Chapter One---Feel So Alive

Photographs I never took of you,
I start to remember...
Broken moments that I might have thrown away
I don't care, I'll be ok...

A crash sounded as the hand slipped out from under the covers and threw the small radio-alarm into the wall. The small room was warm with the sun that tried to shine through the drawn curtains while aquamarine eyes blinked wearily.The thin boy stood and stumbled his way to the shower.

"Riku! Hurry, You're breakfast will get cold!!" Riku yelled an incoherent reply back to his mother as the scent of "vodoo" overtook his bathroom. If there were a single reason to love showering, it most surely would be scented soap. The aroma wrapped itself around him like a snake as he let the warm water wake him. Might as well enjoy the morning before he had to go back to that hellhole called school.

As much as Riku hated school, it was nothing compared to his hatred of mirrors. He tried to avoid them but they haunted him like demons. Everywhere he went, there they were; reminding him of everything he wasn't. Everything he could never be. As he surveyed his appearance in the mirror, his features contorted into a scowl. He was thin and wiry, skin too pale and hair like moonlight. But it wasn't like he could change anything so he simply made do.

Faded blue jeans, black tank top and a pair of silver high-tops were deemed his 'First Day of School Clothes' as he combed silver locks into some kind of order, biting his lip ring in thought. Maybe he should cut it...but then he shook his head. It's not like anyone would really notice him anyways. Everything always stayed the same.

"Eat your toast!" His mother yelled at him as he tried to escape out the door. He went back and took the food with him, earning a beautiful smile from the woman in the kitchen as his dad called 'Have a good day' from his chair in the living room.

Riku eyed the toast as he left and tossed it to the first flock of seagulls he came across. As his high school came into view, he braced himself for another long year. And as he predicted, everything was the same. The jocks and cheerleaders hung out on their expensive cars in the front of the school, high fiving each other and gossiping about who slept with who over the summer. No one paid him any mind as he passed and his gaze fell on the stoners who, for once, were not stoned.

"Riku!" Riku turned to find a red-head running toward him with a michievious grin. Riku smiled and walked toward the boy, wondering what felony he had in mind for today.

"I've got it! I'll set the school mascot on fire!!!" Riku shook his head, silver-locks falling into his eyes.

"You did that last year." Axel's smile turned triumphant, having clearly expected his quiet friend to be such a 'blooming downer'.

"While its hanging from the flagpole in the football stadium?" The two burst into laughter at the thought and made their way to the usual table. The tree had grown quiet a bit Riku noticed as the shade was now reaching for the sidewalk and the street.

"I don't know where you get these ideas Axel. And I don't understand how you don't get caught." Riku eyed him suspiciously and Axel feigned innocence.

"Well for one, genuis runs in the family. My mum helps me out. And two, me, Axel Empyre, get caught?! I have absolutely no idea why such a notion would enter that pretty little head of yours, friend. I can't believe you would think me fool enough to be apprehended." The pretentious look on Axel's face was enough to clue Riku in that, when Axel wanted to be, he could be quiet charming, persuasive and even intelligent.

"Whatever." Axel shook the look from his features and extended a hand towards his buddy.

"Exactly. Gimme a cigarette." Riku groaned. Axel always knew when he had stopped and picked up a pack. Like a goddamned blood hound.

"Hey look, new kids." Axel jerked his head to the right and Riku's eyes fell on two boys who, rather forcefully, made their way through the crowd. The taller of the two was blonde, blue eyed and built like a brick wall. He didn't seem too friendly but apparently that didn't cross Axel's mind as he made his way over.

"Why hello there. I'm Axel." The blonde looked to his companion and back to Axel, a frown on his face. Riku saw the shorter brunette speak, smile brightly and follow Axel back to were Riku sat, pulling the blonde behind him.

"Riku, meet Sora and Cloud Strife." Sora smiled, sapphire eyes sparkling against tan skin as a small hand extended to meet Riku's own.

"I'm Sora. This is my brother Cloud. He doesn't talk much." Axel smooth english accent cut in as he turned a charming smile on the boy.

"Then he'll get along with Riku smashingly! Riku never says anything!" Riku was about to protest this when he thought better of it. He just hoped Axel didn't plan on making Sora his next play thing because big-brother did not look like he took that kind of thing well.

The two sat in silence while Sora and Axel chatted amiably, Sora's bell-like laughter dancing on the breeze that swirled around them. Riku pulled his pack out, offered Cloud a smoke (which he surprisingly took) and lit up. Cloud took a spot on the table top next to Riku, making the boy feel even smaller and unimpressive then he already did. But the silence was comfortable and Riku enjoyed his last moments of freedom, free of Axel's latest rant on this or that.

"Riku, we'll catch up with you at lunch, Sora and I have Physics next." Axel made this sound appealing. As if physics were the missing link in Riku's life and if he had physics too, he would suddenly have found his higher calling in life. Damn Axel and that snake-like charm. Damn him.

"Do you know were the Art Room is?"Cloud voice broke through the calm with all the grace of the Titantic smashing into that iceburg. Hoping the blonde didn't see him start, Riku nodded, tossed his cigarette and led the blonde to their first hour class.

The room was noisy cluttered and in an absolute disarray as a frazzled woman danced about the room, obviously having lost something she needed. Riku sighed and found his favorite stool in the farthest corner was empty. As he sat, he noticed Cloud took the stool next to him. It was oddly comforting to have another person with him.

"Riku, have you seen my keys?" The raven haired woman's glasses sat atop her head as she pursed her lips, turning this way and that in pursuit of the item in question.

"Back pocket Ms. T." A slender hand reached back to find that Riku was right. Those little buggers were in her pocket! But hadn't she left them on the table...?

"Thank you Riku. Oh, you must be Cloud! Pleasure to have you in class, Mr. Larson told me all about--Zexion you put that clay down this minute!! Yuffie, don't even THINK about it!!!" The short girl looked slightly sheepish as she put down the bucket of paint she'd been about to dump on Kairi's unsuspecting head.

"Is it always like this?" Cloud asked, deep voice grating down Riku's spine and settling into a quiver in the pit of his stomach.

"Yes." Riku could feel those piercing blue eyes linger on him, but he refused to meet the other man's gaze.

"Class! I want you to do a study sketch today. Draw whatever you see, however it seems to you.Let the world speak to you! I'll collect them at the end of the hour." Riku glanced around the room, looking for inspiration. He saw nothing. But then from the corner of his eye, he caught the glimmer of Cloud's golden spikes in the sunlight and it came to him.

A thousand shades of blue...


A.n: So, what do you think so far? It didn't really come out like I'd planned but since this story is going more angst with a dash and sprinkle of humor, I think the tone suits it. It has a certain underlying sadness. REVIEW!!!!

Ulti!!!!