Everyone called them the Losers. Ever since the very first day when they had all stepped into the hallways of Twilight Town High, the eight of them had been branded as the school's bottom-feeders, and had been christened as such. They were all nice enough kids, and had been friends and acquaintances for a good eight years, ever since they stepped into the small classroom of Twilight Kindergarten, the only nursery school in the sleepy place that named itself as Twilight Town.
Their names were Sora, Roxas, Axel, Demyx, Larxene, Marluxia, Zexion, and Riku. Sora and Demyx were friendly, good-natured guys, but were always easy to intimidate - they had been unofficially crowned as the 'Victims of the Year' for almost every year of their grade school life (with the exception of their third year - another guy named Pence had been locked in a broom closet for an entire school day, and several times at that. The poor sap had later transfered out to the nearby Traverse Town Grade School). Axel and Larxene were pretty much psychotic in their own right, being hyperactive and aggressive most of the time, but in actual fact, were kind and caring people at heart. Marluxia and Zexion had been the quiet ones, never speaking much, and preferring to spend time engrossed in their plants and books, respectively. Then there were Riku and Roxas, the dedicated pranksters of the little clique of 'Losers'. If anything went wrong, those two were the first to be questioned, and, defying all the laws of probability, they had always been the guilty parties for whatever heinous act of mischief that had been committed.
What then caused them all to group together? Well, the common denominator for all of them was probably their aversion to following the popular crowds, and their steadfast resolve to do their own thing. These traits might not have been uncommon, but when you considered that some of them fancied playing with knives, fire, carnivorous plants, oldies music, and books that would have cured insomnia, it just seemed natural for the eight of them to bond together.
So, with such a group of random people banding together, it shouldn't have been a surprise to hear that they were all ostracized from day one in their high school lives. Some people - 'some' in this sentence meaning 'two' - tried to befriend them, and those two girls succeeded. Kairi and Namine, however, were considered to be part of the 'Cool' clique, and weren't shunned as badly as their eight estranged friends... At first, that is...
The bane of their early high school existence was a student clique that picked on them, the self-proclaimed 'Disciplinary Committee' of Twilight Town High, which consisted of three members - Seifer, Rai, Fuu. Between them, Seifer and Rai managed to completely and thoroughly terrorize the seven guys in the Losers, and Fuu made it her business to keep the three Loser girls in line, particularly enjoying tormenting Larxene. The three Disciplinarians were in their Junior year when the Losers were Freshmen, and since they themselves were a bunch of utterly arrogant sadists, they decided to exercise their darker sides on the Losers, and in spades at that.
Life for the Losers in their freshman year was, by all normal points of reference, a living psychological hell. The ten on them could never step into Twilight Town High without some fears of being cornered and 'disciplined', or being picked-on in one or several of innumerable creative methods Seifer, Rai and Fuu had come up with.
Seifer and Rai made sure to give the Royal Flush, also commonly known as the Swirlie, to at least Demyx, and Sora about once a week. Axel, Marluxia, and Zexion were given several good beat-downs on the rare occasions when any of them actually didn't comply with the extortion and threats from the two bullying seniors. Riku and Roxas, on the other hand... The two of them were often blackmailed into doing homework for their three 'masters'. Zexion helped them, being the smart kid that he was, but when mistakes were made - inevitably - Riku and Roxas would find themselves trying to cover up yet another set of bruises from their teachers' eyes.
Even Kairi and Namine were relentlessly harassed after Fuu realized that the other 'cool' girls weren't about to stop her from continuing her sadistic activities, and soon, Namine could often be found kneeling in front of her locker, wordlessly picking up remnants of her drawings that Fuu had torn. Kairi soon after getting into Fuu's targeting sights, started to limit all her socializing to the Losers' group, since Fuu managed to accomplish the feat of humiliating her well and convincingly in front of her entire class. Larxene took all of Fuu's nonsense with barely-suppressed rage, and the only thing preventing her from throttling the red-eyed senior was the oath she had sworn to herself to get a proper education.
After all, expulsion wouldn't have done any good for any of the Losers, whose only goals in life then were to have fun, get some decent schooling, and survive the trials and tribulations of their teenage years. And they all knew that none of their teachers would have dared touched Seifer, Rai, and Fuu even if someone HAD blown the whistle on them. After all, a slap on the wrist was the most you could give to the children of Twilight Town's wealthiest philantrophists. Who knew? Maybe actually giving some proper discipline to those three students might have been sufficient reason for their parents to pull the plug on those neat little annual donations to the school's coffers.
And it was common knowledge that slaps on the wrist for bullies usually led to blows to the faces of victims who squealed on said nasty fellows.
At this point, it might have been of some relevance to note that the Losers shared another common trait - they all had a set of divorced or busy parents. Axel and Larxene's parents never did bother caring for their children much after their spouses buggered off, and the remaining eight had mothers and fathers that provided for them well enough, but whom they could never talk to comfortably, or whom they rarely ever saw due to the relentless rat race called the corporate life. All the ten of them wanted back then was to get out on their own, and they did decide at some point or another that school was the best ticket to that.
But at the dawn of the Losers' sophomore year, things took a turn for the better.
Through a total event of chance, the ten of them came across a place and a group of people that took them in for who they were. Equally as important as the acceptance was the fact that their tormentors were actually driven off once and for all after the fateful day when they bumbled into the place that would later play an important role in all of their lives.
That place was a simple eatery named 'Diz's Coffee Shop'.