Ever Head of Public Transportation?
Disclaimer: Don't own it. Well. Not in that sense. No legal claims. Blah, blah, blah.
Opening Note: I don't know what it was with me, but even after playing Roxas in KH2, I couldn't find a big place for him in my stories. I put Sora on a pedestal and ignored Roxas. I got to feeling bad about that. Especially after reading Surgeon General's Warning (by Dualism, for whom this story is written). So, yeah. And I wanted to write something where Axel played a bigger part. Because I like Axel. (I'm considering giving my child the name "Axel".)
I was dreaming when I wrote this/ So sue me if I go too fast
For Dualism, of course.
He didn't have to get ON the bus in the first place, Ortiz. Hey, get your ass behind the yellow line!
– Sandra Bullock as Annie Porter, "Speed" 1994
Roxas hated the bus. There were people on the bus. Old ladies shouting things in Vietnamese, crying babies, girls with too much makeup, tired businessmen in suits, and people carrying on loud conversations on their cell phones.
But today he was riding the bus because one of his skateboard wheels broke, and Pence was working odd jobs and no table to come pick him up. So he'd been stuck across town after his job of putting up posters. It was after dark, and the wheel broke as he was turning a sharp corner, not seeing how the curb was cracked there, causing the wheel to snag momentarily and Roxas to go flying through the air, landing in the street. Thankfully, there'd been no cars around. No light rail. So he escaped with a scraped knee and a busted skateboard.
The bus was packed, and he had to wait four stops to get a seat because some old lady or some other person would round on him and give some excuse as to why they deserved the seat more than he did.
"Respect your elders, you little punk!" some old guy had shouted when Roxas boarded the bus. Roxas reluctantly gave up his seat.
"Can't you see I'm injured?" some guy snapped, waving his bandaged arm in front of his face. Again, he stood.
"Can't you see I'm eight months pregnant?" hollered a woman, waving her handbag around.
And finally he had a seat.
Though, at the speed the bus driver was going, he would fly out of it soon. The wiry middle-aged man hit the brakes and everyone and everything swayed violently. Roxas considered getting off right then and there and started to reach for the stop chord. But then he realized that if the bus was going this fast, he'd be home soon. And he'd never ride the bus again.
Someone pulled the stop chord just as the recorded voice announced, "Approaching Sunset Crossing and Starlight Ave." Eight more stops. Again, he wondered if it was worth it.
The bus screeched to a stop, throwing Roxas into the person sitting next to him, a man reading the newspaper. "You alright, son?" he asked in a gruff voice. Roxas nodded, thanked him briefly and grabbed hold of the bar so as to pull himself back into his seat.
"Young man, show some manners!" squeaked an eccentric feminine voice. Roxas cringed, stood.
"There you go, ma'am," he said through gritted teeth, reaching for one of the handholds above to keep from being thrown to the back of the bus. Unfortunately, he was much too short to get a firm grip on it. The doors closed and the monster leaped forward again.
Roxas leaned against one of the poles near the back doors, so lost in his mental cursing of the giant dirty metal bus and all the people who actually had seats that when a hand reached out and firmly groped his ass, he dropped his skateboard, earning a few glares from the other occupants of the bus.
He turned slowly around, noting with distaste the hand hadn't moved.
"Is this seat taken?" asked the owner of the perverted limb. Roxas growled and slapped at the back of the offending hand, meeting the man's eyes.
How was it possible for eyes of such a cold green color to blaze like fire?
The bus came to a stop again, and at least half the riders got off. Roxas got his seat and his skateboard back, but the man with the jade fire eyes and mane of red gold hair was still watching him. Roxas tried ignoring him, then tried glaring.
"What?" he demanded.
The man smirked and gestured to the empty seat beside him. "May a thorn sit down amongst the roses?"
Roxas glared. "I'm not a rose, you freak."
"You probably expect me to believe that you're not an angel, either," the man replied, taking the seat as there were no objections. He wore a long black coat, dark jeans, and combat boots. He held a black iPod in one hand, with only one earbud set in his pierced ear, from where a simple silver hoop hung. Roxas ran a hand through his gold mess of hair and read "Shut Up and Sleep With Me by Sin-With-Sebastian" off the iPod screen. How amusing.
"Do you have a boyfriend?" the man asked suddenly.
Roxas raised an eyebrow. "Yes," he lied.
"Want another one?"
Someone pulled the stop chord again, and Roxas had to hold on to keep from being thrown into the persistent freak sitting beside him. Once the bus was moving again and the redhead was happily bobbing his mane of fire hair to something called "Rainbow in the Dark", Roxas busied himself by digging through the pockets of his two-tone khaki pants for his crystal. It was as blue as his eyes and made him think of sitting on top of Twilight Town Tower with his friends, watching the sunset.
"You know," the man remarked, lowering the volume on his iPod, "That was my stop back there."
"Not my problem," Roxas smirked.
The man grinned. "Well, I was hoping that if I followed you home, you'd keep me."
Roxas leaned back in his seat, idly tossing the blue crystal from one hand to the other. "Sorry, but my apartment has this strict policy against vermin."
The man laughed, a wild tumbling of crystal notes and dancing flames.
"I'm addicted to yes, and I'm allergic to no. So what's it gonna be?"
"Addictions are unhealthy."
"In that case, maybe I should stop looking into your eyes."
The bus ran a red light and sent him flying into the other man's arms as it roared to a stop.
"I knew you'd come to me eventually."
"Keep dreaming, asshole."
"My name." Roxas blinked, lifting himself out of the surprisingly comfortable lap. "Axel. Got it memorized?"
The bus took off again, and Roxas noticed that he and this Axel were the only ones left besides an elderly woman and a man in a wrinkled business suit.
"You know, normally when someone gives their name, they get one in return."
"Roxas," Roxas replied after a moment's hesitation coupled with a glare.
"So, Roxas. Apart from looking sexy, what do you do for a living?"
Five more stops. Five more stops. Five more. Five more. Five!
"I do odd jobs," he answered finally, not having the energy to come up with something smart. "Deliveries, a little manual labor... whatever I can."
He was surprised to find Axel actually listening.
"You don't seem to like the bus very much."
"I usually have my skateboard. Or Pence drives me. But he was working today and..." Roxas held up his board. Axel winced in understanding.
"Looks nasty. Is that how you got that, too?" he gestured at the shallow cut peeking through the bloody rip in the khaki pants.
"Give me your leg," Axel said quite suddenly, pulling a little white box out of his coat pocket.
Axel grinned. "I was going to ask for your heart, but I'll think of a way to earn that once I've taken care of that cut." And without waiting for permission he scooted over, lifting Roxas' leg onto the empty seat that was now between them, pulling out some gauze and ointment.
"A first aid kit?"
"I'm training to be a school nurse."
Roxas let loose a short bark of laughter, doing a good job of holding back the small cry of pain he felt when the ointment touched his skin.
"I specialize in treating burns."
He pulled his leg back once Axel was done with it, glad to be sitting a little farther for the next few stops.
"You're not seriously going to follow me home, are you?"
"Approaching Back Alley Road and Starlight Ave," said the recorded voice. Roxas reached up and pulled the chord.
The bus thundered up to the corner and stopped. Roxas picked up his skateboard, pocketed his crystal and took the step down from the bus onto the street.
"You coming?" he said after a moment of hesitation, not surprised when he turned to the side and found Axel standing there. He smiled, jade eyes on fire, and wrapped an arm around Roxas' shoulders. Roxas smirked, enjoying the warmth, imagining what it would be like for it to spread all over his body, a single thought in his mind as he and Axel walked up the stairs to his apartment:
I'm never riding the bus again.
- The Writer