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[Sanctuary]

Chapter Eight: Soccer Balls and Sister Squabbles

We drove down the highway for a while, “You never answered my question, what do you think about?” Cloud asked over the noise of the bike and cars. He slowed down at a red light and looked at me over his shoulder.

“Life, what goes through people's heads, why I have this pen in my pocket...” I smiled and produced a black pen, then put in back in my pants pocket. He nodded and drove down the highway again.

We soon came to Yuffie’s house and pulled into the garage. Cloud turned off his bike and got off, I got off behind him leaving the helmet on the handle of the bike. I grabbed my bag and followed him into the house. “Hey, guys! Leckie, go upstairs and shower and put on something nice, and not so much dark make-up.” Yuffie ordered as we walked in.

“Hi. Nice to see you, too. My day was good, how was yours? That's good. Well, you’ll have to tell me more about that later, now won’t you?” I went on rambling as I walked into the kitchen and grabbed a can of soda from the fridge. I walked back out into the living room; Aerith, Hayner and Leon were sitting on the couch.

“What was that all about? Now, come on. Mom and dad will be home shortly and they’re taking us to this dinner thing. You guys should get ready, too.” she said to everyone else in the group.

“Where are they taking us?” I asked, opening the can and taking a long sip. My step parents didn’t usually take me and Yuffie and all of our friends out to dinner.

“I don’t know, somewhere nice they said. I laid out some clothes for you to wear and that uniform needs to be washed. Put it in the wash when you come back down."

I looked down at the navy blue plaid skirt that I was wearing, there was some dirt around the bottom, and my blouse had dirt on the sleeves and edges. “What’s wrong with my uniform?” I asked with a grin.

“Just the fact that it’s dirty. Now stop drinking that and go shower!” she said, taking the soda and handing it off to Cloud.

“Uh, thanks, I guess.” he said, taking a drink of it.

“Hey! I was drinking that.” I complained to Yuffie, who pushed me towards the stairs.

“Well, too bad, now go!” she said pointing up the stairs.

“Yes, mom.” I said and ran up the stairs, dodging Yuffie’s soft punch.

“Well, that was odd.” I heard Hayner say from the living room.

I walked down the upstairs hallway and towards my room. I walked in and saw the outfit that Yuffie had laid out for me. I groaned and studied it. It consisted of a black mini skirt, with kneed high navy blue stocking, a long white t-shirt with baby blue designs on the left side. At least she got a black skirt, I was happy about that.

I walked over the bathroom across the hall and took a nice fifteen minute shower. I towel dried my hair and rapped the towel around myself and walked across to my room and closed the door. I bushed my hair out then scrunched it up and pulled back the top half, did my make-up, lighter than usual, and quickly pulled on the outfit that was on my bed, adding my grey sweater that was hung up in my closet. I smiled at myself in the mirror, satisfied with how I looked and went back downstairs.

Some of the others had shown up and were in the living room. For once, I was glad for its large size. I walked in and went straight to the kitchen to grab another soda. I walked back out and sat down beside Sora and Kairi. “You look so cute, Leckie!” Selphie squealed from the recliner.

“Thanks. You look great, too.” I said and took a drink of my soda.

Selphie was wearing a mini skirt similar to mine, only it had a white hibiscus on the right side of it, and she was wearing a long baby blue t-shirt. Actually, Kairi, Namie and Selphie were basically wearing the same thing but the skirts were different designs and their tops were different colors. Riku, Sora, Leon, Hayner, and Cloud were all wearing dress shirts and black dress pants. Except for Axel who was wearing black jeans, but it looked good enough.

Everyone was taking in little groups and I got bored, so I walked over to the stereo and turned on my mix CD. I browsed through some songs till I got to the right one, “Breathing” by Yellowcard started to play and I bobbed my head to the beat. I started to sing quietly along as I went to throw out my empty soda can. Then came and sat down next to Axel. “So, any idea as to where we’re going?” I asked, looking at him.

He shook his head. “Didn’t Yuffie tell you when you got here?” he asked leaning back against the couch.

“Nope, all she did was tell me to get ready.”

Cloud nodded. “Then we had the whole one person conversation done by Leckie, then the fight over how dirty her clothes were, then over the soda that I ended up drinking.” he stated. He was usually pretty quiet, kept most of his emotions inside, but every once in a while he would open up and have fun.

“Yeah, that basically sums it all up.” I smiled and sat there drumming my fingers on my knee. “Well, I’m bored, so I’m going outside to play soccer or something. Who’s up for it?” I asked, standing up.

They looked at me as if I was crazy. “Won’t Yuffie get mad?” Hayner asked.

I rolled my eyes and headed for the back door. They all shrugged and followed.

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We organized ourselves into two teams, Axel, Cloud, Sora and Hayner on one team and Leon, Riku, Tidus and me on the other. My team voted me to be goalie because they knew that if I got really dirty Yuffie would have a fit. I nodded and walked over to the make shift net that Yuffie, her dad and I had built out of metal poles stuck deep into the ground. I stood between the two poles waiting for the game to start.

The other team got to kick off first. They came towards the net with the ball, top speed. I bent my knees a little and got ready. Cloud passed it to Sora, who passed off to Axel who went in for the shot. He kicked really hard; I caught it in the gut and fell to the ground. “Hey, you okay?” Sora called.

“Yeah, I’m...”

“LECKIE!” I heard someone yell, I knew who it was and she was angry. I dropped the ball and got to my feet, and was met by Yuffie’s angry gaze. “What are you doing?! You know you can’t get dirty!” she yelled at me.

I looked down at the ground, “Sorry, we were just playing soccer…” I said quietly.

“That’s just it!” she was nearly fuming. I had never seen her so mad before. Everyone else was silent as they watched.

“Well, why is so important that I don’t get dirty? I mean, we’re just going out to dinner.” I said simply with a shrug.

“It’s a big deal because the dinner we are going to is an awards ceremony for dad’s job. He may be getting an award and he wants us to give a good impression."

“Oh.” I nodded.

“Can we at least play to five?”

I asked the wrong question. She glared at me even more. “No!” she nearly screamed. I stepped back and looked at her, she had never been this mad before. She was almost always happy, seeing her mad was rare.

“Hey, Yuffie, calm down. There’s no need to yell at her.” Leon said, trying to calm her down.

“For tonight I’m gonna make sure that you look good and act like a lady.” she said, still angry.

“What? Are you trying to be the mother that I’ve been lacking all my life?! Do you think I need one? That my life is missing something because I didn’t have one?!” I was getting mad now and yelling at her.

“Yes! I think you missed out on learning how to be a girl!” she yelled back. “I think you need one to show you how you should act!” she screamed that last part.

I could feel tears flow slowly down my cheeks. “So, you don’t like who I am? Fine! Like I strive for your approval, anyways!” I yelled.

She stared at me for a minute then her expression started to change. “Oh my gosh, what have I done?” she whispered to herself. “Leckie, I am so sorry.” she said, reaching out for my hand.

I stepped back and ran towards the house. I didn’t want to talk to her right then. I just wanted to get away from where anyone could see me. I ran into the house and up the stairs into my room and slammed the door. I threw myself onto my bed and cried into my pillow. Hours seemed to go by, but I was oblivious to any of it.

After a while I sat up and looked at my pillow, it was covered with a big wet spot that was streaked with black mascara. I gave a small smile; I guess I did use to much eye make-up. I got up and walked across the hall to the bathroom to wash my face. I let the water run cold and I filled the sink, taking big handfull’s of water and splashing my face. As I did, I heard a soft knock on the door. I grabbed a towel off the hook and dabbed my face as I turned to see who it was. Leon stood there looking at me.

“Are you okay?” he asked. I could tell he was uncomfortable, this wasn’t really what he did. He was serious almost all of the time.

I nodded, threw the towel on the floor and walked past him to my room to re-apply my makeup. I stood in front of the mirror applying eye liner. Leon stood in my doorway watching me. “You can come in, you know. I don’t bite.” I said with a laugh and grabbed my mascara from my make-up box. My step mom liked to keep my room really clean while I was gone. She also tried to doll it up a bit, with pinks and whites, but I only let her paint the walls white so I could draw on them and put up my posters. I had posters of celebrities and bands all over, and one wall had a big picture on the tip of a sword that I drew.

He nodded and walked over and sat down on my unmade bed, “You know Yuffie’s sorry, right?” he asked pretty bluntly and right to the point.

I stopped applying make-up and looked at him. “Yeah, I know she’s sorry, and I’m sorry for yelling at her, but I’m not ready to face her yet.” I said. I tossed my mascara on my bed and sat down beside him.

“Are you ready to go downstairs?” he wondered, looking at me with his dark, mysterious orbs.

I gave a small smile. “Yeah, let's go and make some noise!” I said and walked out the door. Leon followed and rolled his eyes.

I quickly rushed down the stairs, nearly falling on the last few as I walked into the living room. Everyone was sitting on the floor or on couches talking, but they all stopped to look at me when I came in. “Well, don’t that just make you fidget?” I mumbled as I stood there. “Hey, you look like you just saw a ghost. Quit staring at me like that.” I walked over to the couch and sat down beside Kairi. “What’s going on? Why does everything get weird when I walk in?” I asked to her.

“Because you made Yuffie cry.” she said like I had committed the worst crime ever.

“I made her cry?” I stated in shock. She nodded.

“She’s in her room, it you want to talk to her.” Aerith said kindly. I nodded and stood up.

Again everyone watched me as I walked to the basement door. I slowly opened the door and listened, I could her faint sobs coming from somewhere below the stairs. I sighed and lowered my head. “This just isn't my day, is it?” I asked myself gloomily.

I slowly started descending the stairs. The sobs got louder as I came closer to the curtain separating the stairs from Yuffie’s room. I knocked on the wooden frame, no answer. “Yuffie? May I come in?” I asked, slowly venturing past the curtain. Her room wasn’t as bright as mine; it was kinda dark, with all these different Japanese swords and things everywhere. Posters of different bands and martial artists covered her walls. There was one window that showed the front driveway and the road in front of the house but it was barely big enough to fit a five year old through.

“Yuffie, are you in here?” I asked looking around.

“What do you want?” she asked as she stepped out from behind a wall.

“I, um, came to say I’m sorry for yelling at you.” I said and stood there waiting to see how she may react. After earlier I didn’t know what to expect. Then something really surprising happened, she hugged me. I stood there for an instant, confused as to what was happening. Slowly I wrapped my arms around her and hugged her back.

She slowly released her hold on me and looked at me, “I’m so, so sorry for before. I had no right to be your mother, and no right to tell you that you needed one.”

I smiled and hugged her again. “If I had a mother, I would want her to be like you.”

She sniffed loudly, “Come on, you’re gonna make me cry again!” she laughed and held me in a lung crushing hug. “Let’s go back up and finish getting ready, and find you another soda.” I smiled and followed her upstairs.

As we got closer to the top of the stairs we heard the shuffle of feet. When we opened the door everyone was sitting down and talking. “So, what did you guys think of the conversation?” Yuffie asked, hands perched on her hips.

Everyone looked at us with sheepish grins. “It was good.” Sora said with a small laugh.

“Well, who’s ready for some soccer?” Yuffie asked, picking up the soccer ball and walking towards the back door. Everyone cheered and followed her out the door.

“So things went well, I gather?” Leon asked as he walked beside me out the door.

“Things went smashingly well.” I laughed and ran over to the others.

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Yuffie helped me do my hair into this fancy bun thing and I helped her with her makeup; although I didn’t do it as dark as I do my own. She wouldn’t let me. We all waited in the living room for my step parents to get home. We played some board games and talked. It seemed like an eternity had gone by when they finally got home.

“There you guys are! What took you so long?” Yuffie asked as they walked into the house.

“We had to settle a matter over the limos and we had to get your father’s tux from the dry cleaners.” Yuffie’s mom said as she sat down beside here. “You look very lovely, Leckie, like…”

I smirked, “Like a girl?” Everyone laughed including Yuffie’s mom.

“Well, actually, I was going to say like a princess. The princess I always knew was down there beneath all the dirt and make-up.” she said in her loving motherly voice. She always had a way of making you feel good, no matter what had happened to you; you could have lost a leg and she could still make you smile.

I nodded and hugged her; I was glad that she was my step mom. “So, when are we leaving?” I asked as my step dad walked in.

“Just as soon as your mother gets ready.” he said planting a kiss on the top of her head.

“Well, I shall be ready in a few minutes, if Yuffie helps me. Leckie, you stay here and entertain the guests.” she and Yuffie stood up to leave.

“Well, how do I entertain a group of guys and girls?” I asked as they made their way towards the stairs.

“You’ll think of something, try truth or dare.” Yuffie winked and followed her mother up the stairs.

I sighed and turned back to everyone. “Well, who has any ideas? I mean I’m out.” I asked to anyone who had a better idea than truth or dare. No one said anything. I got discouraged and leaned back against the couch and sighed.

“Well, you’re no fun.” Sora stated bluntly from the recliner.

“Gee, thanks Sora, that did wonders for my self esteem.” I retorted with a smirk.

“You don’t even have esteem.” he laughed, throwing a pillow at me. I dodged it and threw another one back. Then we started a tiny wresting game. I jumped on his back and he ran around the room.

“Okay, don’t drop her, Sora!” Cloud called over from the couch.

“Yeah, here put me down.” I said laughing as I slid off his back. “So, when do the others get here?” I asked, sitting on the arm of Sora’s chair.

“We’re meeting them at the restaurant. Then after dinner we’re going out somewhere fun.” said Axel from inside the kitchen.

“Fun? What do you mean by fun? It better not be like a boring fun.” I said rambling.

“I didn’t know there was such a thing as boring fun.” Namie said leaning on the armrest of the couch.

“Trust me, there is.” I smiled and walked over to the CD player and turned it on, pumping up the volume. “A Little Less Sixteen Candles” by Fall Out Boy started to play really loudly out of the speakers.

“Hey Leckie, that’s a bit loud don’t you think?” Leon asked over the music.

“Awe, come on, Leon! Dance!” I said and I pulled Namie, Kairi and Selphie to their feet as we all started dancing.

Most of the older guys just rolled their eyes and watched but Sora, Hayner and Riku joined us. “Kiss her, kiss her!” everyone chanted at the same time and pushed me and Riku together. I gave Namie an evil glare and turned back to Riku. He was blushing slightly and he was grinning. I smile back and shrugged my shoulders. Then he pulled me in, my heart stopped for an instant. I kissed him and Selphie, Namie and Kairi all cheered. I slowly pulled away and looked at him, he smiled and he and I both started to dance to “Breathing” by Yellow Card. I gave Sora a goofy grin and he laughed back. That moment was probably one of my favorites, right up there with when I got a new life and friends. We danced for a while longer then we all sat down.

Yuffie and her parents were standing in the doorway of the kitchen. “Oh, how long have you guys been there?” I asked blushing.

“Long enough, my dear.” Yuffie’s dad said with a smile. I grinned and eased back into the couch.

Kairi nudged me in the arm and giggled. “I need to talk to you in your room.” she hissed and stood up motioning for Namie and Olette to follow. Everyone looked at me but I just shrugged and followed Kairi. Pulling on Yuffie’s sleeve and telling her to follow, we walked up the stairs to my room. I closed the door behind me, sighed and sunk to the floor.

“Well, someone’s happy now isn’t she?” Yuffie said with a grin.

“I never thought he would kiss me! Actually, I was starting to think that he didn’t like me at all.” I blushed and gave them a sheepish grin.

“Why would you think that he didn’t like you?” Kairi asked from on the bed.

“Wait, you mean he does like me?” I asked with bewilderment as I got to my feet.

“Well, um… I-I never said that.” she stuttered, looking away.

“Oh, I guess it was just a spur of the moment thing.” I looked down and flopped on my bed.

“But how was it?” Namie asked crossing her legs on the bed; she had a childish grin on her face.

“Compared to what?” I asked looking at her.

“Compared to your other kisses, how was it?”

I gave her an odd look. “Uh, Namie, that was my first kiss...as in first kiss ever.” I said sitting up and grabbing my huge stuffed bear.

“Really!? Like first ever? None before that?”

I nodded slowly and smiled, “That’s generally what first means.” I laughed and tossed a pillow at her.

“Pillow fight!” Olette screamed and we started tossing and whacking each other with pillows. We stopped after a while because we were laughing too hard to go on. We sat on the floor giggling but were interrupted by a knock at the door.

I regained control over my giggles enough to open the door. “Hello?” I asked, opening it slightly. Tidus and Riku were standing there.

“Hey, we’re leaving in five minutes. Your dad wanted you guys to know.” Tidus said, giving Riku a nudge forward.

“Hey Leckie, well yeah…uh. You look nice.” he stuttered then briskly walked away. I watched him walk down the stairs and out of sight.

I looked at Tidus and shrugged. He rolled his eyes and walked downstairs, “See you guys in a bit.” he said and walked out of sight. I turned back to my room and closed the door behind me.

“What was that all about?” Selphie asked, sitting down on the bed.

“Got me, he just said I looked nice then left.” I walked over to the mirror and straightened my hair and fixed my make-up.

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What happened before Riku came up:

“So, do you like her?” Hayner pestered constantly.

Riku sat on the couch, blushing slightly. “Well, yeah, I like her but how can I be sure that she likes me?” he asked with a sigh.

“Don’t worry, she likes you. You can be sure of that.” Sora reassured him with a pat on the shoulder.

“Well, how can you be so sure? I mean, no offence, but why would she tell her sorta brother?”

Sora gave him a weird grin, “Hey, you can trust me, and I figured it out on my own that she liked you. Don’t worry so much. I mean, what’s the worst she can say? No? That she’s going to the dance with Seifer?”

Riku gave a big sigh and leaned back against the couch. “Yeah, that would be the worst possible thing that could happen.” he said exasperated.

“Chill, Riku. She’s not going to the dance with Seifer, she and Seifer said they were just friends.” Cloud said standing up and walking into the kitchen.

“Well, why don’t you go and ask her to the dance?” Tidus said getting to his feet. “Come on, I’ll go with you.” Riku hesitated but got to his feet and followed Tidus up the stairs to Leckie’s room.

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“I think he was going to ask you out.” Selphie squealed excitedly.

“How do you know that?” I asked touching up on my cover up.

“Well, because Riku is never at a loss for words.” she stated simply.

“And Riku is always the best with girls, never shy or nervous, but just then he was. Most of the guys in our group go to Riku for advice on how to ask someone out.” Kairi said as she walked over to brush her hair.

“Well, all I know is that Riku does like you and we have to go because we have exactly thirty seconds till we have to be downstairs.” Yuffie said opening the door and leading the way down the stairs.

I quickly grabbed my purse and slung it over my shoulder. I shoved my mp3 player into the main compartment and hurried after the others. I rushed down the stairs and tripped on the last stair and fell at Cloud and Aerith’s feet. “Now that was an entrance.” Axel laughed as he put on his jacket.

“Well, I aim to please. Nice shoes by the way. Where did you get them?” I asked Aerith as I got to my feet.

“From Payless, ten bucks.” she said with a smile and hooked her arm with Cloud's. She and Cloud obviously liked each other.

I sat down on the stairs to put on the shoes that Yuffie picked out for me to wear tonight. They were black flats, to match the skirt, and had white around the edges. I stood up to grab my sweater but, of course, it wasn’t on the hook. "Crap, where’s my sweater?” I asked myself and began looking around the large living room.

“You left it on your bed next to your mp3 player.” Kairi said as she zipped up her hoodie.

“Right, next to my mp3 player. How did I miss it?” I started up the stairs.

“Hurry up, dear. We must be going.” my step mom said as I took the stairs by two.

“Yeah. I won’t be to long, I promise.” I opened my door and looked frantically around, and there it was right on my bed next to where my mp3 player had been. “Got chya!” I stated happily and closed the door behind me. I ran down the stairs and stood at the bottom panting. “See? No more then a few seconds.” I smiled, but everyone had headed out already. Only Kairi, Sora and Riku were still there.

“Well, I thought it was a victory well won.” Kairi said with fake enthusiasm. I gave her a smirk and followed them out to the limos.

They all climbed into the long white cars, except for Cloud, he walked over to the garage and climbed on his bike. I walked over to him. “Mind if I come along?” I asked with a hopeful grin.

“Sure, climb on.” He jerked a thumb over his shoulder. I eagerly got on and strapped on the helmet.

“Leckie, what are you doing?” Yuffie asked as she and her mom climbed out of the limo.

“I’m riding with Cloud. I’ll see you there.” I said happily as he started up his bike a rode slowly out of the garage.

“Alright, we’ll meet you guys there.” she called as we sped down the highway, leaving them behind in a small cloud of dust.

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