Written for fated_children, for the themes Wings, Storm, "I'm not laughing", Star gazing and Intertwined.
Warnings: AU, sap, implied incest (if you squint in the right direction) and exploitation of my wing fetish
Disclaimer: All characters and locations belong to the demigods at Square Enix and Sony
He’d always been different. When other children would laugh and play, scream and shout, he’d be sitting at the sidelines, silently watching, sullen and introverted. He never once smiled, preferring to go unnoticed, to be the boy everyone would forget.
Life was easier when no one paid attention to him, because if they did, it was only to taunt him, to tease him about being so girly, so much smaller. They’d shove him, laughing in loud, piercing voices about his strange silky hair, his odd, storm clouded eyes and, most of all, about the fact that he didn’t have a father.
He lived with his mother until he was seven and she passed away. He was never quite free of the suspicion that the townspeople had killed her for being an unmarried, heathen tramp, as they’d always called her when they thought the boy and his mother couldn’t hear them. After her death, when no family wanted to take him in, he became a ward of the town, forced to live off scraps and pity that did his fragile body no good. But he survived, remembering all the fairy tales his mother had once told him, of princes and fair maidens, of dragons and heroes and, his all time favourite, the immortal butterfly warriors, the winged champions that put his imagination on fire. He lived and never gave up, thinking of running away and imagining himself a better world.
On his sixteenth birthday, the town all but kicked him out, declaring him an adult and subtly threatening him, saying that he wouldn’t live for much longer if he didn’t leave right away. So leave he did, with an empty stomach and owning no more than the threadbare clothes on his back. He was, in his own way, happy then, learning to survive all over again, growing stronger as he was forced to fight off other hungry animals and, once in a while, earning some money if he could find the odd job in a town where the people didn’t mind his unusual appearance.
He trekked through the country like that and then through the next, seeing more of the world than he’d ever thought possible. It was, however, not until the day of his eighteenth birthday that his life changed again.
He’d just finished a job in the small town of Balamb, unloading crates and packages from the ships in the harbour there and was now on his way again, walking through a lush field and enjoying the meagre warmth the early spring sun provided. Though he didn’t show it, his step was lighter than usual and as he travelled on, he thought it would be a good day.
He changed his mind not much later that day, when he saw clouds, heavy with rain, making their way towards him and the only possible shelter for the oncoming storm was a small forest on the horizon, still at least half a day’s walk away.
It requires no explanation that he was soaked by the time he reached the first trees and got out of the worst of the downpour.
He made his way a little further into the forest and sat down against the rough bark of an old, tall tree. He took off his simple white shirt, the day still warm enough to permit him that, and wrung it out, draping it over a nearby low branch to let it dry. He stretched then, almost groaning at the burn, from walking and working, in his arms and legs, and shook the water out of his hair, small crystalline droplets flying in every possible direction. For a moment, he thought he heard a small laugh come from somewhere above him, but he dismissed it easily, assuming that it was simply an animal seeking shelter in much the same way he was. He ran a hand through his hair, making an even bigger mess out of it and wrung the water out of his pants best as he could without having to take them off. Again, he heard that soft laugh and this time, he did look up, curious and trying to determine where it was coming from.
He wasn’t sure exactly what he saw up in the tree above him, it looked like a young man, one maybe a bit older then he was himself, but there was something different about him, something not entirely…right. Bright, aqua eyes stared back at him, their corners slightly crinkled by the broad grin that threatened to take over the rest of the youthful face.
“I’m not laughing at you, really, it’s just, your hair…”
He blinked at that and, eye contact now broken, reached up for his hair, smoothing out the odd clumps that were sticking out in all the wrong directions. He looked up again, then, and noticed that, above the man in the tree, the air seemed to be a clear blue, but wherever else he looked up through the trees, the sky was still grey and rain was still steadily falling around him. It was then that this blue piece of sky moved and he saw that it wasn’t the sky at all, but wings, large, blue wings, of the same shade of aqua as those twinkling eyes. He gasped for breath, blinking again and rubbing at his eyes with the heels of his hands.
That same grin again, bright and eager, like a child given a piece of candy.
“Laguna’s the name.”
“So you’re from Winhill?’ Laguna asked, munching on the last of the dinner he’d shared with Squall. “I’ve been there once, but that was years ago. Met a lovely lady there, a very special woman. I would have stayed, I think, but the other people didn’t like me much because I was different.”
He looked up at Squall then, slowly looking him over. “You know, you kinda look like her…” He trailed off and shook his head. “But that’s probably just my imagination running away with me.”
Squall raised an eyebrow at that, but dropped the remark without paying much attention to it; letting it wash over him like he had the rest of the elaborate stories Laguna had been telling all afternoon and night. Instead, he preferred to pay attention to the man himself, feeling strangely attracted to those merry eyes and at times wanting to reach out and touch those occasionally twitching wings, imagining them to be like silk under his fingers. He’d been attracted to people before, both men and women alike, and he had his share of experience, limited to quick romps in darkened rooms as it was, but he’d never felt quite such a strong pull toward anyone.
It wasn’t until he became aware of he fact that Laguna had gone quiet that Squall noticed he was looking back at him, eyes still twinkling, but with something more, something that made Squall want to shiver for other reasons than the now cool air.
Laguna got to his knees without as much as a whisper and crawled around the small fire that separated them, reaching out and brushing his fingers over Squall’s cheek, tucking a few stray hairs behind his ear. It didn’t feel like a shock or sudden fireworks, but Squall sighed all the same, feeling just a little shaky and nestling his cheek in the palm of Laguna’s hand.
They sat like that for the span of a instant, one too shy to respond in kind to the gentle touch and the other hesitant after making the first move, until Laguna finally broke the moment, and the silence surrounding them, in a quiet voice.
“Do you want to see the stars?”
It took Squall a moment to understand what Laguna meant, but when strong arms wrapped around him, pulling him to his feet, and strong wings, so much stronger than they appeared to be, directed them upward, realization came quickly.
Getting used to being virtually weightless took some time and Squall cautiously wrapped his arms around Laguna’s neck, trying hard to avoid looking at the ground as it disappeared beneath them and keeping still, worried about hitting any of the branches they passed. He breathed a sigh of relief when they passed the canopy of the forest and exited into the night, feeling secure enough in Laguna’s arms to forget worrying about falling or thinking about how high they were and focus on the sky above them, dark blue velvet adorned with shining stars, that seemed to sparkle and glitter only for them.
It was only after a while, when Squall finally managed to tear his eyes away from the sky, that he noticed that Laguna was staring at him again, much like he had before, and he couldn’t help but meet his eyes, gazing back at him, lost in those soulful eyes, that bright smile and the steady beat of his wings. Squall didn’t even realize they were kissing until they pulled apart, looking slightly flushed, but now both smiling.
It was the early morning, weak light filtered through the trees, dew was gathering everywhere around them, the world was only just starting to wake up and Squall was cold, dressed in no more than his pants and trying to steal his narrow blanket back from Laguna who had filched it at some time during their sleep. He sighed softly when he didn’t manage it, Laguna’s clutching hold too strong for his sleep fogged mind and settled for curling up against Laguna’s chest, their legs intertwined and their shared warmth more than enough to keep him going, for no matter how long.