Disclaimer: I don't own Kingdom Hearts, Final Fantasy, Disney, and so on, nor do I own any moogles.
A/N: And finally this story I've been threatening to write for a while now is here! So...you know when you're playing Kingdom Hearts and you have to make a pit stop at the moogle shop for one item or another, and when you get there you realize oh snap, I don't have enough munny and everything is so expensive! Clearly that moogle is scamming me and I'm so being ripped off, and...that moogle at the counter is giving you that look? You know which one I mean, that look, and at that moment you wish you could just whip out your impressive Keyblade (Oathkeeper or Oblivion, anyone? How about the Ultima Weapon?) and just take that moogle's head off (pom pom and all) with it? Well, you're not alone! The members of Organization XIII feel your pain, especially a certain blond Nobody they call the Key of Destiny! Enjoy! Oh yes, and all the items mentioned in this fic are actually sold at the moogle shop in Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days at one time or another, at these very prices. And, while sticking to canon as much as possible, this fic can take place any day after day 96, so after Xion regains the use of her Keyblade and the Castle Oblivion team have met their demise. Also, Xion is in this fic, and contrary to the general consensus, I like Xion very much, and I will not ignore her canon existence, therefore you will all just have to put up with her.
Oh, and for the record, no moogles were harmed during the writing of this fic and despite my need for anger management, I am actually quite fond of moogles, in spite of their shady, scamming, unethical ways. Carry on then!
Never Trust a Moogle
"What do you mean that will be four thousand munny?"
"It means five potions is four thousand munny. Eight hundred munny a piece, kupo. Now, are you going to pay up, or not?"
For a moment, Roxas merely stood there staring at the moogle running the shop in the Grey Area, his mouth hanging open, and straightening to his full height, (which wasn't really all that impressive considering his size) he said indignantly, "I don't have four thousand munny! I only have three thousand at the moment, and I'm not wasting it all on five potions when you use them once and then they're gone!"
"That will be four thousand munny or no potions for you, kupo," the moogle said stubbornly, refusing to budge.
Organization XIII's Number XIII, Roxas, also known as the Key of Destiny, was starting to get a headache.
A serious headache.
I can't believe this! There's no way those potions are worth that much munny! He's scamming us right under our noses in our very own castle! Maybe somebody should report this to Saix...
"Well?" the moogle demanded, the pom pom on top of his head bobbing up and down in annoyance.
Roxas took a deep breath and giving the moogle his best smile, he said, "Don't you think that's a little bit...um...expensive? I mean, for potions? A one-use item?"
"What are you talking about, kupo? Do you realize how difficult it is to find all of the ingredients to make potions? And the way you young people use magic these days! Just curing yourselves all over the place whenever you feel like it, like cure magic's about to go out of style or something. How do you expect me to make any kind of a profit with those type of shenanigans going on, kupo? If you want to complain about the price of potions, you've only got yourself to blame for it. We've had to raise the prices to make up for our losses with all of this cure nonsense going on."
"If the price is such a problem then why don't you just cure yourself like everybody else always does, kupo?" the moogle complained, shaking his head in disgust. "Just put us out of business, why don't you?"
"But...you sell cure magic and other types too, to upgrade our magic skills..."
"That, my vertically challenged friend, is beside the point! I told you, no munny, no potions, kupo!"
"Oh, thanks! And who do you think you're calling vertically challenged? Like you have any right to insult my height!"
Normally, Roxas wasn't really the type to show much emotion, seeing as how he was both a Nobody and a member of the Organization, but now he was starting to get annoyed, all because of a moogle, no less.
"Look, I do use cure magic, but it's always a good idea to have a few potions handy, just in case. When you're out there fighting the Heartless, you don't always have time to cure, and sometimes it's just quicker to use potions. Not to mention, when you're in a pretty intense battle, sometimes you can lose your concentration, and you need to be able to concentrate in order to use magic effectively. That's one of the things they first taught me when I joined the Organization, not that Larxene was really that great of a teacher, but that's not the point. Using potions has saved my butt a few times and no matter how much we use cure magic, trust me, potions are never going to go out of style."
"Look, for the last time, are you going to pay up, or not? I don't have all day here, kupo."
I can't believe I'm being scammed by a moogle. A moogle! Axel's never going to let me hear the end of this...
Roxas let out a deep sigh, and frowning over the moogle's current stock of items, he pointed to one of the smaller pieces of jewelry and said, "How much is the Protect Ring?"
"That will be ten thousand, one hundred munny, kupo."
"What? Are you crazy? I'm not paying that much for-"
"Roxas, what the heck are you doing?"
At the sound of a cocky, and very familiar, voice, Roxas whirled around in annoyance, making a face while he was at it. He wasn't surprised to see Axel and Xion standing behind him, nor was he surprised to see both of them looking very amused. Axel was the one who had spoken, and the smirk on his face made Roxas want to sink through the floor. Sometime during his argument with the moogle he had unconsciously summoned his Keyblade, Missing Ache, and staring at the weapon in his hand, he suddenly felt rather embarrassed by his recent behavior.
"What's going on, Roxas?" Xion asked curiously, but judging by the way she was trying not to laugh, it was obvious she knew exactly what was going on.
Great...and speaking of the other members...
Roxas took a quick look around the Grey Area, and spotting two other members of the Organization, he let out a soft groan.
Luxord was sitting on one of the sofas to the right, shuffling his way through a stack of playing cards, and though Number X wasn't actually looking in his direction, Roxas was pretty sure the man was laughing at him, if the tiny smile on his face was any indication. Demyx was also in the room, lounging on one of the sofas to the left, but unlike Luxord, Axel, and Xion, the Melodious Nocturne did not appear to be laughing at him. Instead, Demyx smiled in understanding and gave him a sympathetic look before turning back to the sitar in his hands and strumming out a soothing melody that did wonders for Roxas, or more accurately for his frayed nerves.
I really have to learn to pay more attention to my surroundings...
"Roxas? Hey, man, you in there?"
Roxas jumped at the sudden feel of a hand on his shoulder and letting out a yelp of surprise, he accidentally swung his Keyblade up and nearly hit Axel in the nose with it.
"Defensive, aren't we," Axel laughed, leaping back just in time and summoning his chakrams to block the sharp blow. Their weapons collided with a resounding clang that echoed off the walls of the Grey Area, and Xigbar, who had just wandered in, gave them a look and drawled, "If you two want to practice you'd better take it to the Hall of Empty Melodies or something. You know Saix doesn't like us messing around in here."
"What Saix doesn't know won't hurt him," Axel shot back, twirling his chakrams with a flourish. "And if you happen to mention it, I'll tell him about the time you and Xaldin nearly smashed the window in here with your antics, got it memorized?"
"As if," Xigbar snorted, shoving Demyx's legs off the sofa so he could take a seat beside the Melodious Nocturne. "Do I look like a rat to you?"
"Takes one to know one, right?" Xion joked, smiling mischievously at Axel.
Axel, looking offended, gently nudged Xion in the ribs and said, "That's enough out of you, traitor. You're supposed to be on my side."
"Don't push your luck, Axel," Luxord said mildly, shaking his head in amusement. "When it comes to staying alive, Lady Luck might hold you in her favour, but not when it comes to everything else."
"I think Poppet's got the right idea," Xigbar smirked, glaring at Demyx, who had tried to stretch out his legs again and put his feet in the Freeshooter's lap. "Just because you didn't meet the same fate as Marluxia and the others at C.O. doesn't mean you can get cocky now."
"You're one to talk," Axel retorted, raising his eyebrows.
"You sure like to- Demyx, cut it out before I blast you off this sofa!"
"You're the one who took over my seat!" Demyx complained, removing his legs and reluctantly straightening up to give Xigbar some room.
"As if, you don't need the whole sofa, stupid."
"That's not a very nice thing to say, you know," Demyx pouted, hugging his sitar tightly to his chest. "Why can't I have a cute, lovable nickname like Xion and Roxas?"
"Are you trying to make me ill?"
"We weren't even practicing," Roxas grumbled, interrupting Numbers II and IX before they could start a full blown argument. " I was just..."
"Don't even ask," Axel smirked, leaning against the wall next to the moogle, his arms crossed over his chest.
Xigbar, glancing at the moogle, gave a knowing smile. "Tough luck, kiddo. You better start working a little harder if you want the goods, my pint-sized friend."
Roxas, who had already endured enough taunting for one day, stomped over to the sofa and promptly smacked Xigbar in the face with the palm of his hand. "How many times do I have to tell you not to call me that? I'm not a kid!"
"Ouch! Careful, tiger, that was my good eye!"
"See? Why can't I have nicknames like that?" Demyx whined, huffing at the indignantly of being excluded.
"Standing up to Xigbar now, are we?" Axel teased, stepping away from the wall and moving slowly towards the sofa. "If you're not careful, next you'll be telling Saix where to go."
Roxas made a face as Axel affectionately ruffled his hair, but before he could make a retort, Saix himself swept into the room, as if the mere mention of his name had summoned him out of the darkness.
"What's going on in here?" Saix demanded, his strange yellow eyes narrowing suspiciously. "I can hear the commotion all the way down the hall."
At the sight of Saix, Demyx let out a squeak of fear and promptly landed in Xigbar's lap, nearly tripping Xion, who had come up beside Axel, in the process. Reaching out to steady Xion, Roxas ended up stumbling into Axel, and the three of them tumbled onto the sofa in a tangle of arms and legs where Demyx had been sitting only moments ago. Only Luxord remained calm and composed, and gazing at the pile of bodies on the sofa across the room, he merely shook his head and proceeded to turn his attention back to the cards in his hands.
"Well? Is somebody going to answer me?" Saix demanded, looking ready to stab the first person who either spoke or so much as looked at him the wrong way with his giant Claymore.
"Keep your coat on," Xigbar replied, shoving Demyx, sitar and all, off his lap and onto the floor. "Kiddo here was just having a disagreement with the moogle, that's all."
Roxas felt himself starting to blush and ducking behind Axel's lanky form, painfully aware of the fact that the other man was sitting on his legs and Xion was draped over his back, her nose buried in his hair, he peeked around the red-head's spiky hair and gave Saix a sheepish smile.
"If you have time to be arguing with the moogle then maybe I should schedule a training session for you, or perhaps another mission?" Saix snapped, clearly not impressed.
"Ooh, tough luck, Roxas," Demyx whispered, reaching around Axel to give him a sympathetic pat on the knee.
All this because of a moogle. How do I get myself into these things?
"Quick, Roxas, think fast!" Xion whispered in his ear, giving him a tight squeeze around his mid-section for encouragement.
"Forget it, Roxas, you're hopeless at this kind of thing," Axel countered, leaning back slightly to whisper in his other ear. "Let me handle this."
Roxas glared at the red-haired Nobody, and poking his best friend in the back between the shoulder blades, he whispered, "Oh, thanks. I'm not that bad."
True to his word, Axel leaped gracefully to his feet, and confronting Saix with the ease of someone who knew exactly what they were doing, he said, "Sorry, Saix, but Roxas already as plans for this afternoon."
"Really, and what could be more important than gathering hearts?" Saix asked quietly, an unreadable expression on his face.
"Ice cream, of course! We're heading to Twilight Town. Whatever missions you want Roxas to do, he can do them tomorrow."
Saix was about to answer, but before the Luna Diviner could open his mouth, Axel turned back to the group on the sofa and said, "Come on, Roxas. You too, Xion. Let's get out of here."
Roxas allowed the red-haired Nobody to pull him to his feet, and tugging Xion up behind him, he proceeded to follow Axel over to the door, closer to where the moogle was watching the scene playing out before him with great interest.
"Demyx, get off the floor," Saix snapped, momentarily distracted by the Melodious Nocturne. "There are sofas in this room for a reason, if I recall."
"Not my fault! Xiggy pushed me!"
"As if, you're the one who nearly flattened me, you sorry excuse for a Nobody. Watch where you're sitting next time."
"Ouch! Careful, my sitar!"
"Now is definitaly our chance," Xion whispered, nodding towards where Saix looked like he was about ready to feed both Xigbar and Demyx to the Heartless. "Let's get out of here before he notices we're gone."
"We'll be doing double the work and extra missions tomorrow, but it'll be so worth it," Axel agreed, holding out his hand and summoning a dark portal.
"Hey, kupo, do you still want that Protect Ring?" the moogle called out, gazing hopefully in his direction.
Roxas glared at the moogle, who was the very reason why he was in so much trouble to begin with, and pushing both Xion and Axel through the portal, he grumbled, "Keep your stupid ring. I'm out of here."
A moment later, Roxas found himself standing atop the station tower, and sitting down next to Xion he put his face in his hands, more than a little embarrassed over the incident with the moogle.
"I'm going to go get us some ice cream," Axel announced, disappearing once again through a dark portal. He was back after only a few minutes, and reluctantly taking a bar of sea-salt ice cream from the red-haired Nobody, Roxas proceeded to gaze moodily at the sunset glimmering in the distance. He felt Axel sit down next to him, and huddling between his two friends, he said, "What is up with that moogle?"
"What, didn't anyone ever tell you?" Axel replied, taking a bite out of his own bar of ice cream. "Never trust a moogle, got it memorized? Especially one that works for the Organization. They're always trying to rip you off."
"Really? Um...why especially not one working for us?"
"Long story. Just trust me on this one."
"Yeah, don't worry about it, Roxas," Xion said gently, reaching out to slip an arm around his shoulders. "That moogle always gives me a hard time, too. He almost made Demyx cry once."
That would explain why Demyx had been so sympathetic towards him earlier.
"I gotta say, though, that moogle's pretty brave," Axel said thoughtfully, draping an arm over his knee and gazing at the station plaza down below. "You'd have to be brave to stand up to Xaldin. I saw them get in a fight once, and Xaldin looked like he was about to strangle the moogle with his bare hands, but the moogle didn't back down. He stood his ground and Xaldin had no choice but to accept his offer."
Roxas perked up immediately at this piece of news, and smiling hopefully at Axel, he said, "So...it's not just me?"
"Are you kidding me? That moogle's on everybody's black list. Larxene almost electrocuted him once, and I think Vexen nearly had a mental breakdown over an incident involving an order of Elixirs for one of his science experiments. Not that he was ever all that sane to begin with...And then there was that time when Marluxia almost accidentally cut off his own hair with his scythe because the moogle told him to either pay up or find somewhere else to shop."
"Even Zexion had a few sharp words for the moogle, and you know what he was like," Xion added, smiling slightly. "Always had his nose in a book."
"That moogle almost had his nose in a book, too," Axel smirked. "A lexicon, to be exact. I swear I even saw Xemnas himself get a little snippy with the moogle once, and he never gets angry over anything. You've seen him, always so calm and serene. Nothing ever fazes him."
"He seems like the type who'd just get even rather than getting angry," Xion laughed, shuddering slightly. "Even our own Axel here had an incident with the moogle."
Roxas glanced at the red-haired Nobody sitting next to him in surprise, and Axel gave him a sheepish grin. "Well, not really an incident exactly..."
"If I recall, you wanted a certain ring called Tears of Flame, but the moogle wouldn't give it to you unless you coughed up at least ten thousand more munny and then you proceeded to threaten said moogle, telling him if he didn't hand it over you were going to shove your chakrams where the sun doesn't shine," Xion said dryly, somehow managing to keep a straight face.
Roxas, not having Xion's control, burst into a fit of laughter, which made Axel turn a slight shade of red. "Hey! That moogle had a few choice words for me, too! I wasn't going to let him talk to me like that!"
Roxas shook his head at the red-haired Nobody, and smile fading, he said slowly, "I guess you guys are right, but still...I mean...that moogle seems especially hard on me. You guys can't tell me you haven't noticed. Sometimes, I'll catch him watching me with the strangest look on his face, and he doesn't do that to anyone else."
"How can you tell?" Xion joked, her deep blue eyes sparkling in the light of the setting sun. "I mean, he's a moogle. They don't exactly have a lot of facial expressions."
"You know what I mean. For some reason that moogle seems especially interested in me. Why is that you think?"
"Well, look at you," Axel said cheerfully, draping an arm around his shoulders. "You attract weirdos like hearts attract the Heartless. No wonder Xemnas let you into the Organization. Our castle's full of weirdos, got it memorized?"
"Oh, thanks! Well, if that's the case then what does that say about you guys?"
"Yeah, speak for yourself, Axel," Xion laughed, reaching over to smack the red-haired Nobody on the shoulder.
"I'm just saying. You gotta admit, Roxas, you do seem to attract the weirdos. Reminds me of someone else I know. He has some pretty strange friends himself."
Roxas had to admit, he was a bit curious. "Who are you talking about?"
Axel smiled slightly, and looking him straight in the eyes, the red-haired Nobody said softly, "You. You...and not you, but still definitely you. Dunno what else to call him really."
"Huh?" Xion echoed, frowning in confusion.
"Forget it. Long story, one that doesn't have much to do with moogles. Well, I guess it could, but-"
"Forget I asked," Xion interrupted, rolling her eyes and focusing her attention back on her ice cream.
Roxas took a bite out of his own ice cream, savoring its sweet, yet salty taste, and thinking back on his earlier predicament, he frowned at the orange sky above the station tower, a sudden thought having occurred to him. "Where did that moogle come from anyway?"
"Huh? Oh, from what Saix told me, that moogle used to run a shop in this place called Traverse Town," Axel explained, glaring at his already eaten, non-winning ice cream stick before shoving it into his coat in disgust. "You see, as members of the Organization, we're constantly in need of supplies, and Xemnas felt it would be best if we had a discreet place to shop. That's what the Organization is all about, right? Being discreet."
"And what's a more discreet place than our very own castle?" Xion added, picking up instantly on what Axel was trying to get at.
"Exactly. The only problem was we needed somebody who'd be willing to run a shop for the Organization, way out here in the middle of in-between, and who better to do that than a moogle, since they'll run a shop for anyone, anywhere, as long as you pay up. Saix, while off doing whatever it is he does while we're on missions, happened to come across this moogle who was out of a job and needed a place to work, and as soon as Saix offered him the position, he took it no questions asked and no answers given. According to the moogle, he apparently lost his position at the Traverse Town shop due to an argument with the head moogle, who's in charge of all the moogle shops in all the worlds. Due to this supposed argument, another moogle was given his position in Traverse Town and he was left out in the cold without a job."
Roxas took a moment to absorb Axel's words, and smiling at his own non-winning ice cream stick, since he knew he already had one at the castle that he still had yet to give to Axel, he said, "So...the whole chain of moogle shops is run by one head moogle?"
"That's right, and the moogle we got seems to be a bit of a black sheep, though the other moogles aren't all that much better."
"Besides, Roxas, as much as that moogle likes to give you a hard time, it's obvious he likes you the best," Xion said softly, giving him a warm smile. "Maybe that's why you're the one he likes to rile up the most."
"What do you mean?"
"Come on, Roxas, isn't it obvious?" Axel snorted, punching him lightly in the arm. "I've seen that moogle giving you free stuff before, and he's never done that for me. I have to admit, I'm kind of jealous."
"I'm the same. I never get free stuff," Xion added, "and you can bet he doesn't hand out free stuff to any of the other members either, especially not Xaldin."
"Plus, you're the one he talks to the most," Axel butted in. "And he always makes time for you everyday, even if you're not buying anything."
Roxas had to admit, Xion and Axel were right. The moogle did seem to be quite fond of him, despite giving him a hard time, and it made him feel suddenly warm inside. "I guess..."
"See? I wouldn't let it get to you," Xion said.
"Even if you did make a fool out of yourself," Axel added, smirking slightly.
"Oh, thanks. You're one to talk. Besides, I'm not worried about it anymore. I"m actually more worried about Saix. Thanks to you, he's really going to let me have it tomorrow."
"It'll be all three of us, not just you. Don't worry about it. I know how Saix works. Besides, he's so busy being the Superior's right-hand man, he'll probably have forgotten it by tomorrow."
"Besides, it's not like Xigbar and Demyx are in his good books either," Xion laughed.
Roxas couldn't help smiling, too, and slipping an arm around each of his two friends, he said, "Thanks, guys."
Axel shrugged. "What are friends for, right? It's getting late, though. We should probably head back to the castle."
"Last one there has to buy us all sea-salt ice cream tomorrow!" Xion called out, quickly summoning a portal and leaping through before Roxas even had a chance to get to his feet.
"No fair, she totally had a head start," Axel grumbled, summoning his own portal. "Ready to go?"
Roxas hesitated, and staring at his feet, he mumbled, "Am I really that special? You know, for the moogle to favour me? I don't think I'm different from anyone else, no matter what the others might say."
Axel looked at him for a moment, and reaching out a hand, the red-haired Nobody said quietly, "You're something special alright, got it memorized? I've never had any doubts about that."
Roxas quickly took the offered hand, and he smiled at the red-haired Nobody. "So are you."
Axel smiled back at him, but instead of replying, the red-haired Nobody merely wrapped an arm around his shoulders and together the two of them stepped through the portal where they were immediately assaulted by Xion, who informed them in no uncertain terms that they would both be paying for ice cream tomorrow.
Sometime later that evening, after having said goodnight to Axel and Xion, Roxas wandered leisurely through the halls of the castle, ending up, to his surprise, in the Grey Area, which was deserted except for the moogle, who appeared to be sleeping curled up on the floor.
I'll probably regret this, but...
Roxas slowly crept over to the moogle's side, and crouching on the floor, he said softly, "Hey, are you sleeping?"
Immediately the moogle's head popped up and floating into the air, he said, "Back again, are we? What can I do for you, kupo?"
Roxas quickly pulled out his munny and said, "I'd like to get three potions, please. That will be two thousand, four hundred munny, right?"
"Correct you are, kupo! But...I suppose I could knock off four hundred, making it an even two thousand munny. How does that sound?"
Roxas blinked in surprise, and beaming at the moogle, he said happily, "That would be great!"
Funny...now that I think about it, he always seems a bit more willing to negotiate when there's nobody else, other than Axel and Xion, around...
"Here you go, kupo! Use them wisely. I also threw in a little extra something, just in case."
"No problem, kupo. Always a pleasure doing business with you. If you ever need anything else, I'd be happy to show you my wares again."
Taking his package, Roxas slowly made his way towards the door, but just before exiting he stopped to take a quick peek at what was in the package, and a small gasp of surprise escaped his mouth. He looked back at the moogle, but the small creature was once again curled up on the floor, snoring much too enthusiastically to be convincing.
The little extra something the moogle had thrown in with his purchase was actually a ring worth twelve thousand, five hundred munny. It wasn't the Protect Ring Roxas had asked about earlier, but a different ring, one that was much more expensive and also seemed to have some kind of meaning behind it. It was almost as if the moogle knew something he didn't, which wouldn't surprise him seeing as how the moogles always did seem to know more than what was really their business and they did travel a lot, listening and picking up on a lot of news and rumours, but it was like the moogle was trying to tell him something important because the little tag attached to the ring said, along with the price, that its name was Nothing to Fear.
Roxas found himself smiling and giving the moogle one last thoughtful look, he exited the room. It might be common knowledge not to trust a moogle, but Roxas had a feeling this was one moogle he could trust, one that perhaps for one reason or another, cared more about him than his munny, as outrageous as that might sound.
Nothing to fear...
Though Roxas didn't know it at the moment, the moogle's message would become only too clear in less than three hundred and fifty eight days, when he would once again be reunited with the other side of his heart.
Axel, Xion, Terra, Aqua, Ven, Riku, Kairi, Naminé, and himself. As long as they were in Sora's heart, there was nothing to fear, and that was worth more than all the munny in all the worlds, even in the eyes of a small moogle curled up on the floor in the Grey Area of a castle that maybe wasn't so devoid of hearts after all.