Chapter 18 - Conscience of the King
By The Wandering Englishman
"Ien, come on...wake up!" The frantic president called as he continued to run through the service tunnels. The child in his arms continued to look blankly, his usually blue eyes a cold grey, much like his fathers.
"You are Kyle Ien Leonhart..." Laguna snapped his fingers in front of the brunette child's face. "Come on, Kiddo...say something..."
Opening the hermetically sealed door, Laguna stepped through onto the street, blinking as the first heavy drops of rain fell on him. Although the lower levels weren't visited frequently, the greying man knew he and his grandson weren't going to be safe for long.
"Pa'Guna?" The small voice called out, wiping away the water from his eyes with his small hands. Looking down, Laguna beamed, pulling the boy closer to his chest and hugging him tightly before remembering they were still on the run.
"Are you alright, Ien?"
"I saw Daddy."
Laguna winced, shaking his head.
"He's not your Daddy, remember what I told you about Daddy?"
Ien nodded lightly.
"He's with Grandma Raine."
"That's right." The president smiled sadly, brushing the loose bangs from the 3-year-old's eyes.
"We're going to see Uncle Kiros, now, kiddo. Don't be scared."
"This is it."
The blonde looked smug, as he opened the heavy door inward.
Squall smiled at the blonde as he stepped through the door, finding himself in a sparsely decorated ballroom. As his eyes wandered around the room, his eyes settled on the large throne, and the dark haired woman sitting in it.
The sorceress smiled, nodding her head.
"Welcome home, Squall."
A pressure filled the back of his head as the world span, turning black.
"You're being quiet Lawson...what's on your mind?"
The woman looked at Kaien, stepping forward. Holding out the small black bag the teen used every day; she waited patiently for him to take it, saying nothing.
Kaien smiled cheekily, taking the pouch.
"You don't trust me?"
"Sir..." She began, but looked down, thinking better of it. Kaien laughed, opening the bag and pulling out the rubber tube and tying it around his left arm.
"It's okay." The blue-eyed youth smiled at her, taking the syringe from the pouch in hand. "I wouldn't either." He winced as he inserted the needle, biting his lower lip as the serum emptied into his body.
"Band aid?" He asked after a moment, holding the small hole with his thumb. The green-eyed woman nodded, placing the plastic strip over the wound.
"Well, that's another week covered."
"And Leonhart?" She asked herself, looking up at the youth when she realised she'd said it out loud.
"Well...I dunno. An hour...a day...might be a week. The first treatment is always unpredictable. It's why Odine kept me prisoner for a month." He noted Lawson's confused look, smiling lightly.
"I'll explain that one later. Could you send in Tiboli? I'll see him now."
Lawson bowed, heading towards the offices to fetch Kaien's other servant.
"His attack pattern isn't set. It's like he's doing it out of whim or something."
"Has Esthar fallen?"
"No Sir. The attacking there's stopped."
"Shit!" Drew punched the table, closing his eyes.
"Isn't that a good thing sir?" The SeeD asked
"No, it's not! It means that the president is dead, and quite possible his grandson too. With all of the presidential family now gone...I fucking failed Squall...Shit."
"I promised Squall before he died that I'd make sure that I'd protect his family; me and Quistis. We were sent here to save Esthar."
The young woman in front of him dropped her head, taking a deep breath.
"Sir, there's something else you have to know..."
"He's changed his target."
"Well don't keep me hanging...where?!"
She looked at her hands again, knowing how her commanding officer would react.
"Squall, come on, wake up..."
Groaning, the brunette opened his eyes, but closed them again as the pain from the back of his head spread.
"Did anyone see where that chocobo came from?" He asked, rolling to his side in an effort to get up.
"Thank Hyne you're alright...you've been lying there for hours. What happened?"
"Laguna?" Squall asked, crawling on all fours to the chair as he helped himself to stand up.
"I needed to speak with you a couple of days ago..."
"Not now, Squall...Can you untie me?"
Moving around the chair, Squall grabbed the pocketknife from his boot and sliced through the rope holding the president's wrists together.
Once free, Laguna rubbed at his wrists, smiling at the youth who'd rescued him.
"You don't look so hot, kiddo. Maybe you should sit down?" He asked, helping Squall to his seat.
Once seated, Squall closed his eyes again, willing away the throbbing at the base of his skull.
"...What did you want to talk to me about?"
"Sorry?" Squall asked, still not looking.
"You said you wanted to talk to me about something. What was it?"
"Oh..." The brunette opened his eyes and looked at the greying man in front of him. "It was about a dream I had."
"Well...you said I proposed, and I thanked you for saying yes. It seemed so...familiar."
Laguna went pale, his throat drying as the boy looked at him.
"Before I lost my memory, were we...I mean...did I...?" Squall asked, looking at the president hopefully.
Laguna dropped his head, nodding lightly.
"We were...for about 3 months, after your second trip to Esthar. You'd just finished a mission in the desert, and decided to drop in...you knew I'd always have room for you. After about a week, you started hanging around more, which is when you started talking about your mission."
He looked at Squall, hoping for some recognition of what he was saying.
"What was the mission?"
Hyne, he knew he'd ask that question. Doctor Kadowaki had said that it was better for him to remember the mission...but, then again, Squall had asked.
"To assassinate a sorceress."
"The one out there?" Squall asked, pointing to the obviously locked door.
"Your wife, Squall." Laguna waited for a moment, not wanting to talk unless the man had to vent...or even cry.
"Rinoa?" Squall asked, not entirely sure of his Swiss-cheese memory.
"Yeah. I comforted you...which, thinking back I probably shouldn't have done, since..." The greying man closed his eyes, composing himself.
"You didn't say yes when I proposed did you?"
"I couldn't...there was just no way. When you said it, it reminded me of...I told you we were related...and you ran. And then you got in the accident and I regretted telling you no...and Hyne, Squall, please forgive me. We wouldn't be in this mess now if it wasn't for me."
Laguna's eyes closed, looking away from Squall, kicking himself mentally as all the built up frustration and sadness came flooding to the surface. He nearly jumped from his skin when a hand clamped down on his shoulder and spun him around.
"Laguna..." The brunette began, lifting the older man's head up look into his eyes. "Thank you." Squall smiled and kissed away the tears falling down the president's cheek before placing his lips on Laguna's own.
As their tongues intertwined, the greying man could taste the salt and the forgiveness in his son's mouth.
"Tsk tsk. We leave you alone for a moment and already you're shoving your tongues down each other's throats. What is the world coming to?" The blonde smirked, looking at the beet red faces, Laguna wiping the wetness from his eyes as he looked up at his captor.
"And you Squall...I'm hurt. I thought you loved me."
The scarred brunette glared at the man who betrayed him, rubbing absently at the back of his head.
"You know that doesn't work on me, my love." The smirk broadened. "My mistress wishes an audience. It's not wise to be late."
Squall looked at Laguna, before looking back at Seifer, stepping towards the door reluctantly.
"Be careful, Squall."
"Shut up, old man!" Seifer ordered, kicking the president to the floor.
"I'll be back soon, Laguna."
Seifer smirked, pushing Squall through the door.
"Not if she has anything to do with it."
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