Catalyst

Oh, yeah, so Animesaki requested this since she won first place in the contest I had put up in Matters of the Heart. :) It took me a few days, but I hope you like it and no, I will probably not being doing a sequel for this or Matters of the Heart. ): Sorry.

Anyway, I don't own KH or the quote.

Read and Review, please. :D


Catalyst

Definition: Noun. 1. A person whose talk, enthusiasm, or energy causes others to be more friendly, enthusiastic, or energetic.

2. Something that causes activity between two or more persons or forces without itself being affected.

3. Somebody or something that makes a change happen or brings about an event.

"There is no such thing as coincidence in this world. The only thing is Hitsuzen. Hitsuzen...A naturally fore-ordained event. A state in which all other outcomes are impossible."-xxxHolic, Volume 1


Sora Strife

8139 Dusk Boulevard

Sunset Terrace, Twilight Town

The sixteen-year-old male stared at the small slip of paper in his hand with a mildly annoyed gaze before looking around his surroundings once more.

The teen had spiky jet black hair, golden-yellow eyes, and a pale complexion. He wore black Tripp pants, a red sleeveless shirt with a black griffin printed on the front, and a black jacket over the shirt. There was a dangling silver bracelet on his left wrist with many charms hanging from it and had a red and black heart necklace with an X through the center of it around his neck.

The black-haired boy was currently standing in the center of a long winding road with many houses and shops lining either side of the upward sloping street.

"Hmm…" he scratched the back of his head as he glanced around, looking for any sort of sign that told him where he was. "Where the fuck am I? !"

The teen stomped up the stretching street and came out into a large area where a tram was quietly rumbling past. He gave an aggravated look as he threw his hands into the air.

"Oh, come on! How hard is it to find things in this stupid town?"

"Are you lost?"

The black-haired teen turned at the voice to see a male a year younger than him standing a few feet away, watching him curiously, head tilted slightly to the side.

The fifteen-year-old had shoulder length silver hair and bright, ocean blue eyes. He wore black jeans and a white tank top.

"Yeah, I can't seem to find this place," the teen showed the newcomer the paper he held and the silver-haired teen inspected it.

"Oh, you're real close," the silver-haired boy handed the paper back. "Just go that way,"

He pointed left.

"And you should come to a tree-lined street. It's about the fourth house down on the right side."

"Okay, thanks," he waved as he headed in the direction the fifteen-year-old had showed him.

As he walked, he looked at the houses until he finally found the right one and walked up to the front door.

This isn't really a house… he thought as he knocked on the front door and waited patiently for someone to answer. It's a condo.

A few seconds later, the door opened and the black-haired teen was faced with someone that looked exactly like him, but a year older.

The 'twin' had spiky brown hair instead of black and sky blue eyes instead of gold. He wore loose blue jeans and a plain navy blue T-shirt.

"Yes?" the brunette asked, looking at his look alike inquiringly.

"Hey, Sora. I'm Vanitas, your distant cousin from Villain's Gulch in Hollow Bastion."

The brunette raised an eyebrow at the response.

"We met at the family reunion four years ago."

Sora continued staring blankly at Vanitas who sighed in exasperation.

"I live with Ansem the Wise who you thought was a creepy old geezer."

"Oooh! I remember you! So, why are you here?"

"Ansem wanted me to come live with you for a while."

"Why?"

"Problems." Vanitas glanced off the side with a look that said I'd really rather not tell you. "With my school."

"Van! You promised that you wouldn't get kicked out of this one!"

"It wasn't my fault!" the black-haired teen protested as he looked back at the brunette. "He was asking for it!"

"Vaaaannnn!" Sora whined, staring at his cousin despairingly.

Vanitas looked away once more as he grumbled, "No one would believe me…"

"Because you're a troublemaker," a new voice said as someone came down the nearby staircase.

"Hey, dad." Sora said as he glanced behind him with a grin.

The man standing a few feet away was in his early thirties and a good five foot ten. He had brown hair with short bangs parted to either side of his face, blue eyes, and had a distinctive scar which ran diagonally across the bridge of his nose. He wore dark blue jeans with two brown belts and two black ones intersecting each other and going around his hips, all of which were quite loose except for one- -a black one worn that was worn properly around his waist- -and had a white T-shirt with a short navy blue jacket over it.

"I think it's a good idea that Ansem sent you here. It's about time that your attitude changes."

"Well, hello to you too, Squall." Vanitas greeted sarcastically with a roll of his eyes.

"It's Leon, you little- -"

"What's going on down here?"

Leon looked behind him to see a male his age walking down the steps.

The male had spiky blonde hair, ocean blue eyes, and was an inch or so shorter than the brunette. He wore blue jeans and had on a loose black T-shirt.

"Nothing, Cloud." Leon resumed glaring at Vanitas and the two got into a heated battle of wills.

"Uh-oh." Sora pulled on Cloud's shirt as he hid partway behind the blonde. "It's DMS."

"It's…what?" Cloud looked at the brunette in confusion.

"Dominant Male Syndrome." Sora glanced back at the Vanitas and Leon. "It's a disease where two males that are used to being dominant will glare at each other until one backs down."

"So, Leon's gonna win." Cloud looked back at the older brunette, obviously waiting for Vanitas to break eye contact.

"Oh, you don't know Van." Sora shook his head. "He's got a really dominant attitude; he's had it ever since he was young."

The two continued to watch Vanitas and Leon, both of them practically able to see the electricity sparking between the two.

Vanitas gave a small growl as he bared his teeth a little.

Leon narrowed his eyes slightly in an attempt to appear intimidating as he puffed himself up to tower over the black-haired teen.

After a few more seconds, both Sora and Cloud got bored with the contest and the blonde walked into the kitchen that was adjacent to the staircase.

"Want me to make you a sandwich, Sor?"

"Sure," the brunette followed after Cloud.

A few minutes later, Cloud came back once he had made the brunette a snack and continued to watch Leon and Vanitas overpower the other through staring.

"Leon, just give up," the blonde yawned, already tired of the contest.

"Not until this little punk backs down."

"I can do this for days." Vanitas smirked confidently.

Leon scowled before he reluctantly glanced to the side and sulked as he walked into the kitchen.

"Hm." Vanitas smiled as he walked into the entrance hall and stared up at Cloud.

"Sorry, kid, I'm not the dominant type," the blonde said as he also headed into the kitchen.

Vanitas looked into the kitchen before he followed the blonde and stole the sandwich that Sora was about to take a bite out of.

"Hey!" Sora whined as he looked at Vanitas with a sad expression.

"So, what do I gotta do while I'm here?" Vanitas asked as he sat across from the brunette.

"Well, first thing, taking other people's food is not nice." Leon grabbed the sandwich Vanitas had and handed it back to Sora.

Vanitas gave a slight pout before he said, "Okay, then can I have something to eat?"

"Sure." Cloud said while Leon immediately said, "No."

The two looked at each other, an unspoken communication passing between them, before Leon grumbled as he returned to his own snack and Cloud set about making himself and Vanitas something to eat.

"So did you know Van was coming, dad?" Sora asked as he looked at Leon.

"He called and mentioned it." Leon responded, opening a magazine that he had taken from a nearby tray. "He never said the reason, but I suspect it's to help Van change his attitude. And probably not get kicked out of anymore schools."

"So he's coming to school with me?" Sora asked with excitement while Vanitas muttered, "Oh god, no."

With a mild glare at the black-haired teen, Leon replied, "Yes. He won't be in any of your classes, though, since he's been held back and is still a Freshman."

Vanitas rolled his eyes as he ate another chip. "That's the only thing that I like about this."

With a growl, Leon leaned closer to Vanitas. "You know, kid, I might just kick you out of here if you keep up that attitude."

"Noo!" Sora suddenly latched onto Vanitas, which surprised the black-haired boy. "I want him to stay here! He can stay in the guest room!"

Giving a puppy dog stare that would make a dog ashamed, Sora stared at Leon miserably.

Leon hit his forehead on the table as he muttered, "I'm not looking at you. I'm not looking at you."

"Come on, Leon, he's got nowhere else to go." Cloud put a hand on the brunette's shoulder. "I think if he spends some time with Sora, he'll change in time."

Leon glanced at the brunette almost skeptically before he sighed. "Whatever."

"That's a yes!" Sora cheered, happily tightening his grip on Vanitas, who scowled before shoving the brunette away from him.

"First rule of us being 'friends': No touching." Vanitas stood up and exited the kitchen, heading up to the second floor.

Sora looked at both Cloud and Leon, looking like a kicked puppy.

"Just give him some time." Cloud said with a slight nod. "He doesn't really know you that well, after all."

Sora nodded, but still seemed a little wounded at the response his cousin had given him.


The next day, Sora took Vanitas to the large high school that was sitting on the top of Sunset Hill and to the attendance to get his schedule.

A woman around twenty-five was sitting behind the desk, peacefully doing nothing. She had shoulder-length black hair, auburn eyes, and wore black shorts and a black zip-up tank top.

"Hey, Yuffie." Sora greeted and the girl grinned.

"Sor-Sor! How you doing?"

"Good. This is my distant cousin Vanitas. He was registered yesterday; we're here to get his schedule."

"Oh, yeah, hang on." Yuffie stood up and ran off into the office yelling, "Ninja Yuffie to the rescue!"

Vanitas gave his cousin a strange look and Sora shook his head with a look that said don't ask.

A few minutes later, Yuffie came back and handed Vanitas a sheet of paper.

"Here ya go."

Vanitas looked at the paper to see what classes he had.

Vanitas Wise's schedule

Period 1-Social Studies-Terra Jimen

Period 2-Study Hall-Zack Fair

Period 3-English-Ventus Kokoro

Period 4-Lunch

Period 5-Art-Aqua Mizu

Period 6-Math-Marluxia Rose

Period 7-P.E.-Xaldin Lindworm

Period 8-Science-Vexen Pride

Vanitas looked over his schedule once more before glancing at Sora, who shrugged.

A bell rang and the brunette perked up.

"The first bell. Sorry, Van, gotta go to Novels." Sora trotted off, waving. "I'll see ya at lunch, though!"

Vanitas gave a small wave back before glancing at his schedule once more, trying to figure out where his classes were as he walked into the nearby hallway to begin his search.


"Maybe it's down this hallway…" Vanitas muttered as he still tried to find his classroom; it wasn't quite time for school to start since it had been only a minute after the first bell had rung and he had two more minutes before he would be late. "Maybe I should ask someone or something."

Vanitas walked up to the nearest person he saw and tapped them on the shoulder.

"Excuse me…"

The person turned and they both stared at each other.

"Hey, I know you."

"You're the one who was lost," the silver-haired teen grinned before he held out his hand. "I never got to introduce myself. I'm Reiku Dark."

"Vanitas Wise. Sora's distant cousin."

Reiku nodded. "So I heard. What do you need this time?"

"I can't find my class." Vanitas showed Reiku his schedule and the boy checked it over.

"Oh, cool. Just follow me all day. You have the same classes I do."

"Well…that's lucky." Vanitas said as he Reiku handed him his schedule back.

Reiku nodded as he began to walk away. "Yes. And welcome to Twilight High."


Period 1-Social Studies

The teacher for Social Studies was in his early twenties. He had spiky brown hair with bangs framing his face, sea blue eyes, and wore a navy blue suit with a red tie underneath the jacket.

Reiku and Vanitas decided to sit beside each other near the back of the class where they wouldn't be noticed.

Almost immediately, Reiku noticed that Vanitas was taking a nap with his arms acting as a pillow.

"Hey." Reiku prodded the black-haired teen awake. "You shouldn't sleep on your first day."

Vanitas glowered at the silver-haired teen before he glanced away. After a few seconds he sighed and straightened.

"Fine."

Reiku smiled, obviously pleased with himself.

"So where'd you move from, Vanitas?"

"Villain's Gulch in Hollow Bastion."

"That bad part of Radiant Garden? How are you still alive?"

Vanitas looked around suspiciously before he lowered his head slightly and whispered, "Don't tell anyone. But…I'm a ninja."

Reiku stared at him blankly before he apparently got the joke and gave a small laugh. "Guess you met Yuffie."

"Yeah. Is she always like that?"

"Oh yeah. Just don't stay around her for long periods of time or you'll get her attitude cause it's contagious."

Vanitas nodded. "I'm sure. Anyway, isn't it weird that we meet again?"

"Like more than coincidence?"

The two suddenly looked away from each other, backing up slightly, as they realized how close they had gotten to one another.

After a few minutes of silence, Reiku got unnerved, so he decided to ask, "How old are you, Van?"

"Sixteen."

Reiku glanced at the black-haired teen. "How are you still a freshman?"

"Got held back." Vanitas shrugged indifferently, not making any eye contact with Reiku.

"Why?"

Vanitas didn't answer for a few minutes before he looked at Reiku with a questioning stare.

The silver-haired teen sounded…concerned.

"Just...things."

"I wanna know."

Vanitas looked away as he rested his chin on his arms.

"Fights."

"Why did you fight?"

"I dunno. Get out my anger? I mean, it's not like my dad did anything for me. He never played with me, helped me with my homework, or fed me. I had to fend for myself. I don't think he even cared about me."

"He cared enough to send you here."

Vanitas started slightly before he used his other arm to cover half his face as he muttered, "Yeah, I guess he did."


Period 2-Study Hall

Zack was only around twenty, probably the youngest teacher at the school. He had spiky black hair, sky blue eyes, and wore baggy cameo jeans and a sleeveless black shirt.

With Zack as a teacher, it seemed like Study Hall was more like a Party Hall since he allowed his students to talk and goof around while he joined them.

Reiku had joined the small dance party that had started in the middle of the floor since a few of the desks had been pulled to the back of the room but he paused when he noticed that Vanitas was sitting alone in a corner, doodling on a sheet of paper.

"Why aren't you participating?" Reiku asked as he walked over to the black-haired teen, who was still sitting at his desk.

"I don't like crowds." Vanitas answered simply without looking up from whatever it was he was doing; it looked like he was drawing something.

Reiku looked put off, but he soon grabbed Vanitas's wrist and dragged him to the center of the room.

"Come on! Just join the fun!"

Vanitas scowled slightly before looking away.

"Look, it's only you and me here. That's not a crowd, is it?"

Vanitas looked around, noticing that all the other students were far away from them.

"I guess not."

"Then come and dance with me!"

Vanitas glanced at Reiku skeptically before deciding that it was okay to join the silver-haired teen.


Period 3- English

Ventus was as old as Terra with blonde hair spiked to the right and ocean blue eyes. He wore blue jeans and a flannel shirt with a folded collar that was unbuttoned near the top to show that the blonde had a thin white shirt beneath it.

Ventus seemed just a bit looser than the brunette, smiling a lot more and laughing a little.

Vanitas had noticed that it had almost become a habit that he followed Reiku to his classes. But he didn't mind. He almost considered the silver-haired teen his friend.


Lunch

"Hey, Sora." Vanitas greeted, sitting down at the table his cousin was at with Reiku beside him.

"Hey, Van." Sora grinned. "Hey, Rei."

Reiku nodded and Vanitas became confused.

"How do you know him?"

"He's- -"

Someone came up behind the brunette and wrapped their arm around his neck.

"Hey, babe."

There was a happy squeal from Sora which made both Vanitas and Reiku wince.

"Riku!"

Riku looked surprisingly like Reiku but his silver hair reached his shoulder blades, his blue eyes were just a bit paler, and he was a few inches taller than Sora. He wore loose blue jeans and a black tank top.

Riku glanced at Reiku, resting his chin on Sora's hair, refusing to let go of the brunette's neck.

"Hey, bro."

"Yo."

"Whoa, you two are related?" Vanitas asked in surprise as he looked between the two.

"Yeah," they both answered which creeped Vanitas out even more.

"Oh well, if it ain't the twins who aren't twins."

Everyone glanced behind them to see three males Sora's age walking toward them.

The male on the far left had dirty blonde hair that was styled into something between a mullet and a Mohawk and had sea green eyes. He wore torn blue jeans and a white T-shirt with a plaid short sleeved jacket over it.

The second male reached to the first male's shoulders. He had silver-blue hair with a long bang shielding his right eyes while his other eye, which was an aqua color, was revealed. He had on tattered black jeans, a black T-shirt with the Roman numeral 6 on the front in silver, and had a necklace with the Roman numeral 9 hanging from the end.

The last male was easily the tallest of the trio and was the thinnest. He had bright red hair styled into low spikes, emerald eyes with reverse teardrop markings beneath them, and wore blue jeans, a black high-collared jacket with a red tank top beneath it, and had a black choker collar around his neck.

"Hey, Axel." Riku greeted as the trio sat at the table. "Demyx, Zexion."

"Who are they?" Vanitas asked, getting a little miffed at the new group joining them.

"This is Axel Flare, Demyx Taki, and Zexion Giman. They're my friends." Riku explained while the trio nodded.

"These two are together." Axel pointed to Demyx and Zexion. "Courtesy of moi."

Zexion rolled his eyes. "Don't push it. The only reason I'm allowing you to appoint yourself as my friend is because of that."

Axel was about to retort but something caught his eye.

It was a male his age walking toward the exit of the cafeteria with his own tray of lunch. He bared a resemblance to Ventus but was a few inches shorter and wore blue jeans, a black T-shirt with a band logo on the front, a plaid jacket over the shirt, and had a black sweatband on his right wrist.

"Hey!" Axel immediately started waving ecstatically. "Hey, Rox-ass!"

The blonde briefly paused and glared at the red-head, a mild blush crossing his face, before he continued out of the cafeteria at a faster pace.

Axel plunked back down in his seat before he hit his head against the table.

"I said something stupid again, didn't I?"

"Yes." Zexion said. "It started with 'hey' and ended with 'Rox-ass'."

Demyx giggled along with the others while Vanitas merely seemed confused at what was going on.

"You see, Axel likes Roxas." Reiku explained. "But every time he tries to talk to him, he says something stupid. That was only one of his stupid lines."

"Didn't we have him as our teacher?"

"Oh, you're thinking of Ventus. That's his older brother. Demyx is his older brother too, but only by a few months."

Demyx grinned and waved.

Vanitas thought about it as he tried to figure out who was related to who.

"And word's going around that Terra and Ven are dating."

"It's not a rumor." Demyx giggled. "I've seen them together at home."

"I want him so bad, Zexion." Axel stretched his body out along the table and Vanitas lifted his tray away so he wouldn't have the red-head's arms in his food. "Soooo badly…"

"Well, go talk to him and try not to say anything dumb."

"I think he's failed in that category." Demyx laughed. "Hey, Ax. Why don't I help you and Blondie get together? You know as thanks for hooking me and Sexy Zexy up."

"I told you to stop calling me that." Zexion gave a mild glare at the blonde.

"Sexy Zexy." Demyx grinned. "Sexy Zexy. Zexy Sexy~!"

Vanitas stuck his tongue out when he noticed that Riku and Sora were also acting lovey-dovey.

"Ew, gross. It's a mush fest."

"You know if Demyx manages to get Roxas and Axel together, that'll be a third person being mushy at this table." Reiku reminded.

Vanitas's face went blank before he stood up with a sigh.

"That's it. I'm finding another table."


After school

"Wasn't Marluxia just the weirdest guy you ever met?" Reiku asked as he, Vanitas, Riku, and Sora walked home after school that day; apparently, Riku and Sora lived near each other.

"He has to be gay." Vanitas snorted.

"He is." Sora chirped happily, swinging Riku's hand back and forth as he walked.

"For Vexen." Riku finished bluntly.

Both Reiku and Vanitas glanced at each other before they shivered at the thought in their minds.

"Is everyone at your school gay and/or bi?" Vanitas asked.

"Probably." Riku, Sora, and Reiku answered simultaneously which freaked Vanitas out.

"Well, I gotta go study." Riku said as the group paused at a fork in the road. "See ya, Sor-Sor."

"Bye, Ri-Ri." Sora said as he gave his boyfriend a kiss.

Reiku made a disgusted noise before he grabbed Vanitas's hand and bumped his knuckle against the black-haired boy's.

"See ya, Van. I'm gonna go kill some zombies."

"I can't believe you two are brothers." Sora said as the two silver-haired teens walked down the left path.

"Me either," both replied at the same time.

Sora and Vanitas watched as the two disappeared before they continued on their way.

"You know, I think you should go over to Reiku's house this weekend and hang out with him." Sora said suddenly.

"Hang out?" Vanitas asked, glancing at his cousin.

"Yeah, you know…go do guy stuff."

Vanitas continued staring at the brunette blankly.

"You know...um…" Sora scratched the back of his head as he tried to figure out what he meant. "Go…..throw rocks at a duck, roll in mud, stuff like that."

"Isn't that kid stuff?"

"Okay then." Sora put his hands behind his head as he contemplated something. "Go get ice cream. Laugh about dumb stuff. Race each other."

"Why should I do that?"

"Aren't you friends with Reiku?"

"Friends?" Vanitas asked with a slight scoff in his voice. "What would make you think I'm friends with him?"

"You hung with him all day today."

"We had classes together."

"You were smiling."

Vanitas stopped and looked at Sora. "What?"

"You were smiling." Sora looked at Vanitas evenly. "At lunch. When you said you were gonna find another table. You were smiling while you said it."

"I was…" Vanitas rapidly glanced to the side as he blushed slightly. "Was not!"

"Was, too! I saw it!"

"It was just your imagination." Vanitas said as he opened the front door. "You were too goo-goo over Riku to see straight."

"Dad, Vanitas smiled today!" Sora skipped into the kitchen where Cloud was making snacks.

Vanitas scowled as he gave a low growl.

"Did he now?" Cloud smiled a little as he glanced in Vanitas's direction. "Did you make some friends?"

"No!" Vanitas snapped while Sora said, "Yes!"

"He's friends with Riku's brother Reiku." Sora stated proudly, flashing a grin at Vanitas as his cousin sat across from him at the table.

"We're just classmates." Vanitas said with slight defeat in his voice as if he were tired of the argument.

"Are not." Sora whispered to the blonde and Cloud chuckled.

Vanitas sighed as he rested his forehead on the table, finally deciding that it wasn't worth it to argue with his cousin.


After a week had gone by, Vanitas had gotten used to where his classes were but that didn't stop him from following Reiku to them. At lunch, he resigned himself to a table with Axel, Demyx, Zexion, his cousin, and his cousin's boyfriend. Axel seemed to be making some progress with talking to Roxas as whenever he did he wasn't saying anything stupid or remotely creepy, but the blonde was still just a little wary of the red-head; Demyx had somehow managed to get his brother to sit with them one day and made sure the two were sitting side by side.

"If you want me to punch him, I can." Vanitas offered to the blonde next to him who seemed to be a little creeped out at how close Axel was to him.

"Oooh." Demyx said eagerly. "You're gonna take on Axel? I'd pay ten bucks to see that."

Vanitas rolled his eyes while Roxas seemed a little relieved to have someone on his side.

"I'm not being creepy in the least." Axel glared at the black-haired teen. "Watch it, fresh-meat."

"Hey, don't talk to my cousin like that!" Sora said as he shot an angry glare at the red-head but of course he couldn't pull it off so it only seemed like he was pouting.

Axel stuck out his tongue and returned back to talking to Roxas, whether he was getting responses from the blonde or not.

There was some laughing from a nearby table before a voice suddenly asked, "Vani?"

Vanitas tensed slightly before he lowered his head and put an arm over it as if trying to make himself invisible with a look that said Kill me now.

Reiku raised an eyebrow at the reaction while Sora seemed confused at his cousin's response.

"Hey, look guys, it's Vani!"

Vanitas sighed when a hand dropped down on his shoulder before he glanced behind him.

"Hey, Seifer."

Seifer was around eighteen and three inches taller than Vanitas. He had pale blonde hair covered by the dark blue beanie he wore on his head which also seemed to halfway cover the scar on his forehead, blue-green eyes, and wore baggy, dark purple pants, and a black crop top vest with a white floor length jacket over it.

Flanking either side of Seifer were his two partners, Fuu and Rai.

Rai was two years older than Seifer and an inch or so taller. He had tan skin, short black hair, dark brown eyes, and wore an orange tank top and baggy dark sweatpants over wide shoes, giving him the look of a basketball player.

Fuu was a few inches shorter than Seifer, but that didn't stop her attitude which matched Zexion's in bluntness. Fuu had jaw-length light steel blue hair with her left eye covered by a long fringe of hair, showing that her right eye was a reddish brown. She wore a blue sleeveless jacket and white Capri's.

"Well, they said you moved, but they didn't say where." Seifer laughed as his grip on Vanitas's shoulder tightened a little. "Whatcha doin' in a rich preppy school like this?"

"I should be asking you that." Vanitas said calmly, trying to ignore the blonde as best as he could as he continued to eat, having given up on his invisibility act. "Last time I saw you…you were still in Villain's Gulch."

Sora didn't like where this conversation was headed.

"Uh, guys…maybe you should leave…?"

"What'd you say?" Rai leaned closer to the brunette as he gave him an intimidating look.

"Seifer and Vanitas." Fuu said as Riku glared at Rai, putting distance between him and Sora.

"Yeah." Seifer smiled. "Why don't we go talk, like old times, Vani?"

"I don't have to talk to you." Vanitas muttered, still not looking at Seifer. "Go back to Villain's Gulch, find Hayner, and fuck him."

That pissed Seifer off. He grabbed the front of Vanitas's shirt and roughly dragged him out of his seat.

"Listen here, you little- -!"

Axel, Demyx, and Riku instantly stood up in case they had to step in.

Vanitas waved a hand to tell them it was okay as he stared at Seifer blankly.

"Five minutes."

Seifer smirked. "That's all I need."

"Van…" Reiku started as Seifer released the black-haired teen, but Vanitas stopped him.

"It's okay," he said as he followed after Seifer, both Rai and Fuu knowingly staying where they were. "I've dealt with him before."

"Should I get Terra or someone?" Sora whispered as his cousin walked past him.

"It's okay, Sora. I got this."

Sora didn't seem be calm at the answer as he watched Seifer and Vanitas disappear around a corner.

"So why are you here, Seifer?" Vanitas asked, leaning against the wall behind him as he crossed his arms over his chest..

"Just visiting my aunt." Seifer said. "Rai and Fuu followed me. My aunt wants me to stay with her and said to check out this school to see if I like it."

"You won't."

"I don't. Ugh, it's too happy here. Hollow High was much better than this place. How can you stand it?"

"I dunno." Vanitas glanced to the side as he shrugged. "I've got no choice but to be here."

"You won't survive long here." Seifer leaned closer to the black-haired teen, putting a hand beside his head. "Come back to Villain's Gulch. You're a fighter. If you're here, you can't get your anger out by beating the crap out of someone. You know you can't forget all the good times we had beating another gang, shooting stuff, skipping school…."

Vanitas glanced away so that he wasn't looking at Seifer as he sighed. "I can never forget so don't remind me of it forever."

"Then come back."

"I…can't."

"Why not?"

"My dad. He wants me to stay here to straighten my thinking or something. He got fed up that I keep getting kicked out of school."

"Who cares about him? Just skip school. He won't know. You don't even have to go home; come live with me."

Vanitas shook his head. "Can't leave my cousin. He seems happy that I'm here."

Seifer scoffed as he backed up slightly. "This place has already made you soft! I can't believe it! After a week….a week!"

"Shut up, Seifer." Vanitas glared at the blonde. "I'm not coming back with you; I never will. I like it here."

"It seems that I have to teach you your place again."

Instinctively, Vanitas ducked down just as Seifer's fist struck the wall where his head had been a few seconds ago.

With a hiss, Seifer pulled back, holding his injured hand as he glared at Vanitas.

Vanitas struck out his foot to trip Seifer and once the blonde was down, he was on top.

Sora and the others came when they were sure they heard scuffling noises and had rounded the corner of the dead-end hallway only to come across Vanitas and Seifer exchanging blows on the ground with the blonde trying to get himself on top of the black-haired teen so he had the advantage.

It took Axel, Demyx, and Riku to pry Vanitas off Seifer while Fuu and Rai pulled their leader away from the angry black-haired boy who was trying to free himself from his restrainers, snarling for them to release him so he could kill Seifer.


Cloud stared in mild disappointment at Vanitas who avoided his gaze.

"You're so lucky that I picked up the phone instead of Leon," the blonde said as he entered the principal's office.

Vanitas sulked as he kicked his leg back and forth, waiting for Cloud to finish his little meeting with the principal.

Cloud sat across from the principal who seemed to be in his early thirties with silver-gray hair, orange eyes, and a striped dark blue suit.

"You called?"

The principal nodded. "Yes. It appears that Vanitas got into a fight with a student that was visiting from another school."

"Again?" Cloud rubbed the back of his neck. "Sorry. His father- -"

"I know the situation. I'm willing to overlook this. That's not why I called you here."

"It's not?"

The principal shook his head. "He is friends with Reiku Dark, correct?"

"That's what I heard."

"Interesting. I think that their relationship may be good for Vanitas."

"How so?"

"Well, I looked up his grades from his other school and it appeared that he was failing every class. However, within this week, he is passing everything with As. Of course, it's only been a week, so it's too early to tell whether this will keep up."

"So, he's not expelled?"

The principal chuckled as he shook his head. "No. He's not expelled."

"That's good." Cloud gave a relieved sigh as he stood up. "Is that it?"

"Yes. I'll see you later, Mr. Strife."

"See you, Principal Nothing."

Vanitas glanced up when he heard the door open and apparently the look on Cloud's face gave off the wrong meaning because the black-haired teen looked away.

"I know I'm a mess," he muttered, idly kicking his leg back and forth again. "And I wanna be someone…someone that I like better. I want to- -"

Before he could continue, the blonde suddenly hugged Vanitas, which startled him.

"Um…what?"

"You're doing a good job here, Van. You're not in trouble."

Vanitas still seemed confused as to what the blonde was doing but it felt really nice whatever it was; his father had never done anything like this.


That weekend like Sora had suggested a while ago, Vanitas decided to go visit Reiku and hang out with him. Sora gave him instructions on how to get to Riku's house and Vanitas was pretty sure that he was going in the right direction and was not lost.

"I think this is it." Vanitas muttered to himself as he looked up at the two story house ahead of him before he walked up the steps and rang the doorbell.

A few seconds later, the door opened and Vanitas was met with the most intimidating man he had ever met.

The man had to be taller than Axel (which was saying something) and had long silver hair reaching to his lower back, bright blue-green eyes, and was wearing skinny black jeans and a black leather jacket that was unzipped, revealing his bare chest and flat stomach beneath it.

"Um…is this Reiku Dark's house?" Vanitas asked uncertainly when the man continued staring at him silently.

When he got no response, the black-haired teen began to slowly back up.

"Is he even on this block?"

"Dad, you're scaring him!" Reiku suddenly appeared by the man's side and began pushing him back into the house.

With a final glare at Vanitas, the man left and Reiku shut the door behind him with a sigh.

"Sorry about that. My dad's protective."

"I…can tell."

"So why are you here?"

"Um…Sora wanted us to hang out or something."

"Sora did?" Reiku repeated skeptically and Vanitas nodded. "Why do I feel like he's up to something?"

"So…uh, what do you want to do?"

"Hmm…I heard a festival was in town. Wanna go there?"

"Sure."


Vanitas looked around in awe and he and Reiku walked into the crowded area that was filled with multiple stands and had rides at the far end of the location.

"This is…a festival?" Vanitas asked as he and Reiku headed deeper into the carnival.

"Yup. Ever been to one?"

Vanitas shook his head as he continued looking around and Reiku laughed at his expression.

"You look like a kid in a candy store."

Vanitas blushed and looked away. "Do not."

Reiku continued chuckling at him and Vanitas was just about to hit him when the silver-haired teen got distracted by something.

"Hey, look! Sea-salt ice cream!"

"Sea-salt what?" Vanitas repeated as Reiku walked toward the stand.

"It's ice cream. My brother and Sora love it. I've always wanted to try some but it's so rare. Two please."

"Sure thing," the man behind the stand said as he went to get the ice pops.

"What's it taste like?" Vanitas asked as Reiku handed him one of the blue Popsicles the man gave him.

"Dunno." Reiku grinned as he took a bite of the cold treat only to make a disgusted face. "Ew, gross, it's salty."

A few seconds later, his expression changed to one of pleasure.

"Ooh, now it's sweet."

Raising an eyebrow, Vanitas took a bite of the Popsicle to find out that it was indeed salty only to become sweet moments later. "It's…kinda addicting."

"Sure is." Reiku said with a grin as the two continued to walk through the festival.


The two tried rides next. Even though it was small, they went on the roller coaster that was there as well as the spinning tea cup ride. The Ferris wheel was last and even though he had chosen it, Reiku was terrified of heights and refused to let go of Vanitas's arm the entire time, which sparked a strange feeling in the black-haired teen's chest but Vanitas just brushed it off as him being annoyed.

"Geez, you have a killer grip." Vanitas rubbed his arm as he and Reiku headed home after spending almost half a day at the fair.

"Sorry." Reiku sheepishly rubbed the back of his neck. "I thought you would like it."

"Well, next time, we'll do rides that don't go as high as the Ferris wheel."

"Oh, I'm okay with rides that go higher than that. It's just if it stops that I freak."

"And I thought I was weird." Vanitas muttered as he rolled his eyes.

"I guess I'll see you on Monday." Reiku said as they came to the fork in the road.

"Yeah." Vanitas nodded as he gave Reiku their natural parting knuckle bump. "See ya, Rei."

Reiku walked away and Vanitas did the same.

"So, how was your day with Reiku?" Sora asked curiously once Vanitas had entered the house.

"Fine." Vanitas replied as he headed into the kitchen to make a snack.

Sora bounded in after him and watched him.

"What?" Vanitas looked at his cousin who was watching him with a creepy smile on his face.

"Did you two have fun?"

"Yeahhh…" Vanitas gave a weird look as he turned his head slightly away from his cousin, who continued staring at him with a grin.

Thinking the conversation was just a bit too strange for him, Vanitas sat at the table with his sandwich and began to eat.

Sora giggled and trotted up stairs, calling, "Cloud, Van's home! And he had fun with Reiku!"

Vanitas raised an eyebrow at his cousin's strange behavior before he shrugged, deciding that he didn't want to know what went on in Sora's head.


It was noticed that after a month of going to school, Vanitas's attitude had changed if only slightly. Leon seemed a little more open to the black-haired teen and Sora was obviously happy that Vanitas seemed happy; but there was always that strange feeling that Sora knew something Vanitas didn't and it made Vanitas feel weird especially when it came to the topic of Reiku.

Of course Vanitas had noticed that his feelings changed whenever he was around the silver-haired teen. He didn't know what it was or what he was feeling and it made him feel weird, like he wasn't supposed to be feeling what he was.

A week later, Vanitas didn't show up for his classes and this worried both Sora and Reiku. The next few days were the same.

"Does anyone know where he is?" Reiku asked one day at lunch.

"Sorry." Demyx shook his head. "Haven't seen him for a while now."

Axel shrugged, still keeping a struggling blonde on his lap.

"Have you checked the roof?" Zexion asked, not looking up from the book he was reading. "That's an ideal spot to get away from everything."

Reiku thought about it for a few seconds before he asked, "Is it open during lunch?"

"Yes."

Reiku instantly stood up and ran out of the cafeteria.

"You know, I wonder when they'll realize it." Sora muttered, happily allowing Riku to put him on his lap and stroke his hair.

"Realize what?" the silver-haired teen asked.

"No-thing~" Sora giggled happily while Riku glanced at the other four, who shrugged, just as confused as he was to the brunette's behavior.


Reiku came out onto the roof and wasn't surprised to find that Vanitas was there, staring down at the ground below.

"So you're ditching class to just sit up here all day?"

Vanitas started slightly and glanced behind him as Reiku walked toward him.

"How'd you find me?"

"Zexion."

"Ah." Vanitas looked away again as he leaned on the railing of the fence surrounding the roof's perimeter.

"So why are you up here?"

"I just…I can't be around you right now."

"Why? Did I do something wrong?"

"No, it's me. I…I don't know what I'm feeling. I don't know if I should be feeling it."

"What is it?"

"It's…hard to describe. It's like…whenever I'm around you, I don't know what to think or my mind gets muddled and I can't think straight and I'm afraid I'll say something stupid."

"So…it's kinda like with Axel and Roxas."

Vanitas buried his face in his hands. "It's a weird feeling for me, sorry."

"No. I completely understand."

"No, you can't."

"Yes, I can. What you have is lovesickness."

Vanitas gave a sigh and looked at Reiku tiredly. "What's that?"

"When you like someone."

"Like a friend?"

"No. More than that."

"Oh." Vanitas looked away again. "So…"

"You don't know what love is."

"Hah, I don't know what a lot of stuff is. But that is definitely something I don't know."

"Can I show you?"

Vanitas glanced at Reiku skeptically. "How can you show me what love it? I thought it wasn't tangible."

"Sometimes it is."

"Okay, then." Vanitas turned halfway to face Reiku. "Show me."

Reiku coughed as he nervously shuffled his feet from side to side.

"Don't freak out, okay?"

"I think I can handle whatever it is you're about to show me."

Reiku still didn't seem sure but he gave a short nod.

"Okay, then."

The silver-haired teen leaned closer to Vanitas, who resisted the urge to pull back as his space was invaded, before gently putting his lips against the black-haired teen's in a quick kiss.

"What was that?" Vanitas asked when Reiku pulled back.

"A kiss. It's how you show someone you love them."

Vanitas thought about it, remembering all the times he had seen Sora and Riku give each other a fast kiss during lunch or when Demyx and Zexion kissed. Heck, even Cloud and Leon had done it. It made sense now that he thought about it.

"Okay," he said, leaning closer to Reiku to return the kiss as he still tried to get a sense for what he was feeling.

This one was longer and more forceful than Reiku's but the silver-haired teen didn't pull back in disgust like Vanitas had originally thought he would.

He became slightly more confident when Reiku began returning the kiss, thinking that maybe this really was love, something that he had been deprived of for so long and he liked it. He liked the feeling of someone feeling the same way the he was, someone returning his…affection? It was something Ansem had never done but Leon and Cloud…they loved him didn't they? Was love more than just a kiss?

It was a hug. A praise. A pat on the head. A strong friendship that couldn't be broken.

Vanitas liked the feeling. He felt like he was needed. And that someone else needed him.

Maybe it really hadn't been coincidence that he had met Reiku.


It was Hitsuzen, Van. :3 You can't fight it. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this. :) I had fun writing it.

Read and Review, please. :D