|Within Striking Distance
Author: Fire Tears PM
Demyx learns to wear pants, Xigbar grudgingly helps with a prank, Axel has fun being a jerk, Roxas fails at chess, and eventually they all learn to tolerate each other as their world slowly crashes down around them. [preCoM to postKHII]Rated: Fiction T - English - Humor/Angst - Axel & Roxas - Chapters: 2 - Words: 5,553 - Reviews: 23 - Favs: 23 - Follows: 8 - Updated: 05-04-07 - Published: 01-15-07 - id: 3344333
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
BIG DAMN AUTHOR'S NOTE: Okay. This started out as a simple one-shot where Xigbar tries to teach Demyx how to stand, use his sitar as a weapon, and wear pants. I tried to leave it there, but more ideas stemming from that kept running around in my brain. I wrote them all down and ignored it, but they wouldn't be quiet. So.
This fic will be collection of related one-shots of varying length, spanning from Demyx's induction into the Organization until just after the end of KHII. Be warned: while there is (hopefully) going to be humour, angst follows, given that I'm following the KHII timeline. That means people end up dead, folks. Just 'cause we don't like it doesn't make it any less true. Also, implied Xigbar/Demyx and Axel/Roxas. Could be taken as very, very close friendship. Very close. Okay, maybe not. Xigbar and Axel also form some sort of weird-ass friendship, which mostly consists of:
you branded a traitor last week?"
I've loosely planned out what I want to do for each part, so there should be between twenty-five and thirty chapters when this is finished.
I've babbled long enough, so... enjoy!
Your Sister's Dream Boy
Axel takes on the task of inducting Roxas. Violence ensues.
When he'd first woken up, it had been in a town shrouded in twilight, lying on his back in an alleyway. Small black creatures with glowing eyes had surrounded him, pawing gently at his chest, not even hard enough to rumple his shirt.
They'd made little noises that sounded almost... disappointed.
He'd sat up, blinking, and asked himself where he was – only to met with the horrible realization that he didn't know himself.
Or this place. Or even his own name.
The little... things... surrounding him had begun climbing all over him, and he'd yelped aloud, fearing them instinctively even as a strangely... weightless, empty feeling in his chest told him that he had no reason to.
Then they'd all frozen, their antennae twitching, before scattering away quickly, sliding into the ground and wriggling through the alley walls.
And a man in a black cloak had stepped through an undulating wall of darkness, standing over him with appraising eyes.
"Roxas," the man—Xemnas—had told him. "Your name is Roxas."
It had sounded almost right. His name, but... not. It hadn't clicked inside of him the way he was sure it was supposed to, but with no memory and no clue, he accepted it. Why not?
Although now he's standing in a room that isn't at all familiar; fairly large, with white-grey walls and an impractically high ceiling. The same strange design on every wall. Big canopy bed, black sheets, black drapes – and aren't those things supposed to be sheer?
Typical. No real memories, but he remembers crap like that.
All in all, horribly gaudy. But he doesn't have anywhere else to go. And this room—his own now, he'd been told—is far more comfortable than an alleyway. Xemnas left him here, telling him that IX would be along soon to instruct him in his element and his weapon.
What that means, he doesn't know. But the idea of a weapon is promising, so instead of ignoring his instructions and exploring, he opts to sit on the bed and wait.
This is supposed to be Demyx's job, Axel thinks sourly. Apparently their new—and last—member is close to Demyx's (apparent) age, so Xemnas had ordered (with much subtle threatening about the consequences of what would happen if he screwed up) Demyx to be the one to instruct Number XIII.
The young Nobody had begged off, however, promising to do Axel's domestic chores for the rest of the month if only Axel would do this for him.
Axel had agreed, partly out of curiosity, because none of the other members had been extended even half this much courtesy, and partly because he hated laundry duty. Marluxia was always bitching to him about mixing the darks with the lights (and for fuck's sake, they all wore black, what the hell did he need pink and purple shirts for?), and Luxord had nearly had a heart attack when Axel had washed his coat with his favourite deck of cards still in the pocket.
Half an hour of instructing Xemnas' new fascination versus a month of hated chores? No contest. Still, that doesn't make him any happier about taking responsibility for the youngest and newest member of their Organization.
He takes a deep breath, then blows it out irritably. Half an hour, he reminds himself. Just thirty minutes, and you never have to look at the kid again.
Rather than simply push open the door to XIII's room, he creates a portal of darkness in the middle of the wall and steps through it to the other side.
He's impressed despite himself when XIII – an adolescent male – doesn't jump or look scared. Instead, the blond Nobody slides off the bed and backs a few feet away, studying Axel warily, but without any fear.
"...IX?" he asks after a moment, and Axel shakes his head.
"Nope." He flashes the kid a sharp smile, baring teeth. "VIII. The name's Axel. A-X-E-L. Got it memorized?"
"Memorized? It's four letters. What, is everyone here retarded?"
Either very brave, or very stupid. Possibly both, as the two tend to go hand-in-hand as far as Axel's seen.
"Honestly? Pretty much." The faint glimmer of a smile almost touches the kid's mouth, before he continues, "Must be why Xemnas picked you up; no sense in breaking tradition." It could be taken for a joke, if it wasn't for the malice Axel purposefully put in his tone.
"Nice," XIII says, his eyes narrowing. "I almost liked you for a second there."
"No, you didn't," Axel reminds him calmly, flexing his fingers. "We don't feel anything. Good try, though."
XIII scowls at him.
"What the hell are you talking about? Everybody feels something." He crosses his arms over his chest. "For instance, right now, I'm feeling like throwing something at your face."
"Oh, for—Xemnas didn't explain this shit to you?" Axel hisses, ignoring the pathetic threat. "Great. All right, here's the rundown: did you see any little black shadow things before you got here?"
"I... yes," the kid says warily, as if he's expecting one to pop up out of the floor.
"Those used to be people, until other black shadow things ripped their hearts out. They're called Heartless. Now, us? We're the leftovers of those people. Nobodies. Normally we'd be mindless and wouldn't look human, but if our Other had a strong heart, then we get to think and plan and look human. Except, you know, without feelings." Axel taps his chest. "No heart, after all."
The kid's expression is almost worth having to explain it all. He's gone pale, staring at him with wide blue—very, very blue—eyes.
"You're lying," he says finally, flatly, but there's a faint tremble in his voice. Shit, is he going to be another Demyx? IX had locked himself in his room for almost a week after Xigbar explained his lack of a heart. The depressing songs coming from his room hadn't helped much, either.
"Uh-huh. Look, you can ask anyone else in this castle if you want. They'll all tell you the same thing. Demyx might be a little touchy on the subject, though, so I'd suggest against asking him."
XIII glares at him – it's a look Axel is quickly becoming familiar with. "Trust me, I have no problem believe you're a heartless bastard. But just because none of you have hearts doesn't mean I don't." He presses a clenched fist to his chest as if to protect his empty chest cavity. "I have a heart."
"I do believe in fairies," Axel says dryly, clapping his hands together three times to punctuate his last words. "I do, I do, I do."
"Get out." XIII points at the door, his hand steady. "I'll figure this shit out myself."
"When? In the middle of a fight?" Axel makes his voice patronizing and concerned. "It's a big, bad, scary world out there."
"Sure. If I don't, at least if I get killed, I'll be free of you," the kid snaps.
"Now, that's not very nice. We're all supposed to be a big, happy family." Axel spreads his arms in askance before the kid can answer, and makes his voice sincere. "Okay, I'll admit, I've been an asshole. I think we've just gotten off on the wrong foot; after all, once we figure out your weapon, I'll be leaving you alone. Let's try again. I'm Number VIII, Axel. And you are...?"
XIII stares at him, obviously trying to figure out what the trick is. Axel drops his arms to his sides, but doesn't drop his questioning expression.
"Roxas," XIII mutters finally, his eyes sliding to the floor.
"Hey, that's not a bad name," Axel says consolingly. "Now, Roxas, here's your first weapons lesson: never take your eyes off your opponent!"
Roxas' head jerks up, his eyes widening comically as Axel's chakrams appear in a blaze of darkness and flame, and he leaps at the younger Nobody. Roxas makes a noise, but far from being fearful, it's a snarl of pure fury. Despite his lack of a weapon, he lashes out at Axel as he tries to scramble out of the way.
And all of a sudden, light flashes brightly enough to blind them both at such a close proximity, and there's a weapon in Roxas' hand. Although Axel had been expecting that, he still almost loses his head before he manages to duck just in time.
Quickly moving back a few feet, Axel takes a good look at Roxas' weapons; there are two of them, looking quite a bit like massive, stylized keys – one white, and one black.
Roxas himself looks stunned for a moment, but then his mouth twists into a snarl as he falls back into a defensive stance, holding his new weapons and looking as though he's ready and willing to bludgeon Axel to death with a pair of oversized house keys.
Axel laughs. "Very good!" he encourages, smirking. "Now you won't ever have to worry about locking yourself out. Now, about actual weapons..."
Axel jumps back as Roxas darts forward, lashing out with the black key—keyblade, Xemnas had said (well, said to Demyx, who'd passed it on) it was called. Well, hell if the thing doesn't look sharp and pointy.
The kid is fast, Axel will give him that much. A few more swipes, and though Axel keeps an easy smirk on his face, it's actually much harder to dodge the Keyblades than it should be. Roxas is way more familiar with his new weapons than should be normal.
"See, the black one is passable. Goes with the dress code, stylish demons wings—"
"God, shut up!"
"—and a nice, heavy end for bludgeoning the door down when it won't fit in the lock. Now, the white one... that's not very scary. And what the hell is that on the end, a pointy flower? How are we going to kill people with flowers?"
"It's not a damned flower!"
"Hay fever is annoying, sure, but as for deadly—"
"Oathkeeper!" Roxas yells, his voice rising in pitch in order to drown out Axel's own. He's panting from both exertion and the outburst, his face red with (an impressive imitation of) fury. "Its name is Oathkeeper!"
"See, now, I would have named it Priscilla. The other one's a bit nastier looking, though, so we'll call it—"
"Oblivion," Roxas snarls, cutting him off. He's looking a little calmer now. Axel blinks, then concedes,
Roxas appears to be taken off-guard by that. Finally, he says quietly, "Oathkeeper and Oblivion. Their names. Not—" his mouth twists angrily "—Priscilla, or any other stupid name you come up with." He points Prisc—excuse him, Oathkeeper—at Axel threateningly, and if it wasn't a big, flowery house key with a star charm on the hilt, Axel just might have taken him seriously. As it is, he can't help continuing to poke fun at Roxas. This display of pseudo-emotion is even better than the façades Axel manages to keep up on a daily basis.
"Did you just come up with those names now?"
"No," Roxas snaps, his eyes narrowing, but there's a sudden uncertainty there. "I just... know."
"How?" Axel asks, both to taunt him further and because, yes, he's genuinely curious.
"I just know, okay?" To Axel's surprise, Roxas' breathing accelerates, his eyes clouding. "I don't know how, I don't know why, I don't know—nnn!" Suddenly, Roxas is full-out hyperventilating, the Keyblades dropped to the ground as he clutches at his head and drops to his knees.
Ah, fuck. Is he having a seizure? Great. Now Axel'll be blamed if the kid dies—stops existing, whatever—and Xemnas will probably let Vexen torture him to death in the name of science.
"Hey, calm down," Axel says irritably, nudging Roxas with the toe of his boot, but Roxas simply whimpers in return, his fingers clutching harder and tugging, nearly tearing out his hair at the roots.
Startled, Axel grabs Roxas' hands, yanking them away from his blond hair before wrapping his own fingers around Roxas' upper arms, holding him steady. It's a flashback, he realizes. They've all had flashbacks, but none this violent – he can't even call the kid a wimp in his head, because so far he's shown himself to be a tough little thing. It'll be a shame if he gives himself an aneurysm, really, even if Xemnas won't murder Axel for it.
"Woah, woah, breathe. Breathe."
"Woah, woah, breathe. Breathe."
"I know!" Roxas snaps, but it's gasped out. The pain in his head is finally ebbing. As his breathing returns to normal, he realizes that those are Axel's hands steadying him. With a growl, he wrenches free and snatches up Oathkeeper, swiping blindly at the other man. Axel just barely manages to dodge backward, but he still falls on his ass. Roxas smirks.
"Hey, now," Axel says, sounding annoyed instead of superior for the first time. He stands, brushing imaginary dirt off his cloak. "Is that any way to treat the guy who just showed you some compassion?"
"You can't show compassion," Roxas spits out, scrambling to his feet. "You're just an emotionless shell, remember?"
"Oh, you wound me." Axel lays a hand over his chest, his expression one of utmost betrayal and hurt. "Have a heart, kiddo."
Roxas' face flushes at the not-so-subtle dig. Christ, what is wrong with this guy? Without knowing how he knows what to do, and wary enough now to not think about it for too long, he throws Oblivion at Axel, sending the blade spinning through the air at an incredible speed. To Axel's credit, he sidesteps it easily, but that doesn't matter. Roxas knows. Somehow.
"You know, throwing away your weapon in a fight isn't the best—"
There's a faint whistling from behind Axel—the sound of something moving very, very quickly, and at the last possible second the older Nobody realizes what it is and jerks to the side, body turning to allow the Keyblade to pass by him rather than through him. Still, the man flinches slightly as the blade slices through the air directly beside his face.
Roxas catches Oblivion perfectly by the hilt, swinging the Keyblade behind him to ease the halting of the weapon's momentum. He brings it up again quickly when he sees a small trickle of blood run down Axel's cheek—no wonder he flinched.
There's dead silence, and despite the tension of the situation, Roxas can't help but note that he's finally managed to get Axel to shut up.
With a calm that's more than a little worrying, Axel's chakrams vanish and he pulls off a glove—the hand underneath is surprisingly slender, with long fingers. Axel touches his fingers to the small slice, and when he looks at his hand again, the smear of blood is bright red.
"Not bad," Axel says casually, pulling the glove back on and meeting Roxas' challenging gaze unflinchingly, but there's something very dark lurking in his expression. His chakrams appear again in a muted blaze of fire and darkness.
Axel's grip on his chakrams tightens, and Roxas takes a step back to ensure his footing, bracing himself and defiantly meeting Axel's eyes. Roxas isn't stupid—he's very aware that Axel has had far more time to get used to his element and weapons than Roxas has—but he's not going to back down, especially not from this asshole. Even if that means taking the full brunt of Axel's attack head-on.
But it never comes. Roxas doesn't let himself relax, waiting for the trick to be revealed, but the other Nobody's expression turns from dark to thoughtful as he tilts his head, as if considering something.
Abruptly, Axel smiles mockingly and bows low—far too low to be anything other than a taunt. He straightens, that smirk still in place, and Roxas curses himself for not throwing his Keyblades at the man while Axel wasn't looking.
"Welcome to Organization XIII, Roxas."
Axel heads back to his room after portalling away from a confused and angered Roxas. He'd been hoping to make it there without running into anyone, but no such luck. Not that he cares, but even if he had a heart and was injected full of sunshine and happiness, he still wouldn't be overly fond of dealing with Larxene.
"Aw, Axel." She places a falsely comforting hand on his shoulder, gripping his chin in her other hand and turning his face toward her before he manages to pull away. "Did the new baby with his brand-new toys manage to give you a nasty scrape?"
He smirks at her, making her mockingly concerned expression flicker briefly into one of confusion. A smile is generally not most people's reactions to her taunts. He runs a gloved thumb over the cut, ignoring the sting and rubbing away the crusted blood.
"Cute little scratch, isn't it?" Axel grins sharply, showing teeth. "I like him already."
(The Absence of) Flower Power
Xigbar and Demyx decide to see if Marluxia uses hair dye. This is a Bad Idea.