A/N: Somebody please smack me for my inexcusable lateness.


Cultivation

Mother


October 22nd
2343 hours

"Zexion, don't you think you're overstepping it a bit?"

"Don't worry so much," Zexion smiled, looking at the guest he had invited into his dorm, dozing away obliviously. "What's the harm in offering a bit of hospitality to a fellow student?"

"I wish you would at least ask me first."

"Oh, come now," Zexion chided, "it's not as if you were going to say no." His roommate looked further displeased when he realized that Zexion was, indeed, correct. He wouldn't have refused his request. But still, that didn't mean that the magical prodigy could do as he pleased. The two of them were equals, after all.

"You're losing sight of your mission," he snorted.

"Oh, no," replied Zexion, back turned to his roommate. "I haven't forgotten it at all. Something big will be happening soon, and he's going to be all caught up in it."

The other boy narrowed his eyes, clearly annoyed. Zexion was being difficult on purpose, the wretched little thing. However, at the same time, he was rather pleased that Zexion seemed to be enjoying something. While Zexion was publicly smiling and polite, in private, the student was bored out of his mind and eagerly waiting for something exciting to happen.

And by "something exciting," he didn't mean that trivial gossip that's been flying around.

Still, Zexion seemed to be growing an ego of sorts lately and frankly, it was surprising that it was taking this long to develop since the shorter student had much to brag about. It was up to his roommate to keep it in check. "Are you a prophet now?" He challenged, raising an eyebrow and crossing his arms in contempt.

An amused smile crossed Zexion's face and he let out a light chuckle. "You know it as well as I. Go to sleep, Lexaeus, everything will look brighter in the morning."


October 23rd
0700 hours

Click.

The sound did not escape Marluxia's ears. It was the sound of the doorknob, or more specifically, the sound a doorknob makes when it's locked and somebody tries to open it. A quick logical check told him who it was. Despite being a complete jerk and the living embodiment of the word "frustration," it wasn't Axel. He at least had the courtesy to knock before barging in. Nobody else ever came to visit, so it must have been…

Immediately, he got up, undid the latch, and yanked the door open. Standing there, with a blank look on his face and a key in his hand, was his roommate.

"Do you know I almost called to report you missing?" growled the older male. "Where have you been?"

It was a simple question, and under any other circumstance, Demyx would have been able to answer it easily. Under the cold, unforgiving, and seemingly unblinking gaze of Marluxia's, it was a different story altogether.

"Never mind," Marluxia continued. "It's not that important. You do know classes start in an hour, right? You better get ready now."


October 23rd
1913 hours

It was like watching children in a candy store.

Riku stifled a yawn as he hovered near the entrance of the local bookstore. Despite the fact that Garden had a library where students could check out books for free, it was filled entirely with informative books that students used to complete assignments. Thus, if anyone wanted a good fiction or a magazine to read, the bookstore was the place to go. It was a local hangout of theirs for would always visit it once a week. But this time, they brought the newest addition to their little group, Roxas, along. The two boys were hovering over the Triple Triad stand, with Sora jabbering along to a confused Roxas who seemed to be doing his best to keep up. Kairi stood a few feet away, examining the bookshelves for something to read between library shifts.

Faintly, he could hear Sora asking Kairi if she'd buy some cards for him, promising to pay her back later. Because she was a staff member at Garden, Kairi received a discount on anything she bought from the bookstore. Students also received discounts, but a staff member received a bigger discount.

Kairi calmly, politely, in her "big sister voice," told him to kindly pay for his own purchases.

Their cards and books bought, the four friends headed towards the Rising Falls, wanting to spend the rest of their Wednesday evening sharing stories under the night sky. As the first of the stars began to show themselves, the four of them relaxed on their backs, gazes fixed on the heavens above them.

"Roxas, tell us more about Twilight Town," Sora said.

Before the other boy could reply, Kairi interrupted.

"Sora, you ask too many questions," she giggled. "We know a lot about Roxas, but he hasn't had the chance to get to know more about us. Come on, Roxas, ask a question."

Roxas took a moment to think. He wasn't sure what he wanted to ask. There was a lot about Sora, Riku, and Kairi that he didn't know.

"What are your families like?" He finally asked.

"I have a sister," Kairi answered. "You might have seen her, her name is Naminé, the blonde girl in the library."

"Are you twins?" Roxas prompted.

There was a short pause as Kairi smiled. "No, we're not twins. She was adopted into the family when we were about four years old. She's still my sister, though, even though we're technically not related."

Because he had never known anyone who was adopted, or had adopted siblings, all Roxas could manage upon learning this new information was a very blank sounding, "oh," feeling very embarrassed for sounding so stupid. Kairi smiled again and told him not to worry. Most people had that reaction when they learned about her family.

"I'm an only child," Sora said once Kairi had finished talking. "Um…I don't have anything cool about my family like having an adopted brother or sister…er…my mom makes great spaghetti?" He had hoped Roxas would have some sort of question for him like, "what kind of spaghetti?" or "does she make good lasagna too?" but was instead met with silence. Sometimes, Sora wished he had a more exciting family.

The silence lingered for a few minutes. Roxas had expected Riku to begin describing his own kin, but the older boy looked distracted, staring at the rushing water for a few minutes. Before anyone could ask if he had been paying any attention at all to the conversation, Riku began to speak.

"My mother died when ten years ago, when I was six," he began. "She fell severely ill one day and never fully recovered. She was weak…and even the slightest cold would put us on edge. I brought her gardenia flowers every day…they were her favorite. She always said she liked their smell."

Roxas was afraid to press further. So Riku did it for him.

"She died one day, while I was at school. I remember it clearly…after that…it was just me and my father. He did his best to take care of me."

At that moment, Roxas felt conflicted. He realized he was very fortunate to have both his mother and father, both of whom loved him very much, although they were a bit apprehensive about his decision to go study at Garden. However, at the same time, he also felt sympathetic towards Riku and his loss, unsure of how he himself could deal with the loss of someone he cared deeply about. It sounded like Riku's mother was of the utmost importance in his life.

Riku seemed to sense Roxas' discomfort and offered the offered the blonde a smile.

"You don't have to feel bad for me," he said. "I'm fine. In fact, that's why I'm here, in Garden, so that I can make myself useful by protecting people who can't defend themselves. I know my mother would have been proud of me."

It was a noble reason, one that many Garden students shared as their motivation of taking on the Garden curriculum. Yet, others chose the path for their own reasons. Roxas himself decided to attend Garden because he thought it was the right choice for him, and the Keyblade he held apparently agreed with that choice.

"That's enough about that," Riku said after a moment. "Let's not talk about depressing things. Care to show me the cards you two bought?"


October 26th
1040 hours

"Hey there, Fire Starter, what's wrong?"

When she didn't get an answer, Larxene frowned. Her prey was not taking her bait. That was no fun. Axel was usually ready to exchange insults with her. It helped her keep her tongue sharp. Well, she wanted to have a verbal fight, and to get it; all she would have to do is prod a little harder.

"Oh, I get it now. You had a fight with your boyfriend, didn't you?"

"Be quiet, I'm trying to think," Axel snapped at her, finally acknowledging her presence.

"You? Thinking? In class, no less?" Larxene let out a fake gasp of surprise and for dramatic effect, placed a hand to her forehead and pretend like she was going to faint from the shock. As soon as she was done, she instantly placed both elbows on the desk and rested her chin in her hands. "What about?"

The reply was calm and frank. "None of your business."

"So, it isn't about school work, then?" she mused. Axel thought he could hear the little gears in her brain turning. Crafty girl.

"If you really must know, I'm planning my next move."

"On Flower Boy, you mean? You're really serious about him, then?" It was just like Larxene to fill in the gaps of a conversation with whatever was going on in that head of hers. At this point, any biting edge in her voice was put at bay, and she sounded like she was genuinely interested in what he had to say. Probably so she could spread it later as gossip. Axel had learned very quickly to be wary when Larxene's voice loses its usual scathing tone.

Axel snorted and dismissed her statement with a casual wave of his hand. He thought to wave some flames in her face, but that wouldn't do him any good. "No, it's part of my plan to make him less of a humorless workaholic."

"Why's it matter so much to you?" Larxene asked, bemused. "If he wants to work himself to death, let him. Give it a thought, Fire Starter, maybe there's more to this little stunt you're pulling than you think." And with that, she got up in search for someone who would actually respond to her taunts, leaving Axel to ponder her words.

Why did it matter so much to him? The answer was obvious, wasn't it? Axel wanted to get his fellow student to loosen up and enjoy life for once. Or at the very least, get more sleep. Marluxia didn't exactly look his best lately, and everyone around him noticed. His patience thinned each day and often looked visibly exhausted, yet he still somehow managed to stay alert and ready.

He would make an excellent DRIVE member, Axel had figured. He'd go far, but not if he so blatantly ignored his own health like that.

Sometimes it was okay to just goof off. Axel would even claim it was healthy. After all, it's done wonders for him. Perhaps he did overdo it, teetering on the edge of failing his classes, but it was his style. He'd pull through in the end. Always had, always will.

What others saw as an attempt to annoy and corrupt his tutor, Axel saw as an earnest attempt to help his friend. Not that the annoying and the corrupting weren't a fun bonus along the way, of course.

At least, that's what Axel thought.

Give it a thought, Fire Starter, maybe there's more to this little stunt you're pulling than you think.

As if. What did Larxene know about anything besides making the lives of others miserable, anyways?

Still, her words rang through his mind like a cryptic message. That just wasn't right.


November 2nd
0715 hours

Dear Hayner, Pence, and Olette,

How are you guys? It's been almost two weeks since I started classes in Garden. Things have been pretty good. The teachers, overall, are pretty nice and helpful.

I suppose you've all been wondering what the people here are like. They're mostly regular people like us. They like a lot of the same things we do, and it's fun to meet people from other worlds. Everyone's so unique, but in the end, we're all here at Radiant Garden, studying under the same teachers, working for the same goal. We'll all be teammates someday. It's like we're all so different, we've become a group all of our own.

I've made a few friends since arriving and they're all great. You guys should meet them sometime. If you come to visit during a weekend or something, I'd love to introduce them to you.

So how's everything in Twilight Town? Are Seifer and his gang causing trouble again? Did you guys go to the beach? Did Setzer win the Struggle tournament like he always does? Anything really exciting happen? Did you finish your homework?

You can tell I really miss home, can't you? But don't worry about me; I'm actually really happy here. Garden was everything I ever dreamed about and more. It's literately a dream come true, and I would've missed it all if it weren't for you three.

Thanks for shunning me until I came to my senses. You guys are the best.

Hope to hear from you soon,

Roxas

"You said it's bound for Twilight Town, kupo?" the Moogle courier asked. Upon conformation, the small creature nodded. "Right, everything's in order, kupo. We'll have it delivered to Twilight Town by Monday. From there, the local post service will take care of it. I would guess it would reach the recipient by Tuesday."


A/N: No footnotes, wow…um…other than that, forgive me, please.