AN: HELLO HELLO, and guess what everyone! I'm doing a collaboration with my best roleplaying buddy EVAR. This is the first collab I have ever done before, and it is based off of a roleplay me and her did that was quite the epic masterpiece SO. This first chapter is by her, and she will also be putting it up on her account so if you happen to find this fic on the website on some one else's account by the name of 'roxasoras', don't worry it's her! Hahaha okay, so in this collaboration we will go back and forth writing chapters, so the next time I/we update this the next chapter will be written by yours truly! So we hope you enjoy this and await for more!
It was inevitable that he would be the last one to be picked; this was the thought that had been nagging within the innermost crevices of the blonde's mind, becoming increasingly prominent as names that weren't his were called out by the two captains in charge of selecting their teams.
"Tch," scoffed the taller of the duo, another (considerably taller) blonde who regarded the remaining students with disdain. "I don't want either of these lamers on my team."
Regardless of his situation and the reason which dictated the team captains' reticence to choose him, it still stung a little as the chubby kid whose hairstyle reminded the male of a pineapple was chosen, leaving transfer student Roxas Black to awkwardly shuffle towards the side who had been lumbered with him.
Such was the curse of the new kid: people only interacted with you when they were forced to, thus you wandered around on your lonesome until someone took pity on your poor, obscured soul. Had he been in elementary or even middle school then they would have swarmed around him, clamouring to be his bestest best friend because he was something new and therefore interesting. But no, high schoolers were more inclined to consider social status and standing before anything else - they wouldn't want to take the risk of befriending him only to discover that he were a geek or something equally as undesirable which would tarnish their beloved reputations.
"Okay guys," their teacher, who had introduced himself as Mr. Strife, began upon retrieving a blue bat from one of the boxes that had been carted out from the storage room by the keener students who had been the first to change. "The last time we struggled, some of you got carried away." Azure eyes settled upon a student on Roxas' team whom he remembered as Hayner.
"Heheh, yeah, chicken wuss!" Goaded the blonde captain.
"Shut up Seifer!" Hayner cried hotly, cheeks tinged with crimson.
"Both of you," sighed Mr. Strife, "the main part of the lesson's barely started and you're already getting on my nerves."
How eloquent of you, Roxas mused, swallowing hard when both boys adopted variably sheepish expressions (though Seifer's arrogant swagger still remained), and the teacher proceeded to explain the rules of 'struggling'.
He gestured to a set of shoulder pads which were attached to a network of black straps that apparently wound about the wearer's torso, and a helmet equipped with a mouth guard. The man then informed them of the regulations regarding contact: no wrestling or anything which would impede on the other party's movement.
Roxas felt himself zoning out, but was soon roused back into reality when Hayner elbowed him in the sight with a slender elbow. The blonde blinked rapidly, gazing up dumbfounded and found himself meeting his teacher's cold stare.
"Thanks for volunteering, Black." Mr. Strife nodded, all but throwing the protective gear at the spiky-haired youth. "Addison, help him out."
"Yessir!" Hayner mock saluted, invoking an eye roll from their superior. Oblivious to the irritation that he caused, Hayner proceeded to help Roxas as instructed and finally handed him one of the bats, whose weight the boy had underestimated.
"How am I supposed to move?" He groaned beneath the mass of the 'suit'. "Let alone hit someone?"
"We'll play without spheres for now," announced the man in charge of the class. "So as to get you guys used to moving about."
"Guys?" Roxas all but squeaked.
"You can't struggle alone, lamer," grinned Seifer, also sporting the shoulder pads, straps and helmet. "Though I bet someone like you would fight yourself and still lose!"
What did this guy possess that warranted him to be a complete and utter dick? Roxas' fingers clenched tighter about the handle in defiance of Seifer's words, adrenaline pulsing through his blood vessels and making the bat seem lighter in his grasp.
"Stand ten feet apart," instructed Mr. Strife, taking hold of the whistle which hung at his throat and placing it between his lips. "Three... Two..."
Before he had chance to blow into the device, the larger of the blonde combatants darted forward, bat poised to whack Roxas about the head. Despite the presence of the helmet, the pre-emptive strike caught the already uneasy student off guard, and Roxas found himself suddenly staggering backward.
"Almasy!" Came Mr. Strife's alarmed cry - he went to intervene but was obstructed by twenty or so boys who now crowded the pair of strugglers.
Roxas had now recovered for the most part, his teeth were clenched tightly together as he and Seifer circled the invisible arena (albeit it more laboriously in the the slender blonde's case, the 'armour' was goddamn heavy!). He watched as Seifer's lip curved upwards into a smug smirk, and Roxas anticipated that there would be a flurry of strikes when his antagonist lunged forward a second time, just from the glint in the boy's eyes. Of course, he had no clue as to how he could counter effectively, nor the strength in his body to deflect the older male's unquestionably powerful assault.
Instead, he released a small yelp and ducked to the side - the weight of the shoulder guards threw his balance askew and the transfer student soon found himself on his stomach, knees stinging from the abrasion across the asphalt.
"Roxas!" He heard Hayner shriek above the raucous hubbub of their fellow males. The transfer student stared dizzily up to spy Seifer going in for another melee attack now that he was mostly incapacitated, and stuck out his bat in a bid to trip the oncoming blonde. Roxas felt something connect with the weapon before Seifer emitted a yelp of his own - a mighty cheer erupted around him and then Roxas was hauled to his feet.
"Black, you okay?" Mr. Strife's fingers were already working to unfasten the protective hear and Roxas felt the pressure of the helmet ease off as it was wrenched from his golden-yellow head.
"Mmm," was all he could respond with as he gnawed his lower lip, glancing furtively to the male on the ground. "Is Seifer...?"
"In trouble? Yeah."
"Roxas! That was amazing!" Remarked an awe-inspired Hayner, who had shoved his way out of the depths of the boisterous crowd of onlookers and was now beside the blonde.
"Take him to Miss Gainsborough's office. He's got two nasty scrapes on his knees which need to be cleaned up."
Roxas glanced down and sure enough, there were two cuts from where he had tumbled ungracefully to the ground, rouge liquid glistening upon the surface of the tender, newly exposed skin - it was as if they had only appeared when the teacher mentioned them. They were sore too, twinging with a prickly pain that was bearable yet simultaneously bothersome. He was grateful when Hayner wrapped an arm around his shoulders, feeling somewhat giddy from when Seifer had clubbed him about the head.
Said male was now receiving a stern lecture from Mr. Strife, his nonchalance unfaltering as he was forbidden from participating in subsequent physical education lessons which centered around struggling and issued a week's worth of after school detention.
"Cocky bastard," Hayner growled once they were safely out of earshot. "But seriously man, way to go! No-one's ever managed to trip Seifer before - not even me!"
Roxas had assumed that Hayner was proficient when it came to sports when he'd been their captain's first selection. He was annoying as heck, so it obviously wasn't due to popularity, and the boy had seen him associated with pineapple-head (also known as Pence Sorenson, not that Roxas understood why he had remembered that guy's name). The cute brunette who completed Hayner's trio was Olette Fleur, but her chances of being 'someone' were hindered by her love for academics. Even at a school that prided itself on its scholastics and where parents paid copious amounts of money to educate their offspring, all that mattered to the students was superficiality and whether you had the personality to match.
Of course, Roxas wasn't snobbish when it came to people walking into his life and offering friendship, but Hayner was one of the last people he would consider to be a peer. But, if it meant getting closer to Olette...
"Heh," the typically dour male chuckled. "I got lucky."
"Well, you oughta share some of that luck around," replied Hayner, no sooner had the words left Roxas' vocal chords. "You do realise that you're like... A hero now, right? Sure, Seifer might start a personal vendetta against you for humiliating him, but I've got your back!" To demonstrate, he struck Roxas squarely between the shoulder blades which caused him to splutter. The idea of Seifer wanting revenge didn't seem like a very amusing one at all, regardless of how lucky Hayner had deemed him to be.
Finally, they reached the nurse's office, home to a charming young woman clad in a pink uniform and sporting a pink bow in her elegant brown tresses. Green eyes regarded Roxas kindly, her painted lips parting as she gasped at the state of his knees. Somewhat baffled by the fact that someone too young and pretty to be the school nurse was tending to his wounds as if they would have to be amputated otherwise, Roxas felt his cheeks pinken - something which did not go unnoticed by the other blonde who was lingering around like an unwanted smell.
"Don't blame you man," he winked after Miss Gainsborough had applied the antiseptic cream and gone behind the curtain to collect suitably-sized band-aids. "Aerith's pretty hot."
There were some people in the world who desperately needed zippers rather than lips so that Roxas could shut them up at his own leisure, and Hayner was proving to be one of them. The teasing did not subside once 'Aerith' had returned with the band-aids; it was bad enough that he felt like a little kid having his wounds dressed by his mother rather than a fifteen year old, red-blooded male without his new companion's (and the term was applied very loosely in this case) jibes.
He'd wanted to go about his school life with his head down, drawing little attention to himself, but in the space of half an hour, he'd managed completely screw this plan up, for Hayner was now prattling on about him being the envy of all the guys as well as the latest addition to Seifer's hit list. Roxas almost wished that the floor would open up and devour him whole, dreading the moment when the fair-haired male would return with their belongings from the changing rooms and resume his far-from-amusing tirade.
Someone upstairs must've been aware of his plight and pitied him, for no sooner had he thanked the nurse and walked out of the office, he were greeted by none other than Olette (granted, Pence was with her too, but Roxas completely ignored the tubby student).
"Hello," she smiled warmly, accompanying the greeting with a little wave. "I hear you managed to topple the almighty Seifer, Roxas. Pretty impressive!"
"Uh, not really," an abased Roxas responded, awkwardly scratching the base of his neck. "I just got lucky."
"Oh, I see," the girl chuckled, affixing her gaze to Hayner. "Well, Pence and I were going to visit the library. I wanna get started on next week's assignment, and it won't hurt to start prepping for the biology test either."
Such was Olette's appeal - whilst other girls were gossiping and fawning over the Neanderthal-like jocks, she was getting on with the things that really mattered.
"Yo Roxas, quit spacing out!" For the second time that day, Hayner's vocals brought him back down to Earth as his bag was shoved into his grasp. "Did you wanna go with them, or come with me to get some ice cream from the cafeteria? My treat, for the hero!"
Ice cream? Roxas felt his heart leap, mood instantly lifting - he'd never imagined that they would sell ice cream at a place like this! Maybe the expensive tuition and lodging fees were worth it, after all - not that he was paying. But now, he faced a dilemma. Olette or ice cream? Ice cream or Olette? Today, ice cream had the edge over the brunette, even with that captivating smile of hers.
Honestly, he berated himself as Hayner literally grabbed him by the collar and towed him away from the twosome no sooner had he made his choice known. There's gotta be something wrong with me to choose my stomach over spending time with a cute girl...
Had he been nurturing any fears concerning his imminent notoriety at that moment in time rather than pondering how hard Seifer must've hit him, they were swift to dissipate when he and Hayner were striding down the corridor connecting the hospital wing to the heart of the campus. Roxas spied several members of their P.E. class congregated around something which he couldn't quite make out, due to the multitude of students who were intrigued by the exact same thing (many of whom were a great deal taller than the sophomore). Had Seifer claimed another victim? Or had an incriminating photograph of one of the popular girls without any make-up on been posted on a notice board that Roxas hadn't been aware of before?
"Oh," Hayner's eyes widened, but he did not hasten to join the gaggle of teenagers. "Guess they finally finished that memorial drinking fountain. About time."
"Memorial... Fountain?" Roxas echoed with a puzzled frown upon his face.
"You mean you don't know about Sora? Where've you been this past- Oh right, I forgot. You've only been here for what, a week?"
The blonde failed to acknowledge this apology, tilting his head to one side upon piecing the information together.
"Sora, uh, died?"
"Mmm," nodded Hayner, bearing an expression that Roxas had thought it impossible for him to make - the other male was actually solemn. "It was a year ago, just before summer vacation." Roxas also noted that he had lowered his tone - perhaps a mark of respect? "See, there was this gang known as the Organization... They were kinda the bad guys of the school, always cutting class, picking on others, pulling pranks and generally causing trouble for-"
"Sounds like Seifer," interjected the spiky-haired blonde.
"No... No!" Hayner shook his head adamantly, waving his hands to emphasize how wrong Roxas was. "Much worse than Seifer. There's only one Seifer, but there were six of them."
"I'll get to that!" Hissed the informant. "Didn't you wanna hear about Sora? Anyway," came the frown, "the Organization had a problem with some kids our age. Wait, no... Riku was in the class above, but he was childhood friends with Sora, so..."
Roxas' sky blue eyes rolled in their sockets. They were nearly at the cafeteria by now, and Hayner was still far from the main point of his explanation.
"Whatever, there were three of them who were the Organization's main targets: Sora and Riku, and a girl called Kairi. Sora and Kairi were pretty innocent, but from what I heard, Riku wasn't afraid to affiliate himself with the dark side if need be. The Organization wanted him to join them, but he wouldn't. It ended up with a huge fight on the roof! Riku was up against Axel Hastings - the most notorious member of the Organization!"
Roxas couldn't help but wonder if Hayner was going to pee himself from excitement, the way he was carrying on, becoming more animated with each word that escaped from his lips.
"He killed Sora and then took his own life outta guilt! Oh, speak of the devil - that's him right there!" Hayner indicated to a notice board suspended on a wall just outside the cafeteria. The cork surface was dominated by the handsome, angular face of a crimson haired teen, photographs having been taken from a variety of different angles.
"What the...?" Roxas remarked, golden brows arching skyward.
"Yeah, he was pretty popular with the girls, despite being a jackass. Makes you sick, right?"
"I see..." The blonde breathed, chest tightening as he stared into the static, emerald eyes of a supposed killer.
"Guess every girl's unable to resist a bad boy... Even after what went on, his fan club still keep this weird... Shrine thing up. Principal Yen Sid tried to get rid of it, but it's like nothing can stop the will of rabid Axel fangirls," he laughed, albeit hollowly.
There were so many pictures of this man, but none of them seemed to have been taken with his knowledge (though the centermost picture was clearly labeled with his name and class number, so Roxas assumed that this was from a yearbook of some sort).
"Yeah, if you're wondering why he looks so old for a sophomore, it was because they dropped him down a grade. He liked playing hooky, and I reckon it's also so he could continue his reign of terror over the school - it's not like they'd expel him when his family's paying good money to keep him away from them anyway. He'd be a senior if he hadn't have... But if you ask me... It's better without him around anymore..."
Roxas deemed this to be somewhat harsh, but knew that he hadn't experienced school life with the Organization and Axel around and therefore couldn't judge.
"What about the rest of them? You said there were six, yeah?"
"Saix graduated last year, and Xigbar and Luxord shortly after the incident occurred. Demyx and Zexion were in Axel's class, so they're seniors, but you don't hear much from them. S'why Seifer's suddenly started up."
With one last look at the peculiar memorial the two blondes entered the cafeteria and promptly joined the line of people trailing from the hatch.
"What is it?" Roxas blinked passively.
"Uhh... Ahaha..." Hayner was rummaging through his bag. "I seem to have left my money in my dorm room..." A sheepish grin crept its way across Hayner's mouth, causing Roxas to sigh with exasperation.
"Here," he muttered and retrieved his own black and white, checkered wallet, offering it to his classmate.
"Sweet! I totally owe you, man!" Hayner cheered, tipping out a handful of coins and all but throwing it back at its spiky haired owner. "Two ice creams, please!" He grinned to the female who stood behind the counter and was promptly asked which flavours he so desired. "Roxas, whaddya-"
"I don't care. Anything'll do I guess," shrugged Roxas, who pocketed his wallet and swung his bag over one shoulder before sloping lethargically from the queue and heading for an occupied space beside one of the windows. "I'll get a table."
The blonde didn't have long to mull over the day's events or recall the assignments he had been given by his teachers earlier on, for Hayner was soon striding towards him with two bars of ice cream in his grasp.
"I got you the same as me," came the explanation as Roxas was handed one of the blue-wrappered treats. "Hope you don't mind."
"Sea salt ice cream..." Roxas uttered aloud, shuddering internally upon imagining the taste. He'd hated swimming in the ocean as a child and accidentally swallowing a mouthful of saline water, or even getting it on his lips, and why Hayner was so keen on it, he hadn't the foggiest.
"It's nicer than it sounds, trust me," said an observant Hayner who was already gorging on his own popsicle. "Here - try some of mine if you want."
"No thanks," the transfer student pulled a face, tearing the wrapper apart and tentatively protruding his tongue in order to lick the azure ice cream. It was such a strange taste - he'd never savoured anything like it before! As stated in the name, it was salty but the flavour soon became much sweeter as it lingered on his tastebuds.
"Good?" The other boy laughed upon witnessing the child-like expression of his peer.
"Mmm, yeah!" Roxas nodded, eagerly suckling on the frozen dessert until his lips were numb.
"Hey," one of Hayner's feet collided with Roxas' shins, drawing his attention away from the newfound delight. "You know what else?"
A silent Roxas shook his head, causing his golden-blonde spikes to dance a little.
"So I told you about Axel and Sora... But I didn't tell you about the ghost, did I?"
He wasn't sure whether it was the blue bar of sea salt ice cream or not, but Roxas felt a sudden chill run up his spine. The youth averted his gaze from the brown eyed teen, staring down at the courtyard which the cafeteria overlooked. Was this all some sort of ploy, to befriend the new guy and then scare him shitless with a lame ghost story? They wouldn't break into his dormitory halfway through the night and carry him off somewhere in order to freak him out and thus 'initiate' him, would they?
Axel probably wasn't even dead! No doubt a kid like him would have been cutting class all the time that Roxas was there, and it was a rather large establishment... Then again, there wasn't anyone named Sora in his sophomore classes (but there was a Kairi), unless the boy had somehow failed freshman year.
His heart was in his mouth when a redhead suddenly emerged from the bushes, but they were short and rather rotund - the polar opposite of what he envisioned Axel to be (guys of Axel's 'caliber' were always tall, slender and incredibly handsome - not that he found bullies attractive).
"Don't tell me you-"
"No, I don't believe in ghosts!" Roxas snapped, before releasing a sigh and running his tongue across what was left of his popsicle. "They're about as real as those 'you are a winner!' ads on the internet, or teachers who don't give you any homework... Speaking of which, maybe I better go start on stuff now... I didn't get to shower after P.E. class either..." He probably reeked of a tramp's armpit, or something equally as repulsive. Perhaps a minor exaggeration, but the blonde was slightly obsessive when it came to personal hygiene.
"Haha, yeah!" Hayner had completely ignored him. "A few people have been seeing strange things lately... Like bags that float across the room, and disappearing homework. Wait, no... That's the excuse I'm gonna make to Mr. Leonhart tomorrow."
"... A ghost stole your homework?" An ever-increasingly impatient Roxas cocked an eyebrow in simultaneous incredulity and amusement at Hayner's unbridled imbecility. "Wow..."
"I know, right?" Hayner chortled, scooping up their litter and proceeding to poke at either of the two wrappers with his finished popsicle stick.
"Anyway," the fifteen year old cleared his throat, beginning his second bid for freedom. "I'm gonna head back to my room now. Catch you later, maybe."
"Oh, I was gonna ask if you wanted to come to my room to read some comics, but... Bye I guess..." Hayner waved slightly in farewell, but Roxas was already stalking out of the cafeteria as fast as his twinging legs could carry him.
Dumb ghost story, Roxas scoffed silently as he was met with the sight of two-dozen or so Axel Hastingses scowling, smirking and brooding before the living world that surrounded them. People'll believe anything if they're stupid enough...
Despite his doubts, the blonde found himself meandering towards the supposed memorial site for the other 'casualty'. Sure enough, the image of a cheerful brunette beamed straight at him above a gleaming fountain, alongside a plaque which bore a name and two dates. Roxas assumed these to be the kid's birthday and the day of the incident.
Sora had turned fourteen shortly before his life was ended; just preparing to enter high school before Axel Hastings decided that the sunny-faced youth didn't deserve a place on Earth anymore. From what he understood, the boarding school also catered for slightly younger students though this was not its main focus. It only served to enhance the tragedy which had occurred, for Sora at least.
Any intrigue he had harboured towards Axel soon morphed into disgust and Roxas stomped away from the fountain with nausea bubbling within the pit of his stomach.
He was able to erase the negativity no sooner had he delved into the assortment of essays and assignments that loomed over him, removed the band-aids from his knees and taken his long sought-after shower. By the time the boy was prepared for bed feeling refreshed and moderately fatigued, it was approximately eleven o'clock. Garbed in his typical nightwear (a light blue t-shirt and a clean pair of boxer shorts), Roxas clambered into bed and closed his eyes, thinking about the lovely Olette and how goddamn irritating Hayner was.
A short while after his blonde head had collided with the soft pillow and he was drifting between the realm of dreams and the reality of consciousness, he heard a peculiar hissing noise which seemed to be coming from his en suite. Roxas was certain that he had switched the shower off, even in his lethargic haze.
The boy pushed back the covers, rubbing his half-lidded eyes as he swung both feet over the side of the mattress and staggered in a zombie-like manner towards the bathroom.
It was actually quite humid when his fingers pushed against the door, a pillar of steam gushing out and rousing him to full alertness. Roxas spluttered a little, waving his arms to clear away the vaporous clouds and staring at the shower.
Even if he hadn't been completely awake by then, the presence of a naked redhead standing inside the cubicle opposite the door and washing their tall, slender, probably handsome form would definitely have had an impact on the unsuspecting blonde.
They were whistling a song that Roxas vaguely recognized, seemingly oblivious to the boy's presence. His eyes rivaled the size of saucers as he regarded the intruder in horror, and Roxas gulped heavily when something connected sparked within his short term memory.
The red hair... The nonchalant pose, even as they were showering with their back turned to him. Roxas knew who it was, but didn't want to believe it. He was dreaming - that was it! The additives in the popsicle in combination with Hayner's nonsense were just making him see strange things in his sleep! Soon, he would wake up back in his bed, and this would have all been a hallucination.
"Mmm," he heard the throaty moan of the man, still paralyzed with fear. A figment of his imagination or not, there was a murderer in his bathroom...
"You must be Roxas, right? The name's Axel Hastings. Got it memorized?"