Author's Notes:

I started this fic in 2006 and revised and finished it in September 2008. By the time you're reading this, this thing is finally done at nearly around 46,000 words spread over roughly 90 pages. It's the longest story I've ever written and I'm quite proud of it.

The idea for this fic came to me while playing the prologue of KH 2 in early 2006 – and, for the longest of times, the idea wouldn't leave me until I realised it had to be written down or else it would continue to haunt me for all eternity.

Other than the beginning of KH II, the inspiration for this fic was a certain book by Hermann Hesse. The main themes of this fic are growing up, realizing your potential and finding out who you truly are.

Pairing: Seifer x Roxas. And proud.

Disclaimer: I will only say it once: I don't own Kingdom Hearts.

Timeline: It was originally set pre-KH 2, but since I decided to end it in a way that is irreconcilable with canon, it is now an AU story.

Rating: M for the whole story; nothing graphic though.

Warnings: some angst, yaoi (boy love), underage drinking... long-windedness... ;;

Length: 8 chapters, possible sequel. Complete.

Revisions as of September 2008 for Chapter 1: Spelling, grammar, sharpening of prose (cut of adverbs, adjectives and other redundant words). Added two lines of dialogue plus one mention of Roxas's past near the end.

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The End of Every Story

Chapter 1: The Space between Dimensions

Revised September 2008

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Of course, Roxas was, in a way, scared of Seifer.

Though admittedly he wasn't anyone's prime candidate in a run for Superbrain, Roxas was sure that his memory wasn't playing tricks on him when it told him that Seifer and his friends had always been different. Not just any kind of different – after all, as Roxas had had to learn since grade school, everyone was unique, weren't they? - Seifer and friends were a huge, gaping, unreachable kind of different. Orcs and Elves, Fire and Ice. The space between dimensions.

The rules had always been simple, as easy to understand as the folk songs he used to have to sing in elementary school. There was him, him and Hayner, Olette and Pence. Then there was Seifer, Seifer and Fuu and Rai. Two groups opposite of one another - sometimes helping each other when the need arose, sometimes fighting for dominance when said need was absent and had made way for boredom; mostly, though, what they did was do their eagerest to stay out of each other's path. Steer clear of one another to indulge in mean-spirited snickering and bad-mouthing behind the other group's back.

Roxas always had noticed the anger in Hayner's faithful brown eyes whenever the name Seifer had spilled out of his lips. He's evil, Hayner would sometimes say. He's evil, he has no morals. He drinks, Roxas. Maybe he even smokes. He's not to be trusted.

And, Roxas knew all that. How could he not…? One look at Seifer, one quick glance to take in the way he carried himself was enough it took to be in the picture about this boy's apparent need not to follow any orders or norms whatsoever. There was that playful, yet so terribly arrogant smile around his lips; the way he oh-so-confidently showed off his stomach, for the world to see how his taut muscles contracted underneath that honey-coloured skin every time he moved his upper body; the way his voice was already like a man's, belying his tender age. The way he would sleep at school, his head nuzzled between his arms, snoring away quietly as the teachers droned on in their drawling voices, not caring that Seifer was so blatantly ignoring their work. Perhaps they were even eager not to wake up the one student they feared the most – for a reputation of being problematic, Seifer certainly had.

Nobody knew quite how it happened – or in any case, nobody had lived to tell. Rumours were that ever since the tall blonde boy had been a small child, he'd always strived to be different, always eager to attach a bad reputation to his name and by all accounts, he had more than succeeded. T

It was almost visible how the respect or resentment in people's heart intensified every time the blonde's smug laughter echoed through the school halls. Battle cries could be heard when he, Fuu and Rai would bully a child in deserted school hallways or would roam the streets at night, bawling old songs and smelling of alcohol and cigarettes and all things evil and unclean to Roxas.

Roxas would sometimes look over at Seifer at school, would let his eyes linger over his baggy pants and his revealing clothing, wondering time and time again how one managed to be so rebellious. Sometimes, his gaze would get stuck at Seifer's abdominal muscles, would linger at the way they protruded around the soft flesh of his belly button whenever Seifer was bent forward to nestle his head between his strong arms. Sometimes, he would even look up to take in Seifer's shoulders, which would sometimes be visible whenever the blonde man hadn't even bothered to wear a jacket; his bones would be long, clear-cut lines, the only thing skinny and lean about the other's body, and the day Roxas would ever admit to tracing Seifer's lines with that much interest would be the day they found his eviscerated corpse shoven half-way down the school toilet.

Still, it would pique his interest: Seifer's sense of fashion, the certain way he carried his body that bordered on vanity was definitely something unique to Seifer and Seifer alone. Roxas knew of no other bullies who bothered to walk that fine line between femininity and masculinity, who tried to balance their physical power with their real or imagined beauty.

Then, Roxas would be disturbed by this display of apparent superiority. He wouldn't be able to understand why he was paying so much attention to someone who was, for all intents and purpose, evil. He would wrinkle his nose, and look away as soon as he caught Fujin's predatory glare. Her gaze was often resting on the sandy-haired youth's face as though weighing her opinions, possibly, Roxas figured, deciding whether he was a useless bug she and Seifer were free to crush or whether he was a useless bug not even worth the trouble of crushing.

It was always then that Roxas would turn his gaze, his cheeks colouring a gentle hint of rosé, to find the slender body of Olette to focus on. She was sitting right in front of him, her brunette hair trailing down her narrow, hunched-over back, ending just above her usually cutely clothed butt. She was always scribbling her notes in a hurry, the only one out of Roxas's circle of friends who showed interest in her academic success. Soon, though, Roxas would get bored looking at Olette, but would be too scared to have his gaze slip back to Seifer and his friends. So, he would sit there, drawing in his shoulder blades as narrowly as they would go and would do the one thing he was even remotely good at other than skateboarding.

Waiting.

So wait, he would. And wait. Wait, until the end of the day was announced with the eardrum-piercing howling of the bell in this horrible school, and he would, with one chest-heaving sigh of relief, get up to gather his books, looking forward to a day of roaming the streets with Hayner, Pence and Olette, laughing about the most irrelevant things they could come up with and letting his friends take him, the shyest of them all, along to jump head-first into possible dangers. In short, a day like any other.

Little did Roxas know that this day would, in fact, be anything like any other just then. The realization, though, was quick to hit him as he felt a hand on his shoulder which he first mistook to be Hayner's – until, that is, his eyes fell upon said blonde's youthful face which was regarding him from the other end of the classroom.

Pence was nowhere to be seen, but that hand was far too strong to belong to soft, gentle Pence, whose handshake was little more forceful than the beating of a dragonfly's wings. Olette was still busy with her notes, but there was no way the hand could possibly belong to her – it was far too large to be a part of the girl's petite body.

"Hey, Roxas," a smooth, deep voice said behind him and Roxas drew in his breath sharply, his heart exploding in his chest as it sent a tsunami of blood right to his head, crushing the unconnected thoughts which were racing through his mind. The voice was deep, manly... and predatory. Doubtlessly, it was Seifer's.

Roxas turned around, slowly at first, but then with a certain defiance, his eyes glittering at the much taller, much more muscular boy as soon as he was facing the other completely. Skeptical was the smirk that was playing around his thin lips; his expressive green eyes stared down at him in their raw, naked, stirring way. Fuu and Rai were framing their leader on either side, but Roxas paid them no mind, too busy was he staring at Seifer. He felt dread rise up inside him, taking up corporeal form and clogging his throat.

Seifer hadn't really talked to him in a long time.

Of course, Seifer had more than once barked at their group, but when he had, he had always addressed them as either one entity or had focused on Hayner. For a long time, Seifer hadn't decided to turn to Roxas as an individual. The sandy-haired boy hadn't even known Seifer still remembered his name…

When they had both been smaller, there had once been a time when Seifer had taken a special interest in Roxas. They had perhaps been twelve or thirteen and one day after school, Seifer had stopped Roxas on his way out of the classroom. Books neatly clenched under his arms, chatting with Hayner and Olette about an upcoming concert, Roxas had felt like he'd just been sentenced to death as Seifer had jogged up to him, hurling one of his massive grins into the other's face to ask about whether Roxas wanted to hang out after school. The startled youth, paling until the few light-brown freckles on his face had stood out on his skin like stains, had refused with a jerky shake of his head, had tugged Olette on her arm and had practically fled the school.

Roxas would often wonder just what exactly Seifer had wanted to tell him back then. In fact, it was still haunting him to such a degree that Roxas would often be awake at night to muse about this question, that the question would surface out of the depths of his mind like a corpse floating up from the depths of the sea when eating ice cream with his friends or even when he was skateboarding. As far as Roxas knew, Seifer had never done a similar thing to anyone before, had never spontaneously walked up to anyone to offer spending the afternoon with him or her. It was a mystery to Roxas - no matter how he twisted and turned the situation, no matter how much he racked his brain, he couldn't figure it out. He had thought he would never find out, since Seifer hadn't bothered to talk to Roxas individually ever again.

Until now.

"I saw you staring at me last period," Seifer said, smirking down at Roxas. The smaller boy avoided Seifer's eyes and instead let his eyes dart over the remaining people in the classroom, all of whom were watching the both of them out of faces that made no effort to hide their horror: Olette, lips trembling, eyes wide; Hayner, eyebrows were laced together in a venomous frown, body tense in tightly-wired tension. But he could no longer spot the teacher; it seemed like she had fled the classroom at the sound of the bell much like any sane student would have.

"Hey chicken-wuss," Seifer snarled, "you listening to me? I said you were staring at me." He smirked, revealing a row of white teeth. "Saw anything interesting…?"

Roxas swallowed. "I wasn't really staring." He was trying to sound nonchalant, but failing ruefully. "Why would I?"

"LIAR," Fuu sneered, making a dismissive gesture with her one of her pale arms. "NERVOUS. COWARD."

"The boy's too scared to talk, ya know?" Raijin said to Fujin, pride surfacing on his tanned face as he did so as though he had just shared a particularly well-kept gem of a secret with the albino girl. "Totally shitting his pants, yo."

Roxas's cheeks flushed a more intense colour of red just as the anger returned to his eyes with a sudden bolt. "I'm not!" he snapped, sending a hateful glare into the direction of the burly boy before daring to scan the room for his friends once again, realising with a sigh of relief that Hayner was seemingly contemplating to walk up and interrupt.

"Listen, Roxas," Seifer said suddenly as his eyes narrowed at Hayner. He bent down to Roxas, way too quickly to give the younger boy a chance to react appropriately, and Roxas felt something inside him tightening in a mix of fear and excitement as he felt Seifer's lips brush against one of his ears. His spine straightened itself at the small, yet electrifying touch; his nose couldn't help but breathe in Seifer's spicy, manly cologne, the only boy in school the smaller blonde knew of who chose such an elusive scent. His deep blue eyes widened as Seifer gently pushed his words into Roxas's defenceless auditory channel.

"Tell your friends to leave us," he said. His usually so loud voice that took great pride in its obnoxiousness had softened down to resemble a gentle, almost… seductive whisper. Roxas had a hard time bending his mind around the fact he'd just mentally called this self-absorbed ass seductive, much less the fact that he opened his mouth almost automatically.

"It's fine," he whispered into the vague direction of Olette and Hayner. "Let me talk to Seifer for a second."

Hayner, whose determined expression fell at once, seemed at a temporary loss for words. "Wh..What? Are you sure, Roxas?" He narrowed his big, brown eyes at Seifer, obvious suspicion lurking in their depths. "I don't know about this…"

"Yeah," Roxas muttered, voice almost breaking. "I-I won't be long. Let's meet at the usual spot outside?"

It took Hayner a while to consider it and when he finally seemed to come to a conclusion, he gave his affirmation with a brisk nod, making it obvious to everyone in the room that he did not like this in any way. He nodded to Olette who was still standing there, rooted to her spot, her large, beautiful eyes trained on Roxas. Eventually, even she pried her eyes away from Roxas and joined Hayner on his way out of the classroom, the worried look she'd had on her face until the end imprinting itself onto Roxas's mind.

When they had left, thick silence hang itself over the scene like a ridiculously decorated curtain, really hammering home that the boy was, in fact, alone with the three meanest bullies of Twilight Town. Roxas was starting to doubt his sanity as he let his eyes hover over the boy in front of him, who had crossed his arms over his broad chest and was smirking down at the sandy-haired boy in a way that spelled smugness in bold letters. Why hadn't he brushed Seifer off like last time…? Was he mad?

Roxas, experiencing another quick impulse of rage and defiance inside his slender teenage body, decided right then and there just why exactly he hadn't told the bigger boy to piss off. The simple reason he came up with being the fact that he wasn't about to be intimated any more. Okay, so he wasn't a particularly interesting kid, had no talents to speak of, nor any interests that set him apart from the hundreds of other children bustling about in the huge, lively school of Twilight Town, but what he definitely was not was some helpless girl. He'd been friends with Hayner for far too long not to be a force to be reckoned with.

Besides, he reasoned with himself, maybe he would find out now why Seifer had been interested in him once all those years ago...

So, Roxas crossed his arms in front of his chest, mimicking the way Seifer was glaring at him. He raised one blonde eyebrow. "So?"

Seifer smirked at him. That's all he did for a while while he was standing there to leer at him, his green eyes dancing merrily with amusement, giving Roxas the feeling he was making fun of him while he had no clue what he had done to deserve such open smugness. Rai and Fuu seemed to match Seifer in amusement, and Roxas was thinking that he really would like to be let in on that particular inside joke when Seifer spoke again.

"There's something we need to talk to you about." He paused. " This evening."

Roxas blinked. "Eh..?"

"STUPID," Fuu judged.

"He says he wants to meet ya, ya know!" Rai offered, grinning at Roxas in a way that reminded the smaller blonde boy of the time when he had just been adopted and moved to Twilight Town, and had watched Seifer rip the legs off a fly.

"That's right," Seifer said, and the mental replica of a squirming fly and cruel smirks evaporated, being replaced by a reality that was no less frightening. "How about we meet at 8 PM. That's a good time, don't you think?"

Roxas suddenly found himself incapable of doing anything involving movement. "I... um.."

Fuu made a sceptical noise deep down her throat, then cut the air sharply with one of her slender hands. "ROXAS BRAIN: SIZE OF PEA."

Seifer sent the silver-haired girl a look, but Roxas was unable to tell of what nature the sudden gaze had been of. In any case, the girl returned the look in her usual, nonplussed manner, not a muscle on her pretty, seemingly forever frozen in place face moving. Seifer turned his body back to face the blonde boy in front of him, and Roxas only had time to see Fuu nodding before he watched her and her dark-skinned friend leaving with both of his eyes wide open. They were leaving.. which meant... which meant that they were...

Leaving him alone. With none other than Seifer.

"What the f--" Roxas started out of one hot impulse born from the sudden fear crashing over his head like a giant wave, but he was mercilessly interrupted by the smirking Seifer.

"Relax, Roxas. Do you think I'm going to kill you now they're gone?" He laughed once, his laughter laced with cutting cruelty. "I knew you were chicken-wuss you know, but I didn't think you'd be that terrified of me; almost disappointing, I have to say." He grinned, flashing teeth that looked so white against his honey skin. "They just left to give us some privacy."

Privacy? Roxas's thoughts echoed. What the fuck ever for? Roxas had never even seen Seifer without his loyal minions, much less had a chance to study his behaviour in such a situation. It was almost bordering on the unthinkable – Seifer without his minions, that was like... that was like a day without the sun. Like Twilight Town without noise and dirt, and without people relentlessly walking down its every inch. It was like... a day without seeing Hayner. Unthinkable.

"What for?" Roxas asked, marring his forehead with a deep frown. "You never talk to me when you don't have to."

"I never talk to you, period," Seifer replied, deadpan. Roxas's back stiffened even more as he heard the classroom's door closing, marking the exists of the two small Seifers. Roxas couldn't think of a better strategy than to narrow his eyes, trying to pour all the nervousness and utter defiance to make a fool of himself into the other's never-faltering face. It didn't really work, as Seifer didn't show a sign of being impressed by the smaller boy's brave efforts. Instead, his grin even broadened.

"Well, even though we don't talk, as you know.." Seifer continued, suddenly examining his fingernails for some odd reason, "there's something I need to discuss with you. Tonight." His gaze finally left his fingernails to steady themselves on Roxas once again. "And, before you ask: no... it can't be postponed. It's tonight."

"What do you want to talk to me about?" Roxas asked, his cerulean eyes narrowing. "Why can't Hayner and the others be there with me?"

"Because," Seifer said, as though it was the most natural thing in the world, "it's about you. You, as in, you, the boy with the big blue eyes and the loose pants who's good at skateboarding. Not you as in you, Hayner, Nerd Chick and Chubby." He stepped a little closer to Roxas. "You do understand that, right?"

Once again, that smell. That smell emitted by Seifer's skin which was infesting his brain with its minatory scent. It made Roxas's small nose wrinkle in reluctance.

"Okay," Roxas finally found the voice to answer, "but what is it? That we need to discuss?" For the first time, the smaller boy openly met Seifer's gaze, plunging himself right into their swirling green depths which were so completely dominating the other's thin, angular face. It made Roxas feel strange, to say the least – though he'd had the mixed pleasure to witness the effect of Seifer's eyes almost daily, it had been a while since they had been so mercilessly, so unmistakably trained on him and no one else. Him and no one else. Roxas paused his train of thought. How strange that statement sounded – almost wrong in and of itself.

"What it is, you'll find out soon enough. Or are you too chicken to come...?"

Roxas bit down on his lip. "You know I'm not."

"Oh yeah," Seifer said sarcastically, "you were lucky to be born so brave – unlike me, who was born a big fat liar."

"You're just a big bucket of funny, aren't you, Almasy?" Roxas muttered.

Seifer laughed; it cut right through Roxas.

"Well then," Seifer said when he had composed himself, his whole face lightening up in triumph, "how does 8 PM in front of the entrance to the woods sound to you?"

Maybe Roxas was trying to follow this strange path to independence he'd read about in one of those novels he'd found in his house weeks ago, underneath that stash of his his mother Lulu's old clothes. Maybe, though, the real scapegoat was the curiosity which had steadily been building up inside Roxas, periodically winning the upper hand over the fear. It was also possible that Roxas had just simply gone bonkers.

In any case, Roxas nodded. He saw Seifer grinning, then he could feel Seifer's hand on his shoulder to congratulate him.

And Roxas, as he stared up at Seifer's face, knew he was doomed. The feeling started in his throat, and then made its way down to his stomach where it started to settle and hatch its eggs.

As though in a stupor, he watched Seifer packing his school stuff, throwing his bag over one shoulder in his casual way and waving at Roxas with one of his broad hands and a playful little wink. Then, he walked to the door, turning around the second his hand touched the handle to call, "don't forget the appointment, Roxas! You agreed to it, remember?"

Giving the other one last grin, he opened the door and let it fall shut behind in a sound that reverberated in Roxas's ears. Then, he was gone.

What exactly have I just agreed to? Roxas mind thought as his hands clenched into tight fists. He got no answer from the depths of his brain. There was nothing, nothing but the static of a non-working TV set.

- tbc