Easy on the Eyes

summary: From their very first encounter, the man with the machine gun interested the Cloud of Darkness.

a/n: I love Laguna/Raine (of Final Fantasy VIII). Don't get me wrong. But after watching the conversation between Laguna and the Cloud of Darkness from his Story Mode chapter, I just had to write something on them. I'd have to say it was pretty hard to write this fanficcy. I had to have the Cloud of Darkness be referred to in gender neutral terms since "she's" supposed to be genderless. Erm, not that Laguna knows that (and that's probably a good thing).

Dissidia 012 [duodecim] Final Fantasy © Square Enix

From their very first encounter, the man with the machine gun interested the Cloud of Darkness. Laguna Loire was a peculiar warrior of Cosmos. The man had an amiably naïve personality and held no interest in serving the gods but would do what was necessary to return to his home world. He shared no ill-will upon the creature of the void. He was a curious toy indeed. Would he survive the war? Unlikely. It relished to one day witness his utter demise to amuse itself. Oddly enough, the Cloud of Darkness often found the strange gunner on its mind and found the predicament most unamusing. The apparition could care less whether the man named Laguna would live or die, and yet a part of it wondered of him.

If that fool survives just a while longer…, it thought. … Then perhaps we may have misjudged him. Perhaps.

So, it followed the man. The wraith figured it would not do much harm to surveillance an enemy. It followed him, concealing itself behind pillars and walls, appearing and disappearing at a whim and as it pleased. It watched as Laguna met with comrades, fought battles against manikins, and got hopelessly lost in his sense of direction. At some points, the Cloud of Darkness grew irritated and weary of the gunner's insufferable antics and attitude. At other points, it was almost impressed by the man.

It was another day in the realm as the Cloud of Darkness watched its foe. He had gone out training. One of his little friends—a young boy who may have been more foolishly naïve than himself—offered to join him, but he had declined. The apparition had found this decision rather strange. Typically, the oaf was surrounded by his comrades and enjoyed their company. So, why now did the buffoon desire space?

"I know you're out there, lady," Laguna called out abruptly, looking over his shoulder. "I figured you'd been following me for a while now."

The creature revealed from the shadows. Its stare was icy. Its tentacles were almost one to match, glaring at Laguna. The gunner coughed and sheepishly avoided its gaze. "So, what do you plan to do with us, hero of Harmony? Did you warn your friends to create an ambush, or have you decided to personally end us here and now? Tell us," the Cloud of Darkness murmured, its fingers curling.

"None of the above! I didn't tell anybody, and I have no intention of gunning you down. I just want to know why you're following me."

"Did we not tell you, human? We only desire to see the manner of death you select for yourself. Pity if we were to miss it."

Laguna chuckled nervously. Is that all she wanted? Can't say I'm a little disappointed, he thought. "I'm just happy that you have me in mind," he muttered. "Look, don't take this the wrong way, but I don't want to fight you. Don't you want this war to end so you can return to your world too? I'm sure if we worked together…"

Its tentacles twisted and turned restlessly. "You amuse us. You would conspire with an enemy?" the wraith seethed. "Cosmos has chosen a strange warrior, indeed."

"But that's the thing. I can't think of you as my enemy, not when you told me all about where those Munchkins come from."

"Manikins. It appears you're a slow one as well."

"Right. Anyway, you helped me. You may have your own reasons, but that's what you did," Laguna explained, shrugging. "So, that means I owe you. If worse comes to worse, I will fight you. But for now I can't have you go dying on me if I haven't fulfilled my end of the deal yet, can I?"

"Foolish human… Do you dare suggest that I can die? Do you dare suggest you can defeat us?"

"Whoa, whoa! No hard feelings. I didn't mean anything by it. And besides… Everyone can die, right?"

The apparition glared and rolled its eyes. "You owe us nothing, and you'd do best not to underestimate us," it insisted carefully as it began circling around the man. "Tell us, hero of Harmony. Why are you so interested in us?"

"I could ask you the same thing. You're the one following me," Laguna countered slyly, trying to hold its gaze.

"You're the one who keeps gawking at us."

"Well… T-That's just… Y-You're easy on the eyes…"

"Easy on the eyes?" the creature repeated, unfamiliar with the term.

"I-I mean… You know…," Laguna stuttered, his eyes reluctantly trailing its figure. "You're just really… p-pre—" A sudden surge to the leg caused Laguna to wince in pain. He bent down and clutched onto it.

The wraith stared at him, unfazed. "How you managed to become a warrior of Cosmos never ceases to amaze us."

Laguna managed to laugh under the circumstances. "Same here, lady," he muttered, heaving as he attempted to regain his composure. "You're different from your comrades too. For one thing, you've helped me out." He rubbed his chin. "Won't they get angry?"

The Cloud of Darkness remained silent. It never really gave that consequence too much thought. Every other warrior of Chaos seemed to have their own little agenda up their sleeves. If one of them were to discover its scheme, they would surely find it a threat to Chaos's goal. The wraith was unafraid but took cautious thought into this new development. It would have to make certain no one were to learn of this, especially that psychopathic clown Kefka. It would have to be careful. "And what of it?" the Cloud of Darkness finally answered the gunner's words.

"I still owe you one, right?"

"There is nothing to owe."

Laguna smiled. "I think I have an idea on how I can repay you," he began.

He's ignoring us, it thought in annoyance. The creature's tentacles growled.

"If you get into trouble with your comrades, just give me a call and I'll help you out. You helped me, right? It's only fair if I do the same. Besides, I can't let a fine lady such as yourself take all the blame either."

"So, if I were to beckon, my knight would arrive to protect me?"

"A k-knight? Heh, you're making me blush."

"This idea of yours… Surely, you jest."

"I'm serious!"

"Your words are not absolute," it countered. "They are dubious. You wouldn't make it in time."

"Watch me!" the gunner proclaimed confidently, pointing his thumb to his chest. "I'm a man of my word."

The wraith tilted its head. He both amused and bothered it vehemently. "You'd go through great lengths for your enemy?"

"Hey, come on, now. After all we're been through… I'd have to say we're kind of friends now, aren't we?" Laguna suggested brightly.

"We're enemies," the Cloud of Darkness corrected sternly.

"You sure we can't be friends?"

It gave him a flat stare.

"… I guess not."

"When we meet again, human, we are enemies and we will fight," it warned him. "Do not take us lightly."

"Right back at you," the gunner agreed.

The wraith's gaze lingered at him before it floated away. "Hmph. Perhaps we have misjudged you. You may be a worthy opponent, indeed…," it murmured, looking over its shoulder before fading away into darkness.

And for a second, Laguna could have sworn he saw the Cloud of Darkness smiling.