"They said no again," Roxas cried into his Sidekick between tears. He sat down next to a statue of an angel that was standing proudly in front of the VNY model management organization in New York City. His brown coat was wrapped tightly around his body to protect his skin from the harsh, biting cold, but he could hardly feel it. All he could feel was depression overcoming him. "Vision, Fusion, Q Models; they all said no!" He furiously wiped away a loose tear rolling down his flushed cheeks. He bowed his head as people rushed by holding their children, and cabs and cars zoomed by. As always, the city was bustling with activity, but Roxas didn't care to join in. He just wanted to go home, eat a bowl of ice cream, and cry himself to sleep.

"Why!?" His sister, Naminé, said on the other line. He heard her shut of the TV to provide her older brother all of her attention. Roxas shook his head slowly side to side, furiously wiping away another tear. His heart was completely broken; every single organization told him that he didn't have "the look," which, in their case, was flat abs, a muscular build, a chiseled face, high cheekbones, and just that rugged look that women died for nowadays. "Wait, wait," Naminé said without skipping a beat. "I think I know why!"

Roxas got to his feet and stormed down the side walk, looking for a cab to pick him up and take him the fuck home. He was tired of being rejected! Wasn't his self-esteem low enough!? Roxas was usually the nice person; he would step out of people's way and say shit like, "Excuse me," and "Sorry," but right now he was in the fucking mood. Roxas rudely shoved pedestrians aside and out of his way as he rushed to catch a yellow cab that had just turned the corner.

"And what is that, Naminé!?" Roxas snapped, his blue eyes narrowing. He knew his little sister was only trying to help, but her ideas were nothing more than mediocre. She could be beyond annoying sometimes.

"Go to a gym, Roxas!" Naminé shouted into the phone. "They say that you need more a build to be in, so attend a gym almost every week! You can do i—"

"Oh, yeah, Naminé; great idea!" Roxas voice practically poured sarcasm. He shoved an African-American woman aside, who gave him the glare of Death. He glared right back, and then continued storm-walking to catch the cab, his free hand waving madly. "I should sooo… use the money I… don't have… to fucking go get a gym! I can't… afford it…!" He said between heavy breaths. "CAB!" he shouted after the car.

"Then get a fucking job and get the money!" Naminé snapped. "I'm out." She hung up. Roxas knew that she hated being cussed and yelled at, but he was so frustrated it wasn't funny. Screw being nice; nice Roxas was gone. The one that wanted and would demand everything was in. And it wasn't leaving until he got a damn modeling contract.

The cab finally slowed down, and Roxas jumped in, snapping his phone shut at the same time. He leaned against the worn leather seat and sighed heavily, wrapping the brown coat around his frail body.

Maybe he did need a job…


"Okay, so maybe I didn't get the chance to talk to Kairi last night at college because I got scared, but I assure you I'm going to do it today, 'kay?" Sora said into his phone. He woke up bright and early to get ready for college at noon, and he just couldn't wait. Staring at his bright reflection in the bathroom mirror, Sora felt more than ready to go up to Kairi and just talk to her again.

"You better," Zack said on the other line. As always, he was at his job with Squall by his side. "Would you like the discount coupon with that purchase, ma'm?"

Sora leaned forward over the bathroom sink and touched his soft, flushed cheek. And then he paused. "…What?"

There was a prolonged rustling before silence hit. "…Ah, alright; have a nice day," Zack said. And then he snickered. "Oh; sorry, Sora. I was talking to a customer. Now, what where you saying?"

Sora frowned. "Forget it, Zack. I have to go." He quickly hung up, pushed his phone into the back pocket of his dark wash skinny jeans, and began applying gel to make his hair spikier. Kairi always said that she thought his spikes were cute, so why not try to look his best for her? Today was his day, and he was going to score big.

Riku walked up to the open bathroom door and leaned against it. He crossed his arms across his old white cross country T-shirt, his dull blue-green eyes narrowed and his perfect eyebrows raised. "Where are you going; the clubs?"

"No," Sora snorted as he spritzed cologne on his wrists. He looked at Riku's reflection in the mirror. "Westchester Community College. Now, where are you going, the homeless shelter?" Sora eyed the older boy's outfit; a thin, white T-shirt with a hole under the armpit, ripped up, baggy, hand-me-down jeans, and not-so-white-anymore white Sketchers. It looked like he was ready to go back to his cardboard box home in New York City.

Riku snorted back and scrunched up his perfect ski slope nose. "Nice one, but it rolls of my back like water." He ran his fingers through his messy, pulled back and teased, silver locks. They still looked perfect, even though he just got up and obviously quickly finger-combed it.

"And you annoy me like a wasp," Sora snapped. He knew if he told Riku his true intentions it would start another fight, and Sora really wasn't in the mood for Riku's I'm-a-fag-and-I-like-you rants. Telling him would have to wait. At least, until he and Kairi get back together. And hopefully for forever.

"Fine, fine," Riku blinked slowly, his long eyelashes fluttering. "I'll leave you be, then, and go to my morning classes. Have fun, Sexy," Riku said mockingly. He turned around on the heels of his Sketchers and walked away. Sora held his breath until he heard the front door open and close. Thank God the distraction was gone. He was afraid Riku was going to interrogate him, lusting to know why he was dressing so well.

Wait. Sora paused. Didn't Kairi take the same morning classes as Riku? Sora quickly rushed out of the bathroom and looked at the clock in the kitchen. 8:48 a.m. And Riku's class started at 9:00 a.m. That meant he had time to talk to Kairi then and get it over with! And when his noon classes came by he'd be all lovey-dovey with Kairi again! Yes! Perfect!

"Ohmygod," Sora quickly fixed his red Ralph Lauren polo (a gift from Riku's ex; Sephiroth), pulled on his matching red converses, smoothed his dark wash skinny jeans, and took off running out the door.

Love awaited him.

Riku walked into his morning class with his Jansport black backpack hooked over one shoulder. Girls still stared at him even though he was dressed like shit. Why couldn't they just leave him alone!? He really wasn't interested at all with what they had to offer. Which wasn't very much these days.

As he walked up the tiled steps in the huge classroom to sit at a desk in the very back, Kairi and her friends busted out laughing right on cue. Riku narrowed his eyes, refusing to look their way. It was obviously obvious that it was a mechanism to get him to give them his full attention. And it wasn't going to fucking work.

Sadly, the seat in the very back that he sat at was one row behind Kairi and the girls. He debated moving his seat across the room, but what was the point? Wherever he went there were girls all up on him. What did he have to do now to get them to leave him alone, shave off all his fucking hair? Apparently, because their ravenous stares were still strong, no matter how much he downgraded his outfits. Riku even resorted to shopping from Goodwill. Fucking Goodwill.

Kairi, sadly, turned around in her seat and smiled wide at Riku. Her outfit was waaay more revealing than usual; A pink, v-neck, cashmere sweater (oh God; is she not wearing a bra?) with tangles of silver necklaces around her neck, short-shorts (oh God; with a thong!?), and ankle-high Uggs. Wasn't she cold; it's fucking 20 degrees outside!

"Heeyyy, Riku!" Kairi smiled wider, which made her look more retarded than cute. But, maybe that was Riku's fag side talking for him. He brushed hair from his face and forced a smile back, not one to be rude, as strange as it may seem.

"Um, hey, Kairi; what's up?" Riku tilted his head to the right as if confused and widened his eyes, trying to appear genuine. This worked, because Kairi went into a giggle spasm, along with her friends in the background.

"Nothin' much," She stood up and pecked Riku on the cheek, which Riku wanted to respond to with a gagging face, but stopped himself. He was being too rude; he had to back-track. "Hey; wanna hang out on Saturday? Just you and me and a movie?" She looked on with hopeful eyes, her face still dangerously close to his.

Riku smiled back tight-lipped. "Ummm…. I would really want to go with you, but, you see, I re—"

"RIKU!" A familiar, softish voice shouted from down the steps. Riku paused mid-sentence and craned his head over Kairi's shoulder to look at the disturbance. All the other students set their attention on the guest, also, their conversations halting.

"Sora?" Kairi asked as she whipped her head around, looking more surprised than anything. But, Sora didn't look at her; instead he balled his hands into tight fights, and with nostrils flared, glared straight at his roommate.

"Sora!?" Riku jumped up from his seat and leaped down the stairs two by two. When he reached the ground, he stared wide-eyed at the boy. "What the hell are yo—"

Sora took four rough steps forward and continued to glare, his once twinkling blue eyes dulled with hatred. "STAY. THE HELL. AWAY. FROM KAIRI!" He whisper-hissed so Kairi, whom was still staring with a shocked expression, couldn't hear. But the kids in the front row heard clearly, and started to snicker.

Riku's face went from shock to anger. "You think I like KA—" Sora grabbed Riku roughly and pulled him out of the classroom and into the empty hallways, and then slammed the classroom door behind them for privacy.

"Are you honestly going to stoop this low, Riku!?" Sora shouted loudly, taking a step back from the older boy. "I know you like me, but do you really have to try and score with Kairi so I won't love anybody else!? Do you really like me that badly to do this!?"

Riku opened his chapped lips to reply with a rage of cussing, but stopped himself. There was no getting through to Sora now. Just like drugs, he was going through a withdrawal stage without Kairi by his side. And if Riku interfered it would be the end of their relationship as he knew it. And having no relationship with Sora was the worst thing to possibly happen.

"No; sorry," Riku looked away. "I'll leave Kairi alone. I promise."

Sora finally relaxed, his fists coming undone and his blue eyes not as dull anymore. He looked away from the older boy's downcast face. "I… know you love me that way, but I can't, Riku… Not like that… I'm sorry for misleading you with… you know… doing those things. Really."

Riku really didn't need to hear this right now. "Right. 'Bye." He tried to open the door to make a swift escape, but his clammy palms slipped his hand off the gold handle. He wiped his hands on his hand-me-down jeans and opened the door successfully, quickly slipping inside to prevent crying in front of Sora.

That would be the worst thing to ever happen.


"When are you coming home?" Zack asked as he entered his apartment complex and slammed the door behind him. He dropped a bag of Christmas items he bought for his friends on his red couch and went straight into the kitchen. "Yeah… I want you to be here for Christmas. I heard some dude named Sephirooh, or something like that, is hosting a big ass one in a high class hotel…. I want to go with you…"

"I know, and I really want to come, but I don't know if I'll be able to…" Angeal said on the other line. Just hearing his voice calmed Zack down a great bit, but he wanted to be able to see the man in real life. Actually touching his soft hair, rubbing his own flesh against his…. And falling asleep in his strong arms.

"Why not? It's not like you have a job there or anything!" Zack protested, but immediately felt like smacking himself because he sounded like a whiny little girl. "I mean… I just," he sighed, "really want to see you for the holidays…" He ran his fingers through his soft jet black hair with his free hand.

"My sister wants me to be here for the holidays," Angeal replied. "She's really sick, you know…" His voice trailed off, as if a sad memory he had just recalled. Zack bit his plump, red bottom lip, trying hard not to beg.

"Just… take your sister back with you, or something!" Zack replied once he released his lip to speak. "Please… I need to see you…" He leaned against the kitchen counters and sighed, holding back tears of frustration. His heart longed for Angeal, but another part of it just didn't know what it felt.

"I'm sorry…" Angeal offered no comfort for Zack's feelings. "I'll see what I can do." And then he hung up. Zack parted his lips, and then frowned. He snapped his phone shut and tossed it on the counter. It sounded as if it cracked, but he could care less. Without Angeal he felt drained and lifeless, as if he hadn't slept for three days in a row. And he had to work the night shift at Barneys later on…

The front door of his apartment opened up, and Squall stepped inside, a brown Barneys' apron in his hand. He sighed heavily and slammed the door behind himself, and then walked over to the living room. "Zaaaccckkk, I came so we can eat dinner! Genesis booked a place so we can all chill. You comin'?"

Zack walked into the living room, eyeing Squall, whom had sat down on the couch and plopped his feet up on the glass coffee table. He crossed his arms across his chest and sighed heavily. "…Fine… but take your feet off my coffee table; I said you could come visit whenever you wanted, but you ca—"

"Yeah, yeah, yeah!" Squall smirked. "You are always stressin' ever since Angeal left. Just relllaaxxx," he said like a hippie high on marijuana. He sat his feet back down on the white carpet and leaned back.

Zack snickered and rolled his eyes. Squall always seemed to cheer him up when he was down in the dumps. It made him feel good to have a good friend. "Shut up, dude. Let's just go. I'll go get the keys."

"Yes!" Squall jumped up. "You're paying," he smiled, and then speed-walked to the front door.

"Fuck you," Zack laughed after him, and then grabbed his keys to leave.


Cloud woke up in his hotel bed, an empty bottle of liquor lying beside him along with opened bags of chocolate chip cookies, Hershey's, Doritos, Fritos, and plenty more. Crumbs covered his bed and his shirt wasn't on properly. Dazed, Cloud blinked a few times to adjust to the shining light in his eyes and eyed the flat screen TV only a few feet in front of his bed. On the screen was a virtual receipt, telling him his porn on demand subscription had ended, and renewing it cost $29.99.

Where the fuck was he again?

Cloud sat up, crumbs rolling off his clothes and onto the now-stained-with-food bed covers. He zipped up the fly of his blue jeans and threw his legs off the side of the bed. Oh yeah… in New York… alone

"Ahhh, Gooodd…" Cloud rolled his shoulder backwards, and then forwards. Was this what it felt like to move out of your parent's home? If it did, then it was a terrible feeling. Yeah… he did want freedom, but after a long night of partying he was ready to just relax with some down to earth people instead of whores and drunk, horny men.

Flashbacks of fucking hot, exotic women charged through his thoughts and stomped down on his head, giving him an unbelievably horrendous headache. Cloud clutched his forehead as if that would actually stop the pain, but it did nothing for him. The whole time he was fucking those sluts he was thinking of Sephiroth. That beautiful, imperfections-made-perfections Sephiroth. When he kissed those girls, he imagined Sephiroth's red, heart-shaped lips against his; when he held those girls he imagined Sephiroth's long, strong arms wrapped around his waist; when he fuc—

Beeeeep, beeeep, beeeeeep!

"Shit," Cloud muttered underneath his breath, just now realizing he had an aching hard on just begging to be touched. Ignoring it, albeit it was difficult to, Cloud scrambled to find the source of the beeping.

Beeeep, beeeep, beeeeeep!

He finally found the phone underneath the bed, but by then it was too late. Cloud snatched the phone up and eyed it. 'MOM' stared back at him, and underneath that was '1 MISSED CALL'. Cloud frowned. It didn't really matter; he'd call her back later… if he remembered…

Cloud stuffed the phone in his pocket and staggered into the bathroom. Inside there was a mess, too; piles of forgotten clothes and bras from women lying around, the bathroom sink dirty with some unidentifiable brown and white shit, and used toilet paper in the bathtub, on top of the toilet, and hanging out of the toilet.

Ignoring it all, the man gazed at his reflection in the strangely clean bathroom mirror. His blonde hair was a mess with melted chocolate and crumbs stuck in it, his face was also covered with a bit of food, and his clothes were dirty. He didn't know what was on it; he just knew they were filthy. Cloud felt his stomach go queasy at the sight. He knew he wasn't cleaning this shit hole up.

"Now where the hell am I going to go to take a shower?" Cloud muttered to himself as he pushed aside the bathtub curtains and gazed at the disgusting tub sitting behind it. He grimaced as he felt the chocolate chip cookies and Fritos coming back up his throat. Cloud quickly closed the shower curtains, and then stumbled out of the bathroom.

At moments like this, he would've called his maid, Terra, to clean up the mess while he chilled, but being alone definitely didn't have those kinds of benefits. It meant he either had to clean up the mess himself, call up a maid to clean up the mess (which cost money he really didn't have right now until he parents supplied him again), or just check out of the hotel and ask his parents to book him another place.

Making up his own mind, Cloud, instead, pulled out a change of clothes, changed into it, washed his hair in the bathroom sink, towel-dried it, and left the hotel room. He just needed a drink to calm him down before he went nuts. Cloud passed by families with their children as he went down the hotel stairs (not in the mood to wait for the elevator), and rushed to the bar room.

Looking around at the bartender serving drinks to men who just got off of work or took a break from work brought back memories. He stared at an empty bar stool, remembering that Sephiroth had been sitting there just yesterday. And then he got drunk… and then Cloud carried him to his hotel room… and then the rest was history.

The female bartender looked up from cleaning a glass tumbler, and then smiled wide at the man. "Oh! It's you! Cloud, was it?" She widened her bulgy brown eyes at him curiously, tilting her head to the right.

Cloud ran his fingers through his damp hair and grinned nervously. "Um, yeah, hi?" He slowly walked over and sat down at a bar stool. She quickly began to make a sex on the beach for him, not caring that he hadn't even asked for one.

"So, I saw you and that man leave yesterday," She tried to make a conversation as she poured drinks into a glass tumbler for him. "And I saw him again earlier today. I guess ya missed him, huh?" She chuckled, a hanging piece of skin on her chin vibrating.

Cloud grimaced a bit at it, and then lit up when he heard Sephiroth's name come out of her unbelievably thin lips. "Sephiroth? Is he a regular here?" He leaned forward on the bar counter.

Female Bartender chuckled again. "Sure is. He comes here everyday, twice a day. Noon time and around 5:00 p.m. Nice man, ya know?" She set the drink in front of him. "On the house," she chuckled for the third time.

Cloud avoided looking at her chin skin and took the drink, quickly chugging it down. He popped a piece of ice into his mouth from the tumbler when he was done, crushing it between his perfect teeth. He winced as he felt a cold rush from it. "…What time is it now?"

She looked at her baby blue G-shock watch. "…It's—"

"—1:32 p.m.," a familiar husky voice said. Before Cloud and Female Bartender had time to react, Sephiroth made an appearance, gracefully taking a seat next to the blonde man. Cloud, mouth agape, looked at his long, silver hair, and then at his alluring, light eyes.

Female Bartender smiled wide. "Welcome back, Hun." She, then, walked away to serve another costumer. Sephiroth looked at Cloud from the side, which was still staring agape at the man who suddenly appeared out of mid air.

"What the hell?" Cloud's face flushed. "Did you hear our conversation!?" He immediately felt embarrassed. Sephiroth should never know that Cloud had asked Female Bartender when he arrived! It made him look like a stalker! The younger man averted the older man's heavy stare, his neck turning red next.

"No; I just came in," Sephiroth looked back ahead, raising his hand for a drink. Female Bartender immediately went to work on a sex on the beach. "How old are you, Cloud?"

He remembered his name… Cloud's face never ceased from the color red. "U-Um… 20; why?" Sephiroth brushed his own hair away from his face, and then took the drink Female Bartender handed to him. Cloud watched as Sephiroth pressed the glass against his soft, rosy lips and tilted it, the shining liquid disappearing into his mouth. The blonde never noticed he was staring until Sephiroth's gaze met his again. Cloud quickly looked away.

"Shouldn't you be in college, then?" Sephiroth asked as he set the glass tumbler back down on the oak counter. He looked at his expensive-looking gold watch, and then looked back at Cloud's averted eyes.

Cloud popped another ice into his mouth, and took his own sweet time crunching it. "…I skipped today," came his simple reply once he swallowed.

"Skipped?" Sephiroth looked genuinely surprised. "Why?"

"Shouldn't you be at work?" Cloud fired back, not in the mood to be interrogated. He finally met Sephiroth's stare, trying to look intimidating himself. Working or not, Sephiroth was the one to look away next.

"It's a break from work; I have to buy a few things from the store," Sephiroth finally answered in one, quick breath. He looked a bit suspicious, but Cloud knew he couldn't push it.

"…I see; so you're buying a few things from the store by sitting here talking to me?" Fuck it; Cloud decided to push it. Why not see how far he could go with this? Cloud watched as Sephiroth's face went from red to blue, and then back to red. Just like when his phone interrupted Cloud's heated blow job… Cloud felt his own face go red from thinking about it.

"U-Um…" Sephiroth cleared his throat. "B-Because, I h—"

"Hey; is that you, Sephiroth!?" A manly voice called from nearby. Cloud and Sephiroth both turned around at the same time to see a brunette and a black-haired man walking towards them with wide grins. The one with the brown hair was the one that had spoken.

"S-Squall?" Sephiroth's face lit up, happy for a distraction. "What are you doing here?"

"So this is the Sephiroth I've been hearing about?" The black-haired man asked. He stepped towards Sephiroth and extended his arm. "Hey; I'm Zack. Nice to meet you; I'm a friend of Squall's."

"Hey," Sephiroth smiled politely as Zack and he shook hands. "Nice to meet you, too. Good seeing you two around here." Once they finished their handshake, Zack returned to Squall's side.

"We're here because we saw you through the window as we passed," Squall snickered, pointing at the giant rectangular widow to the right of the group. All four all looked at it at once, watching pedestrians walk by, and then looked back at one another nervously.

"…And who's this?" Squall asked Sephiroth as he wiggled his eyebrows at Cloud. "A new pick-up, I see? Or were you just try—"

"Shut up, Leon," Sephiroth coughed, his face turning beet red. Squall's eyebrow twitched in annoyance at the new nickname, but he said nothing to defend himself. Zack sighed, knowing how annoying it is for Squall to misunderstand situations.

"I'm, um, Cloud," Cloud finally spoke up, tired of being quiet. He got off his bar stool and stepped towards Squall, extending him arm. "And you guys are Squall and Zack?" His dark blue eyes looked between the two men.

"Hi," Squall shook Cloud's hand, and then let go to let Zack do the same.

"Nice to meet you, too, Cloud," Zack quickly shook his hand. He smiled tight-lipped at the blonde, noticing how breathtaking he looked, even when standing next to Sephiroth. But, then he thought of Angeal, and immediately felt guilty for thinking such a thing.

"Where were you guys headed to?" Sephiroth asked as he got off his bar stool next and took a spot next to Cloud. Squall looked at Cloud, then Sephiroth with a sly grin, and then looked at Zack for him to respond.

Zack side glanced at Squall, realizing that the man wanted him to talk, and then looked between Cloud and Sephiroth. "We were headed to a restaurant to eat. You guys interested in coming?" He smiled politely.

"…I would, but I have to go to the store," Sephiroth side-smirked at Cloud with a knowing stare. Cloud responded with a playful scowl, and then an eye roll. "So, you guys have fun." He quickly stepped past all three men, trying to make a smooth disappearance before anymore questions were asked.

"What 'bout you?" Squall asked as Zack watched the silver-haired man leave with a questioning stare. "Wanna come hang with us? You seem new around here."

"Yeah; I am new," Cloud looked over Squall's shoulder, also watching Sephiroth quickly leave. Where was he going in such a rush? The blonde's curiosity peaked. "I would go, but I have to help Sephiroth over there shop. Maybe another time?"

"See us tomorrow, maybe?" Zack finally looked back at Cloud, crossing his arms across his chest. "Same time; same place?"

"Yeah, sure," Cloud stepped past the two and speed walked after Sephiroth. "Got to go!" Zack and Squall watched as Cloud left the store, and then watched him run past the rectangular window in search of the older man.

"…What was all that about?" Zack asked, narrowing his eyes. He disliked rude people. Squall smirked ear to ear at Zack, and nudged him in the side two times with his elbow as he leaned towards him.

"They obviously have a thing for each other," he whispered a bit loudly. Zack narrowed his eyes even more than before, trying to warm up to the idea. And then he froze.

"But… isn't Sephiroth m—"

"Shhh!" Squall put his index finger to Zack's lips, still smiling wide. "Let's just head on out, 'kay?"

Zack slapped his hand away from his lips and rolled his eyes. "Whatever; let's go." The two took their time leaving the hotel, both silently thinking about the previous situation.

Zack bit his bottom lip as he thought.

…Cloud was pretty cute.


"You didn't buy groceries like I told you to, did you?" Roxas asked as he opened his apartment's old, dirty fridge. He gazed inside, scowling at the sour milk, rotten cabbage, and fat-free yogurt. There was also a half-carton of orange juice, but it was pulp orange juice. And Roxas hated pulp orange juice.

"I tried, but then mom called to go to the subway to walk with her!" Naminé called from the tiny living room. "You know how she hates walking alone, like some robber's going to attack her, or something!"

"Then on the way you could've bought groceries," Roxas huffed. "It's, like, three days until Christmas, so you better hurry!" He slammed the fridge door. "I have to do some Christmas shopping, so go to Wal-Mart now."

He listened as his 16-year old sister changed the channel to the news and got up. She shuffled into the kitchen, leaned against the counter, and crossed her arms. "Who's going to pay? I don't get a paycheck until Christmas Eve, and I won't have time to buy groceries when I get off of work."

Roxas was busy opening a cabinet to take his wallet out, but paused mid-reach. He craned his neck to look up at her dull blue eyes. He narrowed his own. "…What happened to the money you had last week? You told me you had $324."

Naminé uncrossed her arms and looked the opposite direction. "…I went shopping myself… I needed a few new boots and sweaters for winter…" She sounded guilty, and Roxas understood why. Anger bubbled in the pit of his stomach.

"A few new boots and sweaters for winter!?" Roxas repeated, jumping to his feet. "That's way more than just a few! You have $324! $324!" Naminé bit her bottom lip, and then slowly stepped out of the kitchen again.

"Well, it's all gone," she huffed, her voice now a bit distant. "You'll have to use the money you have to buy groceries if you're so desperate for food! Or get a damn job!" She slammed the door to her bedroom, which looked more like a closet than a place to sleep, since it was so small.

"I'm trying!" Roxas shouted back, tears of frustration gathering in his blue eyes. Why did everyone have to pick on him about not getting a job? His job was modeling, and even though he hadn't been accepted, he was still going to try. Because, it was his dream, and Roxas was never going to let go of his dreams.

Roxas grabbed his wallet (full with money borrowed from his mother), shuffled into the living room, turned of the TV, and stepped out of the tiny, dirty apartment. He slipped his keys out of his pre-ripped, fashionably baggy blue jeans and locked the door. Stuffing his wallet into his pocket along with his keys again, Roxas walked down the thin-carpeted, not-so-luxury apartment hallways.

After saying a quick "Hello" to the man behind the lobby desk downstairs, Roxas pushed open the heavy glass doors and speed walked down the sidewalk, dodging fast walking pedestrians trying to get home, or to work. He ran his hair through his soft, blonde hair, pushing it out of his long dark brown eyelashes. The sun was quickly setting behind the tall buildings in the city, light orange rays still spilling from behind them and onto the bustling city below.

Roxas listened to the screaming and laughter of everyone around him, and the loud grumble of cars zooming by and honking. He felt himself smile as the usual smells surrounded him; the addicting scent of gasoline and exhaust from cabs and trucks, the aroma of pastries and fast food swirling out of open store windows, and especially the smell of perfume as he passed Barneys. It was all so familiar and welcoming; it immediately calmed Roxas on even his worst days.

A new aroma poured out from Barneys as customers walked in and out, though. It was sweet and spicy, and could be either used as cologne or perfume. Roxas slowed as he passed the department store, his head bobbed back a bit as he sniffed. It smelt really, really… good. What was this new mystery scent? And why hadn't Roxas ever smelt it before?

The blonde boy walked around an elderly woman and pushed against the glass double doors until it opened, and he slipped inside. The usual smell of new clothes and handbags was overpowered with the scent. Barneys was also strangely full; a bunch of women were squealing and shoving past each other, hitting customers out of their way with their expensive messenger bags and totes.

"What's going on?" He asked an employee by the jewelry department. The man took a lollipop out of his mouth, and placed his free hand on his waist in a flamboyant manner.

"I 'dunno," he said sharply with an eye roll. "I think a Barneys' male model is here to sign autographs or something." He snickered as if it was the most hilarious thing he ever heard of.

"The poor guy probably is losing so much money from lack of fame that he had to do this shit to be recognized," the other male jewelry department employee said with a chuckle. Roxas had an urge to scowl at their high-pitched, girly voices, but quickly escaped before he ever could.

Roxas crouched down slightly and slipped by unnoticed by the raging women, wondering who the hell they were going so crazy for. Keeping his head low, Roxas successfully got by most of them and was nearly at the front of the line. He stood straight up next and looked over a short teenager's shoulder to take a peek at the man all these females were going crazy for.

And then he saw him. Ivory, smooth, muscular arms, twinkling, bright green eyes, silky red hair… this man was a dream Roxas always wanted to achieve. And he was right there, just an arms length away. Roxas felt his heart beat out of his chest and his breathing stop, and then pick up rapidly. His mind blanked, and his eyes widened in shock of such beauty. Axel didn't know how… lucky he was.

"You're next?" Axel asked, boredom oozing out of his voice, even though women were drooling over him just one inch away. He sighed, brushing a red strand of hair out of his face. Roxas noticed that there were thin triangular tattoos underneath his eyes.

"Um, n-n-not really I-I um j-just w-w-wanted to u-um—"

"Spill it out already," Axel sighed, hardly look Roxas in the face. He looked tired, worn out, and just aching to go home. He had a small hint of a country accent, which sounded strangely…hot. "I don't have all day…" He took out a picture of himself posing for the camera and positioned a black pen over it. "Who should I make this out for…?"

Feeling suddenly really embarrassed, Roxas finally tore his eyes off of Axel and at the pictures stacked on the table. It was one of Axel, sitting on a wooden crate in nothing but True Religion skinny jeans, not even shoes and socks, his highly defined chest showing, and his gaze off to the side. The whole photo was black and white, besides his light green eyes, which popped brightly. In the bottom right corner said "BARNEYS MEN." Roxas felt a tinge of jealousy.

"I don't want one," Roxas shook his head side to side rapidly, finally gazing into Axel's alluring emerald eyes again. "I… just wanted to see who all these women were going crazy for… th-that's all…"

Axel finally really looked into Roxas' aqua eyes, his face something other than bored. He dropped the pen and rested his hands onto the table, sitting up in the seat. "Sooo… you waited this whole time in the loud, damn line just to see who these people were waiting for…" He smirked as if he didn't believe him, his straight, white smile blinding Roxas. "…Honestly?"

Roxas winced as more screaming women entered, and began chatting loudly with the rest. Any distraction was great if it stopped the blonde from staring at the beautiful older man in front of him. Roxas lowered his gaze again at the table. "…Actually, I didn't exactly wait in line… I… um… skipped, kind of, just to s—"

"Should I call security?" Axel sounded serious, but when Roxas gazed into his sparkling emerald green eyes and wide smile, it told him another story. Was this some kind of mechanism of flirting? Or was Axel just trying to get rid of him? Roxas wasn't sure, but either way, his stomach did a flip-flop.

"I-It's okay; I'll leave now," the blonde forced a tight-lipped smile, feeling self-conscious about his barely crooked teeth. He turned around to make a quick departure before the women went nuts from waiting, but Axel's large hand gripped his shoulder, holding him in place. From shock and the feeling of the male model holding him, Roxas' face flushed. He slowly turned around, wondering what Axel wanted.

"Since you're the first male to walk up, I'll give you a magazine for free," the model said, slapping a Barneys' magazine into the blonde's shaky hand. "I know it probably isn't much, but it's all I have."

You could give me your number, Roxas thought, and then immediately felt disgusting for thinking of such a thing. Roxas was never gay; actually, he didn't know exactly what he was. All he knew was that for his whole life he had never had an attraction for men. Roxas nodded, feeling unsure of what to say.

"Th-Thank you…?" Roxas hated how his voice went high like that; sounding so girly and nasty and awkward. He made a quick escape before Axel held him there any longer, and, besides, the women waiting were starting to complain and groan loudly.

The blonde rushed back out into the cold, forgetting all about his Christmas shopping, and rushed to Wal-Mart instead. Why not get food instead of presents? He was starving, anyway.

Starving for more of Axel, that is.


Sora felt bad. Really, really bad. He knew he overreacted a bit when he caught Kairi so close to Riku, but it was hard not to react. Sora loved Kairi; he always had. And Riku… he was sure he had no attraction for Riku whatsoever, but… he was always constantly thinking about him, even when Kairi was walking nearby. That boy was always plaguing his thoughts.

Ugh. God.

Sora flipped out his phone and speed-dialed Rikku. She always had a good word to put in about situations, but, unlike Zack, he was able to tell her anything without him worrying about how she thought of situations. She was easygoing and kind… just like Riku.

No. No. No!

Riku was a guy! What the hell was he thinking? Sure, Rikku was beautiful with her beautiful eyes and light golden hair, but Sora couldn't help but think Kairi and Riku looked better than her. But… Riku looked better than Kairi, too.

So… what did he see in Kairi again?

"Hello?" Rikku finally picked up. There was shouting and playing in the background. Sora felt himself smile; Rikku always let the neighborhood kids come to visit her house anytime they wanted to.

"…Um…" Sora began, suddenly feeling nervous. "Can you, um, come pick me up? I want to talk to you about something…" He suddenly felt like crying. For some reason, every time he heard Rikku's smooth, kind voice he just wanted to let out all of his frustration and depression for the world to see. She was like a needle, and he was the balloon, floating way too close.

"Sure, sure!" Rikku sounded like she was laughing. Sora could practically see her twinkling, bright eyes and plump lips curled up. "Hayner, Pence, and Olette are here; you don't mind?"

Sora felt like crying even more. His old childhood friends from back in the suburbs were even there! "Of course I don't mind!" He laughed joyfully, dodging classmates as he shuffled down the Westchester Community College hallways. "Meet me in the lobby of WNY University?"

There was louder laughing and a bit of rustling before Rikku replied. "You know it'll take me about an hour or two before I arrive; I live in the country!" She laughed right into the phone. "Hayner; don't do that you silly little kid!"

Sora pushed opened the door that leads to the lobby of the college campus. A kind, elderly woman sat behind the lobby desk, typing away at a computer with her slender, weak hands. He sat down at a small, circular oak desk, and leaned in the chair.

"It's alright," He said. "I'll wait forever…" he added silently in. Sora just wanted to take some good advice and get over all of this drama; he was tired of hurting Riku, being confused, and being ignored by Kairi.

"I'm on my way now!" Rikku shouted into the phone between giggles, and then the line went dead. Sora shut his phone and sat it down on the table, staring at it for a while. Could Rikku really help him? Or did he actually have to do some thinking for himself?

As told, Rikku arrived about two hours later, a bag full of food in her hands. People stared, not use to someone wearing a yellow bikini top with denim short shorts in the middle of winter. She had always claimed that she never got cold, but Sora really wasn't too sure about that.

"I'm so glad to see you!" Rikku wrapped her arms around him in a sweet embrace as she arrived. Sora chuckled and hugged her back, her skin thick with tropical body butter and floral perfume. Her signature scent use to be annoying, but now it reminded Sora of good times back from the country side.

"I'm glad to see you, too!" Sora laughed, hugging her so tight Rikku began gasping for air. With an apologetic face, the younger boy finally released her and bowed his head. Tears began to gather in his eyes (was it from the strong aroma Rikku had, or was it his current situation?) as thoughts crashed about in his head.

"Can we… go now?" Sora asked, finally looking back up into Rikku's calm eyes. He brushed a loose strand of brown hair from his aqua eyes and sighed sadly. Rikku squeezed his shoulder and guided him out. Her small, brown car was parked in as close to the door as she could get it without getting off the road.

Sora opened the passenger door open and leaped inside, antsy to get to Rikku's small, cozy home. Rikku's car even stunk of her signature scent. Sora waited patiently as Rikku jumped into the drivers' seat and set the plastic bag on his lap.

Sora looked down at it as Rikku started the car. "…What's this?" He asked. It stunk of Chinese food. Rikku laughed loudly, her usual loud cackle filling the whole car. Sora felt a smile pull at his lips from the sound of it. It also reminded him of the old days from his childhood.

"It's Olette's Chinese food," Rikku said once she calmed down enough to talk. "She insisted I brought it for you to eat." She used one hand that wasn't on the steering wheel to point down her throat and fake-gag. Sora busted out laughing at the sight.

"She's a nice girl," Rikku continued. "But… her food isn't as nice as her…" She looked back at the road and pulled onto the highway.

"…So…" Sora looked at his hands sadly and shook his head slowly side to side. "…I already called you last week to talk to you about the fight Riku and I have… and it just getting worse and worse… I ended up calling him a fag… and I… feel so bad after, but… I keep doing it again and again…"

Rikku shook her head slowly side to side, and sighed, showing her disappointment. "Really, Sora? Don't you know how that makes him feel? You know you're even too nice for that."

Sora bit his bottom lip for a few seconds, and then released it, a single tear finally spilling down his left cheek. He quickly wiped it off and shook his head side to side. "I-I know, but… I, just…! I…" His voice began to quiver. "…I'm scared, that's why I say those things…"

"…Scared?" Rikku asked as she switched lanes. She glanced at him quickly before looking back at the road. "…Of what?"

Sora was now starting to sob. "…I'm s-scared o-o-of l-liking him..!"

` There. He admitted it. Now what?

Rikku looked at Sora for a full 5 seconds, and then looked back ahead. "…Sora," she said 'Sora' in the are-you-serious? kind of tone. "…You should never be afraid to like somebody, girl or guy! Gender should never matter!"

Sora looked out the window. "I know, but it's easier said than done… I just don't want to be… don't want to be—"

"Gay?" Rikku asked with a small gasp. "Sora; never be afraid of who you are; embrace it!" She gripped the drivers' wheel hard.

Sora looked away. "…I know… I'm sorry." He understood where Rikku was coming from, but it was just difficult for him to comprehend his own feelings. Did he like Kairi? Or did he like Riku?

He decided to let time show him the way.