I do not own KH or Beauty and the Beast in any way, shape, or form. This is purely for fun, and playing around with what creativity I've got.

Please enjoy, and review, as I shamelessly twist more precious childhood memories and stick akuroku into the equation :)

Ages: Roxas-16, Axel-20

Soleil was like any other little farming village in the valley. Small town, relatively friendly people, and enough natural beauty to please any man for the rest of his life. By far, the sunrise was the most beautiful. It was breathtaking to watch the soft, red glow spread over the town, warming the valley and casting long shadows over the tiny houses. The glow was especially beautiful as it set over the wildflowers, each of them sparkling with the dew that gathered in the fields...

At the far end of the village stood a lone house, built of old but sturdy wood. It was somewhat isolated from town by a small stream, over which a quaint little bridge crossed the gap. The house itself was big and beautiful, with a barn and a long picket fence that stretched around the land where the animals could roam and graze as they pleased.

But it was not the house itself that drew the talk of the town.

Standing up slowly and brushing off his clothes, a young blonde took one more look at the brilliant sunrise before beginning his morning chores. He fed the livestock, the chickens and his faithful horse, then fetched water from the old well to tend the crops. It was almost mid fall, and though his father had planted a bit late because of the move, the crops seemed to be doing very well. They were about ready to harvest.

Satisfied with his work, the boy wiped away the sweat beading on his brow and considered the time. That had taken him only about an hour and a half; the sun was now hanging lazily just above the mountains. Smiling at a job well done, Roxas walked up the steps to the front door and came inside.

As soon as he opened the door, the scent of freshly baked bread and cooked eggs assaulted his senses. Sure enough, in the kitchen, his father was bent over the old stove, frying pan in one hand while his other was preoccupied with a strange device. His latest invention, no doubt.

"Morning, Father..." The boy moved to the table, spotting a glass of juice set out for him on the table. He drank it quickly, sighing pleasantly at the refreshing coolness.

"You should drink more milk, Roxas." The man fiddled with what looked like a spatula with strange attachments nailed into it. "It's good for strong bones, and it'll help you grow a little taller."

The blond rolled his eyes, sitting down at the table. "With all due respect, Father, it never seemed to make a difference with you."

"Don't talk back, Roxas. Didn't anyone ever teach you to respect your elders?"

Roxas grinned, reaching for a piece of bread from the basket in the middle of the table.

"No. In fact, you taught me to always challenge my elders." Age and wisdom was important, but old people were far from infallible. Vexen smiled knowingly.

"Quiet, smart alec. You're lucky I haven't beaten yo- Woah!"

Roxas looked up from his plate, the large slice of bread half in his mouth, and just barely ducked in time as an egg was hurled at his head. It shattered on the wall right behind him, its shell and yolk slowly oozing down the wall. Vexen was frantically waving the spatula around now, trying to stop the malfunctioning device.

"Roxas, get over here and give me a hand, would you?"

The boy nodded, taking the bread out of his mouth and leaving it on the plate. He grabbed the top of a cooking pot and held it up like a shield as he charged over to help...

Several minutes, and smashed eggs later, the younger blond slumped back into his chair, looking a little disgusted as he combed through his spikes looking for shells and yolks. Vexen, looking equally disheveled, took off his apron and came over to the table as well, bringing the frying pan with him.

"I believe this one isn't ready for the fair..." Roxas raised a golden eyebrow at him, looking incredulous.

"What was your first indication?" He resumed his toast with vigor. "That monster would sooner get you arrested than win first prize."

Vexen chuckled lightly, taking a regular spatula and scooping the eggs they'd salvaged onto the plate. "Perhaps you're right. Luckily I have a few other experiments in the cellar that could work for this occasion. With a few tweaks here and there..."

"What's the theme for this year? I'm sure you mentioned it, but I can't remember."

The man paused a moment, thinking aloud. "I believe it was 'homes of tomorrow.' I need to bring something that will help make people's everyday lives easier."

"How about you invent something so that people can milk cows without having to use their hands, or something that chops firewood for you really quickly, so you have plenty for the winter..." The blond groaned internally at the latter. There weren't many trees directly in the village, so when it came time to chop firewood, they would have to go all the way to the forest at the foot of the mountains. The woods were dark and mysterious, and Roxas was well-content to stay away from them.

"All good ideas, son. I've taught you well," Vexen laughed, ruffling Roxas's hair softly. "You've got a good head on your shoulders." He frequently liked to claim that the boy had gotten all his smarts from him. He would also joke that fortunately, Roxas had received all his looks from his mother. The boy hadn't really gotten the chance to know his mother; she had fallen ill after his birth and died shortly after.

But even without his mother's presence, Roxas didn't want for anything. His father had more than enough love and care for him.

Vexen then cleared his throat, drawing his attention. "I need a few things for my latest project, and if I recall correctly, you still have a book you need to return to the bookshop. Could you go into town today and pick up the tools for me?"

"If I must..." He lowered his eyes to the shiny surface of the table, sighing. "I really don't like it there. Most of the people are nice, I suppose, but the rest act like we're odd..." The land was very beautiful, much nicer than the city. But the people who lived there seemed very distant, especially given that Vexen and his son were new.

The village sons trained at young ages to be blacksmiths, farmers, butchers, and such, and woman went on to take care of the home and family. Everyone worked to give to the community. Vexen was strictly an inventor, leaving most of the farm work to his son, and Roxas had no particular trade that he'd been learning since birth. He wasn't interested in much aside from reading, but he followed his passions.

Neither of them had a set place, a role that others depended upon, and the village was not terribly happy about it. Roxas's only saving grace was that he was young, attractive, and friendly. The women in town were always gossiping, torn between introducing him to their daughters and worrying that he was a strange, mentally-unstable inventor like his father...

Vexen sighed again. "I'm sure you're just imagining it, Roxas. The people here are...a little old-fashioned, that's all. They live by what they know, and what they know probably hasn't changed significantly in hundreds of years."

"I guess you're right. I just...feel like I'll never fit in here." The boy twirled his fork around his plate, scrapping around the last bits of egg. "I don't like people looking at me like that."

His father placed a hand on his shoulder, pressing firmly. "I know it's hard at first, son. It takes time to get adjusted, but once we do, I'm sure things will be just fine."

The younger blond couldn't help but roll his eyes.

"And besides, that boy Seifer seemed interested in getting to know you."

Roxas instantly gagged, his eyes going wide. He choked on air for a moment while his father patted his back. Once he'd regained his composure, the boy rounded on Vexen, blue eyes gleaming angrily.

"Seifer is an idiot and a bully! I want nothing to do with him!"

Seifer was a popular young man in town, who was training with his father to become the next village guardian. His job was to protect the people from any potential threats, and he was to be responsible for organizing any mass hunting expeditions when the overall town food supply ran low. More aggravating to Roxas, Seifer was the arrogant heartthrob of the village. Every girl wanted to marry him, and even some of the young men. It was clearly going to the man's head; he strutted all over town with his two cronies, showing off...

It was disgusting and embarrassing.

Roxas wouldn't have minded as much if the boy didn't suddenly take an interest in him. Seifer had begun pursuing him when he went into town, making uncomfortable passes at him in sight of the whole village...

Vexen shrugged, standing and collecting the plates and silverware.

"Well, you can go out whenever you're ready. I suggest you bathe first, though. You've still got some egg in your hair..."

Grumbling some more, Roxas nodded curtly and stalked off to his room.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Roxas walked quickly through town, tugging the strap of his bag up awkwardly as he tried to ignore the eyes of the people around him. The market was bustling at this time of day, and the air was filled with delicious smells and the sounds of shouting, bargaining men and women. The boy would have enjoyed it more, being reminded of his old life in the city, but he felt uncomfortable when he caught the little conversations from the surrounding stalls and shops.

"Isn't that the inventor's boy?"

"Yes, it is. I saw the smoke coming from his chimney at dawn; I wonder what his father is building now?"

"Hmph! Something stupid, no doubt! The man couldn't build a hammer from a rock."

Roxas's temper sizzled. He wanted to defend his father, violently, if necessary, but held back, rubbing the throbbing vein on his forehead in annoyance. His father wouldn't be happy with him if he started a fight over something so trivial. It would not improve their social status in town either...

So he kept walking, clutching at his bag and wishing he could nail his ears shut.

"What a shame. Such a lovely complexion...and those eyes..."

"It's no wonder Seifer fancies him. The boy is quite attractive..."

"I wish Seifer would pay attention to me! What makes that brat so special?"

The boy nearly choked again. The girl who had spoken last was Kairi, the daughter of the poor old taylor living on the corner, right next door to the bakery. She wasn't a very bright girl, and had a nasty side when her mother wasn't around.

What nonsense...

Thanking the gods, Roxas ducked into his favorite bookshop, instantly greeted by the smell of dust and ink. This was the only sizable bookshop in town, but Roxas loved browsing the shelves for hours, even rereading old novels that he doubted anyone from town had read in years.

"Good morning!...Oh, Roxas! It's good to see you back here again!"

The blond looked around for a moment, seeing no one there by any of the shelves or at the desk. The kind old bookkeeper sat up slowly from behind the desk, smiling genuinely.

"Good morning, Madame Leclair..."

"It's good to see your smiling face again. Now, dear, what is it I can do for you today?"

Roxas smiled still as he unslung the bag from his shoulder and set it on the floor. Of all the people in town, the only one who didn't seem to judge him for his habits was this sweet old woman who worked in the lonely bookshop on the far side of town. Maybe it was because he often kept her company and helped her with the store when he had some time. Or maybe she was just too old to care about such things anymore.

"I have this book I need to return, ma'am.." he replied, pulling it out carefully. "Have you seen any other customers today?"

Madame Leclair smiled sadly. "I'm afraid not, my boy. It's a real shame too, that we're the only ones who can appreciate a good book in this old town...but alas, that's not something I can help, is it?..." She drifted off for a moment, lost in thought, before getting up and walking to his side, placing her rough, old hands over his lightly where he held the book. "So did you like this one, Roxas?"

The boy nodded enthusiastically. "Yeah, I really did! Fairytales and mysteries are my favorites." This particular book combined those two genres very nicely. It had a genuine twist in the ending, and Roxas hated putting it down.

The old woman smiled kindly. "That's wonderful. I'm glad you enjoyed it..." Instead of taking the book back from him, she merely pushed it back into his hands. The little blond's eyebrows furrowed slightly in confusion as she chuckled. "If you like it that much, it's yours..."

Roxas's eyes widened. "Oh! No, no, I couldn't..."

"Yes you can," she replied calmly, smiling as she patted him softly on the head. "It's mine to give, and I want you to have it. All it will do around here is sit and gather dust, like me. It deserves to be taken care of, cherished, and read by someone who loves it." When the blond still looked a tad unsure, she added, "Call it a gift. A gift from an old friend..."

"Thank you so much!"

Before he could get caught up in another book talk with her, Roxas remembered that he had to be back soon, or his father would wonder. So he said good bye and hurried out the door.

On the way to the market again, Roxas cracked the book open and began rereading as he walked, heart swelling a little. This was one of the nicest gifts he'd ever gotten, and he felt happy knowing that at least someone in this place understood him a little.

He didn't make it far, however, before he collided with something big and hard, and Roxas yelped as he toppled backwards and fell, his book landing on its spine and thudding int he dirt. Rubbing his back side and wincing a little, he prepared to apologize...before the words caught in his throat and his apologetic look changed into a scowl.

"Well, well, well. Just the person I was looking for."