|By : Madisuzy|
Category: Final Fantasy VIII > Crossovers
Views: 689 -:- Recommendations : 0 -:- Currently Reading : 0
|Disclaimer: I do not own FFVIII, FFVII, Laguna, Vincent, Kiros, Cloud or Squall. If I did they would be naked more often. I'm not making any money from this and all rights remain the property of the original owners.|
Title- Goodbye is only the BeginningFandom- FFVIII/FFVII Characters- Laguna, Cloud, Vincent. Warning- Yaoi, angst Thanks- To Chephren for corrections. Disclaimer- Don't own Laguna, Vincent, Kiros, Cloud, Squall or the world in which they live. Square Enix owns it all.
A/N - This is a sequel to 'Corpse in the Cupboard'. Thank you to all reviewers, silent readers and to all who rated it.
Chapter 12Laguna watched Vincent and Squall walking away from the house, waiting until they were some distance away before he sneaked out the front door and made his way into town. He couldn't help but pause in front of the pub, old memories making his heart clench in his chest. Walking inside was almost surreal, the man behind the bar out of place when Laguna was so used to seeing Raine there. It didn't matter how many years had passed. To him, this would always be her place. "Can I help you?" the bartender asked, jolting Laguna out of his thoughts and making him realize that he'd been staring. Eyes darting away nervously, the President finally managed to mumble out, "Ah, I'm looking for a friend of mine, Cloud. I believe he has a room here?" At the mention of Cloud's name, the bartender's expression changed from curiously friendly to suspicious. "He's in room 4. Up the stairs and to the right." Laguna nodded, giving a quick thanks before he headed up the stairs. He couldn't help but feel sorry for Cloud, knowing all too well what it was like to live somewhere that you weren't welcome. What the hell is it with these people anyway? he mused to himself. Small towns just have too many small minds. Well, at least nobody recognized me as the President of Esthar… or as the no good mooch who used to be married to the previous bar owner. He was trying to decide which would be worse, when he came to the top of the stairs and stopped, taken back by the change to the second floor. Where there was once a large, open room with a bedroom and bathroom off the side, there was now a wall directly in front of him and a hallway to the right. Looking down the hall, he could see four doors, two on each side, and a fifth door at the end of the hallway that had a sign on the front saying bathroom. It was like his memory had been desecrated and he hated it. The rooms themselves must be tiny and he didn't even want to think about what his former wife would think of the blatant discarding of comfort in favor of profit. Pushing his disgust to the back of his mind, he approached Cloud's door and stopped, running a hand through his hair nervously. He'd come here to try and help, maybe comfort Cloud, but now that he was here, all ideas of what to say to the young man fled his mind. The blond seemed so isolated and it pulled at Laguna's heartstrings. Nobody should have to feel like that, especially somebody that Vincent considered to be family. He was worried that Cloud wouldn't let him in or want to talk to him since he'd been so angry but with Vincent off talking to Squall, there was nobody to go after the blond but Laguna. Somehow, he wanted to be there for him but was worried his attempts might only cause the youth to get angrier and he really didn't want to find himself at the wrong end of Cloud's sword again. Seriously, the thing was friggin' huge. The door in front of him opened suddenly, leaving Laguna gaping like a demented goldfish as he failed to find any words to say. Cloud looked surprised at first, but then his expression changed to one of slight amusement as one blond eyebrow rose. "Well, are you going to come inside or stand out here all day? I promise not to point my sword at you, if that helps," Cloud murmured, turning away to walk back into the room while Laguna tried to pull himself together. "Ah… um…. I'm sorry," Laguna mumbled, stepping into the room tentatively and stopping just inside. "Shut the door?" Cloud asked, sitting down on the edge of the bed and frowning down at the floorboards. Laguna did as he was asked and when he turned around, Cloud motioned to one of two chairs next to a small table on one side of the room. Taking a seat, the older man's eyes darted around, noticing that apart from the bed and small table and chairs, there was no other furniture in the room. There seemed to be a built in cupboard on one wall and a small window, but there definitely wasn't even a bathroom. Laguna realized that all four rooms must share the bathroom in the hallway and he almost flinched at the thought. Maybe he'd been spoilt by being the President for so long, but communal bathrooms were akin to substandard living in his mind. "Look, I know why you're here and you're wasting you time. I can't just forgive your son, even if Vincent seems determined to," Cloud suddenly said, pulling Laguna from his thoughts. "Oh, I'm not here for that," he answered, causing the blond to look up at him. "I just… well, you were really upset and I… well, I wanted to make sure you were alright and offer to listen if you wanted to talk. Not that you have to talk to me or anything. I know you don't know me and an old fart like me is probably the last person you want to talk to but I thought… well, I thought maybe I'm better than nothing." Cloud's eyes had widened as he'd spoken, making Laguna's nerves run riot which in turn made him ramble on more than he'd intended to. "It's okay if you just want to be alone or something. Just say the word and I'll go," he added, hoping that he wouldn't be thrown out just yet. "No, it's… okay," Cloud responded, voice so soft Laguna only just heard it as the youth eye's dropped to the floor once more. The blond nervously clenched his hands together and Laguna smiled, realizing that Cloud was as nervous and uncomfortable as he was. "I… well, I want you to know that you're not alone anymore. You're family to Vincent, which makes you family to me too. It's normal for family to have disagreements and to get angry at each other, but it's also normal for us to be there for each other and to go after each other when somebody leaves angry," Laguna continued, smiling nervously when Cloud's eyes met his. "I'm not the best with words, but I am good at listening." **.** "Honestly, I'm not much of a talker," Cloud responded. When he noticed a look of disappointment flash over Laguna's face, he quickly added, "But I appreciate the offer. Maybe we could talk about what options I have to get out of this town." He was relieved when Laguna brightened up at his words although it mystified him why it was suddenly so important to keep this man happy. "This town… it's not right for you. I once lived here too and it wasn't right for me either," Laguna began, gazing towards the window. "It's not that they are bad people. They're just afraid of anything different or anything they don't understand. Being so secluded from the rest of the world makes the list of what they don't understand rather long though." Cloud had to smile at the man's diplomatic way of putting it. "You didn't fit in here?" he asked, surprise clear on his face. "Oh, hell no. They hated me," Laguna muttered. "Nothing I did was ever good enough and they spent the whole time I was here trying to talk my wife into getting rid of me. Not that she was my wife when I first came here. I never thought she'd accept my proposal with what a pariah I was and all, but she did and we were happy for awhile before the soldiers came and took Ele away." Cloud watched as Laguna fell silent, obviously lost in memories. He was curious as to what had happened to ruin Laguna and his wife's happiness, but he didn't feel comfortable asking the older man about it now. There seemed to be a lot of pain involved, so he decided to try and change the subject, making a mental note to ask Vincent about what had happened later. "Are there any other options for someone with my skills other than working at Garden?" Cloud asked, his question pulling Laguna out of his thoughts. The older man smiled but the blond could still see sadness in his eyes. "I know you don't want to work with Squall, but there is more than one Garden. As the Commander of SeeD, he is based in Balamb Garden, but there is also Trabia Garden and Galbadia Garden. While Galbadia is mostly a training centre for the Galbadian army, Trabia is much the same as Balamb, but it specializes in weapons development as well as training students. You could lodge there and work as a contractor, assisting the SeeD with missions or even just working solo missions. You could even work as a teacher, training students in swordplay or tactics maybe." Cloud frowned, thoughts of Squall making his shoulder's tighten in aggravation once more. Even if the Commander wouldn't be in the same centre as him, Squall would still technically be his boss and that thought made him more than a little uncomfortable. Laguna seemed to notice his unease and quickly added, "But if you don't feel comfortable with any of that, you could just come to Esthar with us. I could always use another bodyguard, or you could work as a contractor for me, keeping the monster population outside of the city down. We'd love to have you and there's more than enough room in the Presidential Palace. Hell, you can pick whatever room you like and take as much time as you need working out what you want to do." Cloud nodded, liking the second option far more than the first. "I think, for now, I'd like to see Esthar. Maybe look into all my options further and get more information before I decide. I don't want to be a burden though, so if I could do some contract work for you culling monsters, or anything else that comes up that you might need…." "That would be excellent," Laguna exclaimed, smile bright as he gazed at Cloud. "I know Vincent will be very pleased to be able to spend more time with you and maybe, you and I can get to know each other better too. Oh, I should probably warn you about the press though. The Estharian media are a bunch of rabid dogs. Once they see a new face in the palace, all the gossip magazines will be pairing you up with everyone, or making out you're some kind of relative to one of us. Don't take any of it seriously though. It's just their way of entertaining the public. Honestly, you should see the crap they wrote about Vincent. It was hilarious. One magazine was spinning the story he was Kiros' lover, another had him down as spy and a third was even trying to push that he was another long lost son of mine. My personal favorite was one that insisted he was actually a vampire who had put me under his spell. I kept a copy of that one, although I had to hide it from Vincent as he kept trying to throw it out on me." Cloud stared, Laguna's words repeating in his head and leaving him gaping at the older man. Back home, nobody would ever dare to publish rumors such as those, knowing that the Turks would end their lives for slandering the President. He couldn't believe Laguna was so blasé about all the gossip and did nothing to stop it, even finding it funny. "What kind of a President are you?" Cloud blurted, a blush blooming on his cheeks when he realized that what he'd just said was really rather rude. Laguna looked a little shocked at first, but then the older man started laughing. "Yeah, I get that a lot. Even Kiros asks me that one at least once a month," Laguna finally murmured with a shrug. "I suppose, I'm not like most leaders, trying to make others bow to my will and threatening anyone who doesn't toe the line but maybe that's why the people of Esthar wanted me. They'd had a hard time with tyrannical leaders for years before I came along. Letting the media have freedom to print whatever they like keeps me honest and builds more trust with the public. So far, I've been re-elected six times, which means I must be doing something right." Cloud smiled, unable to stop himself under the eyes of this strange but charismatic man. "I'm sorry if that question sounded rude. The President back home is on the opposite side of the personality scale to you. I… I suppose I've become biased, thinking that all Presidents are the same as him." He shrugged a little, wanting to be more clear but finding the right words hard to come by. "Honestly, Laguna, I hated our President back home so I'm glad you're nothing like him." Laguna blushed and looked away at the indirect compliment. Cloud chuckled at how… well, cute the older man was, internally amazed that this man had been the cure to Vincent's half a lifetime of angsting and self hatred. He did have to admit though, it was near impossible to mope around this man no matter how much one tried. A silence fell over the room, Cloud trying to think of something to say as he watched Laguna fiddle with the hem of his shirt. "So… I suppose if Vincent is the closest thing to a father I've ever had, that would make you my…," he began, words tapering off as he stopped himself from calling Laguna his new mother. Insulting the older man once in a conversation was bad enough. "Step mother?" Laguna added anyway, smiling at the blond. "I'd be honored if you thought of me that way, although I'm not gonna wear a dress for you. Gods, I wouldn't even wear one for Vincent when he asked, so there's no way I'd wear one for you." Cloud started laughing and Laguna blushed, apparently a little slow to realize what he'd just said. "Sorry for too much information there. Unfortunately, that's one of my worst flaws, or so I'm told," the older man mumbled, hand back threading through his hair once more as his eyes darted away to the side. Cloud noted the nervous habit, adding it to what he already knew of Vincent's partner. While he might still be angry with Squall, he couldn't help but be happy with his friend's choice of partner. Laguna's honesty and the child like aspects of his personality gave him a kind of innocence and Cloud could see how Vincent could be taken in by that. It was a rare thing to find in any adult back home. Here too, if the townspeople were anything to go by. "Okay, well, now that I've cheered you up and horrified you with details about Vincent and my relationship that you never wanted to know, I have something to ask you," Laguna said, face suddenly serious as he looked up at Cloud. "Would you please come and stay with us for the remainder of our time here in Winhill?" **.** Squall had returned to the house, leaving Vincent to investigate the surrounding landscape alone. Chaos was encouraging him towards a nearby forest and Vincent was curious enough to give in to his demon's wishes at first, slowly making his way through the trees and enjoying the solitude and beauty that surrounded him. As he traveled deeper into the trees, he tried questioning Chaos on what was here that interested him, but he received no answers to his queries, just the constant urge to continue. Vincent tried to stop walking, frustrated with Chaos' refusal to answer him and the slight pull suddenly became stronger, making him gasp in shock as his body refused to obey his commands. The gunman's attempts to regain control were fruitless, Chaos chuckling at his panicked thoughts as his body continued to make its way through the forest without his permission. Vincent noticed the sound of running water in the distance and looked around nervously, still able to direct his line of his vision, if nothing else. His head was aching from the strain of trying to fight Chaos' control and his mind was running a mile a minute as he tried to work out what the hell was going on. A few minutes later he found himself in a clearing, his eyes darting over the waterfall and small creek that ran through the center of the area. He felt another presence and turned, eyes widening at the sight of Kiros, frozen to the spot only a few meters away. The look of fear in the dark man's eyes confused him and when he tried to speak, no words came. Vincent felt his lips curve into a smirk that wasn't his and his vision began to blur. The last thing he saw before he fell into darkness was the look of hopeless resignation on Kiros' face. **.** TBC
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