Family Time.

Riku shakes his head and gives a big, long suffering sigh.

"Sorry, guys. Mom wants me to stay at home."

Sora gapes. "But why?" He shakes his head wildly. "Christmas's over so we can go and spend it together at the island, right?"

Riku sighs again. It sounds, Kairi thinks, as if his own soul was trying to run the hell away from his body so that Riku would have an excuse to follow it.

"... my brothers arrived today. No, we weren't expecting them. At least I wasn't. So we're having another family dinner." He points towards the groceries bags he's been carrying.

Kairi stops herself from mentioning that Riku sounds as if he was being sent to fight against two dragons sans keyblades, swords or magic, because she knows that Riku has always been sensitive about his older brothers.

Sora, however, beams.

"FOR SERIOUS?! They're here? MAN! I've not seen them in ages! Hey, Riku, would it be fine if I go and say h- hey, Riku, c'mon, where're you going?"


Riku had lost count of the number of times that Kadaj has tripped him, twisted his arm behind his back– damn him for also having grown up even though Riku had expected he'd get to be taller than him DAMN HIM – or given him noogies through the day and it's barely six o' clock, as if to make up for the fact that he'd been gone for almost two whole years. He just knows that if he had to endure it just one more time, he was going to bring out his keyblade and--

The sound of someone knocking on the door interrupts him, and he starts to go towards the door even before Yazoo commands from where he's sitting on the couch, a book open on his lap, for him to get the door. His teeth clench. He's not a fucking maid.

Being the youngest one still sucked. This wasn't news, mind you. But life seemed to like making him remember that fact as if he would, somehow, forget it, even after years of torture.

And then life laughs at you, right in the face, and Riku can't help but groaning when a beaming Sora and a smiling Kairi stand by his door. Sora even carrying his mom's extra special chocolate chips and almonds cookies, the big batch she usually only does for sleepovers, and that's if the three of them begged.

Before he can warn them to run away – even if they won't just take him seriously about this – Kadaj's arm sneaks around his neck, squeezing tight for him to choke a little.

"Where are your manners, little brother? Especially since it's Sora!" Kadaj grins, squeezing his arm once more before he lets go. Riku wonders if he'd be able to open a portal and get his best friends away from them before things get messy. "And Kairi too! C'mon in! Oi, Loz! Come and say hi! Yazoo, you too!"

Riku groans again.


I never would've guessed Riku had brothers, Roxas sounds bemused and it makes Sora's grin widden, hurrying to nod at Kadaj's question. He doesn't seem the type.

He had always, kinda, envied Riku for having such a big family and a big house, when in his house it's only his parents and him. Everytime he told Riku that, even before Kairi arrived, Riku would look at him as if he was crazy.

They are just so cool! And when he went over when he was little, they were always really, really nice, the way his older cousins never were! Yazoo never seemed to mind his questions and playing with Loz had been so amazing, and Kadaj had always shared part of his candies and treats with him. Riku had always gotten annoyed, too, but Sora supposed that to understand why he felt like that, he would've had to have a brother or sister. And even now that he sort of has one (and at that he feels a slow, sweet warmth that means that Roxas heard his thought and he's embarrassed) it isn't, well. It isn't exactly the same since, you know. There really isn't a case of fighting about sharing stuff when you are already sharing a heart.

Riku is just so lucky.


"I want to die," Riku murmurs, wishing he could hit his head against the wall, since the table is covered with vegetables and his mother will, undoubtedly, do worse things to him than just be mercyful and kill him if he ruins dinner. "Mom. Can I die?"

"After dinner and a whole, plentyful life, perhaps," his mother concedes, not even looking up from where she's chopping some celery.

Loz, at least, makes a sympathetic noise. He would have probably patted his back if not for the fact that he's helping with dinner. He does offer him a carrot stick, which Riku sticks in his mouth and he chews slowly and sulkily on it.

It was simply unfair. Right now, he should be spending the day after Christmas with his best friends, perhaps practicing with their keyblades or listening to Kairi tell them about the memories that were slowly coming back to her, and perhaps late at night, when Kairi and Sora had fallen asleep, Namine would come out and he would sit with his head on her lap and Namine would hum or draw, or perhaps, if he was in the mood, Roxas would come out and they would not exactly talk, not at all, but be there so that the awkwardness that remained between them could keep on melting or fading or whatever it was it did. And then, the next day, they'd be getting ready to go and spend New Year's at king Mickey's celebration.

Stupid brothers dropping by with no warning whatsoever. And it's not as if he can say a thing because stupid Kadaj and obnoxious Yazoo had made sure he kept quiet by mentioning how their parents had been sad and worried sick, when he had disappeared.

And his mom does seem happy. She's always enthusiast, but really...

"Riku, be a dear and go and wrestle your father from his research, please." His mom asks of him, her eyes still on the vegetables she's chopping. "And tell him that absolutely no books at the table!"

Riku grunts, but he stands up, accepting Loz's offered carrot and the look that said 'sorry but it kinda sucks to be you right now'.


Kairi feels, perhaps, just a liiiiiittle bit as if she's, kinda, betraying Riku, which Namine doesn't understand. And she's telling herself that it's silly. One of the reasons she had agreed with Riku whenever he ranted about his brothers was because she had wanted to belong, back then when she was still new in Destiny's Island. And she had sort of gotten used to agreeing, and she even agreed to a point because she could understand Riku, a little bit, and sometimes his brothers were a little too much, or at least to her they seemed too much. She could only imagine what it had been to grow up under their shadow.

"I remember when you had just arrived," Yazoo smiles, a soft twist of his lips that makes Kairi, suddenly, feel like she's back to being six and perhaps a little bit scared of Yazoo, even if she had never quite understood why.

Only that now it's definitely not fear.

"You're much prettier now, too," Yazoo says, and Kairi knows that he's saying it the way you talk about a distant relative you've not seen in a while.

She still blushes. Namine is confused and perhaps she's laughing a little, her laugh like bells.

Damn it.


"Thank you for helping, Kairi dear," his mom says. "My boys could learn a thing or two from you."

The four of them pause a moment, but it doesn't last much. Instead Kairi shakes her head.

"It's the least I could do, really."

"You're almost family, Kairi, you know that," his mom says, her silver hair over her shoulder as she finally sits down. Then she sighs. "Milo! What did I tell you about reading at the table?"

"Yes, darling, it's wonderful," their dad answers, engrossed on his book with a fork on his hand as if he was about to eat though his plate is empty until Yazoo, sitting by his right, plucks it from between his fingers. Then his dad blinks from behind his glasses and looks around the table.

Milo beams. "Sora, Kairi! What a surprise!"

Kida sighs and shakes her head. Riku does the same when Sora yells an 'AWESOME' and agrees to happily beat Kadaj's ass on a new videogame.


He's not sure he gets all of this. Roxas knows about siblings – Olette had, after all, two sisters and Hayner had an older brother, and the memories that DiZ fabricated for him had him interacting with them every now and then – but he's not sure why Riku seems so annoyed, or why Sora seems to dismiss Riku's warning to stay the hell away from Kadaj's room as he and Loz help their dad with something.

But if Sora dismisses it he pays attention, because there's something in the way Kadaj' moves that reminds him of the Organization, even if Sora hasn't noticed yet. And well. Even if Riku is biased, a warning is a warning so it'd be stupid to just dismiss it like that.

Sora grins. "So, what are we gonna play?"

"Oh, you know," Roxas almost knows the twist of Kadaj's grin before it happens, moments before he pushes Sora against a wall, hard enough that he and Sora both grunt. "Just a little game."

When he starts looming and Sora starts going panicky in a damndamndamhellhellrikusogonnakillmehewasright Roxas pushes forward before Kadaj can kiss them and they shift, Sora a little confused as he puts his hands against Riku's brother's shoulders.

And he frowns a lot and glares at him, even though Sora is still a little confused and then – ah, no, Roxas, is fine, really! - Usually, he'd have at least one keyblade out to make sure his point was clearly understood, but even though he's sure that Riku wouldn't mind terribly if he beat his brother's ass with it, Sora and Kairi might, so just glowering it is.

"Move or else," he orders. He doesn't like much the way something in Kadaj's expression reminds him of-- well. He just doesn't like it.

"What if I choose the 'else'?" Kadaj wonders with a smirk, pressing more weight against him.

Bond of Flames is in his hand almost before he has thought about it.


The chaos, somehow, isn't strange, with confuses Roxas even more. It's him the one that Loz separates from Kadaj, and it's to him the one Yazoo apologizes and Riku beams at him as he mouths a 'THANK YOU' so big that had almost made him uncomfortable. But Sora is amused by it.

And yet Kadaj had almost seemed like laughing, licking at the blood on the split lip he had given him. Kairi had stayed to help pick up and Riku had said that he'd walk her home and that later he'd stop by their house.

You okay? Sora asks.

Roxas hums before he allows them to switch, both of them sighing even as Sora presses a hand to his chest, as if he wanted to put his hand on his shoulder.

I'm fine. I don't think he meant it, by the way. Riku's brother.

"Exactly what?"

I think he wanted to bother Riku rather than you. Roxas frowns and so does Sora. And later he did want to bother me. And I fell for it.


He passes on the shrug, but he's still thinking. Sora shrugs back, but he can feel him thoughtful frown, as if trying to find a reason. Finally, Roxas sighs again.

He's an idiot.

"Roxas?" And Sora is worrying a little, because he's not angry when he's saying that. If anything else, he's nostalgic. So he sends the feeling that he's shrugging and he smiles, murmuring that he's fine.


"Don't touch Sora," Riku commands. He doesn't care, at the moment, what his brother might say or do to him to make his life a living hell. He doesn't know what Kadaj did or say to have Roxas fighting him, but it's enough for him to be angry, too. "Nor Kairi."

Kadaj snorts and rolls his eyes towards him, not even looking away from his TV screen. "I only wanted to scare him. Don't worry, I've no interest on him."

"Good," he turns to go. "The sooner you go, the better."

"Actually," Kadaj smiles, pressing his tongue to the blood-scab on his lip and something in his eyes makes Riku decide that he's so gonna call on the king to see if they could go sooner to visit, even if he has to drag Sora away. "I'm thinking about staying for a while."


"Let's just say," Kadaj says, still smirking. "That I've this fondness for blonds."