x-CD Store Romance
5: First Interlude

Late night television bored Axel. It was almost as bad as early morning television – if there wasn't badly composed pornographic films or telecommercials, it was aerobics and old-fashioned cult movies. Not that he minded old-fashioned cult movies, if only for the old-fashioned cultiness of them…

…There wasn't really much difference between the aerobics and the dodgy porn, either, Axel finally concluded with a sigh after having flicked back and forth between the two channels that had each show running for the past fifteen minutes. Both just had women in weird positions, crying out and jiggling, panting and acting all pleased…


"Am I sick of sex?" He wondered aloud to the empty house. "Good thing I broke it off with Alice…"

The shadows laughed at him, flickering through various shapes and sizes as he flipped his lighter.




"Shit." It was too boring. Too bad he was an insomniac at the best of times.

The black-and-white images of an olden-day ad, on for show, cast even more artificial creatures along his walls; the hideous wallpaper made it even worse.

"I'm going for a walk."

And so, Axel picked up his jacket – all black and leather and hunk and brooding – and, slinging it over one bony barely-covered shoulder, strolled out of the house, slamming the peeling fly-screen door, jangling his keys in his pocket (but not bothering to lock the front door) and even whistling cheerfully.

Did I honestly just tell my house I was going out?

He shook his head; grumbled a little bit to himself when a strand of hair got in one slanted eye. Whatever. I need a pet.








"C'mon, Rox, give it a break already!" Came a familiar voice, It was cute, he gave it that, and certainly petulant in the cutest kind of way, but, Roxas thought, in amidst all that dark cloud of anger and gloom and doom, no less annoying for all its sweetness and appeal.

Of course, being Roxas, he turned just a little and gave the girl a Look of Patented Roxas' Doom.

…Oh, come on. Did it really matter that much that the patent was pending? Or that the name of the look was completely incorrect, grammar-wise, and made absolutely no sense at all?

But with his blue eyes narrowed just sofrom beneath that shock of dark blond hair, and an over-the-shoulder look to top it all off; it was no wonder that Rikku's braids were quaking as they dangled from her pretty blonde head, if only for a moment.

With a sniff, Roxas turned back to the punching bag, gloved fists at the ready once again. "Go back to bed, Rikku. Why are you even here in the first place? You don't live anywhere near the dojo."



Slipping in through the door and closing it silently, the girl stuck her tongue out at her younger cousin. "I should ask the same of you."

Now Roxas halted in his bashing of the punching bag, raising one eyebrow at Rikku. I'm not getting anywhere like this."Well, you don't live anywhere near the dojo, either. At least I'm dressed, and I've been responsible enough to be given a key by Sephiroth, andI don't have a dad who'd kill me if he found out I was at the dojo alone at –" he quickly checked his watch, lying on the floor beside him "– four fifty-two in the morning."





"I'm not alone," she pointed out reasonably, watching him. "And by the thorough beating you're giving that punching bag, there, I'd hate – really, really hate it – if I was someone who wanted to mug you in a dark alley. You scare even me sometimes. Why are you training at this time anyway? Cid would really be worried at that, not at me being here at this time."

"Why are you here?" That last punch of his really lacked style; he grimaced and readjusted his glove.

"Pfft. I was sleeping over next door at Paine and Gippal's," she informed him with a dramatic sigh.

Roxas paused once again – that explained her current state of dress, (or lack thereof), in only striped green short-shorts and a rather revealing yellow top. Hell, there was even some lace on the hems of the shorts! "They're living together now? That must be hard on you," he said to her with real sympathy.

Rikku grinned with the faintest hint of hard-to-hold composure, shaking that great mass of braids. "Not really. This way, I can see two of my favouritest people at the same time." She told him with a weak little smile. "Right? Anyways, I was just sleeping next door, woke up, saw a light on, wondered who it was. I'm sure you can understand."

"Hmph." He punched the bag a few times once again, adding several hooks into the equation, not sure why he was so angry all of a sudden. Not really. I don't have two crushes of differing sexes banging each other in the middle of the night.

That seemed too harsh to say, even in the state he was in.

Preoccupied, he didn't notice Rikku wander over to pull on some shin pads and gloves until she tapped him lightly on the shoulder. "Spar?" She said gently, with a shimmer of her usual brightness.

He nodded, and let himself be led to the training mats.


Larxene was bored. A night out on the town with Demyx wasn't all it was cracked out to be, even with Luxord along for laughs. He was just too namby-pamby; water-boy couldn't even hold his drink! Luxord had just laughed when the young man had passed out, hefted the body up over one shoulder and told her – with the most arrogant look possible in his icy-blue eyes, the stinking, low-life cheating bastard – that he'd 'take the baby home for the night'.

…not that she didn't agree with his terminology, but still.

Hence, Larxene was not only bored, but angry. The combination of the two made the blonde woman quite the sadistic little bitch; even nastier than usual, really.

It made sense to her, in that case, to hunt down Marluxia. Saturdays were the busy man's night off, as weekends were supposed to be the 'quality family time' between all those cheating wives and cheating husbands.

Only one problem, really, that she could think of as she pocketed a flogged pack of ciggies and strode off in the general direction of Marlurxia's place. There was only one thing that Larxene didn't want to find Marluxia doing, apart from karaoke, masturbation, smoking crack or watching Disney – or any other activity, really – and that was sorting out his sex toys.

Dear gods.The thought nearly made the blonde woman stop right in her tracks in horror.

And that, dear readers, is where you note the 'almost'.

Bored Larxene can conquer all; that is, until she tires even of world domination.

And considering where Larxene was right now – conveniently enough, about two doors down from Marluxia's place – she figured she might as well keep going, anyway. When she reached the doorway, she prudently (which was code for 'maliciously' in Larxene's dictionary of Very Mean Things To Do) decided to listen in first.

…Good thing, that.

"Ahh, fuck! Harder, dammit!"


"More! More!More!"


An owl flitted overhead; in the distance a dog barked. Shadows danced and whirled; the windy night had trees blowing every which way. A cat slunk across his path at one stage; its eyes gleamed, eerily fluorescent, at him, then disappeared. Two drunks slept, snoring, on each other's shoulder, seated on a park bench.

For the life of him, Axel couldn't work out why he'd thought that the park would be a better place to be than his house, despite the company.

Flipping his lighter, he lit up a cigarette deftly. It seemed to help every now and then, even with the acrid smoke burning his lungs, even with the atmosphere around him – that dead, dark, dangerously still and quiet feel there always is when one is alone in a park at some insane hour of the morning…

"Hello there."

"Ugh!" With that said, Axel spun around in a most ungainly manner, only just managing to retain his balance and cigarette in a movement that resembled a merry-go-round on steroids gone crazy and –

Did I really just think that? Eugh. Too much Yuffie. Bad Axel. Baaad.

Axel stumbled as he took a step back to take a look at his sudden companion, jerking up short as a bony hand latched around his wrist. Of course, he immediately glared upwards at that.

Dark hair, dark eyes – oh gawd,was that a pornstache? Ah, well, not quite, but you never could tell with the lighting in parks nowdays, and he still had one of those hideous, greasy, twisted little goaties – really tall, really thin ('wow, a mirror of Axel himself', others might joke, but take into account that Axel is attractive, and this man was, well, not), a turban with one helluva chunk of red jewel smack bang in the center…

Hokay. Axel had to admit to himself that he had probably just been accosted by the weirdest-looking and most obvious dealer of all things nasty in the entire city.


Nice. "Little flying kick there, Rikku?" Roxas grinned, enjoying the mock fight. He rocked back on his heels as she feinted in, testing.

The girl smirked back. "Not so little – got above my head."

Roxas couldn't help but laugh at that. "I can kick above your head, too."

A tongue was stuck out at him, in the most childish manner possible. "I know. But it still makes me better in proportion to my size, right?"

Dammit. I hate smart people.Instead of answering verbally, he swung a wide hook at her, one the lithe teen dodged easily. Rikku retaliated with a swift triple roundhouse as she ducked around the slower boy, connecting all three times, albeit gently, and Roxas scowled at her. His speed was nothing to laugh at, but it was also nothing when compared to hers.

Circling each other warily, hands at the ready, Roxas belatedly realized one advantage he had over her – with such revealing clothing, she couldn't hide her movements as easily as he could. Any sudden movements on his part were hidden at least slightly by his loosegrey shirt, and the equally baggy black pants. It was possible he could make up for the lack of speed by watching carefully…

In a split second, Rikku lunged towards him. Taken by surprise, it was all the boy could do to keep his balance and try to fend off the worst. Rikku had a lot of anger to take out, it appeared; he was only lucky that she wasn't aiming for the areas that really hurt. Attempting to block a barrage of kicks and punches, he stumbled backwards after a confusing flurry of jabs alternating between the stomach and the face to find himself up close and personal with a black glove.

Rikku's black glove, on Rikku's fist.

Less than two centimeters from his nose.

Roxas grinned. "Yield." He told her, holding his hands up in a gesture of defeat. He wasn't surprised that she had won; when it came to fighting, although Rikku appeared a ditz, she focused when she fought and she fought hard.

She smiled at him. Both breathing heavily, they walked slowly off the mats to cool down.







The blonde grinned. "Glad to see you're awake, Auron."

There was an irritated sigh on the other end. "I'm always awake for you, Larx. What do you want? It's kind of early."

Another grin, this time with a little more happiness. "Well," she began slowly, arching an eyebrow at her surrounds; artificial lighting abounded in the various streets in St. Kilda, in particular those bright neon ones. She shuddered when her eyes were drawn to a bright blue-and-orange sign flashing some distance off ('fresh steaks only $13 a kilo!! Can't be bought anywhere else!' – yeah, what?) and quickly turned her attention back to the small pink mobile in her hand. "I'm looking for a place to be."


"As in, some place interesting."


She sighed, and gave up for the time being. "Are there any clubs in Kilda? Luxord already took Demyx home, so I'm all alone. And bored."

There was a slight shuffling sound on the other end of the receiver, then Auron spoke again in his gravelly voice. "I'll give you a friend's phone number. You'll like hanging out with him. Silver hair, nice eyes, smart-ass personality – you'll get on great."

Bitch."Bitch." She said into the receiver, jotting down the number – she always kept a pen on her for such emergencies – and detachedly noting that it was a mobile. "But I won't tonight. I think I'd better go find Axel," she suddenly commented with surprise, "he's not so hot right now! I mean, recovering from a cold, all angsty... Right! How'd I forget?"

The only sound for a few moments was a slight thud, thud, thud.

"Hush now, Aury." Larxene's grin was practically predatory. "You know I didn't mean to wake you like this, and disturb you for my own sake, and blab on until I realise that I really do have something to do, and all –"



"Did you just touch my ass?"

"I did not."

"You just touched my ass." Acting on instinct, Axel swung a hand hard toward the other's face. The tall thin man (Jafar, he had called himself, with a leer and a wink) moved in again, face twisted into anger.

Don't wander the park when you're out by your own, especially at night. An unspoken city rule – unspoken, because you weren't supposed to be so much of a fool as to ignore it. Axel grunted sourly as the crazy man said something wildly under his breath and reached out again. His hands are like claws..."Whoa, holy -"

He never finished the sentence. A powerful kick to the back of the knees felled the creepy man before him.

And Axel looked up, into shadows that barely made out hair spiky enough to rival his own or Roxas', and blue eyes that were so, so deep.


In one part of the city, a blonde woman smirked as she surveyed her new partner in crime for the night. A few kilometres east, a fair-haired boy and a small blonde girl cooled down from their workout, chatting pleasurably. And several suburbs away, a green-eyed, flame-haired man sniffed disdainfully at the damage around him and moved a few metres away, beside the brunet, to watch the sun rise clearly.

Edited and all, yay for me. Next chapter. Hahaaah.