Disclaimer: I do not own Kingdom Hearts, Haunting Ground, Wii Tennis, Mario Kart, the song "Tik tok", or Final Fantasy XII. Or that song by Nickelback.

Pairing: Larxene x Kairi (with a tiny hint of Akuroku, because I'm awesome), Kairi x ?

Warnings: A bit of girl-on-girl hanky-panky, smoking, profane language, high school AU, teenage girl drama

A/N: I have been avoiding AU fanfiction like a younger sibling – writing it, at least. But inspiration is inspiration, and I am but a passage for my muse. I was up until one in the morning trying to finish this story and I had school and work the next day. Death.

Chapter One – Lying Knights

The car hums like the womb of a mammoth metal mother and the radio spews forth the fecal matter known as pop music. Demyx's long nails claw at the numbers programmed to radio stations, desperately searching for a good listen to ease his ADD and Pop-needy brain.

All of the stations kill a portion of Larxene's dignity, though her one true anesthesia is the knowledge that this is not by choice. Demyx is overlord here, and Larxene knows if she even reached toward the volume knob she would have her hand bitten off or Demyx would flail around violently, thus careening them off the side of the road.

The girl sits in the middle seat, anxiously wringing her fingers as she gazes forlornly at the racing landscapes – not that there is anything to see out here aside from economical decay – through the fragile sheet of glass preventing her from plummeting into the pavement or tumbleweeds that litter the edges of the road. She is the very epitome of death, what with her bloody hair clinging to her face and her drowning eyes sucking in everything good of the world, her pale skin and her dangerously thin figure, her sorrowful face that kills children's joy.

Larxene watches her with a morbid fascination, waiting for her to speak. If she's anything like Demyx her mouth will be moving a mile a minute, but as it is, she does not appear to have anything at all in common with Demyx, at least regarding mannerisms. She doesn't even appear to be residing in the same plane of existence.

Blue eyes drifting in and out of reality, – at least, Larxene's reality – the girl moves her lips, and the words that issue forth are delicate and unassuming. She is quiet and adopts a guise of humility, her voice barely reaching Larxene's ears over the horrid cacophony that is Demyx's choice of music.

"This song is sad," she mumbles, and though it is obviously intended to be heard, she isn't shoving it down anyone's throat. Demyx keeps his eyes on the road and scoffs, but Larxene glances back in the rearview mirror, surreptitiously examining the girl's teary eyes. Such a reaction causes Larxene to tune in to the radio, listening intently to the words. It's just something by Nickelback, she finds with disappointment. Nickelback fails miserably at being anything other than superficial, so Larxene does not understand the girl's sudden spurt of emotion.

"How is it sad? He's telling her she'll never be alone 'cause he'll always be with her," Demyx explains, chuckling. The car roars to a stop and Demyx doesn't linger before jerking the key from the ignition, killing the sound that forces invisible tears down a quiet girl's cheeks.

The girl laughs, but it's hollow. She grins maniacally. Larxene shivers – and it isn't just the outrageous cold of the night – before hurriedly making her way up Axel's driveway. She doesn't want to hear what the girl says, because it already makes her sad and she kind of knows what is coming.

But she can hear the girl speak anyway.

"Because he's lying."

-0-0-

When they have known each other long enough to be friends, long enough for Larxene to know the girl's name is Kairi and she is a silly, heartbroken child – the kind of person Larxene doesn't like, because she hates feeling pity – Larxene makes unnecessary but mostly platonic physical contact. Every traditional "movie might" on Saturdays, Larxene curls up on Kairi's lap while Axel vaguely commands against what he calls "lesbian action" on his parent's couch. Kairi never minds, never seems too uncomfortable aside from her continuous surprise – really, she should be used to it by now – and Larxene never stops, even at the constant jokes thrown their way by Demyx, Zexion, and Axel.

Larxene latches herself onto Kairi's arm and hugs it against herself tightly, embraces Kairi desperately every time she sees her, as though years and wars and economies had separated them. She will drink after Kairi, eat after her, and while Zexion finds it repulsive, Larxene finds it oddly normal, second-nature. Kairi will call Larxene honey or sweetie and even though she calls everyone those things, Larxene likes to think there is something special in the way she uses them for her.

Kairi and Larxene are together more often than not, whenever they can be what with living a distance from each other and having no money for the economy's gas prices. Larxene cannot remember why she has gravitated so intensely toward the sad girl, only that it has most definitely happened, that Kairi had definitely made a profound effect on Larxene the night she was terrifyingly honest.

But no one knows Kairi. Larxene is rudely reminded of it as she slouches in the passenger seat of Axel's wimpy but useful car, intently trying to discern if the band playing was Chevelle or Breaking Benjamin – how she could possibly confuse the two, she has no idea, but the particular song is making it increasingly difficult to tell which band it is – when Axel says, "You don't know. No one really knows Kairi."

She has forgotten what they'd been discussing, but that reply jolts her from between-dimension flitting.

"It doesn't matter how much time you spend with her, you just don't know anything about her," Axel continues, and Larxene found herself wondering just exactly how much time Kairi has spent with Axel.

Larxene wants to argue. She knows Kairi's favorite color is blue, she walks into French class late every single day, she is taking a college class, she likes cheese pizza not because she is a vegetarian but because she just doesn't like pepperonis. She knows Kairi wants to have children one day, but she doesn't care if she ever gets married. She knows Kairi has been badly hurt by someone.

But really, Larxene realizes she doesn't know anything at all about Kairi Lockhart.

-0-0-

Kairi is crying.

It is the beginning of their Literature class and Larxene is ranting away about how much she dislikes traversing the hallways. The teacher is gone again, vanished – to where, no one ever actually knows, but it happens quite frequently.

When Larxene recognizes the silent, invisible tears, she breaks into a potentially useless, "What happened?" As Kairi collects herself, trying to work up the nerve to speak, Larxene adds, "What did he do?" Because while she doesn't know very much about Kairi, she knows the only reason Kairi would be sad.

"He won't leave me alone. He…came to my house last night."

She is shaking. Disregarding the blaring fact that the room is full of potential onlookers, Larxene jumps out of her seat and kneels beside Kairi's desk, wrapping her arms around her to the best of her ability. Luckily, she has long limbs.

Without warning, a surge of hatred spawns within Larxene, the kind of coal black sludge that doesn't ever go away once it's been borne. Her grasp on Kairi's arm tightens, though she slacks her grip upon realizing her actions.

"He didn't do anything to you, did he?"

Kairi shakes her head just slightly, but tears are slipping down her cheeks now and she is grimacing down at her lap as her fingers idly scratch at the surface of her jeans.

Larxene doesn't say anything because she is afraid to face the truth that she is unable to do anything. She doesn't say anything because she feels guilty for the pitch bile thriving in her innards, because she pities Kairi and because she hates feeling pity.

But she never lets go.

-0-0-

There is always a subtle melancholy in Kairi's smile, even when she is laughing out loud. Her eyes sparkle but swirl with ignored depression; her lips tremble. Larxene detests herself for staring at Kairi's trembling lips, for wrapping her arms around the tiny girl every chance she gets, for laying her head in the girl's lap. What was once innocent friendship somehow becomes a raging, flaring source of guilt, and Larxene cannot even begin to comprehend how or why it happened.

Making Kairi laugh is unsatisfactory because Larxene is cursed with the awareness that Kairi is never completely laughing. When most of her dark sunshine is laughing and grinning and prodding jokes, her eyes are sullen and her lips are begging for a kiss.

Larxene almost makes the mistake of hating Kairi. When they are together, they form a sanctuary, one that Larxene often finds herself running to with open arms and chiding guilt. It angers her when Kairi's sadness carries over, when her invisible tears and her hollow laughter and her trembling lips rear their ugly heads on sacred ground.

Kairi is lying on her bed, secure with her innocent friendship, secure with Larxene. She is staring blankly at the ceiling, surfing dimensions. Larxene hovers over her suddenly, unsure of what she will do but incensed by the emptiness in Kairi's drowning eyes. Kairi remains unaffected, because she sees no threat in Larxene, sees no predator, and that summons the guilt.

She'd been laughing, they'd been laughing together, and everything had been fine. Didn't Kairi enjoy the time they spent together? But now she is crying again and Larxene is snapping, the bones of her resolve to remain Kairi's friend are crackling sickeningly beneath the looming giant's foot. She wants Kairi to have the decency to be happy when she is with her, but Larxene knows deep down that this is a ridiculous demand. It is not Kairi's fault. It could not possibly be Kairi's fault.

"Just because he lied to you doesn't mean I will," Larxene snaps, and she knows she's glaring. Kairi looks up at her bewildered, innocent and unaware and utterly confused.

Her cheeks are pink and her lips parted. She is breathing a bit heavily, her heart is pounding a bit faster. "What?" she whispers.

And Larxene knows for certain that the only way to make Kairi happy is to make him disappear.

-0-0-

Such an accumulation of obnoxious, unfriendly humans makes Larxene slightly nauseas. But Kairi is at her side, grinning like mad, excitedly pointing at an ensemble hanging in a window, and that almost thoroughly calms Larxene's inherent distaste for other people.

"Isn't it gorgeous? I saw this here the other day and wanted it so bad, but I don't have enough."

The cliché factor in the situation gives Larxene a bad taste in her mouth but even so there remains a gaping lack of money in her wallet. She shrugs casually, skillfully disguising the disappointment in herself.

"If I had the money, I'd definitely buy it for you," she promises, and when Kairi tosses a curious glance at her, she adds, "Since your birthday is coming up and all." Kairi smiles and it is almost completely happy. Larxene feels her heart swell and reaches out to embrace the girl, but all the beauty of the world shatters and Kairi's lovely cheerful countenance is thrown to a passing torrent.

Kairi's eyes are wide and her mouth slightly agape; she is already pale from inactivity but it seems to worsen as her eyes train dead-still on the object of her terror.

Larxene knows what Kairi is looking at before she turns around and she knows what she's going to do about it. She doesn't even try to pretend civility; her legs immediately react and her softball-player's arm pulls back and shoots forward into the face of the young man who caused all of Kairi's pain.

She is expecting Kairi to scream, because that's what the heroine does in these kinds of circumstances. She will scream for Larxene to stop, stop, you're hurting him. No such occurrence hinders her, however, and so she does not stop. Her fists continuously plow into the man's face, her leg rising to plant a kick in his stomach.

It isn't until she is on top of him, straddling his shrieking, flailing body, that Kairi tells her to stop. Her hands are around his neck, squeezing as hard as she can, and she distantly hears voices around her, frantic, disapproving, uncertain voices. Kairi places a delicate hand on Larxene's shoulder and she freezes instantaneously, hesitantly pulling her hands away from the boy's neck.

Kairi's lips are against her ear, soft but chapped, touching her. "That's enough, Larxene."

Larxene twists around, guilt creeping onto her face, swimming in her dark eyes. She feels like a monster at first, a terrible, grotesque monster undeserving of Kairi's presence. But Kairi does not look at her with contempt or even regret; there is some agreement that passes between the two girls, some burst of gratitude. Kairi is not sorry Larxene has done such a thing.

But Kairi's hand on her shoulder tightens its hold and urges her away from the boy, and Larxene slowly rises to her feet. The mall is surreal, otherworldly, and the only thing that makes any of it real is Kairi's hand slipping into her own, fervently leading her away, through hordes of people and doors of glass and into the biting cold of winter.

"Someone called security on you. You're lucky it's an uneventful town, or you'd have had them crawling all over you."

Honeybees. Ignorant honeybees. Larxene loathes living in a hive.

And just like that, you can get them all aggravated. You can change everything.

They are racing through the parking lot, lost amidst the sea of abandoned metallic husks, the shells of mechanical mothers. Larxene yanks Kairi back, still clutching her hand as though it is her only lifeline to the world.

For a moment, she hesitates. It feels like there is something she is supposed to say, but she can't decide what it is, so she simply wraps her athlete arms around a tiny, angelic girl and kisses her.