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 9

By Takira

As the weeks passed, Squall started to see some sense in what Quistis had said. He still denied that he had romantic feelings for Seifer, however the more he thought about it, it wasn't the only, but certainly the most logical explanation for what he was going through. Since Seifer had left, Squall had become much more introvert and anti-social. Rinoa had suggested a mutual break-up and so once again he was back where he started. He was reminded of his old self, shying away from anything that might draw attention to, and therefore make him confront, how torn up he felt inside. He had long realised he wasn't fooling anyone with his night after night of 'mountains of work' and his cool indifference to Seifer's where-abouts and well being. Recently he felt that every conversation led to an interrogation and the personal confrontation was beginning to annoy him.

"Dude!" Zell exclaimed, sending crumbs flying from his mouth and attracting the attention of all the others in the canteen that weren't already staring at him. "I don't get you guys," he said, lowering his voice, "how can you miss him? He's just a fucking baka with no people skills. Who cares whether he comes back or not?"

"I do," whispered Rinoa, idly playing with her food. Zell waved his hand at her.

"Well you would, what with your sex-filled Summer fling thing." Rinoa looked hurt.

"There's no need to be like that. You haven't been here so you don't know how much he's changed. He only acts the same way with you because you haven't been here so he hasn't learnt not to." Selphie prodded Zell in the arm.

"Yea, you're the baka, don't you ever think before you speak?"

"Yea I do! But when it comes to Seifer I don't care who hears that he's an arrogant, self-absorbed, friendless little sh..."

"Language, Zell," interrupted Squall, sitting down next to Rinoa. "Plus I hardly think you're in a position to call anyone 'little'." Selphie giggled as Zell folded his arms in a melodramatic sulk. Rinoa glanced around the canteen and frowned.

"They're doing it again," she murmured. Squall looked at her confused.

"Who's doing what again?" Rinoa shook her head to dismiss it.

"Nuh-uh," said Selphie, wagging her finger in front of her. "Tell us what it is."

"Er, well it might be 'cause of Zell but it was most noticable when you walked in Squall so I'm not sure."

"Get on with it, what's wrong?" said Squall impatiently.

"It's just, I'm sure everyone in the canteen is staring at you and I'm sure they're whispering too," Squall shook his head.

"Rinoa, you're paranoia's getting worse." She opened her mouth to protest but he interrupted her, "I'm the headmaster. They're probably just trying to behave now I'm here. Plus Zell is pretty famous." Rinoa shook her head; while they were together she never realised just how infuriating he could be.

"No Squall, It's not like that, just look around." He sighed and did so just to shut her up. He never properly saw when he was going out with her, just how annoying she could sometimes be.  He narrowed his eyes at anyone he made contact with, most of them turned away but one, someone with whom Squall had had some trouble, refused to look away. He then made the mistake of smirking. Calmly, Squall got up, walked toward him and stood towering over the seated student.

"Good morning Sam, can I help you?" Sam, a fairly large guy with dirty blonde hair and piercing green eyes, shook his head slowly.

"No, Mr Leonhart sir, I'm fine, thank you." He slurred mockingly.

"Then why were you staring at us?" Squall asked, growing a little more impatient. Rinoa grabbed Squall's arm.

"I'm sorry," she apologised, "he's been a little stressed"

"I understand, Miss," Sam said slyly as Rinoa attempted to lead Squall back to their table. Squall kept his glare until the last moment, just as he turned around though Sam spoke again. "I mean, who wouldn't be stressed when their lover has run away for so long?" Squall spun around, yanking his arm back from Rinoa and striding toward Sam.

"What the hell do you mean by that?" he demanded in a stage whisper. Rinoa came back, trying desperately to convince him that Sam was winding him up, to just ignore it but instead he ignored her. Sam lounged back in his chair loving every moment. This wispy, effeminate, doe-eyed little prick had foiled every one of his deals that had gone completely unnoticed when Cid was headmaster. He used to be rolling, doing very big under-the-table deals with many of the bigwigs of Galbadia, Timber, Trabia, Balamb, you name it. He'd provide them with whatever they needed, drugs, hookers, but since Squall was headmaster this had all stopped and they had conveniently forgotten who he was. Squall harassed him again for an explanation.

"You mean, you haven't heard?" he slurred, oozing sarcasm. "Well, I suppose I should tell you, what with being the star student that I am." He slowly took a mouthful of his food; he was planning to make Squall suffer for as long as he could. "There's this vicious rumour going round, 'bout you and Almasy, are you sure you haven't heard it?" He took another mouthful while Squall practically squirmed in front of him.

"...Well? What is it?" he demanded again, this time a little more nervously. Sam chuckled.

"That you and him are lovers and have been since he came back." Squall blanched, had Quistis slipped? No, he trusted her with his life, then who?

"Who told you this?" he snapped, his eyes darting around the room at the people eaves-dropping.

"I couldn't possibly tell you that," he drawled, "it's against the code." Squall stared him out for a few moments then nodded. He reached into the inside pocket of his jacket and took out a yellow piece of paper, placing it calmly in front of Sam. His smirk vanished.

"You remember what this is, right? Who told you?" Sam succumbed, whispering a name to him. Squall turned to him confused. "Who the hell is Kenja?"

"Yaknow, the leader, well, ex-leader of the DC." Squall nodded again and silently put the yellow paper back in his pocket. He walked over to the table again and grabbed his jacket.

"I'm gonna kill him," he whispered to Zell and calmly walked from the canteen speeding up to a sprint toward the library.

"Fantastic," Zell mumbled as he was forced to leave his hotdogs to follow the others in chasing Squall.

The inwardly livid headmaster stormed into the library where detention was being held. He started searching frantically for Kenja as the timid librarian approached him, the image of awe.

"C...Can I help you sir?" she whispered.

"Kenja, where is he?" he demanded, not bothering to look at her.

"Kenja? Oh, he's stamping books in the fiction section, let me just go..."

"Just point him out," he snarled. The librarian looked startled then scuttled into the fiction section and pointed a trembling finger at him. Squall stalked up to him and loomed till he put down his book and stamp.

"Oh, good morning sir. How are you?" Squall smirked.

"A lot better off than you're gonna be." He knelt down beside him. "You really think I'm gonna let you get away with starting such rumours about your superiors?" Kenja glanced around nervously. "Rinoa was able to talk me out of your 6 months solitary last time, but not again. Enjoy this freedom while you can." Now he really was nervous, making pathetic claims that he had nothing to do with it. Squall put his hand up to silence him. "You enjoy it? Good." He grabbed his collar and dragged him out of the library. Zell and the others where at the entrance.

"Selphie, sign this guy up for 6 months solitary for conspiracy against his superiors and general unacceptable behaviour." Selphie nodded and handcuffed his hands behind his back. "The same for his cronies."

"Squall, please," Rinoa pleaded. "Don't be too harsh on them, huh?" Squall turned on her angrily.

"For Christ's sake Rinoa, will you get off my back about being nice? This guy and his mates are not worthy of this Garden, I'm being nice just by keeping them here." Rinoa tried to protest but just succeeded in enraging him further. "Shut up, God!" he yelled. "Just leave me alone, all of you. Selphie, sort him out, only contact me if it's desperately important." He punched in the code for his office leaving a crying Rinoa being comforted by shocked friends.

"He's going back to his old self," murmured Zell. "I knew this would push him over."

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