Just you and me
The bright sunshine beat down on the early walkers who roamed the streets. A blonde boy with a red backpack loped from shadow to shadow, avoiding the morning joggers and cyclists. Roxas covered his eyes with an arm and peered up, squinting at the sun.
It's so hot here. I shouldn't have worn this hoody, he thought grumpily as he walked slowly up the sidestreet. Today was a day he really hadn't been looking forward to. First day at his new school. He wasn't entirely sure how he would handle the experience. He hoped it was painless and lacking in confusion and embarrassment. Hah, fat chance, he thought placidly. He sighed heavily as he turned the corner, his new school finally coming into view.
The enormous facebrick building was spread spaciously on lush green lawns and fields. Roxas spotted a row of tennis courts right at the end of the block and the distinct sound of tennis balls volleying against racquets. Hillocks rose and dipped between the necessary pathways used by the students. Gleaming glass winked in the sunlight and Roxas felt his spirit waning as his eyes roamed over the many apparent classroom windows.
He tugged on his sleeve, annoyed. Welp, better get on with this, he thought before striding across the street. He wandered through the wire-fence gate and along the paved pathway leading to the large front doors. As he neared, he looked about, not seeing anyone and found his eyes drawn upwards. Massive white letter boldly stated the building's designation.
"Destiny Islands High School," he said to himself. He knew by the size and name that this was the only High School that served the community. "Every kid on the island must go here," he said, amazed.
He shook his head before giving a mighty push on the great doors ahead. "Buck up, man," he said to himself, "It's time you started a normal life."
Roxas followed the tall, long-legged woman who had been asked to escort him to his first class. He gazed down at the slip of paper in his hand. A timetable, apparently was a spreadsheet composed of confusing room and study venues at varying times on every day of the week. The codes used for lessons confused him more than anything else. HF02? he thought, his eyebrows furrowing. Was that his Biology class or that social studies that he'd been asked to replace his Physics with? What was it called again? Life and Sciences of Populous nations? Damnit, he growled internally. This was really going to be tough.
"-and here you have the Gym, usually used for PE and sports activities before and after school as well as the odd special function," the woman ahead of him said, waving her hand at a pair of blue doors. Roxas wasn't exactly sure why she treated her job as excort more like a job in tourism.
"Ah, here we are," the woman said gaily, her arms waving as she strode into a classroom. Roxas peered round the corner and breathed a sigh of relief. The only person present was his new teacher.
"Leon," the woman said happily, tapping her hand on the wooden desk situated at the front of the class.
Roxas' new teacher looked up, "Ah, I see, new student." The man stood up and brushed off his trousers. Roxas wondered if there was a dress code he should be aware of. He didn't think teachers had layered haircuts befitting supermodels. Or sculpted, well-defined facial features. Did that count as dress-code?
"This," the woman said, smiling back at Roxas, "is Roxas, fresh in from Twilight Town, aren't you?"
The blonde nodded quietly. The man named Leon looked on, "Really? Twilight Town? From the big city, eh? Well, Roxas, welcome to Destiny Islands. I'm Leon and I'll be your math teacher. You can count, right?"
Roxas just looked up at the man, his face carrying a slight frown, "So...I don't call you Mister, or sir Something-or-other?"
Both of the adults smiled amiably, "Nope, Here we all go by first names. It helps in the long run."
"Oh," was all Roxas could utter, his eyes falling to the linoleum floor.
Both teachers looked at one another.
"Anyway," the woman cried, clapping her hands, "Must run, have to get my tests ready! No point in being a tyrant if I let the kids off from random, grade-altering quizzes!"
And with that she flew from the room. Roxas wondered if it was the coffee. He found the coffee here to be much stronger. Or maybe it was the sugar...hmmm...new experiment to be explored.
"So, Roxas..." Leon said suddenly, startling the boy out of his thoughts, "What's your timetable look like?"
Roxas just handed over the slip of paper. It was slightly crumpled and more than a little damp. He wiped his fingers on his pants.
Leon peered at the page, seeming to understand it's intricate educational lingo. "Okay," he said finally, laying down the sheet on his desk. "I'll pair you up with a student that has a similar schedule. I think it'll help if you had someone to show you the ropes."
Roxas just nodded. He glanced up at the clock on the wall. 08:45. Fifteen minutes until the classroom began filling up. Roxas wiped his hands on his pants again.
"Right," Leon said, "You'll be sitting second from the back, third row," at this, he pointed to a desk one row from the furthest window. Roxas nodded. "If you can just settle in and wait, I'll have someone round to help you."
Leon seemed to be rereading his timetable again. Roxas decided to unload his bag at least. The pile of new textbooks was killing his spine. He pulled back the chair at his desk and proceeded to pull out the necessary books and accessories he'd be required to use in math.
Before long, a couple students waltzed in, greeting the teacher before settling into their seats. Roxas tried to relax himself. Easy, it's just school. Kids, paper, pens, that's it. Nothing big. But Roxas knew he'd still be stressing. This experience was all to new to him.
A sudden clanging made him jump. He gripped the table edge, realizing the school bell had finally rung. He heard hordes of footsteps beating down outside and along the school hallways.
A stream of students flowed into the classroom, most chattering and laughing together. Roxas noted the pairs and trios of friends that seemed to sit near one another. He spotted a couple girls looking at him but he just glared down at his desk.
A loud BANG made him jump in his seat. Two hands had been slapped down onto his desk. He looked up and saw a boy with a grin as wide as Jamaica. Big blue eyes that rivalled his own, stared back.
"Hi!" the boy's voice rang out. Roxas couldn't help taking in the boy's wild brown hair. It really was quite extraordinary. "I'm Sora!" the kid practically yelled.
"Uh...hi," Roxas muttered. This kid was obviously on high octane performance pills or something.
The brunette smiled at him some more, "Well, what's your name?" he said excitedly.
"Hi Roxas! I hear you're new and need help finding your way round. Don't worry, I'll be the best escort you'll ever need." The brunette plopped himself down into the seat in front of Roxas. The blonde looked around warily. The kid was really, really excitable and he wondered if people had been staring. Apparently no one was bothered. The other students had settled themselves down and looked towards their teacher.
Leon stood at his desk, waiting for the eventual quieting of the class. Roxas was quite impressed.
"Good morning class," Leon said calmly, leaning against his desk. "Enjoy your weekends?"
A round of "Yeah", "Yes sir" and "Hell no!"s erupted from the class.
"All right, all right," Leon said, waving his hands for silence, "Time for good news." He smiled. "We have a new student." Roxas frowned when he saw Leon's hand gesturing for him to stand. He carefully pushed his chair back and stood, wiping at his unruly hair.
All eyes were on him.
"Well?" Leon said softly, folding his arms.
Roxas took this as a sign for introductions. "My name is Roxas."
Silence. Roxas saw two girls glance at one another.
"And?" a kid said from the front of the class.
Roxas frowned. He hated being put on the spot. "And I'm from Twilight Town."
A few people "ooh"ed.
"Anything else?" Leon said kindly. Roxas shrugged. Leon grinned.
"All right, you can sit. Sora, you have your instructions," Leon said, nodding as he rounded his desk and reached for a fresh piece of chalk.
The brunette in front of Roxas twisted round and gave him an exaggerated wink.
Roxas sighed. He really wanted this day to be over.
"See, here's the library. I don't go in there much, unless I'm in detention of course, but that's like, once a month, so who cares, right?" The two boys walked side-by-side in the throng of students rushing around.
"And here we have my favourite place, the caf! Food glorious food! What is there more handsome! We can grab a spot near the side door. After this we'll have another outside break. That sounds good, huh?"
Roxas walked alongside Sora, wondering how the boy was able to breathe inbetween his bursts of dialogue. Though Sora was high energy and always talkative, Roxas had to admit, he rather enjoyed the other boy's company. Through their first class together, Roxas had time to realize that Sora should never have entered the math class at all. He was horrendous with numbers. This had amused Roxas no end when Leon kept asking Sora for answers to particular problems. In their second class together, Roxas had been introduced to the chaotic english class that was presided over by a very angry young woman. She seemed to enjoy throwing books and chalk at students who offended her pride in grammar. Roxas was sure to always dot his "i"s and cross his "t"s.
Sora was walking backwards ahead of him now. They'd tossed their bags at the desired table and were currently aimed for the food line.
"So, Roxas, what do you think of school so far?"
The blonde shrugged, holding his tray in his arms, "Not much, really."
Sora grinned, "Don't worry, we'll get you into the swing of things in no time!"
Roxas wasn't about to complain.
When both boys had grabbed their desired food portions, they headed back to the table. The cafeteria wasn't really full, apparently because different grades had separate lunch hours. "See today we have it alone, but on Tuesdays and Thursdays, we share with the juniors, on Wednesdays, the freshmen and Fridays, we have the seniors. Spread out pretty well."
"Sora!" a voice cried out. Roxas noted two girls already seated at their table. A blonde and a redhead.
"Hey, girls," Sora cried out, tossing his tray haphazardly across the table. It collided with the blonde girl's tray and she tried to keep her mash on the table and not the floor. "Namine, Kairi, this is Roxas."
The redhead smiled, "Yes, I know. We had math together."
Sora smacked his forehead, "Right! Whoops!"
The blonde, whom Roxas assumed was Namine, giggled.
"Have you done the Bio homework yet? I was hoping to copy..." Kairi said immediately. She didn't waste time.
Sora just wolfed down his hotdog, trying pointlessly to speak through the mess in his mouth.
"Abuh Shnn Eghnngu" he mumbled, bits of meat and bread flying everywhere.
Roxas moved his plate away from the brunette's.
Kairi gave a heavy sigh, "Damnit, I'd hoped you'd done it. What'll we do now?"
Roxas chewed on his sandwich silently. He watched the three friends chat and banter on about things he had nothing to do with. He watched the redhead chatter happily. Sora had already enlightened Roxas as to her background. Apparently she and Sora had met in elementary school. They were fast friends.
"We have, like 3 hours before Bio, maybe we can rush it?" Namine queried in her delicate voice.
Roxas swallowed his mouthful, not at all enjoying the day old bread and meat. He simply dropped the remains of his meal on his tray, wishing he'd ordered the fries instead. Sora seemed to be enjoying them. He had to be because now potato bits were being scattered across the table.
Sighing, Roxas pushed his tray away. Note to self: homemade lunch.
Finally, Roxas' last class of the day arrived. Biology, his favourite subject. When he arrived, he noticed the class was much larger, thereby able to seat twice as many students.
"It's because it's a lab," Sora had said in answer to his query, "We only have three labs in the entire school, so most classes have to double up."
Roxas was about to ask which group they'd be doubled with when he noticed a few new faces entering the room. They were all definitely older than him. Sora seemed excited to be there. He chatted happily with Roxas about their last really cool assignment on handmade rockets.
"-and mine was like, BOOM, WHoooSSH! Totally flew a mile. Though it stank like hell's underwear. Totally got an "F" I might add." Sora grinned proudly, "Wrong class, haha. We were supposed to be doing fetal pig diagrams, whoops."
Roxas couldn't help smiling at the brunette's infectious grin.
When the teacher finally arrived, silver hair floating behind him, Roxas watched the rest of the students mill about, finding seats and arranging themselves however.
Sora seemed to be waving at someone nearby. Roxas couldn't see, so he just opened his textbook and eyed the very tanned teacher before him.
"Today, class," the man said in his deep baritone, "We'll be swapping assignments. Juniors, you'll have it easy, taking on the second-years' projects." A light chorus went up at this. The teacher smiled, "Yes, and second-years," he peered around, smirking, "You'll be doing a project assigned to the juniors."
Sora groaned audibly. Roxas was confused. How could a class be composed of two separate grades?
"Lucky for you all," the teacher continued, "both classes are on the same topic. The reproductive cycle."
Roxas breathed a sigh of relief. Anatomy, he knew. Reproduction, he knew. His only real problem laid in botany.
"Naturally, a quiz before we start." A series of groans and complaints erupted from anguished students. The teacher began drawing up two columns in chalk, labelling the first "Class 2" and the other "Class 3".
He then turned and placed both hands on his desk, "Right, first off, Tidus!" he barked.
A blonde boy near the front jumped in his seat, "Yes Ansem, sir!"
"What do we call the sets of genes found in every genetic trait?"
The blonde boy looked around, playing with his hair. He stood up slowly and walked up to the chalkboard. He seemed to be in a confused state.
Sora twisted in his seat, "We haven't learnt that yet! Must be third year stuff!" he whispered.
Roxas watched the boy named Tidus scribble something on the board. He could barely make it out.
"Sperm," Ansem said, reading the scribbled word. He eyed the blonde boy. Tidus hastily added a few more letters. "Spermatazoids," Ansem said.
Roxas shook his head.
"WRONG!" Ansem bellowed suddenly, making Tidus squeal. The silver-haired teacher scraped a piece of chalk through the word on the board. A few people winced. Tidus hustled back to his seat, anxious to be out of biting range.
"NEXT," Ansem yelled, "Riku!"
Roxas watched as an older boy stood, his silvery hair falling is sharp layers. Roxas couldn't help noticing the slim, athletic build and hipbones that protruded from tight jeans. If he didn't know better, he would have sworn everyone in the class was holding his or her breath. The boy walked up to the board and wrote clearly in slanted cursive, "alleles".
He put the chalk down, wiped his hands together and watched a grin creep across the teacher's face.
"Excellent Riku," Ansem said. Riku nodded and proceeded back to his seat. Roxas watched as the boy walked between the seats. He wondered where the boy bought his clothes. The tight, pale blue vest and white sleeveless hoody with red stripes were offset by the low-slung, dark blue jeans. A black and white checkered belt held the pants up and matched the checkered sneakers.
Roxas made a note to ask about the local shops. Lord knew he needed new clothes.
"Okay, next question..."
And on it went. Ansem was ruthless with his students. Naturally, the third years gained more points, making Roxas wonder how and why this was considered a quiz worth studying for.
"Ah, sometimes it gets really good," Sora said, "Like when we're really close and both sides know the answer. It's awesome."
"But how can both grades be studying the same work?" Roxas asked. Students milled about, gathering into groups of four for their next assignment.
"Well, they're not really," sora answered, "We tend to have the same chapters, but they have the advanced lessons. This way we learn some stuff a little early and they get to slack off or catch up. It usually works out. When we have different chapters, then we all split up and have group sessions with Ansem."
Roxas nodded as he laid out the large sheet of paper he'd been handed. Sora was sorting out the different coloured pens.
Across from him, Roxas could see another group at work. The silver-haired Riku was in it and seemed to be organizing his group pretty well.
Roxas looked at the other two boys in his own group. The blonde named Tidus and a fiery redhead.
"Okay!" Sora cried out, "Time to organize-"
"Wait, dude," the redhead said, holding up his hand, "You can't organize jack, Sora."
"Hey-" Sora began.
"Wakka's right," Tidus replied, as he laid out the assignment sheets, "I'll organize. First we'll list the fathers, then the mothers and start with eye colour, hair colour, defective genes and diseases..."
Roxas watched silently as Tidus ran through the idea. Sora handed him a green pen.
"So you," Tidus said, pointing to Roxas, "can do the eye colours and we'll do the lines, while Sora just holds the pens."
Roxas didn't answer. He just watched the two boys lean down and start drawing haphazard lines across the whiter than white paper. Red lines wobbled across the page until a blue line was intercepted. Wakka chuckled, "This is like preschool."
Sora just sat back, pouting, his arms folded.
Roxas noticed Riku looking over at them. He had a small smile playing on his face.
Roxas sighed and frowned. He really didn't want his favourite class to be messed up. Seeing the way Sora was pouting, he felt he couldn't let that slide either.
"You're doing it wrong," he said suddenly.
Tidus and Wakka paused in their scribbling.
"You can't just list them in columns like that," Roxas continued, "You have to connect them like a family tree. Green for one gene, red for the next. Blue for both recessive genes and orange for one or more dominant gene."
The other three boys gaped at him.
Roxas heard a snicker from somewhere.
"Sora," he said firmly, grabbing a red pen from the brunette, "Flip this paper and start fresh on the other side. You can lay down the base of names I give you. You," he pointed at Wakka, "write out the project title and our names below. You," he pointed a pen at Tidus, "stop being a jerk."
Sora covered his mouth and snorted in laughter. Tidus just glared back at him.
Roxas looked up to see Riku exchanging grins with Sora.
He sighed and got to work. Almost through, he thought wearily.
"That was crazy-awesome, Roxas!" Sora crowed once the bell had rung. They were packing up their things when Riku approached.
"Hey," he said, hand ruffling through Sora's hair. The brunette seemed to nuzzle into the hand.
"Hey, Riku! Didn't you think Roxas was crazy-awesome?"
Roxas pushed his immense biology book into his already stretched backpack.
Riku laughed, "Yeah, crazy-awesome."
"Oh!" Sora cried, "Roxas, this is Riku."
Roxas nodded at the silver-haired boy.
"Hey, Sora, you finally made a friend who's the same size as you," Riku said, nudging the brunette. Both Sora and Roxas glared at him.
"Hey!" Sora cried, "I'm not short! Nor is Roxas.We're both fine. Plus you're older!"
Riku laughed and squeezed the brunette's shoulders, "Sure, whatever you say shortstuff."
Roxas frowned and attempted to zip up his bag. He didn't like that the boy was one year older, yet ten times taller than he was. He wasn't short. He was just a slow grower. Like turtles. they grew slowly, right? Or maybe tigers, they were a bit more masculine.
Roxas heaved his bag onto his shoulder, hoping the seams would hold.
"Whoa, whoa," Riku said, pulling at the red bag, "You can't carry all that home. Don't you have a locker?"
Roxas was about to reply no when Sora gasped and covered his mouth.
"Omigosh! Roxas! Locker! Forgot!"
Sora immediately hefted the red bag onto his free shoulder and grabbed Roxas' wrist.
Riku followed as the two smaller boys raced down the less-crowded hallways.
Roxas was trying to respond by saying, "Stop! Air!" when they came to a sudden halt.
Sora dropped both bags and proceeded to unlock one of the many metal lockers that lined the walls. These particular ones were a shade of cobalt blue.
"Sorry, Roxas!" Sora cried, as he flung the door open. He then proceeded to stuff as much of Roxas' belongings onto the top shelf above what appeared to be his own belongings.
"Top shelf yours, bottom shelf mine," Sora gasped, finally slamming the door shut. "combination 1212."
"That's because he can't count past two," Riku said, chuckling.
"Uh-" Roxas began but was cut off.
"Riku! You're so mean!" Sora wailed.
Riku just patted the crazy brown hair. Sora batted at his hands.
"Guys," Roxas said calmly, "I need some of those books."
Sora paused, eyes wide, "Really? Now?"
Roxas looked at him, eyebrow raised, "Yes. Homework, remember?"
Sora just stared back, face blank.
Riku covered the brunette's eyes with his hands and laughed, "Don't worry, Roxas. Ansem only takes in work once a week. That'll be Friday. Sora doesn't know that some people like to actually DO their homework."
Roxas furrowed his brows, "Uh...okay, I guess."
"Which means..." Riku began.
"Ice-cream!" Sora about shrieked.
Roxas winced. What did ice-cream have to do with his homework?
The three boys walked outside on the school grounds, apparently headed for The Garden, a popular ice-cream joint.
Roxas was amazed at Sora's abilities to coerce him into coming with. He considered his options, though.
Home alone? Walking around? Picking my nose?
Eh, ice-cream sounded good.
Most of the students were headed towards the main gates. Sora and Riku, however, were guiding Roxas across the soccer playing field. Teams were prepping for practice as they strolled by. A few groups of students were laid out around the edges relaxing, chatting and eating.
Roxas noted the few groups that were seated nearby. It was quite popular, apparently to laze about on the fields after school. He took note of this.
Before he looked round to see where he was going, he slammed into something, reeling backwards.
"Hey, watch it!" a voice cried out. Roxas rubbed his nose and looked up to see a mohawked blonde carrying a guitar case. He didn't seem very impressed either.
"Sorry," Roxas mumbled.
"Not a problem at all," a voice drawled. Roxas raised his eyes to see a tall flame-haired boy leaning on the mohawked boy's shoulder.
"What?" Mohawk said, glaring at the redhead, "He just rammed me, man!"
The redhead just grinned. Roxas spotted brilliantly white teeth.
"Demyx, he didn't mean it, come on," Riku said calmly.
"Yeah!" Sora piped up, "He didn't see you!"
Demyx groaned, "Fine, fine, whatever."
"Seriously, dude," Riku said, folding his arms, "You need to get more sleep. Your moodswings will kill you if you don't."
Demyx mumbled something about booze, noise and women.
"And who, exactly," the redhead said, his voice smooth as silk, "do we have here?"
He leaned forward, giving Roxas the opportunity to take in his lime green tee (naturally with a yellow Mayan design), fitted to his lean frame and the loose, heavy denim shorts held up by a red belt. Roxas had to seriously look up at the kid. He must have been ten feet tall.
Everyone waited for a response. Sora looked at Roxas, also expecting him to speak.
"Your name is Roxas, remember?"
The redhead grinned an even wider grin. "Roxas? Nice to meet you." He extended a pale arm.
Roxas barely had time to register a response.
"Short little guy aren't you?" the redhead said, snickering.
Roxas felt his face heat up. "Shut up, I'm not little."
The redhead smirked, his thumbs curling into his jeans. "Really?"
"Yeah, really," Roxas glared up at the boy, suddenly inflamed with the comment. He'd heard every short joke there ever was and today, he really wasn't in the mood for any more.
"Hey, hey. Leave him," Riku said, waving an arm between them.
"Me or him?" the redhead said, ruffling his mane of hair. Roxas couldn't help gazing at the spiky locks. Hell, anyone within a mile couldn't help staring.
"Both of you."
"But mainly you," Sora added.
The redhead chuckled, "Okay, whatever. Where you guys off to anyway?"
Roxas glared at him. The redhead grinned some more, his bright green eyes alit. Roxas couldn't avert his gaze.
"We're going to The Garden, wanna come?" Sora said, swinging his arms excitedly.
Roxas wanted to kick the brunette.
"Mmmm..." The redhead tilted his head, thinking, "Maybe later."
Roxas sighed in relief. He didn't want to deal with someone so...so...annoying.
"Don't look so relieved, Roxas," the flame-haired boy said, "I'll be seeing you."
And with that, he turned, Demyx shaking his head as he followed.
Roxas rubbed his palm across his chest. He felt uneasy and excited all at once.
"Oh, by the way," a voice suddenly whispered in his ear.
Roxas nearly shrieked when he realized the redhead's face was mere inches from his own. Where did he come from!
"The name's Axel," and with that, he waltzed off, leaving Roxas red-faced and worried.
He turned to see the two teens heading across the field. He squinted at them.
"Roxas?" big blue eyes appeared before his own and he sighed.
"Ice-cream?" he uttered.
"Yeah, you still want, right?" Riku answered for Sora.
Roxas nodded, the faintest irritation niggling at him.
"Don't mind them," Riku said, "They're not all bad."
"Axel's a jerk sometimes, though," Sora mumbled, hopping alongside Riku as they strode on.
Roxas couldn't agree more.
-------------------------------------------to be continued...