Summary: It's just... life. Read as the characters in all their own little worlds collide. It'll be hard to overcome such obstacles, but they can do it.

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Sora and Riku are constantly fighting due to huge misunderstandings. Sora doesn't want Riku in that way, and Riku is desperate. He doesn't want just any guy; he wants that one.

Sephiroth and Cloud have completely different standards. Sephiroth wants to work hard and do his best, but Cloud wants nothing to do with that. Pass the Smirnoff, please?

Zack and Angeal just aren't clicking. Well, Angeal may love and appreciate Zack, but Zack just doesn't know how he feels. Will he be able to figure it out before Angeal loses his mind?

Roxas and Axel are opposites. Roxas is utterly obsessed with Axel and his hot job, but Axel hates it badly. Will they ever truly learn each other?

And... there's Squall. Will he ever figure out who'll be his only one? Or will he be stuck in the middle of the other couples' quarrels?

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Disclaimer: If I pwned Kingdom Hearts, Riku would be fucking Sora, and the world would be happy. :)

Oh... and by the way... KITTENS! :D

Now, read and enjoy.

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Monday.

When Cloud Strife first came to New York city to study abroad, he expected to be doing something more productive with his time than sitting in a bar devouring shots like they were glasses of water. But, he didn't know what the fuck he expected when moving from his families' house in Tokyo, Japan. It was all his parent's fault he was at this place, anyway. They wanted him to come here like this place would change his slacker ways and make him some kind of spoiled, intelligent, American boy. Well, fuck that assumption. The last thing on his mind was going to Harvard like his parents wished, or some other shitty rich college like that. When he heard, "America" and "Westchester, New York" come out of his parents mouths, he immediately thought, bars. Prostitutes. Partying. And his smart ass parents knew better than to just let him go off to Westchester telling him to go to school with an absurd belief that he'd listen. They booked plans upon plans for him to make sure he stayed on track and not go off to doing what he was doing right now. Drinking. Monday was Horse riding practice, Tuesday was SAT studying in Briarwood study hall, Wednesday was drama club, Thursday was community service, and Friday was his only free day. But, Cloud took it upon himself to rewrite the schedule to fit his own hobbies. In his head, Monday was free time, Tuesday was free time, Wednesday was free time, Thursday was free time, and Friday was SAT studying in Briarwood study hall for the whole day, until 8:00 P.M, of course, when he'd party the night away. Yes, Cloud knew he was going to like it here. Not because it was Westchester, but because he had goddamn freedom.

"Another Sex on the Beach, please." Cloud said, raising his index finger and pounding the marble counter twice. The bartender eyed Cloud with ravenous eyes, but did as she was told and began to make the drink for the blonde man. Well, nearly a man. He was 17, too young to drink, but since he was so beautiful the bartender never bothered to ask for his ID and confirm he was of age. And, that made Cloud one lucky ass hole.

"Make that two Sex on the Beach's, please." A man, obviously older than Cloud, with long silver hair and light eyes said over the beat of the club music. It was hard to believe this place was a hotel with all these bars, disco balls, and old songs that was professionally remixed into something tasteful. Cloud watched as the man gracefully took a seat on the stool beside his own. It was the kind of grace that residents of Westchester took years to perfect and models attempted to mimic for their whole career, but with this man it seemed he was born to be poised and smooth. It was like poetry in the shape of a human.

The man set his cat-like cyan eyes on Cloud, sending chills down his back. With a stiff smile, he extended his arm towards the younger blonde man. "The name's Sephiroth," he said, his voice naturally deep and husky. For some reason, the man's eyes were so menacing and creepy they were attractive. It was bold, which contrasted against his calm cream skin and reflective silver hair. It was these imperfections that made Sephiroth irresistible. And by the way the bartender moved her hungry gaze from Cloud to Sephiroth, it confirmed the detailed observation.

"Nice to meet you, Sephiroth," Cloud took Sephiroth's giant hand in his and shook. "The name's Cloud. Cloud Strife." His grip was strong and the weight of his arm was heavy. Cloud could tell this man worked out a lot. The bartender finally set down the two cups of Sex on the Beach and went to help another customer, her bulging brown eyes still glued on Sephiroth.

"I'm guessing you're new around here." Sephiroth said, releasing his grip and reaching towards his shot cup. Cloud beat Sephiroth to the cup, though, and sipped from Sephiroth's, a cocky grin on his face.

"And if I am?" Cloud asked, setting down Sephiroth's cup beside his own. "Just to warn you, I have no manners, so you'll have to teach me how to act around Westchester." He raised a blonde eyebrow and smirked for effect.

"Here's your first lesson," Sephiroth said, grabbing Cloud's shot cup and pouring it on the hotel carpet. "Never take a drink from a stressed out, working man." He set down the empty shot cup, and then raised his hand to call for the bartender. In a flash, the bartender went to work on another Sex on the Beach without asking.

"And my second lesson?" Cloud asked, refusing to look down at the alcohol spill on the tanned carpet. He kept his icy blue eyes on Sephiroth's face, attempting to look confident.

"Second lesson," Sephiroth replied, loosening his blue tie and removing the first two buttons on his dress shirt. "Buy the man another drink before his stress becomes anger."

"Good try, but that's not going to work." Cloud said with a sly wink. "I'm short on money here and I'm sure you Americans have plenty."

Sephiroth raised his eyebrow at Cloud for the exaggerated assumption, the first emotion he'd shown towards the blonde for a while. "Ha! Us Americans have money? Have you been living in North Korea or something?"

"No," Cloud said, taking a sip of the shot he stole from Sephiroth. "I've been living in Japan." He eyed Sephiroth's face for a while, awaiting a reaction such as, "Stupid Japanese." But, he got nothing but a snort as the silver-haired man took another shot cup from the bartender and downed it in one setting.

"Of course," Sephiroth said, more to himself than Cloud. "Japan." He slowly shook his head. Sephiroth glued his cyan eyes on Cloud, and then sighed. "I've met a lot of people like you," Sephiroth set down his shot cup, and then laced his fingers together on the marble countertop. "Thinking all Americans are rich and have all this money; it's crazy."

"Well, excuse me for being Japanese." Cloud said, mocking someone who would be offended by Sephiroth's statement. He stared at the side profile of Sephiroth's face and got caught in the beautiful sight. Light from the windows ahead of them poured slightly onto Sephiroth's eyes, causing them to glisten like the ocean. His cream skin seemed air brushed and his lips seemed to be the perfect shade of red and the perfect shape.

Cloud grabbed his drink and downed the rest of it, trying to pay attention to something else besides Sephiroth, who was on his 4th shot suddenly. The lounge room of the hotel suddenly felt hot and humid, so Cloud pulled at the collar of his blue Hollister T-shirt and snapped it back against his collarbone, the air feeling good. He repeated the process a few more times and stopped when he felt a little cooler.

"Is it me or is it suddenly really hot in here?" Cloud wiped a layer of sweat from his pale forehead.

"I'm fine," Sephiroth slurred. Cloud immediately snapped to the silver-haired man's face. Sephiroth's cheeks were deep red and his eyes were glassier than usual. Drunk, Cloud assumed.

"Should I take you to a hotel room?" Cloud asked, standing up and ready to help Sephiroth up. Sephiroth waved Cloud away like a stench, burping in his mouth two times in a row.

"I'm good," Sephiroth slurred. He stood up from the stool and began to walk into the thickening crowd, but Cloud grabbed a hold of his shoulder before he made it. He spun Sephiroth around and looked him straight into the eyes.

"No; I'm taking you to a hotel room. You'll get pulled over driving and drinking." Cloud held tightly onto Sephiroth's wrist and pulled him towards the gold hotel elevator doors, where two hot women in suits were standing, awaiting the elevator's arrival.

"I said I was fine," Sephiroth said, but he allowed Cloud to pull him along like a baby stroller, even though he was clearly stronger than he. His eyes were half-lidded, cyan spilling out from underneath those delicious eyelids. Cloud resisted the urge to get on his tippy toes and kiss them lovingly.

The elevator doors finally shifted open and the two women rushed inside without hesitation. Cloud dragged Sephiroth inside next, and then pressed the button that read, "5A." His hotel room was in here, and he decided to stay in the hotel until he found a 5-star apartment to live in for a little while. He was slightly nervous about allowing Sephiroth to lie down onto his bed, but he doubted Sephiroth liked men like he did.

"Here, take my bed," Cloud dropped Sephiroth onto his canopy bed, making sure he rolled him onto his side in case he threw up. "Would you like water or something?"

"I'm gooooddd," Sephiroth said drowsily. "Just tired." He fell onto his back, his half-lidded eyes gazing up at the white roof. Cloud couldn't help but stare, and decided to help Sephiroth feel more comfortable by unbuttoning the rest of his shirt. Maybe he should unbutton his black dress pants, too?

"It's really hot in here," Sephiroth said, removing the rest of his shirt. Cloud gave the man's chest an once-over, and became excited at what he saw. Sephiroth's chest looked as if it were chiseled to perfection by a professional sculptor. Every curve was dramatic; his abs were deep. It looked like the kind of body you could get from years of working in the gym, not using steroids. And Cloud was loving the sight.

The blonde inhaled confidence, exhaled fear, and then sat on the side of the bed, hovering slightly over the other man's chest. He slowly bent over, and placed a light kiss on one of his abs. Sephiroth squirmed slightly, but then remained still. Cloud took it as a good sign, and continued to leave wet, sloppy kisses on every deep curve and twist of his stomach. Sephiroth began to breathe a little deeper, so Cloud became more and more confident. Cloud moved his kisses up to Sephiroth's right nipple, and immediately taunted it with his tongue and light grazes with his teeth. Sephiroth began his squirming again, but it was slow and innocent; not the kind of squirm that meant the person was uncomfortable. Cloud grazed his teeth against the pink nipple again, and it seemed he had caught a good spot, because Sephiroth gasped, and then inhaled sharply.

"G-God... Cloud..." Sephiroth sighed, barely covering his mouth with the back of his hand. Cloud took it as another good sign that Sephiroth knew exactly who was seducing him like this. Did that mean he was queer, too?

Cloud moved up to the man's cream-colored neck, and took a small bite. Sephiroth gasped lightly, so Cloud decided to take advantage of the spot and suck it between his lips. Sephiroth snapped his head back and his gasped louder, his cheeks becoming deep red. Sephiroth's hand found its way to the back of Cloud's head, and Cloud didn't mind one bit. As long as Sephiroth was enjoying this he didn't care what Sephiroth did to him.

"C-Cloud..!" Sephiroth squeaked when Cloud took another patch of skin between his lips. The blonde sucked as hard as he could, causing more squirming and gasping from the man underneath him, and then he removed himself from his neck. Cloud's blue eyes trailed back down Sephiroth's chest, and stopped when he caught something bulging from his pants. Cloud immediately became hot and bothered himself at what he saw, a sly grin planting itself on his red lips.

"What's this?" Cloud asked, grabbing a hold of the bulge with his hand and squeezing it lightly. Sephiroth threw his head back and gasped louder than before, but refused to reply to Cloud's embarrassing question.

Cloud removed the button on Sephiroth's pants, and then pulled the black dress pants down to his knees. Sephiroth sat up and reached his hand out to push Cloud away, but Cloud thought fast and removed his underwear, taking the penis in his mouth without thinking first.

Sephiroth chocked back a cry of pleasure as warmth engulfed him. He grabbed a fist of blonde hair, and shut his eyes tightly, trying hard to not give in. But it was hard. This man wasn't very good at giving head, yet it felt absolutely amazing.

"Y-You…! Can't—ah!—do this…!" Sephiroth used his other free hand to brush his silver hair away, leaning his head back and biting his bottom lip. His hips buckled desperately as Cloud's tongue lazily ran over the tip of his penis repeatedly, moan after moan escaping unwillingly. And then Cloud became bold, ta—

Beep, beep, beep!

The ringing of a phone erupted from Sephiroth's dress pants pocket at the worst moment humanity made possible. Both froze, and then Cloud pulled back, wiping spit off of his chin. Sephiroth's face went from red to blue, the hand that once held Cloud's hair going to retrieve the phone. His other hand pulled up his underwear, and then pants.

Beep, beep, beep!

"U-Um…" Sephiroth wanted to say sorry, but what would he say sorry about? Feeling very embarrassed, the older man opened his phone and pressed SEND instead. "H…Hello?"

Cloud wiped away the rest of the spit on his face, feeling embarrassed, himself, for doing such a thing, and then stood up and backed away from the bed. Not knowing what to do, he just stood and waited until Sephiroth was done so he could deal out a few apologies and then leave.

Sephiroth paused as he listened to the voice on the other line, his eyes wandering across the room absentmindedly. "…I'll be home soon…. Yeah; don't worry so much…. Alright; see you later… 'Bye."

Cloud watched as Sephiroth snapped his flip phone shut and stuffed it back into his jeans pocket, his face flushed and nervous. The older man averted his eyes from the other and got to his feet, fixing his shirt properly.

"…Who…was that?" Cloud finally asked, trying to fill the awkward silence that surrounded the two. He felt his heartbeat vibrating hard in his ears, and his mouth overflowed with spit. Cloud swallowed hard, afraid Sephiroth, who seemed to be getting a bit sober, was going to punch him or scold him.

But instead Sephiroth kept his stare away from the blonde and shook his head slightly side to side. "I have to go." He quickly shuffled past Cloud, still refusing to look him in the eyes. Cloud debated grabbing the silver-haired man and demand an answer, but what was the point? He just met the guy; he had no right to ask. So, Cloud stayed put until the door closed behind him, slowing his heart down to a beat that sounded more like a funeral march than anything else.

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"I know you guys broke up a month ago, but you talk about her all the time like you guys are still together!" Riku shouted as he and Sora entered their on-campus college dormitory, holding bags of groceries. His silver hair was pulled back into a lazy, messy ponytail, and his eyes were dark with anger and depression. They usually swirled and twinkled in a perfect storm of blue and green, but as of lately that beautiful color hardly ever came.

"I don't talk about her that much, Riku!" Sora huffed as he used his black Converse-clad foot to close the gray door behind them. He marched past the brown living room couch and small TV and into the kitchen, where he dropped the plastic Wal-Mart bags onto the red countertops. He turned around to face Riku, and leaned against the kitchen sink. "You're just jealous!"

"Jealous of what?" Riku carelessly tossed the bags onto the countertops next. "You m—"

"Careful, Riku!" Sora quickly rushed to the bag the older boy threw and opened it, taking out the whole grain bread and inspecting it. "You could've damaged the bread, and the eggs, and th—"

"Don't change the subject!" Riku snarled, tears of frustration rushing to his eyes. His crossed his arms across his blue and white plaid shirt and frowned, his perfect eyebrows furrowing. "You think I'm jealous of Kairi!?"

Sora opened one of the kitchen drawers and gently placed the bread inside, and then closed it, his blue eyes averting his best friends. Or at least, half-best friend. During Sora's depression state—after Kairi, the love of his life, had dumped him terribly—Riku would comfort him by kissing and touching him. Despite the brown-haired boy's claim of being straight, he would let Riku do such things to him, selfishly not thinking about the consequences to come. And now the consequences had caught up to him.

Riku parted his chapped red lips to ask him why he was so quiet, but closed them again. Sora's silence was pretty much his answer. And that peeved him off to no end. He un-crossed his arms and stormed out of the kitchen. "Y'know what, Sora? Whatever. Don't talk to me; I don't give a flippin' fuck!"

"Riku!" Sora shouted, running out of the kitchen after him. "Don't be like this; you're only overreacting because you're gay!"

Riku stopped walking immediately. His heartbeat sped up to dangerous proportions and he held his breath. Slowly turning around, Riku eyed Sora. He eyed his face, which was wide with innocence; he eyed his blue Ed Harvey T-shirt, and he eyed his baggy blue jeans. So many thoughts were going through his head so quickly that his mouth couldn't catch up with them. His hands un-involuntarily balled into fists so tight he thought his nails would dig a hole into the palm of his hand.

Riku tilted his head slightly to the right, and kept a calm, benevolent face on. "Sora; you think I'm like this because I'm gay?" His voice was oozing understanding and happiness. The older boy watched as Sora's body relaxed.

"You told me yourself that you liked me," Sora nodded slightly, his spikes bouncing a bit along with him. His blue eyes twinkled with the same understanding Riku's had. "Remember? And now that you think I'm talking about K—," he paused, obviously hurt about saying his lost love's name,"—her, you're getting jealous. It's pretty obvious."

Riku's calm face morphed into pure anger. "What the fuck is this; a Disney channel movie!? Yes, Sora, I may like you, but anybody would get fucking pissed if you talk about that….that bitch all the ti—"

"She's not a bitch!" Sora shouted, his voice quivering. He narrowed his pretty blue eyes at Riku. "You're just a hopeless romantic fag!" He balled his fists and took a step forward in confidence.

Riku looked awestruck. He took a step back, his eyes wide. Did Sora actually just say that? Nice, kind, and absolutely beautiful Sora? Riku opened his mouth, but he didn't know what to say. What could one say to that? Deny, deny, deny? No; that wouldn't get him anywhere with the conversation. Sora was being a stubborn jerk-off. There was no getting through to him that he and Kairi are done and there's no changing that. But, Sora loved Kairi with all his heart; Riku could tell, but being so lovey-dovey with her pissed him off. Maybe he was jealous. Maybe he was a hopeless romantic fag. Maybe it was about time Riku faced the facts. The reality of life. The hurtful reality of life. The hurtful, tear-jerking, snot-all-over-your-face, I-just-want-to-die, please-lord-take-me, it-just-really-pains-me reality of li—

"Even though Kairi dumped me I love her with all my heart," Sora put his fist to his chest and lowered his eyes. "Nothing will ever change my feelings for her, and even though she didn't feel the same, I don't mind. She's my…" Sora's eyes became glassy. "My… only one."

The words struck Riku's heart like lightening. They punctured his flesh like a sword. They sun-burned his skin like the afternoon heat. He didn't realize his own tears coming down his dry cheeks until the moment his eyes burned. Sora looked up at Riku, and then took a step back. Fear-or was it worry?-took over his expression, but Riku could care less. He just wanted to get the hell out of there.

"….Fine," Riku smiled tight-lipped, his eyes dulled. He nodded enthusiastically. "You want her so fucking badly? Then leave me the hell alone. I just want to be alone." Before he could turn around to make his departure, Sora spoke up.

"But, we have a job in a few minutes," he protested. "Just work with me then… and then you can do whatever you like." Sora nodded, his wide blue eyes twinkling with hope. He, then, lowered his head. "I mean… I understand that you're upset. Just, please, let's ignore all of this and be friends again?"

Fuck; damn. Sora was just like a girl. So innocent, with that soft voice and beautiful, youthful face. It was hard for Riku to resist. "Fine," Riku looked away. "Let's go to Barneys for our shift…"

Sora face lit up as if his battery charged, and he nodded enthusiastically. "Let's go!"

Riku watched as the boy rushed into his bedroom to grab his uniform, wondering why the hell he kept letting Sora slip out those you're-a-fag remarks all the time. And then he remembered: he was the adult here. He had to watch his mouth and be supportive for Sora. And if that meant letting Sora stomp all over him, then so be it.

"Coming," Riku's voice cracked painfully. Oh, great.

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"And then he fucking bailed like a dumb ass," Squall laughed between bites of his low-fat strawberry fro-yo from Pinkberry. He was seated behind the jewelry counter of Barneys, clad in the brown Barneys apron, his feet crossed on top of the glass jewelry case. Zack was leaning on the glass, his arms crossed across his own brown Barneys apron, and nodded with a semi-smile.

"Why do you hang out with him again?" Zack asked as wealthy shoppers wove through the clothing department nearby. The air outside in the city was frigid cold, but inside Barneys allowed the customers to take off their Burberry fur coats and relax in the heated atmosphere. Even after leaving the store you are supplied with a bit of warmth to keep you for ten seconds out there without a coat.

Squall stuffed another spoonful of the fro-yo into his moth, and then laughed openly, a bit rolling down his chin. "Why do you hang out with Angeal? Yeah; because he has money." He used the back of his black cashmere sleeve to wipe the runaway melted fro-yo off his face.

Zack's face flushed and he looked away. "You're wrong; it's not only because of that. He's my best bud, dude. I look up to him." He crossed his arms tighter as if it was cold, and absentmindedly stared at an old women shuffling by with what looked like her granddaughter.

"Ohhhh; so you admit that money is one of the reasons, huh? Huhhhh!?" Squall asked, and then laughed loudly over Lady Gaga's "Love Game" when Zack's face flushed to a deeper red. And not because of the heat.

When Squall finally stopped laughing to take another bite of his Pinkberry, he opened his mouth to speak again, "So; how are you and Angeal doing? I heard he went to New York City to see his little mistress." He wiggled his eyebrows for affect.

Zack frowned and finally looked Squall in the eye. "Where'd you hear that from? He has no mistress; he's not even married. He went there to see his sister," he looked down at the cheap gray carpeted-floor, "I had to work, so… naturally, I couldn't come." Zack began picking at a loose strand on his long-sleeved gray GAP shirt.

Squall stopped the spoon from entering his mouth mid-way. He set the spoon back in his Pinkberry cup. "Angeal wanted you to come with him to see his sister? I doubt that's all he wanted to do…" His voice trailed off, and then he picked up his spoon again.

Zack paused, wondering what Squall meant by that. And then he frowned. He looked the other man in the eyes and narrowed his light blue ones. "What the 'ell do you mean by that?"

Squall smiled through bites of his fro-yo. "…A week in New York City during Christmastime… seeing his sister, which is probably for only one day… buying a hotel out, maybe a penthouse, for the both of you… you know; magic happens." He placed his Pinkberry in between his legs, wiggled his fingers, and formed a rainbow with a fake amazed face on.

Zack cracked an embarrassed smile, and then busted out laughing, playfully punching Squall on the arm. "Shut up, man! You're so stupid; we would never!" It sounded like he was telling himself that more than he was telling Squall.

Customers began to stare as the two laughed 'till their stomachs hurt and punched one another. It was a beautiful sight to behold; both were very sexy men, in completely different ways.

The front door of Barneys rang, telling the two someone had just entered, or left. Zack finally calmed down, wiping a tear from his face and sighed. Squall continued to eat his Pinkberry, still smiling.

"…So, it's true isn't it?" Squall swallowed a cold chunk of it. "You and Angeal have the hots for each other?" When Zack's face flushed again, Squall let out an "Ah-ha!" kind of gasp. "I knew it!"

"Shut. Up!" Zack laughed, punching Squall again. He quickly turned around so his back was to the other man. "Maybe we do kind of… just do stuff… but that doe—"

"Just do stuff?" Squall repeated. "You make it sound like some kind of… fling! Angeal gives you gifts and takes you exotic places all the time; how can you say you guys just do stuff?" He gobbled up the rest of his Pinkberry and tossed the empty cup in the trash.

Zack lowered his gaze to the gold necklaces and rings inside the glass box that substituted as the jewelry counter, sighing slightly. "I… don't know. I guess…" he tried to find the words, "I don't really feel that he's really into me… you know?"

Squall paused. "…What do you mean?" His voice oozed genuine interest.

Zack continued to stare at the jewelry box. He wasn't even sure what he was saying himself. Sure; Angeal showered him in gifts and told him every now and then that he loved him, but… something was lacking. It couldn't be affection; he got plenty of that… but… Angeal was the type of guy who got any girl he could ever want. Any female was desperate for his attention anywhere he went; he was beautiful and rich. Zack just couldn't compare at all; working at Barneys was the ultimate low. Was Zack truly another fling for the married-divorced-married-divorced man?

"…I'm not sure…" Zack forced a smile, trying to look happy, but it didn't work. Squall could see right through him. "…But, that's a whole other story. Let's just continue to work." He pulled up a chair and sat down next to his best friend.

"Continue to work?" Squall snorted. "Nothing's fucking happening."

Zack laughed, and Squall followed suit. After a minute of doing so, the two silently watched as customers walked to and fro, buying Christmas gifts for their friends and loved ones. The front door of Barneys rang again.

Zack looked down at his fingers, not in the mood to welcome the customers whom had just entered. He just wanted to be alone so he could sort out his feelings. Did he even really love Angeal? It did feel a little rushed to say so… but, Angeal loved him. He told him so so many times. Maybe it wasn't rushed, then?

"Well, well, well," Squall said, interrupting his thoughts. "Look who's here; Riiikkuuu and Soh-ra!" Zack looked up just in time to see the two walking their way, clad in the brown Barneys apron. Both had slumped shoulders, blank expressions, and averted eyes. They didn't look themselves.

"What's up, guys?" Zack asked with a confused smile. "Somethin' happen?"

Riku and Sora looked up at them at slightly different times, and then looked away again. Riku leaped over the counter and playfully sat on Squall's lap, while Sora politely walked around the counter and stood beside Zack.

"Ahhh!" Squall shouted. "Heavy Riku!" He shoved Riku to get the boy off of him, but Riku stayed put, finally cracking a smile. They both began to snicker-push one another.

"So," Zack said softly. "You and Riku okay?" Something about being around Sora made Zack want to use his soft voice. Maybe it was because Sora had such an innocent appearance and he didn't want to make him mad or sad?

Sora smiled up at Zack, looking very uncomfortable. "Just a small fight again, but we'll get better soon; 'promise." He said in his naturally soft voice. He, then, looked at the trash where the Pinkberry cup was sticking out.

"You guys always get into fights lately," Zack sighed, looking back ahead. His hand found its way around Sora's shoulders. "I'm hoping it's just because you guys are getting used to living with one another."

Sora smiled genuinely this time and shook his head side to side. "Don't worry; it's not anything serious." He looked back at the Pinkberry cup. "You guys got Pinkberry? Aww; no fair!"

Zack chuckled. "Actually, Squall did. Want to go get some with me?" He squeezed Sora's frail shoulder, and then let his hand fall back by his side. He didn't want to make the boy any more uncomfortable than he already was.

Sora nibbled on his already-jagged fingernails, lowering his gaze to the glass countertops. "But… I don't have any money with me…"

Zack leaned forward and flicked one of Sora's spikes playfully. "No worries; I'll treat ya." He tilted his head to the side. "What do you say?"

Sora's face lit up as he gazed up at Zack. He widened his already-large blue eyes. "Really!?"

Zack smiled like a proud mother. "Of course. Anything for my best bud!" He gaze Sora a quick hug.

"I love you so, so much!" Sora wrapped his arms around Zack's neck and squeezed. Hard. Sora was a sucker for Pinkberry; he went there to buy fro-yo's and milkshakes any chance he got. And if his pocket had the money to do so.

Zack hugged him back and semi-smiled. Anything to make you happy, he thought. The two unwrapped themselves from each other, and Zack tapped Squall on the knee once Riku settled in a seat.

"Goin' to Pinkberry real quick. Want anything?" He asked, hoping the answer would be no. Buying more meant burning a bigger hole in his small pocket.

"Get me and Riku-boy over 'ere a Cap'n Crunch fro-yo with strawberries and blueberries," Squall wiggled his eyebrows at Riku as if they cashed in big at a lottery. Riku brushed his silver hair out of his dry face and smiled giddily.

Damn it. Zack frowned. "Fine, fine; you owe me." He squeezed Sora's shoulder, letting him know they were getting ready to leave. Sora smiled up at the man, his blue eyes dancing. How cute.

"I can pay," Riku peeped in. He reached for his pocket, but Squall grabbed his hand in time.

"Don't worry; I'll pay Zack back," Squall smiled at Riku, obviously trying to cheer him up after his fight with Sora.

"Alllright!" Zack grinned. "Let's go then, Sora."

"Yes, sir!" Sora giggled, glanced at Riku, and then took off walking towards the Barneys door, excitement bubbling in his chest. Zack shrugged at Squall and Riku in a what-can-you-do? kind of way, and then took off speed-walking after the younger boy.

When they left the department store, Riku glanced at Squall. "Shouldn't they be working?"

"Shhh!" Squall put his index finger to his own red lips, his eyes flickering playfully. "I'll cover for 'em."

"Alright, then," Riku deadpanned, and then looked back ahead. Squall took that moment to fully study Riku's appearance. The younger boy's face was dry, his lips were chapped, his eyes were dulled, eyeboogers were in his eyes, and his clothes were slightly old and had small holes torn into them. Riku had always dressed like that for quite a while now, but Squall didn't like it one bit. It showed low self-esteem and carelessness. Even Sora was dressed better than him, and Sora wasn't known to have very flashy clothes, or a nice body; just that innocent face of his.

"'Ay; Riku?" Squall finally peeped up over "Hard" by Rihanna.

"…Yeah?" Riku asked, seeming a bit detached. His dull blue-green eyes still stared ahead at the clothing department.

"…Why do you dress like that?" Squall asked, and then frowned to himself. No. Wait. Start over. It sounded rude. "I mean… you seem not to take much pride in your appearance…Why is that?"

Riku paused, opened his chapped lips, and then closed it again. He lowered his gaze to his lap, and then looked back up and ahead. He opened his chapped lips again, "I…. 'dunno."

Squall raised an eyebrow. "You actually think I'm stupid? Really; what's the real answer?"

Riku stayed silent, still watching customers walk by. He ran his fingers through his silver hair tiredly, and leaned back in his seat with a heavy sigh. "…I guess… ever since Sephiroth and I broke up, which was about two years ago," he laughed nervously, "…I…um…just gave up on looking good. I mean, don't get me wrong; Sephiroth and I are still really, really good friends; he helps me with my problems, but…" he paused. "…but… what I'm trying to say is: the only one I ever really want is Sora. And, he's not gay; he told me himself that he still loves Kairi, and she's his only one, but…I guess since I know Sora will always be the only one I want, and I can't have him 'cause he doesn't want me that way…I just… gave up. I mean; what's the point of looking good when you don't want anyone to be attracted to you?"

Riku stopped talking, and Squall took the hint that he was done explaining himself. With a heavy sigh, Squall looked at the younger boy, placing a hand on his lap. When Riku looked up at him, Squall smiled. "Riku… don't do this to yourself because of some person you like. Take care of yourself for yourself; not for anyone else. You want to look good because you want to feel good about yourself. Don't let Sora ruin your life, okay? Besides; they're plenty of men out there that'll like you for y—"

"Oh, shut the fuck up with that crap," Riku frowned. "It's not fucking Nickelodeon; this is real life, and in real life it's way, way more complicated." He slapped Squall's hand away, huffed, and crossed his arms, tears gathering in his eyes. "What's the point?" His voice quivered.

"Fine," Squall sighed playfully as if he had no other choice. "Then I'll resort to this," without any warning, Squall gripped Riku's chin, rushed forward, and pressed their lips together. He crammed his tongue inside Riku's mouth, exploring very quickly before he pulled back. He didn't want Riku to react negatively, or worse: bite his tongue.

Riku's face and neck turned deep red, his eyes blinking in shock and confusion. Squall smiled playfully at Riku. "Take care of yourself for me, then, okay?"

"You…" Riku touched his chapped lips. "…dumb ass."

Squall let out a chuckle-snort, his eyes twinkling with happiness. "Just what I thought. Now will you use that as motivation?"

"If you never kiss me again I will," Riku glared at Squall, but couldn't keep it up when Squall made a fake-hurt face.

"You know you loved it," Squall made a kissy face, puckering his lips and narrowing his eyes. Riku punched him hard on the arm. Squall whimpered.

And then both suddenly cracked up and leaned on each other, trying to forget the kiss.

Hopefully.

---------

"And that's why we got into a fight," Sora sighed, setting down his Pinkberry cup on the booth table inside of Pinkberry. His once light blue eyes dulled with depression. "I love Riku, I really do, but not in that way. Can you help me, please?"

Zack stuffed a spoonful of Squall's fro-yo into his mouth without thinking. Riku's cup sat untouched on the other side of the table, away from the two. "…So you still like Kairi?"

Sora laughed sadly as he made circles in his own fro-yo with a plastic spoon. "Like? I love her. God; she was so beautiful and kind to me. I really enjoyed her company," he frowned, "but… she dumped me about a month ago. I didn't know why; she just said that she was too good for me, and then took off with her friends."

Both quieted down as a couple entered Pinkberry, holding hands and ordering something off the menu. The bored Pinkberry cashier sighed heavily as they told her an enormous order of smoothies. Ironically, instead of pink, the walls were a sea green, and the booth tables were white and red. Mini-oak fans hung on the white roof and spun 'round and 'round, not helping the already freezing cold air get any warmer.

"…Maybe it was peer pressure," Zack muttered. He placed his elbows on the table and rested his chin in the palm of his hands. His light blue eyes rolled towards the ceiling in thought.

"…Peer pressure?" Sora looked puzzled. "Why would you think that?"

"Her friends were around when she said it, right? In earshot?" Zack blinked, not skipping a beat with his questions. Sora paused, staring at the older man, and then lowered his gaze to the table below.

"…Yeahhh, but you actually think that means something?" He squeaked, sounding not sure of himself. Zack patted Sora's shoulder, causing the younger boy to look him in the eye. They both gave each other a timid smile.

"I'm pretty sure; girls do it all the time. They want to fit in so badly that they would do anything their peers tell them to do," Zack nodded. "I'm sure she still loves you, though. You need to sort it out with her."

Sora smiled genuinely now. "You're right! I should work it out with her when I go to late classes tonight! She'll be there! Thank you so much, Zack!" He dropped his plastic spoon and wrapped his arms around Zack's neck.

"Whoa, whoa, whoa!" Zack laughed. "Now you need to apologize to Riku and make sure he goes his own way!"

Sora froze, his head in the crook of Zack's neck. "…Apologize to Riku? Yeah… maybe you're right. We should go, then."

"Right," Zack wiggled from Sora's grip, and grabbed the two Pinkberry cups for Squall and Riku. "Let's go finish our job and move on."

Sora nodded. "Let's go!" He jumped up, grabbed his fro-yo, and followed Zack out back into the freezing cold. But he didn't feel the winds nip at his bare arms. All he felt was joy.

Let's see if that lasts.