Disclaimer: Yeah, not mine. Thanks for reminding me.

A/N: I hope you all remember this little number, because I'm back. I started this chapter right after I updated last, over two years ago, I think. And then it kind of just sat on one computer or another. And then I found my old notebook and I saw where I'd gone and I opened the document back up and I started writing. I got most of Roxas' viewpoint done and then the rest just flowed. Strangely enough, most of it doesn't follow what I'd originally planned, including my original choice of POVs. But I like it better this way. Expect an update for Standing on My Knees tomorrow and then I have something special planned for Thanksgiving. Hopefully I can keep this up. Thanks to everyone who has or will read this. I mean, the story, not just my A/N. I love you guys, rock hard.

Suggested Listening: Imagine Dragons


Chapter Six: A High of Seven Numbers


Roxas


Honestly, if I'm to be entirely truthful, I'm not exactly the 'grab the bull by the horns and go for it' type of guy. No, really. It's why I'm sitting over here, watching Axel, instead of next to Axel, climbing all over him. Truly, I'm a sad, sad, excuse for a teenager. Where's my pride, my hutzpah? Ah, hell, where's my sexual drive? That alone should be enough to fix things right up. But, really, it's not, because I'm a coward.

It's also the reason why I'm squirming guiltily in my seat, not having apologized to Axel yet over my awful reaction to him the other day. After all, the guy had come up to me, initiated conversation with me and generally seemed interested in what I had to say and how I was doing. And I blew him off and not in the good way. I should say I'm sorry. But I just don't know how! How do I go over there, and not melt into a pile of Roxas-goo, without being completely defensive and inevitably piss him off again? For that matter, how in the hell should I even go over there? I'm well aware of the social lines drawn in the sand, so to speak. Would he be okay with me coming up to him and talking to him, even if it were for something as innocuous as an apology? Then again, he came up to me first, so maybe he doesn't care about the social lines. Or maybe I'm just making too much of this.

But that's what I do. I worry over the what-if's more than I worry over what I should do.

I know I've got to talk to him and apologize… but I just don't know how. How do I approach him and actually say something to him? For that matter, how do I make sure I don't just melt into a puddle of Roxas-goo on the floor? Normally, I'd get mad. But I can't get mad if I'm trying to apologize to him, now can I? Wouldn't that just defeat the purpose? But I really can't melt, either, so I've gotta to figure out how to do this because the guilt is freaking killing me. No, really, I'm dying; my insides are so twisted up. Oh, there they go again. By the end of the day, I'm going to be nothing but a pretzel.

Oh, come on, Roxas! Get a grip on yourself. It's not that difficult to get up and go over to someone and strike up a conversation with them. Axel was able to do it! Hell, he's doing it right now with some blonde girl right over there and really, why is he talking to her? He's laughing with her! And I know that she's interested because now she's laying her claws on his arm delicately, leaning in closer in that way girls do to show off their just burgeoning cleavage. I breathe deeply, knowing that this wave of red over my vision doesn't really exist and that I have no reason to be jealous because it's not like he really knows that I exist in any sort of romantic capacity, but it's just so damn hard! I want to go over there and rip her head, yelling that he's mine! I'm strangely possessive, apparently. I wonder, would Axel find that a turn off? I don't know. I've barely talked to the guy.

And it's suddenly becoming clear to me that I'm pathetic. I'm alone because I've never done anything to change that. I've never even tried to talk to Axel, never tried to get him to notice me. I've never been content to love him from the shadows but I have only myself to blame for being stuck there. It's my entire fault because while I'm not certain that he'd ever be interested in me, how would I know any differently? My balls must be shriveled up to nothing by now.

Standing up, I square my shoulders and I can feel my lips set into a thin line. Axel is mine, bitch, and it's about damn time that I claim him. So I start to walk over there and god, since when did the choir room turn into the size of a damn football field? It's like he's miles away and I'm just walking slower and slower getting nowhere. And then, suddenly, I'm there. Gee, I guess that didn't take so long.

"Axel," I say, squaring my shoulders further. Courage, boy, think courage.

"Hey, Roxas," Axel replies, turning from the pretty girl (without much of a second thought, I crowed to myself. Yes, I know I'm petty) and smiling at me.

I glance slightly at the girl and glare. She seems to get the message, flaunting off like either of us gives a damn and will be watching.

Axel just seems amused, a small smile still playing around his lips.

"What can I do for ya, Roxas?" he went on.

"Actually, Axel, I wanted to…," I trail off, finding it even harder to speak then before. Oh, body, calm down, please. Why does my throat have to close now?

He just continues to stare, smiling at me slightly, looking like he has all the time in the world. But he doesn't, because class will start any second now, and so therefore, neither do I.

"I just wanted to apologize for how I acted the other day," I rush out, the words tripping over my tongue. "I was a complete jack-ass and I had no right to talk to you the way I did. So… yeah, sorry."

Axel grinned, causing my heart to stutter (God, I'm such a girl sometimes). "Hey, it's cool, alright? Not like I've never done the same. Although the offer still stands, okay? Hey, here's my number," he said, grabbing my hand and pulling a Sharpie from his back pocket. He scribbles those precious seven digits and then thrusts my hand back at me. "Call me when you need something, got it?"

I didn't have a chance to reply because Mrs. Cinders called the class to order then, but I did manage to grin back as I left to return to my seat. I couldn't help but stare at my hand the entire way, those numbers burning into my retinas. I figured I'd have them seared into my brain in about 2.5 seconds.

Oh, I've definitely got it bad.

Stupid, Roxas, just stupid.

What makes you think he's going to be interested in you? So he gave you his number: so what? Numbers these days don't really mean all that much. Hell, I think my mother has the mailman's number and is friends with him on Facebook.

This feeling rushing through the pit of my stomach needs to go away right now. I don't need to get my hopes up.

Axel couldn't possibly be interested in me, right? Still, as I stare at those numbers, I feel like dancing. I'd finally done what I wanted and went after it. And so far, I'd succeeded! This was cause for celebration. I wanted to tell Sora and it was all I could do to keep in my seat for the rest of the period.


Seifer


Just what the fuck were those two thinking!? Like I wouldn't be able to figure out they talked to Hayner! I'm so pissed I want to deck Rai and Fuu. I'd never hit Fuu, 'cause she's a girl, but that doesn't mean I can't imagine it in excruciating detail!

I know they talked to him because he's avoiding me. That's not Hayner's style, no way. The boy's always challenging me 'cause he's too hotheaded to know any better. But now he's keeping a good distance away from me and I know they talked to them. I should have known they'd talk to him: I could have stopped them in their tracks if I had. But I've gotten complacent with those two.

But, it's no matter. Hayner can try to stay away but it's not going to work. I want what I want and I always get it. Even though this is easily fixable, I still gotta remind Rai of his place. I'm not stupid, though, so I wait for school to be done with and then I wait until Rai and I are at the Sandlot. Fuu's already gone home, something about her brother, so I don't have to worry about her witnessing Rai's putdown.

I drop my bag and clench my fists, shaking them loose as I wonder over to the Struggle bats. I stand there, back to Rai, letting him sweat. He knows something's wrong and he knows what's coming. He just doesn't know why. Intimidation is half of my M.O. and he knows it. And it's definitely working, too.

"Come pick a bat, Rai," I call out to him, picking up the heaviest and swinging it from hand to hand, testing its weight and suitability. I stand to the side as Rai comes over. He glances at me from the side and I coolly gaze back. I break his gaze as he chooses a bat and then I walk over to the middle of the arena, shifting into fight stance.

"I didn't like finding out that you talked to Hayner, Rai," I calmly say. "Maybe it was Fuu's idea, which I don't doubt because you wouldn't ever willingly talk to Hayner, but when are you going to stop being a fucking pussy and stand up to her? You knew I wouldn't like it if I found out."

Rai grimaces, coming over to me, tension radiating from his body. He's bigger than me and if he actually tried, he could probably win in a fight, too, but I've always been smarter. He's never learned the true way to break your own opponent, no matter how many times he's seen me do it. It's probably also why he just goes along with whatever Fuu wants, mostly because she's just as smart as me and uses quite the same tactics.

I don't like what I have to do, but he can tell he's left me no choice, right? I gotta keep my people in line by any means necessary. In Rai's case, force is necessary.

"Aw, c'mon, Seifer, y'know… it just ain't right," he says back to me. I don't really care what he thinks, though.

"If I say it is right, then aren't I the better judge?" I answer back, bat still at the ready. His bat is dangling from his hand, obviously unwilling to lift it, even in defense.

"Fuu was doing what she thought was right, Seifer, y'know? I gotta do what she asks."

I shake my head. "That's just not good enough."

And then I leap forward, swiping my bat straight behind his legs, toppling him over. He's not only stupid, he's slow, too. He clambers back up, bat swinging. I easily dodge the swipes, jabbing back, clobbering him in the side. The breath whooshes out of him and he doubles over and I swing the bat at his head. Normally, in a regular Struggle match, what I'd just done would have been illegal: you don't ever hit above the neck. I don't care, though. Rai's thick head can take a few hits.

Besides, this isn't exactly a Struggle match. No referees calling the shots this time.

"Hayner is my business, not yours, Rai. When are you going to learn?"

Rai stands back up, shaking his head. The bruises he'll have will hurt, probably already do, but I stand with not a scratch on me.

"Aw, Seifer, I'm sorry, okay? What I did was wrong, but—"

I came at him again, knocking the bat into his back, whirling around and slamming across his ribs and then knocked him in the back of the knees again. "Don't ever put a 'but' after a 'sorry', Rai! I don't need insincere apologies." I step back. "Come to think of it, I don't need apologies to begin with, either."

Rai is on his knees, breaths wheezing through his chest. There's a purple bruise swelling around his left eye and his lower lip is cut, oozing blood down his chin to dribble on his shirt. I feel bad about the shirt. I know it's his favorite. He doesn't say a word.

"You know what I do need, Rai?" I ask, coming to stand in front of him. "I need to know that you're going to do as you're told. I need to know that I can count on you to have my back. Not Fuu's back, not Hayner's, not even your goddamn Mama's back: mine."

I can tell he doesn't like the comment about his Mama. He's always had a soft spot for her. He's glaring at me like he's imaging my painful death. What can I say; I know exactly what buttons to push. Not that I give a damn, though.

"You got it, Seifer," he says quietly.

"I'm sorry, I don't think heard that. How about you try again?"

"I said you've got it, Seifer. I won't go near Hayner again."

I grin widely. "Great, Rai! I'm glad we had this little chat. Now we both know where we stand."

I leave him sitting on the ground, placidly putting my bat away before picking up my bag and walking out of the Sandlot. Rai'll get home just fine. This isn't the first discussion we've had before.

I shake my fist out, hissing quietly as the skin burns. I managed to scrape the knuckles going for that last swipe at his knees somehow. Gonna have to ice them when I get home.

"You know, you've gotta lot of nerve, asshole."

My head comes up, mouth twitching in a smile at the poisonous words thrown at me.

"Hayner, what a pleasant surprise; I had no idea you were following me. Oh, it just makes me so glad."

"Cut the crap, dick face. You know, I can't fathom why you'd ever think I'd go out with you. You can't even refrain from beating up your friends. I'm not exactly interested in being another face to pummel."

I just smile wider. He's gorgeous mad, like a spitting cat, with those brown eyes glacial and his teeth bared menacingly. He's wild. Normally, people say to be gentle and patient with a ferocious animal, but I just don't have the mentality for that.

So I walk closer and closer, all the while vitriolic words spew from his mouth. That's okay, though. I have better uses for that mouth.

"You know, you're just a two-faced bully. Don't you have anything better to do than pick on people? I don't even like Rai and I think you treated him like crap. Why can't you—"

His words halt in silence when I seal his mouth with mine. All in all, quite a victory for me, if I do say so myself; his mouth is sweet.

I lick his bottom lip, asking for entrance, but it's merely for show, since I'll make him give it to me whether he likes it or not. I thread my fingers into his hair, pulling his head back, tongue sliding into his mouth. A moan escapes him and I can tell he doesn't want to like it, but he just can't help it. That's just fine with me. We kiss for a moment longer and then he rips away from my mouth, taking a few steps back.

I'll let him this time but only because I like seeing his reaction.

"You… you…," he struggles to say, body trembling violently. I smirk, licking my lips plainly, knowing he's watching my tongue intently.

"Who the fuck do you think you are, you jackass?" he explodes, eyes ripping away from my mouth and up to my eyes.

"I know exactly who I am, Hayner. When are you going to realize that you know it, too?"

He pants harder, too stunned to say anything else.

"Because, you know, Hayner, I'm just going to keep coming. You and I together…? I like that thought and I definitely liked what we just did. And I'm gonna like more of it, too. You might as well not fight, 'cause it's gonna happen, and you can run all you want, but it's not gonna deter me." I step closer, smirking as he backs up hastily. "I like the chase."

I just shake my head when he turns tail and runs.

"Run, run, as fast as you can…" But I'll catch you, Hayner, make no mistake about that.


Sora


"I got Axel's number!" Roxas said to me, emitting a decidedly unmanly squeak. I'd never seen him so excited and… happy.

It's honestly kind of scary. And then I actually listened to what he'd said.

"I'm sorry, what?" I said to him, swiveling my head to look at him. I promptly trip over my feet on the sidewalk crack and I tumble to the ground. "Ow…."

I get back up and dust my knees off. Neither of us had after school plans, and that's quite rare, so we'd decided to walk home together. But Roxas doesn't even blink at my little fall, since they're all too common, and thrusts his hand in my face. Yep, there they are, seven bold numbers in black Sharpie, just squiggled haphazardly on Roxas' skin. This is cause for celebration, of course, but I just don't feel up to squealing with him.

Still, I manage a grin and a great for you and then we start to walk again. It's a little ironic, how our positions have reversed for the moment. Normally, I'd be jumping up and down even harder than Roxas is. I usually can't contain my excitement like he can. But I'd spent most of the day thinking, worried not only about the situation between Roxas and Axel, but more importantly, about Riku. If Roxas were less giddy over his success with Axel, I'm sure he'd notice my unusual silence, but he's just jabbering away at my side, staring at those numbers with stars in his eyes. Who knew he had it in him?

I can't be called the sharpest tool in the shed, I know, but I've always been able to tell when something was wrong with Riku and Roxas and now that Roxas is better (through no doing of my own, might I add) I can't help but notice that Riku is now the one who's doing badly. I don't want to say that he's drawing away from me, because that's not exactly right, but I don't know how else to describe it.

It's like… like Riku can't stand to be around me anymore. In fact, ever since I confessed about liking Kairi, there seemed to be a tension to him that hadn't been there before. I don't know what's wrong and I don't know how to fix it and every attempt I've made to speak to him about it leads to him shutting down further. I'm worried and there doesn't seem to be anything I can do about it.

I don't like that, not one bit.

But Riku's not the only thing on my plate, unfortunately. I'd been thinking lately about Roxas and his Axel problem. And I couldn't help but draw parallels between him and me. I was so gung-ho about getting Axel and Roxas together, stating all the while that Roxas was such an idiot for being too scared to just go up to Axel, and that we had to fix it for him, but….

What about my problem? After all, I liked Kairi and I'd done nothing to talk to her about it or even ask her out. Was I just like Roxas? I'd always thought myself better than that. That if I wanted something, I'd go after it. And if it was the last cookie or the remote, I'd go for it with gusto. But I've sat back and watched Kairi date other guys for two years now and I've never done anything to try and be with her myself.

Had I always considered myself inferior? Or was it just that I was a coward, no better than Roxas had been? He might have gotten angry about his cowardice, but I shoved mine away by helping Roxas instead. Surely, if he got Axel, then I'd have the same chance with Kairi, right?

Was I really so selfish? I didn't know and I had a headache from trying to sort it all out. He and I weren't so different then, were we? I'd thrown myself into helping him, but it turns out he didn't need my help. Riku and my matchmaking attempts had barely gotten off the ground and already Roxas had Axel's number. All he'd had to do was just talk to him.

Was it that simple? If I tried, could I have the same courage to talk to Kairi?

"Hey, Roxas," I say slowly, coming to a stop just as we reach our mailbox.

Roxas turns towards me. "Yeah?"

"When you… when you talked to Axel, was it hard?"

He stared at me, eyes narrowed a little. "The hardest thing I'd ever done and yet… the easiest thing, too."

"How do you figure that?" I ask.

"Once I was talking to him, I realized that I had nothing to be scared of. The hard part was going up to him, taking the chance that he might not talk back. But I also knew that he'd already talked to me once and I knew that I had to apologize. I was motivated enough to talk to him."

I nodded, eyes turning towards our house. His words made sense but that didn't make it any less hard. Everyone is afraid of getting rejected.

"Sora, you know, there's every chance that she'll say no, but… she'll never get the chance to say yes, either, if you don't even ask her."

I looked back at him.

"What I mean is; I realized that I had no one to blame but myself when it came to Axel. We're not suddenly going to start dating and it's not like him giving his number is him giving me carte blanche to just call him whenever," Roxas ruefully continues. "But it's a start that I hadn't had before and I never would have gotten it if I hadn't have taken the first step I needed to take. It's not going to be easy, but you'll never know if you never try."

We make our way into the house, Roxas to the kitchen for snacks, and me to the living room, plopping down next to our phone. Being one of Kairi's friends, I'd had her number for quite a few years now. Did I dare ask her out?

Roxas was right, though. It's easy to see now that I'd made my bed so far. It didn't make picking up that phone any easier, but I had at least a fifty-fifty chance, right? It was either one or the other and I'd like to think that my chances were swaying towards the yes side.

I stared at the phone a little harder and then I reached out and picked it up, punching in the numbers as I brought it to my ear.

"Hello?"

I exhale, a smile coming to my lips. "Hi, Mrs. Coventina, is Kairi home yet?"

"Sora, it's good to hear from you. You haven't called me in a while, young man. I'm beginning to feel sadly neglected."

"I'm sorry, Mrs. Coventina!" I say to her, my smile more sincere now. I'd always liked Kairi's mom. "I've had a lot on my plate lately."

"Oh, sure, Sora, excuses, excuses. Anyway, yeah, Kairi's right here. Bye, Sora!"

"Bye!"

"Hey, Sora, what're you calling about? It's a little early, isn't it?"

"H-hey, Kairi!"

Oh, shoot, my voice just cracked. Perfect. This is way too nerve-wracking.

"Uh, yeah, I know we just got home from school, but I, uh…."

"Yeah?" she said as my silence stretched over the phone. "Is something the matter, Sora?"

"What, oh, no, no, of course not!" Come on, Sora, no guts, no glory, no guts, no glory.

"Um, anyway, I was wondering if you'd like to go out sometime."

The silence was deafening. "Like… a date, Sora?"

"Y-yeah."

A sigh crackled on the airwaves. "Oh, Sora, I… I'm sorry. I'm seeing someone right now. Besides…, I always thought…."

My throat burned, humiliation scraping through my vocal chords.

"You always thought… what?"

"Well, I… I always thought you were with… Riku."

My head flew up. "What!?"

"Well… I mean… it's obvious that Riku's always been in love with you… I just thought…."

"He's what?"

"Oh, God, you didn't know? I mean, you've always been around him, cuddling and stuff. I just assumed…."

"No, no, what?" I was hyperventilating now. She'd thought what? With… with Riku!? I'm not gay!

"I'm not gay," I wail into the phone. Not one of my finer moments, but still….

"I'm so sorry, Sora, I never even gave you and I being together a thought because I… you always seemed off limits. I hope you're not too upset with me, Sora."

"Of… of course not, Kairi. You have every right to choose who… whomever you want to date. But I'm not gay!"

"Okay, Sora, I'm sorry for just assuming. You know what it does, yeah?"

"Y-yeah, Kairi," I say tremulously, close to tears. Oh, it burns.

"I'll see you tomorrow, okay? I love you, Sora, okay?"

I must have said something back, because the next thing I hear is the click of her receiver and then the buzzing dial tone of my phone. I slowly put it back down on the cradle.

I'd never been more humiliated. I guess my chances hadn't been all that good.

But… but me and Riku?

Why would she say that Riku was in love with me…? Did this have anything to do with Riku's sudden coldness? Did Kairi's words have any ring of truth to them? But…Riku wasn't gay, was he? Surely… surely, he'd have told me, his best friend, right?

…Right?


Zexion


Tonight a meteor shower was supposed to occur. I had originally planned to be outside in my backyard to watch the show. Instead, it was time for my… date; so much for what I wanted to do. I sneered in my mirror, seething at the clothes my sisters had forced me into. How they found out about Demyx, I'll probably never know, but they can be just as devious and sneaky as I am. Finding out about my… date, and stealing all of my clothes while I was taking my shower, leaving only this on the bathroom counter, is just merely one example of their underhanded tactics.

If it hadn't been aimed at me, I'd be almost proud of them. Nevertheless, it was aimed at me and therefore I was merely furious. Of course, this does mean that I'll not only have to do something to get back at them, but to watch my back for future pranks. I'd rather not have to go through this again. It's not that what they chose for me was all that bad, of course, but it was nicer than I was willing to dress for Demyx. I had been, after all, coerced into this.

Perhaps I'll add Demyx to my list of people to watch for underhanded tactics, too. He'd certainly shown an aptitude for the practice, so far. It was a little too late, though. The die had already been cast and my future was set. I was going to go on a… date… with Demyx. I've never felt more humiliated.

I turned away from the mirror and stomped my way downstairs. My mother came into the room, wiping her hands on a towel with an admonishment in her eyes.

"Don't be a child, Zexion, you'll scuff my floors," she told me before going back into the kitchen. I felt relieved: she hadn't whipped me with the towel. She must be distracted.

Still, her loss is my gain, so to speak. I finish coming down the stairs, quietly this time and then walk out the door. There was no way I'd let him come to my house. My mother might get ideas and that's one headache I'd rather deal without.

We'd decided to meet at the library, since it was only a five minute walk from my home. I shoved my hands in my pockets; head down as I stared at the cracked concrete beneath my feet. I was dreading this and I refused to acknowledge to anyone else the tiny part of me that was… excited and nervous. I was pushing it down quite hard.

Demyx wasn't going to make me enjoy this. I didn't like him, didn't want to get to know him, as either a friend or more, and no matter what he did, I was determined to spend the night wallowing in self-pity – if only to annoy him.

I blew out a breath, ruffling the fringe of my bangs back away from my eyes. How had I managed to be suckered into this? I've never let anyone get the best of me before and yet Demyx made it seem so easy, as though I hadn't spent my entire life building defenses against this very thing. A part of me didn't know what to do and how to handle this.

I tilted my head back as I neared the silent library, eerily lit against the night backdrop. Demyx hadn't arrived yet, which only allowed me to spend more time thinking about everything that had happened. Had it really only been a week and a half since school had started? It felt like much longer. My mind raced, trying to think of what I'd say, what I'd do, once Demyx arrived. I didn't plan on making this easy for him and I wasn't prepared to have a good time. He'd have to deal.

"Who'll have to deal with what?" said a voice from behind me.

I barely managed to control my surprised jump at the voice. I hadn't realized that I'd spoken aloud. Demyx had managed to sneak up on me quite easily: yet another instance that should not have happened. I'm losing my touch, it seems.

"Nothing that concerns you, Demyx," I said, as I turned to face him.

Demyx smiled. "You look good, Zexion."

I stayed silent. Demyx looked nice, as well, but that wasn't something I'd ever admit to even thinking, let alone actually let him know. He was entirely far too smug as it was.

His smile faltered but returned even brighter.

"Anyway, you ready to go? I'd had a hard time figuring out where to take you but then it suddenly came to me, like boom! You'll love this, promise!" he said, hands gesturing as he waved me forward.

I looked at him, but he seemed perfectly happy to stay quiet now. "So…," I started. "Where is this perfect place?" Curse my curiosity! It's leading me astray!

"Well, I can't tell you!" Demyx said, a teasing smile playing across his lips. "That would spoil the surprise."

I sniffed, unwilling to be excited. He wasn't going to make me enjoy this night, I wouldn't let him. Was I being unreasonably stubborn? Most likely, but he'd tricked me into this! Why should I be required to make this easy for him? It's not in me to forgive, especially when I have no reason to.

We walked in silence for a while, both of us preoccupied with our own thoughts. What was he thinking? Was he nervous? He'd been the one to want this, after all. It had been his idea. Did he have the right to be nervous in this case?

My brain was too wired, leaping from one thought to the next.

I stole another glance at him, confident that my bangs would keep my interest hidden. It was then I noticed the basket dangling from one hand, lightly thumping against his thigh with every step. Where had that come from? Surely it hadn't been there earlier, right?

"Why the picnic basket, Demyx?" I asked. Oh, curse you, mouth: why won't you stay shut?

"Well, we have to eat at some point," he replied lightly, swinging his head around to grace me with another beautiful smile.

No, no, don't think of him that way. Keep your distance, Zexion; he can't make you like him. You don't want to like him.

This is exhausting.

He turned back to face forward, once again silent. I'd always enjoyed the quiet, so why did it feel so deafening now? It made me uncomfortable, made me want to talk. I clamped my lips together tightly.

Soon enough, we came upon a hill, the highest one in the small town we called home. Demyx turned to me again.

"Come on, this is the best view."

As we ambled up the hill, Demyx started to talk. "So, I heard about the meteor shower for tonight. I thought you probably would have wanted to see it. See, look up."

I did as he commanded, tilting my head back as I stared up at the night sky. Sure enough, the show had started. I knew quite a lot about the phenomenon, but there is nothing to compare actually seeing one to. My lips parted on a gasp. The heavens were beautiful.

Demyx grabbed my hand and dragged me to the crest of the hill, digging a blanket out of his basket and spreading it across the ground. He then plopped down on it and forced me down with him. I was too busy admiring the shower to protest to his treatment.

He stared up with me, silent once again. He seemed just as awed by the sight as I. Then he turned his gaze away, focusing yet again on his basket. I remembered what he said about food and my stomach gurgled slightly, reprimanding me for not having eaten yet that day. I dragged my eyes away from the sight above me and instead focused on the one beside me.

Somehow, he'd known exactly what I wanted to do, what I had planned on doing, and he'd made it into something more than a blanket wrapped around me to ward off the night chill and a telescope set up in my backyard.

It was… sweet. My heart started to pound as I watched him pull out containers of food, chattering away about what was what and what had been made by his mother, which made it edible, and what had been made by him, which made it poison. My defenses were crumbling swiftly and I couldn't seem to put them back up.

No one had ever done something like this for me. I was touched and my heart hammered harder, letting me know that it was quite ably ignoring my very specific wishes.

Suddenly, the sight above me paled significantly in preference to him. Demyx had done the impossible yet again and he'd made it look so easy.

It wasn't going to last, though. I knew that as surely as I could breathe. This… this was going to end badly for me.

I was going to get hurt.


Axel


It was nice talking to Roxas this afternoon. He'd even apologized; something that I could tell had been difficult for him.

So I'd given him my number without much thought. Now, I almost regretted it.

I'd given up on Demyx, when I overheard from a friend that he'd asked Zexion out on a date. How he got Zexion to say yes, I don't know, but it hardly matters. So, it's time to move on.

I hadn't meant to move on quite so quickly, though. Yes, Roxas is cute, and yes, he's exactly my type, but my heart's been bruised, you see, by Demyx's unconscious rejection. I can hardly jump from one guy to the next, right?

So, why am I beside my phone, watching it and waiting for Roxas to call? Forget the Calculus on my desk; I'm too busy staring at a phone that won't ring!

What a drag.

I force my head to turn to the book and grimace as figures swim in front of my eyes. Math sucks.

And then my phone rings. I start in surprise, my fingers fumbling around my pencil, and I grab my cell.

"Hello?"

Why do I sound breathless? This isn't that big a deal. No, it's not.

"Hey, Axel!"

Damn. "Hi, Naminé," I said grudgingly.

"Well, gee, you sound so happy to hear from me. I'm positively aglow from your enthusiasm."

My lips quirk, and I said, "Yeah, yeah, shine bright, sweetie. Anyway, what're you calling about?"

"What, I can't just talk to you?"

In this case, it's probably best to just keep quiet, so my lips are sealed and I tell her much the same.

This leads, though I can't really tell how, to her starting into a debate on pastels versus watercolors and twenty minutes later, I'm still talking to her about absolutely nothing when my call waiting pings, startling me yet again.

When I look at the number, it's not one I recognize. Could it be Roxas?

"Hey, Naminé, let me call you back, I've got another call."

"Ooh, is it important? Maybe I'll keep you on just long enough for you to miss it and then you can continue to talk to me instead."

"Naminé, why don't you call and talk to Reno? You know, your boyfriend," I said, amused by her tone, but impatient to answer the other call, too.

"Oh, alright, fine, I'll go. You know, you can be such a spoilsport. Why do I bother?"

"I don't know, but, hey, let's talk about this later, m'kay?"

"Yeah, yeah, bye, Axel. Love you!" she said before hanging up.

I look at my phone, which is still ringing, and I answer the call, amazed that whoever it was had stayed on this long. If it's Roxas, that's a good sign, right? That means he's interested, yeah?

"Hey," I answer the phone, my voice going breathless again. Damn it, Axel, get a grip! You're not a twelve year old girl!

"Hey, Axel, this is Roxas."

"Roxas, hey, what's up?" Score one for Axel! Damn, I'm good; it hasn't even been two hours since I gave him my number. I'd just gotten up to my room and pulled out my homework when he'd called. Don't know why I bothered with the homework, though: it's not like I'm going to get any done. At least, not right now; maybe later… much later.

"Oh, uh… I just… wanted to make sure I had your number put in my phone right, you know? I mean, Sharpie doesn't last forever, right? It was starting to smear. And, well, I just wanted to make sure I didn't lose your number."

It made me smile. He sounded just as breathless as I did and I think he's rambling. Was he nervous, too? Was he interested? It was too soon to tell. Asking him out would be what Naminé would want me to do, but I don't think I'm ready. Remember, bruised heart here.

"So, you didn't want to talk?"

"Oh, no, I mean, yes, I mean… Well, we don't have to talk, you know?"

Another 'you know' and he's going to start sounding like Rai.

"Okay, so, you've got my number and now I've got yours. All is right in the world."

Oh, geez, I'm flirting. I'm terrible, just terrible. But, hey, he's cute, what can I say? I could do a whole hell of a lot worse. Wait, that sounds bad… Roxas wouldn't want to be considered like that, right? This is hard. You'd think I'd never dated before.

Well, wait, do I want to date Roxas? I mean, he's cute and all, but is he worth actually getting involved with? As he rambles on, stumbling over his words, so obviously nervous and obviously caring about it, my heart stutters and I'm inclined to say yes.

Yes, he's definitely worth it. I like this feeling. It's nice. Maybe it's a good thing that Demyx didn't want me. Maybe I'm not so bruised after all.

And maybe Roxas is the best thing for me right now. I like where this is going.

"Hey, Roxas," I said, cutting into his flow of words, "would you like to go on a date with me sometime?"

"Uh…."

The smile on my face starts to slip as his mumble turns into silence that just seems to tick by. It feels an eternity and I'm beginning to wonder if I'd misread the signs when there was a squeak on the phone.

"Yeah, sure, that sounds fantasti- uh, I mean, that sounds great. Yeah."

Success! Guess I had read them right.

"Alright then, glad to hear it."

"Okay, well, I have to go, Axel. My dad's yelling something at me about homework; can't really tell since I'm not really listening."

"Then I'll talk to you later. Let's meet up tomorrow for lunch, okay?"

"Sounds good. Bye!"

I put my phone down when I hear the click of the receiver.

I'm almost giddy and I don't have time to reprimand myself for being giddy before I'm up and dancing a little jig around my bedroom.

It's silly and stupid and I make it a point to avoid my bedroom window just in case someone happens to be outside and looking up at the exact right moment to see me dance across my room in abandonment. I still have my pride, okay?

I don't know what the hell I'm doing or why, but there's something inside me that can't help it. I like Roxas and a part of me feels horrible that I've moved on from Demyx so quickly, especially since I liked him for most of last semester of last year, but the bigger part of me doesn't really care.

So I'm just gonna shove that other part of me aside and yell 'hurrah' for this. This'll be good for me, yes?

I don't know, but I'm willing to take this wherever it goes.