A/N: Hello, much to my surprise(ish) I find myself writing another FFVIII fic. This was originally a one-shot that I had no intention in posting up, which tried to take another angle on the whole Squall-Laguna revelation and reaction. Like so many of my things it mutated, and now it's a series of one-shots.
Prologue-The Stage is Set
"I'm not angry."
Laguna turned to look at his son as he stepped up beside him. He knew what the boy, no, he corrected himself, young man was talking about. Only a few days ago, the Esthar president had worked up the courage and ran out of excuses to tell Squall about their blood tie. He'd also been more than a little inspired by Rinoa bridging the gap between herself and her own father. However, unlike Caraway, he didn't have the background to reveal himself before his son was married. To do so seemed…selfish. He couldn't be there as a father, not after such a short period and to try to would be an imposition on the couple. It would only make their special day rather awkward and so he waited. He waited till after the wedding, the honeymoon, when the couple had settled in and then, after Ellone had given a particular piece of news, he realised that he couldn't put it off any more.
The meeting hadn't gone as he'd expected. Squall hadn't been happy, but he hadn't seemed upset or angry either, though he was never quite sure with the younger man. He had simply stood there and walked off. When Laguna had asked him where he was going, he'd simply said that needed to think. So Laguna had waited, remaining in the Garden till Squall was ready to talk.
"You're not?" Laguna was surprised. He hadn't really expected this answer. It was better than he had dared hope.
"No," Squall confirmed, staring out to sea, leaning against the Quad wall, "I have every right to be. You went off after Ellone and left Raine alone while she was pregnant. Then you got involved in other peoples' problems instead of returning home."
Squall was merely laying out the facts, stating why he had every right to be angry, and then when he continued, he was merely stating why he should be angry, but that knowledge didn't make Laguna feel any better.
"Because of that, I had to grow up an orphan. Sis was taken away from me and I grew up in Garden to become a mercenary and the person I am now. So," and Squall looked up at him, "I have every right to be angry."
Laguna nervously swallowed, "Then why aren't you?"
Squall was silent for a moment before looking away, "Because if you hadn't followed Ellone, then I wouldn't have Sis at all, and," he smiled, small and subtle, but Laguna wasn't enough of a fool to think that he was smiling for him, "if I didn't have this life, then I wouldn't have Rinoa."
Laguna followed Squall's gaze to see the woman in question walk into the Quad, arm linked through her father's. "And they're worth it." It wasn't a question; he knew the answer.
It was Laguna's turn to smile as the two men watched his son's wife and father-in-law slowly make their way down the stairs to the main Quad area. Laguna's attention turned back to the man beside him, watching him from the corner of his eye. Going on a limb, Laguna spoke again.
"That's not the only reason is it?"
Again, Squall was silent for a moment before speaking, "I understand responsibility. Once you have it, you can't just drop it when you want to. It doesn't matter whether you want it or not."
Laguna openly watched his son, "Just because you understand, doesn't mean you have to like it."
Squall remained silent and Laguna got the impression that there was more to Squall's reasoning then the other man would ever tell him. Squall's excuse of responsibility was small and feeble and while he could understand that Squall would rather have Ellone and Rinoa than him, he found it hard to believe that anyone would just forgive-
Ah, but there was the catch, Laguna realised; Squall had said that he wasn't angry, not that he had forgiven him. There was a difference and even though it was a subtle one, it was there and it could spiral to larger consequences. It reminded Laguna that he had no way to look into Squall's mind. He had no way to know how much resentment was hidden away in there, conscious or otherwise. He figured that he should be careful and gentle with Squall, but on the other hand, he also got the impression that if he didn't push, the commander would continue to seal himself away from him. He just had to be careful that he didn't push Squall too far.
He took a gamble, "Ellone says Rinoa is pregnant."
Squall's head snapped round and Laguna wondered if he'd said the right thing. Subtlety had never really been his thing anyway. Well, no going back now, he thought. "You know, your son or daughter won't have your childhood. Rinoa has good doctors to help her, you're surrounded by friends who won't send him or her away and," he added hesitantly, resting a hand on his son's shoulder, "I can be there."
Apparently this was a step too far, too soon. Squall quickly stepped forward, breaking contact. He took another step away before stopping.
"I'm not angry at you, but that doesn't mean you can play father." Some of the hope in Laguna withered as he listened. "Sorry, but you missed your chance. I don't need a father anymore. It's pointless to pretend otherwise."
Laguna shook his head, "Squall, a father isn't someone you start and stop needing. They don't disappear from their children's lives after they grow up and get married. I think Rinoa might agree with me here."
Squall's head turned to where his wife stood by the stage, talking rather eagerly about some matter to her own father.
"They have a history." He didn't bother adding that it was a bad one, neither did Laguna.
The father sighed, "The biggest mistake I've ever made was not returning to Winhill fast enough. The second was not looking hard enough for you and Ellone. I don't want to make number three now."
Squall remained silent and Laguna honestly didn't know if he should feel frustrated or hopeful. Okay, so it wasn't going fantastically well, but then he couldn't really say it was going badly. Squall hadn't simply reached for Lionheart and chopped him into tiny pieces, and that, in Laguna's books, was a definite plus.
"Okay," Laguna tried again, stepping up beside his son, "How about this, since we don't have a history, I'll tell you mine with Raine and Elle and you can tell me yours. We'll meet and talk. No pressure for anything else, just a friendly exchange of memories."
"I don't have many memories of my childhood."
"There's a whole seventeen years' worth before we met," Laguna pointed out, "I'm sure there's enough to tell me. And if you still think that having a father is pointless at the end of the day, I won't be here, but if you want me around; I'm there. What have you got to lose? But you have to admit," he grinned, "that it'd be nice for your child to have two grandfathers, especially one so awesome that he's president of Esthar."
Squall actually smiled a little at that, encouraging Laguna to continue softly, "I missed my son growing up. I don't want to miss my grandchild as well."
When Squall had a contemplative expression on his face afterwards, Laguna figured that this was what Quistis meant when she said that the other man thought too much.
"I want my child to have what I missed in life," Squall started, "A family is at the top of that list. Not that I can offer a normal functioning family." The last part was added as a snort.
Laguna stepped away this time, a new thrill in his heart and bounce in his step. "A normal functioning family?" he threw over his shoulder, "There's no such thing."
Squall was soon beside him again, as they walked towards the father and daughter at the other end of the Quad. Before joining them, Laguna gave his son one last set of words.
"Don't forget Squall, no matter what happened in the past, you have a family now."
Just a big thank you to Emerald Latias for beat reading and helping to sort out this chapter :D