Can't you just fix it for me?

It's gone berzerk

Oh, fuck, I'll give you anything

If you can make the damned thing work

"Hey, kiddo. Where've you been?"

"Nowhere. And don't call me that."

Luxord grins, nodding acquiescence; he tips the shot of bourbon cradled between his fingers toward Roxas. It's pure chance that their assignments should cross paths, and pure bad luck that it would be in a gamblers' bar like this. It puts Luxord in his element, and knocks Roxas clean out of all his confidence. "Fair enough, Roxas. Axel's been looking for you, you know."

"He doesn't need to look."

"Not true. You're quite difficult to find when you want to be."

"Have you been looking?"

A smirk creases the corners of Luxord's mouth, laugh lines deep with pretended congeniality, (and Roxas remembers the not-quite-soft scrape of close-cropped beard against his throat, stomach, thigh…) and he says, "I wouldn't have to."

Then he pats the barstool next to him, and Roxas sits obediently, with an uncomfortable, immediate and unquestioning compliance that makes him churn internally. No one should have power over him. He owns himself, doesn't he? Luxord sees the disgust in Roxas' eyes, and puts a broad hand on the boy's shoulder.

He grins at the humor of what he's about to say. "Look, it's supposed to be a secret, but…" Glancing around conspiratorially, he leans close to Roxas' ear (that infuriating tickle-scratch of beard that brings the memories of –) and whispers, "I really do like you. I'm your friend, Roxas, even if nobody else is and even if you aren't mine. And I won't ask more than that of you." (– the first warmth, passion, love? of this existence)

It's too much to ask, just friendship. Certainly, Roxas would have an easier time understanding just fucking, or could pretend there was no 'friends' to friends with benefits. But just friends, with no other masking details…he has to face it, the meaning of friendship. What is it to be a friend? Luxord thinks he's being gentle, being kind, but he's torturing Roxas.

It's just not something he can do.

The barstool clatters to the ground and Luxord sighs and orders another drink.


"Come on," shouts Roxas, hands curling into fists. Xigbar just shakes his head, sprawled across the bed and naked except for a sheet draped around his hips.

"You 'come on', Roxas. Don't be unreasonable. You know that's not what we're both here for, don't you? Just come over here and I'll make you forget your silly question."

Humiliation, fury, and something like the feeling of holding-back-tears burns in Roxas' face, but he won't give up. He knew it was stupid, knew Xigbar wouldn't tell him, but he had to ask. To ask someone whose answer meant nothing to him but what it was. Someone who didn't matter, themself. "No. Tell me! You remember; what is friendship?"

"I'm not interested, Roxas." Xigbar shoots him a half-lidded look, and Roxas knows what he's supposed to do but for some reason he (can't no won't and blonde hair and laughter-lines it's all I'm asking I don't want anything from you) doesn't do it and he just leaves. Because he feels like it.


Somewhere between his all-time low and the far-off light of getting 'better' the bathroom floor overtakes him and he wakes up shivering. He isn't cold at all.

Sick is something you'd think he'd get used to, but it hurts the same every time and he still curls in on himself, pain shooting up from his stomach and heat passing over his body, choking him, and his head feeling too heavy for his shoulders, no wait, like it's going to float away, pounding and pounding until he wants to cry but he can't because he's a Nobody and 'sick' isn't really sick at all it's just (from him, the white, cold, heat, too much pressure building) in his head.

Barely, Roxas bears up to go to the toilet and grip its rim with white-knuckled hands and hope it's over soon. His knees are shaking and (he knows, just knows, if he'd been good and just gone to Xigbar like he was supposed to it would all be alright, and he's sick because he didn't care about supposed to, for once) his back hurts and maybe he's dying. And then Axel is next to him, and his stupid, painted face almost looks worried, and he holds Roxas up until it's over, but this time he doesn't leave. Instead he wets a cloth in the sink and mops Roxas' brow, and he kisses the top of Roxas' head. Now, Roxas knows how this one is supposed to go: he should hit him – no, wait, he should go with him to bed because isn't that what (he's good for) Axel wants? It's what everybody wants (Luxord didn't take it, just friends) and he hates them all. But he's too tired to lash out, and Axel is (too good) not good enough for the other thing, so instead Roxas falls asleep against him because he can't do anything else.

Axel lays him in his bed and goes out through the door.


It's a day later when Roxas wakes up from dreams about a girl he's never met and a boy who looks just like him and another boy who wouldn't reach out any farther for his hand. The room is dark and quiet, and Roxas is actually alone. Axel isn't there. Luxord isn't there. Xigbar never came to Roxas' room.

Even though it's lonely, it's a little peaceful, too. Something inside him is still asleep, or maybe just not speaking.

And Roxas finds himself missing the confusion and the sickness and everything else that made up his days because it proved he was real, and this equilibrium proves nothing.


So now he's avoiding Xigbar, because (of how Xigbar made him feel about himself) 'hate' just isn't a strong enough word for how he feels about the man, and he's avoiding Luxord because he's not ready to think about 'just friends' yet, and he's avoiding Axel because Axel makes the sick feeling go away and sick is real and he wants more than anything, the only thing he wants, is to be real.

But hiding doesn't work so well. Lexaeus finds him in Xaldin's library; Larxene chases and beats him out from behind a topiary in Marluxia's atrium; and Zexion has made a game of telling the others where Roxas is, for the sole purpose of enjoying the other boy's torment.

There's no safe place, because he's made an enemy out of everyone, but there's one person who would save him if he could only just remember who.

Hello I love you,

Won't you tell me your name

Hello, hello, hello, hello

I need you now