-------x. Meet Roxas.

They're the perfect couple.

A sweet, lively, handsome young boy.

A beautiful, cheerful, upbeat young girl.

Both amazingly good-looking, although the girl has silky red hair and the boy's is chocolate spikes all over his head; the girl has amethyst eyes set in a delicate face; the boy, shining sapphires that go perfectly with his elfin features.

She's practically a princess.

He's the hero.

They're both brave.

They're both smart.

They're both incredibly naïve, in the best way possible.

They're both completely trustworthy.

They're both perfect, and go perfectly together.

And all Roxas can think, is damn.


There's another perfect couple, people think, in this girl and this boy.

She's breathtaking, and innocent, and kind.

He's caring, and very attractive, and intelligent.

The epitome of the parts of society they both represent; she's a gorgeous little artist who can't say ill of anyone; he's a guy who's awesome at sports and has people clamouring to talk to him, even though he's in reality not exactly a witty, chatty person; she's just pure and, apparently, so is he.

All he can see is the flaws within himself.

All she can see is all the goodness in other people.

All he thinks about is getting away.

All she thinks of is being there.

All he can do is nothing.

And all she can do, is soothe.


All in all, they're pretty good relationships, both based on understanding. They both sound like dreams, even the second with the flawed boy – he could just be one of those 'bad boys' that everyone goes for. The girls are all anyone could want, and the boys are the types that attract fanclubs. The ultimate life for a group of teens.

They don't know each other yet.

They will soon.

And then, all hell will break loose.

Perfect lives will come shattering down.

Perfect relationships will have cracks running right smack bang down the center of them.

Perfect façades will be found to be slipping.

Perfect times will be left way behind in the past.

Then, only then, will the truth of it all be revealed.

No more masks.

It was good, sometimes. The high-school jock's life. Pretty quiet, not matter how people say that social lives get hectic – it was simply go to a party one night, go to that bonfire the next, head off to play sport for the weekend after kissing the girlfriend good bye, hanging out with her all through the week, deigning to carry her shopping, occasional schoolwork, and sleep.

That was what Roxas liked to think at school, while there was an exam, and he had finished a few minutes before the bell, and he already knew he'd get average-to-good results. He thought it sometimes too when he'd be coming home late one night from the proverbial 'night out on the town', never mind that he was the only one not old enough to drink at the pub yet; he was let in anyway.

It was no wonder that Roxas wanted to get away from it.

Thus, it was also no wonder that secretly he'd secretly got himself a secret part-time secret job. With the utmost secrecy. And more, on top of that. Not even Naminé knew. The wonderful, caring, gentle girlfriend with looks that had guys gazing after her lovestruck in the street and a personality that even the not-so-pretty girls in the year liked.

She was the same age as him, too; seventeen, although two months older and so able to drink legally two months before him. It wasn't fair, really, even though he didn't make a habit of getting plastered, simply because she didn't like alcohol at all. The little angel didn't hold her drink well – usually coughed and choked and spluttered at the first mouthful. Those who didn't know her well didn't know that, though, not with the sweet face she gave to the public; all-round-liked girl with her peers and that included at parties, and an almost-teachers' pet for anything regarding adults.

But back to the ultra-secret job.

Cid had given it to him.

Once a week, around thirty dollars a day, working way out at Cid's old shed for anything that ran on oil.

Ridiculous, really, since he knew next to nothing about machinery, but he figured that Cid thought that he'd work it all out on the job. That, so far, was partly true. And he mostly got to play apprentice-mechanic to the real one, Cid himself – fetch those tools, clean up after me, get some damn coffee y'little bastard afore we all die of thirst, thanks, job well done, there's your pay, drop this off at Yuffie's for me, bye.

There was something almost exciting about it for him. Maybe it was the fact that he was earning his own money, instead of spending his mum and dad's all the time? Maybe it was more that he got to get his hands dirty? Be alone? Be himself?

'Be alone' was closest on that list, but he knew the real, above-all reason: it was his, and his secret, and no one else's, and he worked for it, and no one else, and it was his, dammit.


He started working there twice a week, then thrice; Cid smiled at him each time he walked in, his gruffness forbidding him to display anything more akin to affection apart from a ruffle of the hair or the friendly insult. There was a comfortable atmosphere to it all now. They called each other by first name – no more Highwind for Cid, no more Strife for Roxas.

Cid eventually trusted him enough to bring in his daytime mechanic too; a wiz with any engine problems and a chain smoker like Cid, a man named Axel Ryro. The redhead was only two years older, with a quick smile and wit, and green, green eyes that Roxas more than once caught himself staring at, unguarded.

The two became good friends in a day; best friends in a week; practically soul mates before the month was through. It wasn't without its ups and downs – there was many a heated argument, and some experimentation involving alcohol and kissing that Roxas tried not to think about, because it raised questions he really didn't need even brought up, let alone answered, right now – but it was still the best thing that had happened to Roxas for a long time.

It was the most fun he'd had for a long time, and that made it all the worthwhile, because he just didn't have fun anymore. He didn't feel amusement when a school friend told a joke; didn't feel fondness when Naminé attached herself to his arm at the end of the day.

He didn't feel again, until he met Axel.

And that was only the first turning point.


Naminé called moments like these 'hush-hush times', he thought detachedly. Then he thought about something else, quickly: Pongo, Perdita and the puppies; Cid's rarely-seen secretary Shera; the latest PS3 demo he'd seen that made him want the new platform even more.

It really was something of a 'hush-hush time', though. A cute term, for a peaceful, slightly cloudy, comfortably warm day. All about him, although hidden in part by old trucks and broken headers and harvesters, there were crops. Low crops, due to the lack of rain, something he wished with all his heart would change soon; a few cows grazing off in the distance, where last year's hay was scattered earlier in the day for them to eat. A cloud of fast-moving dust in the distance probably meant another soon-to-be customer for Cid's Mechanics, he thought with almost-amusement.

The perfect time for something unexpected to happen, and happen it did.

The perfect time for a life-changing experience, and wow, was that the case.

Ironically, there was no bang. Roxas actually admitted he would have expected it, thinking back on that day, and considering the setting; a mechanic's shop where a pyromaniac was even now fooling with grease and heat.

Nope, it was just a small thud that made him glance up from where he was lying, spread-eagled out on the large, blank slab of concrete out one rarely used door of the big shed behind his head.

A thud, and then a very pretty voice, one much like Naminé's.

"This is Cid's, right?"

The thud was accompanied by the smell of smoked ham; the voice, daisies.

Of course, Roxas opened his eyes.

He then opened and closed them several times, to make sure that he was, indeed, seeing what he was seeing.

A girl with features nearly identical to Naminé's, except the hair was red, the eyes were near-violet, the overall look had such an appearance of happiness with even a touch of mischievousness.

She offered one slim hand, and when he took it, pulled him to his feet with a little awkwardness on both parts, but she was still grinning when he was finally on his own two feet and dusting himself (faded jeans, gray polo shirt, spiked blond hair) off.


A few minutes too late to answer is better than never, Roxas had already worked out with Cid, and it seemed that this girl was of the same belief. She nodded sagely, passing over the fact that his one-word response apparently took the better part of four minutes to compose and deliver.

She's very pretty, Roxas thought again. And again: she's very pretty.

Nothing wrong with the truth, either, but he couldn't find the voice to say this – how could he when he'd just met her, and he was tongue-tied for a simple, innocent question?

"Kairi." She said with a sparkle in her eye, and a laugh in her voice, and a flush in her cheeks, and with her hand stuck out again, this time to shake.

He did what was expected of him, taking her hand briefly and pumping it up and down a few times, dropping it, mumbling "Roxas" so quietly she needed to ask him to repeat it. "Roxas," Roxas said again, fumbling with his words again, never mind that it was his own name, because contrary to popular belief, also known as school gossip that couldn't find him here when for once he most needed it, Roxas actually often became nervous when meeting someone new, or a girl in general, and especially someone as pretty as she.

"So, I'm here to see Cid," the angel – Kairi – said eventually, still overbrimming with happiness, although he didn't mind.

So he told her, looking at his feet all the while, that Cid was inside, with Axel, and watched the girl grin yet again at the mention of his redheaded friend's name, and Roxas couldn't help but ask why she seemed to recognise the name.

"He's my brother's best friend," Kairi explained with another giggle. A veritable ray of sunshine.

A brother?

"Reno. Cid's like, our uncle. And Yuffie's my cousin. I think she's mentioned you."

A wellspring of information, too. But although Kairi wasn't saying anything of particular importance, Roxas found himself clinging to every word.


And all of a sudden Roxas was confused, and then in love all over again, and was shocked, and was yet again tongue-tied.

He blinked again.

A youth – the same height as he – with similar spikes, although different positioning and the colour of hot chocolate. And blue, blue, oh-so-blue eyes, lively and passionate and brave and everything he suddenly felt he was not.

And Kairi smiled and waved and called this newcomer "Sora" in a happy, excited, high-pitched voice.

Roxas liked the name already.

Then Sora took his hand, and Kairi introduced them, smiling cheerfully as though they were already good friends, and Sora said hello to him in a voice that was… indescribable with the emotions it contained, since Roxas had never felt those emotions before in his life, and certainly never with that strength.

All of a sudden Cid was there, and Kairi threw her arms about his neck with a squeal and noisy kisses, obviously done just to annoy him.

"How come you've never met 'em before?" the gruff pilot demanded around a smoke and with one ear turned to the animated conversation of the newcomers.

He didn't know, had no idea how he'd managed to miss them…

"Roxas? Hey, d'you want to come and get some coffee?" The boy (that Kairi was saying, even now, with such enthusiasm, that Roxas looked so much like even though Roxas couldn't see it himself and was sure the other couldn't either) called, kindness practically radiating off him.

And Roxas suddenly knew what it was that he was missing in his life.

It wasn't purity – Naminé was bucketloads of that.

Now, it wasn't even fun – Axel was all that now, a veritable bushfire of excitement to satisfy any curiosity Roxas might have.

Nor was it sweetness – plenty of that in his life, his mum, his girlfriend, his coffee.

It was vitality. It was the vitality that Sora and Kairi both possessed in abundance. And now he'd seen what it could be like, this whirlwind of emotions and sensations all in one – two – people, he wanted more.


It didn't help that they were two of the most attractive people he'd ever laid eyes on.

It didn't help that Kairi was so lively, and that Sora was the same.

It didn't help that she was her, and he was… well, a he.

And it certainly didn't help that they were together.

…probably the worst thing about the whole arrangement, in fact, was that Roxas somehow wanted both of them.

There were some times when Roxas wanted to sink into a hole in the ground and slowly waste away.

There were others when he felt like – uncharacteristically – clambering to the top of the tall shed with its odd wind and temperature contraptions waving haphazardly from the roof and shouting aloud to the world how great his life was.

There were yet more when he simply or not-so-simply felt a combination of the two.

This, this sharing of a kettle with the aforementioned 'he' and having an almost-conversation – this was one of those combinations, and it confused him like all hell.

So far, he had found out that Sora liked skateboarding too, although he wasn't as serious about it; that he was more into martial arts, particularly kendo, and that he thought Roxas would do very well if he just joined his club (a thought that made Roxas blush to the roots of his gravity-defying hair – that meant something he wanted and yet really didn't want to see, a sweaty and disheveled Sora smiling at him); and that they both liked dogs, although Sora was a big fan of most animals whereas Roxas only really had eyes for his own dog, Goofy.

He had also found out that Sora was absolutely infatuated with Kairi.

"She's just beautiful, and she's so kind, too, and she never lets me down –"

I'm not very attractive. I don't like being nice to people at all. I'd let you down constantly…

"– and always says hi and hangs out with me, she's really great friends with my friends too, she, Riku and I are the bestest friends ever –"

"Must be nice to have best friends."

Sora did an almost comical uptake at this comment.

"You don't have any best friends?!"

Mister Obvious.

But Mr. Obvious wasn't trying to make fun, of course, and he instead did the first thing that came into his head. He grabbed Roxas' shirt front and pulled them nose-to-nose so close that Roxas could feel warm fresh breath fluttering ever-so-gently over his lips, and said fiercely, "I'll be your best friend. Me and Kairi. Can we?"

Can we… he swallowed hard. It was difficult, with that lump in his throat and that burning feeling all over and the blush he was sure was blaringly apparent on his cheekbones.

" –xas?"

"Yu –" Swallowed again, tried again. "Yeah, that'd be cool. Good."

"Great!" The happy brunet bumped foreheads playfully with his blond counterpart, grinning. "It'll be good, like we've always been friends! It feels like that already, doesn't it?"

Uh… it feels… more… as though, I'm going to be in something I want more of but can't get. "Yeah." He said softly. "It does." Because that's how it always is. People want more. Why would I be any different?


It was certainly a novelty, having someone other than Naminé call him to talk about nothing. It was always parties, hanging out at the pool, poker nights and the like with his mates from school.

And all of a sudden, there was Sora. He called him for no reason so many times within the first week that Roxas was nearly frustrated by it. He also secretly loved it; there was Sora's voice, and Sora's number flashing with Sora's name across the screen of his phone (the brunet had plafully stolen his phone right after the first 'bestest of friends' declaration and punched in his number, along with Kairi's) and best of all? Sora was calling him.

It made him wonder, just a little, why nobody at school had ever realised that those phone calls didn't have to be planned. They could be completely impromptu and random, and it suddenly seemed that the most important things in life were those things that were considered nothing.

...Seeing as he considered himself a nobody at the best of times, this thought made him feel pretty damn good.


Axel looked up with a sly grin as Roxas dumped his stuff - bag, keys, wallet - toward the back of one of the workbenches, its surfaces scarred and torn from decades of sharp pointy things and hard pressure being applied to it. A tiny heart was engraved into the edge of the bench; Roxas barely noted it; after all, he'd seen it hundreds of times already. Instead, he ran his fingers through his fringe and shook his head a bit.

"Cat got your tongue?"

Roxas shook his head again.

The redhead scooted in closer, wrapping a lanky arm about the shoulders of his smaller friend. "You sure?"

Blue eyes met brilliant green, those ones that were tinted with a slight ghost of blue. "Yeah." Roxas knew he was alwyas quiet like this.

Axel whistled to himself, leaning in until his lips touched the shell of his ear. "Kairi." He whispered almost inaudibly, chortling as the boy's frame stiffened. "Your ear's going red..."

"Shut up." Those blond brows knitted together again, their owner glaring at the bench while wishing he could clamp his hands over said burning feature.

A pink tongue crept out and licked the ear quickly; Roxas pushed himself up, growling deep in his throat.

The pyro-mechanic laughed a little more to himself, until Cid yelled at them.


Life just gets you down, sometimes.

Meaning, life can be an utter pain in the ass and shit you so bad that you feel completely fucked over and decide you want to go die in a hole alone.

Roxas' brother Cloud came home that day.

All was good for a while.

Roxas' girlfriend Naminé came over that afternoon.

All was still going okay; a little off, yeah, but still okay.

Roxas' two new best friends came over later on in the afternoon.

Maybe not so great with Roxas' brother and Roxas' girlfriend here too. But still, everything was hanging in there.

Until it turned out Roxas' brother's boyfriend-who-is-just-a-friend-(honest), Leon, came over too.

It all went downhill from there.

Apparently, girls don't always click at first sight. Maybe that had something to do with the way Naminé was muttering love-words and twining her fingers in Roxas' hair while he was sitting on the couch and she was leaning over the back and she couldn't see his expression of both physical and mental discomfort.

That's what Roxas liked to think, anyway. It made him feel so much better to think that maybe there was some jealousy involved.

But Kairi walked in, without Sora, who'd just been waylaid by Cloud to 'give him a hand with something'. And Kairi took one look. And jumped on Roxas. Who, subsequently, snapped his eyes open and went "Oof."

"Roxas!" She sort-of-squealed happily, wrapping slim but strong arms about his neck and huggling gently, but refusing to budge. There went Naminé's position as 'current-owner-of-Roxas'-head', and she was not happy about it.

"Kairi!" He choked, more out of surprise than any real pressing need to say her name and make conversation. Tongue-tied around her, remember?

"Roxas!" She sort-of-squealed happily yet again, nuzzling against the small bare patch of skin revealed by the collar of his loose white polo shirt with an expression of cat-like contentment.

Then she sat up. "And who is this?" A false note of joy was interjected in her voice this time, one that the boy beneath her noted immediately although he'd only known her for the short time of four weeks; four weeks during which they had interacted a total of three times, and only really one because the blond was sadly lacking in the theory of socializing.

"Naminé." The voice brought with it memories of a frozen white landscape and a chill wind that carried hints of snow.

"Hi, Naminé!" And there was that tone again. "How are you, Nami? You don't mind if I call you Nami, do you? I'm sure all your friends do, and we're friends already, aren't we?" Go die under a log somewhere, you skanky little hag touching my best friend like… like that.

"Of course we're friends," came the forced reply, complete with strained smile. Of course we can 'be friends', you disgusting cow forcing yourself upon my boy friend whom I love dearly and don't really like to be parted from even though we aren't really in love. If 'being friends' means I can tell you to shove it where the sun don't shine, then I'd simply love to!

And then that fabulous cyclone of vivacity also known as Sora whirled in, and Roxas was struck dumb, as dumb as he'd been with Naminé only minutes previously although for entirely different reasons.




Dimly, Roxas noted some similarities to Shrek 2 in the last few scenes of his life. Perhaps someone would pipe in any minute with a –


His head whipped around to the door to his left faster than Kairi and Naminé's subtext had occurred. Kairi was still glued to his chest, although looking over that direction in curiosity too, as did Naminé who was attempting to reconnect her fingers with any part of Roxas' upper body that wasn't currently occupied by the redheaded girl, while Sora looked up with that ever-present expression of hope on his features.

Cloud lounged in the doorway, arms crossed over a black singlet and one fine blond eyebrow raised. "Got a bit of a dogpile happening here, I see," he noted with clinical amusement, which shouldn't have worked but somehow did.

Behind him stood Leon, who was perhaps the first person ever to make Roxas question his sexuality. If it had been possible for him to turn any redder right now, it would have happened – Leon was looking as cool, calm and sexy as ever. Those black leather pants were probably banned in several countries.

And if there was one thing that Roxas felt nearly as guilty about as being in… something, with his two new best friends, it was having a crush on his brother's boyfriend. Who was eight years older than him. He scowled and glanced away quickly, wishing something, anything, could change the atmosphere.

"Hey, you're Cloud!"

Roxas winced. Maybe, just maybe, anything but that.

Cloud frowned briefly, then the corners of his lips twitched upwards. "Yeah. Hi, Sora. We already met. Who's the girlfriend?"

The brunet practically chirped. "This is Kairi! We're Roxas' two best friends!"


Lunch was an awkward affair.

Sora sat across from Roxas.

Naminé sat on Roxas' left side.

Kairi sat on Roxas' right side.

Cloud took one look at them, balanced his plate a little more securely, grabbed Leon's (hot, gloved) hand and yanked him outside to eat away from 'the teenagers'.

It made Roxas feel very wanted.

Sora kept the atmosphere mostly light with jokes, sharing all three people across from him in them.

Secretly, Roxas decided that Sora was looking at him the most, and felt a little twinge at that.


At around twenty-three to three, Kairi commented that Leon was hot.

Sora grinned. "He is, isn't he?"

Roxas promptly turned a dull crimson and spat his water back into his cup, hoping no one saw him.

Damn. Now he'd have to get fresh water.

Kairi smirked a little, just a little, at Sora.

Naminé pouted, then smiled a bit and said yes, indeed, he was rather attractive. Attractive and Cloud's.


"So. Uh, guess we'll be seeing you back at Cid's sometime, then." The brunet scratched spikes out of his face with an emotion resembling nervousness.

"Cid's?" Naminé queried curiously.

Kairi nodded. "That's where we met him, working with Uncle – it's great, he already knows the family!"


And Roxas felt something slip away, leaving even more black where there had been something before, something that he already couldn't remember, now it was gone.

And then there was Kairi clapping her hand over her mouth then narrowing her eyes and grabbing the hand of poor bewildered Sora and dragging him to the car and commanding him to get in the passenger seat and starting the engine and suddenly looking really really upset and stalling once before the little red car with the P plate took off down the dusty road and Roxas wanted to cry and scream and rant for some reason.

"You have a job?"

And his ears were filled with mindless chatter until dinner time when Leon offered, obviously at Cloud's request but no less sincerely for it, to give Naminé a lift home – wouldn't want her staying overnight, after all, would we?

Then Cloud clapped him wordlessly on the shoulder and went to his room, presumably to bed but probably on his laptop, and Leon was just walking out the door to where Naminé was already buckling up her seat belt in the car, when he suddenly turned back and gave Roxas' hair an affectionate tousle.

A clear message.

You're only ever going to be my boyfriend's little brother. Don't get down about it. This is the way things are meant to be; and if they aren't, it's the way things are going to be anyway.


Next time he showed up at Cid's, Cloud was there. He gave a half-wave to his younger brother and turned back to Cid; the straw blond was chewing rather aggressively on the end of a stick, fisted hands on hips. The mechanic didn't even turn around. Not entirely unexpected. Cloud was just making a few deliveries – he delivered to everyone.

It felt like a betrayal. His brother – how come he'd never seen him make any deliveries here? Did Cid keep it an undercover thing? If so, it was most likely at his brother's request – keep it quiet for Roxas, make sure he still thinks he's got something of his own, let him keep it a secret.

Secret's out.

Even Naminé knew, now, and Kairi and Sora would probably stay away out of guilt, or because they thought they would laugh any time they saw him, for something so stupid like keeping a simple little job secret.

For some reason, Axel gave him a brief but strong one-armed hug around the shoulders when he walked into the back. The coffee was already brewed; Axel's half finished, and one sitting cooling for him. Half full, half empty; it felt like his aspect on life should be pessimistic. He always got the half-empty glass, after all, while some rich bastard with no good looks and a whipped wife and half-a-dozen Porsches in his backyard was lifting the half-full glass to his lips with a feral smile and no cares in the world.

He nodded briefly to Axel, lifted the mug to his lips, sipped carefully to avoid scalding and the chips that revealed the underlying white china beneath that cover of darkest blue paint.

Axel lounged back on the bench, a stretch revealing the creamy white skin covering too-thin hipbones. Not that Roxas looked. "Kairi said she and Sora went to see you yesterday." Not a question.

"Yeah…" a question there, though; why did she tell you?

Axel's a bright one; he caught on quickly. "Kairi…" he looked pensive for a moment, brilliant red hair catching the artificial light illuminating the dark back room as he tilted his head to the side.

Bated breath. What would he say? Was it even important? With Axel, you could never tell – one man's trash was another's treasure had never held much meaning until you had met Axel.

"I'm her older brother."

"…Come again?"

A laugh, not strained, but not loud and boisterous either. "Me 'n' Reno are twins. He's older by… about a few minutes. Not sure how long." A shrug of shoulders, too bony like the rest of him. "She wasn't lying when she said we were best friends, though."


One raised eyebrow with knowing green eyes.

"…Okay. I'm fine with it. It's just kinda weird, is all…"

Weird is damn right. Who would bother hiding the fact that they're related to your co-worker?


Roxas said it out loud. Oops.

"Don't worry, Rox'. She's always askin' questions about you."

Oh, really?

"Yup. Always." Wink wink, but no nudging as it was impossible over the distance.

He'd have to be content with that, he supposed. Thinking any more was going to, quite frankly, screw him up. He knew that much for sure.


Roxas had an uncomfortable dream, and woke up with a mess.

Not good.

Not good at all.

…and Kairi hadn't been in it.

It was going from bad to worse.


Kairi visited by herself this time. Waltzed in with a white leather handbag and a simple white dress; something unusual for the usually-pink-clad girl.

Maybe it was because of Naminé…

Banishing those thoughts, Roxas watched her a little while longer from behind the safety of the dark flyscreen door, then went to open it just as she reached the step.

"Come in."

Kairi raised an eyebrow at him, but stepped in anyway.

Flushing a little bit at that raised eyebrow, he closed the door carefully and followed her.

Of course, she went straight to the lounge room where she'd first gone the last time. Roxas shuddered at the memory of that last time and quickly cleared his throat. "Would you… like something? To drink, I mean? Like water?"

A tinkly little laugh, which reached into him with sharp lavender-scented claws and squeezed something painfully. Really painfully. But she was only nodding now, a few feet from him and saying yes, indeed, she would like some water.

Good. He escaped to the relative safety of the kitchen.

"Ice blocks?" He yelled after a minute, fumbling everything in his attempt to remain calm.

"Yes." Came the calm voice. From right behind him.

And he hated to admit it, but he yelped and whirled around, and then Kairi was staring right into his eyes, leaning in with a most thoughtful look on her pretty features.

Well, what do you know. Kairi was wearing lavender perfume today.

And with the most malicious little smirk he'd ever seen anyone wear, let alone sweet Kairi, she leaned in – right in – and placed one hand on his chest.

Dammit. There went another yelp.

"What's wrong, Roxas?" she purred, beside his ear. He couldn't see her face, but he didn't need to right now to turn red. Or, at least, redder than he was. "Don't you want this?"

God yes I want this. Please please please… oh, please!

"No…" he choked out at long last. "It's wrong, Kairi, don't do this, please, we're best friends!"

And Kairi, who'd slowly been stroking her hand in slow circles across his torso, igniting a burn that wouldn't be leaving any time soon, leaned back, with such a look of pain on her features that he winced to see it, winced with the horrible feeling that what he'd done was something dangerous and wrong and irreparable and just not good.

"Right. Wrong." She echoed hollowly. "Wrong. I… I see now. That's what it was. Wrong." She kept repeating to herself, stepping back a little, now rubbing her biceps as though she was cold. "It was all wrong…" She gave him a look, though, one final piercing purple look, and he could see a heart breaking in those beautiful amethyst eyes. "But it wouldn't be wrong with Sora now, would it?"

God, if that had been Sora, so help me, I wouldn't have had the will to resist…

Were those tears? More to the point, were those her tears or his own? He didn't know, but he did know that when he reached through that hazy curtain of saltwater, she wasn't there anymore, and there was only the sound of front door without a spring slamming, and a car revving, tyres screeching then fading, fading into nothing.

Why can't I want this? Why can't I have both? Why?


This time, a chicken bounced as it was set down beside his head, and he glanced up from his sun-soaking location to see Sora's impossibly angelic face grinning down at him.

"Heeeeey!" The brunet chirped, voice reverbrating throughout Roxas' chest almost painfully. The sandy-blond sat up hurriedly, colliding foreheads with Sora and recoiling at the sharp sting.


"Sorry 'bout that," he muttered. "Where's Kairi?"

There was a flash of pain reminiscent of purple eyes, but this time it was displayed for the world to see in baby blues. "Not here," the other boy said, softly, glancing away for a moment. "I'm sorry. I should have brought her, shoudn't I?"

Damn. "No, not at all!" He said hurriedly, squirming back a little so he wasn't, y'know, so pinned underneath the other's body. That led to bad thoughts. Bad thoughts. "But… I was, sorta, expecting her." He added. Liar. "Because… well, it was her that dropped the meat beside my head last time."

Sora smirked, effectively immobilizing Roxas for a moment. "This?" He asked, raising the bag that stank of uncooked poultry. "Kai and I were wondering if you'd join us for dinner tonight!" He announced brightly.

Roxas blanched.

"Eh? What's the matter, mate? You sick or something?" A concerned voice, none of the usual vivacity there, and right beside his ear -

"What's wrong, Roxas?" she purred, beside his ear.

"I – I'm okay," came a stutter, at last. "Really." And he used his hands to push on the chest of the concerned boy, perhaps using a little more force than he should have because there was a startled gasp that was quickly broken off. "I'll… I'll be there." He said, glancing up shyly from beneath those blond strands that continually covered his eyes.

Then it was his turn to draw in a sharp breath, when Sora smiled softly, so softly, and leaned in to brush the spikes from his blue eyes, and rest his hand on his forehead for a moment, then said, cheerfully as ever if with a little less volume, "Great! We'll see you tonight, then. Riku'll be there too. D'you think you should invite Naminé?"

"Great," he imitated, letting it serve as an answer to that last question that he didn't really want to acknowledge. Of course I don't want her there, don't you see she'll just get in the way no no no no no no no!


Ring… ring… ring… ri –


"Ah, yup! Hi, Roxas! How are you?"

"Good… wondering, Sora and Kairi have invited us over for dinner tonight. Did you want to go? They said another friend will be there too."

"Another friend? Hmm, yeah, sure! I'd love to go! What time?"

"…be ready to be picked up by six?"

"Sure. I can do that. See you then!"

"See ya."



Riku was a well-muscled youth, yet still slim, with the most amazing aquamarine eyes and straight silver hair that fell to his shoulders in a perfectly cut curtain. He could also charm the pants off anything, even a chair. And chairs didn't usually wear pants.

"Roxas? Dinner's ready." Kairi appeared then, smile in place on her face, and a sad light in her eyes that no one else seemed to notice.

"Thanks," he said, reaching a hand halfway out to her. Those violet eyes flickered to it for a moment, and she turned quickly and exited.

He followed, seated himself while she bustled busily about the kitchen. Naminé and Riku walked in next, chatting loudly and laughing, with Sora rounding up the rear, although, instead of sitting, the brunet assisted Kairi with serving the roast and vegetables. Roxas leapt up quickly, a dull red heating his cheeks when he realized he didn't even know where he was supposed to sit, and helped serve out the plates of food.

And Naminé watched all this quietly, with nothing but the faintest flickering of understanding.

Dinner was a relaxed affair, albeit the awkward conversation between Roxas and Sora and the stilted silence between the former and Kairi, but the excessive flirting between Riku and Naminé helped somewhat, although Roxas found himself the object of covert scrutiny from all parties at the table all evening, no doubt to gauge his reaction to their interactions.

Something seemed to happen, though, when halfway through a dessert of chocolate mousse and raspberries Naminé glanced at her watch with a squeal, admitting she'd meant to be home by then. Riku gallantly offered to drive her home, saying Roxas should stay a little while longer and not let his evening be spoilt by such a trivial thing as having the keys.

And so, they walked out.


Roxas was still sitting on the couch where they'd said goodbye; and Naminé's kiss had felt like a goodbye.

Sora and Kairi were both just standing there, Sora right beside him, Kairi a little further.

"Well." Sora said gravely, as the silence kept extending. "Let's get things sorted out, shall we?"


There was no point in acting jealous, or clingy, or anal. Not even a smidgeon of a purpose in doing so, and she realised that. Keeping her demure blue eyes fixated on the rippling muscles of the back before her, she realised that she didn't even really care - after all, this Riku was attractive, enough to tempt even her. He had also proven himself to be witty, charming, and talented at a multitude of little things that had kept her entertained through what had to be one of the most awkward evenings she could remember. Never before had she felt like a fourth wheel, and never again did she plan on being in such a situation again.

Naminé knew it. She just knew that even as she walked away with a someone she knew could show her the time of her life in more ways than one, that she was betraying him. But she also knew he was doing the same to her. Life's like that, and she preferred that she had at least some control over it.

She was resolved, in her thoughts and in her decisive actions. It was time to do something about everything and anything, and it all began with a little bit of pain and a slight bit happiness mixed in with what most would view as spite.

It felt good to be understanding, even as in the darkness beside that white Commodore she brought slim pale hands up to a tanned face and pulled that handsome youth into a deep kiss; it felt really good to be all those things she was supposed to be and all those things she was not.

My internet connection keeps cutting out. It isn't fair, especially seeing as I keep editing this chapter and it keeps deleting what I write. Dammit. This will have to suffice. Enjoy? Yeah. Enjoy. First fic transferred from the x-hail.ee account to this one.