Jan '05'

Disclaimer: All the Final Fantasy characters in this series of ficlets and/or short stories belong to those talented people at Square/Enix or whatever they are called now.

This is a series of Valentine's Day fics. Not all of them will contain smut, but they all are from the FF8 fandom, and the main pairing is, of course, Irvine and Squall. This will also be generally silly, have sappy moments and will hopefully be fun for you to read and fun for me to write. Enjoy.

This is YAOI - boys with boys, caring, desiring, kissing, hugging, groping…um, yeah…but that’s why you’re reading this, yes?

Book of Love: Voucher 26
By Garden's Gnome

Slim dark-skinned fingers tapped against glass, disturbing the condensation on the cold surface and causing it to streak down the side of the drink Kiros held. Wiping his wet hand with a napkin, the tall man sighed and frowned at the clock in the dining room. Laguna was late, very late.

Leaning back in his chair, Kiros tried not to think about where his lover was but couldn’t help it. Something was going on over at Odine’s laboratory, causing Laguna to make weekly visits with Ward by his side. Kiros never went, unable to stomach even hearing the erratic doctor’s voice and mangled way of speaking. It reminded him of too much of the past, of the time they were captured and had to escape and rescue Ellone at the same time from Odine. It reminded him of when they had returned Ellone to Raine and the look in Laguna’s eyes when he gazed upon the woman.

Closing his eyes, Kiros fought down the irrational burst of jealousy and fear, silently telling himself that it no longer mattered. Raine had been gone for years and Laguna had been only his for just as long.

Hearing the door to the dining room open, Kiros smiled at his lover as Laguna stepped through the doorway. The smile faltered momentarily as the other man turned to speak with someone out of view. Then Laguna was striding across the room to the table, nodding at the staff as they discretely withdrew to give their president and his friends some privacy while they ate.

“Where’s Ward?” Kiros asked his lover as Laguna sat next to him.

“Oh, he just had to pop down to the kitchen for something. Said he’d be right back,” Laguna said as he poked at his lunch before deciding to start with a fork full of the pasta salad.

“How did it go with Odine? Did he agree with all the stipulations regarding the SeeD students that will be studying with him?”

“Yes, finally,” Laguna said, rolling his eyes and then smiling. “I simply told Odine that if there were any problems with his conduct, he’d be dealing with Squall.”

“You threatened him with the Commander of Balamb Garden?” Kiros asked as he sipped at his drink.

“Sure did,” Laguna said, still smiling. “Squall said I could.”

Kiros let Laguna concentrate on his lunch, watching as his lover eat everything on his plate before summoning a servant and ordering a large helping of whatever cake they had baked while he thought about Balamb’s commander. Having a Garden built in Esthar would be good, even better if they could lure Squall to be its headmaster or commander instead of staying with the original Garden. It would mean less travel for one thing, and Kiros knew that Laguna would enjoy having his son living closer to him.

Ward arrived at the same time as Laguna’s cake, the silent man stopping to hand Laguna a bowl full of milk before taking his own seat at the table.

“Huh?” Laguna said, looking from the bowl to his large friend with a frown that soon changed into a look of comprehension. “Oh, right.”

Kiros looked on as Ward laughed silently and began eating his lunch.

“Shut up, Ward,” Laguna said good-naturedly as he carefully dug around in the large inside pockets that lined the coat he always wore when going out of the palace. “They were so quiet I totally forgot about them,” the longhaired man said softly as he pulled first one tiny bundle of fur from his coat, a second soon joining the first on the table.

“What are those?” Kiros asked, staring as the creatures opened their eyes and blinked at their surroundings before both yawning widely.

“Odine had kittens!” Laguna said cheerily as he pushed the bowl of milk closer to the tiny felines. “Aren’t they cute?” he gushed as they wobbled their way over to slurp at the white liquid.

“Odine…kittens?” Kiros asked, turning to Ward for some kind of answer, as his lover was preoccupied with the animals on the table.

“Well…Odine didn’t actually have kittens,” Laguna began, not looking up. “They are his…were his…he has a cat at the laboratory. Wouldn’t think he was a cat lover really. The cat gave birth six weeks ago…”

“So that explains the daily trips to see Odine,” Kiros said half to himself.

“And then Squall mentioned having one of those vouchers I told you about for a kitten,” Laguna continued to ramble on. “And so I asked him if he was sure and he said yes and so I told Odine that Squall would like one of the kittens.”

“Who is the other kitten for? Ellone?” Kiros asked.

“No, she’s ours,” Laguna said, flashing his lover a wide happy smile as he picked up one of the kittens and nuzzled its fur.

“Ours?”

“Yes, she’s so cute and soft and she was the runt of the litter and I couldn’t just leave her there. Squall mentioning the voucher reminded me that I still had some and so I looked at them and found I had a kitten one too…” Laguna said standing and placing the kitten on his shoulder while he distractedly searched the pockets of his coat.

Locating the voucher, Laguna handed it to Ward who passed it to Kiros, the Estharian president then turning his attention to the other kitten who wanted to join its sibling on his shoulder. Kiros opened the scrunched up, coffee stained coloured piece of paper and read the words upon it - Love Voucher: A Kitten.

“We cannot have animals in the palace,” he said quietly, not looking up from the page in his hand.

“Huh?” Laguna asked vaguely.

“You cannot have a pet, Laguna.”

Kiros watched as his lover’s head snapped around, eyes that had been soft with affection for the kittens crawling over him hardening with disbelief and then anger.

“What did you just say?”

“You cannot keep the kitten, Laguna. Think about it. You are the president of a large country and will not have the time to spend looking after a pet that will be dependent on you. There are not facilities here for the animal to stay and think of what damage it could do to the palace itself.”

“It is a small cat, Kiros. Odine has already given me food and a list of things that I will need to purchase to put into our rooms so it can live there,” Laguna said, placing a page filled with Odine’s handwriting on the table.

“And what about when you are working in your office? What is there to stop it from climbing over everything and ripping the curtains or bedding to shreds?”

“I’ll leave the passageway doors open between the office and our rooms so she can come and go as she pleases.”

“That is a security risk!” Kiros said, voice rising as he tried to get his lover to forget this nonsense. “I won’t allow it.”

“It’s just a cat, Kiros.”

“From Odine. What’s to say it hasn’t been genetically tampered with or enhanced in some way? Odine is not above wanting to experiment with sorceresses and their power, what difference would a simple feline or any other creature make?”

Laguna stared at his lover along the length of the table, unable to believe his ears.

“Is this about the kitten or about doctor Odine, Kiros?” he asked slowly.

Kiros said nothing but his actions spoke for him as he looked away from Laguna’s bright eyes, folding his arms before him. He himself couldn’t understand why he was reacting to the kitten so badly; all he knew is that it would be a bad thing for them to have a pet in the palace.

“You have enough to worry about without including that kitten in our lives,” Kiros said tiredly, still not looking at his lover.

Silence weighed heavily on the men sitting at the table until it was broken by the sound of Laguna’s chair scraping against the floor as he stood.

“Fine. I’ll go phone Squall and see if he can take both kittens. And seeing as I apparently have things to worry about, I’ll be in my office if anyone needs me,” he said stonily, gathering up both kittens and their bowl of milk before leaving the dining room.

Kiros sighed and buried his head in his hands, rubbing his palms against his face hard in frustration. What the hell just happened?”

“Shit,” he said quietly before looking up as Ward placed a hand on his shoulder.

“I know,” Kiros said at the larger man’s gesturing towards the door. “I’ll give him time to cool off first.”

Ward shook his head as he stood up and moved to bodily haul Kiros out of his chair.

“What the hell? Ward put me down!” Kiros shouted as he was carried towards the door. “Do you want the palace staff to gossip about us?”

Ward stopped just in front of the door and placed Kiros on his feet, again gesturing for him to leave the dining room.

“Right, I get the message. I’ll go talk to him now.”

Ward’s answer was a broad smile, the silent man returning to the table to eat after Kiros had closed the door behind him.

Kiros kept his face devoid of all emotion as he walked through the palace. They really didn’t need any gossip getting out about them. Arriving at Laguna’s office, Kiros strode through the room where Laguna’s secretary worked, offering the woman a weak smile as she gave the large door across from her a worried look. Kiros paused by the door and waited to see if the woman would say anything. In the end she calmly nodded at him and gathered up her personal belongings and left, locking the doors behind her. Drawing a deep breath, Kiros put his hand on sensor panel and entered the room as the door slid open.

Bright sunlight filled the room, the heavy blinds fully opened to show the vast city that spread out about the palace. Kiros ignored the view, dark eyes settling on the sofa, the slumped form of his lover and the kittens that played at his feet. Approaching slowly, Kiros reached out and picked up the half empty bowl of milk, placing it on the low table near the sofa. Both kittens hissed as his feet, which carefully stepped around them as Kiros moved to sit next to Laguna.

“Laguna,” Kiros said after a long moment of silence broken only by the playing cats.

The other man didn’t move, hair still hiding his face from view as he rested with his elbows on his knees.

“Laguna, caring for an animal is a lot like having a young child. Living in the palace will make it totally dependant on you for everything.”

“I know that,” Kiros heard Laguna whisper. The longhaired man gathered up one of the kittens and sat back, waving a finger back and forth in play.

“But?” Kiros asked, knowing there was more.

“We can’t have children of our own,” Laguna said, still playing with the kitten. “I want to have this…I want to share it with you,” he said, turning to look at his lover, his grip on the animal in his hand loosening. “Something that is ours to love and protect and care for, that doesn‘t have anything to do with our work or our past. Something just for us.”

Kiros sat still as the kitten picked its way from Laguna’s lap to his. Dark eyes widened as the tiny creature clawed its way half up his chest and he flinched as her nose came into contact with his. Yellow eyes stared at him curiously as the kitten sniffed at his face, tiny tongue rasping across his cheek as he was explored.

“She did that to me too,” Laguna said quietly, finger tracing over the spot that the kitten had licked of his lover’s face before reaching to tickle the kitten’s ears. “I guess she likes you.”

“I…I guess so,” Kiros agreed quietly.

Together they sat petting the kitten, Laguna slowly curling up next to his lover, Kiros’ arm moving to wrap around the other man.

“When will Squall be here to collect her sibling?” Kiros asked as the other kitten shot out from under the sofa chasing one of Laguna’s lost pens as it skittered across the floor.

“I don’t know, haven’t called him yet,” Laguna said, watching the kitten chase the pen.

“This means a lot to you, doesn’t it?”

“Yeah.”

“Better get a copy of that list Odine gave you so he can get everything he needs.”

“Right…huh?” Laguna said as he sat up and turned to face his lover.

“Well, can’t give him our copy, we’re going to need that…”

“If you’re just doing this to shut me up…“

“No, Laguna. I am sorry for earlier,” Kiros said softly, reaching out to stroke a hand over his lover‘s hair. “I don’t know what came over me,” he added with a small shake of his head. “I guess I wouldn’t mind having a cat around. “

“You mean I can keep her? We can keep the kitten?” Laguna asked, barely able to contain his excitement.

“I don’t see why not. After all, you are the president around here. I’m just the hired help.”

“Kiros!” Laguna said loudly into the other man’s ear, scaring the kitten from its perch on Kiros’ chest. “You are more than just help and you know it.”

“Care to prove it to me?” Kiros asked, wrapping his arms loosely around Laguna’s waist and nuzzling his neck.

“Later…right now we have to go shopping.”

Kiros sat in shock at the speed with which Laguna jumped out of his arms and grabbed up both the kittens.

“Are you coming shopping or not?” Laguna asked from next to the door, both kittens looking slightly put out as they were held against the president’s cheeks.

Kiros just smiled and shook his head as he got up from the sofa, hoping he’d be able to convince his lover to leave the kittens with Ward while they went out into the city.

To be continued…

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