Title: A Good Influence
Author: Andromiel
Rating: M
Warnings: Yaoi, AU, mentions of drug and suicide.
Disclaimer: I own nothing from any Final Fantasy game or Kingdom Hearts.
Author notes: Oh, boy. Uhm. Here I am. Almost two years later. Yeah. Uhm. If you kill me, the fic will really never be finished. I don't even know if anyone will still want to read this, but here we go.

I know KH2 is out and all, but I have yet to play all of it (I'm playing it with a friend and we don't get together that often) so there will not be any CoM or KH2 characters. Sorry. It would just complicate things in the long run.

"Mmn." The teenager in question curled up against the funky blue ivy. Apart from that however-he didn't stir.
Lulu let out a frustrated breath. "Sora!"
Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

What was he, deaf? Lulu rubbed her forehead, wondering why she even tried. Additionally, she didn't even want to know why Riku's little playmate was taking a nap outside of the house. It wasn't that late-barely seven o'clock. How long had he been there on the floor?
The stately woman crossed her arms before finally giving up on her dignity and kicking the teenager none-too-lightly.

"Wake up."

"Wah-! Oww-what?" Finally Sora reacted and stumbled halfway to his feet before falling over again on his butt. He blinked, dumbfounded in a sleepy daze, dark brown hair all over the place. "Huh?"
A few seconds passed by before mental acuity kicked in with a bang.

"Oh thank GOD, AUNT LU."
"Don't ca-" Lulu flinched and was cut short when Sora launched himself and clung to her skirts. Even she was a bit speechless, not that it would have mattered had she been able to speak. Sora was filling the silence just fine by himself.

"Riku was mean and he dumped me and I mean that in a totally platonic way the by way just in case I thought you should know because some people would take it in other ways but ANYWAY he left me this morning and it was really rude and mean and I had to get a ride home from someone else and then I discovered that I had no key because you people gave me a cell phone and a cool room but no key and that was a bit of a problem because nobody was answering the door and-mff." Sora blinked, finding it just a little bit challenging to speak when Lulu had his lips pinched shut.

"Not another word." She warned, irritated. Despite the pitiful look Sora gave her, Lulu was unmoved.
"Don't call me Aunt Lu. Ever." For emphasis, she pinched harder. "Understood?"
"Mmnff." The poor boy agreed, dejectedly.
"Good. Secondly, I will get you keys so this doesn't happen again."

Lulu shook her head. She wasn't understanding a word he was saying. She really wasn't. That was just too absurd.
"I'm going to let go, and I'm going to let you in the house. Not one word."

Sora held up one hand, as if to silently say I promise. Lulu released him reluctantly, unsure what to expect from him.
Her paranoia did not go unanswered-he popped back on his feet like a Jack in a Box and caught her in a full blown bear hug. Then he let go of her so quick she was left dizzy.
By the time she got her bearings straight, he was gone.

Lulu rubbed her temples. He is way too likeable to kill, too annoying to be allowed to exist.

The first objective; find Riku. The second objective; get some food, because his stomach was killing him.

Sora prowled the first floor in must-find-Riku­ mode before realizing that once again, he was unmistakably lost. Oh. Well.

He stopped short before a darkened hallway and scratched the back of his head. Was he supposed to go left? Or right? He fidgeted in indecision. Actually, he should probably backtrack. Going into gloomy hallways was generally the stupid thing to do in horror movies. Except he was almost nearly sure that there was a staircase somewhere around there. He was already lost, why not just go for it?

In the middle of his deep debating, the sound of his cell phone going off didn't register until it began vibrating. Sora jerked in surprise, wondering what the hell that was until finally remembering he, Sora Kogai, did actually own a cell phone.
Which he could have used to call someone to let him in the house.

Sometimes, he really wasn't that bright.

Resigned, the teenager pulled the phone free of his baggy pockets and answered it.
"Yo, Sora here."
"Are we working on the project tonight?"
"What-oh, hi Leon! Uhm. Do you want to?" Sora awkwardly looked around, deciding finally to attempt to retrace his steps to the entrance. The spooky hallway was just too spooky to go in there alone.

"I would prefer to get as much work done as quickly as possible."
"Mmn. Fair enough. It's-" Sora paused to check his watch. "Almost eight. Your mom won't mind me being over there? S'a bit late."
Over the line there was a split second of silence before Leon spoke, and in that second Sora heard Elma speaking clearly to her son.
"Mind? Tell him he's free to sleep over here!" Her cheerful voice carried across the line and Sora laughed, unable to help himself. "Hey, why not?" He grinned.

"No." Leon said firmly, feeling a pending sense of doom crawling up his spine.

"Aww, why not? You afraid I got cooties?" The younger teenager snickered evilly. "Leon's afraid of cooties" He sing-sang, mood lighting up. "Besides, your mother feeds me and uses me as her test bunny. You gonna deprive her of that?"
"Test bunny!" Sora heard Elma say on the other side of line, and he nodded empathically. "See? I mean, hear? Two against one! Plus, we can get a bunch of work done" He dangled the tempting morsel before Leon, waiting to see what he'd decide. Either way, this was the most fun he'd had all day-his nose didn't even hurt anymore.

Leon sighed in defeat.
"When do I pick you up?"
"Like… twenty minutes?""Alright."

Before Sora could explain that he wasn't technically living at home-Leon hung up the phone. He rolled his eyes. Leon really needed to learn some social skills-it wouldn't kill him.
Or would they?
He stashed away the thought for further consideration at a more appropriate time (when he was really bored) and called back. The phone was answered on the second ring.

"I need to give you directions as to where I am," Sora said patiently. "Don't ask, I'll explain later. It's 1419 Comet Road. It's a really huge mansion, can't miss it. I'll meet you outside the gates, okay?"

After several seconds, Sora tilted his head curiously. Leon had yet to answer, and time was dragging on to a full minute. "Leon?"
The phone line went dead.

Really needed to learn some social skills. Sora shook his head and pocketed the phone again, only to discover his feet had unconsciously led him to a part of the house he half-recognized. At least enough to navigate his way back to his room without too much trouble.

He bit his lip and wondered if he should try talking to Riku first. That stunt he'd pulled that morning was actually pretty cruel, in a petty, irresponsible way. Riku didn't deserve to be talked to just yet.

Sora shrugged it off and snagged the attention of a maid he encountered. "Hey, could you tell Aunt Lu that I'm sleeping over at a friend's house?"
The maid gave him the strangest look. "Yes, sir."
"Thanks. Uhm…" He sighed. He really needed to put up those poster signs on the walls. "Which way is my room?"

It actually took him longer than twenty minutes to meet Leon in front of the gates-not because he had problems packing an overnight bag, but rather because he got lost.


He was really starting to think the house hated him.

Leon's gleaming black Jeep was parked just before the gates, the ignition still running. He'd changed clothes since Sora had seen him at school, with a leather jacket and pants that had Sora eyeing him with curiosity. "Nice look. Aren't you hot? In a non-sexual way?"
Leon spared him a slight glance. "No. It's winter."
"Nah, it's not winter until it snows and I get to eat snow ice cones." Sora grinned, shoving the duffle bag into the back of the jeep and buckling himself into the passenger seat. There was a strange tension inside the car, although it didn't feel like it was directed at him. Sora eyed Leon out of the corner of his eye with some wariness, having been experiencing more than his share of grumpy loners in the past few days to recognize the signs of a really bad mood.

"I really don't mean to spend the night if you honestly don't want me to." He said carefully, inspecting Leon's stiff, wound up body language. Something was really bothering the older boy.
"I don't mind." Leon said after a long pause, gaze focused entirely on the road. "Mom really took to you."

Sora resisted the urge to point out they hadn't been discussing his mother, except it was an olive branch and he was perceptive enough to realize it. "She cooks really well. She should a chef. Yummy."
"She's... an interior decorator."
"Ah, must be interesting."
"Not really." Leon drove in silence for a few miles before realizing the silence was unnatural. He raised an eyebrow and finally spared Sora a look.

"I thought you said you were a parrot?"
"I am. Just a little bit tired." Sora shrugged. "Being me takes up energy, you know? I need food to replenish my health bar."
"Your what?"
"Health bar. Don't you ever play video games?" Sora bounced up slightly in his seat, reanimating quickly. "Like, usually you have to rescue some dumb princess who spends all her time being kidnapped, but they're really hella fun. Then you get a group together and rescue the princess but of course it isn't that easy because the plot won't let you off like that and instead it'll turn out that the princess has super magical special powers that can be used to bring on the end of the world AND or give the villain the ability somehow to rule the world. Not that I know why anyone would want to rule the world, that is just entirely too much work and no vacation time. Seriously! You probably don't even get benefits or insurance and then rebel groups are always trying to kill you or bring down your communist rule and god forbid you ever have children because they'll try to kill you too by either joining the rebel people or attempting to take the throne before your time is up-ungrateful brats-and then the plot will be against you which means sooner or later some unlikely hero is going to bust into your fortress of impenetrable darkness that has been penetrated and kick your ass. On the other hand you get to like, change forms five times so that's fun. In a completely bizarre, random way-"

"Shut up."
"Why Leon, I love you too!"

Elma had outdone herself-or rather, she had damned her son.

She gave Sora sugar. Copious amounts of the stuff in the form of home made doughnuts and cakes topped with thick, heavy cream and little gingerbread men.
It was like giving sugar to a ferret-highly dangerous. As soon as Leon realized what was happening-he left the two alone and hid in his room. Except he didn't –hide- of course, just… gave himself a little protection. For all the good it did him, considering a short while later Sora barreled in with a plateful of delicate sugary pastries and two glasses of milk.

"I don't drink milk." Leon said, resigned, imagining the mess of sticky crumbs on his bed after the night was done. Sora just shrugged. "Who said it was for you?" He grinned, then looked around.

"Nice. A little Spartan, but nice. Are those actual weapons?" Sora balanced the food somewhat precariously while inspecting the wall full of unusual looking weapons. They didn't really look like they would be the most easy to wield or all that effective, but there was something fascinating about the designs.

"What if there was an earthquake?" He mused. "That'd be pretty scary. Or a poltergeist ghost thing-person! Or a crazy axe murderer-wait, are axe murderers allowed to use other weapons? I mean, you never heard of like… a spoon murderer! Or a fork murderer!" He paused. "A SPORK murderer!"

"Sit down."
"Okay." Sora turned his back on the rack and sat down on the floor, figuring it was the most stable surface-sans earthquakes. He could still peer over the top of the bed at Leon.

"Okay, so what do have?"
"Lots of notes in your handwriting that I can't read."
"Pfft, my handwriting is perfectly fine… with a mirror." Sora did a faint, wiggling motion with his hand. "Took me forever to learn how to write in reverse, but it's fun!"
"When… exactly did you write these notes in reverse?" In doubt, yet unable to deny the proof of Sora's… uniqueness, Leon looked down at their compiled story notes. He wondered if it was possible to bribe the teacher into letting him do the project by himself. He could use a health related excuse-Sora was going to drive him into downright lunacy.

"I dunno." Sora shrugged and apparently dismissed the subject. "We still working on the modern concept or the Renaissance one?"
"Modern. Less historical research."
"Ah, less work! I'm up for it. Or down for it? Or… or…!"

"Shut up."

Several hours passed by in relative silence. They both settled down with crafting basic characters and settings, and Sora was oddly pleased by the fact Leon seemed to appreciate the work. Enjoy it, even. It seemed unlikely that Leon would be in a Creative Writing class at all, much less like it. Sora himself only took it for fun, not for any real interest in writing. (That and Biology 2 had been full)

It was… sort of nice. To see Leon immersed in something. Not like he knew the older teenager very well, but he got the instinctive feeling that Leon didn't allow himself to get enjoyment out of many things.

Ending one character profile, Sora stopped to massage his hand and took the opportunity to have a small break. The room's ambiance was tranquil, as opposed to the terse energy that had jammed into the Jeep earlier. He frowned at the recollection. Leon apparently wasn't mad at him, so perhaps he'd just been in a bad mood because of something that had nothing to do with Sora.

Except… Leon had been his normal self until Sora had told him where to pick him up.

Now that was just bizarre. A frown creased Sora's face as he focused and circled around the mystery. Leon. Riku's house. Leon. Riku's house. Leon. Riku's house.

Did Leon and Riku know each other?

Now that the possibility arose, it wasn't unlikely. They were both seniors in the same school, both rich. They even likely ran in the same social circles-their parents were sure to know each other. Hell, they even shared some major personality traits. The more the soccer player considered it, the more plausible the strain of thought became.

Until he felt sure of it. Leon and Riku shared some sort of connection and it wasn't a friendly one, judging from Leon's reaction to the house. Which made Sora cringe, wondering what Leon was wondering about Sora being there. He bit his chapped lower lip, attempting to be smart about the situation. Leon and Riku? Not friends. Leon knew Sora was at Riku's house-but not why. Leon apparently didn't want to talk about Riku, so he wouldn't ask why Sora was at said abode. Except Sora felt uneasy about letting Leon free to ponder on why Sora was at Riku's house, so he had to tread carefully and tell him about why he was at Riku's house-without making it seem like he was telling Leon for any particular reason and-

"My heat hurts."
"Pardon?" Leon raised his head, unsure if he'd heard right.
"Uh, nothing. I think I'm suffering through a sugar low." Sora fibbed, laughing it off nervously. "I'm going to get some water. Want anything?"
"I'm fine."
"'kay. Sora slowly got up from the floor, aware that his muscles would be somewhat sleepy from being locked in the same position . He collected the empty glasses and plate he'd brought with him and took them down to the kitchen.

Mrs. Hart-or rather, 'Elma', was in the kitchen with a steaming mug of something light colored and green. She looked up at his entrance and gave him a happy smile.

"How's it going up there?"
"Not bad. We're almost ready to start working on the project itself." Despite his somewhat bleak, edgy mood, Sora managed a quirky smile. He really liked Elma-she was kind of her son's antithetical twin. Plus, she liked to cook which was a huge bonus in her favor. After all, Sora liked to eat.

Setting down his burden, Sora quickly washed out one glass and refilled it with water. The mindless task kept him occupied until he turned around to face Elma's appraising stare.

"Oh." She blinked. "I apologize. I was just thinking. You and my son could be related."
Sora blinked back, startled. "What?" Then he thought about it. Dark brown hair? Check. Blue eyes? Check. Then he laughed. "I'm too short."

"No, not really. Leon used to be about your height at your age." Elma mused. "But that's just my musings. Do you two need anything else? I'm about to head off to bed."
"No, thank you. We're fending off just fine." Sora raised his glass. "Well, goodnight. Thank you for letting me stay over and feeding me. It was yummy."
"My pleasure." Elma beamed at him and patted his head when she passed by. Sora felt warmth inside him, as if he'd just had that chat with his own mother. He made a note to call his mother again after school and headed back up to Leon's room.

Sora opened the door and was about to embark in what he thought was a casual retelling of how he ended up living with Riku when he realized Leon… had fallen asleep. With his head resting on a curled up arm and pages of notes under him. At the sight, Sora stood still and finally laughed inaudibly.

As quietly as he could, he picked up the papers on the floor and set them on the table. The last thing he did before retreating into a guest room was flipping the lights off.

End chapter