Domestic Bliss

By Purplerose

As I gaze into the distance my eyes are, as always in this place, drawn back to her grave, its simple, “Raine Loire,” my beautiful wife. I still remember the night I proposed, took me long enough, I was so embarrassed, I tried before, but I’d just go red, drag my leg and scratch the back of my head. I’m such a dope, if I’d done it sooner we’d have had more time, I would have met my son…my son, I missed his birth, and as a result his life. Still in that beautiful moonlight I had proposed and she had said yes. I was so happy, and then I left to fight. My life would have ended with her death if it wasn’t for Ellone, then I ended up president of Esthar, stuff like that always happens to me, I don’t mean for it to, people just like me.

Truth is, I’m easily confused, I’m not very good with women, I can’t run Esthar. I’m just the figurehead now the war is over, the bureaucrats run everything regular as clockwork. I’m glad, it gives me time to come here and remember. Damn, I’m not cut out for running a country, so I leave it to the professionals, they write me pretty speeches and I get nervous before I give them and screw it up. I don’t know if they clap through pity or affection, but it sure ain’t for confidence. Ah, well, I’ll sit here until I’m needed.

I feel a hand on my shoulder and turn around “Ellone, I’m so glad to see you!” We hug, ah she’s still so cute, I’m glad I found her. “Why are you here, I thought you were staying on the garden with Edea?” She smiles warmly at me;

“Kiros called me, he was worried.” OK that’s weird I’m fine, Kiros worries too much. “Ha, tell him not to, I’m fine.” She frowns, don’t do that you don’t look as cute, I don’t like it when you’re worried… “Then why haven’t you moved in a month?” Don’t be silly, I haven’t been here a month, how would I have eaten. “Kiros said that after a week they had to bring you your meals and all you talk about is Raine.” I scratch the back of my head “I guess so, she was so beautiful, and smart, she always knew what to do…” Ellone puts her hand on my shoulder “I miss Raine too but your obsession is becoming unhealthy, I don’t want to lose my Uncle as well.” I look back at her grave “But I can’t forget her, she’s too special.”

“You don’t have to, Uncle, you just have to carry on with your life.”

“How?” She smiles

“I knew you couldn’t come up with anything on your own, so why don’t you visit your son?” She walks off; I’m stunned, I run after her, my legs sluggish,

“Where is he?”

We sit at a table in my house in Winhill, it’s very dusty, but Ellone has found some space for food, as we eat, we talk. I look her in the eye “Where is my son?” she smiles, “You met him before, I’m surprised you didn’t realise.”

“Elle, why didn’t you tell me that’s not fair.”

“We were very busy at the time and I didn’t want to distract you both when you were both so important to the world.” My eyes widen; it can’t be, really, we’re not very alike, maybe under the surface… “ZELL?” She looks at me then doubles up in laughter, when she calms down she says “I love you Uncle, you’re so blind”

“Thanks, I think, so how long have you known about him?”

“It’s not Zell, its Squall.”

I scratch the back of my head, “Oh, that makes more sense, he looks like Raine…Same hair colour and eyes, does he know about me?”

“No, he’s as unobservant as you are and just as charismatic, he leads the garden well, got a little more sense than you though.”

“More insults, that’s not fair Elle, I’ve been sat in the same spot for a month and I didn’t move for insults like this.”

“OK, I’ll be nice, I’m going back to the garden, are you coming with me?”

“You bet, shall we walk to Timbre and take the train?”

I couldn’t sit still on the train, pacing does nothing for your feet, especially if you do it for 12 hours, at least that’s how long Elle said it was, felt like 10 minutes to me. Times a funny thing… Now I have to sleep. These garden beds just like the one in Winhill…so beautiful when she’s asleep…auburn haired princess…. So special…………….. Raine…

Cafeteria here’s great; hotdogs taste fantastic. Oh, here comes Ellone, she’s running, that’s unusual. “Where have you been, Uncle?”

“Mmuuffffffuummm…sorry, mouth full, Exploring.”

Elle’s frowning again, why? “Its four o’clock in the morning and you’ve broken into the kitchen to steal hotdogs and mumble.”

“I felt hungry, I always eat when I’m hungry.”

“There are appropriate times to eat, this is not one of them.” She shrieks

“Oh, I remember, meals and stuff, Raine used to make a wonderful Sunday roast for when I got back from patrols.”

“That was fifteen years ago, you should be having meals with other people.”

“OK, you tell me what to do then, I’m a little confused, when I was president people bought me meals when I asked, before Raine made them and before that Ward.”

As we enter the office a chair swivels round and there is Squall, looking stressed, as he looks up he visibly relaxes “Hi Sis, things are a little hectic at the moment, there are riots on the streets of Galbadia. We’ve had some offers, that power vacuum could be a gold mine. He taps into his computer and then shuts it down. “Glad you could visit President Loire, I understand you wish to speak with me.”

Ellone starts to walk toward the door “I’ll leave you to it then.”

Squall looks puzzled “Please take a seat President”

“Call me Laguna, I’m not really all that powerful these days, other people run things.”

“Fine, Laguna, what is it you wanted to see me about, do you want troops to retake your presidency?”

I remember the last time I was this nervous, it was on that field with her, I had bought the rings months before hand, but only then did I have the nerve. She was so beautiful, her hair caught in the wind and… “Laguna, what was it that you wanted? I am kind of busy.”

“I wanted, that is I wanted to tell you…that, that…I am, that is you are and we, me and Raine wanted, she died…”

“What is it that you’re trying to say? You’re not making a lot of sense.”

“You’re her son, our son.”

“I’M WHAT?????? No, no, no, that’s not right, my parents are dead, I am an orphan of the sorceress war, Edea raised me, I think you’re a little confused.”

“No, I’m not, ask Elle, Raine died whilst she was giving birth to you, I wasn’t there, they assumed I was dead, but I was looking for Elle, so you we’re sent to the orphanage.” He’s looking at me now with a stunned expression; you can almost see the cogs turning as things slot into place. “Why didn’t you come and find me, after Elle was taken again, I was all alone, I was picked on…you must have a good reason.”

“I had to run Esthar and I didn’t even know your name, how would I have begun to look for you when I had to cope with running a country, I sent people out to Winhill to try and find you, but everyone was dead or gone.” Squalls face twisted in pain. “SO YOU JUST LEFT ME THERE, ALONE. I’ve spent my life believing you we’re a soldier, fighting bravely to save me and it turns out you just ABANDONED ME.” He turns his back on me “Get out of my office.”

“But you’re so much like her, you…” He turns around the scar on his forehead creased in pain and anger. “I SAID GET OUT BEFORE I THROW YOU OUT.”

I walk through the corridors blindly, trying to think what had I done wrong? By sealing Adel and ruling Esthar I was averting a world-wide disaster, I couldn’t help that I couldn’t get away, my work was too important. I sit on a bench in the hall and put my head in my hands, I’m not cut out for this. I sit back and realise a familiar looking blonde boy is sat next to me and staring at me, he has a scar just like Squalls and he’s wearing a white trench coat with crosses on the arms, he looks as worried as I am. “Are you OK?” we both say in perfect unison. I laugh, but with no joy in it “You first, OK?”

He forces a smile, “I’m like this a lot, I’m not worried, I just don’t talk to people very often, they only ever disappoint you. You can’t rely on anyone, only use them or be used. I thought I was a user, but now I’m the used.” Puzzling, girlfriend troubles?

“That’s cynical for such a young man, although I wish I could say it got better.” He laughed, his face lit up and his blue eyes danced as he stood up.

“We are both too cynical and in need of a good drink, you wanta come?”

“What the hell, I don’t think my sons likely to want to talk to me tonight, so it may as well not be a complete waste. By the way, don't I know you from somewhere?”

"You're President Loire, right?"

"Yes, how'd you guess? I'm not very well known here."

"Under the control of Ultimecia I caused a lunar phenomenon which let loose hundreds of monsters which swamped and destroyed your country."

"Ahhhhhhhhhh, your Seifer."

We went to Balamb pub and had a quiet drink and a laugh; we walked back to the garden well after hours and stayed up long into the night talking. I only thought of Raine once in the whole evening, only to think I had only ever been this relaxed and forward with her. And I didn’t lose track of a second of time, it was like my world had started moving in time with everyone else’s again, it felt good.

When I woke up in the morning feeling so much less confused, it as like a fog had been lifted by the night before. I walked up the corridor with a purpose that made people stop and stare; I walked strait into the lift and burst into Squall’s office. “I don’t want you to say anything, just let me explain. I had important work to do. Sealing Adel and restoring Esthar’s infrastructure saved thousands, no millions of lives. I tried to leave several times, but someone always reminded me my job isn’t finished. They didn’t force me to stay and I’m not ashamed of the fact I didn’t leave. My leadership was important, I’m sure you understand, being a leader yourself. So I ask you, if you had found out about me would you have abandoned Balamb garden whilst it was under the attack by Galbadia garden to find me?” Squall looks like he’s about to howl with laughter. Why? I didn’t say anything funny. “I’m sorry about the way I reacted yesterday, but…” he looks me up and down and stifles another giggle “I wasn’t prepared for it, I talked things over with Sis last night. I don’t blame you anymore.” He looks at me and laughs again; “Did you know that you don’t have any trousers on.”

I look down, and burst out laughing but it quickly turns to tears, Squall looks concerned “ It’s OK, I don’t mind, Sis said you had been a little forgetful lately.” I smile at him through my tears “It’s not that, it’s just that you spoke to me!” Squall looked uncomfortable “I’m glad your pleased, shall I get you some trousers so you can leave and I can work, we could meet up for food tonight if you want, in the cafeteria, about eight? I’ll let you know if I’m working late.” I smile again, having regained my composure. “That sounds good.” Squall leaned forward and spoke into an intercom mike “Quistis, could you go to President Loire’s room and retrieve a pair of trousers.” “Yes sir.” She sounded apprehensive. I look at my son who’s started to organise work papers “Well at least I know why everyone was staring at me in the corridor, I thought I was just being dynamic.” He looks up and we both crack up again as Quistis walks in looking confused. Squall then looks at me pointedly "Don't think that this means I like you, I've been inside your head and I thought you were a moron then and you really haven't done anything to change that."

"I know, whatever Elle says we are very different."

I’m walking down the corridor with pants this time and trying to decide how to spend the after noon when I spot Seifer with a fishing rod. I run to catch up with him “Good fishing in Balamb then?” Seifer turns around and sneers “I’m surprised your still talking to me now you and Squall have made up, I was sure he’d badmouth me?”

“How did you know we’d sorted things out?”

“There was a full account of your semi-naked corridor wandering on the bulletins on the classroom computers.”

“Ah, that’s a shame, now everyone’s going to think I’m nuts.” At that remark Seifer stops sneering and smiles “You are nuts, you told me last night you spent a month sat in a field.”

“Yes, but everyone does not need to know that. So, shall I get Elle so we can all catch fish together?”

“Have I been appointed babysitter for the president of Esthar?”

“Yes” I reply, with a wicked smile “and I expect you to attend to my every whim. Besides, in your drunken state last night you told me I was ‘sound as fuck’ and ‘the most interesting person in this shit-hole’ so I know you love it really.” I watch as he turns red, with only a hint of remorse for causing his embarrassment.

I sat at a table with Squall eating the fish I caught, much to Seifer’s disgust since he didn’t even get a nibble. There is a very awkward silence as we both pick at our food; finally I try to make conversation “So, what’s the dilemma at work that’s kept you so busy?” His face brightens immediately as a conversation topic is introduced.

“Well, as you are probably aware, when Ultemecia stopped controlling Edea there was no-one ruling Galbadia,”

“A power vacuum” I supply

“Exactly, four groups are vying for power, those who want an elected dictatorship, lead by General Caraway, those who want a military dictatorship, mostly the Galbadian army, the Timbre resistance movement and those who want Grom, an ex-follower of Garden Master Norg, to rule. All, except the military, have requested SeeD’s assistance.”

“And you have to decide between them, your girlfriends Dad, her friends and a founder of the Garden.”

“Exactly, I’m at a loss, I’m a fighter, not a politician, I should not have to make these decisions, normally I would go to the highest bidder, but they are all offering the same and no more, except the Timbre resistance and Rinoa wants them….”

“What’s the military situation now?” I ask, ideas formulating in my long dormant brain. “The military have a half of the city under their control, the other half is General Caraways democrats, the resistance group is still in Timbre and Grom and his followers are camped outside Deiling city, allegedly planning an assault.”

“Well, as a politician, my advice would be back Caraway.”

“Why, he’s obnoxious and full of implausible ideas.”

“So, he has the support of the people, if Grom got in he would be overthrown within two years as the other groups join together against him. The Timbre resistance movement couldn’t plan their way out of a paperbag, let alone run a city, despite what I’m sure Rinoa has told you.”

“But Caraways ideas about sharing wealth and nationalisation would fail and with it his government. Plus Rinoa will kick my arse if I don’t support her group.”

I laugh choke on a fish bone, Squall punches my back hard and the bone flies out my nose and lands in the sandwich the girl on the next table is eating, she looks at me in disgust and me and Squall start laughing uncontrollably. “I’m not making a very good impression am I? Most of the garden thinks I’m mad, disgusting or rude! All jokes aside though, I suggest you take the arse kicking and back Caraway because even if his ideas fail, which I don’t think they will, he won’t use force against the people and the elected parliament will take over anyway and make better decisions. That ensures a lasting peace in Galbadia and a tidy profit for the garden chasing down Grom and the Military leaders.” Squall looks as though a weight had been lifted off his shoulders, he sat up strait and flashed the most genuine smile I had seen this visit, me making a fool of myself aside. “You make it all seem so simple, thanks, aside from the Rinoa issue, I was going to back Grom, but I was so reluctant after the situation when Norg had power in the garden.” I can feel the tears welling up again but I force them back down knowing it would make Squall uncomfortable. “I may have not wanted to be made president but I picked up quite a bit along the way.”

We spent the rest of the evening making plans for the destruction of the enemy, until Squall asked me to be a ‘Special Adviser’ for the project, so we could work closely together. I was so happy, we were bonding, found a common interest and getting to know each other. Elle was with us, making sure I wore trousers and Squall took some time off and then Seifer was there… just being his augmentative, brilliant self, keeping me company. The garden was moved to outside the democrats area of Deiling City, and the campaign began, the Timbre resistance movement were persuaded to stop by Rinoa within two days, the forces of Grom fell within a month, but the gruelling fight against the military lasted three months. In that time I got to know my son as a person and grew to like him and even love him as he was, not as a substitute for Raine or a way of remembering her, just as Squall. Then one day we had only the headquarters in the palace to conquer, the enemy’s last remaining stronghold and a final assault had begun.

Squall, General Caraway and me waited anxiously in Squalls office for news from Zell, Quistis, Selphie and Xu who were leading the assault from all sides. Squall sat with his head in his hands, perfectly still and Caraway paced relentlessly, I sat and watched them both from the seat next to Squall. Then the radio crackled and Zell’s voice came through, clear and confident “Position secured, Squall, security force remaining and main units pulling out.” Caraway clapped enthusiastically and Squall let out an ecstatic yell and grabbed me into a hug, he then pulled away and looked at me “Thankyou, Dad, I couldn’t have done this without you.” My heart leapt seven stories, he called me Dad!

The celebrations were extensive and I felt out of place again, in traditional SeeD style, there was a dinner dance and I wind up sat at the side watching Nida and Elle and Squall and Rinoa dance. My thoughts drift to Raine, as they always do when I’m lonely and then Seifer appears with a glass of whatever the concoction is that the festival committee have cooked up. “So, Laguna, what’s up? Your children growing up and your feeling lonely and useless?”

“You guessed it, no one wants to dance with an old fogie like me, still, I’ve got a young outcast to keep me company, unless you’ve got bored of me.”

“Of course I have.” He teases “because my hectic social life has been interrupted by you presence and I want to get back to it. Now lets escape this couple ridden hell hole and find some real booze.” With that we down our punch slip out discretely to avoid suspicion.

Seifer leads me back to his dorm whilst telling me his part in the final battle against the G-army as a SeeD candidate; “…and then I disobeyed orders and ran into the middle of the battle and stabbed the paratrooper in the chest. Then one of those massive yellow machines they had punched me on my head and I got knocked out and woke up in the infirmary.” At this point we enter his dorm, he’s still sharing a double dorm but everyone’s at the party. He throws himself over the bed, leaning down the other side with his arse in the air…Hmmm…he’s got a nice arse, NO, I should not be having these thoughts about a 19 year old boy, I’m the wrong side of 40, just…NO! He sits up, having retrieved some cans of beer. “My head still hurts, but Doctor Kadowaki said I could come back if I had anymore problems ‘cause she needed the bed for more critical patients.” At that point I decided to tell the story of how Ward, Kiros and me escaped from the Cetra excavation site and jumped off the big cliff.

After my story we’re silent for a while, sat side by side on his bed drinking, he keeps looking at me as if he wants to ask something and eventually he does. “If you’re lonely, why don’t you find someone to settle down with?” An unusual question from such a defensive and uncaring teenager, so I answer… “When I was active in being the president I didn’t have time, and then after Ultemecia’s defeat it was like I finally had time to grieve for Raine, and I guess now I’ve dealt with that and got to know Squall I guess I’m looking. I haven’t really thought about it, mostly because of keeping my mind occupied with the campaign and having interesting company.” He looks at me in a strange way and eventually responds “I’m…I’m available if your looking, that’s if you want…” My heart skips a beat he wants me too and I could be with someone and NO. I thought about this, it wouldn’t be fair on him, he’s too young to know what he wants so with a lot of difficulty I have to say no.

“You’re a brilliant young man Seifer and you have a great career in SeeD I you start to obey the rules, you don’t need to be dragged down by an old man.”

“Your not old, Laguna, and we’d make each other happy, we’re both lonely and I love you, I’ve never felt this way before, no-ones treated me as well as you have…” He moves closer and tries to kiss me, oh I want him so much, but no. “I’m too old your too young and that’s the end of it.”

“So you do want me then?”

“Yes, I mean no, damn it, Seifer, I don’t want to spoil your life right at the beginning, so I’m going to leave now.” His expression is angry as I get up to go, then he leaps up in front of me and forces me back down onto the bed and pins me. “I don’t see what the problem is.” He shouts as he straddles me “I want you, you want me, we’re both lonely it would solve all our problems, sod what’s right, lets do what we want.” I start to reply but he kisses me with a tenderness I did not expect from a man who had just overpowered me and was holding me down with such strength. I stopped thinking about anything except the feeling that produced, and at that moment I stopped protesting and kissed him back.

You know that feeling, the one you get when you finally feel satisfied with your life, where everything just fits into place? Well I'm there, its warm in bed, with someone I love and I don't have a care in the world. Seifer begins to stir and his eyes open, he smiles, a smile of pleasure always sits strangely on his face, like it doesn't happen very often. He cuddles up to me, this is really odd, he's young and angry and I would have thought he would have been too proud to come back to the garden. It's not in his nature to apologise, or show any kind of weakness, so why is he here, looking at me with adoring eyes, in the stronghold of his enemies? The only way to learn is to ask…

"Seifer, why did you come back to the garden?"

"That’s an odd thing to say to me after a night of great sex."

"I'm just curious, its not very you."

"I wasn't going to come back, I was ashamed and far to proud, I see that now. In short I was forced back here, everywhere I went I was driven out like a monster, crowds of people with burning torches, and they had every right to be angry, I had destroyed their lives. I couldn't have taken forty people down, even if I could, I wouldn't have, I may be bad, but I'm not evil. Anyway, it was all your fault."

"How can it be my fault, we didn't meet until I came here."

"I saw you when I was a kid, you were in a film, The Sorceresses Knight. I saw it and became obsessed with the idea of being just like you. It was that obsession which aloud Edea and Ultimecia to control me so easily, so I did what I was told and so you are the one to blame." I look at him, shocked and he looks scared "I was only joking, it was Ultemecia's fault, sorry."

"It's not that" I reply soothingly "It's just I can't believed he released that film, a real dragon attacked us in the middle of filming and he and the sorceress ran away!"

We talked for sometime before Seifer got up and began dressing. "Where are you going?" He pulls his trousers over that gorgeous backside

"I have to go to lessons, I'm still a student." A thought occurs to me, Squall is not going to like this, I don't want to lose the relationship we have built up, its meagre, but its there… Seifer pulls on his jacket and looks at me uncomfortably, as if he has something to say, after a short silence he speaks. "Can we keep this between ourselves, its not that I'm ashamed, it's just that I don't want people to think I've gone soft, it leaves me vulnerable, ya know?" I smile at him, secretly relieved "Whatever you want, love."

I decide a good breakfast is in order and amble slowly down to the Cafeteria, it is full of hungover students and hyperactive Junior Classmen. I seat myself down at a table in the corner with a plate full of food, shortly Squall and Zell emerge and sit down next to me. "You two look rough." I remark, deciding to play responsible adult. They are both looking ill, with only a mug of Coffee each. "You look in remarkably good shape." Replies Zell with a look of what could be described as jealousy. Squall looks up "That’s because he disappeared after about an hour…with Seifer." Zell's expression changes to disapproval. "I don't know why you bother, he's so nasty." I keep my temper "He just needs someone to be friendly to him and he's as nice as the next person, he's only horrible because that’s how he expects people to be." Squall intervenes; "I don't care why he's like it or why you bother, I'm just glad he's not as disruptive as he was. Disciplining him was difficult."

"I still think he's a nasty piece of work, I bet the sorceress didn't even control him when he attacked us and tried to destroy the world and"

"SHUT UP, you don't even give him the benefit of the doubt, you don't listen you just judge." I get up and storm out, the king of making an idiot out of myself.

I go to the training area to let off steam, I work my way through, machine gun in hand, I even got a desperado in, I hadn't done anything like this in a while and it was fun. Exhilarated, I took a break in the "secret area" I take in the view and relax then I feel lips on my neck. I smile to myself and turn around "You made a stealthy entrance." We kiss, passionately, Seifer starts undoing my shirt and I start unbuckling his belt. We are both semi-naked when we are stopped by a strangled yelp. Squall is stood behind us with Rinoa, a look of pure rage on his face; "You talk about the benefit of the doubt" He said in a quiet, dangerous, voice "well that’s what I gave you and what do I get in return? I find you fucking this filth, the enemy." Seifer steps froward, weapon raised "Don't speak to him like that." Squall draws out his gunblade and they start to circle one another "Couldn't find you own family, so you steal mine?" Taunts Squall

"Couldn't find you own girlfriend, so you steal mine" Mimics Seifer. Rinoa looks at me anguished "Do something." She pleads with me. Come on options, options, I have to stop this. "I've also been fucking Quistis, Selphie, Irvine, Edea and Dr Kadowaki too!" I shout. Both of their heads snap around to me. "Right now I've got your attention, Seifer and Rinoa, could you please leave."

They leave and I face Squall, he's sizing me up ad if I were an enemy, great. "What do I have to do to impress you?" I ask "I've tried really hard to be what you want me to be and all you do is treat me like an underling."

"What do you expect when you're sleeping with the man who nearly destroyed everything?"

"You are so self absorbed, I give up Squall, its always me, me, me. I want Sis, I don't want to be in charge, I want Rinoa, I want an adviser but not a father, I want to be left alone. Well listen up you mopey young man, you want Rinoa, you need Rinoa. Well, everybody needs somebody, you're not the only one. You're not the only one who made hard decisions and I'm pissed off with apologising to you for things that weren't my fault. Stop acting like you are the only one that’s suffered, people here lost their friends and family, their lovers and if you had taken the time to talk to the other people here you would know that you were brave and won. A victory for Squall, you gained a beautiful girlfriend and lost no one, well some of us did. Not just me but others at this garden have suffered a pain you can't even imagine, so put yourself back into the real world and appreciate what you have." He looks at me, paralysed and then slumps down on the floor, gunblade by his side. Then he begins to cry.

I squat down next to him and put my arm around him, what have I done? Then to my surprise he buries his head in my chest and I cradle him as he cries. "I'm sorry…I'm sorry" I try and comfort him, my little boy, what have I done? He sniffs, very uncharacteristic of Squall, and he says between sobs "You're right, I never once thought about those who died in the battle of the gardens, or at Trabia garden. When I thought Seifer was dead I could only think of the effect on me…Now I have thought of the others…" He starts sobbing uncontrollably again. I think I broke him. So I just sit and cuddle him, like I should have done when he was five years old…

Eventually he calms down and we talk, about people mostly, why they are important, how good friendship is the nature of love. Then he asks "Why Seifer, he destroyed your country." I smile at him, he's asking civilly so I answer

"You don't have a choice, do you, it just happens. You know that. Besides it wasn't him, it was Ultemecia. He was controlled, just like Rinoa was when she released Adel."

"Your right, but that doesn't mean I like him." I give him a knowing look

" Have you ever liked him?"


"Well then, why should that change, I don't think he likes you much either. Shall we go, they'll be waiting for us?" We move through the training centre with ease and find Seifer and Rinoa at the entrance, ignoring each other. Squall speaks, without looking at Seifer "I still don't like you so keep out of my way." Rinoa slaps the palm of her hand on her forehead in despair. "Squall, we discussed you threatening people. You promised you wouldn't do it anymore. Do we have to keep going round in circles?" They walk off, Rinoa still complaining about Squall's relapse. Then Xu emerges "There you are president Loire, there's a call for you."

It's Kiros "How's it going buddy?" I ask, so good to hear from him, he's so together and organised couldn't have survived without him. "Good, Thankyou, I have some good news for you, my friend." Hooray, good news! "You don't have to be president anymore, they want someone who'll be in Esthar and who's more… Uh… Mentally sound, so elections will take place next month and you can take a substantial retirement package."

"Wow, uh, wow, that’s so great! Me and Seifer could move to Winhill and run the pub…"

"SEIFER! But he tried to…"

"Long, long story, tell ya later, that’s if you want to move to Winhill with us."

"Fine, me and Ward can take your old place and you and…Seifer… Can take the pub, I'll give notice to the tenants, they'll be out by Friday."

"Oh yeah, I forgot about the Tenants. I'll see you both there then. I'm so excited, this is exactly how I planned my retirement, us three running a pub together, remember how we used to talk about it in the army?"

"Yes, I remember, Laguna, I also remember you getting us lost, pushing us down cliff's and generally being a fool, I remember you accepting the post of leader and getting us stuck in Esthar for the best part of twenty years, so you had better make it up to us."

"I'm sorry, I just didn't think back then, much like Squall doesn't now."

"Ah, yes, we must meet up with him again, see how he is. Anyway I must go and make arrangements, and dig out my old clothes, I'm not wearing these robes outside the country."

"Give my love to Ward." I reply "Good Bye."

I run off to find Seifer, he's in his dorm "You have to, Pub, Winhill, Kiros, elections GOOD!"

"Um, Laguna, have you gone mad again? I can get Dr Kadowaki, if you need…"

"No, no, I'll slow down. Do you want to move to Winhill and run the pub with Kiros, Ward and me? The Presidential elections are next month, I am officially retired." Seifer speaks very quietly "I want to, a lot, but people don't like me and I'll get attacked again." Silly boy, he didn't do anything to Winhill, not that can be directly attributed to him. "Remind me, what did you do to Winhill? You never went there and the fact you helped cause time compression never went outside Esthar and the Garden. They won't know about you, you can start again with me. It'll be fun!" His face brightened "I can, can't I? I can stop taking SeeD exams and we can live and, a pub? That is so cool!"

"So that’s settled then, we'll catch the train on Friday, I guess I'll have to tell Squall."

Squall was fine with it, he demanded that I come back for the next garden festival, which surprised me, so I invited him and Rinoa down to stay next time things at the garden were quiet. We kept the pub well and it was great to have the old gang back together again. Things were blissful, the most happy I'd been since Raine, I still love her, but I can now be happy without her. Domestic bliss, then after several months, I received a phone call from Squall "Hi, Dad, I need you to come back to the garden now! I'm scared and I don't know what to do, I'm surrounded by women and uncaring men and I can't cope."

"Squall, what's happened, an attack, has some one died?"

"No, Rinoa's Pregnant!"

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