Disclaimer: I do not own the characters of FFVIII. This story is pretty much of a spoiler so don't say you've been warned. Also, I'm assuming that Laguna doesn't know that Squall is his son until she is in space with him.
What does it feel like to be a father? A real father? It was a question I never seriously considered. The thought of it always sent shivers down my spine. Although Kiros and Ward would probably just crack up at the thought of it, I never felt more afraid. Fear was my first thought. Fear that I wouldn't be there to help him, or her. Fear that I would not be able to love him, or her. Fear that I would fail. Fatherhood frightened me beyond anything I could ever comprehend.
Ellone. Dear sweet little Elle. She was different. She wasn't really my child. I just sorta adopted her. I'm still not sure who I fell in love with first that fateful day, Raine or Elle. Does it really matter? Elle is like my daughter but somehow it's different. I can't explain it.
I could probably understand being a husband. Hell, I was one. Was. That word still breaks my heart. I don't know why I never went back to Winhill. Why wasn't I there for Raine when she needed me the most? Why did I give the excuse of being the new President of Esthar? Why? I'll never find the answers. I just pray that she will forgive me. For not being there. For placing her second instead of first. For being the bastard I was, still am. For failing her.
When Elle came out to space to tell me about…him, I was shocked. Actually, shock is an understatement. I was flabbergasted. I couldn't believe it. I was actually a father. I have a son. A son. The word still mystifies me. I'm a father. I have a son. No, it couldn't be real. I was Laguna Loire, President of Esthar, husband of Raine Loire, foster father of Ellone, best friend of Kiros and Ward. I'm not a father. I don't have a son. It was too much for me to take.
Eventually when Ellone was kidnapped, things began to dawn upon me. Well, Kiros and Ward helped me realized how serious things were too. My two faithful buddies. They always stuck by my side and I thank all that is good and holy for it. If I had left them behind like how I left Raine……
Anyway, I was convinced that we needed to leap into action. I was all for unleashing every single Estharian troop in Esthar to get Ellone back and beat that witch back to where she came from. They intervened however. Somehow, Kiros and Ward got it in their heads that we should hire SeeD. Kiros contacted the Ragnarok before I even knew about the plans. Before I could even mention firing them, SeeD had come. He had come.
I was nervous about meeting him. What little Ellone had told me was not reassuring. The thought that my son was a cold introvert who had a face that could crack a stone wall scared me shitless. The thought that he didn't even know he had a father alive scared me even more. How he looked like, I had no idea. Elle refused to elaborate on it, insisting that I see for myself. Now I know why. Nothing on this earth could have prepared me for this.
He was the spitting image of Raine.
Sure, his hair was long and pretty messy like how mine gets when I'm stressed out. He was about my height as well at that age and his eyes were like mine. But that was it. Everything else resembled Raine. Hyne, even his voice had the same tone Raine had when she was being cold to me. The only difference was that his was more masculine and it sounded cold all the time. Well, except for the times when he was being sarcastic. Another thing Raine excelled in.
Seeing him for the first time, I felt a stirring deep in my heart. I yearned for this boy, for my son. A son I never knew I had all these years. Ellone never had the chance to tell me as she was taken to Edea's Orphanage when Raine died. There was no way she could have contacted me, a mere girl of six.
I should have known that Raine was pregnant. I'm sure she had no idea either else she would have told me. Hyne only knows how much she wanted a child, a son. I should have seen the signs. Irritated snapping, sarcasm dripping in every conversation, even her craving for the weirdest food. I suppose it'll be rather chauvinistic of me to say this but I chalked it up as a woman thing. Still, that doesn't excuse my leaving.
How is it like to send your son, your only son off to a battle which he may never return from? Let me tell you. It is sheer agony. I swear to Hyne above that I never wanted so much in my life to stop him and say that I will go instead. But I couldn't. Kiros and Ward had become great mind readers by being with me for so long - or it could be that my face is more revealing than I myself know - that they stopped me even before I could broach the subject. They forced me to promise that I would not stop the boy. Every man has his battle to find. And my son was no boy but a man.
So I sent him off without even letting him know that he had a living relative. He went off without ever knowing that he was my son, that I cared for him, that I was sorry for all I have done. He just left without even a backward glance. Part of me was proud with how he turned out but the bigger part was aching. As I watched him enter Time Compression with his companions and the woman he loved, my head whispered to me that I would never see him again. My heart whispered back though that he was strong, he would survive. Even his name proved that. Not Loire, Leonhart. Lionheart.
Needless to say, he returned. A hero. My son was a hero. My pride was overflowing. My son had won the battle and so won the war. I prepared to tell him the news. I was nervous, not knowing how he would react. Being around him after a while, I had an inkling on his behavior and personality. If it was anything like Raine and five times magnified, I was in deep shit.
To keep it short, he went into a fit. He yelled at me, accusing me of abandoning him. He accused me of loving his Sis more. He accused me of letting him live alone with no one to help him. He even accused me of claiming him as my son now because he was a world hero.
I was stunned at the last accusation. I admit the rest but not the last one. Not the last one. The thought had never even crossed my mind. Perhaps I should have told him earlier. Perhaps I should have gone back to Raine. Perhaps I should have gone to look for Ellone and find him as well. Perhaps…perhaps…perhaps…
In my entire life, I had only regretted one thing which was I had not been my Raine's bed when she died. Now I have another regret which I could never erase for the rest of my life. I had let down my only son.
Julia had been my first failure. I am ashamed to admit this but I do not regret it much. True, I regret never returning to her but it was a regret I could live with. Raine was next. I escaped my guilt by drowning myself in presidential work. Now my new failure has come. I had left my son alone, never to know that someone loves him. I have failed three of the people that I treasure most in this life.
Looking back on my life, I realized that some things can't be changed. As I sit here and reflect on it, I realize also that even if Ellone had succeeded in changing the past, things would have been different. Ellone would have probably been made into a successful experiment by that crazy Dr. Odine and Squall would never have stopped the even crazier Sorceress Ultimecia. Perhaps this is destiny. Maybe this life that I now lead has been preordained by the powers that may be. I was destined to leave Julia to find Raine. I was destined to leave Raine to find Ellone. I was destined to be the President of Esthar to save innocent lives from being sacrificed to Sorceress Adel. I was destined to leave my son under Edea's care to let him become the hero he is today. Perhaps things turn out all right after all.
But if faeries do exist and grant wishes, there is only one thing that I want to rectify. I wish that I had found the courage to tell my son how much I love him when I had the chance. I still pray that one day I will tell him that and so much more. If it isn't too much to ask, I would also want him to call me even if it's just once, father.
Notes: What do you think? I might write a sequel from Squall's POV if I get enough feedback. This story is also dedicated to purple-sorceress for being the only person to review my first fanfic, Old Enemies New Friends. Thank you! Your support meant a LOT to me.