Disclaimer: This is the first fic in my 'Daifu Soshite Aisoku' arc, a post-game series which features Squall, Seifer and Laguna. I don't own these characters, except the child. All others owned by Squaresoft. Hints at incest, Laguna/Squall. Which means yaoi, also, so if you don't like, don't read. Hints of Squall/Rinoa, too, but not in a good way. Anyone continuing, enjoy.
I frowned disapprovingly at the television screen as I jiggled you on my lap. You; that precious little bundle created by my son. So many words to describe my feeling for you. So little time to say them whilst their meaning remains comfortable to your ears. Still, the only embarrassment I was feeling right then was my own, and the disapproval was directed only at myself. Sneaking glances at the trashy images on the screen; the lithe little pop star, enthusiastically dancing away to some tuneless melody a- top a beached, blue sports car. There was just something about him, though I don't suppose you saw it. You were too young, then, to recognise your father in him. No, he never graced the music world in such a gratuitous way, but Squall Leonhart could be seen in every movement of this new, anonymous singer. From the tanned, lean body that was so unashamedly revealed by the leather hot pants, to the excited, neon gleam in his young eyes. It was strange to me, to be so familiar with the past and see it resurrected once again, albeit in the face of some teenybopper I'd never seen before. I couldn't help how it made me feel, little one. Not just the peculiar familiarity, but the emotions that stirred inside me of quite a different kind. Everything I'd kept under wraps for so long had escaped once more, like ghosts seeping through from the past into new territories within the mind. Heh, you just gurgled a little at me. Figures; I'm talking nonsense again, aren't I?
Hearing your restless noises, I decided to try once more to put you to sleep. You'd refused steadfastly before, possibly missing the presence of your father, but I was nothing if not determined. The music channel and its arousing images were not for your eyes, besides. Maybe when you were older, I promised, and you just snuffled an uninterested response. I switched the television off - you tucked closely beside me- and your eyes blinked at the sudden disappearance of the moving imagery. The world must be a mighty confusing place for you, sunshine; perhaps so for us both. Yet, your attention was fickle and the cuddly bear that joined in our embrace soon distracted you, a favourite toy of yours. I watched you pulling at its ears contentedly and smiled a little. If only humanity could change the way it treats those it loves.
I took you upstairs with quiet steps, almost reluctant to let you out of my arms where I cannot watch over you. It's extraordinary to think that I only discovered your existence some 30 hours ago. But you can't begin to understand the secrets between father and son, I suppose. I get the niggling feeling I should tell you. Perhaps it's because I seem to be often kept in the dark over the issue of paternity. Was Squall's not telling me about his own son some kind of revenge for my not discovering his existence for so long? Or was it because his heart is still stinging from all I did to him three years ago? I shake my head in reflection. I suppose what's important is that I found you, that I'd been given the chance to get to know you; not the 'why' s or the 'when's. I spent so much of his life in the shadows, and I will not do the same with yours.
Will you let me be there, though? Will he? After what happened, it's debatable. I murmur all of this to you as I settle you down, and your eyes display puzzlement at my words though the low hum of my tone seems to relax you. Your gaze doesn't leave me, as if to ensure that I will retain my presence by your side and I absentmindedly wonder whether Squall often sat with you as you drifted to sleep. I was told that he was barely capable of looking after you, that the storm clouds raging over him disabled any possibility of him providing paternal care. I did struggle to believe it, though my lack of knowledge of the last two years or so made me come to that conclusion purely on gut feeling. When I was first asked to take care of you, for a few days or so while Squall regained his footing and tried to shake off the depression inside him, I questioned those statements of his neglect of you. I questioned them with everything I had in me, because I know Squall. Almost an arrogant claim in itself, but if I know anyone, I know your father. And I know the passion he has inside him for the ones he loves. I know how violently he can care for someone. I know the lengths he will go to to protect somebody he adores. Why would he emotionally abandon his baby son.?
I look back at you, waving your arms slightly in your tiny bed. I continue my own argument almost with your co-operation. He got you your own little nursery, didn't he? You grizzle softly. He's made everything comfortable for you, hasn't he? You extend your arm up a little further to the ceiling, aloft to the dangling decoration that hangs above your cot. Not a mobile, as I've seen adorn the cradles of other babies, but a dreamcatcher. A strange choice, but the word 'normality' was rarely used in association with Mr. Leonhart. I'm not sure of the reason for his choice - whether aesthetic or spiritual - but you certainly seem to like it. The white hanging feathers control your attention as you watch them dance in circles in the dim light of the room. I swear your baby blue eyes never leave their spirals, waving your hands at the object in blissful content. You love that thing, don't you, sweetheart? I softly put my hand to the string that upholds it, twirling it round in a tiny circle, and you giggle happily as the feathers quickly spin apart. So young, so easily pleased. I smile. You look at me just once, eyes flashing from the dreamcatcher to my face and gaze at me almost with the same expression he used to. Your father, I mean. You have the same ice in your eyes, but the same softness in your features when you are pleased. An identical smile that would reward an eternity of effort made to satisfy you. Hyne, you are so much more him than you are her. I don't think you must know much of your mother, must you? My voice is a whisper, and it seems to pacify you further, though your attention has returned to trying to catch the swirling ornament above you. No, I suppose the name 'Rinoa Heartilly' means very little to you. I try; I say the words. You glance at me quizzically, but show no apparent interest in what I'm saying. Perhaps 'Rinoa'? For the briefest of seconds, I swear you understand me. I would almost rest my life on the fleeting look in your eyes that tells me you know her, you know everything, but logic realigns my thoughts and I let the idea pass. You cannot know. You are barely 10 months old, of course you cannot know. Our eyes catch each other just once more, before I cannot resist what now feels like an inevitable question.
Do you want to know?
You are restless, and are thus prepared to let me tell you. Perhaps he read you fairy stories, though it is more likely she did, I concede, but neither of us are in the mood for those. A proper story you want? Then a proper story you shall have. Your smile, peaceful and inquisitive, spurs me on. I crouch by your cot, finding a vacant stool on which to lean, and try to figure out where to begin. I know you will most likely not recall our conversation - perhaps it is why I continued to reveal my story - but that does not mean it is easy to begin. This tale of mine is not average by any stretch of the imagination; even yours that can invent dragons and knights, strange monsters in the darkness or castles in the clouds. Your mind is perhaps not ready for the revelations of my lips. I must choose my words carefully. Maybe I can capture your imagination most effectively if I do tell you a fairy story; incorporating the darkness of a past you cannot be aware of into the most harmless and sweet forms of explanation. You do not seem bothered either way, but do not like my pauses. The sound of my speech is pleasant to you, its note low and its tone soft, and it seems to soothe you greatly. You whimper slightly when you can hear it no longer, and with a deep breath, I take the plunge.
"Once upon a time." I begin. How false it sounds. I never did this with Squall, and it feels even more alien with you. Yet the artificiality goes unnoticed by you, and you are keen for me to continue. Feeling a touch idiotic, I oblige. ".there was a man who ruled a distant, magnificent land. His name was King Laguna."
A little chuckle from you, and I cannot help but smile myself. A President, perhaps, but a King is ridiculous even for my ambitious nature.
"And he had fought for many years to end the on-going war that ravaged both his lands, and the neighbouring continents. Vicious sparring had been occurring for many years, and his involvement in bringing about an eventual peace had spanned much of his reign. Thus, by the time he truly settled into Kingship, a peaceful home around him and time for others beside him, he was a rather aging man."
You have pulled the bear close to you, toying with its face as you half- listen to my story. I can still see the spinning dreamcatcher catching a shadow across your face, and I slowly begin once more.
"For many years, his noble companions had taken the liberty of seeking out a Queen for this King. Their names are of little importance to you, sweetheart, but if you want to refer to them, you might find 'K' and 'W' easy to remember."
You made soft sounds as if to test this out, and once you'd settled, I continued,
"And their efforts were sadly disregarded by the more stubborn King Laguna. For you see, he'd once loved a lady of the kingdom himself; perhaps 'R' would be sufficient for a name? Briefly he'd loved her, before being called off back into the waves of a seemingly endless battle. But there had been nobody else to tempt his fancy since, nobody else who could equal his esteem for her. Yet they never seemed to tire of their matchmaking, forever plotting the finding of some female charm who could assume the position of Queen of the land."
A gurgle and a blink. Perhaps my story isn't quite as engaging as the ones Rinoa told.
"Even though King Laguna was insistent that he did not want a Queen, still they persevered. It was important to have a Queen, if you were a King. Very important indeed, to cherish some female or another as your partner for the remainder of your life. But this was of little interest to King Laguna, who could never foresee himself loving another woman. It was just not what he wanted, and though he was the King, the utmost ruler, his requests were not greeted with the same unequivocal positively he had grown used to. Little one, you will find that if you are in a position of power, people will tend to do exactly what you want. But- there are some boundaries that most will dare not cross, even if their life is at stake. It's called life, you better get used to it, kiddo."
A slight edge of apprehension had taken over you face, your expression a tiny bit fearful. Wide eyes reflect the sudden edginess in my tone, and I smile fondly to reassure you.
"But things have changed now, beautiful. If you want what King Laguna wanted, then nobody is going to tell you that it cannot be yours. But then the demands he had had extra strings to them. It all became so much more complicated for him; he was entering a reality that didn't make sense, and he could find no suitable explanations for his own thoughts. I'm jumping too far ahead, though, aren't I?"
More waving of your arms confirms this contemplation.
"What King Laguna wanted was not a Queen. Not a female. What he wanted was a man. Ah! I see no shock in your face, you are an open-minded child indeed!"
I tease you, and your giggles as you reach for my fingers through the cot- bars are wonderful to hear. You like my voice with it's gentle, laughing tone, and the light in your eyes is a beautiful sight; not least because it reminds me of my son.
"But not many of the nobles reacted that way. Oh, King Laguna was an isolated man after that. They fussed over him in their usual, duty-bound sort of way, but they never brought up the subject of Queens again, and the old King became very lonely indeed. He could not describe the origins of his need for another male, as much as he could not answer why the sky was blue. It just was. Yet nobody understood. The King found himself roaming the streets in the quieter hours, the slow steps of a lonesome man who has been abandoned and left without purpose. Without fighting and destruction, as a King his power was diminished. As a person - with these new desires -, he was unappealing and loathsome. This made the King very sad."
You sniffled, almost in sympathy, and I wondered at your ability to sense meaning from my tone, even if you could not understand the words themselves.
"It was on one of these nights, my beautiful boy, that the King stumbled across a young stranger. It was the dead of night, and King Laguna had thought the streets deserted, but this stranger looked as forlorn as he did. He could not make him out well, but on closer inspection, he estimated that this stranger was a man of much younger years than himself. The King could not help but be intrigued, for the man was beautiful and mysterious alike. His eyes, on closer look, were a deep blue, as if the ocean moved inside the orbs. They spoke of treasures uncovered, of a liquid world within him that had been completely untouched. They spoke of sorrow, of misunderstanding, of doubt and regret, yet still retained a beauty that the King could almost not believe was real. His face was young, even for his years, and gentle. Almost feminine features graced him, from the tender sloping of his nose to the full, red lips that parted in surprise upon meeting someone else on the deserted, cobbled street."
Your eyes are falling closed, lulled by the hum of my speech. Wanting you to succumb to sleep, I hastily continue in my story, feeling the benefit of the confessions myself as I relax into the theme.
"And the stranger tossed his head, unsure of what to do, and the King watched the soft, dark brown hair settle into his eyes. He had such wonderful hair, sweetheart, as if spun from silk. It fell in tiny strands around his face, making him look even more handsome. The King could not help it. Though the stranger was also male, he could not help but fall completely, and utterly in love with him. Some will say, sweetheart, that such a feeling does not exist. Do not believe them. It does, and King Laguna himself felt it upon looking at the young man. They shared a little conversation that night, and agreed to meet up the next in the same place, finding their personalities connecting in such an intense way that neither could understand it. They felt as though they were almost the same person; identical gestures and speech patterns were found in both, but they could only class this idea as mutual madness. They could not have known then what devastating news was to be told to them."
You barely stir, even as a try and induce a certain element of suspense to my tone. I think you are nearing sleep now, and this makes me even bolder as I aim to bring my account to an end.
"Because, little one, the two did fall in love. King Laguna had already fallen for the young man, and had found him a somewhat cold person, weakened by previous hurts and reluctant to love again. But he did grow to love the King, in quite a short amount of time. Fire began to encompass him where ice once lay, and he found himself willing to open his heart once more. The two were hopelessly in love, and very happy together. The young man, whose name was Squall, came to live with the King in his palace."
Any fears I had of your awakening at the use of your father's name are unfounded, as I believe it's as unfamiliar to you as a parent's proper name is to any infant. You remain relaxed; bear still loosely held in your clutches as you breathe softly.
"And they enjoyed a perfect life together. They ate together, talked together, laughed together, loved together, and eventually, slept together. And Squall loved the King, truly, and King Laguna loved him back, holding him in his arms at any opportunity he could. Their nighttimes they spent in love, and for a while, everything was absolutely perfect. The King, once so miserable, could not have asked for anything more. He was truly the happiest man alive. But fate, baby, is a cruel trickster. It will spring on you the exact opposite of what you predict or wish for, I find. And it took great delight in springing a most evil trick on these two contented lovers."
I pause for a moment. Can I tell you this? I know you will not understand but it somehow feels wrong to disclose my secrets upon your young shoulders. I would not want you remembering them, but I am tempted because there seems little chance of that. But is it right to do so? It's not a new question. It's a question with a horribly familiar ring to it, and this makes up my mind more than anything else. I decide to tell you everything, disclosing my every dark secret upon your sleeping ears.
"The two found out, by way of fate and other factors, that their earlier ideas of connection were not so ridiculous as they'd once thought. But this was bad news. Not because the link between them was a negative thing, but because of why it existed in the first place. King Laguna found out that Squall, his lover, his world, was in actual fact, his only son. He had been borne by R, the woman the King had loved all those years ago, and the realisation of their blood connection served only to disgust the confused King."
I see nothing in your face but utter peace. If only the news had been so well received by my ears.
"But Squall was not so easily deterred. He loved the King, and planned to continue to do so. He saw no reason to end their love because of such a thing as their being related. But King Laguna could not see it with the same eyes. The incest tore him apart, and he could not bear to think about what he had done. Not only had he betrayed the woman he had loved, but also he had loved his own son in a way that he thought should never have happened. Wracked with guilt and seized by pain, and against every wish in his body, he pushed Squall away. Their love was destroyed."
My voice wavers slightly. The memories are more painful than I imagined they would be. I keep remembering the feel of his body underneath mine, the way his eyes sparkled and the gentle whisper of his voice when I awoke in the mornings.
"And Squall was devastated. Even King Laguna underestimated how much his actions would hurt him, and their separation for the next three years was punctuated with pain and suffering at their complete break of all contact. Squall never wanted to see the King again, and his life became black and unbearable. The King felt able to continue if only because he'd moulded his future by the instruction of his morals. It was cold and empty, but he salvaged what little he had left of his life and tried to build himself up again. He never heard from Squall again, however; losing both a lover and a son. He did not understand how he lived with this pain, but somehow, he brought himself through it to lead an existence where the pain was not completely intolerable. Indeed, it was only on one, dark night that the true extent of the agony came back to haunt him."
I try to swallow the lump in my throat. Confessions have their benefits, but I felt I'd repressed far too much of what I went through when I ended it. Squall was everything to me. I loved him completely, and I regret with everything in me making that final decision between my moral stance and my lover. Maybe I panicked too much, or perhaps I just got plain scared, but I've lamented that day ever since it happened.
"Little one, you are the product of what happened after that. Squall ran far away from King Laguna, ran into the waiting arms of a girl named Rinoa. She, who'd loved him for a long time, relished the chance to welcome him back into her life. To this day, King Laguna never understood why he got into a relationship with her. He'd known for the majority of their separation that Squall was with her, but had never come to terms with 'why'. Rinoa assumed - stupidly perhaps - that Squall had merely come to his senses and realised he loved her and only her. The King decided that she must not even be aware of his former sexuality, and though he felt it inappropriate to intervene, he saw the match as one destined to fail."
I reach out and softly touch you hair. How can you sleep so silently as I say these things? I do not understand, but then, that is not new to me. You are beautiful as you sleep, quiet and almost thoughtful, and I feel I can trust you. Whatever happened between Squall and I, whatever I regret, how can I be so sad if I have you to confide in?
"And he was right. The match did fail, when Rinoa discovered Squall's self- induced delusions. King Laguna only discovered the end of the tale yesterday, little one, so forgive me if it's a little muddled. Squall was with Rinoa because of his own craving for love, it would seem, and a distortion of perception because of the mess the King had left in his heart. The dangers of his union with her only became clear when she became pregnant, nearly 2 years ago. Powerless to control his own fate, Squall was resigned to become a father with a woman he did not love, and destroyed by guilt; he felt he had to tell her the truth. She - furious - would not listen, and insisted on their immediate marriage now that she had borne him a son. That's you, sweetheart. But Squall could not; he assured her, and this feeling of responsibility engulfed him completely as she upped and left him, son and all. Squall is in no position to bring you up, right now, sweetheart. He's been destroyed by everything that's gone on, and he needs time to recuperate himself before he can give you the best he possibly can. People may try and tell you, little one, that Squall is not the greatest person to have as a father."
I study your sleeping form and you shift slightly, snuffling a little in your sleep.
"But you know what? People told King Laguna that Squall was not the greatest lover, either. And they were wrong about that. Believe me, kiddo, Squall is going to be a wonderful father. You're going to love him. Just.promise me one thing."
You aren't listening, but I take your silence as agreement.
"Love him better than I did?"
I look up, tears threatening to overwhelm me, and see that the dreamcatcher still spins above you as you sleep, unaware of my sorrow. I study its form, reflected by moonlight. I believe its purpose is to prevent the horrors of nightmares pursuing you whilst you're asleep.
My only wish is that someone would invent one for waking life.
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