Ah, the start of my third fic. I've become bolder, braver, more confident in my writing and my ability to render clever metaphors and whatnots. Which means there's a strong possibility that the story will suffer from some over-worked, convoluted plotline. ^^; Nah, I'm gonna try to keep the style similar to what I've been writing previously, but hopefully distinct enough for you dudes to realize that this is a completely different story. Thanks to everyone who's giving this story a shot. Please feel free to review!

And P.S.: I should mention. Yes, it starts out as Riku/Kairi. No, you don't need to start hating Kairi. She's not a bad person and there will be Riku/Sora eventually. Yes, Riku's a bit of an ass. Hopefully that will change through character development. I tried to take different spins off of the character's personalities to make this different from the "Haunted" series. We'll see if that works. Thanks much for your patience as this story gets off the ground. ^^


Chapter One


"Riku! Namine! Please come downstairs to the atrium at once. Your father has just returned and will undoubtedly be expecting your presence."

Seven-year-old Riku wrinkled his nose at the butler's barking request. Despite its polite overtones, it was still a thinly veiled command. He looked at the TV screen where the game was frozen with PAUSE glaring across the middle of the scene. He really didn't want to go downstairs, he was right in the middle of his game. But if he refused, the butler would undoubtedly come for him, or worse, he might send one of Riku's brothers.

"We should go down. Right, Riku?"

Riku frowned at his little sister's soft voice, turning back to glare at the small girl as she looked back at him with her wide, bright blue eyes. "Yeah, I know, Namine. I just don't want to. If Father wants to see me, he can come up here."

"Riku…"

"Fine. I'm getting up, see?" Pouting, he threw his controller down and stalked as fiercely as he could out of his bedroom, Namine following timidly behind him. They always played video games in his room. Well, he always played them. Namine would just watch and comment now and again on things he had already thought of. She was a weird little sister.

When he finally reached the main stairs, Riku could see that his three older brothers were already gathered by the front door. They always looked forward to Father's return. Much more than Riku or Namine did. Seeing a tall dark form on the other side of the front door signaling that his father was approaching, Riku ran down the stairs. He and Namine had just made it when the front door opened, a rush of winter air coming into the atrium as their father walked inside.

Riku shivered slightly as the air cooled the marble tiles underneath his bare feet. He was always surprised at how cold winter got in Destiny Islands some times. He still managed to smile along with his other siblings though as they all chimed out. "Welcome home, Father."

Their father looked down at them. His face was impassive but Riku could see a glint of happiness in his eyes as he nodded to them. "It is good to be home." His green gaze turned to his second youngest son. "How have things been while I was away, Kadaj?"

Kadaj smiled, the self-proclaimed leader of his brothers practically glowing from the personal attention. "Fine, Father. I kept up with all of the news, just like you wanted. There were no problems except for that Riku slept in on Wednesday and was late to his class."

Riku's eyes widened then narrowed as he glared at Kadaj. He didn't even know how Kadaj had found out about that. And he had only been five minutes late. There had been no reason to tell Father. Kadaj was such a tattle-tale, and he loved getting him into trouble. Despite his anger, Riku immediately wiped his glare from his face as their father crouched down in front of him. Sephiroth was frowning sternly, eye-to-eye with his youngest son. "Riku. I trust you apologized to your teacher?"

Riku bit his lip, his gaze falling down to his bare feet. He hadn't apologized.

Sephiroth sighed then reached forward to lay a pale hand on Riku's small shoulder. "Son. It is important to uphold all obligations. Even if that is as simple as getting to school on time. Now this Monday I want you to apologize to your teacher for your tardiness Wednesday, no excuses." He added after Riku opened his mouth to protest. When Riku finally nodded sullenly, Sephiroth nodded then straightened back up, looking at all of them again. "Now, who wants to see what I brought them from this trip?"

Five hands shot up into the air and their father reached into his deep trench coat pockets. Riku eagerly awaited for his gift to be placed in his hands but just as his father was giving him his newest toy an ear-splitting ring burst through the air, ripping him away from the scene.

Riku lurched up out of bed, eyes wide as he searched out the source of the incessant ringing. It took his mind half a second to wake up but as soon as it caught up with his body he groaned and flopped back into bed, slapping down the snooze on his alarm clock. It was a school day. Shit.

Growling out an unintelligible curse, Riku rolled over and buried himself down into his silk sheets, ignoring the warmth of the tropical island sun shining on his face. It was way too early to even think about getting up, sun or no sun. And it felt way too comfortable in his king-sized bed, surrounded by silk. Screw class, he'd get to school when he wanted to. The thought brought back remnants of his dream and he sighed then ran his hand through his silver hair. He hadn't even known that he could remember that far back into his childhood.

With an internal moan of protest, he rolled onto his stomach, his aquamarine eyes flickering over to his side table. There was a photograph of him and his father hidden halfway behind the digital alarm clock. The both of them were trying hard to look happy in the photograph with limited success; it seemed that Riku had managed to inherit the great Sephiroth Jenovan's inability to crack a smile along with his handsome features. The dream had probably been prompted due to the fact that his father was yet again out on a business trip. It would last a few weeks since he had flown halfway across the world. But that was life as usual at the Jenovan residence, and the price they had to pay for their father to afford such a luxurious lifestyle. Not that Riku minded one less person in the house. In fact he would prefer it if several other relatives would go missing for weeks at a time. It would be a nice change.

Lost in his thoughts, Riku was about to slip back to sleep when a quiet knock echoed into his large room. He gave a questioning grunt in reply and the door carefully creaked open. Riku buried his head under his pillow as he heard their butler's voice ask tentatively. "Should I prepare breakfast for you?"

"What do you think?" Riku muttered.

The butler sighed after somehow managing to translate Riku's growl through a layer of pillow. He tugged at the bottom of his vest then bowed. "Very well, sir. Have a good day."

Riku rolled his eyes, waiting until the door had been shut again before grudgingly removing the pillow from his head. It was obvious that he wasn't going to be allowed any more sleep in this house. Once the butler had butted in it was only a matter of time before one of his brothers burst through his door. But still, it might be worth the risk if he could get a few more minutes-

His thoughts were interrupted by his door flying open again. Riku struggled to sit up but before he could even gain his bearings he felt hands on his chest and the next second he was flying off the bed, pain shooting up his back as it struck the ground. Growling and tangled up in sheets and pillows, he struck out at his attacker but his wrists were quickly snagged with nearly inhuman speed and immediately stopped his thrashing. As he tried to catch his breath, Riku glared up at the attacker who was straddling his waist. "Yazoo, you ass, get off of me!"

"Now, now, Ri-ku, that's no way to talk to your big brother."

"I can talk to you however the hell I want with this sort of wake up call. Now get off." Yazoo smirked but sat up a bit, allowing Riku his wrists back. Like the rest of his brothers, Yazoo was handsome enough to be a model though he probably was the most feminine with his long hair. Of course that didn't mean he was any nicer. With a huff, Riku rubbed the skin which had been rubbed red from Yazoo's tight grip. His brothers only played rough with him. No friendly fake punches from them. They'd never done him serious damage of course, they hadn't ever broken bones or left bruises, but Riku had a feeling that if it weren't for their father, they'd probably get more vicious. Riku closed his eyes than took a breath. "What do you want?"

Yazoo flipped his long, silver hair back, his soft voice smooth and sophisticated as always. "Why nothing more than to wake up my dear baby brother. It's time for you to go to school."

"And for you to go to bed, right?" Riku drawled.

Yazoo tilted his head to the side then smiled and tapped Riku's nose. "Smart boy." He stood up. "I'm glad we had this lovely bonding moment. See you tonight."

His brothers were creatures of the night. Possibly wanna-be vampires for all Riku knew. They went to clubs and bars and God-knows-where dressed up in their ridiculous matching black outfits until morning when they would come to sleep the day away. Unfortunately that meant that Riku still crossed paths with them in the morning and then late at night when they left to party. Theirs was a life that Riku envied, and which he would have once he finally graduated high school. Sure, he would have to go to college, but having a super rich father ensured the fact that he would be able to have as much fun as he wanted during the process.

Now however, he was stuck at home, in high school, and still suffering his brothers' wake up calls. Scowling, Riku watched Yazoo saunter out of the room, flipping his brother a finger as soon as Yazoo left. Then he tottered up from the wooden floor and brushed himself off. What a way to start the day. With the scowl still on his lips he padded into the en-suite bathroom. It was about the size of a normal bedroom, complete with a walk in closet, though it was still small in comparison to his actual room. Sephiroth had hired an interior decorator to design the house when they first built it, but the style of the marble counters and tiles were starting to fall out of fashion. Personally, Riku wanted the entire thing gutted. He did approve of the marble counters but he was in the process of convincing his father that he needed a spa tub. Speaking of tubs, a quick glance in the mirror told him that he would definitely need a shower, whether or not it would run into school time. He was not going to leave his room looking as rumpled as he did.

Nearly an hour later, Riku had showered and gotten properly dressed in his uniform. He had plenty of designer jeans and shirts but unfortunately the Destiny Island High School enforced wearing uniforms no matter how much money they were offered to change their mind. Oh well, he always changed out of his uniform as soon as he left school, and he always made sure to dress his best on the weekends. As it was though, he added two designer belts, a few armbands, and loosened his tie. It would suffice for now along with a quick dash of black eyeliner. After he was dressed, he even made it down to the kitchen with time for a quick breakfast. His arrival startled the cook but she whipped him up a light meal anyway.

By the time Riku got to the garage and into his silver sportscar, it was already 9:00. Only an hour late for school. Not bad.

The only problem with arriving so late was the lack of parking. Luckily, a spot near the front was always saved for him whether or not he arrived on time. A perk to being popular. After he parked, he sauntered onto campus as if he owned the place. He pretty much did through his father's influence.

The school itself was the most prestigious private school in all of Destiny Islands. It was spread out on a large plot of land, the tropical weather allowing for a very open campus complete with a swimming pool, two large fields, and its own theater. Everything was modern and student fees ensured that the rooms were equipped with the best technology. The teachers also had the highest training because they were in charge of teaching the leaders of tomorrow's world. This didn't mean that they weren't susceptible to the charms of students like Riku. Not even bothering to go to the office to check-in, he instead walked on to his first period class. Math. Not his best subject if only because he always arrived late. When he walked into the room, his teacher paused mid-lecture, her brow rising. She was about thirty, somewhat pretty, a perfect target for his charisma.

Riku smirked with a hint of apology, tucking a stray strand of his silver hair behind his ear as he used his most sincere voice. "Sorry for coming late." No explanation. One wasn't really needed.

The teacher only nodded, her cheeks slightly pink as she spun around to face the board again. She was just as enamored with him as the rest of the school. Still smirking, Riku walked over to sit next to his friend Axel who gave him a high five as soon as he sat down at an empty desk. Riku's smirk widened and he pulled out his notebook.

Axel had been his friend for three years now, ever since they had met in high school. He could honestly say that Axel was the only person who he thought of as an actual friend. The redhead was the type of person who only and always spoke his mind, without fear of consequences. He freely admitted to smoking, doing drugs, drinking alcohol, and was never seen without some sort of smirk on his face. Today as usual Axel's uniform was in a state of ruin. The knees on their blue plaid pants were ripped, the white shirt was halfway unbuttoned and the tie was haphazardly draped around his neck. With several layers of punk necklaces, belts, and bracelets, it was nearly impossible to tell that he was even wearing a uniform, and he would probably get in trouble for it by the end of the day. In short, Axel was rebellious and an idiot and it was refreshing.

Riku barely listened during class; just well enough to copy down the essential notes of the day. For the rest of the time he exchanged text messages with Axel who halfway through the lecture had gone to the bathroom and hadn't made it back twenty minutes later. When it was time for individual work, Riku finished the minimum amount of problems for him to appear as if he was trying to do something. The problems he did look over were all simple. Truthfully he knew that the math class was too easy for him. But hey, it was an easy A and he barely had to work. Plus the teacher fawned over him so much that he could come to class late without caring about getting in trouble. It sounded like a good deal to him.

When the bell finally rang to let them out for break, Riku was one of the first out of the room with his backpack slung fashionably over one shoulder. Axel had shown up two minutes before the bell had rung and sauntered alongside him out of the room, the senior's long legs allowing him to go at a slower pace. Immediately after they stepped out of the classroom, students began to surround them, most of them looking to catch Riku's attention. Since the school was so expensive, only the children of the rich and famous could attend, and they were always fighting to connect with the most important people.

Since Riku was the most popular boy in school, everyone was always trying to gain his favor, having been taught well by their parents that connections meant everything. Riku however, was notorious for talking to only a few people who he deemed interesting enough, and right now, he was looking at Axel. After all, the redhead usually was the most entertaining. Seeing that Riku was busy, the rest of the students resigned themselves to talking amongst themselves, serving as more of an entourage than anything else. With a glance to make sure that he had the other teen's attention, Axel spoke up over the noise around them. "So, Riku, have you seen Namine today?"

Frowning, Riku sent the redhead a look. So much for Axel being the most entertaining. "No. I'm not her keeper." He led the way to their usual sitting place, a choice patch of grass in the middle on campus complete with enough benches for twenty people to sit at. Some people would remain standing, but Riku at least would get to sit. No matter which way he looked at it though, it was nice to be outside for a while. Once he found a comfortable seat, Riku crossed his legs and looked up at Axel. "She probably had our driver drop her off early like she always does."

Axel grunted, his sharp green eyes brightening when he spotted someone over Riku's shoulder. Riku turned to see Namine walking over to them. She was looking shy but pretty as usual in her school uniform though as always it was pressed so neatly that she seemed to blend perfectly into the crowds, becoming nearly invisible. However at the moment she had a frown on her delicate features, speaking up after she had pushed through the small crowd surrounding the two boys. "Riku, did you come to school late?"

"What of it? It's not like I missed anything important."

With a long-suffering sigh, Namine put her hands on her hips. "You should know better than that. If Kadaj finds out-"

"He's not going to find out." Riku growled. "Besides, it's not like you're going to tell him."

Namine flushed slightly. It was a well-known fact between them that Namine spoke to their older brothers less often than Riku. Which meant that she never spoke to them. Of course, their older brothers never acknowledged her presence either. It was an odd relationship, but Riku didn't bother to question it; it was how life had been for a few years now.

Obviously changing the topic, Namine looked over to Axel. "Were you looking for me?"

Axel nodded. "Yeah," his green eyes sparked with a veiled expression. "I just need to go over a few things with you. From history class. Do you have a minute?"

"Of course." Namine glanced down to Riku. "Do mind if I steal him for a minute?"

Frowning, Riku crossed his arms. "No. Why would I?"

Axel smirked. "Yeah, with the amount of people that will be wanting to talk to him after we get out of here, he won't even know we're gone."

Riku shrugged, watching as the two of them walked off. They made an odd couple, what with Axel being nearly two heads taller, just as skinny as Namine, and dressed completely opposite. But whatever they were talking about, it was a fairly intense conversation. Riku could tell by the way that Namine's lips pursed together. However, sure enough, not a minute after they left, Riku heard someone call his name.

He turned to see Kairi running toward him through the crowd, a wide smile on her lips. She stopped running a foot away from him, still smiling as she tucked a strand of red hair behind her ear. "Riku, I didn't see you this morning!"

"That's because I wasn't here." Riku smirked and stood up. He leaned forward to run his slim fingers through her hair. Kairi really was rather pretty with her auburn hair and cute body. And she was the mayor's daughter. "Did you miss me?"

"Of course." Kairi giggled. "Why wouldn't I miss my handsome boyfriend?"

Riku chuckled then leaned down to kiss her lips, his hands sliding down to her hips as she blushed. She still wasn't used to public displays of affection. Smiling slyly, Riku lifted her chin. "What's wrong, Kai? You're blushing."

"You know I don't like to kiss when everyone's watching…" She whispered quietly, burying her red face into his shirt.

Riku glanced around to see that all eyes were on them. A few of the girls looked ready to kill Kairi actually. But he knew she had known what she was getting into when she decided to go out with him; it was the price to pay for dating the most popular guy at school. Still smirking, he tightened his grip around her and lifted her chin again. "You shouldn't. Besides, I like showing everyone that you're mine. Can't have anyone trying to touch what belongs to me." Kairi frowned. Seeing the expression, Riku tilted his head to the side. "What?"

"I don't like being treated like an object, Riku."

Riku chuckled low. "Then why did you ask to date me?" Her frown deepened and he sighed. "Come off it. It was only a joke, Kai."

"It wasn't very funny."

Rolling his eyes, Riku wrapped an arm around her slim shoulders and pulled her close. "Don't be so sensitive. We've been going out for a month. You should be used to me by now."

Kairi flushed a little darker, her pretty violet eyes flashing up to his face. "It has been a month, hasn't it…?"

"Yeah, it has. Where should I take you to celebrate? I could buy you dinner at a nice restaurant. A nice bouquet of roses maybe?" Riku grinned, seeing that talking about spending so much money was flustering her. "I could have my driver take us to the movies or drive us out to one of the seaside resorts for the weekend. Or maybe I'll just surprise you. What would you prefer?"

"I, whatever sounds good to you, Riku. But it doesn't have to be anything expensive. We could just go to the beach or a little café or something like that…"

Riku let out an exasperated sigh. "The beach or a café? Come on, get a little creative. Don't worry, I'll think of something for us to do. And don't worry about how expensive something is. I like having a reason to spend my father's money." Suddenly he smiled slyly and leaned in, murmuring low into her ear. "Of course if you wanted to be cheap, we could always celebrate in my bedroom."

"Riku!"

Riku chuckled as Kairi turned bright red. She was a cute girl. It was probably one of the only reasons that he hadn't gotten tired of her yet, along with the fact that because she was the mayor's daughter, he had been invited to the best parties recently. It was fun to embarrass her and watch her blush, though annoying when she would pout for a long time afterwards. Honestly, girls were really emotional. He was just about to lean down to kiss her pout away when a hand fell on his shoulder. Frowning at the interruption, Riku turned around, his expression lightening only slightly when he saw that it was Axel. "What do you want? I'm busy here."

Axel frowned, his sharp green eyes narrowing for a second as they fell on Kairi before he looked back to Riku. "Yeah well, don't do that kind of shit when I'm around. Makes me sick."

Crossing his arms, Riku spun around to face him completely. "Just because you're gay doesn't mean the world is. And what's with the attitude?"

Axel blinked then chuckled, all previous anger vanishing from his features. The chain belt around his hips jangled a bit as he shifted positions, reaching up to pat Riku's head. "For the record, I'm bi, not gay. Not a really big detail, but I just want you to get things right. And come on, Jenovan. You know I get cranky when I don't get my smoking in."

Riku swatted Axel's hand away from his hair. He hated people touching his hair. It took way too long to keep it perfectly styled. "Well then go somewhere and smoke. You're annoying when you're going through withdrawals."

"That I am." Axel grinned a cheesy smile and swung an arm over Riku's shoulders, pulling the younger teen close, much to Riku's annoyance as it once again mussed his hair. "But that's alright because you love me all the same. Whether or not I'm drugged up. Of course I'm never all that fun perfectly sober, which is why I make it a point to smoke something each morning before coming to school. Keeps me awake and enthusiastic about the day. Long enough so that I can get home and let out a little steam with a bottle of vodka anyway." This was the thing about Axel, Riku could never tell if he was being serious or not. It was hard to tell because as drunk and drugged up as Axel always claimed to be, he was always very sharp.

Riku raised an eyebrow as Axel suddenly chuckled again, the redhead leaning across his space to give Kairi a dangerous smirk, the expression almost predatory and not helped by his rebellious take on the uniform. "What's the matter? Am I bothering you with all this talk of bad things?"

Kairi frowned and pressed in closer to Riku. Clearly she wasn't comfortable around Axel. It didn't help that Axel didn't seem to like Kairi at all. In fact, neither did Namine for whatever reason. At least, the blond girl didn't approve of his and Kairi's relationship, which was strange because Namine was usually a very passive person who just went along with things. Speaking of Namine, Riku saw her picking her way back through the crowds, her lips pursing when she saw Kairi clinging onto him. Before she could say anything though, Riku turned to Axel. "You need a smoke and I need to go somewhere where I can hear myself think. Kairi, I'll see you at lunch."

Kairi frowned but pulled away from Riku to let him walk off with Axel. As they pushed their way through the crowd of students, Riku ran his fingers through his silver hair and sighed. Axel grinned, shoving his hands into his pockets. "What's the matter? The perfect life too much for Riku Jenovan?"

Riku rolled his eyes. "Can I help it if I don't particularly enjoy being around so much noise for so long?"

"Those kids just want to talk with you, you know, even if they are damn annoying."

"Then they'll have to wait until they stop giving me a headache." They had walked around to the back of the school by now, to a small clearing with a large tree in its center. It was the perfect place to relax, though a little small, and the only place on campus that offered any real solitude, which Riku greatly appreciated. As much as he loved being the center of attention, it did get tiresome before too long. They sat down at base of the tree and Riku shook his head as Axel immediately reached into a pocket to pull out a cigarette and a lighter. "Don't you have any control?"

"What can I say?" Axel grinned, the metal rivets on his bracelets glinting in the sun as he flicked the lighter open. "I'm an animal."

Riku watched as Axel lit the cigarette and left the flame on the lighter going for a few moments longer. The glow was reflected in Axel's green eyes which were dancing happily as he stared down at it. Axel never looked happier than when he was around fire. "You're a pyromaniac," Riku muttered.

"Yeah, that too." With a flick of his wrist, Axel shut the lighter with a snap. "Now, anything in particular you want to talk about or did you just want some quiet?"

"Quiet."

"Right. I'll shut up then."

A hint of a smile passed over Riku's lips and he leaned his head back against the tree. This was why he liked Axel. The redhead just seemed to understand him better than anyone else. For a few minutes, Riku allowed himself to bask in the silence. It was nice, the patches of sun coming through the tree branches, warming his face just enough to keep his position enjoyable. He was actually surprised the sun was out at all today, for the last week a tropical storm had blown through and had mainly kept the sky covered with thick layers of dark clouds. So he enjoyed the sunlight while he could.

It seemed like barely any time had passed at all before the faint sound of the bell could be heard from inside the school. Irritated, Riku's eyes flashed open to find Axel smothering his cigarette out in the dirt next to the jutting tree roots. Axel noticed the other's gaze and smirked. "So Riku, I have a favor to ask."

Riku blinked up at him, curious. Axel had never asked for something before. He shifted his position on the soft grass, sitting up enough to glance around the tree trunk to see Axel's face. "What is it?"

Axel scratched the back of his neck, looking vaguely sheepish. "It's nothing big. I was just wondering if you could come over to my place tonight and help me out with this homework project I have. It's that history thing I was talking to Namine about earlier actually."

"Since when have you needed help with history?"

"Since a while ago. Things really haven't been going so hot for me."

Riku frowned and crossed his arms. He had to admit that he was curious; he had never been to Axel's house before. Truthfully, he didn't even know anything about Axel's family or how he could afford to come to Destiny Island High School, it would be interesting to know more. He imagined that Axel pretty much had the run of the house; he was too rebellious to have ever been given limits. It might be fun.

Finally, after much internal debate, he nodded slowly. "I suppose I could help you out. But you're going to owe me."

"Yeah I will. Thanks, Riku, you're awesome." Axel paused then smirked. "Oh by the way, I'd prefer it if you kept this from Namine. She thinks I'm taking care of this project myself."

"So what you're saying is that you're going to use me to cheat somehow?"

"Let's just say I'm using my resources wisely. Now come on, we're going to be late to class."

"I won't be able to meet you right after school though. I've got things to do." His father's latest allowance was nearly burning a hole in his wallet and Riku was eager to spend it at the mall. He was getting behind in the latest styles. Not to mention that he finally had enough to buy a new, large, flat screen TV for his room.

Axel nodded. "Alright, that works for me. Just call me when you're done. I can pick you up from wherever you are."

Riku sent Axel an understanding wave before he split off to walk to his midday class. He had a feeling that it was going to be an interesting afternoon.


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