Chapter Two: More Introductions

Sora had introduced himself, Cloud, Demyx, Roxas and Namine in short order and had been on the verge of finding out who the silvered-haired boy was when the other occupants of the car his brother-at least, Sora thought he was his brother-arrived in decided to clamor out.

The first to show himself was a tall, hulking brute of a man dressed in a studded leather jacket over a black muscle T-shirt complete with a pair of leather pants and black Converse shoes. The whole ensemble was coupled with a barrage of silver jewelry and it would have been utterly intimidating if not for the shock of bright, bright pink hair that he was constantly flicking out of his face.

"Wow," This came from Demyx, who seemed hypnotized by the unusual hue, "Can I touch your hair?"

The only man that could give Beast a run for his money size-wise just looked at Demyx for a few seconds before growling out a "No," as he pulled out more boxes-did these people live in a museum before this?-and turned to the boy beside him. "Where do you want your shit, Zexion?"

"Just set it on the corner for now, Marluxia," Zexion answered, probably smirking at the way Demyx watched Marluxia's hair bounce as he moved. "I haven't seen any of the new rooms yet."

"You at least have a basement so you can keep up with all your stupid experiments, right, Z?" The next to exit the car was a tall female with blonde hair that fell just to her jaw and, like Marluxia, was completely clothed in black leather and had an assortment of silver jewelery. However, unlike Marluxia, her outfit was a skintight dress that stopped mid thigh and a pair of black heels. "I don't even know why you try, you never-"

"Drop it, Larxene," The last to exit the van was a tall male with dirty blonde hair that leaned toward the brownish side and flowed over his shoulders in two long lines. Clad in the same black leather overcoat and jeans as Marluxia and wearing the same silver jewelery that seemed a theme of the group, the only thing separating him from his companions was the surprising shock of his blue shirt under his jacket. "At least he tries, which is more than I can say for certain others..."

The only response he got for his ill-disguised barb was a low growl before the blond/brunet started toward the house, not even bothering to see if his friends followed.

"Thank you, Vexen, but I know better to let Larxene's comments bother me," Zexion grinned as he watched Demyx's hand get swatted as he tried to touch Marluxia's hair without the boy seeing. It obviously wasn't working out that well.

"Now, which one of these room has the most room?" Vexen was gazing at the house as if he were mentally dissecting it, "Zexion is rather messy in his experiments and will need the extra space..."

"There is a really good room on the left side of the house," Namine spoke up, still looking uncomfortable under Kairi's gaze, which had not let up since she had met the girl, "Let me show you around."

Darting around Kairi, Namine made her way over to Vexen and began to show him around the house, the man following her with a calculating look etched across his face. Sora, suddenly feeling worried about his friend, followed her inside to make sure nothing happened to her.

That scare they had last summer was bad enough...

I am Nobody, Who are You?

Leon and Cloud had managed to work well together, moving around each other and lugging the boxes in as if they had been doing it for years instead of just a few hours. During a break, the stoic brunet decided to ask something that he had been wondering about.

"The kids yours?"

Setting down the water bottle he had been drinking out of, Cloud wiped the back of his hand across his face and hefted up another box as he made his way to the house. He propped the door open with his foot and waited for Leon to follow him.


Many others would have pressed for details, but Leon was well versed in hearing the underlying tones in people's voices and Cloud's voice had told him to drop the subject, so he did.

"How long have you lived here?"

"Four years," Once again, Cloud's voice said to drop the subject and drop it fast. Leon's brow furrowed in frustration at the fact that he seemed to be asking all the wrong questions today...

"Which kids are yours?" Cloud had obviously decoded that it was his turn to interrogate Leon as he grabbed yet another box, Leon scrabbling to pick up the slack.

"The silver-haired kids belong to me, the redheads are my kids' friends," Leon answered, waiting a few seconds for Cloud to either ask another question or ask for more details about his kids.

Cloud seemed as well versed in reading the tone of someone's voice as Leon was and changed the subject just as Leon had for him, something that raised Leon's esteem for the oddly spiky-haired blond.

"Why'd you move?" The last box had been moved into the hallway of the house and now Cloud was sorting through them, stacking them in piles due to the names written on the sides.

"Job promotion," Leon settled down next to Cloud and began to help, taking extra care with the boxes that Zexion had marked "Fragile'. The kid would throw a fit worthy of Tifa being chocolate depraved if any of his lab equipment was broken...

Cloud gave an noncommittal grunt as he passed Leon a small box that had 'Private. Do NOT Open!!' written on it right as Namine, Sora and a strange man wandered over to where they were sitting.

"Hey, Sora," Leon called, catching the trio's attention as Cloud tried to figure out if the look the guy was giving Namine was the reason Sora was on edge, if the way he was grinding his teeth loud enough for Cloud to hear from where he was sitting was any indication. "Who's your friend?"

"This is Vexen," Namine answered, Sora was too busy mouthing at Cloud, 'He's not my friend!' which just made the blond's protective instincts jump up a couple of notches: Sora was everybody's friend! "He's a friend of Zexion, the older brother that arrived in the van."

"Hm-hm," Cloud muttered, standing up and pulling Namine next to him in one fluid motion, causing Vexen's face to morph into one of slight confusion before smoothing over to one of blank uninterest so fast Cloud would have missed it if he wasn't looking.

Leon looked at Namine sandwiched between Cloud and Sora, a bewildered look furrowed between her brows, before pointing at the front door. "Vexen, get Riku and Zexion in here to pick out a room."

Arching one eyebrow at Leon, Vexen shrugged a shoulder and made his way out the door, avoiding brushing by the brunet with the death grip on the small blonde he had been eying earlier.

Smart boy.

"Thank you," Cloud's voice drew Leon's gaze back to the blond in time to see him run a hand through Namine's hair as Sora nodded his thanks beside him.

Leon waved away the comment, mentally reminding himself to inform Riku, Kiah and Zexion to be careful around the platinum blonde who was obviously under some very close scrutiny in this neighborhood.

Now, the only thing Leon had to decide was if he should find out why...

You can't expect to hit the jackpot if you don't put a few nickels in the machine.

Roxas wasn't normally a twitchy person; he could stand still far better than most and he could hold his body in poses for Namine for hours on end, but this waiting was starting to get on his nerves and he was beginning to pace around the patch of driveway that wasn't currently occupied by a pair of redheads, his brother trying to feel another guy's head, this silvered haired kid watching the house as fervently as he was, or the pair of nut-jobs with another silver haired boy arguing by their very pink van.

"Relax, kid, before you wear a hole in the lawn," The weird redhead who's name Roxas had forgotten and had been staring at him when they first met was eying him again, which gave Roxas a pinching feeling in the pit of his stomach that made him shift uncomfortably. "If you're so damn worried, why don't you walk your happy ass in there, find out whatever you need to find out and get rid of the ants in your pants?"

"Be nice!" The redhead's sister elbowed him in the side, giving him a sharp frown as well.

"I can't help it, Kairi," His retort was slightly diminished by the fact that he was rubbing his side with a pout on his lips, "He's driving me nuts!"

Growling over Kairi's order to 'just leave him be', Roxas tried to push away the feeling that something was about to go very wrong. It wasn't just that the new girl had been in the house ever since they arrived-he had been told she was very particular about where each and every one of her things were put, so that explained way she had yet to reappear-it was that Sora was in there, his baby brother, with a man who was looking at Namine like a tasty treat...

Cloud is probably freaking out right about now, but the one I'm really worried about is Sora... His brother looked three seconds away from throttling Vexen and Sora wasn't normally that violent to someone he just met. It must be one of those things that Sora 'just knew' about; like the fact he knew that Beast was going to propose to Belle a week before the behemoth even thought of buying her a ring, or how he knew that Erick would steal Ariel away from Demyx's band, even though the ebony haired man hadn't intended for that to happen.

Finally giving into the redhead's advice to get the 'ants out of his pants', Roxas walked up the pathway to the house and was just about to open the door when Vexen decided to walk through it, stopping just in front of Roxas to study him intently and invasively.

"Two sides of the same coin..." The blond/brunet muttered, soft voice cutting through all the chatter going on all over the lawn as he leaned as close to Roxas as Kairi had to Namine, "A fractured coin, cast by a broken heart... and a need for love... How very tragic for you."

"Vexen?" The silvered hair boy that had caught Sora's eye as well, but for a good reason this time, called out to his friend with a confused note coloring his tone as he stepped forward, "Was there something you wanted?"

"Leon wants you and Zexion to come inside and pick out your rooms, " Vexen replied, his eyes never leaving Roxas' face as he continued to study the shorter man, making him feel even more uncomfortable than before. "Zexion, the perfect room for you is on the west side of the house, you'll know it when you see it."

"Thank you," The one that got Sora's attention voice had a definite note of command to it and, to Roxas' surprise, Vexen immediately averted his gaze and made his way around Roxas to start unpacking the van that he came in.

The one that ordered Vexen off walked up to the door and gave Roxas a grin that he somehow didn't like even more than Vexen's stare. How the hell could he not like a smile? "Sorry about him, I'm Riku Leonhart, by the way... What was your name, again?"

"Roxas," He knew he answer came out short and snappish, but there was something about this guy he didn't like. Maybe he was having one of Sora's 'senses'... "Roxas Strife."

The redhead that had been staring at Roxas the entire time decided to add his two cents worth again as he puffed out his scrawny little chest and boasted, "I'm Axel, kid. A-X-E-L. Got it memorized?"

From the way Riku had rolled his eyes, Roxas figured Axel's little speech was a common occurrence with him, so he just shrugged his shoulder and answered, "Yeah, you're named after part of a car. Got it."

Laughing aloud, the brothers made their way past the affronted redhead into the house just as their sister and Namine exited it, talking about something that Roxas would've expected from the girls, given the circumstances.

"Are you sure there is a good art shop around here?" The new girl was asking, tucking a stray strand of her ponytail behind her ear as she paid rapt attention to every word coming from Namine's mouth. "I've been to a few of the 'best' art shops and I already had most, if not all, of what they had..."

"Oh, don't worry, Kiah," Namine was also paying close attention to the girl beside her, completely oblivious to the fact that said girl's brothers were looking at the two in utter bewilderment. "Radiant Colors, while not very imaginative, definitely has the best art supplies and is constantly getting new stock. You'll find everything you need there, trust me on this."

"Excuse me," The older brother-Zexion-interrupted with what looked like a ghost of a smile pulling at his lips, "but we need to get in the house now. Could you two perhaps continue this discussion elsewhere?"

Wearing matching blushes, the girls moved out of the way so that the boys could get inside and Roxas decided that he would follow them, helping move in a few boxes while he was at it. That way, they'd be moved in sooner and he could get away from this strange family with their strange friends...

I don't have an attitude problem. You have a perception problem.

"Come on!"


"You know you want to..."

The only response he got to that was a long glare that had him swallowing shakily before he was giving his partner-in-crime a wide grin that had the other man narrow his eyes in suspicion.

"Okay, I know you don't want to," The first speaker waved away the comment as if it was of little importance before his grin grew wider and his friend's unease was kicked up a notch, "but the question is; how long do you think you'll be able to stand me whining at you before you give in?"

This got him one of those glares, the glare that said there would be a very slow, painful death in store for him if he keep up this pestering attitude, but it wasn't as affective as usual because their were only a few seconds silence before the first voice started pestering his mute companion again.

"Come on!!! Please?!? Please, please, please, please, please-"

"Shut up."

His friend chose not to hear him, "-please, please, please, pretty, pretty, please, please-"

A nervous twitch was starting to appear under his left eye, but due to the dark shades he always wore, his companion didn't see this danger sign and continued to bother the man.

"-please, please, please, pretty, pretty please, please, please, please-"

"Alright, alright! We'll go, just quit bugging me!"

"A-ha! I win!"

This time the annoyance got a fist to the back of his head that left him blissfully silent for a few minutes. It was sad that he couldn't make it last longer without killing his 'friend'... Then again...

"Hey, guys!" A new voice interrupted his thoughts of murder just as his companion was stirring, "What are you do-? ...Why is Reno on the floor? What did you do to Rude now, Reno?"

"I didn't do anything, Tifa," Reno sprang up from the floor surprisingly fast for someone who had been groaning in pain not two minutes beforehand, giving Tifa his signature 'whipped dog' look. "I was just trying to get Reno to see Cloud and he hit me!"

"Let me guess," Tifa put her hands on her hips and shook a few strands of her hair out of her face, "You were doing your 'I'm going to keep repeating the question until Rude says yes' routine, right? The one that always annoys the hell out of him and the one that always gets you hit at one point or another?"

Reno's face pulled into a pout, as Tifa walked past him to greet her other friend, who returned her embrace with a nod. "I wouldn't have had to if he had just said yes the first time I asked..."

Shaking her head at Reno's familiar antics, Tifa clapped a hand on Rude's shoulder and offered a compromise. "Why don't we all go see Cloud? I hear that some new neighbors just moved in, we can check them out while we're at it."

"Alright!" Reno cheered, throwing his arms in the air in a gesture of victory that had Tifa shaking her head again as he darted out the front door, "I call 'shotgun'! Are we taking your truck, Tifa, or mine?"

Sighing, Rude followed his friend at a much more sedate pace, locking the door behind them and smiling at Tifa's immediate answer to Reno's question:

"Of course we're taking my truck; we'd probably end up stranded halfway there in your hunk of junk!!"