Carmine Complex

The BirdFox Hybrid Productions

Disclaimer: We own nothing. Thank you, Disney and Squeenix.

Random Kyuubi: ZOMG AN UPDATE. AN ACTUAL UPDATE. I BET YOU'RE ALL HAPPIER THAN A BASKET FULL OF PUPPIES AND KITTENS AND FLUFFY DUCKIES FLYING OVER A RAINBOW OF MARSHMALLOWS AND CRACK. (And some of you thought we'd abandoned you guys. Tsk tsk.) It just goes to show that you can never trust what we say. We said we were going to shorten our chapters so we could get them out quicker, and this chapter is just as long, if not longer, and it's horrendously, inexcusably late.

Psycho Rooster: There's a few reasons for this horribly late chapter. First and foremost, I had the duty of editing the latest chapter of Reverse Eclipse before I could start working on this (it took up all the free time I would have used for Carmine Complex because there were a lot of old scenes that had to be taken out or rewritten) I've had a perpetual writer's block concerning any and everything to do with this story...and other stuff.

Random Kyuubi: Lets attempt to list them: An asshole of a tv.production teacher, emotional issues, finals, prom, two graduations to attend to, getting a job and a boyfriend, little brother leaving for Germany for three weeks, older brother shattering his knee while being a dumbass at band practice, re-arranging her entire room to please her mother-- her mother's spastic refusal to let PR have the computer back in her room, little brother coming back from Germany, preparing for Metrocon cosplay as Jack Spicer, going to Metrocon as Jack Spicer with her boyfriend who was Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, becoming the leader of a massive Zombie uprising, breaking up with her boyfriend, etc

Psycho Rooster: I'm a sexy Jack Spicer. ;D

Random Kyuubi: That, along with her having to divide her attention between life, myself, and fanfic writing, resulted in this not being updated as quickly. Though, I happened to have been writing while our darling chicken was busy, and had to await for her to put in her half of the chapter before we could update.

Psycho Rooster: Any and all questions that reviewers have should be emailed to us if you

honestly would like them answered. Our emails can be found by clicking the profile. If you want a detailed reply to every question you could possibly have, email me. If you just want an answer and not a bunch of psychobabble thrown in, email RK.

Random Kyuubi: And to all who took offense to the scene in the previous chapter that had clarinet bashing, I take complete and total blame for that because I happen to be a flute player, and there was a review left by a certain someone who's addicted to poptarts, who stated that clarinets were better than all other instruments, especially the flute . I took offense, and wrote that whole scene. I really don't have anything against clarinets or clarinet players, I was just pissed off.

Psycho Rooster: Which means that I had nothing to do with it... because I played clarinet for four years. So, on with the chapter before you rupture your spleens in anticipation.

Titian: n. A brownish orange.

For the following week, both Niikura brothers had been twice as jittery as a pair of lab monkeys injected with crack cocaine on the Fourth of July. The extent of their unexplained paranoia went so far out that Sora slapped Riku's hand away each time the older boy made any advances, keeping a wary eye over one shoulder, and Roxas made sure to distance himself at least two feet from Axel's person at all times.

Demyx hadn't come to school Thursday, without a call or a note as to why and where he was. Axel and Roxas had gone to his house to find the blond absent, and the redhead had gone into a panic until Demyx had called him from a foreign number. Nothing was explained, but that Demyx was fine and that he'd be at school the next day.

Zexion's skipping incident had been found out, and the slate-haired senior had been scheduled for a detention the end of the week during the pep rally.

He and Demyx had hardly spoken the entire week.

Meanwhile, Axel seemed to have been plotting the demise of one Seifer Almasy, with the help of Saix and Xigbar. Roxas didn't find out his ingenious (or idiotic) masterminded plan until the following Friday morning in Trigonometry.

It started with Axel borrowing precisely three sheets of paper from Roxas after kindly requesting them. It escalated into small paper airplanes being folded from half of each paper to make six.

From there, the first three planes were vaulted at the back of Seifer's head with more violence than grace. After the fourth one, Seifer released a growl and turned around to level the redhead with a heated narrowing of eyes.

"Do it again and I'll punch you in the damn face." The blond snarled, his upper lip tugging back to give Axel a menacing sneer. Axel shrugged his shoulders at the bully and a waited until the opportune moment.

Seifer huffed and turned back around to continue his work and Axel launched another plane at the back of the aforementioned dumbass. Seifer released a shout of rage and whirled around, a single arm whipping out to connect with Axel's jaw with such ferocity that Axel's head whipped to the side. Roxas jumped up in his seat, eyes wide as Axel froze, immobile, as if absorbing the pain.

He slowly turned to face Seifer, moving to get out of his seat when Demyx leapt up over the top of his desk and tackled Seifer out of his chair with an Indian War cry and sent them both flailing to the ground

Seifer snarled out the words, "Crazy fuck!", a split second before Demyx's fist smashed into his nose. The blond bully screamed in rage and pain, flipping them over and slamming Demyx's head into the linoleum floor with a sickening crack. Axel jumped over his desk, kicking Seifer off his friend a second before Raijin leapt onto his back and tugged the redhead down and into a headlock. Frustrated and more than mildly outraged at the unfolding scene, Roxas pushed his seat back, running to help the two teens as Demyx's howl of pain broke through the tussle.

Thinking quickly, the blond jumped onto Seifer's back, similar to how one would ride a horse, and fisted his hands into Seifer's gelled hair. Grimacing at the squish of un-dried hair gel, Roxas tugged harshly and earned a deranged squarking noise from the bully. Seifer reached up, grabbing Roxas's arms, and flipped the blond over his head with such strength that Roxas felt a sense of disorientation, followed by blinding pain as he hit a row of desks. He couldn't help the pained cry wrench from his mouth, or the flash of white in his vision before everything faded into focus just as Xemnas boomed out.

"What is going on here?!"

All activity froze within an instant. A loud thud, followed by a shout of pain from Fuujin broke the silence when Xigbar dropped the slate-haired girl to the ground in a heap. Raijin and Axel instantly stopped their fighting, though Seifer slammed Demyx's head into the ground one last time.

Xemnas's face contorted into a look of anger. With a speed only performed by that of a crack-injected capybara, Xemnas snatched Seifer up by the back of his shirt and bodily threw the blond boy into both Raijin and Axel. It was suddenly a loud mess of shrieking, bright red hair, and tangled legs before the boys struggled to right themselves away from each other.

Xemnas turned to face Demyx and Xigbar. "Who is responsible for this?" All hands pointed to the three-man pileup behind Xemnas. Seifer pointed to Axel and Axel pointed to Seifer, and at the same time stomped his boot down on Raijin's one free hand that wasn't pinned beneath Seifer's ass. Xemnas scowled and Saix rose from his seat.

"Seifer threw the first punch, sir." Soon enough, a collective murmur of agreement followed from the few students who had witnessed the incident happen and Xemnas turned to face the blond bully.

"Mister Almasy," Xemnas began in a slow drawl. "Is it a natural born habit of yours to make such large displays of stupidity on a regular basis?" the man questioned softly. Seifer opened his mouth to retort, but Xemnas cut him off.

"Seeing as how that was a rhetorical question, Mister Almasy, the answer must be yes. Go to the discipline office. I'll even write you a pass."

Xemnas strode past the boys and to his desk. Axel instantly was on his feet and hurrying over to where Roxas had decided to stay on the floor in the heap of desks. Axel's brows were furrowed, his lips drawn into a thin line. "You okay, Roxas?" the redhead asked softly. Roxas shot him a smile, ignoring the ache in his back an taking the offered hand.

"I'm fine, thanks." Axel grinned, though his smile was marred by an ever growing swell that would most likely bruise a good portion of his cheek.

Roxas rolled his eyes and gingerly moved to take his seat.

Demyx, who seemed to be completely unfazed by his rapidly developing black eye, pranced over to his chair beside Roxas and sat down with a content look on his face. Xemnas returned to hand Seifer a white referral slip and then went back to his desk. The blond bully angrily went about gathering his backpack and supplies before storming out of the classroom in a huff.

Demyx hummed, prodding just below his injured eye and wincing. He released a hiss and then turned to Axel as soon as the redhead sat down. "Hey, is it just me, or is this gonna bruise real good?" Demyx pointed to his eye and Axel scrutinized it for a moment, leaning on his desk to peer past Roxas to get a better look at his companion.

"That's gonna give you one hell of a black eye," the lanky teen commented, flippantly waving a hand in Demyx's direction. Demyx sat back in satisfaction, crossing his arms with a self-satisfied grin.

"Awesome," the blond boy stated, apparently pleased for a reason only the Jenova's Witnesses would know. Axel snorted and called out- rather loudly- to the blond junior.

"Yeah, you like it like that, don't you, y'kinky bastard." It happened to have been said during one of the few times where an odd and sudden silence fell upon the class, so that every student was able to hear the redhead's proclamation.

More silence followed, and Xigbar grunted from his seat with crossed arms and a closed eye.

"And God said, let there be gay babies."

"And there was," Demyx replied with the utmost sincerity.

"And it was good," Xigbar finalized.

Roxas slammed his head onto his desk.


The last five minutes of second period had Demyx sitting quite awkwardly in his orchestra chair before randomly shrieking and cupping his genitals, curling up into a half-fetal position in his seat. His orchestra professor, Hijiri Minase, merely continued scribbling notes down for his next class, even as Demyx fell from his seat in an odd sideways slump. He hit the ground with a thud, backpack landing on the side of Demyx's hip, doing little to help. Demyx moaned and lifted a foot before hitting it against the ground and then repeated the action.

"Mister Minase!" Demyx half-roared, half-groaned out in the manner of a herniated hippopotamus. "Please, please can I go to the bathroom?"

"I'm sorry, Mister Ando, but I'm not allowed to let students out so close to the bell," the man replied gently, flipping through papers once more and scribbling something down on a music score. Demyx released an agonized groan that broke a few sound barriers and hushed multiple conversations going on in the classroom, though no one bothered to help the poor blond. He rolled, both hands now holding onto his crotch (most likely to prevent wetting himself).

The bell rang and Demyx released an ear-splitting squeal, rolling around until he gained enough leverage to vault himself onto his knees and then to his feet. "I have to piss Niagara Falls! Get out of my way!" he shrieked, and darted out of the room. He immediately began making an erratic and slightly wobbly beeline for the bathroom that resembled the diseased run that most Floridians would imitate when being chased by a rabid alligator.

Once relieved, Demyx proceeded over to the sink to wash his hands when his eyes caught sight of a dollar bill lying inside of the handicap stall. With a shout of delight, Demyx hurriedly dried his hands on his pants and pranced towards it, tripping over himself in his mad dive to get to the green slip of munni. He stumbled into the stall, grabbing up the dollar and stuffing it into his pocket with a triumphant grin.

The bathroom door opened and Demyx peered out to see one very irate looking Seifer Almasy storm in. Instantly, Demyx ducked back inside the stall and discreetly began pushing the door closed with his toe when another voice that wasn't Seifer's spoke up.

"How much trouble are you in?" Demyx peeked out through the crack in the door to see Roxas's old friend, Hayner, standing in front of Seifer with one hand on his hip. Seifer grunted softly and ran his hands through his hair before leaning against the bathroom wall and roughly replying.

"Two weeks suspension."

Hayner's eyes went wide, a hand reaching out to punch Seifer angrily in the chest. This action, although seemingly common between the two, surprised Demyx into staring slack-jawed.

"Two weeks? Fuck, Seifer!" Hayner exclaimed to his taller companion. Seifer pushed Hayner back as the younger blond continued talking, his arms flying up and then crossing angrily.

"You know I don't have any free time outside of school anymore, and you still go and do stupid shit like getting into fights and getting suspended?" Hayner turned his back to Seifer. "Is this your way of trying to break it off?" Whatever Hayner meant, it obviously struck some sort of chord in the blond bully because Seifer instantly straightened up from where he'd been leaning against the wall with crossed arms to grab Hayner by the shoulder.

"Don't twist my actions around, Hayner." The smaller teen still didn't face him, and glowered at the wall.

"I'm under that impression when you're constantly trying to rile up Roxas's friends. I heard about what you did to Demyx. I wasn't gonna say anything, but you're starting to act to him like you did to me last year. I mean, if you really want to break it off, we will, but--" In the span of a half second, Seifer whirled Hayner around, slammed him against the wall and forced their lips together in a ferocious kiss. Hayner's fingers pressed against Seifer's chest before gripping the bully's shirt and pulling his body closer.

Demyx couldn't wrench his eyes from the scene before him, even as the theme from Twilight Zone began to steadily play in the back of his head. Hayner released his hold on Seifer's shirt and snaked his arms around the bully's neck, forcing the taller blond even closer.

Demyx, being the voyeur that he was, continued to watch with a mixture of shock and delight when Seifer's lips parted and his tongue visibly darted forth to pry Hayner's mouth open, large hands grasping to the younger boy's thin hips in order to better force Hayner against the wall.

Gasps permeated the silence of the bathroom to accompany the sound of rustling clothes and of lips smacking together wetly. Seifer's hands dipped down past Hayner's waistband to grasp the boy's ass and the hands gripping to Seifer's shirt suddenly began to push the older boy away.

"Seifer, s-stop!" Hayner breathed out. At first, it seemed that the blond teen wasn't listening- but after a few prolonged moments, Seifer backed away just enough to trail his mouth down to Hayner's shoulder. His hand rose, tugging down the collar before he bared his teeth, digging them into the newly exposed flesh.

"Don't ever think I want to break anything off, unless I tell you otherwise," he growled out.

Hayner weakly nodded and Seifer released his hold on the smaller boy's hips and allowed Hayner to stand on his own. Both teens stood there for a few moments in an almost-awkward silence, until the bathroom door opened and they immediately jumped away from each other.

Hayner hurriedly left while Seifer paused to converse with the kid who'd just entered before he also walked out. Demyx waited until the bathroom was empty once more before bolting straight for LMS.

Xaldin was interrupted from his lecture on the different ways to exercise your pancreas by his

classroom door being kicked in and a blue and blond whirlwind flying past him and all the way to the back of the class. His eyes narrowed in on where Demyx innocently sat next to a bemused Axel. (Roxas and Sora now shared the same table, kicking Riku and Axel out and leaving the rejected teens to sit by themselves at other tables.)

"Mister Ando... Do I even want to know why you're ten minutes late to my class with wet stains on the front of your pants?" Demyx's eyes widened, squinted, and then peered down to catch sight of his khaki pants streaked with water, where he'd hurriedly wiped his hands after washing them.

He hummed in an 'Oh, hello there Mister Kookaburra. Would you like to sit in my gum tree?' sort of tone and looked back up at Xaldin.

"Your mom has wet stains on her pants." Laughter echoed throughout the room and Xaldin's sideburns instantly bushed out in anger.

"See me after you change out, Mister Ando." A chorus of 'ooohhhhh' followed the man's statement before Xaldin ordered the class to the locker rooms.

While Demyx lagged back to discuss his inappropriate outburst with their furry man-beast of a teacher, Axel and company made their way to the locker rooms to change out.

Without his Mohawk counterpart, the redhead looked almost forlorn. Roxas took pity upon the matchstick and walked beside him. Axel's face seemed to instantly light up. "Hey Roxas."

The redhead reached out to ruffle Roxas' s already unruly mop of hair, and for once, the blond allowed it. He uttered a soft greeting in reply and Axel's smile grew to more shit-eating proportions. Riku shot him an envious glare as he was pushed two feet away by Sora. They entered the locker room to the sounds of rowdy gym students yelling and throwing clothing at one another. Axel made a beeline for his locker and Roxas followed suit.

As they were changing, a slip of paper fell from Axel's jacket pocket, unbeknownst to the exuberant redhead.

Roxas placed his shirt on the bench to pick it up and unfold it.

My Hero


Axel Hara

Hero Name: The Great Inferno! (exclamation must be present and accounted for)

Powers: To woo unsuspecting girls and boys with his wily and suave charms. Also capable of manipulating fire, flight, and mad ninja skills.

Main Goal: With the help of his esteemed sidekick, Waterboy, The Great Inferno! plans to defeat the evil and nefarious Malibu Mansex and simultaneously save the word from bad sitcoms and minimum wage.

3 Biggest Accomplishments (3-5 sentences each):

1. In the very beginning... The Great Inferno! met a young and ever-molestable schoolboy by the name of Roxas. Upon saving the boy's life, Roxas instantly fell in love with the handsome hero. They're now in a wonderful relationship.

2. Rescuing Waterboy from the evil clutches of the Tyrannical King Lexaeus. It was a vicious battle, filled with big foreheads, obese muscles and pain. Once saved, Waterboy instantly sprung back to The Great Inferno's! side to continue fighting crime and reruns of 'Companions.'

3. Saving his ever-so-darling brother from the bowels of paperwork. With such a fine specimen of a younger brother, The Great Inferno's! older brother is quite happy to be saved from his work so that the two of them may destroy evil-doers everywhere with the power of their mad gaming skills.

What Social problem would you change? Homophobia. And paying two dollars at the soda machine for a water bottle.

Strengths: Looks, brains, all around charm.

Weaknesses: School-boy Roxas and the lives of Waterboy and his Brother.

Draw a picture of yourself.

On the back was a crudely drawn rendition of what Roxas supposed was The Great Inferno! himself. This consisted of red spandex, a cape, and a pose that looked more like a child with down syndrome than that of a superhero. In the background was another half-stick figure of a boy with hearts floating around his head that had hair strikingly similar to Roxas's own.

Embarrassed, flattered and utterly amused, Roxas couldn't help the laughter that burst from his mouth like an erupting volcano. It was enough to catch the attention of both Axel and anyone within a ten foot perimeter.

Axel was the first to react, catching sight of the paper and squawking rather loudly. In a spastic flail of arms, Axel disregarded his own state of mild nudity to make a mad lunge for the incriminating paper clutched in Roxas's hands. His attempt, however ungraceful, was in vain when Xigbar swiftly plucked the slip of notebook paper from Roxas's lax grip, peering down at the picture for a half second and squinting his good eye.

Axel didn't seem to notice the sudden change of possession, and barreled head on into Roxas. The aforementioned blond let out a grunt of pain before finding himself nicely smooshed between the locker room floor and Axel's bare torso.

"Where is the paper!?" Axel wailed, his hands flying all over Roxas's shirtless chest as if trying to give him a pat down. Roxas squirmed, an almost-laugh bubbling out in the form of a gasp. Roxas wriggled more, blurting out for Axel to get the hell off, and then rolling away from the redhead with a flushed face and an uncomfortable stirring in his groin.

He covered his cheeks in mortification and hurriedly finished changing out. If things kept up the way they had been, Roxas was going to resort to changing in the stalls like the fat kids did.

Axel begged for Roxas's forgiveness for being a 'lecherous old man' and followed the blond around like a kicked puppy as they left the locker room and went to the track.

It was during their second lap around the football field that Demyx came rocketing out of thin air to body slam Axel onto the track. Instantly, the blond musician had his red-haired counterpart by the shoulders and was violently shaking Axel back and forth with enough ferocity to give an obese giraffe whiplash.

"Oh my god. Oh. My. God." To accentuate his last exclamation, Demyx's forehead cracked against Axel's own with the utterance of each syllable. Sora's loud laughter, coupled with Tidus's own chime drowned out the thuds of Demyx's thick skull attempting to break Axel's forehead and Riku hid his chuckle behind a cough.

"Holy Jesus! Holy crackers! Holy six dollar and Ninety nine cent prom dresses at Goodwill you will not believe what I just saw!" The blond squealed over Axel's howls of agony. Demyx threw Axel down onto the track and leap to his feet with widespread hands. His mouth emitted a high frequency series of squeaks in an attempt to find the proper words. Riku and Sora glanced at each other, shrugging. Tidus whispered something to Xigbar and the stoner grumbled out, "Some drugs have a lasting effect."

Demyx squawked and breathed out a honk that was better suited for a platypus being clotheslined by an apple core.

It took one irritated Xigbar to walk up behind Demyx and smack him upside the head before Demyx blurted out, "I saw Seifer and Roxas's old buddy Hayner arguing in the bathroom and then Seifer said something and Hayner said something and Seifer pinned Hayner to the wall and then they started making out and it was hot because even though Seifer is a total asshole he's kinda hot and that Hayner kid is kinda hot too and no I wasn't jerking off in the bathroom I just got water on my pants!"

All of this was said in one complete breath, though when Demyx had started to run out of that breath, he continued speaking while breathing in until his paragraph story was complete.

"Wait, what?" Axel snapped, holding his injured forehead as he stood. Demyx drew in a deep breath and Axel slapped a hand over the blonde's mouth. "I get it," he hissed, eyes narrowed.

Demyx's own eyes lit up and Axel let loose a snarl of disgust, wrenching his hand back and wiping Demyx's saliva off of his hand and onto the hip of his provocatively short gym shorts.

"Demyx, you shouldn't start rumors like that about people," Roxas said, placing his hands on his hips. He quite obviously didn't believe Demyx's tale, which was, to him, completely absurd.

Demyx's face turned into a look of scandal and he slapped a hand to his chest.

"I'm not making it up! I saw it with my own eyes! And it was hot!" the sitarist protested.

Roxas still remained skeptical, but didn't say anything. Instead, he sighed and turned from the rest of the group to start up his jog down the track once more. Axel followed suit, along with Xigbar, Tidus, Riku and Sora. Demyx released a wail of despair, crying out, "Guys! Come back! You gotta believe me! Guys!" and ran after them.

"Come on, Sora. You believe me, don't you?" Demyx whined to the brunet. Sora kept his eyes trained on the track ahead and not the fact that Demyx could keep perfectly in pace with his jogging by running sideways.

"I don't know Demyx. I mean, it's kind of a funny idea, but Seifer and Hayner? Those two hate each other more than Seifer hates you guys." Riku laughed softly and nodded in agreement to the brunet's statement.

"Sora's right, Demyx. Next time you want to start a rumor, try picking a more logical gay couple, huh?" Demyx pouted and ran past them and over to Xigbar and Tidus, though as soon as he caught the vicious yellow beam of death shining from Xigbar's good eye, he decided to bypass them and catch up to Roxas.

"Roxas, Hayner's your friend, right? So why don't you believe me?" Roxas gave Demyx a flat look, his tone monotonous.

"Hayner hates gays."

Demyx deflated, his face contorting into a not so uncommon look of confusion. It took a moment before he perked up again, hands outspread.

"Maybe he's just really, really deep in the closet?" the blond teen suggested. Roxas rolled his eyes and Axel snorted from the other side of the shorter blond.

"Yeah, he's so deep in the closet that he's finding Christmas presents and his mom's dildo." Demyx grinned for a half second, about to agree to Axel's statement when the redhead's words completely hit him and his face contorted into a look of disgust.

"Dude, gross," Demyx whined. Axel cackled softly and Roxas backhanded him in the stomach, earning a soft grunt from the lanky teen as he clutched his abused digestive organs with a whine. Demyx let out a loud and insufferable sigh before turning away from them -- though how he was able to do so while still running was a mystery only our favorite psychotic music-whore would ever solve.

"Well, you do know what they say. The biggest homophobes are the ones that are deepest in the closet. So we really could be right," Axel pointed out, straightening up and giving his stomach one last tender pat. Roxas just gave a small, nearly imperceptible shake of his head, his lips quirking upward slightly.

"You guys are hopeless," he muttered, and instantly found himself sandwiched between the two idiots and hugged to death while still being dragged along the track.

"Aw! But we love you Roxas!" Demyx mooed out, rubbing his face against Roxas's cheek and cooing obnoxiously. Roxas slapped him in the stomach, and when that didn't work, his hand went lower. Demyx jerked and dropped to the ground, cupping himself with a groan. Roxas smirked in satisfaction when Axel quickly released him and finished his lap on the track.


By the time LMS ended, Demyx had failed to convince a single soul of Hayner and Seifer's secret love affair, and dejectedly traipsed off down the opposite hall with Sora and Riku while the rest of them made their way to Psychology. Upon entering the class, the first thing that Roxas caught sight of was Captain Jack Sparrow (as he repeatedly insisted on being called) sleeping in his chair with a half-empty bottle of rum gripped tightly in his hand by the neck of the bottle. An odd glint darted past Xigbar's eye before the stoner tiptoed over to their teacher, placing a hand to his chin and inspecting Jack's drunken state. A devious grin spread across Xigbar's face and the senior snatched up a chart marker from the desk, grasping onto the rum bottle and gently prying it from their teacher's hand before hurriedly sliding the marker into Jack's empty palm the second he removed the alcoholic beverage.

With a soft chuckle, Xigbar clutched the bottle to his chest and ran past Roxas and company, only stopping once he'd reached his desk.

The minutes ticked by until half of the class had passed, students chatting and the occasional paper ball being chucked at some poor soul's head. At 11:52, a loud grunt sounded from the front of the class and things hushed as Jack stirred. The man jerked to the side just the tiniest bit and cracked an eye open, lifting the hand with the chart marker and pressing it to his lips.

"Augn? Ruhh? Hrm mmm.." Jack jerked the marker away and stared at it, grunting and gurgling for a moment before looking up at the class. "Why is the rum gone?" he asked blearily, his glazed eyes roaming around the classroom with a great deal of confusion. The man got no response, other than Xigbar's dark chuckling and Roxas's exasperated sigh. The man sniffed the marker and stared at it for a long moment before suddenly snapping up to face the class, his gaze shooting fire. "Why is the rum gone?!" The teacher practically roared, jabbing an accusatory finger to various students in the front row desks. A heavy, awkward silence settled upon the classroom, and Jack opened up a drawer in his desk to procure a full bottle of rum, sitting back with a contented sigh and hugging it to his chest.

When the lunch bell rang, the typical mad dash for the door ensued, Xigbar hanging behind the rest of the students until the classroom was empty. The stoner glanced around suspiciously before sneaking up to Jack and snatching the full rum bottle from the (once more) unconscious piratey man. He briefly mourned the fact that he wouldn't be there to see the teacher's reaction before quickly hurrying out the door to catch up to the others.

Ten minutes later, as his next class began to settle down, Jack jerked awake to a horrific discovery, and wailed, "Why is the rum always gone?!"

Meanwhile, the small posse proceeded to infiltrate the cafeteria, gathering up an array of munchies and foodstuffs before making camp outside the school underneath a tall oak tree. Tidus had joined them with a happy wave, sitting next to Xigbar and questioning why the stoner looked a little out of it and more than a bit unsteady.

Axel popped open a bag of chips, handing one to Roxas with a soft half-smile. Roxas took the chip with a hum of gratitude, munching on it as Sora struck up conversation. "So there's a pep rally today after school for the football team..." Upon the instant Sora uttered the words 'foot' and 'ball', an icy feeling sunk into Roxas's stomach.

Smoke. Screaming. Machine guns firing. Maniacal laughter. Terror.

Roxas whimpered and Axel comfortingly rubbed the blond boy's back with a sympathetic nod. Roxas squawked and slapped Axel's hand away, hurriedly glancing around him as if searching for a man hiding in the bushes or in the tree they were underneath.

Demyx shrieked, his hands clapping together in delight. "Oh yeah! Guys! Look what I got at work yesterday!" The blond proceeded to finger-rape his backpack until he wrenched out a clear plastic bag labeled 'Charlie's CandyMountain with an angry unicorn's head printed on the front.

It was stuffed to the brim with gummi bears.

The entire group released shouts of need as Sora, Axel, Tidus, Larxene and Marluxia lunged at Demyx.

Demyx squawked, falling onto his back and clutching the gummi bears protectively to his chest as his friends tried to claw their way to the chewy sugary goodness. There was a wild struggle, filled with shrieks, biting, the flying of a few gummi bears and laughter before Demyx was released with only a handful of bears left. The blond mourned his loss before digging into the bag and procuring three gummi bears; one red, one blue, and one yellow.

"A-B-C-D-E-F-G," Demyx sang, the small bears in his fingers dancing back and forth. "Gummi bears are chasing me." He had the little bears fake run towards his own head, giving out a soft stage scream. "One is red." He wiggled the red one. "One is blue." The blue one hopped up and down. "The yellow one just took my shoe." He dropped the yellow one on top of his sneaker and murmured a little 'oh no!'

He made the red and blue ones continue to dance. "Like my mommy says to me." The gummi bears were mushed together in some pseudo sexual position. "I don't know my A-B-C's," he cheered, and tossed the gummi bears up in down in celebration until the red one missed his hand and hit the grass.

"Aw, damn."

"Hey Roxas, you want some of mine?" Axel asked the blond beside him, offering a handful of the sweets to Roxas. The smaller boy shook his head, going as far as to push Axel's hand away, glance warily around him, and shift two inches from Axel's person.

"That's okay, Axel. I don't like gummi bears," Roxas replied gently. Axel looked heartbroken for a moment before he shrugged and proceeded to stuff his mouth with a giant handful of the chewy candies. His cheeks instantly puffed out and Roxas snorted into his hand. Xigbar huffed and dug out a crumpled cigarette box from his back pocket, procuring one remotely intact cancer stick and placing it to his mouth. He rolled around again, trying to fit his hands into the annoyingly tight pockets of his pants before he managed to get a hold of his lighter. Xigbar instantly lit up with a content sigh.

Tidus sat anxiously beside the stoner, his eyes wide and curious as Xigbar closed his lips over the cigarette and took a drag. It was when Xigbar exhaled a plume of smoke did the blond speak.

"Can I try?" Xigbar glanced down at his companion, momentarily surprised, before giving ah a half-hearted shrug and extending the cigarette.

"Sure, knock yourself out," Xigbar grunted gently. Tidus's face lit up and is hand outstretched to grab the cigarette from Xigbar, bringing it eagerly to his mouth and inhaling deeply, only to start coughing violently as clouds of gray drifted out of his mouth a half second later.

From all around him, a chorus of laughter broke out, and Tidus sheepishly handed the cigarette back to Xigbar, who chuckled and placed it in his mouth.

"It looks like you jumped the gun, kid. Let's try it like this." Xigbar took in a slow and steady drag from the cigarette, his free hand slipping beneath Tidus' chin to lift the boy's head upward as his own descended, mouth resting gently against the blond's.

With his thumb, Xigbar pried the younger male's lips open and blew the smoke from his own mouth into Tidus's -- ignoring the hoots and catcalls from all around them. "I haven't seen him do that since middle school." Axel commented airily through his mouthful of candy, a gummi bear falling out of his mouth and hitting the grass. Roxas rolled his eyes in mild disgust.

After a moment, Xigbar pulled back with a grin, eye concentrated on Tidus's slack-jawed expression and the tendrils of smoke floating from the boy's mouth. "...Wow..." the blond breathed out, gaze traveling back up to Xigbar, his lips upturning into a grin. "Another?" the teen questioned almost innocently. Xigbar glanced around the group in a sweeping motion, but bobbed his shoulders nonetheless.

"Practice makes perfect," he murmured, taking another drag from his cigarette before leaning towards Tidus's upturned head and expectant mouth.


Professor Vexen's anatomy class was a walking disaster as soon as the PA came on to announce that teachers begin to usher their students to the gym for the pep rally. Xigbar had managed to draw three penises on each of Vexen's diagrams depicting the muscular, nerve, and bone structure before the man had caught him in the act and had berated the stoner. Pep rallies were something that Roxas had never really experienced before. His old school's Blitzball team didn't have them because they didn't need them. They were popular enough without having to host a school gathering to get some hype.

As Roxas walked with the rest of this Anatomy class to the bleachers, the blond didn't notice Xigbar suddenly disappearing in the ranks. Instead, the blond caught a shock of red hair up in the bleachers not too far from where Vexen was instructing his students to sit. Roxas waited until the pasty scientist was turned around before ducking behind a fat kid and then slipping past his teacher and to Axel's row. It seemed the redhead had already saved bleacher space by completely spreading his arms and legs out to save up a seat on either side of him. Roxas caught sight of Demyx hopping up the bleachers two by two to reach the same destination.

As he slid through the sea of knees to reach Axel, the redhead straightened up and waved first to Roxas and then to Demyx, a happy smile on his face that made Roxas think that life was going to turn out okay.

And then the football team came out.

The first to appear was a tiny player wearing a visor fastened to his helmet who dashed into the center of the gym and froze. Hooked to the back of his uniform was a stick that had a dog bone dangling from it. The gym burst into laughter, and the runner looked confused for a moment before barking filled the stadium. The player jumped, turning halfway and then running out of the other end of the gym as a large dog barreled through, teeth bared in a snarl and paws scrabbling against the polished floor. Kids screamed, running up into higher areas of the bleachers as the teachers got on their walkie-talkies, but the dog was already gone and out of the gym, chasing the running back through the rest of the school.

The next team member to be announced was the quarterback, who jogged out with a maniacal smile on his face and his helmet under an arm, waving at the crowd wildly. Roxas shifted uncomfortably. He recognized him as the same one from the team practice that had tried to shoot him for spying on their practice. It seemed that they were far enough up in the bleachers to go unnoticed as the rest of the team was called out. Roxas released a breath of relief, and Axel glanced over to him, smiling and tousling the blonde's hair.

Xigbar, meanwhile, had been captured and dragged through the throng of students by a familiar blond head until Tidus had them both secluded behind the bleachers. With a large level of confusion, Xigbar stared down at Tidus and then to the many rows of sneakers he could spot through the cracks in the benches.

"Hey little dude, it's nice to see you and all, but shouldn't we be somewhere where we can actually watch the-"

"You know today at lunch?" Tidus blurted out, his eyes wide and filled with too many emotions for Xigbar's single eye to comprehend. He nodded slowly and Tidus bit down on his lip in a contemplative manner before continuing. "Could we try that again... but without the cigarette?"

Both of Xigbar's eyebrows shot up and an 'oh ho?' expression crossed over his face.

"Sure, kid." Tidus's face broke into a grin and Xigbar smiled back just as the blond boy jumped up with arms latching themselves around Xigbar's neck and lips pressing none-too-gently to the stoner's. A small noise of surprise escaped Xigbar before his hands grabbed onto athletic hips and pressed the smaller boy into the wall behind them and kissed back.

To Xigbar, it was like something he'd never experienced. He'd kissed all kinds of people before, even Axel and Demyx. This kid, however, even though he clearly didn't have much experience in this department, met Xigbar with enough eagerness for the both of them. The blond quickly attempted to comply with and copy Xigbar's ministrations, fingers sliding through the older male's ponytail with a smile on his lips. It broke the kiss just fractionally, but Xigbar merely pulled Tidus just the tiniest bit closer to himself and chuckled. The short laugh seemed to startle Tidus into pulling back with an embarrassed flush.

"What's so funny? Am I that bad of a kisser?" Xigbar smirked, but shook his head.

"Eager, aren't we, little dude?" Tidus grinned sheepishly.

"Sorry, I got a little overzealous," the blond boy replied. Xigbar smirked and pulled Tidus back into another kiss, his mouth parting just the slightest bit to suck on Tidus's lower lip. The blond gave out a half-gasp, squirming in Xigbar's arms and tilting his head a fraction more. Xigbar's thumb slipped up underneath of Tidus's shirt, stroking surprisingly hard flesh. Tidus shifted, and Xigbar released his lower lip to initiate another kiss. Xigbar's leg slipped between two strong thighs, and Tidus arched upwards with a sharp inhalation, broken only with a gasp of need. This, Xigbar deduced as he pressed his hips into Tidus's lithe body and drew another noise of embarrassed pleasure from the teen, he could get used to.


It was utter silence inside of Vincent Valentine's classroom as the final stragglers left at the tone of the bell. His gaze traveled over to the small clock in the bottom corner of his computer monitor. In eight minutes, he'd be in charge of detention for the senior class. Oftentimes, there would be no one that entered his room, allowing Vincent to depart for home at an earlier time. However, not a scant two minutes later, his door creaked open and to Vincent's mild surprise, Zexion Matsumoto slowly made his way inside the previously empty room.

No conversation was exchanged, and the slate haired boy took the center seat in the front of the classroom. Two soft taps echoed off the walls as Zexion placed his book down on the desk. Vincent took a moment to observe the title of 'Love Like Morphine' before his gaze returned to the stoic teen's expressionless face.

"Of all the estranged, self-righteous teens in your group, Mr. Matsumoto, I never assumed you would be the one caught skipping classes, let alone half the day," he began quietly, placing both hands on the smooth surface of his desk. Chair legs scraping against the floor, he stood as Zexion's navy eyes slowly rose to look at him. "What brought this on?"

His inquiry was met with silence, and Vincent's eyes fell shut for a moment before they flitted open to glance over his student a single time. "Ah," he stepped around his desk, stopping in front of it to lean back against the polished wood and cross his arms. "It's clear, then."

Though barely noticeable through his fringe of pale hair, the teen's brows furrowed just a fraction and the corners of his lips down turned slightly. It was obvious to the man that his pupil contained just the smallest bit of curiosity. "It's apparent by the way you've been staring at your closed book." Zexion's left eyebrow rose into an arc, hands moving to grasp onto his novel in an almost protective manner. "It's obvious that you've been wronged... by Mr. Ando, most likely." Something unreadable flickered across Zexion's navy eyes.

Vincent paused to tuck a few stray locks of ebony hair back behind his ear before he re-crossed his arms. "You're never without an open book, Mr. Matsumoto. You may think that you are a hard-to-read individual, but you are not without flaw." Vincent pushed himself off of his desk and approached Zexion, a single hand moving to tap gently on the closed cover of the younger male's book.

"Only whenever Mister Ando has done something foolish do you sit here and stare at your book." He withdrew his hand, ignorant to Zexion's heated glare. "It's happened before- in my very classroom." He motioned with his other hand, one that was lined with scars, to the empty room about them.

A huff of air escaped the teen before him, and Vincent glanced down to see Zexion's fingers dip inside of the hardcover and pull the book open. "It's not wise to be caught watching your students so intently, Mr. Valentine."

Amusement flashed on Vincent's face, and the man gave a dry chuckle. "Avoidance of the subject is the perfect key to giving away the fact that I was correct in my assumptions. What has he done this time, hm?" The ebony-haired man hummed softly, stepping to the side to seat himself on top of the desk that sat to Zexion's right. The teen before him hunched forward in his seat, fingers clutching to his book with such ferocity that the pages began to bend from the pressure.

"It's a horrible feeling, Mr. Valentine--when the one you love rejects you for a mere figment of his heart. For a person who doesn't exist, a hero who will never come to his rescue." Zexion murmured, unable to keep the stinging hurt from his voice.

Vincent released the softest of sighs. "Perhaps it was for the best that your devoted affections were not returned. Had they been false," he paused, "in the end, the both of you would end up with far more heartbreak than the situation that has come about at this moment in time."

Zexion's lowered eyes refrained from moving away from where they were concentrated on skimming over the title of his book in a constant repetition. "How can you say that?" he asked weakly, tone portraying the broken feeling that was no doubt churning inside of the slate-haired boy. A wry smile came upon Vincent's face.

"Teachers are not without love, Mister Matsumoto. I am only twenty-six, though I've yet to find another who would readily return any form of affection that I rarely give out." Zexion lifted his head to stare at his teacher with an unreadable expression as Vincent continued. "I have felt heartbreak in my life; it is not uncommon. Don't think yourself as the only one." Vincent rested his hands against the desk on either side of his body as the teen before him glanced away with a murmured apology.

Vincent nodded once. "There's no need for apologies, Mister Matsumoto. Only understanding. Can you muster up that much, for the sake of yourself, and the companions of yours who have been concerned for your welfare for nearly the entire week?"

Zexion stared down at the creased pages of his book for a prolonged moment before he nodded slowly. Vincent stood, taking a few steps towards his desk when Zexion spoke. "Wh- who were you in love with?" At first, Vincent didn't speak, contemplating his next sentence with the utmost precaution and sincerity. Suddenly, his eyes became downcast and his entire demeanor changed for a scant few seconds. "A hero destined for another who needed him more." He paused, and then approached his own desk once more and took his seat.

Silence descended upon the room as the minutes trickled by with the methodical ticking of a small analog clock hung above the dry erase board. Vincent only looked up from grading papers when the dull thud of a book being closed reached his ears. Zexion sat with eyes concentrated on the dull blue cover of his recent novel. "Did he know that you felt that way about him?" Zexion head lifted to stare at his teacher, and was answered with a headshake.

"It was better not to burden him with the things inside my heart. At the time, he was caring for his brother and was in love with his partner. I knew then that I was not the one for him, and I accepted rejection before it was made. It was quite some time ago, and I'd like to say that I've overcome it."

"Aah..." Zexion exhaled, peering yet again at his book. "Do you...have anyone now?" Navy eyes peeked up through a fringe of pale blue, surprised to see the tiniest of smiles upon his teacher's face before Vincent shook his head.

"Love is not easy to find. It's something that has many factors that must be taken into account. There is personality, the feelings of each individual, and things that even we don't know about, but our bodies do. Don't try to find it, Mr. Matsumoto. It will find you in due time."


Whenever the small posse arrived at Axel's house after school, they instantly made themselves comfortable on Axel's couch, Demyx crawling over to the large game case to procure the game 'Present Wickedness.' He popped it into the GameStation II, tossing the controller to Axel. It was evident that it was one of those times where everyone was content to watch rather than play.

"Axel! Protect the banana! The zombies are gonna get the banana!" Demyx shrieked fifteen minutes into the game, hand flailing at the television screen. Axel kicked Demyx in the head from where he sat on the couch, clicking the buttons on the controller wildly as Sora's chants joined with Demyx's.

"Come on Axel! You can do it!"

The front door slammed open at the same time Reno's girlish scream broke through the hysteria of their video game. The door hit the wall and creaked back to half-closed as everyone whirled around to see the redhead shoot past them, a firing machine gun from an unknown location causing pieces of the door frame to break off and scatter everywhere.

Axel's eyes went wide and he ducked off the couch and to the floor beside Demyx, pulling Roxas down with him. Riku grabbed onto Sora, shielding the brunet's body with his own. Reno had his hands over his head, screaming like a madman before running straight into the bedroom and slamming the door closed. Four locks clicked into place on Reno's door and the front door was kicked open to reveal a rage-blinded oriental man with long raven hair and a small tattoo in the center of his forehead. A semi-automatic was held tightly in one hand as the other arm was restrained by a tall, well-built bald man.

"Rude!" Axel shrieked, and the bald man may have glanced over at them, Roxas couldn't tell because of the sunglasses obscuring his eyes. "Rude! What the hell is going on!"

The dark haired man waved around the semi-automatic. "Where is he? This is the LAST time I'm letting that weasel skip out on his paperwork!" He fired off a series of rounds, taking out a nice hole in the ceiling and wall. Axel placed an arm over Roxas, covering his own head whenever plaster began to fly overhead.

Terrified, Roxas clung to Axel's jacket, his own breathing somehow masking the shouting and gunfire. Axel was warm, his scent comforting and the heartbeat underneath Roxas's fingertips racing wildly. "Rude! I have friends over! What are you guys doing! This is my house too!"

The gun was aimed at Axel, unbeknownst to Roxas until he heard Sora's shouting of Axel's name. He looked up at the barrel of the gun and held just the smallest bit tighter to the lanky redhead.

Axel shifted against Roxas. "Dammit, Tseng! I have friends over! Go shoot my brother somewhere else!" Roxas saw a pillow sail overhead and hit the dark-hared man in the face.

"Come on Tseng! Stop shooting everything! You know I'm the one who always has to help them cover the bulletholes!" Demyx whined from somewhere behind them. Tseng looked livid for a minute, and then the locks on Reno's door clicked and he peeked his head out. Tseng caught sight of the movement and his hair seemed to bristle, gun cocking at the older redhead.

"You lazy, incompetent little rat!" And the gunshots fired up again and Rude, the large bald man, wrapped both arms around Tseng's thin body, pinning the man's arms down and effectively stopping the gunshots, though the man did look ready to bite Rude.

"Now boss, calm down. I'm sure Reno has a reasonable explanation for all of this."

"Kill it with fire!" Tseng spat out, and Reno screamed and slammed his door closed. Axel pushed Roxas away from him, standing up and ignoring the blond's shout of his name. He angrily stormed over to Tseng, digging in his pocket and pulling out a set of keys and dangling them in front of Tseng. The machine gun stilled.

"Here's the keys to his room and everything else." Axel smacked them into Tseng's chest, ignoring Reno's muffled wail of, "How could my own darling brother betray me!" and turning to motion to his friends. "We're leaving."

Everyone decided that to be a good idea as Tseng stormed over to Reno's door. Roxas scrambled up, hurrying to Axel's side. The redhead huffed and led them all down and back to the parking lot. Everyone piled into the Axelmobile, buckling up as Axel backed out of the parking lot, nearly hitting an ugly brown BMW in his anger. "We can go to my house!" Sora piped up, and Roxas reluctantly agreed. This seemed to calm the lanky teen, and Axel pulled out of the parking lot.

"Hey Axel, I think you pissed off the guy in that BMW," Demyx said cheerily, and Axel glanced in his rearview mirror to see the same car from before following them.

"Great, he's probably getting my license," he muttered under his breath, moving to flick the radio onto a rock station. Roxas opened his mouth to ask Axel what he was doing whenever the radio sparked to life, music blasting from the stereo and scaring the life out of half the inhabitants of the vehicle. Sora broke into peals of laughter and Roxas felt a rush of exhilaration whenever Axel hit the gas, sending him back into his seat.

"Okay, that car is seriously freaking me out." Demyx poked his head between the passenger and driver seat ten minutes later. Roxas turned around to see that they were still being followed by the car from the parking lot. Axel didn't say anything, flicking his turn signal on and switching lanes.

Two second later, the car followed suit. Axel clenched his jaw and gripped the steering wheel a little bit tighter.

"Go put your seatbelt back on Demyx," he said softly. Demyx whined, but did as he was told. The car ride continued like that until they pulled into the driveway of Roxas and Sora's home. Roxas was too preoccupied watching the BMW drive past their house to hear Sora's pathetic wail as the brunet ran into the house with the speed of someone being possessed. Riku muttered a despaired, 'Oh god,' and followed.

Axel turned to Demyx in the back while unbuckling. "Hey man, is it cool if I come over and stay at your place tonight?" Demyx looked perplexed for a half second, but nodded nonetheless. Axel grinned and then looked to Roxas, messing with the smaller boy's hair and laughing when Roxas slapped his hand away.

They got out of the car and meandered on into the house.

"Hey Roxas!" Sora's hauntingly exuberant voice chirped from the living room the second that they stepped inside of the house. Roxas gave a shrug in response to Axel and Demyx's confused glances. They entered the living room to see Sora seated on the couch with his hands clasped together in his lap and a blinding smile on his face. Thinking nothing of it, both Axel and Demyx dropped their book bags in the entryway and brushed past Roxas to sandwich Riku, who had been sitting rigidly by himself on the loveseat.

In a split second, the aura around Sora's cheerful face morphed along with the brunet's look of utter and despairing terror. His ocean eyes were disturbingly wide, jaw pursed into a whimper.

"He's here," Sora mouthed out, his voice barely above a deadly hiss. He jerked a shaking thumb into the direction of the kitchen, a nervous glance thrown over his shoulder. Roxas felt his heart freeze in his chest, a thick weight falling over his body as his pulse quickened and his breath left him. He made an upward motion with his hand, a silent questioning of 'when?'

The other occupants of the room happened to be relatively oblivious to the silent conversation being held between the two siblings. Axel deftly snatched up the remote control from Riku's lax grip, turning the television on. Riku didn't move. Surprisingly, he also didn't seem to be phased at all by the fact that he was bodily crushed between the two biggest idiots in their group of friends. He didn't bat an eye whenever Demyx tried to use Riku's body as a prop to better help him try and grab the remote from Axel.

Demyx realized the effort of getting the remote from Axel was in vain and huffed, crossing his arms and peering over to where Roxas was sitting next to Sora, conversing with the teen in hushed whispers. He caught sight of jerking motions towards the kitchen and hands that waved every-which-way.

Demyx glanced his head over to the kitchen. There was apparently something of interest in it, but what? He used Riku's head as leverage to stand up, shuffling past the couch and over to the kitchen entryway. He froze whenever a slight movement in the other room was evident, and then continued his quest, stopping at the doorway and peering into the kitchen. Inside of his head, he recalled the vague memory of a metaphor pertaining a cat being killed. That was before his eyes caught sight of the mystery figure occupying the kitchen.

Within a half second, all coherent thought fled from his brain in a faster flurry than Reno running for his life from Tseng.

A man no older than twenty-five was positioned at the sink, his back to Demyx. It was apparent that the man was rinsing off dishes and staking them on the counter to his right. Wild spikes of blond hair bobbed with the movements of placing various cups and plates from the sink to the counter. Occasionally, he paused to brush stray locks of hair from his face. The man gathered up the handful of clean dishes, and turned.

Demyx's breath hitched in his throat. Sleek muscles in the man's bare arms flexed as he reached up to open a cabinet and inspect the contents. The nearly skintight black top that he had on stretched across a sinfully toned chest while his movements held more grace than Demyx had ever the liberty to witness. The teen's transfixed gaze swept across the man's form, drinking in every delicious inch of smooth, faintly tanned flesh that was so wonderfully exposed. Both his top and navy blue boxers (no pants was definitely the way to go, Demyx noted) left every little to his overactive imagination. It instantly fulfilled Demyx's voyeuristic tendencies.

Before the man's sharp blue eyes could spot him, Demyx whirled around and shot back into the living room, grabbing the back of the couch and vaulting over it to land exactly next to Roxas, snatching the blond's arms in a death grip. All attention instantly snapped to them as Demyx violently shook Roxas back and forth, hissing out, "Roxas! Why is there a sex god in your kitchen?" His voice was filled with a flaming intensity like that of a thousand gay strippers.

Roxas furrowed his brows in mild confusion, the gears in his head churning before he asked softly.

"There's a sasquatch in my kitchen?" Demyx violently shook the blond boy, his eyes alight with a passion so haunting that it left Roxas in a distinct level of unease.

"No, you fool! Sex god! Sex god!" Demyx whipped Roxas around to face the direction of the kitchen doorway. Upon hearing this, both Sora and Axel turned in their seats to peer inquisitively into the kitchen, only to have Sora turn back a few seconds later and stare at the television. Roxas scowled, glancing over at the kitchen until he caught sight of Cloud walking across to the refrigerator. He stared blankly at his older brother for a few moments before Demyx's words clicked and his face screwed up in horror.

"Cloud? Ew, no!" he hissed out, a shudder of disturbance running down his spine.

Demyx's eyes went comically wide and his head snapped back to the kitchen. "That's Cloud?" he inquired, his voice in disbelief. Sora and Roxas gave him twin nods. Sora flung out a hand in despair, motioning to himself and the to the kitchen.

"See, what did I tell you all? I knew he was gonna spring up for a visit out of thin air! I just kn-" The beginnings of a rant were abruptly cut off by an obnoxious creak from the staircase to the right of the kitchen. All other potential conversation came to a screeching halt as a shirtless, boxer-clad Leon trod down the stairs.

Demyx's eyes widened to the size of dinner plates, his stunned gaze glued to Leon as the man passed them without bothering to spare the teenagers a glance. He entered the kitchen soundlessly and strode up to Cloud, enveloping the blond man in a hug from behind. Demyx's mouth dropped open in blatant shock, gazing upon the scene like a starved man would gaze upon a feast fit for the gods. The musically inclined boy slowly tore his eyes away from the two older men, coming to rest on Roxas.

"Roxas. . . Sora. . . Can I . . . live with you?" the blond teen asked in a nearly disconnected way, his eyes misted over and looking quite possibly on the verge of tears. Sora released a short laugh.

Roxas raised an eyebrow.

"They're only going to be here for a few days, you know," the boy pointed out, giving Demyx a look that clearly stated the blond teen was one of the biggest idiots to have ever played a sitar. Demyx glanced back to the kitchen, staring for a long, wistful moment before focusing on Roxas once more. "Does he sing?"

Roxas's mouth twisted into a frown, his eyes rolling heavenward and his lips parting for a response when he was interrupted. "Roxas. You're home."

Roxas wrenched free from Demyx and whirled around, barely concealing the look of horror that flashed across his face as his eyes landed on the source of the voice.

Cloud Strife, with a silence Roxas didn't know a human being could possess, had snuck into the living room and was now standing behind the couch, arms crossed over his black-clad chest and gaze trained intently on the lanky teen perched on the loveseat.

Axel, in turn, appeared increasingly uncomfortable under the heated look, shifting around awkwardly a few times. Sora quickly muffled an 'eep' of fear that escaped his throat upon spotting his older brother mere inches behind him, and Riku hunched farther down in his seat, a few beads of nervous perspiration appearing on his forehead.

Roxas swallowed thickly, trying to will away the cold pang of dread stabbing at his gut. "H-hey Cloud. I- uh …didn't know you and Leon were coming to visit?" He greeted weakly, clearing his throat awkwardly afterwards. Demyx stared at Cloud uninhibitedly, a slow, idiotic grin quickly spreading across his face.

Cloud's intent gaze suddenly snapped from Axel to his younger brother, posture firm and rigid. "Short notice. Why don't you introduce me to your friends?" His tone held no ounce of apology, cutting and harsh. His gaze roamed around the various occupants of the room with scrutiny.

Sora ducked low onto the couch, catching Roxas's attention by pressing the back of his thumb to his throat and jerking it sideways in a slashing motion. Roxas swallowed thickly at Sora's somewhat foreboding display, glancing at Cloud to find out the man was still staring at him expectantly.

"Right. This is Demyx." Roxas motioned a hand to the teen seated beside him. Demyx instantly flashed Cloud an exuberant grin, waving madly. Cloud returned the smile with a hesitant raise of his eyebrow before he nodded once in acknowledgement. His gaze then pinned back onto Axel. Roxas internally winced at the look displayed on his oldest brother's face, but continued nonetheless.

"That's Axel..." The aforementioned teen straightened up in his seat, returning Cloud's vicious stare with a tiny, nervous grin. "Uh... Yo." Axel offered weakly, his fingers fidgeting with the arm of the loveseat whenever Cloud made no move to reciprocate the greeting.

Nobody moved, nobody spoke, and save for the occasional noises of Leon rummaging around in the kitchen, there was dead silence. Roxas hardly dared to breathe, knowing full well that Cloud was subject to very random and very violent impulses.

"You have red hair." Cloud suddenly announced flatly. The silence continued on as the inhabitants of the room struggled to form some sort of coherent reply. Roxas bit down on the inside of his cheek and Axel shifted in his seat, glancing to and fro and giving Cloud a weak shrug.

"Yeah man, re-"

"I suddenly have a burning hatred for you."

Axel's eyes widened considerably, his expression evident in showing that he was quite scandalized at the mere prospect of an individual hating him for a completely unexplainable reason. Roxas nearly smacked himself in the face with mortification, wailing out his brother's name in a groan. Cloud glanced over to Roxas, regarding his littlest brother with a calm stare.

"Yes?" He countered, a challenge darting across his face. Roxas narrowed his eyes, clearly prepared to start an all out fight with his big brother.

Demyx, however, could not stand more than a good four seconds of awkward silence, let alone this thickening plume of uncomfortable quiet that now sat on everyone's chest like an obese giraffe. He fidgeted, and then jumped up, reaching a hand out to place it on Roxas's shoulder.

"C'mon Rox! I think re-runs of Louis Jeri are on!" He pulled Roxas from his seat with a wild exuberance, giving the blond a mighty push that sent Roxas tumbling forward and landing on both Riku and Axel's laps. Riku squawked loudly, having a mild spasm before somehow writhing and twisting out of his seat, standing up and stumbling back to stand awkwardly by the television. Riku glanced to Cloud for a half second, rubbing his palms nervously against his jeans as Roxas quickly scrambled to sit upright next to Axel. Demyx whirled around, searching for the lost remote control.

Sora made frantic, silent motions to Demyx in an attempt to convey to the blond that his attempts were a very bad idea, but it was to no avail. Demyx released a shout of joy when he realized Axel still held the remote control, and snatched it from the incredulous redhead. He flopped down next to Sora and turned the television on. Roxas was rigid, his eyes panicky and darting from the television to Cloud as Demyx flipped to the appropriate channel. A few prolonged minutes passed where nothing was heard but the sounds of old comedy reruns from the television. Roxas nervously glanced to the side and found Cloud rooted to the same spot as before, watching both Roxas and his loveseat companions like a hawk.

Their eyes met, and Cloud opened his mouth as if to speak, when a loud crash resounded from the kitchen, accompanied by a string of curses from Leon. It was then that Roxas thanked every deity in existence for Leon's rare mishap as Cloud quickly retreated into the other room to aid his boyfriend.

The throttling silence loosened enough for Sora to comfortably relax into his seat, and for Riku to fidget and then take a spot on the opposite end of the couch from Sora. The room soon filled only with the sounds of Louis Jeri's voice blurting out sound effects and the laughter reels that always played after a comedic moment. With the thought of how this old comedian reminded him of Demyx, Roxas let out a soft breath of relaxation. He stiffened for a half second whenever Axel leaned back disarmingly and gently bumped his knee against Roxas's, his gaze still concentrated on the screen.

Roxas glanced sideways at his companion, a fleeting thought brushing through his mind that it was something more than a mere accident, but Axel didn't move again. He began to look away, when he caught sight of Axel sneaking a peek. Eyebrow quirked, Roxas tilted his leg to the side and batted his knee softly against Axel's bonier one. A small grin spread across that thin face and Roxas found his leg jostled by Axel's own. Unable to keep his lips from quirking upwards, Roxas retaliated the gesture, his smirk growing when it was returned. They went back and forth a few times before Roxas pushed against Axel with his entire leg, accomplishing the feat of shoving the older teen a few inches to the side.

Instantly, Axel slipped his foot under Roxas's calf and hooked it around the blonde's ankle, raising their intertwined legs and quickly retracting his own, letting Roxas's drop unceremoniously, heel thumping against the base of the loveseat.

The young blond desperately attempted to stifle his grin as he tilted his head to glance at Axel, only to have his heart nearly stop when his eyes landed on Cloud's form, standing behind the couch just as before, a mighty vicious look engulfing his features as he watched the two teens blatantly flirt.

Demyx, unaware of Cloud even being in the room once more, much less knowing the man was dangerously close to going into 'Cloud Smash!' mode, turned away from the television and pushed himself out of his seat. "I'm thirsty. Who wants a soda?" he announced, glancing around at his companions. Riku and Sora didn't even make eye contact with him, and was only graced with the slightly irked raise of an eyebrow from Axel.

Roxas hastily got up from the loveseat, pointedly avoiding Cloud in any way. "Sure." He answered curtly, prompting a gleeful smile to spread across Demyx's face like the plague through England.

Axel sighed and rose, looking as if he'd been forced to shove a gerbil up his colon for entertainment, and meandered over to stand beside Roxas. Demyx, in the meantime, was attempting to work his pleading look on both Riku and Sora, who remained steadfastedly glued to their seats on opposite ends of the couch. He whined softly, reaching out to grab each of them by an arm and tug ferociously. The action managed to get Sora to his feet with relative ease. Alas, no amount of socket-popping jerks was able to even budge Riku from where his behind was apparently super-glued to the couch cushion.

And so, Demyx released Sora and wrapped both hands around Riku's arms, one foot against the couch as he pried Riku up, and even then, the silver haired youth dared not stand anywhere within Sora's vicinity while Demyx eagerly pushed him towards the kitchen. Axel and Riku nervously walked past Cloud, gazes held anywhere but within a foot of where the blond man stood. Cloud, hardly sparing the two a look, grabbed Roxas's arm as the teens fled to the kitchen and pulled the young blond away from the others.

"Roxas, could you come with me for a second?"

Roxas stared at his brother, raising a deliberate eyebrow. "No?" He retorted, attempting to pull his arm from his brother's hold in order to join his companions. Cloud, in turn, tightened his grip and dragged Roxas into the next room, stopping in front of the second-floor staircase.

The man took hold of Roxas's arms, just below his shoulders, and forced his littlest brother to face him. Cloud's expression depicted the highest priority of utter seriousness, his eyes piercing and sending a stirring of mild fear in Roxas's gut. "Don't you see what he's doing?" Cloud asked darkly, causing Roxas to crease his brows in mild distress.

"Who? Sora?" He inquired softly. This, in turn, caused Cloud's fingers to tighten his draconian hold considerably on the poor teen's arms. "No! That red-headed idiot!" Cloud nearly exclaimed, had he been anyone but himself. The raise in his voice, however, was enough to startle Roxas.

"Can't you see he's coercing you?" The man hissed out, shaking his brother none-too-gently as he spoke.

Roxas scowled, wriggling to escape Cloud's vicious hold and failing miserably. "No, I don't see--"

He was cut off whenever Cloud's fingers dug into his arms and drew a wince to his face, which caused Cloud to back off mildly.

"You're playing right into it, Roxas. You have to protect your chastity!" Roxas spluttered indignantly at the outburst, a wild flush rising up on his face that was heated enough for him to look away. Cloud stilled himself, taking a deep breath and snapping his eyes shut. Silence passed for a few prolonged moments before his eyes opened, now calm and collected.

"I know how kids like that think, Roxas. He'll try anything he can do to get in your pants. You have to be careful." He said lowly, eyes boring into the blond boy's very soul. A burst of anger began to bubble in Roxas's chest and he had to withhold a furious glower from pushing its way onto his face.

"Cloud, you just met Axel today! You haven't even said one nice word to him, much less had a conversation! What makes you think he's that kind of guy?" Roxas blurted out hotly, attempting unsuccessfully to wrench himself out of Cloud's vice grip once again. His older brother seemed unfazed completely by both the struggle and the harsh tone, replying with the single sentence.

"He has red hair."

Roxas's eyes grew to comical proportions, his entire body bristling with rage. "What the hell's your deal with his hair?! That doesn't even make any sense!" He all-but shrieked, finally escaping Cloud's hold with a mighty tug.

- Meanwhile, in the other room! -

"So! Cola or Craggy Mist?" Sora's voice drifted out from inside the bowels of his refrigerator.

The brunet gave a quick glance overtop of his shoulder to the three sitting inside of the kitchen. Demyx perked up, but didn't remove his steadfast gaze from the brown haired wet dream sitting at the table with a newspaper in hand.

"Uh, C-Craggy Mist." The blond musician blurted out, causing Leon to glance up for a split second and result in a furious blush spreading over Demyx's cheeks.

Axel rolled his eyes. "I want Cola," he said, giving his best friend a not-so-gentle jab in the ribs and causing Demyx to tear his gaze from Leon and give Axel an irritated glare.

"Same here," Riku added in, looking like he was torn between walking over to Sora and staying put, where it was safe and potentially not life-threatening. He opted to lean against the sink with his arms crossed over his chest.

There were shouts coming from the living room -- where Cloud had dragged Roxas instead of allowing the blond to follow them into the kitchen. Axel scowled and edged closer to the door, unable to decipher the yelling into something coherent. "What's that guy's deal?" he muttered, turning in time to catch the bottle that was tossed his way whenever Sora called his name. He ran his thumb over the lid of the soda bottle, turning to Riku. The shorter teen gave Axel a shrug, popping the top on his own smaller can.

"Cloud's Cloud," he said, moving to go and lean against the counter beside Axel to talk in a hushed tone, far enough away from Leon so that the brunet couldn't pick up their conversation over the yelling in the other room and Demyx's babbling through a mouthful of sugar cookies.

"He's protective of Sora and Roxas, just a little too much. It's not your fault, but you're kind of on his bad side now, thanks to that damn picture Sora took," Riku explained gently, and Axel huffed, popping the lid of his soda and taking a swig of it. Riku took this as a sign to continue.

"You're pretty much a potential Roxas-molester to Cloud, and that's all you're going to have to remember..."

Axel shot Riku a look that blatantly informed Riku he'd stated the obvious and the silver-haired boy sighed. "Yeah, I'd suggest avoiding all bodily contact with Roxas from now on and stay a good three feet away from him at all times," he informed his red-headed companion solemnly. He took a long drink from his soda.

Axel all but smacked his pop down against the counter, sloshing the bubbly drink over his hand and causing the lanky teen to curse and wipe it off on the side of his jeans. "That's bull. I'm not gonna be afraid of touching Roxas 'cause his stupid brother--"

Riku held up a hand sharply to silence Axel, cutting him off with a stern look.

"Let me tell you a story, Axel."

Axel stared at him flatly. Riku took a calming drink from his soda before he began. "You know that scar I have across my shoulder blade? The one that's twelve inches long and reaches across my whole back?" Axel frowned, picking up his soda and taking a loud sip of it.

"You mean the one you got in that bizarre garden gnome accident?" Riku nodded and Axel gave him a single bob of his head to signify that he understood what the shorter teen was talking about.

"Yeah, that one... except the gnome was blond, six feet tall and murderous." Axel straightened up, going rigid. Riku let out a shaky sigh. "Yeah, trust me and don't do anything to make Cloud hate you more than he already does."

Any intelligible response that Axel might have had to Riku's so called 'advice' was promptly lost in the time-space continuum forever the instant that Roxas all but stormed into the kitchen with a livid fire dancing in his sapphire eyes. The young blond whooshed past Demyx and viciously wrenched the fridge open, pointedly ignoring Cloud as the man entered the kitchen, looking nothing more than the slightest bit ruffled.

The rest of the room watched in silence as Roxas kept his back to Cloud, popping open the soda can he'd procured and taking a violent swig from it. In a second, he coughed into the can and started choking, gasping for breath, punching his chest as pop spilled everywhere. Cloud took a step towards Roxas and with an angry shout, Roxas flung the half-empty can at his brother, hitting Cloud in the chest with soda spraying itself over the formerly pristine black shirt. Cloud stared at the can as it fell to the ground and soda drizzled everywhere, and to Roxas, who had Axel rubbing his back and trying to get the blond to calm down. Roxas smacked Axel's hand away and left the room.

An awkward silence fell upon them and Demyx cleared his throat. "So..." He began awkwardly. "Television, anyone?"

Ten minutes later, Sora, Riku, Demyx, Axel, Leon and Cloud were scattered in the various seats of the living room. Leon was reading the paper, looking indifferent to the company as Cloud kept his gaze on Axel with a heated stare. Axel was squirming continually under the man's gaze while Demyx tried vainly to alleviate the tension that seemed to have been strangling them ever since Roxas had locked himself in his room.

"So... uh..." the blond junior began, drawing the gazes of everyone in the room in such a fashion that he began regretting his decision to start up a conversation. Demyx instantly brought up the first thing he could think of, instantly remembering the day that they were kicked out of Axel's apartment.

"Cloud... you ever... heard of a guy named Reno?" Leon froze, the newspaper crinkling in his grip. Cloud's back went rigid and he tilted his head, neck cracking ominously.

"Do you know him?" Darkness was creeping into Demyx's vision, and he feared that he could have quite possibly begun to die from the heat of the man's glare. He quickly shook his head, hands moving back and forth to accentuate this.

"No, no. Just... pulling names out of my ass is all!" He laughed weakly, and Cloud's fingers clenched into the fabric of his boxers. The sound of ripping cloth broke the silence.

"If I ever see that man in my life, I will personally go up to him, snap every bone in his hands and then sever his penis with a rusted kitchen utensil. Once I've finished that, I will tear out every follicle of hair in his pathetic excuse for a body and use them as a makeshift rope that I will use to break his neck with. Once I've done that, I'm going to rip his intestines out from his throat and then strangle him with them, but only after I've made sure he's asphyxiated on his own disgustingly shriveled testicles that I'll tear out with my bare hands."

Axel coughed weakly.


Cloud stared through the kitchen doorway long after the trio had left, taking the occasional sip from his mug and then setting it back on the table.

Sora ran his hands through his hair, recalling how after Cloud's vehement statement, Axel had seemed to suffer a mild breakdown and had to be led out by Demyx and Riku. Roxas had yet to come down from his room, and had left Sora downstairs to take the brunt of Cloud's inevitable verbal aberration. Cloud muttered something to Leon, who shrugged and turned the page in the newspaper that he'd read through a good four times already. Cloud glanced up to Sora, his eyes a harsh steel blue that reminded Sora that they were still brothers, no matter how much of an asshole Cloud seemed to be.

"Sora, why don't you go and fetch Roxas? I think we should talk." Now, to the younger brothers of Cloud Strife, they knew that when Cloud said he wanted to talk, it was inevitably very, very bad.

With a sinking feeling in his chest, Sora made a small noise of agreement and closed the fridge. He exited the kitchen with his gut turning somersaults like a gay Asian in a circus show, climbing the stairs and coming to a halt in front of his brother's closed bedroom door. Music was blasting from within the room, the entire outer wall of the hallway reverberating with the bass.

Sora released a long, 'Why the hell did you stick Quasi Modo in a lighthouse?' sigh and raised his fist, pounding on the door before him. "Roxas! Cloud wants to talk to us!" He shouted, though he was sure it was lost in the cacophony of noise.

The music abruptly snapped off. The door opened and Sora released something similar to the sound of a pig being crushed by a steamroller as Roxas gave his brother a violent shove to the side, stomping all the way across the hall and down the stairs. Sora gave a mild glance heavenwards, praying that their night would be a swift one and that Cloud would be back in Radiant Garden before the end of the week.

Steeling himself, Sora tread down the stairs slowly in the hope of delaying the fate that both he and his little brother were about to be subjected to. Roxas was hovering by the couch, blatantly reluctant to enter the kitchen. It wasn't a surprise. Cloud was the closest thing to a parental figure than any of them really had. Their father was always away on business trips and their mother worked the long shifts at work to keep up with payments in between their father's commissions.

Sora met up with Roxas and the two boys made their way through the kitchen entry as if approaching a funeral pyre. Cloud glanced up at the silent entrance, motioning to the empty table seats. The brothers glanced at each other warily, a hidden message signifying that their fates were now sealed the second they approached the table and seated themselves opposite of the oldest (former) Niikura brother.

Cloud stared at his younger brothers, pushing his mug around in a circle before speaking. "I've come to understand that Roxas has made some new friends…" He trailed off ominously, grasping the mug and raising it to his lips.

Roxas and Sora were silent, their twin stares unblinking. Cloud placed his drink down and continued. "Friends that Sora's known for quite some time." He paused, glancing between the two as mild looks of confusion began to make themselves known in both Roxas and Sora's faces.

"It's come to my attention that mother and father are not around very much to watch over the both of you enough to make me feel comfortable in knowing that my baby brothers are growing up in a safe environment." He switched his gaze back and forth between the two. Roxas raised a careful brow and Cloud glanced down briefly and then continued.

"And so I think I... That is, Leon and I, are going to move back here."

Utter silence. Disbelief reflected in twin pools of blue. Sora's mouth fell open, stunned and horrified at the same time as the two blurted out simultaneous exclamations of "What?!"

In that split second, gravity seemed to have globally increased a good fifteen percent. "Wh- What would you want to do that for, Cloud?" Sora stuttered nervously, his trembling hands reaching out to grip to the edge of the table like a lifeline. Roxas found himself nodding almost hysterically.

"Yeah, I mean... you and Leon already work and live in Radiant Garden, and you like it there, and it's far away and... And you shouldn't say you're going to move without thinking it completely and wholeheartedly through!" he pointed out desperately, his hand flailing out in a pathetic attempt to get Cloud to see his side of the one-sided discussion.

Cloud's gaze wandered to the side. "Well, I use the term going to move loosely." He began, fiddling with his mug in a faux-childish fashion. Roxas and Sora halted their anxious jabbering, frozen, eyes locked on their big brother once again.

"Cloud. What is that supposed to mean?" Roxas asked slowly, his stomach giving a painful twinge of dread and his throat becoming suddenly parched.

Cloud raised his eyes up to the duo once more. "I use the term loosely in a way that means that Leon and I already arranged job transfers and we've been living in an apartment about twenty minutes away from here for a week."

Silence. Dead, lifeless, complete rigor-mortis-induced silence.

And then.

Sora started to cry.

It began with a small, curt noise that escaped the brunet's throat, followed by another, and another, each becoming longer until Sora was full-out sobbing, fat tears rolling down his cheeks. That was the last thing Roxas registered before his world faded into darkness.

Ending Authors Notes

Psycho Rooster here. For the past few months, as you know, we've been busy. So much so , in fact, that our outside life has been stressful. I spent the entirity of my one day off of both school and work to completely finish this chapter of Carmine Complex and then send it to Katraa for beta-reading. The reason that we have an outside source to check for typos and such this time is that Random Kyuubi has been grounded for the past month for being PROMISCUOUS. –shameshame-

And so I apologize wholeheartedly for the delay, and I hope with all of my heart that the next chapter will be up within the next month or so. In the meantime, please hold yourself over by reading Reverse Eclipse or any of my fanfics on my own account. (Psycho Rooster)

I'm sorry, but Hero Complex will not be updated any time soon. I haven't even started reading it. I plan on working on it as soon as I can, I promise. Also keep an eye out for a one-shot I plan on writing about how Riku and Sora's relationship in CC came to be.


The Great Inferno!'s original character design belongs to a girl on DA named Jubilations. GO LOOK FOR HER MY MINIONS.

Edit !

I'm sorry if this seems harsh, but do most of you always favorite/alert and never review?
Because it makes us authors feel like the ugliest thing on earth.
It's really hurting us to know that no matter how hard we try to crank out these chapters, there's always people who just. don't. review.
and then.
I don't want to write.
WHY should I write for a group of lazy kids who can't even tell me why they like what I write?