Wait, before you start reading I want you to know that this is only the prologue. Now be warned that this an extremely long one. The good stuff starts in chapter two when the main characters are fifteen years old.
Disclaimer: I own a copy of both KH and KH2 for PS2, but do I actually own it? Let me put it this way, there are reasons why phrases like "When hell freezes over," were created.
Seven-year-old Sora Strife checked the contents of his backpack, secured his bag to his back, strengthened his resolve, and walked up to his neighbor's house. Standing up on his tiptoes, as he was very small for being seven years old, he rang the doorbell. Barely seconds later the door opened and Sora smiled up at the woman who greeted him. "G' morning, Mrs. Kisaragi, is Yuffie home?"
"One moment." Mrs. Kisaragi disappeared into the house, calling her daughter's name. Sora found a few interesting clouds to stare at while he waited.
"Gainsborough." The brunette jerked his head back around and up to stare at the thirteen year old Asian girl smirking down at him. Sora frowned.
"Why do you call me that? My last name's Strife."
"You were a Gainsborough when your mother brought you and your brother home from the hospital and you're a Gainsborough now." Yuffie said, poking his forehead. Sora didn't have the faintest clue as to what she was talking about. He'd seen both his and his brother's birth certificates and the last name's on both of them was Strife. The only Gainsborough around was his mother. "So what's up? Your Mom needs me to baby-sit again?"
"Nu-uh. I need a favor." Sora became a little nervous and began fidgeting with his backpack straps.
"I found my Dad."
"Sora let's think about this logically." Yuffie tried to reason with the little brunette as he pulled her along through the market. "Even if the man you saw yesterday was your father, what are the odds that you'll see him again today?" Sora halted in his steps and pointed to a street corner. Standing at the corner, leaning on a lamp post was the ugliest man Yuffie had ever laid her eyes on. He had greasy, curly black hair and a thick tangled beard. He smelled like a giant cigar and looked like he had fished his clothes out of a trash bin. His face was permanently etched into a frown except when women, who were all incredibly out of his league, would pass by and then he'd smile a tobacco stained snaggled-tooth grin that wasn't much of an improvement over his frown. Yuffie prayed that he wasn't the man they were looking for.
"Excuse me, Mister." Sora slipped out of the teen's hold before she could stop him and walked up to the ugly man. The man scowled and spat a tobacco filled loogie at the boy's feet.
"Beat it kid." Ignoring the man's rudeness, he stepped over the spit and pulled a crinkled photo out of his pocket.
"You shined this man's shoes yesterday. Do you know who he is or where I can find him?" The man stared at the picture while chewing thoughtfully on his tobacco.
"If I tell you something will you get lost?" Sora nodded eagerly and the man turned his face away to spit again. "Anyone in Radiant Garden can tell you where you can find that guy and who he is."
"Thank you." The man grunted and shooed the boy away. "Let's go, Yuffie!" Sora ran back, catching the teen by her wrist and dragging her off. "We need a taxi!"
It took a few tries to attract a taxi driver willing to take two children seriously about needing a ride, but eventually they hooked one.
"Where to kid?" The cabby asked in a gruff voice while scratching the stubble on his chin.
"Radiant Garden." Yuffie gapped and the cabby stared at Sora as if he were crazy.
"Kid, do you know how much munny a cab ride to Radiant Garden would cost?"
"No," Sora yanked his backpack forward and rummaged through it, "but I have this." He pulled a piggy bank from his pack and handed it to the driver. The cabby shook the bank a few times, estimated that it contained twenty munny at most, and frowned. "I've been saving that since I was five, is it enough?" It was no where near enough.
"Where to in Radiant Garden?" Sora handed the man his crinkled picture.
"I have to find this man and the guy who shined his shoes said that anyone in Radiant Garden would know him."
"Anyone is right." The cabby thought while scrutinizing the photo. Anyone who lived in Radiant Garden and didn't know this man would have to have been living under a rock for the past six years. Why would this boy want to find the man who was not only one of the three richest people around, but also the man who inherited the corporation that put Radiant Garden on the map? "Why are you looking for this man?"
Sora rubbed the back of his head and dragged his foot across the ground before looking straight into the cabby's face and saying, "I want to know if he's really my father."
"Here you go kids." The cabby pulled his blue and white taxi right up to the revolving doors of a tall gray skyscraper. Sora gasped in surprise at the sheer height of the building and craned his neck back to see the top. Yuffie uttered a soft, "Woah!" as she climbed out of the cab. The seven year old scrambled out after her and turned to the cabby. "This is his company, well it's one of them, but odds are pretty good he's at the very top. I can't help you get up there, but don't let those busybody secretaries intimidate you. You have something important to find out and you can't leave without answers." Sora gave a little bow, thanking the cabby for his services and advice and then ran to the revolving doors.
"Why do you care so much?" Yuffie asked, arching a curious brow at the driver. "Why did you bring us here for free?"
"I knew the woman in the picture." His fingers went back to scratching at his chin. "Chances are pretty good that little squirt is his kid."
"You know his mother!"
"Same high school, different graduating class, but I knew Gainsborough. She was a sweet girl. Wanted to be a doctor and own a clinic if I remember correctly." He started his engine. "And the ride wasn't for free. I took five munny."
"His name is Sora Strife and he has a twin named Roxas." She didn't know what possessed her to tell this man that.
"Well then chances are pretty damn good, indeed."
"All settled accordingly?" Ansem Wise asked, carefully reading the documents on his desk. The man sitting before him tugged at the blue tie of his gray suit and nodded an affirmative.
"Once you sign here the divorce will be final. Legally you'll be a free man."
"And the agreements?"
"Yes. Your ex-wife, I should say, has settled for the penthouse in exchange for any type of custody over your sons."
"And the boy?"
"Court has granted you full custody over him as well as the restraining order on your ex-wife."
"Very well." Ansem gave the contracts his official John Hancock and passed them to his lawyer. "What is the boy's name?"
Riku had never been to a mansion before in his entire life. He did not know how much the plush white carpet cost or how priceless the artwork displayed throughout the halls was. He did not know that the twinkling chandeliers above him alone could feed a family of four for months. All Riku knew was that he was very far from home and very afraid.
When he was at home all he could think about was how much he hated living with Aunty Maleficent and how badly he wanted to leave. He'd run away on several occasions, but never made it farther than a block before racing back. Aunty Maleficent was really too old to be Riku's real aunt and he was smart enough to know that the decrepit woman had no relation to him other than being charged as his caretaker. She had been cruel and strict and Riku had lost count of the number of times she had gotten upset with him for some reason or another and struck him with the metal handle of her cane, but she was all he had.
There were some times that he liked living with Aunty Maleficent. One day in particular she drove him to a toy store and told him to pick out something he liked. Riku had cautiously picked out of the cheapest toy he could find afraid that he would be yelled at or hit if he'd grabbed something expensive. Aunty Maleficent had sneered at the toy in his hands, told him to put it back, and then steered him towards the aisle with the more expensive toys. He finally chose a black stuffed mouse that said, "I love you!" when it was hugged. The old woman had glanced hatefully at the toy as if it were an admirer that had given her an unwanted love confession, but she bought the mouse for him anyway.
On the ride home Aunty Maleficent slapped him hard across the face. While he nursed his split lip and stinging cheek she screamed at him. If she were ever feeling generous again he was to not waste her time picking out cheap crap that would break after a few days. Riku remained silent and hugged his mouse. That quickly reminded him of why he hated living with her.
His only reprieve from Aunty Maleficent was when his mother would visit which was always fleeting. Every few weeks she would arrive on the doorstep with a check for his cruel caretaker and a hug and kiss for him. Then she would bundle him up in her car and just take him to the beach, to the park, to the zoo, to anywhere that wasn't home with Aunty Maleficent. At the end of the day though she was driving him back and he was begging her to take him with her, or to let him live with his father. She'd smile at him and give him some reason he could never understand about why he could not stay with her, but she'd never mention his father. All Riku knew about the man was that he had inherited his green eyes from him and that he was a man his mother was never supposed to be with.
Now, however, eight year old Riku Yasutora had neither his mother nor Aunty Maleficent. All he had were two little suitcases of clothes, his stuffed mouse, and the only gift his mother had given him. The gift was a tiny, black baby mouse, named Mickey, in a plastic purple cage and a small paper bag of pellets.
"I love you!" Riku squeezed his mouse. As kind as his mother had been she had never told him those words and Aunty Maleficent would have probably self-imploded if the word "love" ever graced her lips. "I love you!" Even so, he wished one of them was here.
Namine pressed her face and palms against the cold, foggy surface of the car window, peering out at the houses that flew by. This was where she was going to live now.
"Aren't you excited?" Namine peeled her face off the window and glanced at the nun sitting next to her. "I never know if I'm more happy or upset whenever one of you gets adopted." The sister pulled a hanky out and dabbed at her eyes. "You'll love the Turners and I'm sure you'll get along well with your new brothers and sister."
"They have more kids?" Namine hoped this wouldn't be like a foster home. She didn't want to be sent back to the church/orphanage.
"None of their own, but they adopted a girl your age five years ago and two boys three years ago." What Namine didn't know and what the good sister didn't plan to tell her was that the Turners had tried for several years to have a child of their own, but ultimately decided on adoption after Elizabeth nearly died from a miscarriage. Will was an orphan after all, it had made perfect sense. "Now before you meet your new family I want to give you something." The nun pulled a gift wrapped rectangular box out from under her car seat and placed it into the girl's hands. "It's just a small gift from me, the other sisters, and the children." Namine found it hard to believe that the other orphans had contributed any thing to the present besides signing their names on the large Hallmark card attached to the box, but it was the thought that counted right?
"Thank you, Sister Flora." The little blond made short work of the wrapping paper and opened the box just as swiftly. "Sis-Sister Flora!" She threw her arms around the nun's waist as tears welled up in her eyes.
The gift was nothing spectacular and Namine hadn't expected it to be. After all Sister Flora worked at an orphanage run by a church. The nun wasn't exactly loaded. It was only a box full of sketch pads, color pencils, watercolors, crayons, markers, and an inexpensive painting kit, but it still meant the world to Namine.
"Now, now." Sister Flora gently pushed the ten year old back and wiped her face with her hanky. "We can't have you meeting your new parents looking a mess. They'll think you hate them." The nun had no sooner finished cleaning the young girl's face off before the car lurched to a stop. "Look's like we're here. Come along, dear." Sister Flora opened her car door and spent a moment stretching her tired, cramped muscles before grabbing Namine's single suitcase and the girl's hand and walking her to the door.
My new house. It was, for lack of a more descriptive adjective, modest. The house had two floors, a separate building that sat slightly off to the side and behind it and bellowed black smoke, and a large opened garage that stood on the opposite side of the house and held a truck, a mini-van, and a boat inside. Sister Flora rang the doorbell.
"I got it!" The nun and girl heard someone scream from inside the house.
"Tidus, get away from that door!" There was a loud crashing noise and then another scream.
"Mama! Hayner's picking on me again!" Another loud crash. "Mama!"
"She's in the backyard. She can't hear you and you're not answering that door!" The mentioned door slowly opened and Namine shuffled behind Sister Flora.
"Hi!" Someone chirped cheerfully. "You're the nun from yesterday, right?" That didn't sound like the two fighting inside. "Daddy's working right now, but Mama-" The talking suddenly stopped and Namine peeked out from behind Sister Flora curiously. A little girl with short auburn hair stood in the doorway tilting her head and starting back at the blue eyes identical to her own. "Are you my new sister?" The girl asked hesitantly. Sister Flora pushed Namine forward and she nodded shyly. "She's here!" The little girl's face visibly lit up and she turned to the two boys still wrestling on the floor. "Tidus! Hayner! Go get, Mama, she's here!" The smaller boy wiggled out of the headlock his brother had him in and ran off. The older boy followed soon after. "I'm Kairi." Before she could register what was happening Namine found herself enveloped in a fierce hug. "What's your name?" The girl's happiness was infectious as soon both the nun and her former charge were smiling with her.
"My name is Namine." My new sister. Although the hug had been highly unexpected she returned it with just as much fervor. My family.
"Come back here, you little brats!"
How do I get myself into these messes? Yuffie wondered as she clung to the mail cart she and Sora was speeding down the hallway on. The boy across from her snickered evilly before knocking over a trash bin. Yuffie looked back in time to see one of the guards chasing them trip over it. Oh yeah, I hang out with this kid. He could be such an angel when he wanted to be that it always was a surprise to see him turn into a little hell child.
"Hard left!" Sora yelled.
"Right!" Yuffie called back.
"No, left!" Sora threw his weight out as the teenager pushed hers in.
"I know that, idiot! I meant right, left not right, right!" The mail cart titled and flew around the corner on two wheels.
"You're not allowed on this floor!" A rubber band shot into the guard's opened mouth.
"Shove it!" Yuffie continued firing rubber bands and throwing anything from staplers to packages at their pursuers. "Hold that elevator!" The poor woman who had stepped out of the elevator had just enough time to dive out of the way. The mail cart slammed into the moving box, knocking both children senseless for a few seconds, and the door slid closed. "Which floor would he be on?" Yuffie trailed her fingers up and across the elevator buttons.
"The top?" Sora replied.
"The numbers stop at twelve, but I know there are more floors than that." They studied the buttons for a moment then she turned to him grinning. "Executive?"
The elevator doors on the executive floor dinged softly and slid opened. A spiky, brown haired head poked out and then the rest of the body followed. "Coast's clear." Sora said barely above a whisper while looking around. Except for a single secretary holding a cell phone to her ear with her shoulder and typing on a computer at her desk the floor was completely barren. Yuffie nudged his shoulder and pointed at the door behind the secretary. Sora nodded and began to slowly creep around the secretary's desk.
"If you do not have an appointment to see Mr. Strife, you need to leave." Sora broke out into a run. "Hey!" The secretary jumped up to get him and Yuffie seized the presented opportunity. She ran out of the elevator, rolled over the desk, and plopped neatly onto the vacated chair.
"Hey, does this thing have video games?" The secretary stopped chasing Sora around the room and looked back at her desk. Yuffie grinned viciously, cracked her knuckles, and pounded away on the keyboard. "Oooh, delete important files! This is a fun game!" She could see the blood drain from the woman's face and then rise back just as quickly in anger. "Hey, lady, what would happen if I pulled the plug out?" She mouthed the word, "Go!" to Sora before reaching down and yanking the power cord from its outlet. Yuffie had never seen a middle age woman move so fast so it was a very fortunate thing she was faster. Sora better hurry up. I can't run from this old woman forever!
"You look so much like your mother." Riku jerked in his seat and stared up at the blond man standing in front of him. "Ansem Wise." He stuck out his hand for Riku to shake, but it was ignored in favor of staring.
Those eyes. Who has yellow eyes like that?
"You're name is Riku, correct?" Riku swallowed, gathered his courage, and glared into the man's creepy yellow eyes.
"Where's my, Mum?" Ansem smiled and turned away.
"Probably throwing a wild, orgy in her new penthouse," he turned back and knelt in front of Riku, smiling again when the boy squirmed and scooted away. "However as far as you are concerned if she cares about you at all you will never see her again."
"I want my Mum." Who was this man to tell him he would never see his mother again?
"I want my Mum." Someone mocked off to the side.
"Xehanort." Riku looked towards the teasing voice and saw two young, silver haired boys. They both had those creepy yellow eyes, but the one apparently called Xehanort was taller and had longer hair. "Boys I want you to meet Riku, your little half-brother." Ansem placed his hand on Riku's head. "These are your older brothers, Xehanort and Xemnas."
Kairi hadn't let go of her hand since she had dragged her upstairs, but Namine found that she didn't mind. She had only caught the barest glimpse of Elizabeth before being whisked away, but she didn't mind that either. Sister Flora could talk to her new mother. Namine wasn't ready. "Okay this is our room." Half of the room looked like a rainbow had exploded on it. A colorful array of posters, stickers, awards, and stuffed animals covered that half. The other side of the room was bare except for the four poster bed and the caramel colored Teddy Bear sitting on top of it. She was able to read the words, "With Love from Uncle Jack," on the tag around the bear's neck before Kairi whisked her away again. "When you really move in we'll decorate your side of the room." Kairi continued the tour showing Namine the basics. Such as the bathroom, hallway closets, their parents' room, and-"This is Hayner's and Tidus's room." Kairi knocked once and then opened the door. Her brothers' room was everything Namine thought it would be. A hurricane would have made a lesser mess and in the middle of it all was a skinny little boy with shoulder length blond hair. His eyes were glued to a television screen and his fingers were frantically punching the buttons of a game controller. "Tidus, where's Hayner?"
"Eh." Answered Tidus.
"Well would you at least say hello to Namine? She's your new big sister."
"Eh." Went Tidus. Kairi picked a random object up off the filth covered floor and pitched it at her brother. It smacked him right in the center of his head. "Eh." Said Tidus.
"What's wrong with him?" Namine asked while watching Kairi continued to pitch things at his head. Everything thrown hit its target, but Tidus never did more than mutter an, "Eh," in response.
"That video game. He'll be back to his regular chatterbox self after he's finished playing it." Kairi gave up, because it was impossible to run out of things to throw, and pulled Namine along the next room. "This is Uncle Jack's room. I don't think he's actually Daddy's brother, but we still call him uncle." Kairi knocked on this door as well, but no one answered. "Guess he's out on the Black Pearl."
"That boat? I saw it in the garage."
"Right you are. You don't get seasick do you?" Namine shrieked and fell over on Kairi. "Did you like the bear?"
"Uncle Jack!" He was a tall man with a braided mess of brown hair (even his beard was braided) and coffee colored eyes. His teeth were perhaps a dentist's worst nightmare, but they seemed to fit him.
"Shhh!" Jack looked around and then leaned down to whisper, "Where's Will and Elizabeth?"
"Mom's talking with the nun downstairs and Daddy's-Uncle Jack! You're sneaking in more-" Jack clapped a hand over Kairi's mouth.
"Shhh! You know how your mother is about me and alcohol. She'll pour it all down the drain before I can enjoy a single bottle. Here's five munny each if you don't tell your Mom or Dad or those big mouthed brothers of yours what dear ole' Uncle Jack has." Namine stared at the munny in her hand and then to the brunette slipping into his room to apparently take part of his secret stash.
He actually bribed us. What a strange family. And they were hers now.
For one brief minute Sora thought that he'd stepped into another barren floor. The room was vast and empty and most of the walls were actually large windows. A few black sculptures, none of which were very interesting, stood off to the sides and in the center of the room were a circular desk with a computer sitting on top of it and two chairs in front of it.
For one brief minute Sora really thought no one was in the office. Then he heard the unmistakable clicking noise of keys being rapidly pressed.
This is the moment you've been waiting for. Don't screw it up. Sora walked forward and climbed into one of the chairs. The clicking stopped.
"You shouldn't be here." Sora gulped down the frightened squeak that nearly escaped him. There was nothing harsh or angry about the voice coming from behind the computer, but it was cold. It wasn't loud. He hadn't yelled, but it still rang in his ears.
"I think… you know this woman." Sora put his wrinkled picture on the desk and pushed it towards the man. A hand shot out and drew it behind the computer. Then Sora heard whispered so quietly he had to strain his ears-
"Aerith." Though he hadn't wanted to and tried hard not to tears sprang from his eyes. The man pushed his chair back and Sora was finally able to see his face. His head was adorned with spiky blond hair and the shades of blue in his eyes were exactly like Sora's. He was much older than the man in the photo, but he was positive it was the same guy.
"My name is Sora Strife. That woman in the picture is Aerith Gainsborough. She's-she's my mother and you… You're my father."
"Give me that rat!" Riku tightened his hold on his stuffed mouse and sped up his pace.
"No! You're not getting him!" His new nanny wasn't much different from Aunty Maleficent except Ms. Ursula was significantly overweight and much easier to dodge. Ms. Ursula was intent on taking everything Riku owned and washing it or burning it. For his stuffed mouse, which had weathered many years with him (and it showed), it was the later rather than the former. Needless to say he wasn't going to let that happen.
"That dirty, disgusting thing does not belong in this mansion!"
"I don't care if he's old and dirty and missing an eye. He's mine!" Riku shot down the left hallway and began twisting doorknobs. "Yes!" One of the doorknobs turned fully and he quickly disappeared into the room. He locked himself in and then leaned back with a relieved sigh.
"Why are you in my room?" Riku yelped. His older brother, Xemnas, sat on the other side of the room. He was reclining in a chair with a large book in his hand.
"I-I didn't know-"
"I don't like repeating myself." Xemnas put his book down as he stood up and walked towards Riku. The silver haired boy cringed away. "Why are you in my room?" Riku huddled back into a corner and hugged his mouse.
"I love you!" The mouse wasn't so much a toy as it was a comfort device. When ever he felt bad, scared, or Aunty Maleficent made him bleed he would hug his mouse and the pain would go away.
"I see. Ursula went on another filth brigade." Xemnas said narrowing his eyes at the dirty mouse. He reached forward and slightly over the little boy to unlock his door. Riku whimpered. Xemnas drew his hand back and looked down. The eight year old was still huddled in the corner, curled into a tight ball and trembling. Xemnas eyes narrowed again, this time into a suspicious glare, as he bent down, grabbed the bottom of Riku's pajama top, and jerked it up. "Who hurt you?" The trembling and fear of being touched was Xemnas's first clue and now looking at the purplish-blue bruises and red welts that littered his little brother's chest and back he was positive that Riku was a victim of child abuse. "Who hurt you? I'm not asking a third time."
I'm… a father? Had it been any other person claiming to be his son Cloud Strife would have simply called security and had them removed from his office, but this was different. There was a very real possibility that this little boy crying in the chair before him was his son. "How old are you?"
"Seven." Cloud hadn't seen Aerith in eight years.
"You're mother, is she really Aerith Gainsborough?" Sora nodded. "Damn." He and Aerith had dated all through their high school years, but they had only slept together once. The night before he left to study abroad at Disney Castle. It had been sort of a farewell, but if he had gotten her pregnant that was the only time it could have happened.
Why didn't she try to contact me? I would have come back. I would have-Wait! Get a hold of yourself Strife! You aren't even positive that this kid is telling the truth. "Sora," Cloud rose from his seat, walked around the desk, and grabbed his, apparently, son's hand. "Come with me."
Sora followed Cloud out the office and passed a sulking Yuffie. The teenager was sitting on a couch picking lent off her clothes while the secretary, to absorbed in her work of recovering deleted files to notice her boss leaving, pounded away on her computer.
"Come on, Yuffie!" Cloud paid no mind to the girl after she fell in step besides him. He knew she could not be his as well.
Riku stole quick, little glances at Xemnas while cramming Double Stuf Oreos in his mouth. Aunty Maleficent never let me have stuff like this! He had never tasted something so delicious. On his twelfth glance at his brother Xemnas looked up from the letter he was writing and glared.
"Drink your milk before it gets cold." Riku grabbed the large glass of warm milk and downed half of it. He placed the glass back down and raised his arm to wipe off the milk mustache was sure he had. Xemnas stopped him by thrusting a napkin at his face. "You're old enough to feed yourself without making a mess. Don't wipe your face with your sleeve."
"Sorry." Riku mumbled, taking the napkin and cleaning his face off.
"Whatever." Xemnas finished his letter and enclosed it in an envelope addressed to his father. "Sally," he turned to the housekeeper who was silently washing dishes, "I need a first aid kit."
"Oh, I'll get one at once, Master Xemnas." After she left to fetch the first aid kit the silver haired teen stripped his brother of his top to examine the bruises more closely.
"She was very careful to not hit you anywhere that couldn't be covered by a shirt." Xemnas gently prodded one of the darker blemishes and Riku flinched away from his touch. "You'd better finish eating before Sally gets back." Riku looked at the lone Oreo sitting on his plate and broke it in half. He popped one piece into his mouth and held the other out to Xemnas. His brother sighed tiredly, as if the offering were a bother, but ate the cookie half none the less.
"Hey that's the Black Pearl!" Tidus said, laying down beside Namine on his stomach. "So cool. Do you have anymore?" He asked while pointing to the sketchbook. She nodded and pushed the sketchbook towards him. "Man, you draw good." Tidus flipped through pages and commented on every sketch.
"Shouldn't you two be in bed?" Tidus and Namine whipped their heads around to stare at Jack. He gave them a smile filled with crooked teeth and said, "I believe your bedtime was over two hours ago, Tidus."
"Uncle Jack, you got to see this," Tidus flipped back to the earliest work and showed it to his uncle. "Look it's the Black Pearl. Namine drew it." Jack took the sketch pad out of his hands and swatted Tidus lightly on the bottom with it.
"Off to bed with you."
"Alright, alright." He stood up and ran off to his room. "Night!" Namine got up as well and began heading back to her room.
"Aren't you forgetting something?" Jack asked, starring intently at the drawing of the Black Pearl. "I bet you'd make an excellent navigator. You have a very fine eye for details and good memory too."
"Um… thank you. I-"
"There you are." Namine jumped, startled and looked up to see William Turner standing over her with his arms crossed over his chest.
"Sir, I'm sorry. I know I should be in bed and-"
"Shhh." Will interrupted for the second time, placing a finger to her lips. "On a school night I expect you to be in bed at this time and to stay there. Tonight, however, I think the best thing to do is to just get you back into bed." Will picked Namine up and her arms immediately went around his neck.
"One minute, Will." Jack bended down slightly to look Namine in the eye. "What say you, tomorrow I teach you how to read and draw maps?" He straightened to his full height and said to Will, "The girl's got the makings of a cartographer."
"Have you been drinking?" Jack left a dust cloud in his wake. "Works every time." Will said while carrying Namine to her room.
After tucking her in her crossed to the other side of the room to pull the blankets more securely around his other daughter. He was back by the little blond's side in seconds. "Goodnight, Namine." Will kissed her forehead and she turned red and yanked her blanket over her face.
I can't believe it. Despite what he could and could not believe the papers in his hand did not lie and nether did blood. I'm a father! Cloud thought with a little more certainty as he watched Sora stand on his tiptoes and press the doorbell.
"This is going to turn into one of those sappy private family moments you only see on soap operas, so I think I'll just head home." Yuffie said as she walked off.
"See you tomorrow, okay?" Sora asked.
"Oh, uh…" She rubbed the back of her neck, looking a little unsure. "Yeah sure, hopefully."
What's with her? Sora wondered once Yuffie had disappeared into her house. And why won't Roxas answer? I know he's home! "Roxas!" He yelled pounding on the door. "Open up!"
"I coming! Geez!" Roxas wrenched the door opened. "Who's that guy?" He asked, pointing at the man behind his brother.
Cloud studied the little boy standing in the doorway as he peered at him with two wide blue eyes. His hair was less wild than Sora's and was a dirty blond instead of brown, but besides that slight difference the two boys were identical. They were even wearing the same clothes albeit the clothes were slightly oversized and probably hand-me-downs.
How many illegitimate children do I have? Cloud wondered at the exact same time Sora turned to him smiling a big goofy grin.
"This is my twin brother. You don't need his blood too, right?"
"My blood!" Since when had his younger twin hung out with men who took people's blood?
"Come on, Rox, don't you recognize him?"
Roxas glared up at Cloud daring him to try and take his blood and said, "No. Why should I?" His brother groaned and slapped his palm over his face.
"How could you not? You stare at that picture almost more than I do."
"Shut up! I do not!" Sora ignored the angry flush rising on his brother's cheeks and shoved the wrinkled photo at him.
"Look and tell me you don't recognize him." Roxas's eyes flickered back and forth between the picture and Cloud. His blush receded quickly as did all the blood in his face.
"MOM!" Sora plugged his ears and Cloud winced.
Damn, this kid's got a mouth on him. He definitely didn't get that from me.
"Roxas, what's wrong?" It was physically impossible for your heart to leapt in to your throat, but Cloud was sure his heart had found some way to do it. He was also sure that his stomach was doing flip flops.
"Mom, mom!" Roxas was hopping up and down and Sora, for no apparent reason, had joined him while yelling, "Look, look!"
"What are you two yelling about?" His kidneys were doing the tango with his bladder now.
"My God." A young woman garbed in a pink dress and a white apron and holding a spatula appeared behind the two bouncing boys. Cloud did his best fish imitation. To say that she was a single mother of two for the past eight years time had been very good to her. She was taller, but still probably only reached his chin, and her hair was longer yet still that same chocolate brown and pulled back into a braid.
"Mom! Look who it is!" Sora grabbed her arm on the way up and the spatula clattered on the floor on his way down. The woman sent him a slightly scolding look which was pointedly ignored. "I found him! I found him!"
"Sora, what are you-?" Cloud hadn't realized he was holding his breath until she finally glanced up at him and he let out a quiet gasp. Her emerald eyes were just as he remembered them. They were even welling with tears like he remember though these tears were different. Eleven years ago she cried because he was leaving. Today she cried because he'd come back.
"Aerith. You look good."
At sixteen there were many things Xehanort was too old and too mature to do and walking behind his father with his arms crossed over his chest and his lips stuck out in a pout was one of them. Of course he felt that he had every right to behave the way he was. If your father had dragged you out of your warm comfortable bed to search for your little brat of a half-brother who'd gone missing from his room last night, you'd feel like making ugly faces behind your father's back too.
"Xehanort, fix your face before I give you something to really frown about." His son's pout turned into a scowl.
"This fixed enough for you?" Xehanort muttered to low too be heard as anything more than mumbling. Out loud he said, "Why do I have to help look for the little monster anyway? It's not like he's my responsibility." He wasn't the one running around having unprotected sex and popping out silver haired bastards. That was his mother's job and this was her fault. The divorce, having to live with his father, Riku, everything was her fault.
"Riku's welfare is the responsibility of us all." Ansem said just as they reached the door to Xemnas's room. "Which is why I am enlisting the aid of your brother as well." Without bothering to knock Ansem slowly opened his second youngest son's door but stopped short of actually stepping into the room. Xehanort poked his head in to see what the hold up was.
"What.. the hell..?" It must have been the lack of sleep, Xehanort decided. Lack of sleep was the only explanation for what his eyes were seeing because it certainly couldn't be real. Ansem chuckled quietly and eased the door back closed.
"Well then, I guess we found him." Inside the room laying undisturbed on his king sized bed was Xemnas and next to him sprawled across his stomach in sleep with a stuffed mouse wrapped tightly in his arms was Riku.
"Oh, Master Ansem." Said man arched a curious brow as his house maid ran up to him and handed him a letter.
"Master Xemnas requested that I give this to you. I believe it concerns the young master."
"Budge over Sora. I can't see." Roxas elbowed his brother until he shuffled far enough away for both of them to see through the tiny vent they were using to spy on their parents. They were supposed to be in their room, but only an idiot would miss something so life altering and their mother didn't raise fools. Simultaneously they held a finger to their lips signaling each other to be quiet and prepared to listen. A loud yipping noise behind them nearly gave the brothers a heart attack.
"Goofy!" A black puppy with long floppy ears and white paws sat on his bottom behind them yipping excitedly while wagging his skinny tail. Sora spun around to bundled up the puppy in his arms and covered his brown muzzle. "Shush!"
"Sora!" Roxas whispered, motioning frantically. "Get over here. They're talking!"
This is like the first time I asked her out all over again. Statistically those awkward teen years had nothing on this moment. It did not however make this any less nerve wrecking and Aerith not saying more than a few words to him wasn't helping to calm his nerves any. She'd invited him, showed him to the couch and then sent the boys to their room which Cloud knew they had not gone to because he could see four little blue eyes peeping at them through the vent by the television. Once Aerith had joined him on the couch Cloud turned to her and said, "So.." at the exact time she said, "How did you…"
"They're both mi-ours, aren't they?" Cloud handed her the folder that he'd so far been clutching with a white knuckle grip. "Sora and I were positive matches. Why didn't you tell me?" Aerith hadn't stopped worrying her bottom lip. She probably wouldn't until it bled. "Aerith..?"
"I didn't know." He felt like asking how could she not know, but she saved him the trouble. "I didn't even find out I was pregnant until a month after you left."
"I would have come back." She knew that, didn't she? If he'd known then Cloud would have hopped on the first Gummi Ship back to Traverse Town.
"I know you would have." Aerith said, fiddling with her apron. "I couldn't ask that of you. You had your whole life planned out. Disney Castle, the Olympus Coliseum, Radiant Garden, and then there was that whole mess with your father and half-brother. I was just some girl you dated in high school."
"You know my father never intended to leave the company to Sephy, but what about your plans? Your dreams of being a doctor? Why should you have sacrificed yours for mine? We both made the mistake-"
"Don't say that! Our children aren't mistakes. They're-Why are you smiling?" It was the same lopsided grin that Sora always smiled and though it looked strange on Cloud she now knew where the brunette got it from.
"You said our children." He caught her hand, the one fiddling with her apron. "Aerith, they are ours. We were in this together when they were conceived. We should have been together when they were born and for the past eight years. I don't understand why we couldn't be, but," Cloud slipped off the couch and onto one knee with Aerith's hand still trapped in his own. "I would like to be with you now. You and our sons, if you let me. Aerith will you marry me?"
"Roxas?" A pair of sleepy blue eyes squinted through the darkness, searching until they found his brother. Sora was standing next to his bed holding Goofy in one hand. His pillow was in his other hand and his blanket was thrown over his shoulder. Without uttering a single word Roxas scooted over and Sora climbed into bed with him.
"Just because they aren't getting married doesn't mean we can't be a family." Sora sniffled and buried his self in the blankets. Goofy rolled over onto his back in between the twins and kick one his back paws while Roxas scratched his stomach. "Dad's going to visit us all the time."
"It won't be the same." Was Sora's muffled reply. "If Mom had just said yes we all would've been Strifes. We would have been a real family. One with a mom, a dad, maybe a baby sister."
"A baby sister? What do we need one of them for? You got a perfectly good older twin brother right here." Roxas sat up, looking a little irritated. His brother let loose a fit of giggles. "What? It's not like Mom needs another kid around. We stress her out enough."
"It's not the same, Rox." He sat up and gave his twin a very unwanted hug as Roxas turned red and shoved him away. "You know our Dad's like super rich. He owns a bunch of skyscraper buildings." He'd started gesturing wildly and Roxas wisely sunk low in the bed less he get hit with one of his brother's flying arms. "Mom would have help taking care of us and our baby sister and since we're kids of a billionaire we wouldn't have to wear hand-me-downs anymore, even though I kind of like them since they're so soft an-mpfh!"
Having effectively shut his brother up by clocking him with his own pillow, Roxas then said, "One: We don't have a baby sister. Two: Our parents aren't married." Sora pulled his pillow off his face and laid back down.
"Thanks a lot, Rox. You're a great brother." He grabbed Goofy and rolled over so his back was facing his brother and the puppy was nuzzled into his chest. Roxas sighed and reached out to ruffle Sora's spiky hair.
"We're still a family. Even if they aren't together."
"It still isn't the same."
I must have done something awful in a past life to deserve this. Xemnas sent a couple of kids who had drifted to close to him an ugly sneer and they quickly drifted away. He had been doing so for the past half hour and fortunately it was still working. "Someone, please, kill me now." Xemnas settled into a comfortable brooding stance against the DDR game. For some reason his father thought it was best that he take Riku out of the house while he discussed the contents of Xemnas's letter with his lawyer. If all went according to plan Maleficent would receive exactly what she deserved.
"Man, what is up with that guy?"
"The one hogging DDR?"
"Yeah, hogging it and not even playing it." Riku, who had been totally absorbed in Rampage Total Destruction, glanced up from the game console and looked towards his brother. "If he doesn't want to be here he should do everyone a favor and leave."
"Hey Xemnas," Riku abandoned his video game and walked up to his brother. "Could you teach me how to play air hockey?" He grabbed Xemnas's hand pulled him towards the other end of the arcade.
"Namine, hold still." Elizabeth said, struggling to put the finishing touches on her daughter's costume and not stab her with a straight pin at the same time. "You can see how you look when I'm done."
"Will it be as pretty as Kairi's costume?" Elizabeth pulled the last pin out and kissed Namine on the head.
"You're playing the pauper, dear. You don't get to wear the dress like Kairi's until the end of the play."
"Oh." That's right. Kairi's playing the princess and I'm playing the pauper. What is a pauper anyway? Kairi grabbed her sister's hands and yanked her off the stool she was perched on.
"Cheer up, Namine! We're the stars!"
"Hmpf! At least you two are people." Tidus grumbled from the couch. He'd practically been swallowed by his solid gray costume. "I'm a bloody rock." His older brother had laughed at him when he'd found out that he was cast as a rock. His brother had laughed the entire time he was being fitted for his rock costume. Now Tidus was dressed and ready to go the their final rehearsal and Hayner was still laughing. "Shut up, Hayner!"
"You'll be the best rock on stage and watch your language." Elizabeth assured, turning around to gather the girls' second costume just to nearly slam into Jack who stood behind her holding a video camera. "Really, Jack, do you have to film this to?"
"Will said he didn't want to miss anything." Jack put the camcorder down anyway to grab a black water bottle. He twisted the top off and took a long drink.
"What is that?" She wouldn't put it passed Jack to try and sneak an alcoholic beverage into a elementary school play rehearsal.
"Apple juice." Elizabeth snatched the water bottle out of his hand and took a small sip from it. To her surprise it was apple juice. "If you would be so kind." She begrudgingly returned it.
"Well let's go." As Elizabeth ushered her children out of the house and to the car Namine glanced back at her uncle in time to see him twist the entire top half off the water bottle to reveal a second, smaller water bottle underneath. He winked at his niece before popping the top off the second water bottle and taking a much longer drink from it. Namine suspected that it wasn't apple juice he was drinking this time.
Roxas could not remember a time when he'd ever been so bored in his life. Sora had it easy. His brother could fall asleep at any time and at any given place and sleeping was exactly what he was doing. Sora had taken up most of the couch, but that didn't stop him from snuggling against his brother's leg and no amount of shoving could move him.
Roxas eventually gave up and took up riffling through Sora's pockets instead. "Yes!" He pulled a slightly melted candy bar and a GameBoy SP out of his brother's pocket. Roxas didn't waste time before he started enjoying both. He had chocolate smeared all over his face and was just getting into his game when the executive floor's elevator dinged softly and opened. He paused his game and looked up. Only he and his brother were allowed on this floor after office hours. Even the secretary had cleared out an hour ago leaving the twins to die of boredom while they waited for their father. "Hey lady, I don't think you're supposed to be up here." The woman who'd walked out of the elevator turned towards him and smiled. Roxas felt his cheeks burn. The woman was very pretty with long brown hair and the most amazing pair of scarlet eyes he'd ever seen.
"Is he in a meeting?" Roxas gulped and nodded while rubbing at the chocolate covering his mouth.
"Dad should be finished soon though." He hopped off the couch, ignoring the disgruntled groan that Sora let out after losing his pillow, and ran to Cloud's office doors. "I'll get him for you." It wasn't so much that he wanted to help as it was that he just wanted something to do that didn't involve him sitting on his butt.
"I guess it's true then." The woman settled herself in Roxas's vacated spot and, though still asleep, Sora sought her out. It was like he was a warmth magnet. He rolled and wiggled around until he was mostly laying across the woman's lap.
"Dad's there's a lady here to-?" And there was a man standing in his father's office that he didn't know. He was tall with long silver hair and had the most unfriendly face Roxas ever had the displeasure of seeing, and yet it very lightly resembled his father's face. Are they related? He wondered when the man smiled down at him.
"Roxas." The young blond spared the unknown man another glance before running to his father. He attached himself to Cloud's leg and slightly shrank behind it. There had been nothing nice or genuine about the man's smile. "If you're finished."
"Of course." The man's polished black shoes clicked against the floor as he turned to leave. "Perhaps I should tell you to guard your heir well, but then again, you have two don't you? You can afford to loss either one." His eyes were trained on the little boy now completely hiding behind Cloud's legs.
Is he talking about me and Sora?
"Sephiroth. Leave. Now." The man gave a sort of 'hmfp' and walked out, breezing past Sora and the woman on the couch.
"Who was that man?" Cloud bended down, pick his son, and deposited him on the desk.
"No one important. Now, you were saying?"
"Oh yeah! There's this woman here to see you." Cloud arched a brow, looking at the door Sephiroth hadn't bothered to close on his way out. He could just barely see the form of a woman on the couch with Sora. "Don't worry. She's not a skank." Cloud's eyes bugged out.
"Where-where did you learn that word?"
"From Mister Leon." Roxas answered, a little confused when his father let out an agonized groan and what sounded like, "I'm going to kill Leon."
"Roxas, do me a favor and never say that word around your mother." The little blond nodded eagerly.
"Aw, he's just like his Daddy." The woman walked into the office with Sora hanging from her back. "Actually they're both like their Daddy. Incredibly adorable." She detached her little hitch-hiker and passed him to his father. "And for your information I am not a skank." She said, leaning down to tap Roxas on the nose. "You really shouldn't let your kids hang out with Leon if you don't want them repeating every dirty little thing he says."
"Mister Squally's the greatest!" Sora chimed in.
"I bet." The woman walked around the desk and plopped into Cloud's large and soft leather chair.
"Tifa, why are you here?"
"Oh, I just wanted to see if it was true. Cloud Strife married and with children." Tifa picked up one of the picture frames sitting in front of her. The photo showed two young boys covered in mud and holding a trophy. She put it down and moved on to the largest picture on the desk. It was of a young woman, looking sweaty and tired and cradling two tiny bundles wrapped in blue. "When do I get to meet the wife?"
"You don't." Suddenly the top of Sora's head was very interesting. "We're not married. Aerith turned me down."
"Why the hell would she do something stupid like that?"
"Tifa." She shot out of the chair and started pacing the room.
"What kind of idiot turns down a guy like you?"
"I mean when I think about all the women who want to jump your bones and you just serve yourself up on a silver platter to her and she-"
"Tifa, you do know that my sons are still in here and listening to every word you're saying don't you?"
"Oh, oh yeah. They are, aren't they?" Roxas was grinning at her and Sora was no longer dangling from his father's neck. Cloud was holding his youngest son who had released him to clamp his hands over his ears. "Well, never mind that! What about this Aerith woman? Why'd she turn you down?"
"I don't know."
"Sora?" Roxas poked and prodded his brother, but it was like when they were kids. Sora didn't wake up unless he wanted to wake up. "Come on lazy ass, we'll be late." Finally giving up the subtle approach Roxas grabbed a Super Soaker and pumped it. "You asked for this." He emptied the contents of the water gun on his brother's head.
Aerith looked up at the ceiling. The fan above her wobbled dangerously and thuds resounded through the house. "Roxas, I'll kill you!"
"The kids are awake."
Roxas climbed out from underneath the assortment of objects his brother had try to kill him with. "That's must have been a good dream you were having." The murderous aura that had surrounded Sora slowly dissipated.
"I dreamt about the past. Remember when Mom and Dad met?"
"You dreamed about that?"
"Yeah." He rubbed at his now soggy crown of spikes. "I still don't get why she told him no."
"They're married now. What more do you want; a baby sister?" Roxas slung an arm around his brother's shoulder. "What I don't get is why Dad didn't get it then and why you don't get it now. Marriages made for the sake of children never work out. Our parents never stopped loving each other, but they needed time to figure out that their kind of love is the kind that lasts forever. The kind of love needed to make a commitment."
"You've been watching Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, haven't you?"
"Maybe. Now get up. We'll be late for our first day at the Institute."
That's nineteen pages worth of prologue, peoples, and it was fun to write. Sora and Roxas got the spotlight because they're the main characters. Chapter Two is where the real story begins so stay tuned for it.