ANNOUNCEMENT: Yes, I'm doing a rewrite. Why? Well, the last version of Carpe Diem just didn't hold that ... "sophistication" I was aiming for. I don't know. I just didn't like it very much when I decided to read over the entire thing one day. Thus, I completely rewrote everything, and just to make things more interesting, I added new events and twists to the plot - most of it being bascially the same, though. BUT if the readers decide that the last version was better than this, then I don't know. Maybe I'll go back to it, or I'll just stick to this one, saying: "What the heck, why go back now?"

I didn't change much, but I'm not quite sure if everything's okay. (shrug) You guys be the judge.

Comments on the foreword? It's a bit boring for my taste, but everything will be way more interesting in the next chapters! (I hope ...)

Carpe Diem

Seize the day. In my words, "Victory before insanity." That's what Zexion thought when Demyx had the brilliant idea to set Axel up with Roxas Caine.

- - -

Throughout life, there are a lot of things that I've learned. The basic things, the little things, the greater things - and at one point, I assumed I knew it all. Though some encounters served to remind me that not everything was within my mental grasp. I was familiar with and well versed on the workings of society, politics, economy, and business (frankly, if I dropped out of school at the age of seventeen, I'd still be a shining success). I could tell the difference between all the linear and trigonometry equations in class without even batting an eyelash. Calculus and physics were barely hurdles to me, whereas everyone else carried their weight around like milestones chained to their limbs. While students were crying because their 3000 word report on Shakespeare's Macbeth was walking the fine line between passable and bloody, I was already moving on to an essay on the Iliad. So one can imagine that I, being the brightest student in my year, had developed a somewhat jaded outlook on life. Nothing ever surprised me anymore, and day to day events ceased to withhold my interest for any longer than a minute. This would be the only explanation as to why I even agreed to play along with Demyx's little "project". Boredom and barely restrained curiosity did that to a person.

High school had, more or less, been extremely uneventful for the first year I spent with my friends at Trinity High School. The school was prestigious and was the best among the best within the Hollow Bastion educational district. Having come from a junior high school like Arcanum Preparatory, I expected nothing less than the finest, which was the reason I attended THS in the first place. I expected the environment to be challenging, the curriculum to be more on par with my level. I wanted a trial that I never got during elementary and junior high school. And most of all, I wanted at least a little bit of excitement, although I would never say that aloud. My peers perceived me as intolerant of such things, and that is a reputation that I like keeping. Zexion Consilium: Grade A anti-socialite.

Despite that however, I came to THS with my friends in tow. I had to help Demyx study for the entrance exams - a hell that I would prefer not to repeat. Happily, Axel and Riku could actually keep up with my level and passed with flying colours, whereas Demyx got an adequate mark, and I, of course, received a hundred percent. I fully expected high school to be the little thrill in life that I was looking for. Unfortunately, it held the same taste as elementary and junior high - unbearably bland and way, way, way too easy to be healthy. I took all the honours classes, but unfortunately, I couldn't go up a grade level. Demyx had cried when I said I wanted to, saying that I shouldn't because he would miss his best friend too much. Lies. He only wants to copy my homework since Axel and Riku would never let him copy theirs.

So throughout freshman year, it was like eating those veggie burgers Demyx is so fond of. Veggie burgers on Monday, veggie burgers on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, so on and so forth. A school year contains approximately ten months, and in a month there are four weeks. In a week, there are five school days. The math is simple: two hundred days of the same old veggie burger. One can only stomach the tediousness of the days for so long. I'm sure that not even Demyx Diluvia would put up with eating the same thing every single day. That was how high school felt, although for everyone else who had "social lives," namely Axel, Riku, and Demyx, balancing school work, sports, and mingling was a trying ordeal.

Axel eventually became president of the Delta Animus, our school's debate team with a flawless (and ruthless) winning streak. He also had varsity basketball, volleyball, and track. And through some way, I don't know precisely how, Axel became the manager of the soccer team.

Riku was the prize and glory of the Drama Club, second only to Demyx himself, and was already captain of the varsity swim team, who had not suffered a single loss since his recruitment. He was also on the volleyball team with Axel, co-captain of the football team, was in badminton, tennis, wall climbing, archery, and surprisingly was in the Culinary Arts Club. He made the most heavenly pasta on God's green earth.

Demyx, however, was a whole other story entirely. He must have been in every single club within the school, and was president of the Drama, Art, Music, Creative Writing, and Culinary Arts Clubs (his pasta made Riku's taste like dog hair). Demyx just so happened to be the swim team's most invaluable member, and he played tennis and badminton with Riku as well.

Through all that, the three still managed to get straight As (with an occasional B or C from Demyx) in every single class that they had. I considered the possibility of taking up extracurricular activities, thinking that the added movement would make life a little more challenging. I persuaded Axel to let me join the debate team, and crushing our opponents at that point had been easier than flicking my wrist. I joined tennis with Riku, since violent sports like football were not in my taste. That had been easy, too. I never lost a game. Eventually, after trying out badminton, wall climbing, and track, I still didn't have the level of difficulty that I wanted in my school life. So I settled for joining those sports teams and going for a few clubs as well. Through Demyx, I had connections like no other. Midyear I was able to join Culinary Arts, Creative Writing, Drama, and Chess just for the heck of it. But still, nothing. Even while being in the honours classes, with the blistering amount of homework and seatwork, I still breezed through freshman year like a hot air balloon slowly making its way across the Pacific with no bad weather to speak of. While others rejoiced when summer vacation rolled around the block, I was feeling endlessly frustrated with myself. Why had I gone through the trouble of joining all those socialistic activities to have no effort to show at the end of those two hundred days of ceaseless veggie burgers? I wanted effort to show for my work, but I had none that I could speak of.

That was how freshman year ended, with not so much as a tingle. I was honestly hoping for a bang, so one can only picture how a tingle must have felt. It's like expecting an Xbox 360 for your birthday and all you get is a stupid, obsolete computer that ran on Windows 1998. With dial-up connection.

The year came and went, and before we all knew it, junior year had come. Others saw it as an opportunistic window, and some wanted to hurl at the mere thought of surviving yet another year of hectic high school. All I saw was Demyx's sleek black Mercedes Benz pulling up on my driveway to take me to school "in style" - a testament that even Demyx had worked hard through freshman year and had reaped the benefits through a new car on his seventeenth birthday. Everyone in my family was accustomed to brilliance, my father being a brain surgeon and my mom a dentist. Every time I went home with a perfect, unflawed report card, or a brilliant essay guaranteed to get me through any university I so chose, it wasn't anything out of the norm. But of course, freshman year had been different because the success of various teams and clubs had been attributed to me, and it failed to escape the notice of my parents. They were proud, of course, and even bought me that new sound system that I couldn't help but stare at as it shone with pride and glory within the glass display of an electronics store. But goddamnit, success without blood, sweat, and tears was not what I wanted.

Even so, disappointment was something I would rather not live through, and beating myself up over a hopeless cause was not what I considered discerning. Thus I entered the gates of the THS parking lot, riding in Demyx's brand new car, without much expectation that this year was going to be any different. Of course, that was when life decided to be a bitch, because, hey, I didn't exactly see it coming.

Junior year had undoubtedly been one of my most favourite times, although I hadn't really acknowledged it then. I had been way too busy with the project of Demyx's that I had mentioned. The whole ordeal had lasted for the first half of the school year, from October to December, and Demyx had it planned as such even ahead of time.

That had to be the most amazing fact about the Axel and Roxas Matchmaking Debacle; Demyx had been there every step of the way to make sure the two ended up together, and he was the one who initially dragged me into the highlight of my high school life. I would never call it meddling, what Demyx and I did, but merely a shove or two in the right direction. God knew Axel was never going to make the first move, considering how he mooned over Roxas Caine for the whole of freshman year. I would have been blind not to notice. He honestly looked just as stupid as Romeo had sounded in Romeo and Juliet as his eyes followed Roxas everywhere like he was some sort of sick puppy - that needed to be put down, being my honest opinion.

The whole series of events reminded me, in no relevant manner, of Romeo and Juliet. As I said, Axel Kashou, the last man on earth I expect to be whipped, just so happened to be smitten with Roxas Caine, the only other person who came close to me in the running for valedictorian. Personally, I liked Roxas, and thought he was an excellent choice on Axel's part, but every time I pictured the blond shooting him down cold, I had trouble concealing a snigger or two. Because, you see, Roxas was a sensible young boy, chosen for advanced placement at an early age, which explained why he was a year younger than the rest of us. I frankly thought that no such person with high intellect and good sense would ever consider Axel Kashou, resident bad boy, as a potential partner - boyfriend. And yet Roxas, similar to the entirety of my junior year, flew past my expectations, and way past my comfort zone.

Coincidentally, at around the time Axel began to harbour his well-concealed and growing infatuation, Roxas was dealing with the same predicament, although I never bothered to look twice every time his gaze lingered a second or two longer than normal as Axel walked into the room. As for the redhead, his infatuation was never that hard to notice. He never outright told me, but during freshman year, while I was flying back and forth from club meeting to classroom to team practice, it was obvious to me that Axel held great affection for the young blond. But I never stopped for one moment to consider that Roxas might feel the same way (I was too busy thinking that the kid had way too much common sense).

Going back to my Romeo and Juliet analogy, Axel, however which way I thought about it, seemed most similar to Romeo Montague. No offence or demeaning insinuation meant, but Roxas, in my mind, had always played the part of Juliet Capulet. In my honest opinion, both Romeo and Juliet were too stupid and too love stricken to see the fine lines of reality to realize that a fling is not worth committing consecutive suicide over. In the same way, Axel was stupid because … he was Axel, and Roxas's only fault in my mind is his incomprehensible choice in guys. Not only that, but through some meddling not of my or Demyx's doing, Axel and Roxas had been willing to throw away any good sagacity in their own inane attempts at showing the other that "Yes, I love you, you dumb, stupid, moron. God gave you two eyes and a beating heart. Use them for once in your life before I gauge them out with a rusted spoon." Which is my own way of saying that it was a suicide of dignity and self-esteem on their part, quite like the literal suicide of Romeo and Juliet.

What made the play so interesting and popular was probably the thought of two star-crossed lovers, destined to be torn apart by the scorn of their feuding families. In the Axel and Roxas Matchmaking Debacle, however, it was like they were being pushed in the direction of each other instead of being pulled in separate directions. The only obstacle that ever stood in their way was the fact that neither Axel nor Roxas had the balls to walk up to the other and say: "I've been hopelessly and stupidly in love with you for god knows how long. Will you go out with me?"

Stupidly absurd, I know.

Although, I admit, they had gotten to a point where confessing was to be the next step, and it was so close that anyone within three feet of the happy, soon-to-be couple could taste the saccharine atmosphere of love, amore, and liebe. Love, love, love. This, when happiness is one step ahead, is when irony the sadistic bitch comes tangoing into the room.

The only thing close to the Montague-Capulet rivalry that I can find was Demyx's rivalry with Marluxia Belgravia, a senior. Through all the gory details that I would tire of explaining, the main antagonist of our play is somehow thrust into the limelight because of these two. Without his consent.

Riku St. Mark.

Riku, I can honestly say through all my observations, was an innocent victim in the series of misunderstandings that built all the drama paramount to the play. The odd thing was that he had caused all the strife, at least to the public eye, and a rift between our lovers ran amuck because of his hardly significant involvement. And if asked at one point whether or not he had been directly concerned within the Axel and Roxas Matchmaking Debacle, Riku would probably laugh, shake his head, and walk away, leaving you with the nagging suspicion that you've just been insulted. Which would ultimately be a no on his behalf.

Within a play, or any story for that matter, there shall always be the protagonists and antagonists. In the case of my junior year, Axel and Roxas played the part of protagonists, and Riku was unfortunately cast into the role of antagonist, even without his knowing. Other characters hardly matter at this point, but the one other factor that made all of this so interesting is Demyx, my best friend.

Amazingly enough, he kept up the whole shebang with discretion, and his machinations ran as smoothly as water trickling down an inclined plane. Nobody but me knew of Demyx's plan to guarantee Axel happiness (that's was his intention, not mine, I assure you), and indeed it stayed that way even up to present date. The secrecy and fine-tuned details were what impressed me most, and the way I perceived my best friend had changed permanently since those days. I admit that only after years of friendship have I now come to develop respect for Demyx, idiot that he can be sometimes.

One can say that the only reason I agreed to play along was because I was bored, nothing in life interested me as much, and I was simply looking for an escape from such a mundane reality. In most ways, that's true. But it may have stemmed from something that Demyx always told me, his motto if you wish.

Take a chance.

In an instant, a familiar phrase pops into my head. Carpe diem.

Seize the day.

Pondering over past events, past failures, past successes, past laughter, and now present happiness, I can't help but sometimes smile. My search for something interesting, something fresh and new, a spark in my life, was in a way similar to all this. I intended to succeed above everything else, and the only thing that would have stopped me would have been my own madness. This too was how I saw the intentions and desires of Axel and Roxas, the determination that Demyx held. The fine line between defeat and triumph was one step shy of lunacy.

And so, the opening statement and overall précis of my junior year events:

Victory before insanity.

Reviews are MUCH appreciated! (Especially if they tell me what I've done right or what I've done wrong.)