouth until you can't talk any more."

"Oh," Irvine said with a nod, "so that's why you took the room with eight hundred pillows in it."

"Between you and Laguna, I have a feeling I'll need all eight hundred," Quistis mused. Something on the screen caught her eye, and she leaned in, tapping a key to pause the scan so that she could zoom in. "Wait -- is that...?"

-

"It is not." Laguna crossed his arms defiantly.

Kiros said nothing.

Laguna twitched. He uncrossed his arms, and then crossed them again. Finally, he said, "Okay, so it's a little stupid."

Kiros nodded.

"Alright." Laguna turned. "I'll disconnect the feed."

"I approve," Kiros said. "That's just rude, Laguna."

Laguna blushed. "I know," he said, in a low voice, "but I wanted to hear what Squall said about me. There's... there's no point, now. I'll go turn it off."

-

"Funny," Irvine said, reloading the screen for the fourth time. "It's not finding anything, now."

Quistis sighed. "Maybe it was just a blip. We can check again tomorrow. For now, I'm turning in. Good night."

"Have fun in Pillowland," Irvine called after her. "I'll be in the Love Suite if you get lonely."

A pillow flew past his head and hit the wall behind him.

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Two chapters until all hell breaks loose – I mean, what? Please review. Reviewers get a night in the bedroom of their choice.