Chapter Eight

"Luxas," a voice rang out -- masculine and smooth, with a hint of concern laced in. Luxas shifted in his sleep, frowning. "Luxas," there it was again. His eyes opened slowly and shifted around the room, taking in the color and furniture. This definitely wasn't his concrete home.

"You hear me, good. Now listen to me Luxas," the voice said, sounding as thought it came from behind. Luxas checked, turning his head a little too quickly and wincing, although the pain never followed.

"You must not listen to Aphrodite. She will lie and trick you into her schemes. I do not want to loose you."

"Who are you?" Luxas asked as a yawn ran through his throat and out of his mouth.

"It's of no importance. Now take care of your mother and remember what I said."

Luxas snapped his eyes open and sat up quickly. Beside him Michelle moaned in her sleep, shifting under the covers as Luxas pulled away. He groaned and put his head in his hands, the dream voice echoing in his head.

"Luxas get your ass out of bed!" Anant's voice yelled from her room. He scowled and got out of bed, walking towards his bags for clean clothes. Anant burst in and squealed in embarrassment as she got a full view of his naked backside.

"You could have told me you weren't dressed," she grumbled, her back to him and her face pure red. He laughed, "Why? It's so much more fun to hear you squeal."

"Tell me when you at least have a pair of boxers on."

"I have a pair of boxers on," he retorted quickly. She turned around to face him.

"Where were you last night?" Anant demanded, her eyes falling on Michelle's still sleeping form. Luxas shrugged, "Out."

"Obviously. Who's that?" she pointed to Michelle.

"Michelle, some girl I picked up last night. She's a nice girl."

"Uh-huh. You got a hooker?"

Luxas snorted before saying arrogantly, "Oh please. I don't have to pay a woman to have sex with me; they do it of their own accord."

"So you decided to keep me up all night for sex."

"You could have joined in," Luxas said innocently. She looked at him, stunned.

"You are such a pig!" Anant screamed. Luxas smirked and pulled on a pair of faded blue jeans, "Yeah, but you love me anyway." Anant opened her mouth to say something, but her words were cut off by the doorbell.

"Talk about saved by the bell," Luxas said softly as he walked out of the room, desperate to get away from Anant.

"We're not done with this Luxas!" she screeched behind him. She walked out of his room and slammed the door of her own, the walls and windows shuddering.

When Luxas answered the door he came face to face with a tall man, blonde hair blocking out his eyes.

"Are you Luxas?"

"And if I am?"

"I've been told to join up with a woman named Anant and, if you are Luxas, yourself."

"Who sent you?"

"Aphrodite of course," the blonde looked at him, or at least seemed to be looking at him. With that blasted blonde hair in his eyes Luxas couldn't tell. As if reading his mind, the blonde shook his head to get his hair out of his face. They were a bright blue with a tint of green. Small flecks of brown darted around the iris. A stretching scar above his eyebrow caught Luxas' eye. When he asked where the blonde got it, the boy's eyes narrowed.

"It's none of your business." Luxas rolled his eyes and stepped back to allow the blonde entrance.

"Have a name?"

"It's Trace, you don't need my last name."

"Whatever. The name's Luxas Marcell." Trace's mouth fell as he openly gawked at Luxas. Luxas either ignored it or hadn't noticed it, as he walked towards an empty room beside Anant's.

"I'll introduce you to Anant after we've gotten you settled in." Luxas said, casting a look back at Trace to see how much he'd brought. A single grey duffle bag was in his hand. At least space wouldn't be a problem. The room was pure grey, from the walls, to the carpets, the furniture and curtains included.

"Wow, this is dreary," Luxas said, looking back for the boy's reaction. Trace gave a very small smile, "It's fine."

"Anant's room is next door, mine is the one next to hers. An easy way to remember it is mine is red, hers is green. Well, I suppose if we're all going to work together you might as well meet Anant. Be careful, you interrupted her bitch fit, so she might be a little cranky. Don't take it personally if she is."

"Telling stories about me again, Luxas?" said woman said from the doorway.

"Only true ones, Anant," he retorted, not missing a beat. She flashed him a small, sarcastic smile, before turning to Trace.

"Hi, I'm Anant. It's a pleasure to meet you,"

"I'm Trace, and the pleasure is mine," the blonde boy said courtly, taking Anant's outstretched hand and shaking it. Anant turned to Luxas, her voice brisk and cold, "Michelle's waiting for you, and your mother wants to see you when you're done."

With a nod at the two of them Luxas left. Michelle was fully dressed and staring out the window in his room when he arrived. She turned around and smiled at him.

"I had a fun time last night."

"As did I. Do you need a ride home? Hopefully you're sober enough to be able to give me directions," Luxas joked. She laughed, but shook her head.

"No, I don't need a ride. You see, I live with my boyfriend. Last night was great, but we have to say it never happened. You understand, don't you?"

Luxas nodded, "Yeah. I'm only in town for a week anyway. You sure you don't want a ride anyway?"

"Yeah, I'm sure. I'll get a taxi or something. It was nice to have met you," she walked over and kissed his cheek before leaving. He watched her go out the door before he sighed heavily.

"Damnit, she was really nice too." He mumbled.

"Oh it's not like you give a damn about personality anyway," Anant said from behind. Luxas growled and turned around to face her, eyes blazing.

"Anant shut the hell up. You don't know anything about me, so stop pretending as if you do or care for that matter."

"Why? I'm right and you know it," she said calmly. His eyes narrowed, "I don't care about looks alone. Personality is another thing entirely."

"Oh that's real cute. What book or movie did you get that from, Luxas?" Luxas grasped her arm tightly, squeezing hard in his anger.

"Don't you dare talk about me like that. You don't know shit about me," his voice was a dangerous growl.

"Let me go Luxas." She commanded.

"Take it back first."

"I told you to let me go!" her voice had risen to a hysterical scream. Luxas released her. She rubbed her wrist which had a red handprint around it. Luxas stepped closer.

"Now take it back,"

"Luxas get away from her," Trace's voice said from behind Anant as he stepped between them.

"I don't believe you're involved in this Trace," Luxas scolded coldly. Trace didn't back down.

"I don't care, just drop it. A fight isn't worth a friendship-"

"We aren't friends," Anant cut in.

Disgruntled Trace continued anyway, "A group, then. We need to be prepared for whatever is to come, and people being hurt in any way, shape, or form won't help us. Agreed?"

"Sure," Anant and Luxas said in unison, glaring at one another.

"Go see your mother, she wanted to talk with you," Anant said to Luxas before storming out. With a scowl at Trace Luxas shouldered past him, leaving the blonde boy alone.

Banging on his mother's door loudly and hearing her groan in her sleep released some of the pent up anger inside Luxas. The door opened to reveal a confused and groggy Larissa.

"You wanted me," it wasn't a question and he spoke in a monotone. She nodded and stepped back, motioning for him to follow. He did so and she shut the door behind him. He turned to her, eyes searching hers.

"Aphrodite said we'd have a visitor arriving today. A blonde boy, a year or two your junior-"

"He's already arrived," Luxas interrupted with a growl. She'd made him see her for that? His pride still stung from the boy's intervention. Larissa looked at him, studying his face carefully. When he shot her an annoyed glare she laughed.

"Nikoli used to give me that same look whenever I'd interrupt his thinking. You two are so much alike, and yet so different." She finished quietly, eyes trailing onto the ground. Luxas watched his mother and felt a small tug on his heart strings. Her shoulders were shaking, and her voice broken as she drew a shaky breath. He pulled her close and hugged her gently, her head coming up to his chin. She sobbed openly into his chest, holding herself to him as though she might loose him again if she let go. Was it possible that Jocelyn had been wrong? Here in his arms stood a broken woman. How could she be crying if they hadn't loved one another?

They stood there for at least ten more minutes before Larissa stopped. Rubbing at her puffy eyes she laughed at herself, mumbling something about being stupid. Luxas shook his head, "You obviously needed to get it all out. It's been inside for too long."

Larissa nodded and looked up at him, a mildly happy expression on her face, "Thanks dear. Oh, I nearly forgot. Aphrodite wished to speak to you, Anant and the new comer tomorrow night at 9 PM sharp in the dining hall. She'll be bringing guards for the room, so you don't need to worry about that," she yawned hugely. "I think I'm going to get some breakfast. Care to join me?"

Luxas shook his head and told her that he needed to take a look around the outside of the house. It felt like it was his duty to check out wherever an intruder could hide. Surprises could be easily avoided by a simple tour. Larissa said her farewells and walked out of the room. Luxas watched her go and took a seat on her bed, put his head in his hands and ran his hands through his dark charcoal hair. A couple of tears surfaced as he thought of his mother's breakdown. When he had lived here she had been tough as nails, rarely showing if she was sad or sick. Now, after the loss of his father and years without himself, she could hardly support herself. It killed him to think he might have caused part of her suffering. Wiping away the streaks the tears left he looked up into a mirror. His hair was messed up in so many places, his eyes bloody shot and puffy from the tears, and his face had taken on a shade or two lighter than normal. He looked like crap. Laughing at himself he tried to fix his hair as much as possible. His eyes and face would fade back to normal soon enough. 'Anyway, it's not like I've got make up to fix it, 'Luxas thought with a smile. Standing up he felt strangely lighter. He hadn't cried for hears. With one last look at himself in the mirror he walked out the door and down the halls until he reached the doors.

"Luxas!" a female voice yelled from above, attracting his attention. A warm smileappeared onhis face.