It's the simplest words that are the hardest to say.
Kiros had cleared his throat, and Laguna had spun around in surprise to see the SeeD commander standing at attention in front of his desk. Kiros had given a sardonic smile and pulled the door shut, leaving Laguna to squirm under Squall's unwavering gaze. Once he was sure that he had Laguna's attention, Squall started giving his report on the Ultimecia campaign, his voice monotonous but his eyes distant.
You have your mother's eyes/, Laguna wanted to say. /You have her hair, and if you smile, I'm sure it would be hers too. His no-nonsense temperament was Raine's as well, and Laguna's heart ached at the thought. Raine, you'd be so proud of him.
His heart constricted more when he thought of their son. What else was there to say? /I'm sorry I left/; /I never knew about you/? Or maybe even /I love you/, though Laguna knew that the last, especially, was something the boy will refuse to believe.
He turned to watch the rain again as Squall continued, and when Squall stopped talking, he didn't notice.
He was thinking of flowers, linked into a daisy chain by Raine's deft hands. He was thinking of the way Ellone had giggled when he had placed it upon her head. He was thinking of Raine, how exasperated she was at the way he spoiled her young charge. He was remembering Raine's laughter when he had pulled the child up and spun her around as they pretended to dance in the village square during the Flower Festival. He was thinking of Winhill and its quaint cobblestoned streets, and felt a stab of guilt piercing through him as he caught a fleeting image of what life could have been had he returned home eighteen years past.
Perhaps a woman---not so young anymore, but lovely still---would be dancing with her son as they celebrated the coming of spring. Perhaps an overprotective father would be chasing away interested suitors to stop them from paying too much attention to his almost grown-up daughter. Perhaps they could've been a real family.
Perhaps they could've been happy.
He wondered if Squall knew what it meant to be happy.
Squall was too disciplined to fidget while Laguna's attention was elsewhere. That stillness/, that was something he shared with Raine, something rare Laguna had thought only she had possesed. And yet . . . yet this child was /his as well. Theirs.
"Will she come back?" Laguna asked, and for a brief moment he wasn't sure to whom he was referring to.
Squall blinked. "I don't know."
He should tell him now. He could wait---another day, another month, another year---and play another game of 'perhaps' in his head. "Why don't you . . . sit down," Laguna offered, trying not to grimace at the cramp suddenly running up his left leg.
The boy---no, Laguna corrected himself, he was seventeen; he wasn't just a boy anymore. He had lost too much time; both of them had. Squall/. That was his name. /It's a nice name/, he thought, /it suits him well. "Squall," he said, "have a seat."
Squall blinked at him again. That was the only indication he gave of his surprise. "I have something to talk to you about," Laguna said, and when he paused, his voice caught a few times before he could continue. It was the simplest words that were the hardest to say. " . . . son."