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Machine Gun & White Flowers
by Joker Loire of the Turks

Raine didn’t feel like going to the little store to fetch supplies, drinks and other stuff for the pub. It was raining, as if the skies were falling down.

Who gives a damn about supplies? It’s raining heavily and no force on earth can get me outside.

As she started cleaning the tables before going to sleep, someone knocked on the door. Raine went to the door and opened it.

Two Galbadian soldiers with a bed. Some injured woman- no it was a man with long hair and baby face.

“You’re the owner of the pub?” asked one of the soldiers.
“Depends on who asks.” replied Raine, she didn’t want any war businesses.
“I have no time for games” said the other soldier as the injured one writhed in pain.
“What do you want?” shot Raine.
“We want to leave this soldier to you. We have no other place to go and he’s deadly wounded.”
“Deadly? You’re leaving me a dying man?”
“Look, miss, he has no time for this! Are you taking him in or leaving him to die?”
“Okay, okay, bring him in.”

Two soldiers carried the injured man’s bed inside. As Raine guided them upstairs to her bedroom, she saw the injured man was crying like a baby.

The two soldiers left him and rushed out. Out of the pub and Winhill as well.
“What’s your name, soldier?” asked Raine
The man groaned. He kept on crying.
“Okay, I will call you ‘Soldier’, then.”

Raine talked to him when he was sleeping or tried to comfort him when he screamed in horror or pain.

It took a month and half for the ‘Soldier’ to gain back his conscience. Raine had heard bits and pieces of info from his mouth as he talked in his sleep. She heard two names ”Kiros” and “Ward”, added to “Piano Lady” and ”Esthar Soldiers”. He twisted madly in his sleep as he was having the worst nightmares ever existed.

One morning, Raine stepped into the bedroom of hers to find the Soldier awake, staring at the ceiling. Raine was carrying a soup bowl in her hand. She put the bowl on a coffee table nearby and went up to the Soldier.
“What’s your name, Soldier?” asked Raine.
“Laguna” replied Soldier ”Laguna Loire. Where am I? What happened to me?”
“You were deadly injured when two soldiers brought you here.”
“One fat and one thin? And one had black skin while the other couldn’t talk and-“
“No, both of them were at your size and they could talk pretty well.”
“Where am I?”
“Winhill. You’re in Winhill’s pub. I am Raine.”
“Raine...” Laguna stopped as he was giving the name some thought ”Well, as beautiful as the woman it honours. You seem like a sad black rose in the rain but so full of life that...” he stopped again ”Yikes! I’m babbling again...”

Oh really? That sounded like a compliment, if you ask me.

“Have you been taking good care of me?” asked Laguna while he blushed a little and felt a little awkward.
“Yes, I have been taking care of you, Laguna” said Raine ”Because I couldn’t let you die. That would make me a monster and I couldn’t stand that.”
“Thank you.” said Laguna very plainly.

Laguna thought, Yikes! That sounded like I was not thanking her but saying “...Whatever”! I’m mad at myself!

The next weeks of Laguna recovering was more painful to Raine than before. Because he had a tendency to spill the soup whenever Raine tried to help him drink it. Although both of his arms were broken, he was trying to do it by himself and failing eventually.

One day, when Laguna said he could do it by himself and he didn’t needed help, Raine felt like strangling him.

Oh, for Hyne’s sake!

“Fine!” yelled Raine as she put the soup bowl near his bed ”Do it by yourself then, but no more for you if you spill it this time, Laguna!” then she left in frustration.

What I say?

Nights were worse than before too. Laguna’s legs were still broken and he couldn’t get up. So he tried to sleep in vain. Sometimes he managed to, during the night with sleep pills. But then started his snoring like a Red Dragon roar; Raine grew restless, no sleep at nights from Laguna. For too many times, she had thought of dumping his bed with him outside of the pub.

But something stopped her hand.

After four months like hell itself, Laguna finally recovered. One day, Raine stepped into his room to find him fully dressed, checking on his machine gun. It was raining outside, raining like the clouds were holed with bullets. It was night when Raine went up to sleep (or not to, since Laguna snored so badly).

“So, you’ve recovered” said Raine, in a rather frustrated voice.
“Thanks to you, Raine. And thanks to all the people in town. But, you mostly.”
“You’re leaving?”
“I can’t stay here. I’m in debt of this whole town, but you mostly.” he smiled with irony ”Well, your greatest nightmare is leaving, Raine. Thanks for taking care of me.” he grabbed his machine gun and went to the door.
“You’re... you’re not leaving like that, are you?” asked Raine as she followed him downstairs.
“I can’t stay in the pub forever. But I gotta-“ his sentence was cut off with a scream.
“That’s Ellone!” said Raine ”The girl next to me!”
Laguna opened the door and ran outside. He quickly got to Ellone’s house. He had his machine gun in hand.

Esthar soldiers. There for Ellone’s mother and father. Two soldiers had Ellone’s mother and father near the wall, with their shotgun-axes pointed at them. Two other soldiers were outside, waiting for “unwanted visitors” like Laguna.

“Hey you!” screamed Laguna, while feeling crazy for acting like he was Odin ”Get outta the town! Leave them alone!”

They got to Laguna and kicked the machine gun out of his hands. Laguna slid forward to throw a punch. A blade cut his leg, and a handle hit his face. Laguna swayed backwards as he tripped and fell down.

He tried to get up, but a shower of kicks followed him, preventing him from getting up. When the two Esthar Soldiers were done, Laguna was a wreck again. He was lying on his back.

Gunshots pierced the night.

“No!” cried Laguna as he tried to get up ”You bastards!” he got to his feet, running towards four soldiers to beat them up.

Half an hour later, Esthar soldiers left. Laguna was on his back in front of the house, crying while he felt lots of pain. A shotgun shell and cuts, bruises and broken ribs, probably.

Raine came out, running. She ran to Laguna who was crying in sorrow.

Raine knelt before Laguna and put his head to her lap.

“Couldn’t save them” said Laguna between two tears.
“Don’t talk, Laguna.” said Raine ”Just rest.”
“Couldn’t save them” repeated Laguna, as he cried ”I couldn’t save them. It’s all my fault. I wasn’t a good enough soldier to put up to some wack-ass Esthar soldiers! Couldn’t save them.”

Ranie felt something rising inside her. Mercy, or pity towards Laguna.

“Laguna” she said ”We gotta get you out of here, you’re soaking and you’re wounded. Get back to the pub now.”

She held Laguna in her arms, as he continued to cry.

Next morning. Raine walked into the bedroom to find Laguna, trying to exercise.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing!?”
“I thought I gotta do some exercise, y’know.” replied Laguna awkwardly ”Or this old leg will cramp...” he felt pain rising in his left leg ”Argh!” he screamed, right before collapsing and hitting a chest with his head.He blacked out.

Raine thought, stupid! How could you exercise in that state?

Laguna’s second recovery was easier than the first one. Raine felt relieved.

And also Ellone seemed to like Laguna. After a few visits, Laguna had became her “Uncle”. Laguna immidiately started to stay in Ellone’s house with her. And that seemed to bring forward the childish spirit of Laguna.

But Raine was frustrated. Laguna didn’t stop using swear-words in front of Ellone, and since she was duplicating her “Uncle Laguna”, she was cursing too. Raine had eased this with little speeches about the words being bad, but Laguna kept on doing it.

She had given Laguna missions on to patrol the whole town for food (at least he was working for something now, no free-in-charge anymore). Laguna had appointed Raine as the “Commander” and Ellone as “Asst. Commander Elle”. Just for Ellone’s sake, he came to the pub after every patrol to report on how many monsters he has exterminated.

One day, after Laguna’s friend Kiros had came and gone, there was Winhill Flower Fest. The fest was about the flowers being planted and grown by the people of the village. There was all sorts of activity in the town square, even the protecting soldiers got into it.

Raine walked to an empty part of the town to sit somewhere and think about something. Or rather, settle something in her mind.

All about Laguna. All her thoughts were about Laguna. Ellone had asked “Are you gonna marry Uncle Laguna?” one day as Raine counter-attacked with answers. But inside, she had caught herself thinking it wasn’t such a bad idea.

Laguna had been acting strange, or more clumsy whenever he was with Raine. He was complimenting so little things as how clean the pub is or how the sun shines on her eyes. But Raine knew all along that Laguna was in deep love with her. From the first “babbling” to the last one, he was trying to make her happy from so little things.

Raine smiled, well, the ‘Soldier’ is on my heart eh? Trying to conquer it. If I said this to him he would take a step back, form that awkward expression on his face, and say ”Err...Who’s the soldier? I mean is someone bothering you?” with such a tone that screams ”Yes I am in love with you!”. When I ask directly, he carefully avoids it. Whenever we get into a converstation that is about us and serious, he starts talking about the sun shining and...

Oh no, I’m falling in love with him too. A little slip and I fell face-flat on the ground, on Laguna who’s there to collapse under me to soften my fall.

She had other evidences on Laguna’s love too. One day, when she stopped by the old lady to fetch some flowers for the pub, she had learned that Laguna was asking questions about how to make a wreath out of flowers. And the villagers were starting to gossip. They also thought that Brich Leonhart who came to the pub everyday was Raine’s former lover as well as Mona Leonhart’s former husband.

Brich was another case. He was getting blindly drunk everyday without no money. Raine knew how the situation was, she didn’t take any money from him.

But that’s no reason to drop my original subject, dammit! Laguna is in my thoughts all the time, so I am in love with him. But he’s so childish! The way he an Ellone always wait for me to pass in the corners then jump into the scene to scare the hell out of me! Oooh,it makes me so mad. And how he always curses in front of Ellone, or how he...

Okay, let’s admit it. I’m in love with him. So we both fell to a bottomless cliff, and held each other along the way.

Then she spotted Laguna. Looking at something on the ground. It was as he was thinking deep, deeeeep things.

She went up to him and said ”Laguna!”
Laguna slightly jumped and turned around to face her.Raine smiled while she talked:
“Where are you? You’re not coming to the Fest?”
Laguna stayed there, he scratched his head. Then he suddenly waved ’goodbye’ to Raine and said ”Farewell, Raine.” he turned around to go.
Raine tried to stop him and reached out for his shoulder when Laguna suddenly turned around, took her hand into his and put on a silver ring to her ring finger.

The ring was beautiful. It had angel wings carved on the top of it. The silver was shining in the full moon light.

Laguna showed her his own ring, also on his ring finger. He said ”Look” as he smiled awkwardly.
Raine’s eyes filled with tears of happiness. She slid forward and held Laguna. Laguna wrapped his arms around Raine.

Laguna was happy. And he had something on his mind.

Great Hyne, how that moon shines over us.

His machine gun was forgotten at the moment...

...Laying on white flowers...

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