Author's Notes: The '*'s indicate a new chapter. This is a shounen-ai story, as in there's no graphic descriptions of intercourse, (No sex please, we're british!) but there's plenty of snogging.

Squall Almasy

Chapter 5

By Takira

"Hey guys!" yelled Selphie as she walked into the office. She handed a paper bag over to Zell and sat down. "Still no word?" Everyone shook their head, "Where could they have got to, I'm getting worried."

"Maybe they've eloped," mumbled Zell through a mouthful of hotdog. He reached into the bag to grab another and looked up to a line of glaring eyes. "What? I'm kidding guys, like that would happen!" Quistis coughed in disbelief.

"Wait, you still don't know?" she said, amazed. Zell shook his head slowly. "Jesus Zell, you're so out of it."

"Out of what?"

"I can't believe you haven't worked it out by now!" cried Selphie.

"Worked out what?"

"He's gotta be kidding, I mean how can you not know Zell?" asked Rinoa.

"Dammit, know what?!"

"That Seifer's gay." Zells' jaw dropped to the ground. He tried to say something but only managed to splutter before grabbing his chair.

"But he's so manly....he'd better stay the hell away from me!"

"Don't flatter yourself doll-face, he's not that desperate." With his jacket slung casually over his shoulder, Irvine sauntered in and hugged each of the girls. "Heya sweethearts, how's things?" Despite the fact she knew she stood no chance now, Selphie still doted over Irvine. She was grinning wider than ever and dancing on the spot. Irvine smiled at the angry Zell, who was pouting for all he was worth, and messed up his hair before dragging him into a masculine hug. Then, just to wind him up, he kissed him on the forehead.

"I told you not to do that," chuckled Zell, rubbing his head.

"I know, and I really oughtn't, it's a stretch to get down there, it hurts my back." Zell pouted again. "Now where's my favourite blonde?" he asked, searching round the room. Since he was from Galbadia Garden to begin with, Irvine didn't feel the betrayal of Seifer's doings quite so much as the rest of Balamb, and indeed the world. He was angry with Seifer because he had tried to kill him, but forgave him long before Balamb's residents. It also helped that he had a thumping crush.

"What about me?" piped Zell in a hurt tone of voice.

"Aw, you're nice'n'all Zell but... hell, you're short." Everyone except Zell started laughing, so he comfort ate a hotdog in three bites. Irvine gracefully sat down opposite him and helped himself to one.

"You suck Irvine." Zell mumbled, trying to grab it back.

"It's been know, but you still haven't answered my question." Zell cringed at the joke and put his arms around his hotdogs as a barrier.

"We don't know, ya'know how much of a drama queen Squall is, he had a flid last night and ran off, Seifer followed him, we haven't seen them since."

"They went off alone and didn't invite me?" Irvine exclaimed, genuinely shocked.

"Irvine please, we're worried," said Quistis in a quiet voice. "You know there's been an increase in T-rexaur numbers recently around Balamb."

"I'm sorry little lady," he apologised, "I'd clean forgot."

"I just don't want to imagine what could have happened to our dear friend...and Seifer," whispered Selphie. The clunk of the lift snapped them all awake from their contemplations. At first they were confused, looking round to see who was missing bar the obvious.

"They're back!" Selphie cried and sprinted toward the lift. She danced on the spot for a second, waiting for the door to open, then rushed in as soon as it did and crashed straight into the person inside. She looked up to a surprised Xu and let go. "Oh, it's only you.

"I'm thrilled to see you too," she spat, pushing Selphie aside and striding into the office. She glared at each of them, "I don't mean to be offensive but what the hell are you all doing here without Squall? And where is he anyway?" Irvine frowned and stood up, towering above her.

"Now lookey here ma'am, I do take offence as a matter of fact. I don't appreciate you coming in here hissing like a rattlesnake and..."

"Irvine, wait, that's..."

"In a sec Quistis. If you had done your job and actually been up to date with the current situation then you'd know that the headmaster of this here Garden is missin', along with Seifer as it happens." Xu stared at Irvine in astonishment then turned her glare onto Selphie.

"Missing? With Seifer? And you're just sitting here?!" she exclaimed. "Why the hell haven't you sent out a search party? Do you have any idea what the treacherous coward could do to Squall?"

"Hey, just wait there Xu," Zell said, pulling himself up to his full height, which unfortunately only reached her collar bone but was still fairly intimidating. "Just coz you have psycho issues and still hate Seifer for SWII doesn't mean we do. I at least have a genuine reason for hating him, but Seifer is their friend, and Squall's too. I doubt Seifer would do anything to even hurt Squall's feelings, let alone hurt him physically."

"What are you implying, Corporal?" she slurred pointedly. "Are you suggesting that Squall is in alliance with a gutless prick like Seifer?"

"When will you get it into you're thick head that it wasn't Seifer's fault? He was fucking brainwashed you moron! Plus it's been, what, 6 years and you're still resenting him? Get a fucking hobby! Besides," Zell smirked, "I think it's much more than just an 'alliance'." Xu exploded, slamming her fists into Zell's chest.

"How dare you suggest that of our headmaster!" she growled, grabbing his jacket collar and pulling his face toward her threateningly. "I could put you in 3 months detention for that!"

"Bite me, Xu. You can't do shit."

"Don't be so sure Dincht. I am your superior by 2 ranks even if you are good friends with Squall. Besides, I have enough evidence to put you down just in witnesses." She turned toward the three girls and Irvine.

"...Huh, what? Sorry, I wasn't listening," he drawled.

"You heard full well," snarled Xu. "Don't play cute with me." Irvine grimaced.

"You sure don't need to worry about that. I'm sorry, I really have no idea what you're on about."

"You heard...what Dincht said," she said, a little more nervously. She released her grip of Zell a little.

"We heard nothing I'm afraid," mumbled Quistis staring at the ground. She used to be good friends with Xu before she broke up with her long-term boyfriend and turned into such a bitch. "Except maybe some hints of homophobia on your part." Xu mouthed in frustration.

"You heard! You bloody did, stop lying!" Zell removed her hands from her jacket and dusted himself down.

"Hmm, looks like no-one heard me...darn!" he cried sarcastically. "We'll sort something out ourselves, 'k?" He patted her patronisingly on the arm and turned his back to her. She growled again before stalking out, Zell sighed.

"Phew, that was close, thanks guys."

"Forget it pardner, we need to find Squall."

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