Selphie walked down the hallway with Laguna as they headed for Cid's office to find him a room for him to stay in while he was visiting Garden. She remembered having the biggest crush on him when they had first met. In a silly way she had even fantasized about him falling in love with her, and sweeping her off her feet. In the past few years her maturity had taken over, and she knew it was nothing more than a unreachable dream. Seeing him again after so long though had reminded her why she had fallen so hard for him. His brilliant blue eyes, his shiny raven hair that flowed beautifully down his shoulders, his handsome face and friendly demeanor. What wasn't to love?
"What do you think we should do to help Squall?" she asked, trying to get her mind on more important matters. He turned his head to look at her, and she was again shocked at how tired he looked. Squall had looked even worse, and she felt guilty for her thoughtless reminiscing.
"I'm honestly at a loss. I'm beginning to wonder if Ultimecia is truly dead. It chills me to think she's not." He shook his head, then stifled a tired yawn before speaking again. "I came here to help my son, and when it comes down to it, I just don't know what to do."
"We'll think of something," she said, clutching lightly onto his arm as they walked. He gave her an appreciative smile, and patted her hand in a fatherly way. They fell back into silence as the boarded the elevator, both of them having their own troubled thoughts.
Laguna tiredly rubbed his dry eyes, trying to come up with something that would help Squall. He felt like a worthless fool for not having an answer to this alarming problem. His son was a strong young man, but until they knew exactly what was going on, Squall would have to be protected. He knew his son enough to know that he wouldn't take kindly to it, he was just stubborn that way, but Laguna wouldn't give him a choice. 'Maybe I should take him back to Esthar,' he thought as the elevator door opened to Cid's outer office.
Cid's secretary gave the two of them an apologetic smile, and a slight shake of her head as they walked in. The two of them froze in confusion until they heard the loud voices coming from the Headmaster's office.
"They've been arguing for about half an hour now," she informed them in a hushed tone of voice.
"Who's he arguing with?" Laguna asked, starting to feel uncomfortable being there.
"That would be Edea," Selphie answered. They've been divorced for over a year now, but that hasn't stopped them from constantly arguing. In fact, I think they fight more now than ever," she said with a half smile, looking uncomfortable herself.
"Maybe you should come back later," the secretary suggested lowly, unable to stop herself from frowning deeply when Edea's voice was clearly heard telling her ex to do something inhumanly impossible with his own anatomy.
"I think she's right, we should go," Laguna said with a blush. They turned to go, but before they could make their leave Edea's voice became louder as Cid's office door opened suddenly.
"Honestly, I don't know why I ever married you in the first place," she yelled, slamming the door on his angry retort. She stopped short when she saw them standing there. "Oh...hello child," she said to Selphie, composing herself in an instant.
"Hello, Matron. We didn't mean to interrupt."
"You weren't interrupting anything, Selphie. I'm on my way out anyway." She smiled warmly, then put her attention on Laguna. "I'm sorry you had to hear that," she apologized, walking over to them gracefully.
"That's alright," he said, and his blush only deepened when she took his hand to shake.
"It's been quite a while since the last time I saw you," she said with a bright smile. She continued to shake his hand lightly, and he couldn't help but notice how soft her hand was. He couldn't believe how he could have forgotten how breathtaking Edea was. She was a regal woman who's beauty was staggering.
"Yeah,...it's been too long..I mean..," he cleared his throat, trying unsuccessfully not to stumble over his words. "I came to see Squall. I missed him," he said in explanation, gently pulling his hand from hers. 'What's wrong with me? I'm acting like an idiot.'
"Well, we're happy to have you here," she responded, her smile widening.
Selphie caught on to their attraction for each other, and she covered her mouth to hide her amused smile. Maybe this was just what these two needed. It had been so long since her Matron had been happy, and Laguna seemed to be eligible.
"We should see about your room," she said, making the two of them break their eye contact.
"Oh, yes," he said, clearing his throat again.
"Have you ever had a complete tour of the Garden, Laguna?" Selphie asked. "Because if you haven't, I'm sure Edea would be glad to show you around."
"I don't want to bother.."
"It won't be a bother," Edea interrupted his protest. "I'd love to show you around, that is, if you want me to."
"No...I mean yes, I'd like that."
"Good. I'll just wait for you downstairs until you're done speaking with Cid," she said, moving toward the elevator. Edea watched them going into Cid's office as the elevator door closed. She had forgotten how handsome Squall's father was. Maybe she could get to know him a little better, or a lot better for that matter. She'd have to remember to thank Selphie for her inconspicuous matchmaking later.
After a few minutes of convincing, Squall was able to get everyone else out of the apartment soon after Selphie and his father had left. They all had seemed reluctant to leave him alone, but he put his foot down, practically having to shove a few of them out the door. He sat down on the couch next to Rinoa with a soft curse of annoyance, rubbing his eyes with what seemed like the hundredth time that day.
"They just want to help," she said softly, snuggling against his side, laying her head on his shoulder as he put his arm around her.
"I know," he said, looking into her eyes that were still red from crying earlier. He hadn't told her about his new assignment yet, and now that his problem was completely out in the open he was dreading it even more now. A few fresh tears spilled down her cheeks, and she pressed her face against his chest to muffle her soft sob.
"Rin, please don't do that," he begged, wrapping his arms around her in a comforting hug.
"I can't help it, Squall. I'm so scared for you," she said, moving to look at his face. She sniffled, wiping her tears away roughly. "I'm sorry."
"Don't be. We'll figure this out, I promise," he assured her. Under the circumstances, he thought it was best not to tell her that he would be leaving in a few short weeks. Not yet. Of course, if he didn't get some rest soon, he would be unfit for the job anyway. How could he be expected to protect someone when he could barely stand on his own two feet?
He lay his head back, and felt his eyes getting heavy again. The feel of her against his body was helping him relax, and he knew if he sat there much longer he would drift, but part of him really didn't want to. He felt a sharp fear that he was refusing to show any of them, especially Rinoa. Just on the brink of falling completely, she shook him softly and he snapped to alertness, blinking his eyes rapidly.
"Come on," she said, getting up off the couch, and grasping his hand to pull him along with her. He was too tired to protest, and followed her into the bedroom with a yawn that made his eyes water. He allowed her to remove his jacket and gloves, and sat so she could take his boots off. She wanted to pamper him, and he wasn't about to argue with her about it. Laying back on the bed, he watched her take her own shoes off before she climbed up next to him, leaning on her elbow to look down at him with a loving smile.
"Sleep, baby. I'll watch over you," she whispered, running her fingers through his hair. She started to hum lightly as his eyes drifted closed once more. He fell asleep with that beautiful sound, and the sensation of her soft lips against his.
She watched him sleep for an unknown amount of time, but it was beginning to go dark outside, signaling the coming night. His face remained peaceful as the time passed, and soon she began to drift herself, snuggling against his side, putting a protective arm across him. Sleep soon took her as she held her love close, intent on being his protector.
Ultimecia sat on her throne in the boundless darkness, a wicked smile on her blood red lips. She would soon have her Knight if things went according to plan. His nightmares would stop, giving him a false sense of security before she sprung her trap. Stealing him from that play sorceress would make it that much more rewarding.
Leonhart was truly worthy to be her protector, and she furious for not seeing it long before now. Seifer had disappointed her, time and time again, but not anymore. She vowed to see his blood spilled for his failure, and she would enjoy watching her Knight bring him to his excruciating death.
Since they thought she had been destroyed, she had been gaining her strength back, slowly, but surely. It had taken the last bit of her will to survive the pain they had wrought on her, but she endured nonetheless, coming out even more powerful than before. Those foolish SeeD's would not hinder her this time, and having their leader taken away would weaken them considerably.
"Soon," she hissed, closing her eyes as she focused her power. Her dear Knight was having a dreamless sleep now, resting his body and mind. She kept just out of reach so he couldn't sense her there, but close enough so she could feel his emotions. As she hoped, he felt at ease and relaxed. Her cold laughter echoed in the dark chamber as she pulled back into herself to leave him at peace, for now.