Hey guys! Thanks for the feedback on that last chapter! I'm glad you guys liked Axel's introduction into this story. And now I give you the long awaited introduction! Anyways, I'd like to dedicate this chapter to Shiksa, because without her urging and constant complements I might never have worked through my cursed writer's block.

Chapter 3

Roxas blinked, stunned, unable to do little else but stare. Before him stood Xion, as perfectly beautiful as ever. Her small form was poured into a snug black sweater, leading down into a swishy lavender skirt that swayed an inch or so above her knees. It matched her eyes perfectly; Xion liked to match. She was the kind of girl who had perfectly coordinated sweater sets to wear over her matching bra and panties, something Roxas had always found ridiculously sexy

Her hair was black as pitch, shining in the fluorescent lights of his office and hanging just below her ears. Her bangs cut sideways across her forehead in a style that looked both carelessly mussed and painstakingly styled. Her eyebrows were thin, the same dark shade as her hair, arching elegantly over large, violet, eyes. Heavy-lidded and framed by a million sooty lashes they were by far Roxas's favorite feature, the one that mesmerized him the most. He could appreciate her generous breasts and well shaped ass, treasure the feel of his hands spanning her tiny waist, but he could get lost in her eyes. They intoxicated him like nothing else.

At the moment however, they were cold, like purple ice, shielded from any emotion whatsoever. It was if they were scotch guarded, repelling away everything that Roxas had once loved about them. Repelling away Roxas's obvious love for her. She blinded from everything, his shock, his hurt, the utter destruction she was wreaking as the words continued to fall from her pretty, perfect, rosebud, lips.

They poured from her lips like rancid honey as she explained what she'd done. Why Roxas's cards had been rejected, how he didn't have a cent. How everything he'd worked so hard for, the empire he'd built, had been stolen from him bit by bit but he two people he'd trusted most. And when she was finished, Roxas could say nothing but, "Why?"

Her tone calm, unaffected, she simply shrugged her tiny shoulders and replied, "You don't have it Roxas, that killer instinct. You've done extraordinarily well for yourself, but this was all you were ever going to have. All I, as your fiance, was ever going to have, and I'm sorry Roxas, but I need more. And with Xemnas I can get it." Moving from where she had been perched on his desk, she slid to the floor, her long legs carrying her across the room to where Xemnas stood.

Roxas had met Xemnas several years ago, had thought they were friends. It was hard to make real, true, friends when money was such an issue, but with Xemnas he'd thought he'd be alright. With each of them owning half of the company he'd foolishly believed that that put them on equal terms. Now, watching him kiss the woman that still wore Roxas's ring, he realized how very wrong he was. The business world was a corrupt place, and Xemnas was no different from anyone else; Out for money and power, stepping on whoever dared to block their path.

Turning back to him, her lips slightly flushed, tucked neatly under Xemnas's arm, she continued. "You're a sweet guy Roxas, but let's face it. You're just not cut out for the business world."

"Fine" Roxas replied, trying to inject venom into his words but coming up short. Instead, he just sounded dead. "So you're a greedy bitch out to get yours. Good for you. But why the smear campaign. You got your money, why the fuck did you have to destroy me in the process?"

"It's simple really," Xemnas smiled, his cool, cultured, voice once warm and familiar now grating on Roxas's ears. "When something is stolen, the first thing the victim does, even before plotting revenge, is try to figure a way to regain what was lost. And while I regret resorting to something as petty as demolishing your reputation, I'm afraid it was a necessary counter-measure. No one will believe your accusations against us, you have no credibility anymore, nor do you have the means to build yourself up again and buy everything all back. No, Organization 13 is completely under my sole ownership, and there is not a person in the world that can take it away from me."

"I'm sorry Roxas." Xion commented, "But that's that killer instinct I mentioned. You can't help that you don't have it." Slipping out from Xemnas's hold she approached the blonde. Gently, she slid the ring from her finger, placing it in Roxas's hand before curling his fingers around it, smiling her frosty smile and patting his hand condescendingly "For what it's worth, the sex was great."

And with those parting words, she returned to her new lover, the two of them walking out the door, carrying along Roxas's whole world in their deceitful, greedy, pockets.

And stunned, he watched them go.

Opening his eyes, Roxas blinked groggily into the dim light. There was a hazy, confused, moment of disorientation in which Xion's ice cold eyes were the only things clear to him, as if burned there on the back of his eyes. Blinking forcefully, he shook the image away, choosing to instead look around the room in hopes of recognizing something. Of calling back his elusive memories.

They weren't, as it turned out, so elusive after all, returning faithfully when called upon. Whether this was a blessing or a curse however was up for debate. Personally, Roxas was leaning heavily towards the latter. For with their return came all the accompanying conflict. His anger and confusion and everything else that churned restlessly inside of him, it's combined force as overwhelming as before. Groaning, he gripped the pillow beneath him at the corners before rolling over, dragging it with him so that it lay over his head while he buried his face into the cold spot beneath. Lying there, face down on the bed, he took as deep a breath as he could through the mattress and sighed, suppressing a sardonic grin at the dejavu... Just how many times, he wondered, would he find himself suffocating his emotions into this bed?

The light in the room was dim now, orange streaks of sunset shining in through the open curtains as it sunk behind the houses and hills visible through the window. It'd been hours since he'd first stormed in, slamming the door shut behind him and throwing his suitcase haphazardly on the floor. The sun had been high then, streaming in cheerily, lighting up the whole room, but he hadn't noticed. He had, in his anger, seen nothing but an empty room, a secluded place to vent his frustrations and a neatly made bed in which to do so. And so throwing himself down he'd all but suffocated himself in the soft, cream, comforter, breathing deeply in an attempt to quell his rage.

Lifting his head, he peered out from beneath the pillow and rolled over once more, this time holding the pillow to his chest. He could feel the beginnings of a migraine pounding behind his eyes, quite possibly stress-induced, although between the setting sun and the rumbling in his stomach, hunger was probably a pretty likely candidate.

As if on cue, a hesitant knock sounded from the door, and after a few seconds Sora poked his head through.

"Oh. You're awake."

His voice was soft, as hesitant as his knock as he opened the door fully. He didn't enter though, just stood there in the doorway, as if the room really was Roxas's. He shuffled his feet a little at the threshold in the ensuing silence, until finally Roxas nodded his agreement, moving a bit so that he was sitting, leaning back on his hands, the pillow still in his lap. He watched Sora eye is, his blue gaze drifting down to the suitcase, and then traveling over the floor, out the window. What he was looking for Roxas didn't know, but whatever it was he didn't seem to find it. Instead he just nibbled his lips a bit, his eye's returning to Roxas's for a moment before deciding that the window was a nice place to look.

"Um…so, I see you've found your room." He gestured his hands around the room in a half-hearted little display before returning them nervously to his sides. "Um…so yeah. Just make yourself at home. That dresser over there is empty, mostly. Except for the top drawer…. But you can use all the rest… Um…" He shuffled a bit more staring at the dresser. The closet. Anything but Roxas. When he said nothing else, just rocked back a little on his heels, Roxas figured it was time to speak.

"Ok. Thanks. For like…all of this…"

Sora nodded. "Uh-huh." There were a few more minutes of him quietly rocking before he spoke again. "Oh! Um…Riku… Um…" He paused, still watching for signs that Riku's name was taboo. Roxas stiffened a bit, but said nothing, which was good enough for Sora. "He um…he made dinner tonight .Stir fry. Homemade. No mushrooms though!" he added quickly. "I know…I know you don't like them so…" He let his voice just trail off before hesitantly looking back towards Roxas, gauging his reaction. He wasn't sure what he was expecting exactly, but when he just nodded he felt his heart fall a little, surprised to find that his hopes had risen. Taking a deep breath he finished delivering his message, "It should be done in a few minutes so just… You know… Come downstairs if you want. If you're hungry."

"Alright, thanks."

And with another nervous nod, Sora was gone. Alone once more, Roxas fell back onto the bed, and groaned.

Somehow Sora managed to maintain some semblance of composure while he was speaking, managed to calmly step back and close the door when he was finished. And it was only after that door was closed, when he was blocked from view, that he allowed himself to crumble. The second that door was closed he leaned back against it, hands pressed against the wood, behind his back, looked up towards the ceiling and closing his eyes, sighed. It was like he could feel himself deflating, his shoulder sagging, all his tense muscles relaxing, quite possible trying to flee.

That had been hard, harder than he'd expected. Harder than it was really supposed to be. He'd told himself that it wasn't a big deal, that he could just walk on in there, welcome him to his room and tell him that dinner would be done soon. So what if the message was delivered several hours late? What did it matter why that was so?

But though he told himself it didn't matter, he still felt his eyes drifting across the wall, to the blank spot beneath the family portrait…

It was hard to pull back when all Sora really wanted was to stay there in Riku's arms. To pull him back to the couch and stream a movie from Netflix that neither one would be watching. But he did, eventually, manage to; returning to the kitchen and leaving Riku to watch whatever he wanted by himself.

The kitchen, however, was suspiciously void of Roxas. The front door was closed and through the kitchen window he could see that Roxas's fancy car was looking very out of place on his front curb, but it was doing so alone. Barring a sudden kidnapping, Roxas must have gone inside on his own.

Sora's stomach sank as he wondered just when it was that Roxas had returned. Why hadn't he come find him? Had he tried? Had he seem him them kissing? No…no, he couldn't have. Surely he would of said something if he had. Perhaps in very high, angry, decibels, but he'd have said it nonetheless.

Even though it was silly, he found himself turning to look around the kitchen, as if Roxas was just standing in a corner or something, patiently waiting for him and Riku to finish so he could show him to his room. Unsurprisingly, his brother did not miraculously emerge from behind the refrigerator or anything, and so when Riku walked in a few seconds later, concerned by the silence, all he saw was his boyfriend turning in circles in place. Blinking, he leaned back against the wall, arms folded while he watched.

"What the hell are you doing?"

Jumping, Sora spun around once more, staring wide-eyed up at Riku. "Nothing!"

Riku just arched a brow, his lips pulling up into that smirk that Sora found so irresistible.

"Okay…fine…So I was looking for Roxas…"

Riku stared blankly at Sora for a moment before moving his head first to the left, then the right.

"He's not here."

"I know that!"

"Yeah." Riku grinned. "And I'm sure you were just holding a memorial service for that fish you used to have. Reenacting the way it swirled 'round and 'round…"

"Shut up!" Sora squealed, leaping at Riku, pounding his fist into his shoulder. "Go away! Go back to the living room! I've gotta go find my brother!"

Frantically Sora proceeded to try and shove Riku back into the living room.

"What? You lost him?"

"No! He's probably around…"

"You know, this is why you can't have a puppy."


"In fact, this is probably why your fish-"

"Would you just shut up! I've gotta-"

What is was that Sora had to do, however, was cut off by a loud noise from upstairs, a sharp banging sound that echoed just a bit through the house. Their argument forgotten, they both turned towards the stairs, quiet, as if waiting for more. When nothing else sounded, Sora just heaved a sigh.

"So…I guess I found Roxas."

Narrowing his eyes, Riku turned, laying a hand on Sora's shoulder. "You want me to handle it?"

The playful tone from before was gone, replaced with the hard, serious one. The tone he'd seemed to hone specifically for Roxas.

"No…" Sora replied, shaking his head. "No, I got this." When Riku's expression stayed the same, he forced a smile, something he hoped looked reassuring but knew probably didn't.

Riku frowned, displeased, he'd have liked to go up there and handle things his own way. He wasn't sure which room Roxas had wandered into, but they all had windows and were a floor up. Give him five minutes alone with Roxas and the boy would be nothing more than a blood smear on the pavement below. He'd never hurt Sora again.

But he managed to restrain his homicidal urges, nodding and forcing himself to let Sora go. But his hands were clenched into fists, nails biting painfully into his palm as he watched Sora walk up the stairs alone.

Sora could feel Riku's eyes on his back, following him until he was out of view, and it was only once he could no longer feel that gaze that he allowed his face to drop. Pausing he took a deep breath, steeling himself for whatever he may find at the top. Roxas was…

He couldn't finish that sentence, and that did nothing to sooth his nerves.

He didn't see anything at first, just an empty hallway. His mouth pursing in confusion he looked around the room, looked for something that might have been hit or thrown. When he found nothing, he was left to conclude that Roxas had probably just slammed a door. But why? Was Roxas angry, and if so over what? What now?

Biting his lip, Sora wondered yet again if Roxas had seen them. He'd tried to be quick, sneaking in affection, needing it desperately if he was to continue acting strong, but maybe he'd failed. Maybe Roxas had seen and decided it wasn't worth it. He knew he disapproved and God…if he'd seen…

God…he hated this…

Telling himself that maybe there was an open widow, that maybe the wind had caught the door, or Roxas's hands had been full so he kicked it, he walked towards the guest room. Maybe Roxas's hands had been full and he'd had to kick the door. What if that was all, if he was overreacting?

He'd almost had himself convinced when, almost at the door, he stopped short, a sharp pain shooting through his foot. With a small yelp he pulled the appendage up for examination finding it leaking a small drop of blood, punctured by a small shard of glass. Frowning he looked down at the carpet, shocked at the glass he saw glinting there. But where-

And then he saw the picture. Or, well, the back of it. The damage done that had been done. Physical proof of his brother's disapproval. And even though it was stupid, even though it wasn't anything he didn't already know, each piece of glass seemed to stab him right in his heart.

Disheartened, he took the picture from the wall, wondering where he could put it in his room, out of Roxas's sight. Hurt by the fact that he even had to do so.

But first, picture in tow, he hopped into the bathroom, seeking out the tweezers and fighting off another onslaught of tears, wondering how many he would shed before this was all over.

With a sigh, he shook the memory away the best he could and instead turned his thoughts towards tonight's dinner. He'd had quite a time convincing Riku to leave the mushrooms out of the stir fry, especially when the two of them loved them and it was for Roxas that the sacrifice was being made. Riku would do anything for Sora, but Roxas was another story.

Nibbling his lip, Sora started towards the kitchen, a sense of dread settling in his stomach. He'd wanted Roxas here, he still did, but it was growing more and more obvious by the second that things weren't going to be easy. Rather, they were going to the stressed, tense, awkward, and probably overtly hostile. Sora could only hope that they would, eventually improve, refusing to allow his hopes to die. Not after the first night.

Instead, he refocused them, narrowing them down to just hoping that dinner went well. It would be the first meal he shared with his brother in half a decade.

And despite the dread, fear, and hurt swirling in his heart, there was also a giddy bubble of irrational, slightly hysterical, excitement.

This would be the first meal he shared with Roxas in half a decade. A tiny little part of him, the part that had missed Roxas unconditionally, just couldn't wait.

Allowing his lips to twitch up a little, he slipped into the kitchen, smiling at the sight that met him: Riku, his back to him, facing the stove. His silver hair was pulled back in a ponytail situated in the middle of the back of his head. His bangs were hanging loose around his face. Over the years Sora had repeatedly attempted to pull them back in barrettes or bobbin pins or something, convinced that it would be absolutely adorable. And though Riku rarely denied Sora anything, he'd steadfastly refused to allow him to do so. Adorable was one adjective that he just didn't want to be associated with.

There was, however, an apron tied behind both his neck and his waist, something that had gotten him plenty of grief. Surprisingly enough however, Riku had donned it all on his own. The first time they'd spent the night together, Sora had just woken up, ventured into the kitchen, and there was Riku, flipping pancakes high in the air like a pro and wearing an apron. And sure, Sora had laughed and teased him about it, but in reality it was of those little things he loved about him. Just one of the little quirks that made Riku, Riku.

Leaning against the doorframe, Sora let his tiny, anxious smile grow into a bigger, happy one. Quietly, he watched as Riku took the handle of the wok and flipped all the contents at once, like he was the freaking Iron Chef or something. That thought brought up the image of Riku in one of those big, funny, chef hats, stirring soup like some snooty Frenchman with a little curly, black, mustache. Slapping his hand over his mouth, he tried to conceal his laughter. And failed.

Once the food had all landed back in the wok Riku just turned, smiling when he saw that it was indeed Sora laughing at him.


"Oh nothing." Sora replied, smiling innocently and sniffing the air. "Mmm, that smells good."

"It should. It's the same Stir fry I've always made…Well…sorta." He grumbled.

"And it always smells good", Sora smiled, coming up behind Riku, looping his arms around his waist. "Like all your fancy, food network cooking."

"Fancy? It's just stir fry?"

"No it's not. It's amaaaazing stir-" He stopped suddenly as he caught sight of the cutting board. It was the special wooden one he'd gotten Riku for Christmas last year, the one that fit snugly over the entire square of the counter to the left of the stove, slightly stained and nicked from constant use. There was nothing unusual about its appearance, except for the open package of mushrooms sitting on wooden surface. Half the package was missing, one lone mushroom sitting half hidden on the side.

"Riku! I thought-"

"Relax." Riku interrupted, turning and repositioning Sora so that he was instead tucked under his left arm, "I left them out, just the way the princess likes."

Sora frowned at the "princess", jibe, but didn't comment.

"Than what-?"

Gesturing, Riku drew Sora's attention to a small skillet on a back burner where a small serving of mushrooms were sautéing, separate from the rest of the dish. At Sora's confused look, he explained.

"Just because he doesn't like mushrooms is no reason to ruin the food for everyone else. We can just add these in later."

Sora blinked, quiet for a moment, before suddenly shifting between Riku and the oven and throwing his arms around his boyfriend's neck. "Thanks Riku!" He cuddled his face into Riku's neck before continuing, his voice laden with affection rather than exuberance this time. "Really Riku. Thanks a lot. For all of this. I mean…I know you don't like Roxas-"

"There's an understatement." Riku snorted.

"Hey!" Sora exclaimed, pulling back just enough to smack him in the arm. "I'm thanking you here!"

"Then by all means, please, continue."

Sighing, Sora dropped his forehead against Riku's shoulder.

"God. Why do I put up with you?"

"Because I'm made of awesome", he replied smugly. Keeping one arm around Sora's waist, he used the other one to give the stir-fry another flip. "And also because I've agreed to be nice to your bigamist, asshole, dickhead, brother. And not throw him out a window."

"Oh yeah. That's nice."

"I didn't say it to his face, did I?"

"But you want to. You would… You're going to aren't you? Riku-"

"Sora, calm down okay." Abandoning the wok , he used both hands to cup Sora's face, holding his face up to look him in the eye. Gently he moved his thumb, stroking it over Sora's cheek. Slowly, he watched as Sora melted under the gesture. "Look, I'm not happy about this, you know that. I don't want him here, and yes, I have fantasized about shoving him off of things. Many things. The roof, out windows, that fucking pedestal he lives on. But I won't. Because for some weird reason you still love this guy. And I love you." Sora melted further at Riku's words. The look in his eyes. "And so I'm going to leave out these fucking mushrooms, and not strangle him with me bare hands, but if I complain about it or call him shit behind his back it's because well, I hate the bastard and you won't let me say it to his face."

Sighing, Sora just shook his head before pulling his boyfriend down for a kiss. It was soft and sweet, one of Riku's hands sliding back to bury itself in Sora's hair, Sora's arm wrapping around the taller boy's neck. And for one, perfect moment there was no Roxas, and no stress, and it didn't matter that the mushroom were cooked separately. All that mattered were the two of them, getting as close to each other as possible, letting their lips convey what words so often messed up. And when it was over, when they each slowly pulled back, their eyes were soft and slightly dazed. Leaning in Riku gave him one more peck, before…

"Okay, I love you, toy love me, love all around. Now scoot."

Sora blinked. "What?"

"It's nicer than saying, 'hey get off me'. But the food's done; I gotta turn the burner off. Put it on plates. All that stuff that makes the whole dining experience more pleasant.

Sora seemed to remember several nights spent in the living room, back when they'd first moved in, in which they'd eaten directly from the wok. Before they'd bought furniture, or dishes, or anything. It had been the two of them, curled up in beanbags, watching DVDs on Riku's laptop, set on an old milk crate that the previous owners had left in the garage. And the wok had sat between them, on an old potholder so as not to hurt their new floor, while the picked from it with chopsticks from the Chinese food they'd ordered the night before. Plates hadn't seemed so drastically necessary then. But still, he proceeded to, "scoot," scooting over to the cabinet now filled with these plates that Riku seemed to love so.

Okay. So maybe it wasn't that big a deal. And Riku had smacked his ass when he'd turned to go. And that was fun. But still…

He was disrupted from his thought by the doorbell, chiming throughout the house…

Roxas didn't want dinner. Or rather, he didn't want dinner made by him. And more importantly, he didn't want to leave this room. Theoretically, he knew he stay up here forever, but that didn't make leaving any more appealing, especially not dragging himself downstairs. He want to go or explore this house, didn't want to stumble upon for evidence of his brother's unholy relationship. Or worse, stumble upon his brother engaged in whatever perverted activities he did with that silver haired bastard.

It had been about five minutes since Sora had left his room after what had been perhaps one of the most awkward conversations in history. He wasn't sure what had happened while he'd been asleep, but Sora had seemed extra….reserved? Nervous? Maybe even…scared. Upset. He wasn't sure what or why exactly but he had to admit, he hadn't liked it. But he couldn't think of a single thing to do other than nod and occasionally give awkward replies.

Years ago, nearly a million it seemed, it would have asked what was wrong. Would have pulled Sora over, sat him down on his bed and refused to let him go until he confessed what was bothering him. He'd have hugged him, done his best to rid him or his worries, chase away his fears, anything. But that was the old Sora. Now, with this new one, all of those actions just seemed wrong, leaving him at a loss for what to do.

He didn't like that either.

And so, reluctant to face Sora again, to risk another moment like that, he found himself hiding upstairs. Sitting on the bed- the incredibly soft bed, he noted- he examined the room. It wasn't huge, but it was big enough to suit his needs, rather average. Unlike most of the house, what he'd seen anyways, the walls were plain white. The bed he was flopped on was in the corner, against the left wall, so that the foot was facing the door. The left wall also claimed a window with window-seat just past the foot of the bed. The right wall had a large closet, with sliding doors, each door a large pane of mirror, reflecting back both the window and Roxas's figure.

On the right side of the door, the one that led into the hall, stood the dresser that Sora had mentioned earlier. It was tall and wooden, facing into the room.

The thing that Roxas found the most interesting, however, were the paintings hung upon every free space of wall available. They were mostly landscapes, varying from rolling hills to fields of wheat, to one hanging above the bed of a majestic waterfall flowing down into a mystical pond. The kind of unreal, sparkling, place where you'd expect faeries to play and unicorns to stop and drink. Where frogs would jump in for a swim and come out with wings. But the important thing was that they were all startlingly beautiful, well-done pieces. Staring at the waterfall painting, he spied a signature at the bottom, but it was loopy and slanted, completely illegible and probably no one he knew anyways. Vaguely though, he wondered when Sora had started collecting art. He couldn't remember him ever having an appreciation for it before. Sure, he'd enjoyed looking at something beautiful, the same as anyone else, but he'd never actively searched it out. And he doubted Riku would have such sophisticated interests.

Fucking fag…

Trying his best to stem his thoughts he stood abruptly, striding over to the window and throwing himself roughly into the seat. The vibrant, yellow, pillows adorning it were surprisingly soft. Feathers or something, but he only gave them a moments though before he saw it…

There, across the street, was the most hideous house Roxas had ever laid his eyes on.

It had the same two-story build as the rest of the houses on the street, but it was painted the most obnoxious, neon, shade of lime green. Even in the dimming light, the damn thing seemed to glow and he wondered how visible it was at night. But it was more than just the horrid paint job. Not one set of curtains in each of the windows seemed to match. Red, black, pink, forest green. The whole house looked like a rainbow and that was just the house itself. Leaning closer to the window he examined the lawn, horrified.

The grass was tall, at least past ankle-legnth and while it didn't yet scream, "Condemned house owned by rednecks!" it did need to be cut. To its credit, the house did have a nice little white porch in the same style as Sora's with stairs and everything, and a charming cobblestone path leading to the street. The effect was somewhat ruined, however, by the multitude of tiny pinwheels lining the walkway, all spinning in the breeze. They had those lights that went along a walkway, the ones shaped like little bell-flowers with sensors so they lit up in the dark, and it was as if they'd crammed every empty space between the lights with multicolored pinwheels.

There was a garden, in front of the porch with various flowers in every color of the rainbow, violet wisteria climbing up the porch and winding its way around the rails up to the gutters and even onto the roof a little. Roxas had nothing against gardens, but this one practically made his eyes burn in an assault of color and was pathetically kept, the plants overgrown. There had been smooth, grey, stones laid down in the absence of plants, but weeds had grown up around them, peeking through the tiny cracks.

But the absolute worst part, the thing that actually frightened him a little, was the garden gnomes. There were millions of them, spread out in no obvious pattern all over the yard. There was a large, shady, tree in the yard, with gnomes peeking out around it. There were some by the walkway, some in the flower garden. There were three in the grass at the very edge of the sidewalk just staring, across the street, as if looking through Sora's kitchen window. Probably hoping for a show or something… creepy voyeur gnomes…

Roxas credited his nerves with him missing the house the first time, quite possibly a blessing considering that if he'd truly noticed that house he probably wouldn't have stopped. As it was he felt the need to close the blinds, close himself off from the creepy house and its creepy army of gnomes. Seriously…those things would haunt his dreams tonight. He was sure of it.

Pulling his curtains closed, he allowed the thought of the gnomes to chase him from his room and out into the hall where he couldn't help but glare at that damn picture. Or at least…he would have. He tried to. But it's rather hard to glare at something that's no longer there. Instead there was just glorious empty space beneath the family portrait. He felt his spirits lift a bit in relief before realizing that pictures don't just move themselves. The glass was all cleaned up and everything, and chances were that if it had been Riku who'd stumbled across it, Roxas would have woken up with the glass in his bed…And quite possibly a horse's head. He wouldn't put it past that bastard. No, at the very least he would have yelled or something. No, it must have been Sora…

Which would explain the weirdness earlier…

Roxas bit back a groan as he connected the dots in his mind, revisiting the look in Sora's eyes. He'd kept his gaze averted, avoided Roxas's eyes for the most part, but he'd looked at him briefly, and though Roxas hadn't said anything, he had seen the emotion there. Emotion he could now recognize as hurt. Unbidden, his mind flashed back to that day five years ago, Sora's eyes wide as he watched Roxas speed away from him and their disaster of a life. The look there was uncomfortably similar to his today… Too similar... Shaking it off, he pulled his gaze from the wall and left it behind.

A trend of his…

"Um…What are you guys doing here?"

"What, we can't just randomly stop by with no advanced notice and have dinner with you and your super-chef boyfriend?" Axel grinned. "Look: We even brought casserole!"

Sora just blinked up at his neighbor.

"Um bro, I think you broke him."

"And I totally made that casserole! Give it back."

"No way! This is my peace offering!" Sticking his tongue out, Axel took advantage of his superior height, holding the casserole dish up, far out of Kairi's reach, even going so far as to stick his tongue out.

"Give it!"
"Make your own."

"I did!"

Reno just sighed, biting his lip against the laughter threatening to escape. Kairi was gripping one of Axel's bony shoulders, using it as leverage to jump, trying to reach her casserole. Axel was busy taunting her, while trying to shake off her grip, not bothering to hide his grin.

"C'mon shorty! Jump! Jump for it!"

"I'm sorry," Reno sighed, turning to Sora. "I tried to train them, but really I just don't know where I went wrong."

"Um…yeah…." Sora replied slowly, watching the scene in what Reno realized was wide-eyed horror. "But… you guys have to go."

"Huh?" Axel paused in in his taunting to just stand there both arms straight up, the casserole suspended above his head. "What do you mean?"

It was actually kind of cute, Sora had to admit, watching him stand there like that, looking like hyper little kid. He loved Axel, loved them all really. They were the first friends him and Riku had made after the move and by far the best. They were nice, fun, helpful, just all around awesome, and under any other circumstances they'd be in the house already, digging through the fridge for something to snack on while Riku finished cooking. Tonight however, that just couldn't happen. Because this was his first day with Roxas, their first meal in far too long. Things had to go well. He had to somehow convince Roxas that he wasn't something disgusting to be despised, that Riku wasn't the devil. He had to somehow earn back his brother's love. And while he loved the Sinclair family with all their quirks and eccentrics, he could tell right away that they just weren't a fit for Roxas.

Well…Reno maybe , Roxas might like Reno. And he'd probably like Kairi as well… But Axel… No. There was nothing that Roxas would like about Axel. He was sure of it. Sora could find Axel as adorable as he wanted, but he was positive that Roxas wouldn't see things that way.

"Well…" Sora stammerd nervously, "I…Um…we, we have company and it's their first night here and everything. I just thought that…"

"Oh!" Kairi squealed, "You mean that blonde guy!"

"Huh?" Sora blinked again. "Um…yeah… how..?"

"Kairi spent the better part of the morning glued to the window, totally creeping on the neighborhood." Axel replied quickly, waving off his sister's retaliatory punch like a fly. He had no time for her frustration. He had a mission to fulfill. "So, who was Blondie anyways."

"Oh um…he's my…um…brother. But-"

"Is that who I think it is?" Called Riku from the kitchen.

"You bet your sexy ass it is!" Axel replied joyfully.

"Who else?" Reno added.

Riku's laughter carried through, followed shortly by the man himself.

"Hey guys", he grinned, "Sora, what the hell are you doing? Let them in."

"No, Riku-"

"We made casserole!" Axel exclaimed joyfully, wiggling the dish a little.

"I made casserole!" Kairi screeched, exasperated, resuming her jumping. Groaning, Axel balanced the dish in one hand, using the other to grab the top of his sister's head, effectively holding her down. "Dear God", he muttered, "You're worse than a fucking Chiuaua."

"Hey! Axel you asshole!"

"Aw c'mon Sora. They brought food this time. Now let them in before they kill each other."

"But Riku-"

Ignoring Sora's protests, Riku calmly wrapped an arm around his boyfriend, pulling him back against his chest. "Come one in you guys. Axel, Kairi, No bloodstains on the floor 'kay? I just cleaned it like, yesterday."

"Deal" Axel grinned, slipping through the doorway, a furious Kairi in tow. Reno was the last inside just looking up towards the ceiling and sighing in exasperation. But he did politely close the door behind him.

The second that the door clicked shut Sora spun around, grabbing Riku by the apron and dragging him over towards the oven, away from their guests. Lowering his voice, he glanced back at them once before turning back to Riku.

"What did you do that for?"


"Invite them in!"

"Because they were on our porch."

"What kind of an excuse is that?"

"What? It's not like their Jehovah's witnesses or something."

"No but… Do you really think this is a good idea?"

"Hanging with our friends?"

"Hanging with our friends tonight. With Roxas. You can't seriously think that he'll be cool with them? Or well, with Axel mostly…"

"I think, that they're our friends. And that this is our house. And that I left those damned mushrooms out of the stir fry because you gave me fucking puppy eyes. But that I'm not going to let that asshole walk in and take over our life. And I know that you want to try and fix your relationship with him, but if you think I'm going to stand here and watch you bend over backwards for that undeserving piece of-"


"-Then you're sorely mistaken. You're only supposed to do that in strictly literal terms and only for me. Most certainly not for your brother of all people." He fought back a grin at the blush that spread quickly over Sora's cheeks, his eyes darting over to the others to see if they'd caught that. If they had, they hadn't reacted. A good sign that they probably hadn't. Kairi was still fussing at Axel about something, probably the casserole, while Reno leaned against the wall and watched, chuckling occasionally. Axel was just openly laughing, serving only to infuriate the younger girl.

"Besides Sora", Riku continued, "Overall, this has been a pretty shitty day. I wanna end it with people I actually like."

Groaning, Sora's figure slumped, defeated, looking up at Riku with eyes that were almost pitiable. But Riku refused to crack. Leaning down he planted a kiss on Sora's forehead, giving him what he hoped was a reassuring smile. "Would you relax. It'll be fine. I know your worried, but letting him walk all over you isn't going to make him like you. Not in any healthy way anyways."

Sora wanted to say that he didn't care. That after this long, he'd take any brotherly affection he could get. He'd do anything Roxas asked if only to have him look at him, for just one second, the way he used to. To have him love him again. But he didn't. because he knew that Riku, as annoying as it was, was right.

Still… This just screamed disaster.

"So", Riku called, moving away from Sora. "Do you guys like mushrooms?

"Well duh", Reno replied from his spot against the wall. "We've only eaten here like, what, a million times?"

Axel had, since last sighting, moved to a chair, while Kairi sat perched upon the table. Her and Axel seemed to have settled their differences as she was swinging her legs and scrolling through his ipod. Axel was resting his head in one hand, staring at something nondescript on the wall, his other hand tapping out a random beat against his leg. Despite this, both of them managed to look over to give their approval of the fungus. Riku just smiled, gaining smug satisfaction from having allies on the mushroom front. Even if they hadn't been friends before, by disagreeing with Roxas they'd scored points with Riku.

Therefore, it was quite lucky for Axel that Riku was not in any way psychic, completely incapable of deciphering the redhead's thought. If he could, he'd have seen the way they swirled around the blonde. He'd only spotted him briefly, across the street and through a window, but he'd still been beautiful. He'd been all shiny, like a ball of light, like an angel or something. He hadn't been able to make out the more miniscule details, but now knowing he was Sora's brother, he could imagine. Sora was short, with small bone structure and the biggest, bluest, eyes that Axel had ever seen. Conjuring up the image of Roxas that he'd seen, he sincerely hoped that he too possessed those features.

Would he be shy, he wondered? Outgoing? Feisty? Would it be easy to make him blush, red slowly spreading across his pretty little face? Would he flirt? Play hard to get? Would he melt like butter under Axel's hands the way he'd glimpsed Sora do with Riku? The two tried not to be too nauseating in public, but if they slipped up once or twice, well, who could blame them. Certainly not Axel, as he watched on with envy, trying to tell himself that no, he wasn't being too creepy but that yes, he should probably look away now.

"So," He smiled as Sora approached as well, somehow balancing six empty glasses and a two-liter bottle of Coke in his arms. "Blondie's your brother?"

"Um…yeah…" Sora replied, depositing the glasses onto the table. "His name is Roxas, you should probably call him that…"

"Roxas." Axel repeated slowly, letting it roll around on his tongue, enjoying the feel of it in his mouth.

"Um…yeah." Sora nodded, his eyes narrowed at the way Axel had just purred his brother's name. Catching Riku's eye, he found that he hadn't missed it either.

"Um, Ax…There's something you should-" Riku began, but he was cut off by the voice sounding from the foot of the stairs.

"Who the hell are you people?"

Roxas froze, suddenly finding five pairs of eyes glued to him. Sora's blue eyes so like his own filled to the brim with worry, Riku's light green instantly cold and narrowed with hatred as he shifted closer to Sora, and then three new eyes. One was an odd shade of green, the kind with a shade of blue mixed in, from the man standing, a medium blue from the large eyed girl on the table, and the most startling was from the last one. The one sitting at the table with perhaps the greenest eyes he'd ever seen. He'd never really understood why people were always so fascinated by his and Sora's eyes, going on and on about how blue they were, but he was starting to understand. It just seemed impossible for anyone else to contain that much green pigment, in a shade that damn vibrant.

Their eyes, however, weren't what distracted him. It was more the whole picture. He'd pried himself from his room, dragged his feet downstairs, only to find three strange people sitting in the kitchen. And not just anyone, oh now, he recognized them as the crazy people from the pictures. The ones with the freakishly red hair. Looking at them now, that wasn't the only thing he'd apply that adjective to.

The girl, he decided, was pretty. Her hair was more of a calmer, subdued, red than the men straight and hanging just past her shoulders. Her eyes encompassed a great portion of her head, but they were nice and so she didn't look like some freak forest creature. She had stopped swinging her legs to turn those big eyes on him, staring like the others. She was in a white tank top and small purple skirt, but she at least kept her legs closed, which was more than he could say for a lot of the girls back in Twilight Town.

Even the man standing wasn't too bad. He was in black pants and a white, button-down, shirt, and at least looked somewhat normal, even if the shirt was wrinkled and his hair- Pulled back in a low pony tail- was fire engine red.

Mostly, Roxas's attention was focused on the man sitting. The one with the incredibly green eyes. He hadn't bothered to mess with his hair, and it was now free and crazy down his back in the same neon shade as his brother's. Well… They were probably brothers. He would hate to think that there was more than one bloodline out there with that hair color. If it was even natural… It couldn't be….Could it? Well, natural or not, it wasn't helped by his shirt: an ordinary cotton T-shirt in vibrant tie-dye. It stood out in sharp contrast to his black jeans, but somewhat matched his neon orange Converse. Roxas however, didn't really care, because beyond his eyes and his crazy hair and his horrible fashion sense, there were triangles. Upside down ones. On each cheek. They were either purple or black, he couldn't tell, but here was one beneath each eye and they looked like…tattoos! On his freaking face! Roxas wasn't sure who the hell this guy was, but he looked like a freak.

A freak who was staring at him very intently. It was Sora, however, who was first to speak.

"Roxas, these are our neighbors the um…the Sinclairs. They um…well… They brought casserole!"

"Um…yeah…" Roxas let his gaze travel over the three newcomers. "Hi."

"Yo!" The standing one greeted, giving Roxas a little salute.

"Hi" the girl greeted, with a smile and a little wave.

Finally came the sitting one. His smile stretched languidly, some emotion present in his eyes that Roxas just couldn't decipher but that he was sure he didn't like. When the redhead spoke, his words were warm and smooth, more purred than spoken, and sent a shiver down Roxas's spine. The bad kind.

"Hiya Blondie."

So Axel wished it and so had it been. When he'd heard Roxas's voice, turned his head, he had most definitely not been disappointed. Rather, his heart had skipped a beat, his breath suddenly solidifying in his lungs. If he'd though the blonde was gorgeous from across the street he was even more breathtaking in person. He was indeed short and slim, small boned with a golden halo of spikes that looked ridiculously soft. He wanted to know for a fact, to touch them. To feel them give beneath his fingers as he moved his hand around to the back of his head , to draw him closer and cover those perfect, pink, lips with his, To make him sigh, those beautiful, sapphire, eyes fluttering closed in pleasure.

He looked like a kitten, Axel decided. Something cute and soft to cuddle. He looked like he'd like to cuddle. Axel suddenly envisioned him in a giant sweater, cuddling into the redhead's chest while they made S'mores. It was, decidedly, adorable.

And it was then and there, in his best friend's kitchen, that Axel Sinclair fell in love.

"So, My name's Reno, shorty here is my sister Kairi, and this is my brother Axel." The previously standing redhead, the older one he now knew, introduced, gesturing to each person as he spoke. The six of them had taken a seat around the table. Sora was sitting between Riku and Roxas in his desire to be near both of them. Reno had taken a seat next to Riku while Axel had, much to Roxas's displeasure, moved over to sit next to him. Kairi had gotten the last seat, between her brothers, quite displeased with the arrangement. She'd wanted to sit beside either Sora, like usual, or the new guy. Perhaps even between them. But no…She'd gotten her big brothers…

"My name is Roxas." He replied stiffly, spearing a baby carrot on his fork and restraining is moan of delight. The stir fry was fucking amazing, but he refused to acknowledge it as such. Not when the person who'd made it was the dick currently glaring at him. The dick who'd taken his brother from him, corrupted him, ruined everything. And he had the nerve to glare? No. He wouldn't be getting compliments on his stupid, heavenly, stir fry.

True to Sora's word though, there weren't any mushrooms. Not in his anyways.

"We know", Kairi replied, swallowing a bite of chicken. "Sora told us."

"Well….they asked…" Sora mumbled, twirling noodled around his fork, topping it off with a stab of chicken and water-chestnut.

Roxas wasn't listening however. He was too busy leaning as far as he could to the left while still sitting properly, sitting on the very left side of his chair. On his right side, Axel wouldn't stop looking at him. He was, in all honesty, freaking him out. Sitting there in his neon colors, staring at Roxas, if he didn't know any better he'd think he was… Frowning, he darted his eyes towards Sora and Riku, then back over to Axel. When he caught Roxas looking he sent him a smile. Roxas froze. He wasn't…

"So Blondie, when brings you to Traverse Town?"

Narrowing his eyes suspiciously, Roxas attempted to scoot his chair a little further away.

"Job trouble", he answered curtly, quickly shoving a bite of food into his mouth as so to give him an excuse not to talk to the guy next to him. Good God, as if he wasn't a big enough freak before hand.

No, he stopped himself. No, he didn't have proof. There was a very good chance that he was just creepy or something…

"Oh." Axel blinked, surprised by the sharp tone. It was completely at war with the blonde's soft, angelic, appearance. "Well…I'm sorry. That sucks."

"You don't say." Roxas muttered, rolling his eyes. Frowning, Axel sent Reno an inquiring look, a visual, 'Did I do something?' But Reno just shrugged. He was as confused about the ice surrounding the blonde as his brother.

"Well, let us know if there's anything we can do to help." Reno offered. Looking up, Roxas nodded.

"Okay, thanks."

Biting his lip, Sora bit back a groan. Oh yes, this was off to a fantastic start…

Fifteen minutes into dinner and things hadn't improved. Roxas was responding to anything Axel said with snaps and snark, ignoring Riku at all costs and mumbling awkward replies when Sora attempted conversation. Reno and Kairi were as confused at their brother. The casserole lay forgotten on the counter.

Sora and Kairi were currently engaged in a conversation about a class they were both taking at the local college, how the teacher was a hard-ass and how they were so swamped with homework, when Riku finally dropped the ball.

"So, Axel. How did things go with that guy the other night. The one from the bar."

To his left, Axel could see Roxas visibly stiffen, but he couldn't for the life of him image why. He'd tried striking up conversation with him several times and the blonde had shut him down each time. So what, he was suddenly interested now that he feared Axel might be taken? Was that it?

He was so focused on Roxas that he didn't notice the way Sora paled, shooting daggers beside him at Riku. The way Riku's arm came around Sora, rubbing gently at his shoulder.

"Well, he was cute and all, but nothing happened. I mean, he was great when he was buying me drinks and shit, you know, from across the bar. But when I got up close, Good Lord did he reek. I mean seriously BO. Like the guy had never even heard of a little thing called soap."

"Aaaw" Kairi groaned, "That's what that smell was? I thought you rolled in a dumpster or something."

"What the fuck Kai? Since when do I roll in dumpsters?"

"Well, there was that one time you accidentally threw away your retainer." Reno commented.

"I was twelve!"

"Mere semantics."

"Good God", Axel rolled his eyes, leaning back in his seat. Turning slightly, he sent Roxas a grin. "Brothers. What can you do?"

Roxas, who had been very quiet up until now, cringed. He'd been trying to be good, really he had, but it was getting more and more difficult. He could no longer pretend that the redheaded freak next to him was merely weird or creepy…but no. He was one of them. Like that silver hair bastard, like his traitor of a brother. Said brother had been sending him desperate looks all night, worried. Part of him had found satisfaction in that, let his brother see what homosexuality got you in this world, but another part wanted to heed his pleading. Wanted to sit here and behave like he'd promised Sora he would. But he didn't want to sit here and bond with this perverted freak. He didn't want to makes conversation or share brotherly experiences. He just wanted him to go away and leave him alone, maybe go seek out BO guy from the bar, because really, when you were planning on playing with his ass anyway, odor couldn't possibly be that big of an issue

When Roxas didn't reply Axel just sighed, dragging a hand through his hair.

"Look, I don't get it, did I do something? Say something? I mean a lot so I'm very prone to saying the wrong thing, seriously, just tell me what it is…"

"It's none of your business." He snapped, dropping his fork into his plate with a clang. Angrily he stood, shoving his chair back. Axel, however, wasn't content to just let things slide. Reaching out, he grabbed Roxas's arm, preventing his escape.

"Like hell it isn't. Look whatever is wrong-"

"Fine!" Roxas exclaimed, slamming his plant back on the table. "You wanna know what's wrong? You're fucking wrong! And get your fucking hand off me!" Angrily he slapped Axel's hand away, the sharp sound of skin on skin ringing through the suddenly silent room. "I should have known better when I saw you, God. I swear, is there something in the water out here?"

"What the fuck are you talking about?"

"I'm talking about how this whole fucking town is overrun with queer ass motherfuckers! Seriously! Just stop talking to me, stop looking at me, stop fucking flirting with my. I'm not some disgusting faggot like you so just stop it!" When no one spoke he turned to Sora. His brother was staring, his eyes large and shocked and shiny, wet with unshed tears. Beside him, Riku looked furious; Sora's grip on his arm the only thing keeping him to his seat. "I said I wouldn't say anything about you Sora, I never said anything about your…friends." He hissed the word like it was something dirty, glaring at Axel while he did so.

The redhead could only stare in disbelief at the vile spilling from his angel's mouth. That's what was really wrong here. It was just unnatural and just…well… heartbreaking.

He hadn't been in real, true love of course. That takes time to grow and develop and takes more than just an attraction to some blonde hair and sparkling blue eyes, but he had fallen very deeply in like. The kind of crushes developed by highschoolers on that one perfect person in the popular crowd. Shallow and fickle, but strong. He'd spent hours building castles in the sky, fantasizing about what Roxas would be like in person. Making him smile, laugh, melt. He'd built his hope up so high there was probably a giant living at the top of them, but with each angry step that Roxas took up those stairs, he felt them crumble just a little more.

FINALLY!1 Okay, so I've had writer's block since September, and I finally managed to break out of it. So when I got going on a roll tonight I kept going. I got pretty tired near the end, so I hope it's not too crappy. Anyways, I hope the length makes up for the wait. Anyways, like I said, I'm coming off of writer's block so i apologize if the quality isn't up to my usual standard. Let me know what you think!