The chimes signaling an announcement rang throughout the entire Garden. Squall looked up warily and sighed as Cid began
his announcement. It came as no surprise to the tall brunette when his name was heard. Sighing he sheathed his gun blade and
turned from the mess of the now dead monster he had just fought and trudged back towards the sealing gate door.
Turning to the left, at the end of the long hallway he walked with a sauntering gait towards Dr. Kadawoki's office where
he was to pick up his new ward, Hayner. He had plans to show the young boy where he'd be staying for a good chunk of his life
until he too became a SEED. Provided of course he didn't get himself killed in the training center or on the SEED Exam a few
years from now.
Turning down the long hallway that led to the small office Squall let his thoughts wander to Rinoa. She had stayed for
a short while with him and the rest of his friends in the Garden to celebrate their victory, and learn from Edea about her
newly gained powers as a descendant of Hyne. Then one day, she was given summons from Zone and Watts her two friends from
the old resistance group in Timber, that she was to return home promptly.
Rinoa had said she knew the time had come, where she'd have to return to the dark dreary city Deling, where her father
lived with her. Yet she had also said, that it was about time she grew up and faced her own inner demons when it came to her
father. When the day of her departure had arrived it was a tearful goodbye, between her and the girls. Who told her that she
would always be one of them, even if she wasn't apart of the old Orphanage gang. Even Seifer had been there to say his farewells,
much to the surprise of the others. Squall sighed and shook his head, as he reached the doorway leading to the office.
Opening it he peeked his head inside and spotted the young Hayner sitting down on one of the beds, the good Dr. Kadawoki
standing next to him.
"Oh good, you're here now." She said to Squall as she pulled him aside. "The boy's a bit scared, and seems to be very distant.
I suggest you try to be a good role model to him and try to make him feel welcome. Try to get him involved with the other
Squall looked at the small brown haired boy and nodded turning back to the Dr. "I'll try my best, but I can't make any
promises." He said as he crossed his arms over his chest.
"You have to try at least." Dr. Kadawoki insisted as she walked behind her desk and sat down. "He needs someone to be a
father figure, and he needs friends."
Squall coughed and looked at the Dr. with a perplexed look. "Hey, just because I agreed to this, doesn't mean I'm going
to like it." He said grumpily.
"Oh don't you even dare start." She admonished with a wry chuckle. "He's a lot like you were when you first came to Garden."
She added, "He's lonely, scared, and needs guidance."
Squall balked at the comparison and regarded the boy with renewed interest. "You really think so?" He whispered quietly.
"You really think he's like me?"
"Of course I do." She nodded. "He likes to keep things locked away tightly. He's not spoken since he arrived. Just like
"Hyne," Squall murmured as he rubbed his forehead. "This is going to be a lot of work."
"You'll be fine." Dr. Kadawoki said smiling and indicated with a wave of her hand that the two should leave.
Nodding Squall moved to the boy and bent down to eye level, Hayner regarded him with eyes that showed no emotion, his facial
features matching. Like stone, empty of emotion. Squall blinked and gathered his resolve. "Come on, lets go." He said offering
his hand to the young youth. "Lets get you settled, then we can go get something to eat."
Dr. Kadawoki watched the exchange and noted the stiffness in Squall's back. She knew it would be awkward for the boy as
well as Squall, but she also knew that this new responsibility was just what was needed to distract the older youth from Rinoa
not being around.
Hayner looked down at the offered hand then looked at Squall without saying anything and took it tightly and hopped off
the bed he was sitting on, while Squall stood up.
Squall noted how tightly the boy clung to his hand, and was reminded of the moments he was with Ellone when the two were
staying at Edea Kramer's Orphanage, how she had always been there for him until the day Matron spirited her away onto the
White SEED Ship, and he left for Balamb Garden.
'Maybe...' Squall thought sadly, 'Dr. Kadawoki is right.'
In silence the two walked down the hallway back to the dorms, that housed most of the students of Balamb Garden. Unknown
to the two, they were being watched.
"The two look like father and son, don't you think?" Selphie asked Zell, as the two sat on a bench in the inner circle
that surrounded the main elevator.
"If you say so." Zell said as he watched the two with mere curiosity. "It's still a little weird though. I mean man! Do
you think it's such a good idea for Squall to do this? You and I both know that Squall isn't one to fond of kids...."
"Oh gosh!" Selphie said looking at Zell, with a twinkle in her eye. "You weren't with us the day Squall saved another
kid from getting hit by a train in Timber." She said. "He was very heroic! The mother was beside herself in relief when I
brought him and his little sister back to their home and told her what had happened."
"Huh, you don't say." Zell said in bewilderment. "Maybe he'll pull it off after all."
Selphie nodded her head in agreement. "Yeah. He'll do just fine. Who knows, maybe the little guy will get past that last
wall of self doubt Squall has."
"Possibly." Zell said as he took a bite of the hotdog he held in his right hand and chewed thoughtfully.