Sora walked briskly down the deserted school halls, his mind not yet fully awake. He had awoken earlier than usual with the intention of having some time alone with his English teacher before class started. Feeling somewhat rotten, he’d tried calling Riku’s house, only to get the answering machine. Baffled, but satisfactorily absolved of guilt, he’d dressed quickly, had a few Hot Pockets and left. He wasn’t quite sure what he felt, other than anxious, but it seemed as though he was being almost driven to see Squall.

He rounded the corner and blinked, surprised to see that not only was the door open, but the lights were on, and he could hear voices coming from the room. Perturbed, he crept up to the doorway and peered inside.

Squall was standing beside his desk, leaning casually against it and having a conversation with Sephiroth, who was standing in front of the desk and nodding.

“It’s like I’ve always said,” Sephiroth stated. “Children need discipline. Without it, they will never make it through the rigors of adult life.”

Squall nodded. “I couldn’t agree more,” he replied, cutting his eyes meaningfully to his left.

Riku sat at his desk, and although Sora couldn’t see his face from that angle, he was pretty sure it was unhappy.

Sephiroth laughed dryly. “Yes, he is a bit of a rebel, isn’t he? I hope he hasn’t been giving you too much trouble.”

Squall managed to keep a straight face. “Oh, he’s positively an angel. Not a day goes by when I don’t expect him to sprout wings and a golden halo.”

“That bad, hmm?” Sephiroth queried. “In that case, I’ll have to be keeping a closer eye on his academic affairs. His mother, you see…” he turned to his son. “Riku, leave us for a bit.”

With a deliberate screeching noise, Riku pushed back his chair and stormed out of the room, his eyes glued to the floor, and his fists clenched at his sides.

“Like I was saying,” Sephiroth continued.

Sora watched with disbelief as Riku prepared to walk right past him. “Hey,” he called, grabbing his arm. “It’s me.”

Riku stared at him for a brief moment, and then recognition dawned in his aqua eyes. “Sora…” He looked his friend over with amusement. “What’s with the outfit? You look like you’re getting ready to go rob people outside some ATM.”

Sora flipped back the hood of his black sweatshirt and grinned. “Well, we can’t always dress as well as you do. Are those new clothes?”

Riku groaned and rolled his eyes. He spun around reluctantly, showing off his black slacks and emerald green sweater. “Dad bought it for me on Saturday. At Bloomingdale’s, no less.” He grimaced. “I think I saw your ditzy cousin by the mall entrance, too.”

Sora nodded. “Kairi went to the mall with Selphie and her friends.”

Riku smirked. “I always thought that Kairi had a smidgen of the sluttish about her.”

“Watch it.” Sora scowled. He reached out and tentatively stroked Riku’s sleeve. “Cool. That feels really soft.”

“It’s cashmere.” Riku explained. “You too can own one, all for the low price of five hundred dollars.”

Sora gaped. “Are you serious?! You know how many sweaters you could’ve gotten from Wal-Mart with that kind of money?”

Riku wrinkled his nose. “Ugh, don’t even think about it. JC Penney’s maybe, but never Wal-Mart.” He lifted his chin and grinned slyly. “Besides, looking this good doesn’t come cheap.”

Sora rolled his eyes. “Whatever. I’m just glad you had fun. I was bored out of my mind.” Well, I was on Sunday.

Riku sighed. “It was the same old shit.” His eyes softened. “And I really missed you. The entire time, all I could think about was what I was going to do the next time I saw you, and how glad I was that you agreed to be mine.”

“Really?” Sora asked, somewhat awed. “That’s all you thought about?”

Riku smirked mischievously. “Yeah. Well, that, and what Vincent would look like running around screaming with his hair set on fire.”

Sora vaguely remembered Sephiroth’s personal assistant. “Ha, does he still look like a vampire?”

“Sora, he is a vampire.” Riku insisted. He solemnly pointed to a spot on his throat. “I swear, I woke up on Saturday morning, and he was right here, biting my neck. Look, I even have the mark to prove it.” He suddenly heard approaching voices and turned around, fully expecting to be bothered.

Sora looked over just as Squall escorted Sephiroth out of the classroom.

“Well,” Squall was saying. “I’ll certainly keep you posted as to how things are going.”

“Please do that.” Sephiroth responded. “You have my card now, of course.”

“Yes,” Squall answered. He shook hands with Sephiroth. “It was nice to meet you, Mr.-?”

“Sephiroth, please.” Riku’s father replied cordially.

“Of course. It was nice to meet you, Sephiroth.” Squall amended. “Squall Leonhart, by the way.”

“Grand. I will bid you good day, Squall.” Sephiroth said, and then turned to Riku. “As for you, young man, I instruct you to be on your best behavior at all times.”

Riku sighed heavily and rolled his eyes.

Sora looked away, wanting to laugh.

Sephiroth smiled at Riku patiently and ruffled his hair, earning a sound of disgust. “I will be seeing you soon. Goodbye Riku. Goodbye Sora.” He walked off quickly, his posture impeccable, as always.

Sora? Squall wondered, his eyes falling upon Riku’s companion for the first time. He’d hardly noticed Sora, with the way that he seemed completely swallowed up by his sweatshirt and loose-fitting jeans. I guess I’m just a bit more accustomed to picturing him without his clothes, and oh my God, did I just think that?!? Right here?! He shook his head. Get it together Leonhart, it’s too early for this shit. He kept his expression and voice as neutral as possible. “Hello, Sora. What are you doing here so early? And hiding in the hallway with Riku, no less.”

Sora opened his mouth to explain, but before he could say anything, Riku cut him off.

“He was making out with me.” Riku announced, his tone challenging. He slipped an arm around Sora’s waist, pulling him close.

Sora choked. Sweet Jesus!

Squall somehow managed to keep from glaring at Riku. The nerve of this little fuck… “Well, good for you.” he replied, forcing a flippant tone. “You have plenty of time before class starts, so spend it as you wish. Excuse me.” He locked his classroom door and brushed past them without saying another word.

“You’re excused.” Riku said with mock sweetness.

Sora groaned. That does it. So much for Squall’s respect for me.

Squall marched into the faculty bathroom, his mood darkening. He clenched the edges of the sink and tried not to give into the unexplainable rage that was coursing through his blood. Okay, I already knew about Sora and Riku. He told me Saturday. So, why am I acting so immature? He closed his eyes, needing to remain lucid. I mean, okay, so I want to fuck him forty ways from Sunday, but that’s irrelevant. It’ll never happen, there’s no chance of it happening, so I have no reason to be jealous of Riku… And oh hell, is that what it really is? Jealousy? He ran a hand through his hair. Goddammit, I can’t believe that I am jealous of some high school kid, because I want to lay his boyfriend. “This is unbelievable!” he muttered. He sneezed, and then massaged his temples, which had begun to throb. And to top it all off, I feel like shit. I think I’m coming down with something. Must’ve been from riding without my jacket. But then, better for me to get sick than Sora. He sneezed again, and washed his hands. Well, all I have to do is make it through the day, and I can go home and pass the fuck out until tomorrow morning. His course of action decided, he dried his hands and left the bathroom.



Sora sat through the English class tensely, his nerves in disarray. Squall hadn’t looked at him once since class started, and he was feeling slightly dejected. He couldn’t even bring himself to get mad at Riku, who hadn’t given a damn either way.

“Fuck him if he’s homophobic.” Riku had said after Squall had walked off. “Like I give a shit what he thinks about us.”

But I don’t think he’s homophobic, Sora thought. He’s too intelligent for that. He sighed and shot a glance at Squall, who ignored him as he expected. He resigned himself. I’d better forget about it for now. Maybe I can come back and talk to him after school.

Squall found himself counting down the minutes until dismissal. His symptoms had grown worse, and he didn’t know how much longer he could keep up appearances. I’ll just make it until lunch, and then I’m getting the hell out of here. He felt Sora’s eyes on him, and staunchly avoided returning his gaze. That’s the last thing I need right now. Besides… He tentatively glanced at Riku and was rewarded with a grin that was bursting with sadistic glee. I don’t even know why the hell he keeps grinning at me. If he knew that I wanted to take Sora to bed, he wouldn’t be grinning. He’d be calling the police. He heard the ringing of the bell and sighed with relief. Finally. “No homework.” he announced, much to the joy of the students. “Just read over the assignment and make sure you understand it.”

The students gathered their books and moved out the door. After glancing back at Squall, Sora followed them. Oh well. He walked to his locker and opened it, fetching the books he needed for the next class. He was aware of Riku’s presence beside him, hearing the opening and closing of his locker, but it didn’t really register until Riku tapped him on his shoulder.

Sora closed his locker and turned around to look at him. Something in Riku’s eyes unsettled him, and he looked around fearfully, noting how crowded the hall was at the moment. Please don’t let him try any funny stuff. “Yeah? What is it?”

“Sora,” began Riku. “I think it’s time the other students knew.” He leaned in close, effectively trapping Sora with his body.

“Knew what?” Sora squawked, mortified. What is he going to do now?!

This. Riku kissed him passionately, parting his lips and probing the soft recesses of his mouth with his tongue. His fingers worked their way under his shirt, and he brushed his knuckles along the bare skin of Sora’s sides. He swallowed the soft sounds of pleasure he elicited, his mind spinning at the way Sora shuddered against him. With great effort he pulled back for air and planted a chaste kiss on Sora’s forehead. “That you belong to me.” he murmured, gazing into his eyes.

Sora blushed, and tried to look away, but Riku held his chin gently.

“You don’t ever have to be ashamed.” Riku whispered forcefully. “Nobody has what we’ve got going for us. Nobody ever will. Romeo and Juliet couldn’t even touch us.” He stroked Sora’s cheek. “Our love is one of the great ones. So hold your head up high, Sora.”

Easier said than done, Sora thought, glancing around hesitantly. A few of the students had the good taste to pretend to be oblivious of their public display of affection. The rest however, were either staring open-mouthed or talking excitedly, setting the gossip chain in motion. He idly wondered what his teachers would think. Especially Squall…

“Hey Sora, are you even listening to me?” Riku asked, pouting. “I don’t think you are. I guess I’ll just have to do something to get your attention.” He brushed his knee against the curve of Sora’s groin.

Sora’s eyes widened. “Riku!” he choked. “What the hell are you doing?”

Riku smirked. “I just wanted to make sure I had your attention.” He raised an eyebrow. “So, I’ll see you at lunch, right?” He shifted his knee again.

“Okay, yeah, whatever you say!” stammered Sora, trying to meld into the locker. “Just stop doing that before you embarrass me!” Too late… Some of the students were now running around with their hands over their faces, trying not to laugh. Sora thought wryly that he’d never been so popular before.

“Embarrass you how?” Riku teased. He leaned in close, lowering his voice so that only Sora could hear him. “By embarrassing you, do you mean, making you get off in front of all these people? Is that what you mean?”

“Something like that.” Sora hissed. While he was not too pleased with Riku’s display, his body on the other hand, had it’s own opinion.

Riku chuckled darkly. “If this is all it takes to get a reaction like that out of you, I must admit, I’m sorely tempted indeed.” He’s such an innocent. “And as everybody knows, the only way to get rid of temptation, is to give into it.” He pressed his knee full against Sora’s awakening erection, in one long, slow stroke.

Oh shit… Sora arched against him, and was only dimly aware of Riku’s lips covering his own, muffling the moan he hadn’t been able to hold back. He’s insane! He slumped helplessly against the locker, his hormones raging.

Riku pulled back, snickering. “You’re so much fun to play with, Sora. And you’re going to make me late for class.”

Sora regained his balance, and watched Riku warily. “You’re going to make yourself late for class, not to mention me.” He ran a shaky hand through his hair, hoping to restore some order to the spikes. “Are you finished with your little indecencies, or was there some other horrible thing you had in mind?”

Riku smirked. “Oh, just be glad you don’t have a change of clothes on hand, or I would’ve done worse than that.”

“And gotten us both expelled.” Sora shot back, gathering his book bag. He let out a breath. “I’m going to be messed up for the rest of the day as it is.”

“You?” exclaimed Riku. “How do you think I feel? I went the whole weekend without contact, and now this?” He sighed and shook his head. “I’m going to be completely useless in all of my classes.”

“Like you weren’t already useless in class.” Sora teased. He dodged the swipe Riku made in his direction and stuck out his tongue.

“Ooh baby… Is that an invitation?” Riku asked, rolling his hips lewdly.

Sora yelped and clapped a hand over his eyes. “Okay, I’m going now! Later, pervert.”

“Later.” Riku called, grinning. That went well. Now everybody in the school knows that Sora is mine.

Sora rushed to his Calculus class, praying that he wouldn’t be late. He made it through the doorway just as the bell rang. With an audible sigh of relief, he made his way to his desk and sat down. He heard giggling and flushed. Okay, so everyone definitely knows why I’m late. I wonder if everybody in the school knows already? And I wonder what Wakka and Tidus will say when they find out?

It turned out to not be much. Once seated at the lunch table with his chicken strips, Sora merely earned a nod from Wakka.

“I figured it would happen sooner or later, ya.” Wakka said, shrugging. “There’s going to be a lot of heartbroken girls now that Riku has devoted himself to you, ya.”

Tidus waved a hand impatiently. “Yeah, yeah. What I want to know is all the good stuff.” He leaned in close, his eyes twinkling mischievously. “Did you two, you know, do it?”

Sora gaped at him. “Tidus?!”

Tidus looked innocent. “What? I was just asking the question that’s on everybody’s minds.”

“It’s not on my mind, ya.” Wakka assured him.

“Nothing’s on your mind, you dumb jock.” Tidus teased, playfully.

Wakka swept Tidus’ notebook off the table. “Oh no! Would you look at that. I’m so clumsy, ya. I couldn’t help it.”

“I’ll bet.” Tidus shot back, going to retrieve his notebook. When he sat back down, he returned his attention to Sora. “Seriously, that’s all anybody was talking about in all my classes. Did Riku and Sora do it? Are they really a couple, or is it just a prank?” He took a bite of his sandwich. “You two are a hot topic.”

Sora blanched. Yikes! “Is it really that bad?”

Tidus nodded. “Oh, it’s worse.”

“Leave him alone,” said Wakka. “He’s probably had enough excitement for one day, ya.”

You have no idea, Sora thought. He looked up as a shadow fell over the table. I guess Jake didn’t think so.

Tall and well-built with black hair and blue eyes, Jake Addison could present a mildly intimidating picture when he wanted to. He was the captain of the football team, and competed with Riku for the position of most popular student. Due to his own reclusive tendencies, Sora had never before had reason to take notice of Jake. Not until he showed up at his lunch table. Suddenly Jake looked a lot bigger and stronger than Sora remembered. “Hi, Jake.” he offered.

Jake looked down at him. “I thought I heard something. I guess I was mistaken.”

Wakka bristled. “Eh, Jake. What’s your problem, ya?”

Tidus rolled his eyes. “Don’t tell me you came all the way over here just to stir up shit.”

Jake glared at Sora. “Nah. I came to get a good look at the little loser who’s been polluting the school with his freak show. All day long, I have to hear about how some fruits have been crawling all over each other in the hallway.” He lifted his chin. “It makes me sick to my stomach. And as the president of the Student Council, I think I should do something about it.”

“Like you ever think.” Tidus snapped. “Get a life, Addison.”

“That’s right.” Wakka agreed. “Lay off, ya.”

Jake laughed. “This is ridiculous. As my teammates, you two should support me on this. Especially you, Wakka. That’s why I made you co-captain.”

Wakka shook his head. “The team and the coach made me co-captain, ya. That was because of my skills. You know I’ll support you on the field anytime.” He shook his head again. “But on your ignorant behavior? No way, man. You’re totally on your own, ya.”

Jake glared. “I am not on my own.” he snapped, glaring at Sora.

Sora stared back at him in disbelief. He stands there and acts like he’s disgusted by me, but in reality he’s hurt because of what he did with Riku. He started to speak, but thought better of it. If I call him on it, he’ll just deny it. Or better yet, he’ll beat the hell out of me. This day has been weird enough already without ending up in the nurse’s office. He sighed. “Look Jake, if I offended you, I’m sorry. I didn’t think it was appropriate for school either, and it won’t happen again.”

Jake recoiled at the kindness in his tone. “You’re fucking right it won’t happen again.” he hissed with vehemence. “Because if it does, I’m going to-”

“You’re going to what?” interrupted Riku. “Spend some time in the hospital?” He stepped in front of Jake, unflinching, his eyes cold as ice. “Going to go into the witness protection program? Because I swear, if you lay a hand on Sora, you’ll wish you’d never met me.”

“I already wish I’d never met you.” For an instant hurt seemed to flicker in Jake’s eyes and then it was gone. He straightened, and returned Riku’s glare. “So just stay out of my way, you fucking queen.” He turned and stormed off.

Riku raised an eyebrow. He’s one to talk. He sat down beside Sora and kissed him on the cheek. “Sorry I’m late. I had to fend off some distraught cheerleaders.” He made mocking hand gestures. “They were all, ‘Say it isn’t so!’, and I just had to tell the bitches to back off.” He shrugged.

“Did you talk to Jake before today?” Sora asked suddenly. If not, then no wonder he’s pissed.

Riku rolled his eyes. “What for? I mean, he found out like everybody else. Just because he’s the student council president he’s supposed to get a special bulletin? Should I have had it put on the morning announcements, do you think?”

Tidus snickered, but Wakka remained quiet, assessing the situation. He had been suspicious of Jake’s irrational behavior, and now he thought he knew the cause. It’s even more messed up than I figured, ya.

Sora shook his head. “You just don’t get it, do you?” He stood and began to gather his things. I need to clear my head.

“Get what?” asked Riku, genuinely confused. I mean, what is his problem? Jake is an asshole, anyway. He knew from the start it was just about the sex. I don’t owe him anything.

“Get it, got it, good.” Tidus quipped.

“Shut the fuck up, Swiss Miss!” snapped Riku. He turned back to Sora. “Will you at least tell me why you’re mad at me?”

“I’m not mad at you.” Sora protested. “I just need some time to myself.”

Riku groaned and laid his face in his hands. “Not even dating a week, and he tells me that he needs some space.” He looked up at Sora reproachfully. “What’s next? You’re going to tell me we should just be friends?” He laid his head down.

Sora sighed. Typical Riku tantrum. “I’ll see you in sixth period, okay?”

“Whatever.” Riku muttered, not looking up.

Wakka watched the exchange warily. Only Tidus seemed unfazed. “Okay, see you later Sora.”

Sora waved half-heartedly as he walked off. Several pairs of eyes followed his progress as he left the cafeteria, but he tried his best to ignore them. He knew that Kairi was amongst them, and would no doubt want to talk about it, but he couldn’t face her right now. I need to get away from all this juvenile behavior. He walked down the hallway towards his English classroom, wondering if Squall would object to his presence. We haven’t really spoken to one another since Saturday, and he didn’t seem too eager to talk to me today… He peeked into the classroom. “Hey,” he began hesitantly.

A beautiful brown-haired woman looked up from her novel. She smiled at him warmly. “Hello there. If you’re from my next class, you’re a bit early.”

“Oh,” said Sora. “I already had this class today. I was just looking for Mr. Leonhart.” He shifted uneasily. What’s going on? Why is Miss Belle here? He recognized the woman as a substitute teacher that had taught a few of his classes before. Ordinarily he would be glad to see her, but not if it meant that something had happened to Squall.

“I see,” Belle said, standing. She titled her head to the side. “Well, I’m sorry to disappoint you, but he left early. He was feeling rather ill, and so I’m here in his place.”

“Oh no,” Sora moaned. He really is sick. It’s all my fault for wearing his jacket when he drove me home Saturday. I wonder if he’s okay. He felt a hand on his shoulder and looked up.

“Don’t worry,” Belle murmured, her voice comforting. She gave a reassuring smile. “I’m sure that he will be alright, and back to work in no time. Especially with dedicated students like yourself wishing for his recovery.” She straightened and glanced at the clock. “Well then, you’d better hurry along to your next class. Lunch will be dismissed soon.”

“You’re right.” Sora replied. “Thank you.” He left the room with no intention of going to his next class. I’m going to go see Squall.

Nervous, he crept slowly down the hallway, wondering if he could really go through with it. Kids skip school all the time. Tidus does it every other day. Surely I can do it just this once? He ducked into the bathroom as he heard approaching footsteps. He waited until they passed and then gathered his nerve. Okay, I can do this. I wouldn’t be a teenager if I couldn’t cut class just once. But I bet no one ever leaves school to go see their teachers. His mind decided, he darted out of the bathroom and moved silently down the hall. He made a quick stop at his locker to fetch his sweatshirt and ditch his books, then continued on his way. Before he knew it, he was out of the main doors and down the sidewalk. He looked back once, sure that he was caught, but no one was there. I made it.



This must be a dream, Squall thought, watching Rinoa laugh at something Seifer had said. It has to be. I know this dream, because I have it every night. He was in the backseat of Seifer’s Pontiac, watching as the blonde teen steered the car recklessly through the wet streets, while Rinoa sat in the passenger seat, unconcerned. Squall watched the dream with a sort of curious detachment. In a moment, he will turn around to argue with me. Sure enough, Seifer turned around and yelled at Squall. He had long since forgotten the exact words, so that what came out was a jumbled incoherent mess, but it didn’t matter. Squall knew that the outcome would be the same, it was always the same. Rinoa will scream, and then we will crash. Rinoa shrieked, and clawed at the steering wheel. Seifer turned back to the road but it was too late. Squall braced himself for the impact, and then it came. The deafening crunch, the powerful jolt to his body as he was flung against the door.

The door!

The window shattered, glass shards cutting his face. Unbearable searing pain like none he’d ever known coursed through him. A sense of vertigo overtook him as the car flipped, rolling onto it’s roof.

The door! Someone is at the door!

Sirens were growing louder, ambulances approaching. They’d be too late to save poor Seifer, crushed against the steering wheel. They’d do Rinoa no good, bleeding to death on the wet street. Those sirens were for Squall alone. Alone… He was alone again, always alone.

There is someone knocking at the door!

Startled, Squall broke out of his dream, panting. He sat up, shocked to feel the coolness of the leather couch against his skin. The sound of the aquarium brought it all back to him. I must’ve passed out when I came in here to fix lunch. I’d only intended to sit for a moment. He raised a hand to his burning forehead and winced. I must be worse off than I thought.

Knock, knock, knock.

And who the hell could that be? He wondered, rising slowly. He felt a slight dizziness and moved carefully to the door. I’ll bet it’s the Girl Scouts, peddling cookies. With any luck, I’ll make them sick and start an epidemic. He opened the door. “What do you want?” he asked warily.

Sora was standing there, holding a Safeway bag. “Hi.” he offered sheepishly.

Squall stared at him, stunned. Several thoughts raced through his mind at once. What the hell is he doing here? Did he cut class? How did he know I was here? What’s in the bag? Does he know how fucking happy I am to see him? Why am I so glad to see him? Does he have any idea how damn good he looks to me right now? He pressed a hand to his temple, needing to quiet his thoughts. When he felt composed, he looked at Sora again. “What are you doing here?”

Sora fidgeted, clearly uncomfortable. “I was worried about you.” He averted his eyes. “I went by the classroom during lunch, and the substitute told me that you left. So I went by the store, and then I came here.”

Squall leaned against the doorframe for support. This is entirely unacceptable. “Look Sora,” he began evenly. “I’m a grown man, and I can take care of myself.” That’s why I passed out on my own couch. “What you did was immature and stupid, not to mention reckless. What if somebody saw you? You could get in serious trouble.” I could get in serious trouble. “Besides, I don’t need your help.”

Stunned and hurt, Sora stared back at him for a long moment, before lowering his eyes. “Well, if that’s how you feel... I’m sorry.” I must’ve really made him mad, he never talks to me like that. That’s how he talks to everybody else. I was a fool to think there was anything special about me. He straightened. “I guess I’ll go home, then.”

“Wait,” Squall interrupted, not liking the wounded expression on Sora’s face. What am I doing? He’s just being human. “I’m sorry. I feel like such an ass. You risked your hide to make sure that I was still breathing, and here I am, chewing you out for giving a damn.” He sighed. “So, what’d you bring me?”

Sora blinked. So, he’s not mad at me then? “I brought you some Gatorade, some soup, Saltines, and some cough medicine.”

Squall nodded, impressed. “You thought of everything.” He stepped back and motioned for Sora to enter the apartment, closing the door behind him. He immediately slumped down on the couch, exhausted. I really am sick. “How’d you know that I didn’t have any medicine?”

Sora shrugged. “You don’t strike me as the type of guy to buy cough medicine.”

“I’d say that you know me pretty well, then.” Squall replied. “Although, I must not know you as well as I thought. Surely your lunch money didn’t cover all of that. I never had you pegged for a shoplifter, Sora.”

Sora rolled his eyes. “Whatever. My mom always told me to carry twenty dollars on me at all times in case of an emergency. So I used it.” He looked Squall over. “I’d say that this qualifies as an emergency.”

“Would you then? Thanks for your expert opinion, smartass.” Squall teased. He laid back on the couch and yawned.

Sora blinked and then went into the kitchen. He’s acting sort of off. More casual than usual. It must be because he’s sick. Maybe he’s delirious or something. He set the bag down on the counter and then began to browse through the cabinets, looking for a pot in which to cook the soup. He found one and set it on the burner. As he opened the soup he found himself thinking about Riku. I wonder if Squall knows about it? I mean, he couldn’t have seen us, could he? He blushed at the thought. I guess I could always ask. He stirred the soup carefully, feeling the heat rising from it. And I wonder what Riku will think when he doesn’t see me in Physics class.

Squall lay on his back on the sofa, his heart pounding. I can’t believe Sora had the nerve to come see me after Saturday. He must be insane. He turned as Sora returned to the room, carrying a bowl of soup lined with Saltines and a glass of Gatorade. “Is that for me?” Squall asked, sitting up. It smells good. I didn’t even realize that I was hungry.

Sora smiled. “No, it’s for me.” He handed the bowl to Squall and set the cup on the coffee table.

Squall started on the soup, eating hungrily. He’d always liked Minestrone, it tasted good even with his dulled senses. He took several gulps of the Gatorade, drinking so much that Sora immediately went to refill his glass.

“Thirsty, huh?” Sora remarked, when he returned with the glass.

“You have no idea.” Squall agreed. “I spent the entire morning throwing up between classes. I thought that if I could make it to lunch, I’d be alright, but I ended up leaving right after third period.” He resumed his meal. “I just hope… that I can keep this down.”

“Well, I’m here with you now.” Sora offered warmly. “I didn’t even suspect that you were sick.”

Squall shrugged. “To be perfectly honest with you, neither did I.” He opened the cough medicine and measured it out. With a grimace he drank it and washed it down with Gatorade. Yuck. Cherry flavored, my ass. Those cherries must’ve been poisoned. “I sneezed all day yesterday, but I didn’t think much of it. I figured it was allergies or something. I didn’t even start feeling really bad until this morning, although it had to have started Saturday night.”

Sora’s face fell. “I kind of figured that. I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be.” Squall assured him. “I don’t regret anything. I’ll be perfectly fine by tomorrow morning. Besides, this little cold is worth it. Without your company, my Saturday would’ve been considerably less interesting. What did you do after I dropped you off, anyway?”

Sora thought back to his uneventful evening. “Nothing really. I just talked to my cousin for a bit, played some video games, and that’s it. What about you?”

I relieved all off the sexual tension that you’d caused me. Squall blushed, previously unaware that he could do such a thing. “I… took a shower, after that I talked to my friend, and then I went to bed.”

“Was it the same friend that hit his head on your kitchen floor last week?” Sora asked, genuinely curious.

Squall laughed. “Yes, that’s Cloud, alright. In fact, he hit his head again last night, only this time on the kitchen counter.”

Sora snickered. “You know, he sounds like a funny guy. What does he look like?”

“Like you, only with blonde hair and lighter eyes.” Squall answered. Not to mention, older.

Sora frowned. “That doesn’t sound too appealing.” He had a hard time imaging himself as anything other than dark-haired.

“Oh come on. It’s not as bad as it sounds.” Squall insisted. “There are some pictures of him around here somewhere…” He racked his brain, trying to remember where he had put his old photo album. I haven’t seen that thing in ages. Is it under the bed? Or did I move it to the closet? “Check the top shelf in that closet over there.” he suggested.

Obediently, Sora got up and walked over to the closet. The door opened easily and he stood on his toes to reach the top shelf. He came back with a handful of dust for all of his troubles. “I don’t think there’s anything up there.” he choked.

“Ah shit, it’s in that box at the bottom of the closet.” Squall corrected. “Hey, I’m sorry.” he offered when Sora glared at him. “Come on, I’m a very sick man here.”

“I’ll bet.” Sora muttered, and bent over to continue the search.

Squall’s breath caught as he considered the possibilities of such a position. I could just walk up behind him right now… and pull him back against me… His mind went spiraling downwards as he considered various ways to spend his evening. I wonder if Sora’s a screamer or a moaner? He looks like a moaner, but then you never can tell. Damn… I really am a very sick man.

“I found it.” Sora announced, standing and putting an end to Squall’s fantasies. He brought the glossy tan book over to where Squall sat and curled up beside him. After looking briefly to Squall for permission, he opened the album and began to browse through the pages.

Squall felt his awareness returning as the medicine took effect, and he gladly narrated the album, putting names to the faces, some of which he had all but forgotten, and some that he couldn’t forget if he tried. “I’m sure you recognize that loser.”

Sora shook his head. “I’m really not surprised to see Coach Cid flipping off the camera.” He turned to a photo of a highly attractive blonde man. “Whoa… who’s he? He’s really cute.”

Squall eyed him strangely. “That’s Cloud. You know, Mr. Crack His Head Open Every Other Day?”

Sora blinked. “No way. He’s hot, he looks nothing like me.”

Squall was tempted to tell Sora that he found him quite hot as well, but he quickly threw out the idea. “You need more self-esteem.” he said instead, and turned the page. The next page stunned him back into reality, reminding him in one fell swoop of why he could never go back to who he used to be.

Sora regarded the picture with care, his mind sensing that it had been taken at a crucial turning point in Squall’s life. It was one of those photo booth strips that cost about five dollars at amusement parks and movie theaters. The first thing that he noticed was the bright red background that suggested a kind of outgoingness that the Squall he knew just didn’t have. Then he looked closely at the expressions on the people’s faces. Squall was in the middle, his face bearing a frown that was too forced to be real. Leaning against his shoulder was a very pretty girl with dark hair and dark eyes. She looks kind of like a gypsy, Sora thought. On Squall’s other side was a platinum blond man with eyes that sparkled dangerously. The very last thing that he noticed was how smooth and unblemished Squall’s face was in the picture. He didn’t have the scar then, he realized. Do I want to know about this? I do. “Squall,” he began. “Who are they?”

Squall was silent for a moment, trying to shake off the ghosts of his past. How can I tell him, without upsetting him or myself? “Well, the guy is the one I told you about, named Seifer. And the girl…” Haunts me every day of my life. “Is my former girlfriend, Rinoa.”

“Oh…” Sora replied. He told me that Seifer died, but he never mentioned Rinoa. “What happened to her?” Somehow he didn’t think that she and Squall had broken up.

Squall leaned his head back into the cushions and sighed. It had been so long since he’d brought the story up to anyone, he’d forgotten his usual avoidance speech. I’ll just have to tell it like it is. “She died in the same car accident that killed Seifer.”

Sora’s eyes widened. “Oh no…” He looked at the picture again and felt a stinging in his eyes at the thought. They both look so beautiful, so carefree, so alive. And they were so young.

“It was years ago.” Squall continued. He looked up at the ceiling and closed his eyes. “Heh, it’s been so long, some of it has started to fade, all except for the worst of it.” He felt a hand on his arm and looked at Sora questioningly.

“You don’t have to tell me about it.” Sora said. “I shouldn’t have asked.”

Squall shook his head. “No. I don’t mind. It might help this time, actually.” He sighed again. “It was right before graduation. I know, because Seifer’s parents had bought him this silver sports car to reward him for getting accepted to graduate school. I remember at the time, I was so jealous since Cid couldn’t afford to get me anything except a hundred dollars in a Hallmark card, and I knew he had to save and work hard just for that. It all seems so silly now.” He relaxed against the cushions, scarcely aware that he had put an arm around Sora, or that Sora had moved closer to him. “Anyway,” he continued. “It rained like hell that spring. Anyone with any kind of sense would’ve known to take it easy on the accelerator in that kind of weather. But then Seifer never had much sense.”

Sora remained quiet, his eyes fixed on Squall as he spoke, enraptured.

“We were heading to a U2 concert, believe it or not.” Squall continued. “I never cared for them much, but Rinoa and Seifer loved them. We were going to be late because Rinoa took forever to get ready. And Seifer refused to accept fate.” If only he’d known… But fate is fucked up like that. “I kept bitching at him to slow down, he kept yelling at me to shut up, and Rinoa kept pleading with both of us to stop fighting. In a way I guess you could say we were all responsible. But none of us were expecting what happened next.”

“What happened?” asked Sora hesitantly. It was taking all of his willpower not to cry at the desolation in Squall’s voice.

Squall spoke with a sort of detachment, reliving the moment over in his mind. “There was a truck. Big eighteen-wheeler. Seifer wasn’t paying attention and ran the light. Then… we crashed. Rinoa wasn’t wearing her seatbelt and she went through the windshield. Seifer’s side took a direct hit from the truck and he was crushed.” He closed his eyes, hearing the sirens and the screams. “At some point during the accident, the car flipped over, and I was trapped inside. I could feel Seifer’s blood dripping on me, but that wasn’t the worst. The worst was that I looked out through the shattered glass, and I saw Rinoa, not more than twenty feet away, and she was alive.” He shuddered. “And I couldn’t get to her. I had to watch her bleed to death on the street, right in front of me.” He sighed and opened his eyes, forcing all of the gruesome imagery back into the depths from which it came.

Sora swallowed hard. “I’m so sorry… That is the saddest thing I’ve ever heard.”

Squall squeezed his shoulder. “Don’t worry about it. I hardly ever think about it anymore.” I hardly ever think about anything anymore. “It was ages ago. I’ve moved on.” More lies. “I can cope.”

“You weren’t seriously hurt in the accident at all?” Sora asked, feeling slightly more composed.

Squall shrugged. “I pretty much walked out of it uninjured. The doctors said it was a miracle. Cid said that my father must’ve been Satan himself.” Still… “But I didn’t get away completely unmarked. There was glass everywhere, and a few pieces got me pretty good.” he explained.

“And that’s how you got that scar on your face.” Sora said, with dawning realization. His eyes went to Squall’s face, seeing the scar in a new light. It must hurt him so much to look in the mirror everyday and be reminded of what he’s lost.

Squall laughed halfheartedly. “Yeah, I got a beauty mark. Except when I say beauty mark, what I really mean is hideous deformity.” He forced another laugh, hating the false sound of it, but dreading the silence. Reluctantly he glanced at Sora, chagrined to see that he was staring at his face with a frightening intensity. “Don’t stare at it too long, Sora. You’ll give yourself nightmares.” he joked weakly.

“You shouldn’t talk about yourself that way.” Sora scolded, still staring at his face. I wonder… “Can I touch it?” he asked suddenly.

The words coming from Sora in such a bold tone gave Squall a start. His mind careened into the gutter. Now, I know damn well that’s not what he meant. He raised an eyebrow. “Touch what?” he questioned suspiciously.

“Your scar.” Sora answered. He looked at Squall oddly. “What else would I be talking about?”

“Why in the hell would you want to touch my scar?” Squall asked, dodging Sora’s question. Okay, so that’s what he meant. Whew.

“I just want to know what it feels like.” Sora replied innocently.

Well shit… Squall gave up on his losing battle with thinking pure thoughts. I’m already so emotionally charged from the story. This situation has the potential to go wrong in an instant. I should tell him hell no, and to keep his hands, feet, and other objects to himself. He shrugged. “As you wish.”

Hesitantly, Sora reached out a hand and laid it on Squall’s face. The skin was warm, a little bristly from where it had been shaved, and very comforting to the touch. “No, don’t.” he pleaded when Squall began to pull away. “Please, let me just… this…” Sora traced his fingertips along the line of the scar, feeling its design. It felt as though it belonged there, and Sora realized that he could not imagine Squall without it.

“Sora, you probably shouldn’t be doing that.” Squall warned, in what he hoped was a steady voice. Too late… The touch of Sora’s gentle hand on his face was evoking feelings within him that he preferred to deal with on quiet nights when no one else was within hearing distance. A slow ache began in his stomach, tightening his abs and sending heat throughout his body. “Look Sora, I…” Squall took a sharp intake of breath as Sora’s thumb brushed over his lips briefly. The touch was feather-light but it was enough to spark a fire in his nerve endings that trailed all the way down to his toes. Squall felt a faint reaction in his loins and noticed with some trepidation that Sora was still touching him. He affects me so fast, it’s terrifying.

“You have no reason to be self-conscious of your face.” Sora assured him, still stroking Squall’s cheek. “I think it’s perfect even with the scar. It makes it better, really. It’s more realistic that way.”

Squall’s eyes closed. Sora, I cannot focus on a single word you’re saying. He was almost completely unaware of what he was doing as he drew Sora’s thumb between his lips.

“And if you didn’t have it…” Sora’s words trailed off when he felt Squall’s teeth clamp down softly onto his thumb. His breath began to quicken and he realized the nature of Squall’s action. A shiver went through him as Squall brushed his tongue lightly against his thumb, before sucking on it suggestively. Sora let out a sound that was trapped somewhere between a yelp and a squeak.

Squall opened his eyes. It took a moment for his overworked senses to register that he had Sora’s thumb between his teeth, and his face wore an unreadable expression. Ack! Mortified, he released Sora’s hand and scrambled backwards on the couch. Christ! I was… he almost made me… I thought I had more self-control than that. He cleared his throat. “Sora,” he began thickly, “I apologize for that.” He ran a hand through his hair in embarrassment. “That’s never happened before. Not too many people can even get a reaction out of me.”

Sora flushed as the true implications of those words hit him. I was turning him on?! Me?! “Whoa, I didn’t even know it was that serious.” He looked away, blushing. “I mean, all I did was touch your lips.”

“All you did?!” replied Squall in disbelief. “Sora, do you have any idea how that feels?”

“No.” answered Sora honestly. “No one has ever done it to me.”

Squall hesitated. Danger bells were going off in his mind as he considered. He knew he shouldn’t do it, but his body practically demanded retribution for its own state of arousal. With a sense of self-reproach, he raised his hand and laid it on Sora’s cheek.

Sora started at the contact but didn’t pull away, blue eyes questioning, but unafraid.

Slowly, Squall moved his thumb to where the curve of Sora’s bottom lip began. As he brushed over its warm surface, he couldn’t help noticing how soft it was.

While Squall’s thumb caressed his lips with agonizing slowness, Sora’s thoughts raced. I can’t believe this is really happening… What would Kairi say if she knew… What would Riku think if he found out… Do I really care anymore? Sora welcomed the fog that silenced his thoughts as Squall’s gentle ministrations continued. Closing his eyes, he leaned fully into Squall’s hand. All at once, the caress ended, and Sora let out a mewl of frustration before he could stop himself. Opening his eyes, he looked at Squall with confusion.

Squall had been growing more conscious of his considerably lessening hold on self-restraint as he watched Sora respond to his simplest touch. It became entirely too easy to imagine himself claiming Sora on the spot, doing unspeakable things with his tongue, fingers, and other anatomy until they were both sated. With superhuman effort he had retreated, the resulting whine of Sora’s disapproval almost making him reconsider. Almost. Sora was regarding him with a look that said ‘Why did you stop?’ Squall very well couldn’t tell him the truth, which was that if he didn’t stop now, he soon wouldn’t have been able to. Instead, he cleared his throat and lied. “Well, that’s all there is to it. Now you know what it feels like to have that done to you.”

As if in a trance, Sora raised his own fingers to his lips, a dazed look in his eyes. “That was too cruel.” he murmured in a husky voice that gave Squall’s hormones quite a jump-start.

Sora’s body was raging with an undeniable purpose, leaving him at the mercy of his instincts. Almost absently, his eyes wandered back to Squall’s lips, where all this trouble had begun. A thought took shape in his mind. One single goal, that once achieved would end the fog and return rational thought to him. Kiss him. Sora knew it was risky, but all things considered, he didn’t think he really had a choice. He would kiss Squall, and then maybe the almost savage hold he’d held over him since day one would finally be broken. But can I do it? Sora licked his lips nervously. It’s worth a shot…

Squall ran a hand through his hair again, a habit born of nervousness, and tried to think of something to say. Surely I owe him an explanation, an apology or something… this is all getting way out of hand. With faltering reserve, Squall forced himself to look directly at his guest.

Now or never! Steeling his nerves, Sora leaned forward and pressed his lips to Squall’s. He could hear his heart pounding in his chest, as he squeezed his eyes tightly shut. I just want this moment. That’s not asking too much, I hope. Blindly, he reached out an arm to steady himself, and felt a lurch in his chest when his hand came to rest on one muscular thigh. Eep! He dared not open his eyes now, terrified of the look he would be treated to. Squall would undoubtedly throw him out and never speak to him again. What he was doing was well beyond unacceptable. But… Sora committed it all to memory, the warm and somewhat sandy texture of Squall’s lips against his own, the heat of the firm fabric-clad thigh beneath his palm, and the practiced feel of Squall’s fingers roaming through his hair. Wait… Fingers in my hair?! What?! Breathless, Sora pulled away, and opened his eyes.

Squall didn’t release his hold on his hair, and immediately lowered his face to Sora’s again, lips brushing against the line of his jawbone, before sliding to the curve of his neck. “Sora,” he murmured softly against his skin. “I’m so sorry.”

Sora gasped at the feel of his breath so close, and tightened his grip on Squall’s thigh, earning a low sound of approval. His heart was beating even faster now, and his mind reeled. A feeling of unparalleled joy arose within him. I can’t believe this is happening! Instinctively, he tilted his head back, giving Squall better access to his throat.

Squall slipped an arm around Sora’s back and held him tightly as he drew kisses along the side of his neck. His other hand twined sensuously in his hair. It took all of his self-control to keep from panting like an animal as Sora succumbed to his touch. This is so wrong… He grazed his fingertips across Sora’s bare skin under his shirt and the sheer smoothness of it clouded his mind. Fiercely, he returned his attentions to Sora’s lips, shuddering when he felt Sora’s tongue tentatively meet his own. He lapped at it with bold strokes, mimicking the deeper need of his lust, and challenging Sora to give in.

Sora returned the kiss, marveling at the array of sensations being awakened within him. Squall’s kiss was entirely different from the few he’d shared with Riku. Those kisses were provocative but tinged with innocence, while this one was deeply penetrating and utterly dominating. In a word, it was heaven.

Spurred to greater heights by Sora’s submission, Squall gave Sora’s tongue one last lick before descending on his neck again. The clean taste of Sora’s skin was maddening to him. Lost in his desire, he drew his nails down Sora’s back.

Pain and pleasure bloomed brightly all at once. Oh God… Sora arched against Squall, letting out a moan that was frightening in it’s intensity.

The sound brought reality back to Squall with a screeching halt. Awareness slammed into him painfully, and he looked down at the heavily breathing Sora with horror. Even more frightening was the urge to continue, fueled by his now raging erection. Holy SHIT!!! What the FUCK am I DOING?! Quickly, he dropped Sora as if he were a bag of hot coals, and lurched off the couch, nearly tripping over the coffee table. After a moment, he caught his balance and leaned his face against the wall, his eyes closed. “Oh my fucking God…”

Sora sat up shakily, his eyes wide. What was THAT?! Did I just… and did he just… and did we… He stayed on the couch, his legs too weak to stand.

Squall’s heart was beating rapidly, his throat dry. He kissed me… He clenched and unclenched his fists, not trusting himself to look at Sora. And I kissed him back. I fucking kissed him WELL. And I loved every awful second of it. With mild hysteria he realized that he almost certainly would’ve taken things further still if Sora hadn’t made some noise. I can still taste him…

Sora watched Squall, terrified by his response, realizing the magnitude of his action. What have I done? I messed everything up. He’ll never want to see me again as long as I live.

Feeling eyes on his back, Squall slowly turned around. This has to stop now. It was more dangerous than I ever realized. I still can’t believe I was going to do that, with him… He ran a hand through his hair and sighed heavily. Well, this is definitely the end, regardless of the damage to his feelings. I’d rather be lonely and disliked than behind bars. Clearing his throat, he spoke, not even sure what he really wanted to say. “Sora, let me say first of all, that what happened here, stays here. You will not breathe a word of what happened today. Not to anyone. If you do, then life will get a lot harder for both of us. Do you follow me?”

Sora nodded, dread rising. “I would never tell. You know that.”

And now I’m subtly threatening him into silence? Squall groaned and laid his face in his hands. “Sora, why? Why did you have to touch me like that? The way you looked at me was bad enough. But your touch…” Is like temptation itself. He groaned again.

“I’m so sorry.” Sora pleaded, his voice low. “I didn’t really understand what I was doing. I’ve never really… wanted anyone like that. It’ll never happen again, I swear.”

“I know it won’t.” Squall agreed. “Because from now on, you don’t come near me. I leave you alone, and you leave me alone. If being your teacher means not being your friend, then… So be it.”

Sora flinched, hurt but not surprised. I knew that would happen if I kissed him, but I did it anyway. Was it worth it?

Squall continued. “I never should’ve let you approach me outside of class. I was never oblivious to the tension between us. I completely blame myself.”

“I don’t.” Sora said quietly. I’ve lost his friendship, his respect, and his company. All because I couldn’t control myself. I knew I should’ve stayed at school.

Squall looked at him for a long moment, moved by the sadness in his tone. “Don’t be so hard on yourself, Sora. I’m the adult here, and I should’ve known better. But you’re young, and you’re at a stage in your life where your hormones are in control most of the time. It’s easy to get confused.” Yet, I think it was more than that at work here. “Didn’t you say that you and Riku are together?”

Sora winced. “Yes.” So, now I’m a cheater too?

Squall nodded. “Well then, what probably happened is that you confused your feelings for Riku with what you think of me, and acted on it. As for me, I’ve been alone and… sexually frustrated for such a long time, I just sort of went along with it.” He sighed, feeling a great deal more stable with this explanation. Well, at least I don’t feel sick anymore. Sora cured me, he thought wryly. I’ll be physically able to return to work tomorrow, but mentally…

Sora stood slowly, looking at the floor. “I’ll go then. And I’m sorry. I really hope you believe me.” But I don’t regret it.

“Of course I believe you.” Squall replied. Does he have to look so damn pitiful? I’m protecting his virtue, for crying out loud. Against his better judgment he walked over to Sora and placed his hands on his shoulders. “Sora, look at me.”

Reluctantly, Sora met his gaze. This is the part where he’d say we should just be friends, but we can’t even be friends anymore.

Squall sighed again. “I’m not mad at you. I just know what’s best for both of us. And that is for us to remain professional. I was honored that you wanted me for a friend, but that can never happen as long as you are my student.” He explained. “I advise that you take your confused emotions, and channel them into your relationship with Riku. Give him all the attention that you’ve been wasting on me.” I can’t believe I’m telling him to do this. So much for his virtue, in that case. The thought irked him.

Sora swallowed hard. “I will try.” He backed away and headed for the door.

“Sora,” Squall called. “I want you to know, that if you ever need anything, or if you’re ever in trouble, you can always come to me for help. I think I owe you that much.”

Sora nodded, and left without saying anything. He didn’t trust himself to speak. If I open my mouth now, I might start crying.

Squall watched him go, and then closed the door. Grimly he returned to his spot on the sofa. That was that. Out of the corner of his eye he spotted the photo album, lying on the floor by the coffee table. Rinoa stared back at him from the picture, her face loving and understanding. It looks almost as though she’s approving of my interest in Sora, he thought and then closed the book, irritated with himself. I must be losing my mind.

<--- Back to Change My Stripes