ahhh. Another oneshot from me...
bleh. I found out life likes me. again. XD
uhmmm...warning for stereotypes and story length. Dunno. AU high school fic.
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S E R E N A D E
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Beryl eyes looked back discreetly, and a voice giggled. "Ohh...she wouldn't do it."
"How'd you know?"
"Just because. You know...Olette's in her Biology class. And she says so..."
A flip of curled cinnamon hair. "But I say she'll do it."
Naminé rolled her eyes and clutched her laboratory manual tighter to her chest. Feathery flaxen strands of hair flounced in front of her eyes as she bowed her head, trying to ignore the infernal giggling. Gah. If only she didn't really have to take this way to the library...
"---nah, she's just a nerd." Kairi managed to toss her head, flip her hair, and glance out of the corner of her eye at Naminé. She lowered her voice conspiratorily. "And we all know that nerds are spineless creatures who only care about --- "
Gritting her teeth, Naminé put one pale hand on the auburn-haired girl's shoulder. Kairi stopped, hauled her handbag over her shoulder, and turned around to face her. She raised an eyebrow and smirked. "Huh? Want to say something?"
"Shut. The. Hell. Up," she ground out, trying to keep her calm. Students started crowding around them, right in the middle of the corridor as they were. It was like a fighting ring, Naminé realized. In the popular corner, Kairi, head cheerleader and on the top rung of the social hierarchy. In the unknown, newbie, and to add insult to injury, nerd's corner, Naminé, pre-valedictorian and virtually unspoken-of academic decathlon winnner.
Normally Naminé would've just bitten her lip and let the issue slide (like the million times before this), but today was the final straw. Little Miss Prissiness and her lackey --- bubbly Selphie Tilmitt (once her friends, but popularity made that old news) --- will get what they deserve.
Kairi raised a trembling hand to her now flushed cheek, and shot a glare that meant social death to Naminé. "How dare you --- "
The blonde girl stood her ground and matched glare for glare, even if her heart was galloping along at the speed of light in nervousness. She pursed her lips and narrowed her eyes. "For your information," she growled, "Nerds are not spineless creatures. Just because we, unlike you, use our brains, doesn't mean that you can push us around."
She clucked her tongue and looked at her up and down condescendingly. "Forgive me for being stupid, but I'd rather die than be caught dead in that," look up-down once more, "...duh. You already look dead, all white like that. What's the point?"
Naminé folded her arms and hugged the lab manual. "What's the use of beauty if your brain is empty?"
Kairi raised her eyes to the heavens. "Hmm. I can think of a million ways. Getting around, for instance. Or surviving in high school. Or being separated from the geeks and the rejects and the outcasts. Or, getting a boyfriend," she sneered, putting emphasis on the last word.
The crowd tittered. Anything to get in the popular crowd's good graces.
She cringed, and sent the redwine-tressed girl the most venomous glare she had ever tried in her entire life. Naminé smiled slightly in satisfaction when Kairi winced.
"She's pretty feisty," Selphie commented, jade-green eyes shining with amusement. "See? Told you she'll do it..."
"Do what?" Naminé asked, brows furrowing together in apprehension.
Kairi smiled, and Naminé didn't like that smile one bit. It reminded her of a dog snarling. "That you'll sing for Roxas."
She froze in her tracks, and stared at her former best friend. The traitor. Kairi knew that Roxas was a former crush of Naminé's, and that two years ago, she had fallen head-over-heels for the blonde-haired boy. However, because of the fact that Roxas had moved into Destiny Islands just as Kairi became popular, the boy had immediately joined their group.
Kairi had probably poisoned Roxas' mind against her.
Somehow, Naminé managed to tilt her head and look at Kairi straight in the eye. "What makes you think I can't do it?" she challenged, knowing full well that it would be hard, seeing that Roxas barely even took notice of her. He probably didn't even know her name, even if she had all but her advanced chemistry class with the boy.
The smile on the redhead's face faded. "Because you won't dare."
"Oh, I will," she replied smoothly, "Because unlike you, I don't need to dress like a whore just to be able to boost my self-esteem."
Kairi's hands balled into tight fists, and her eyes narrowed. "Take that back, you bi---"
"Ladies, ladies!" a voice called out, and Riku, the student council president and part of Kairi's little circle, shouldered his way through the crowd (though he didn't really need to do so -- the crowd automatically parted a foot away from him), "Break it up!"
Naminé shot the silver-haired boy a glare to rival the one she gave Kairi. The boy was also a former friend of hers. In fact, it seemed that Naminé was the only one out of their posse that didn't get popular. Probably because Naminé didn't want to ditch studies for social life. "Mind your own business, Riku."
A hurt look etched itself into Riku's face, and he glanced at Kairi before turning back to Naminé. "Don't be like that, Nam. I was only trying to help..."
"Well, thank you for helping," she drawled sarcastically, heaving her backpack higher up her back. "Fat lot of good ditching me for the popular crowd."
She cringed at how the hurt grimace looked like on the silver-haired boy's face, and she frowned. Riku was known as the guy everybody admired, and she was no exception. If only he didn't leave her hanging like the others had... Kairi was the cause of all this. God, how Naminé hated her. And to think that they were once as close as sisters.
Kairi sneered, and flipped her hair over her shoulder. "Ah, Riku, leave the spineless nerd alone."
"Kairi!" he admonished, his eyebrows drawing together in frustration.
"So you'll do it?" Selphie asked, a smile playing around her lips. Hateful lackey.
Naminé bit her lip and forced down the urge to slap her too. Instead, she clutched her manual tighter to her chest and turned around, pushing her way through the now-dissipating crowd.
- - - - - - - - - - -
"So...you're going to do it?" Aerith asked, looking up from the beaker she had been pouring hydrochloric acid into.
Naminé sighed, and resumed tracing circles onto the white tiles of the table. She had been debating with herself for the past three classes about this, and she was still undecided. Do it, and have the satisfaction of (a) proving that nerds are not, she quotes, "spineless creatures", and (b) making Kairi realize that Naminé enjoyed putting her to shame. The jerks. Don't do it, and give the hateful redhead a reason to make her go down the social ladder a few rungs more. Not that she really cared, but it would give Naminé's circle of friends something to be ashamed about. "I don't know, Aerith," she mumbled dejectedly, looking up at her lab partner.
"Eh, it's okay with us if you do it or you don't," she shrugged slightly, "As long as you're okay with what you're doing, it's fine. But I really think you should do it," she added, shooting her a smile.
"But!" Naminé whined, jutting out her lower lip. "I can't sing."
The brunette set down the flask of acid and started adding some strips of paper to the beaker. "How'd you know? You've never let any of us hear you make a speech, much less sing."
She sighed. "Well, I do sing in the shower---"
"You do? Ah. So that's the reason why our bathroom mirror is cracked," Cloud butted in, leaning over towards Aerith and raising his goggles in mock-amazement.
"Shut up, Cloud," she glared at spiky-haired teen, wondering why, of all the advanced classes in chemistry, she had to take the one which had her older brother in it. "And no, it was Tidus who cracked the mirror, not me."
"Hm," he tapped his chin thoughtfully. "No wonder he's had bad luck with that girl...Selphie, was it?"
Naminé shot him a don't-talk-about-her look, and he hastily changed the subject. Instead, he peered over Aerith's shoulder and furrowed his brows, glancing back at his and Leon's own work with a worried expression on his face. "Hey...is it supposed to turn blue?"
"Strife, please," Aerith said in what Naminé thought was supposed to be a stern voice, but it devolved into a cross between a giggle and a breathy whisper. "Mind your own work."
"Suuure, Gainsborough..." he growled, starting to wrap an arm around her waist.
"CLOUD. FOCUS," Leon said loudly, chucking a pencil and a glare at the blonde, making Cloud wince.
Naminé smiled wanly as her thoughts returned to the issue at hand. Yes, her voice sounded like a diva's in the bathroom, but she knew it was due to the fact that her voice resonated off the walls. In fact, she knew that everybody did sound like a professional singer in the shower. She sighed and jotted down the conclusion of the experiment, half-distracted by the random balls of scrap paper Leon was throwing at Cloud to get his attention off Aerith.
- - - - - - - - - - - -
"Mom, I'm going out," Naminé announced, going down the stairs and leaning over the railing, staring at the general direction of the kitchen. "I'll be back before --- "
"Where exactly are you going, young lady?"
She winced, and hopped down the stairs lightly. Her mother, a rather prim woman with stormy blue eyes and long blonde hair --- tied back with two long bunches in front --- had her hands on her hips and was waiting at the foot of the staircase.
"Uhm..." this was the moment Naminé cursed at her inability to lie convincingly. Unfair. Tidus and Cloud got away with lying all the time. "Well, there's this---"
"And," her mother paused, staring at her up and down, "Why are you in a dress?"
"Mooom, is it so wrong to wear a dress?" she whined, straightening the hem of her white sundress absentmindedly.
"Yeah! She's going out to sing to some guy!" Tidus' voice called out from the general direction of the living room, and Naminé held back a string of rather colorful words. Such a nice relative she had right there.
"I --- "
"What do you mean my little girl's going to sing to some guy?" A voice dripping with apprehension called out, this time from the front door.
Naminé clutched the mahogany balustrade for support. Bad enough that her mother and her two brothers knew, but her father? She'll never live this down.
A man with close-cut blonde hair and deep cerulean eyes walked into view, trenchcoat over one arm and laptop bag in the other. He set down the bag on one of the dining room chairs and walked up next to his wife. They then stared up at her simultaneously. Tidus then surreptitously crossed the dining room to the kitchen, a small smirk on his face.
"Quistis," her father tilted his head thoughtfully as he addressed her mother, "What's our daughter saying...?"
"Nothing!" Naminé said loudly, but not enough to override her mother's firm voice.
"According to Tidus, she's going out to serenade a boy."
Tidus' smirk widened triumphantly. Oh, she's so going to get her brother for this...
"Uhm, never mind," she said quickly, a sheepish smile on her face. Her parents were very protective of their children...well, of their only daughter anyway. She stuck out her foot backwards, trying to find the step, only to bump into a biker of an older brother.
"Where d'you think you're going?" he leered, motorcycle helmet under one arm. Cloud smirked, and Naminé had to wonder at the striking resemblance to Tidus. Uh. This is not the time for such wondering. The blonde shouldered his way past her and her parents, yelling "I'm going out with Aerith!" along the way. Life is so unfair.
"Have you finished your homework?" her mother's voice snapped her out of her thoughts, and Naminé had to blink a few times to process the question.
She grimaced. "Yes, mom."
"Well then," her father waved one hand dismissively, pecked her mother on the cheek, and walked into the kitchen. "Go ahead."
To her amazement, her mother followed suit, a smile playing on her lips. "Be back before dawn!" her voice called out from the kitchen, passing a flabbergasted Tidus on the way.
And blinked some more.
"Waaaaiiit," she said suspiciously, sprinting the rest of the way down the stairs and stopping at the kitchen's doorframe. "That's all? No sermons about going out late at night or dating or anything?"
"Honey," her father said slowly as he opened the refrigerator and took out some oranges, "Do you really want us to do that?"
"I'll buy a new memory stick for the digicam!" her mother burst out happily, clasping her hands and turning to face Naminé with starts in her eyes. "Just bring him over tomorrow to meet us, and off you go! Oooh, I can see it now...you two smiling at the camera..." she brought her hands in front of her in a makeshift rectangle, "...and click! We can fill a whole album!"
"Quisty..." her father intoned amusedly, smiling at his wife.
"Seifer," the blonde woman said, eyes still dreamy, "It's not every day that your daughter gets to ---"
"Hey!" Naminé cut in, stunned. "Y-you...you guys don't even know his name!" she spluttered out, spreading her hands helplessly.
"It's Roxas Hikari!" Tidus cut in in a sing-song voice, earning himself a sharp jab in ribs. Naminé was sure she was blushing a shade of red never seen before. Somebody alert Crayola.
"Ah. Well," her father put a hand on his hip. "I know his father --- Faram; he's a colleague at the studio."
"You do?" Might as well die of embarrasment right now.
"Yeah. Brought his son once for some paperwork," the man continued as he started peeling the fruit and popping the wedges into his mouth. He managed to form coherent sentences between every bite, amazingly enough. "Brooding kid, but he's pretty nice once he talks. He'll make a fine son-in-law."
Tidus, being the immature seventeen-year-old that he was, started whistling a wedding march.
"Okay," Naminé said slowly, trying not to hyperventilate. "I'm going now..."
"Sing your heart out, hon!" her mother called from the kitchen as she bolted out of the room and out of the house, jabbing Tidus once more in the ribs as she went.
- - - - - - - - - - -
Naminé stared up at the shiny silver numbers announcing that this was #138 Sunset Street, Twilight Heights, Ivalice, and that this was the Hikari residence. She had memorized Roxas' home address long ago, and even knew exactly where his room was. No, she wasn't a stalker. She was just...dedicated. Yes. That was the word of choice.
She swallowed painfully, and started walking around the back, her white sandals rustling in the green grass of their perfectly manicured lawn.
Uhm...she wasn't really going to do this, right?
Okay, Naminé, stay focused.
She brushed her fingers against the tape recorder in her jacket pocket. She was going to press the button as soon as she started, get Roxas to say a few words, then sprint away. As if nothing happened. This was going to be as easy as pie...not.
Good thing it was already something like eleven in the evening. That way, if she sang softly enough, nobody would hear her horrible singing.
She glanced upwards into the full moon, and her breathing quickened. Along with it, her heartbeat. She had never felt this nervous in her entire life. Okay. Do this and spit it back right at Kairi's face. Hateful ex-best-friend. Naminé noticed that the door to his balcony was already open.
She shoved her hand into her jacket pocket and pressed the record button.
Naminé took a deep breath, and started to sing, only to realize a split second after that she had never really checked if Roxas was there, listening.
"When you walked away
You don't hear me say
Please, oh baby, don't go
Simple and clean is the way that you're making me feel tonight
It's hard to let go."
Oh Creator, somebody had come out of the room and leant against the doorframe! The figure was still in the shadows, however, and all she could make out was that he had spiky hair.
"You're giving me
Too many things lately---"
She knew she could stop any time now, but Naminé wanted to prove a point to Kairi. She'll laugh while she still could. She steeled herself and continued singing, ignoring the heat rushing up her cheeks. The figure shifted with every stanza, and by the time the song was about to end, Naminé was breathing normally. For the time being.
"--Regardless of warnings the future doesn't scare me at all
Nothing's like before."
She closed her mouth with a snap, and clutched at her chest, trying to slow her heartbeat down.
"Naminé? That you?" The figure walked forwards and rested his elbows on the balcony railing, and she blinked. It wasn't Roxas at all. It was his twin, Sora --- she berated herself mentally for not taking into consideration the fact that he and Roxas had the almost the same hairstyle.
She swallowed nervously, wanting the earth to swallow her up right then and there. Just her luck; the only time when she had worked up the guts to sing was when the person who was supposed to hear it wasn't the one actually listening. "Where's Roxas?" she called out as quietly as she could. She didn't want to cause any more trouble; from the looks of his rumpled shirt, Sora had just been woken up. She cringed, hating herself for disturbing him.
"He's down for the count," the brunet said, glancing back briefly at the darkened doorway. "He had a skateboarding stint earlier tonight."
"Oh," she breathed, biting her lip and looking down, feeling quite ashamed. "Uhm, Sora?" Naminé spoke up once more, and Sora nodded once to show he was listening. "How'd you know who I am?"
He stared at her with a bemused expression on his face. "Why shouldn't I know your name?"
Her breath hitched, and she shuffled her feet. "Because you're a jock."
True; the brunet was the cheerdance choreographer of the school's squad, and he was also the debating team captain. All-around guy. Drafted on the first day into Kairi's circle of socially dominant people, along with his twin. Naminé had been observing him from a distance, and considered him as an prime example of people who have been uncorrupted by popularity.
Sora let out a laugh. "So? You're one of the brightest people in the school, don't I have the right to know your name?"
"So," he pressed on, "Why're you here, singing, anyway?"
Naminé bit her lip. Kairi had planned this, she rationalized out. Somehow the redhead knew that Rovin had a skateboarding stint tonight, and that Sora would be the one that will hear her sing. And that she would be terribly shamed, in front of the only boy other than Roxas that she liked, out of their posse.
Ugh. Words aren't enough to describe how she felt about Kairi right now.
"I..." she stammered out. "I---I...just...I just..."
Hot tears stung the underside of her eyelids. No matter how many times she repeated this, it had to be emphasized that life is unfair. She swiped at her eyes as she ran out of their lawn, feet silent on the green carpet of grass as she went. She wrapped her jacket closer around her shoulders, not nearly feeling as cold on the ouside as she was feeling on the inside. Ignoring Sora's hasty calls behind her, she sprinted out of the Hikari grounds and into the street.
Her fingers felt the tape recorder in her jacket, and she remembered to stop the record button. With a trembling hand she took it out and flung it behind her, hearing the satisfactory crash it made on the pavement. All the tape contained, anyway, was her sobs as she ran.
- - - - - - - - - - - -
"Come on, sis," Tidus whined, pulling on the flaxen-haired girl's wrist. "I don't want to be late for my class."
Naminé folded her hands stubbornly and threw her brother a glare. "Then go on ahead without me!"
"No." He planted his hands firmly on his hips, and for once, the expression on his face was a serious one. "Don't be a jerk, Nam, " he ignored her indignant outburst and continued -- "It's not the end of the world. So what if the populars laugh at you? Hello? You're the brightest here in the school! Don't stoop down to their level! Life goes on, and there's nothing they can do about it!"
She felt her expression soften at Tidus' short rant, and an unwilling smile touched her lips. She tucked her sketchpad into her bag. "Thanks."
"Anytime, Nam," he shifted his book bag higher up his back, and laced his hands behind his head.
"Besides," he murmured as they started walking to school, only a few blocks away. "Your singing voice is awesome."
He stared at her, and then shook his head, smiling at nothing in particular. "Nothing, nothing."
Well, the school was strewn with students, as usual. Only unusual thing was, Naminé could feel every single group's eyes on her as she walked by. The hairs on the back of her neck pricked uneasily, and she bit her lip. She had forgotten how fast news traveled around here. Knowing Kairi, she had had spread last night's incident just to spite Naminé; to make her lose face in front of everybody.
"I want to change schools," she muttered to Tidus.
He snorted derisively. "Don't be silly, Naminé." They turned into a corridor, and she swallowed painfully. Tidus had his Literature class on the fifth floor, while she had her first one, Art, a hour later. Since she had a free hour, she usually took this time to spend in the library or on the grounds, sketching. However, something told her that today would not be as leisurely as she would like.
"Well, see you at lunch," Tidue waved a hand in goodbye, and disappeared into the crowd.
" 'bye..." her voice trailed off, wondering where she should go.
She froze. She knew that voice. She looked over her shoulder nervously, and bit her lip to prevent herself from cursing. Kairi was waving at her from the other side of the corridor, with a blank-faced Selphie beside her. Oh...that...that was a tape recorder in her hand!
Naminé spun on her heels and started to run.
Tears stung her eyelids once more. Normally, she had steeled herself never to cry, but when it came to being betrayed and everything, she couldn't help it.
Hatred was something of a very powerful feeling right now.
The crowd parted to accomodate her sprinting, and she stumbled out into the grounds, running and sprinting and lunging forward until she reached a rather shadowy spot, amongst a cluster of trees at the farthest corner from the school buildings. There she leant against a gnarled tree trunk and collapsed on the grass, struggling to catch her breath and her tears.
Need she say it? Life is unfair. No. Really.
She looked up.
Her heart skipped a beat. And then anger clouded her thoughts. Anger at being used and anger at the only boy who was the cause of all this. Even though she knew he was innocent, she needed something to vent out her anger on.
"What do you want, Roxas?" she spat, trying to stifle her sobs.
He ran a hand through tousled blonde hair, and took a deep breath.
"When you walked away
You don't hear me say
Please, oh baby, don't go
Simple and clean is the way that you're making me feel tonight
It's hard to let go."
Her chest tightened with every line, and tears brimmed, unbidden, in her eyes. He had the nerve to mock her, the jerk! Roxas smiled, and looked as if he was preparing to sing the next lines (he had a beautiful voice -- really -- if only she wasn't so angry she could listen to him all day). Naminé stood up, not allowing her dignity to be shattered even more. "Shut up, shut up, shut up!" she screamed, swiping at her eyes. "It's bad enough that Kairi makes me do something that embarrassed me, but you! You don't have to mock me! What did I do to you to make you mock me! I hate you all!"
She stumbled away, unable to stop crying.
"Don't go," he said.
She continued walking.
"Please don't go," he called out once more.
Naminé wanted nothing more in the world than to look back over her shoulder, but she forced down that urge and kept on moving. Hmm. Maybe she could talk to the principal and ask him if she could change class schedules.
A hand caught her wrist, and she spun around to face the stormy-blue eyes of Roxas Hikari. The expression on his face was incredibly...sad? What the hell? "Just...hear me out."
"Hurry up," she ground out. "I have class in thirty minutes."
"Kairi was just trying to help," he confessed, hand moving to clasp hers. "I wasn't really asleep; I told Sora to lie. I was listening. Kairi told me this was a way to know that you felt the same for me...I...I like you. I've been watching you ever since I stepped foot in this school. But...I still haven't found a way to say it...until now."
Her tears came faster. "Is this a joke? Because I'm not laughing!" she said shrilly, tugging her hand from his and stumbling once more away. The jerks. They're all jerks. Everyone who was staring at her right now, everyone who was whispering. Every single one.
She started to run.
And she tripped.
She fell down, and didn't bother to move. She was crying much too hard to do that. So there she lay, facedown in the grass and the dirt and the embarrassment of having her heart taken out and broken. Nevermind. She'll talk her mother into letting her change schools later.
Naminé raised herself up, into a more decent sitting position. She started brushing off the blades of grass and the dirt, biting her lip as she did. Sobs racked her frame as she did. Never before had she lost control like this...
"Hey, come on..."
"Leave me alone," she said brokenly, continuing to brush herself off, ignoring the voice from behind her.
"I told you, leave me alone!"
Roxas walked around and knelt in front of her. "I'm sorry..."
She stared at the grass and hugged herself, too tired to run away this time. "Roxas. I know Kairi put you up to this. You've already done what you've intended to do, so just go away."
"She didn't," he said softly, raising a hand and wiping away her tears. "I'm telling the truth. I'm so stupid for not doing this sooner."
"Go away," she muttered, tears replenishing what he had wiped away. "Just...go away..."
"I can't," Roxas moved closer, and put his arms around her shoulders, holding her close.
"Go away..." Naminé sobbed quietly, strength and emotional resistance spent. She gave up, and cried into his shoulder, crying at everything and the shame and the biased unfairness of it all.
"I'm lucky," he whispered into her ear, massaging her back. "It's not everyday that the girl of my dreams serenades me...I thought it was the other way around."
She cried harder.
"You have a beautiful voice..." he shifted, and brought out a tape recorder from his pants pocket. Naminé stared at the sleek black plastic box blankly. Roxas pressed the playback button, and she struggled to calm herself down.
"When you walked away
You don't hear me say---"
The bell rang.
They ignored the shrill ring, ignored the horde of students walking, ignored everything, except for that sweet voice on the black tape that was Naminé's. On and on she sang, on and on until the end, until the song echoed true in her mind and in her heart.
"---Nothing's like before."
- - - - - - - - - -
I'm sorry...I'm not too good at writing happy stuff...
leave me a review? please? i'll get back to you...X3