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Chapter Nine: Tales as Old as Yesterday
We came to a stop in front of a large fancy looking restaurant called Angel’s Cove. I slowly got off Cloud’s bike and stared at the building. It had a huge arc in the front, supported by large spiraling pillars. Large windows surrounded the outside and it was all a deep maroon color. “Hey, while we wait for the others can we turn on the radio?” I asked leaning against the bike. He nodded and turned it on, ‘High of 75’ started to play. I hummed along and then started to sing quietly. “And the temperature is freezing, there’s a cold front sweeping over my heart. Now I’m sunny with a high of 75 since you took my heavy heart and made it light. And it’s funny how you find you enjoy your life when you’re happy to be alive."
“You know this song?” Cloud asked, standing beside me staring down the road.
“Yeah, I listened to it a lot after Yuffie’s parents took me in.” I smiled as I re-lived the day in my mind.
“Huh.” He said nothing after that. We just listened to the radio play on as we waited for the others.
“Well, they’re taking their sweet time aren’t they?” I said, blowing some bangs out of my face and crossing my arms.
“They probably hit traffic or something, they’ll be here soon.” he said coolly and kicked a rock with the end of his shoe.
“Leckie, what are you doing here?” asked a familiar voice.
I turned and saw Seifer a few feet away. “Oh, hey, what are you doing here?” I asked standing up and straightening out my shirt.
“I’m here with my parents, some award ceremony for my dad's job.” he said with a shrug.
“Same here, guess our dads have the same job.” He nodded and looked over my shoulder at Cloud, “Who’s your friend?”
I turned and looked at Cloud who was standing behind us with his arms crossed. “Oh, this is Cloud. He’s one of Yuffie’s friends.” I said stepping aside. “Cloud, this is Seif-” He cut me short.
“Yeah, I know who he is. I’ve heard about you.” he said coolly, walking towards him. Seifer started to shrink back a bit as Cloud got closer.
“Okay, this is getting a little bit uncomfortable.” I said looking at Cloud.
“Nice to meet you.” Seifer said, sticking out his hand. Cloud just stood there looking at him.
“I guess we’ll see you inside then.” I said to Seifer who gave a small sigh, glad that it was over.
“Yeah, see you later.” He said as he briskly followed his family into the building.
“What was that all about?” I asked Cloud as he walked back over to his bike.
“What was what about?” he asked nonchalant, as if nothing had happened. I decided not to ask anymore questions and stood beside him staring down the road.
Finally the limos got there. Everyone filed out and stood there waiting to go in. “Hey, wow. You took your time, huh?” I asked, greeting Roxas, Namine, Olette and the others.
“Yeah, well, we had to get ready and everything that we needed was at the school.” Namine said, giving me a hug.
“Well, glad you made it, and you look so nice.” I said, giving Olette a hug.
“Well, I try.” she grinned.
“So, shall we go in?” Yuffie’s dad asked. I nodded and we all followed him in.
The inside was even more grand than the outside. Tables scattered about everywhere, flower arrangements on the tables, and four large chandeliers dangled from the roof. “Table for twenty one, please.” Yuffie’s dad said to the waitress and she smiled and showed us to a large round table by one of the windows. I sat down between Roxas and Yuffie, across from Kairi and Selphie.
“Well, today certainly has been eventful.” I whispered to Yuffie from behind my menu.
“How, what happened when I was gone?” Roxas asked, leaning over.
“Ha, you sure missed a lot. For starters, Seifer and I aren’t mad at each other anymore and he’s here tonight.” I waited for Roxas' reaction, he didn’t flinch but his brow creased a little, “Yuffie and I got into a big fight, then she kicked my butt and she and I made up.” I winked at Yuffie who just smiled. “Then, after that, Riku kissed me and-”
Roxas’ expression changed drastically. “What?!” he hissed at me, spitting a little.
“Yes, he kissed me and then he and Tidus came up to my room and Riku complemented me and then left.” I hissed back, wiping the spit off my face.
“Oh, sorry.” he said with a goofy grin.
I smiled and put down my menu as the waiter, who was kinda cute, came to take our orders. “So, what will we be having tonight?” he asked, giving me a smile.
“Uh…” I had drawn a blank, I hadn’t even looked at the menu. Thankfully Yuffie said something for me.
“She and I will have the burger special with extra cheese and mushrooms.” she said, smiling and handing him the menu.
“A fine choice, and what shall the rest of you be having tonight?” he asked. After getting everyone’s orders he smiled and walked away.
“Thanks for the save there, Yuffie." I said giving her a smile.
“No problem. Besides, I think he likes you.” she said with a grin.
There was quiet as the waiter came back with the drinks. I took mine and smiled at the waiter, who smiled back. I took a sip then looked over at Riku who was sitting next to Namie and Cloud. He looked down at the table, he looked sad. I felt bad then for smiling at the waiter.
“What’s wrong?” Yuffie asked, taking a sip of her soda.
“Riku looks so sad.” I said back in a whisper.
She turned and looked at him then she grabbed my arm and pulled me up from the table. “Where are you two off to?” her mom asked, looking up from her conversation.
“Just to the ladies room.” Yuffie said as she pulled me along. She finally let go once we were in the washroom.
“What was that all about?” I asked, rubbing my arm where she had grabbed me.
“Just to tell you to not flirt with the waiter anymore.” she said as she fixed her hair.
“I wasn’t flirting.” I said, turning away and leaning against the wall.
“Yeah, you kinda were, and whether you meant to or not you did. Riku saw it the first time and, well, I think you get it...” she said, stopping to look at me.
“Well, I didn’t mean to.” I said and I looked at her.
“Good. now let's go back out there before they wonder where we went.” she said and hooked her arm in mine. This time she gently led the way back to the table.
“Welcome back, girls.” Yuffie’s dad said with a smile then turned back to his conversation.
Yuffie and I took our seats as the waiter came back with our food; well, actually, like five waiters came back with our food. The same guy that took our orders came and placed two baskets of food in front of Yuffie and me. “I hope you enjoy your meals.” he said with a smile.
“Thank you.” I said, looking down and then at Yuffie. She thanked the waiter as well, then looked at me. The waiter left without a word. I stole a quick glance at Riku, he was talking to Cloud.
The night went on pretty slowly; my step dad’s boss went up onto the stage and talked for a while. A comedian did his routine; they handed out some awards for person of the week or something like that. Then they came to the big part, the part my step dad had been waiting for all night. “It gives me great pleasure to be giving out this award tonight.” My step dad’s boss went on, “This award is going to a very deserving person, one whom has gone above and beyond the call of duty. Not only will he be getting a raise but he will also be named Executive Supervisor of the company.”
People applauded when he said that. My step mom grabbed my step dad’s hand and gave it a squeeze. "The person who will be getting this award is very deserving. Mike, would you please come down and get what belongs to you?” He stopped and pointed at Yuffie’s dad.
He smiled broadly as he stood up and walked to the stage and stood beside his boss and graciously took the award. He started a speech he had been practicing for a while, but I didn’t really pay much attention to it. When he was done he thanked his boss then came and sat back down with the rest of us. We stayed in Angel’s Cove for a while longer, then the boss went back up and thanked all of us for coming and bid us all good night.
I followed Yuffie and Roxas outside to where the limos were waiting. “It will be a few minutes until we get going, your mother's in the ladies room.” Yuffie’s dad told Yuffie, she nodded then turned back to us.
“So, did you guys have fun?” she asked, looking directly at me.
“Yeah, it was kinda fun, I guess. Can’t wait until I can get out of this skirt.” I said crossing my arms across my chest.
“Awe, skirts aren’t so bad when you get used to them.” Namine stated with a small pout.
“Yeah, well, you can get used to them. I’d rather jeans.” I said with a smile.
“Yeah, especially Roxas’ or Demyx’s.” Hayner said joining the conversation.
“Hey, well…” I didn’t have a comeback to that so I just pouted.
“You stumped her!” Roxas said with a cheer.
“Yeah, let’s make fun of the girl.” I said with a smirk and walked away to join another conversation. Everyone laughed and watched me leave.
“Hey all.” I greeted cheerfully to my new conversation group.
“Hey, what brought you ever to our humble conversation?” Axel asked, draping his arm over my shoulder.
“Oh, I’m just trying to make my other conversation group jealous by saying I found a cooler group to talk to, but in reality I actually have found a cooler group to talk to.” I said with a grin.
“Well, that was a mouth full.” Aerith said with a smile and hooked her arm with Cloud's.
“Yeah, well, everyone always said I was full of hot air. Or was that Roxas? I can’t remember.”
Demyx gave a small laugh. “No, I’m pretty sure that it was you.” I punched him lightly on the arm.
“We ready to go, gang?” Yuffie’s dad asked, stepping out of the lobby with Yuffie’s mom. “Good, then let’s go!” he said and we all started to pile into the limos.
“Hey, Leckie, I’m taking Aerith on the bike. Is that okay?” Cloud asked, standing there with Aerith beside him.
I smiled at them, they were cute together. “Sure, I need to socialize more. My people skills are lacking some, you know?” I said with a grin. Cloud gave a small smile and took Aerith over to his bike. I waved after them then got in, sitting next to Selphie on the end. “So, where are we going? What’s our heading, captain?” I asked the driver.
He laughed. “’Fraid I can’t tell you that, miss. Supposed to be a surprise.” he said and started up the limo.
I settled back and began talking to Selphie about nothing really. It’s amazing the things you can talk about when you talk about nothing. We drove down the highway rambling and laughing until we came to a stop in front of a large building.
We all climbed out of the limos and walked into the building. It was fairly nice inside, tables scattered about, a bar counter was at one side and a stage was at the front with a karaoke machine on it. I smiled and turned to my step dad, “We’re at a karaoke bar?” I asked, hooking my arm with his.
“Well, not exactly a bar because most of you are too young; so it’s a non bar karaoke bar.” he grinned and led the way over to a table.
We sat down, occupying at least eight tables; but it was okay because the place was empty. I sat down next to Selphie and Cloud. My dad ordered a dessert platter and we all ate for a while. “Who’s up for some karaoke?” Yuffie asked with a sly grin and looked straight at me. I gasped and looked back down and my plate to dodge her gaze. “Who should go first?” she asked pointing at me and was followed by a chorus of “Leckie”. I turned to Selphie who grinned and shrugged.
“Get up there!” my mom called.
I shot Yuffie an evil glare as I stood up. “You will pay for this, and don’t think I’ll forget. You’ll pay.” I said and stared her down as I walked past her.
“Cat fight!” Hayner said as I walked past.
“I’ll start a fight with you and you know it.” I said with a smirk and he went quiet.
I went up to the stage and browsed the song list, they had an old and new file, I quickly chose the new one. I scanned through and stopped on “Breathing”. “Didn’t know they had this song on here.” I stated to myself and selected it. It started slowly and then blasted out of the small speakers; that was my cue to begin. I walked to the front of the stage and grabbed the mike:
Eyes are feeling heavy but they never seem to close
And I can feel you breathing
Something I've been keeping locked away behind my lips
And I can feel you breathing
I can feel you breathing
The music paused and I looked out at everyone, they seemed to be looking at me oddly.
How am I supposed to feel about the things I've done?
And I can feel you breathing
I can feel you breathing
I stopped singing and looked back at everyone; they were still looking at me weirdly. I reached up to scratch my cheek, but was surprised to find that it was wet; I had been crying. I wiped my eyes on my sleeve, looking at the smudge of blackness. I slowly walked off the stage, leaving the microphone on the stool beside the karaoke machine.
“Hey, are you okay?” Roxas asked getting up from his seat.
“Yeah, I’m fine, what’s the big deal? My eyes watered a little, no biggie.” I said and walked past him.
“Hun, are you sure you’re okay?” my mom asked looking at me.
“Yes, I’m fine! Wow, you’d think I was dying or something the way everyone’s fussing.” I said, feeling the anger drip from each word. I felt bad then for being so mean. I looked at her, she looked down at her plate, I’d hurt her. I frowned and walked out of the restaurant and down the sidewalk.
“Why do I have to be such a jerk!? I mean seriously, you finally found people who care about you and you go and flip on them!” I yelled quietly at myself. “Why do you have to be so stupid?!” I hadn’t gotten too far when I turned and leaned against the wall and sank to the ground.
“Leckie,” someone called from somewhere over in a different direction than where I was looking. “Leckie, what the heck is your problem? You didn’t need to freak on your step mom like that!” It was Demyx and he was ticked off, obviously. "Leckie, look at me when I talk to you.” I wasn’t yelling but he wasn’t happy. I just stared straight ahead.
“Huh, I should know by now that nothing can reach you. You’ve put up a wall, and you won't let any of us-” he stopped mid sentence and looked at me, probably because I was crying again. “Dang, now you’re crying again.” he said and hit the wall with his fist, not hard though. I turned and glared at him, then stood up and started walking again. “Hey wait!” he called and jogged after me. “Why won’t you talk to me?” he asked walking instep beside me.
“Maybe…” I started then stopped.
“What? Maybe what?" he nearly begged, standing in front of me and placing his hands on my shoulders, looking me straight in the eyes.
“Maybe if you weren’t gone so much and maybe if you didn’t try talking to me by yelling! I do enough of that myself.” I said looking away.
“So you freaked out because I’m not here as much as you would like me to be?” he asked confused.
“No, I freaked out because I was mad at people thinking something’s wrong with me. My teacher thinks something’s wrong with me and everyone always treats me like I’m never okay and that I need help or I can't handle anything.” I was starting to sob, “And the worst part of it all is that they’re right.” He let go of my shoulders and stepped back. “They’re right, I can't handle myself and I need help, but I don’t want it. I hide myself away for hours and just sit there, I don’t do anything, I just sit there.” I said, wiping my cheek on my sleeve. “But I don’t want to feel like this, I want to do things on my own and show that I’m okay, but I never will be and that scares me.” I said and sat down against the wall and hugged my knees.
Demyx silently sat down beside me and hugged me. He didn’t say anything for a long time, we just sat there on the sidewalk and I cried. “I... I’m sorry that you’ve had to go through this.” he said simply. “I tried so hard to keep what was happening from you, to protect you from it; but I wasn’t strong enough to keep you away. You were so persistent.” he gave a small laugh; I looked up him and was shocked to see a single tear slide down his cheek. “I couldn’t keep you away, and you eventually found out. I always knew you would but I hoped that you wouldn’t. I’ve always felt guilty about leaving you in a foster home and going off to college, but I knew it was the right thing to do.” He stopped and stared straight ahead, I had stopped crying by then and leaned against him and listened to the sound of his heart beating.
“Whenever I would hear from you, you always sounded fine and you told me you were, but I always had my doubts. When Axel and I came down to see you, you seemed fine and all that doubt was erased; until tonight." he said and sighed heavily. “But now I know that you really are okay, you’re handling it the way you should, you never should have kept all that balled up inside.” he said, looking at me.
I wiped my nose on my sleeve and sniffed, “Are you okay?” I asked timidly, looking at his shining green orbs.
“Yeah, I’m okay. Do you wanna head back?” he asked, looking down the sidewalk.
“Not yet,” I said and leaned against him.
“Well, I think the party may have come to us.” he said and pointed down the sidewalk.
I looked where he was pointing and saw a large group of people coming towards us. I quickly stood up and helped Demyx to his feet and stood there as everyone got closer. They gathered around and asked multiple questions all at once. “Where... where’s my mom?” I asked, looking around.
“I’m right here, sweetie.” I heard a familiar voice say from behind.
I turned and saw her standing there. I ran to her and hugged her tightly, “I’m sorry.” I said and buried my face into her shoulder.
She held me even tighter, “My baby.” she whispered and held me. I let go and looked up at her smiling face, “There’s the princess.” she said and gave a laugh.
I gave her a weird look and stepped back. “Princess? Say, do any of you see a princess in this messed up tomboy who can’t handle her own life? And who is covered in mascara and is broken but can still tear down the walls she’s built for so long?” I asked with a twirl and looked at all of them.
“You look like a princess to me.” Demyx stated kindly.
“Here here!” Axel chanted and picked me up and spun around. I laughed and raised my hands in the air. He set me down gently.
“Oh, I’m so glad you’re okay!” Selphie squealed and grabbed me in a lung crushing hug.
“Okay, she just recovered from a dilemma, don’t suffocate her to death.” Tidus said with laugh.
“Oh, oops.” she said and let go; which for me was kinda bad because she had picked me up off the ground and when she let go I fell hard.
“Need a hand?” asked a kind voice, I looked up and was met by Riku’s sweet smile. I smiled back and took his hand as he and I led the way back to the restaurant.
“Now I’m really ready to sing!” I said happily and walked up to the stage.
Everyone applauded as I took center stage, “Well I haven’t started yet.” I smirked and chose a song. Grabbing the mike, “Who I Am Hates Who I’ve Been” started to play out:
I watched the proverbial sunrise
'Cause I don't want you to know where I am
This is no place to try and live my life.
I beckoned Yuffie onto the stage to sing with me. She walked up and grabbed the other mike.
I talk to absolutely no one
And the things bottled inside have finally begun
To create so much pressure that I'll soon blow up.
I heard the reverberating footsteps
And I can't let that happen again
This is no place to try and live my life
Who I am hates who I've been
So sorry for the person I became
She and I started dancing during the last few moments of the song and everyone clapped.
I smiled and ran and hugged Demyx. He picked me up and twirled me around laughing. I giggled and walked over to a portable radio that was on one of the tables and hooked it up to Karaoke machine speakers and turned it up loud. “High of 75” began to softly play out. I grabbed Roxas’ hand and he and I started dancing; soon everyone else joined in. Roxas eventually went to dance with Namine and I danced with Selphie for a while until Riku cut in; I’m not complaining, though. We all danced late into the night; although a few people, like Leon, went to sit down. That is, until I dragged him back up to dance.
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