Title: The Embodiment of Emotion

Author: Conjure Lass

Rating: PG-13 to NC-17 (none of that now)

Summary: With new lives comes the promise of new possibilities. But even with brand new chances come huge hurdles to be faced along the way. Will Roxas survive them? AxelxRoxas

Disclaimer: I don't own either of the boys. I wish I did. Then I could sleep better at night.

Authors Notes: This is my work for NaNo, so hopefully the chapters will come fast

Words echoed in the dark, pieces of a shattered puzzle that he didn't quite understand and yet continued to reach for. If he had been able to, he would have made the picture complete, weaving together the memories of a previous life that was now littered on the floor of his subconscious. Unfortunately, as he floated through what seemed to be the endless layers that lay between light and dark, Axel could only seem to focus on one thing, and one thing alone.

He had never gotten to see Roxas…

Only now, as the pieces of his memory began to float further and further apart, the name Roxas seemed to take on less meaning that it had before, becoming no more than a passing whisper in his brain. In fact, every single thing that seemed to have mattered before was breaking apart, leaving him with only the flickering thought of what must have been his last moments in…life? In the gloom of the in-between world, Axel's eyebrows came together in frustration at the thought of that…life. Had he been living? Now, with all this quiet time to think, he wasn't exactly sure.

And he couldn't really…remember his life anyway. So what did it matter?

"I wanted to see Roxas…," the voice in his head murmured, making his eyes water up at the memory. Why had that last moment been so important? What had made it so special? His green eyes closed, trying without success to pull the drifting moments back together, only to find himself frustrated and empty. The voice in his head was his own, that much he knew, but he couldn't seem to tell what he'd been talking about at the time.

Everything was fading…

"He…was the only one I liked. He made me feel …"

Suddenly from somewhere outside the small bubble of space that he'd found himself in, a soft voice seemed to start whispering. At first Axel merely ignored it, content to drift along in that nothingness for eternity, until the presence of the whispers started to become too much to ignore. That's when he began to strain his hearing, biting at his bottom lip in an effort to catch the sound in his ears and make sense of it all. To his annoyance, it seemed that the harder he tried to hear the less it seemed to speak, until the whispers had become soft cries in the dark and he had allowed himself to stop caring.

That's when it happened.

His hand twitched softly, accidentally brushing against something soft and warm. Axel's eyes quickly opened, blinking slightly at the sensation of something real under his fingertips. Knowing somehow that the object was behind him, he managed to turn himself over in the zero-gravity of true twilight and stare in wonderment down at the creature beneath him.

Red hair…just like his except that it was a good deal more manageable and pulled away from the pale face in a loose ponytail that trailed to his waist. The face, in fact, was identical to Axel's own, only without the strange tattoos that Axel could no longer remember getting were not there. Everything else, however, was the same. From the small waist and rather feminine hips, to the long expanse of his neck and the slightly slanting eyes…everything was identical. The only difference that Axel could immediately see was that this body (whatever it was) was very much alive. Its heart was beating in its chest, and each time that Axel began to reach out to touch the person the pounding would become louder until it rang in his ears like thunder and his fingers were perched directly above it's forehead.

With a soft sigh, Axel reached forward, letting his fingertips brush along the smooth skin of its forehead, not expecting anything other than the imaginary feeling of touching something (even though he knew he wasn't truly "alive"). Everything about this meeting felt…pre-destined…perfect. It was like the moment Axel's hand touched the flesh of this Other that everything fell into place. It was like becoming reborn…renewed…whole. And so, with a small smile, Axel leaned forward to get a better look.

"My heart just wouldn't be in it, you know? Haven't got one…"

And that's when the eyes opened…

Drowning, pulling, ripping at what little was left of the person he used to be, the hand of the doppelganger shot out, grabbing at Axel's wrist and holding on tight. Instantly Axel could…feel? Is that what that was? He could feel a myriad of emotions, from shock to revulsion to blatant fear. What he realized a few seconds after feeling these things was that…it was never that (in his old life) that he couldn't feel…only that they were muted. He realized that all the things he'd been told, though he could barely remember them anymore they were so faded, had been complete and utter lies.

Though for the life of him…he couldn't remember what that previous life had been.

"Who are you?" Axel's voice rang out in the gloom, shattering the peaceful silence. "Stop touching me!"

Soft flames licked around Axel's eyelids (though from where he didn't know), flashing dangerously. Apparently this was not enough to deter the clone below him from slowly reaching out its arms to embrace him like a family member, drawing them together with a quiet determination. The doppelganger had spoken not a word, its eyes seeming to look straight through Axel…but yet…there was desperation in that gaze that he couldn't ignore. And so, with a soft sigh, he allowed himself to be pulled into that gentle hug until all his thoughts began to slow like the end of a winter snowstorm and his eyes began to close.

And just before everything went dark, and Axel was left with only his name, he had the vague sense that someone, though he didn't quite know whom, was waiting for him…

"I wanted to see Roxas…"

The next thing he knew, he was in what could only be described as aerial free-fall, hurtling down towards what appeared to be a large body of water. Upon seeing the waves below he immediately closed his eyes, though not before noticing that the sky around him was strangely lit…sunset. Unfortunately, he didn't have a particularly long time to think about it, as before he knew it he was splashing down into the chilly liquid, coming up for air as soon as his body recovered from the shock of such a dive.

Once he'd splashed the water out of his eyes he looked around, trying desperately to blink the clouds away from his confused mind. Nothing was coming as he dragged himself up onto the shore of what he guessed was a bay. The town around him was bustling with life and activity, a few of the people slowing down or stopping all together to witness a soaking wet Axel pull himself from the prone position he'd been in on the ground and look around.

Oh yeah…that was his name…Axel.

And this place, this place where the sun was eternally setting (or rising if you're an optimist…somehow Axel knew he wasn't) was called…Twilight Town. He nodded to himself, a soft smirk forming on his lips as he realized that he'd finally remembered something. Everything else though, from his former life to why he was dressed like some Victorian gentleman when everyone else was wearing casual clothes, was a mystery. But somehow he didn't mind it…in fact; it was a pleasure to find himself wet and alive on some distance shore.

Because it almost felt like he'd come home.

"Sir," Axel heard turning only his eyes to the sound of the disturbance. "What happened? You came out of nowhere! Are you okay?"

Axel merely dismissed the questions with a wave of his hand, not bothering to answer them before walking off down some random street in an attempt to get away from the gathering throng. He glared over his shoulder when he heard the man call him some vulgar name, saying something about him being ungrateful. What was there to be grateful for? It wasn't like anyone had jumped into the bay to save his life; they'd just happened to be standing around staring at him when he crawled out.

His dress shoes (complete with spats) clicked wetly on the brick street below, echoing in the hush that he'd suddenly found himself in. For every block of the city that was crazy with life and people, there was another that was quiet and serene…nearly boring. Axel licked at his lips for a moment, pausing as he reached a place where the street broke off into three places. Not knowing which way to follow, he glanced from right to left, eventually choosing the path going straight. As he pulled at his old fashioned jacket lapel, he had a passing thought that some of this walk looked very…familiar. It was almost as though if he closed his eyes he could make his way…


Thoughts of that word made his heart feel heavy, licking at his lips while he stopped for a moment. It wasn't that he didn't want to feel as though he were home, only that he didn't understand it, and he also knew that somehow home would never be complete…not without certain pieces. If he'd known what those pieces were he might have felt more at ease, but as things stood all he knew was that he was Axel, this was home, and somehow…he was going to find the missing piece to his life. Stretching his long arms out over his head, he promised himself at that moment that he would never allow himself to be content until every spot in his heart was full.

Once again he began moving through the town, finding that the longer he walked the easier it was to navigate. Just around the next corner was the old theatre and beyond that was a small fruit stand, or at least it used to be. And if you kept walking you'd eventually find yourself gazing over the entire town from a high hill, the view enough to take your breath away. Axel's eyes narrowed at that fuzzy mental image, wondering where the knowledge came from, but too tired and bemused with his current situation to really care. All he knew was that he was moving towards a destination, and that he was starting to get pretty close.

The walls of the alley were cool and covered with a thin layer of slime, coating Axel's fingers as he trailed them through the murky goo. Finally, after rounding what seemed like the hundredth corner, he stopped dead in his tracks and stared.

There, on the corner of two streets, was a house. A three-story house that was taller than it was wide, with peeling paint that at one point had been a steel blue. The windows were large and tall, some of them leading to balconies on the higher levels of the house. Axel felt his hair (when had it gotten so long…and was that a ponytail?) blow back, sending pieces of paper scattering all over the old, abused road in front of him. It was obvious from the upkeep of the house that the neighborhood had been abandoned a long time ago, but that didn't stop the torrent of emotion that flooded through Axel's heart at the sight of the house.

His home…

"Come here my boy," cooed a woman's voice, pulling him into a soft embrace as he snuggled into her body. He'd wanted to stay in her arms forever, to be engulfed in that warm feeling for the rest of his life. Momma had always smelled of the softest laundry soap, the scent had always seemed permanently embedded in her skin from the countless hours she spent washing and cooking for her four children. And he'd been only too content to curl into her warm body, falling asleep with the childish trust that nothing would ever hurt him as long as Momma was there. It had only been later, when Momma was gone and the house had belonged to him, that he realized how absolutely precious those moments actually were.

Axel reeled, back hitting the concrete wall that was near him as images flashed through his head, voices he didn't recognize whispering to him. What was going on? He shook his head, determined to forget what had just happened. It was probably just an overactive imagination anyway, he thought to himself, straightening himself up and making his way to the bottom of the front porch steps. He couldn't deny though, that this house had apparently once been his home…or at least he'd lived here. The feeling of being home permeated his being, and he smiled softly as he ascended the first step.

If he closed his eyes and focused on the swirling thoughts in his head, he could barely remember that the first step had always been squeaky, and so he wasn't surprised when a loud creaking worked its way to his ears. It brought a smile to his face as his fingers passed over the aged wood of the front porch, which at one time had been polished and perfect. Now it was faded nearly to white, falling apart and bug eaten on some of the floorboards. As he kept walking he nearly fell through the floor of the porch, barely catching himself in time before he'd gone completely to the ground.

He paused with his hand over the doorknob, inwardly deciding if he truly wanted to open the door or not. Somehow this step seemed very important to him, as though by opening up the door to his old house he was somehow opening the door to a new life. The feeling intensified as his hand grabbed the doorknob and slowly attempted to turn it.

Only to find it locked.

"Oh damn it," he murmured, rolling his eyes. Well, that had properly demolished whatever ambiance the moment had once had. Shaking his head with a soft laugh, he sighed and looked around for any other way in. He wasn't going to give up on getting in just yet, so his only other options were to either climb in through a window or hope that there was a backdoor. With that he made his way back down the stairs and into the small yard, looking up at the windows with their faded curtains. None of the windows were busted out (amazingly) so that was effectively out. Eventually he found himself at the back of the house, going down a set of stairs to the basement door.

As he descended the stairs, instantly he was hit with the smell of mildew and standing water, his nose wrinkling up slightly. He had never liked the basement; he could remember that now. He had the feeling that whenever his momma had tried to get him to go downstairs to get something from its dark depths that he'd convinced one of his siblings to do it for him. But he couldn't remember their names…or their faces. All he could remember was begging someone else to go down in his place.

He'd been scared of a lot as a child…

"There had better not be any nasty fuckers down there!" he called, narrowing his eyes slowly. With that he opened the door and took a step inside. All around him were dirt walls that came to mid chest with crawl space that went underneath the house, nearly pitch black as far as the eye could see. The actual basement was nothing more than those walls with a stone floor, with a smaller room far in the back. Axel's eyes were darting everywhere as he scanned the area, suddenly finding himself much less afraid than he'd been. It was like he'd suddenly found pieces of another personality…one much less afraid and much more…cocky. It was almost pitch black as he strode forward, his shoes clicking loudly on the stone below.

From the corner of his eye he saw something move, turning his entire body to the source of the possible threat. Without understanding how it happened, the room started to heat up, until whatever had been scurrying around caught fire. He had to blink a few times at the sudden change in the light, narrowing his eyes to let them get used to the flames. Axel's eyes widened when he saw the thing, taking a few steps backwards as he stared at the burning remains of what appeared to be an opossum. It now looked rather worse for wear (though in his opinion the thing was ugly to begin with, so the fire was a slight improvement to its appearance) as it sort of shriveled up.

The sound of his swallows seemed deafening as the room began to cool back down, his heart nearly pounding out of his chest. It wasn't the small animal that had caused this response, but the fire that had appeared out of nowhere, apparently called by his own fear. As he looked down at his hands he shook his head, not understanding where it had come from. All he knew was that he had liked it, and that he didn't know how to call it again. He continued to stare at his hands for a few more moments, willing the fire to come back…but nothing happened. It looked like that was just one more mystery to add to the growing pile that he was making.

"Fuck you," he said to his hands, putting them down and wandering to the back of the basement. Now that the opossum was on fire it was actually making it a lot easier to navigate down there, so before he knew it he was climbing the stone steps up to a cellar door above his head.

Laying his hand flat on the surface above him, he gave it a few hard pushes, finding it not wanting to budge. He pushed on it again, grunting slightly as he felt his muscles strain against the aged wood of the door. He could feel that the door was open, but that something was literally on top of it inside the house, and so after a few hard shoves he began to feel whatever it was topple over a bit and fall away from the door. With that he was able to open the cellar and peek his red head above the top of the floor.

Green eyes scanned a large kitchen, the floors a startling jade stone that went all the way into what he thought to be the entry foyer. The walls had obviously once been a cream color, now faded and dirty with time…but the kitchen was actually not in bad shape. There was a black table in the far corner, and the counters themselves were made of a black marble that stretched in an "L" shape throughout the room. In the middle was a wooden island, some knives still scattered along its surface. It looked as though someone had been in the middle of doing something and been interrupted…and just never come back.

He wondered if it had been himself…

As he came up the rest of the way out of the basement, he stood looking around, brushing a few stray red hairs from his eyes. The corners were full to overflowing with spider webs; the kitchen curtains mere tatters against the glass. You could see where the mice had begun to chew at the wood of the forest green cabinets, making small holes into the floor. Though why they would have lived in this house was a mystery as there was no obvious food source anywhere. Axel shook his head and continued his way to the next room.

The living room was nothing exceptional and connected to the dining room at the front of the house, though together they did make an expansive room. On the far corner of the room was a large fireplace, two stained glass doors still closed in front of it. Axel knelt down next to the doors and ran his index finger through the soot and dust that covered the colored glass, revealing brilliant blues and greens below. The picture was of some kind of soft yellow flower, with a bright blue sky behind it that Axel revealed with the wipe of his hand. He smiled softly and stood up, going towards the stairs that led to the upper floor. If he could reveal the beauty of those glass doors with just a wipe of his hand, than he could certainly fix this house up.

The stairs to the upstairs groaned and creaked underfoot until he reached the top where a long hallway stretched to his right and left. On either end was a door, with a bathroom door in the middle. Glancing to the left, he decided to try that room first, opening the door slowly and peeking in. That room was nothing spectacular, though it had high ceilings and a large bay window that led to a small balcony. The room had only a small bed, which looked big enough for a small child, and a bookshelf on the other side of the room. Other than that the room was empty, and Axel made his way to the other room.

At first he had a little trouble getting the door open, but he discovered after much pushing and shoving that there had been a large armoire pushed against the door blocking him from getting in. Obviously someone had come into the room and put that furniture in front of it, as the scratches along the hardwood floor could be seen from where the armoire had originally been set. Axel's eyes narrowed slightly, not understanding why the large object would have been wedged against the doorway, but he went into the room anyway.

Only to discover one of the biggest messes he'd ever seen.

The far wall near the window was charred and blackened by fire, only bits and pieces of the blue wallpaper still clinging bravely, though they'd faded with time. Every piece of furniture in the entire room had been turned on its ear, from the bookshelf with its hundreds of books strewn out all over the floor to the full length mirror shattered on the ground glittering in the sunlight from the window. There were clothes from the closet all over the bed, covered with the dust of time but looking as though they'd been in a pile at one time. The bed itself was unmade, the pillows still showing telltale signs of someone's head imprint on the surface. Only one person had slept in the large bed, as the condition of the bed wasn't conducive to two or more people.

Axel stepped cautiously through the mounds of books and glass, stopping near the windows before something caught his eye. Reaching down, he took a large piece of the broken mirror in his hand and brought it to his face for a closer examination. It was stained brown with time, but he could tell that at one time it had been…red. He recoiled, dropping the shard back onto the ground and looking around the room in a slightly panicked way. Now that he knew that blood was on some of the glass he could see more of it, streaked along the floor as though whoever had been bleeding had been dragged along the wood. And if you looked very closely you could see scratches in the hardwood floor in sets of four, indicating that someone had drug their nails so hard to try to keep themselves from getting pulled that they scratched the surface.

His pulse was speeding up slightly as he began to back out of the room, his shoulders hitting the bedroom door with a painful thud. Not turning around to see what he was doing, his long fingers fumbled along the wood for a moment until it found the doorknob, grabbing it harshly and violently wrenching it open. With that he turned around and quickly made his way back down the hall, nearly running down the stairs until he reached the front door where he was about to leave.

But then he paused, hand on the front doorknob with his forehead pressed against the glass panes in the door, and tried to calm himself down.

"It's just a fucking house Axel, get a grip," he said to himself, pushing hard against the door to make himself step backwards. Taking a deep breath, he turned around and looked back down the hallway towards the kitchen. This was his home, and no matter what had happened here (not that he could really remember it) he was going to stay here and make the best of it. Afterall…it wasn't as though he had anywhere else to go.

That's when the gravity of his situation finally hit him. He'd been so preoccupied with wandering around and finding his house that he'd failed to realize a few things. One: he didn't have any money. Two: he didn't have any food. Three: as much as he liked this house…it had no electricity. Four: he didn't know how he was going to earn any money. All in all, when you added that list up, things were starting to look pretty bleak.

Those thoughts in mind, he walked slowly into the living room and dusted off a small space on the huge living room couch to sit down. Sighing softly he put his chin in his hands and tried to think of something he could do with himself that might earn him some money. The more he thought about it, the more bleak things looked, until he was biting at his lip and truly fretting about his possible future. It was then that he noticed the old splashes of color on the top of a good-sized wooden chest, and quietly he reached down to scrape at them with his fingernail.

It was paint.

Cocking a thin eyebrow, he lifted the lid of the chest, watching as the dust rolled off the top and pooled on the floor. When he looked within he found a large piece of tattered cloth covering some kind of contents below. Interested, he lifted what appeared to be an old quilt out of the box and laid it on his lap, looking to see what the rest of the chest contained.

He smiled when he pulled out an old painter's pallet, gripping it in his hands with an ease that surprised him. There were little circles of dried paint on it in different colors, though they were all turning an unflattering shade of brown. Looking down again, he pulled out a box with a torn lid that upon lifting revealed a set of unused paints. Unscrewing the lid of the first color, Axel was shocked to notice that the paint was still in liquid form, bright and perfect crimson that he marveled at. Cocking his head to the side, he looked lower only to find a pad of canvas that was in surprisingly good shape as well. Only the first few pages were faded or worn, but below they were nearly perfect.

He had an idea.

Within two hours he was back down at the pier where he'd originally fallen to the water below, streaks of paint all over his face and hands. He was attempting to re-create his own fall, painting with a practiced ease the water in front of him and the cloudy sky with its twilight ridden sun above. At first he had been a little nervous, the brushes not wanting to do what he wanted them too, but once he relaxed…everything seemed to fall into place. And now, a few hours later, he was finishing up a very attractive looking painting.

He paused when it came time to sign his name to it, his hand hovering over the bottom right hand corner of the painting as if he were afraid to go any further. What to put? All he knew was that his name had at one point been Axel, but other than that he was still baffled as to who he truly was. In the end he decided it didn't really matter, brushing the letters onto the canvas with large loops and gentle curves. Now all he had to do was find someone to buy it…of course…that was always the hard part wasn't it?

After visiting at least three art galleries (and becoming quite discouraged), he finally found someone who was willing to look past his old fashioned clothing and strange appearance long enough to actually look at his painting. The gallery itself was spacious and modern, the paintings and other work set up on black platforms and hung on the white walls. The entire place felt very clean…

Axel was immediately struck with the woman's beauty, though he chose to remain silent about it. He could tell with one look that this woman was not the sort to take any sort of problems…from anyone. She walked with an almost royal gate, dragging a heavy skirt made almost entirely of belts along with her. The top of her outfit was a tight-fitting corset with long bell sleeves and an ornate sort of edging along it all. She observed Axel warily, her honey brown eyes looking him up and down before motioning her head for him to follow her further into the gallery.

"Um…my name is Axel and…"

"We'll worry about the pleasantries later, for now bring your painting into the light where I can see it," she said, her voice soft and slightly gentle. It betrayed her movements, which were a strange mix of femininity and warrior grace, making her seem very enigmatic. Axel wasn't certain how to take her, but that was all right, as people might have said the same thing about him.

Finally making their way into an office (apparently hers) she motioned her head once again, this time to set his painting down on a small easel in the corner with a light perched above it. Wordlessly Axel moved to obey, glancing at her from time to time though her gaze never wavered in the slightest. Once he had the painting up on the stand he backed away, smiling at her though it was not returned. She moved up to it as though stalking a kind of prey, finally leaning down slightly to look at it more closely.

Honestly? Axel was surprised her breasts didn't fall out of her shirt with how pushed up they were.

"Hmmm," she hummed to herself, glancing from the painting to Axel and then back again. She made a few more thoughtful noises before going to sit down behind her cherry wood desk and look at him.

"You're good," she said finally, after staring at him for what seemed like an eternity. "You look like a freak…but I think all you artistic types are like that…"

Axel snorted slightly, crossing his arms over his chest and glowering at her. Who the fuck did she think she was to call him a freak? He may have been dressed like something from a hundred years ago, but at least he didn't look like something out of an S&M magazine. As he continued to stare at her however, he started to have the slight feeling that at one time he had worn that much leather…and that his wardrobe hadn't looked that much different than her own.

Though the thought faded quickly.

"I'm not a freak, and I'm not an artistic type," Axel replied, leaning down over the desk and looking at her face more closely. He didn't like that he couldn't see one of her eyes. It reminded him of someone else that he hadn't been too fond of…someone who'd been in the same…group…as him. It made him leery of her, and made her seem less trustworthy.

She laughed softly, leaning her chin on her hands. "Oh you have spunk too…I like that…"

With that she stood up, extending her hand with the smallest smile Axel had ever seen in his life (though admittedly he couldn't really remember many) and waited for him to take it.

"I'm Lulu. You work for me now. Be here at 8am sharp tomorrow and we'll discuss the specifics of what you'll be doing…"

Axel reached his hand out and took hers, shaking it happily (though not too happily as he still wanted to appear cool) and took a step back. He nodded his agreement, giving his brief thanks, and was about to turn around when she spoke again, drawing his attention back to her.

"And here," she said, opening a drawer in her desk and opening it up with a loud clatter. She pulled out a small stack of bills and walked around the desk, shoving them into his hands. "I don't like my artists to look like complete bums. Go buy yourself some new clothes and I'll see you in the morning. And before your pride gets all injured…this isn't charity. I just bought that painting."

With that she walked around and out the door, not bothering to look back at Axel's shocked face. Looking down at the pile of money in his hands, he had a brief moment where he thought about trying to give it back, but then he realized that was absolutely the dumbest thing he'd thought all day. With that he walked out of the gallery and out into the street, pursing his lips as he tried to think of what to do next.

Where did one go to buy clothes anyway?

Glancing at a nearby clock, Axel was surprised to notice that it was nearly 7pm, though you'd never know it by looking at the sky. In fact, the soft sky had remained at the same level of twilight all day. Raising an eyebrow, he figured that's why it was named Twilight Town and just went about his business. He, after all, needed to find some clothes…and from the way his stomach was growling and rumbling…something to eat as well.

First things first was to buy the clothes before the stores closed, which actually turned out to be less of a problem than he'd originally thought it would be. Once he had a general idea of what he wanted to buy he was able to easily pick out a set of clothes that didn't totally look uncomfortable and yet would look professional enough to make Lulu not throw him out. He wound up with a long sleeved white shirt with a pointed collar, a pair of charcoal gray pants with some buckles on them and a pair of black boots. She could kiss his ass if she thought he was going to wear dress shoes…they weren't his style. After looking at the money situation he realized he could also buy himself a pair of pajama pants and a pillow and still be all right.

He'd be damned if he'd sleep with that pillow that had been sitting in the demolished room for…who knew how long.

Before going home he picked up some hot soup and some bread from a nearby store and some wood for his living room fireplace. Though he could have forced himself to clean up the master bedroom and slept up there, he chose not to. He wasn't ready to face that room again anytime soon, and the couch was more than big enough for him to spread out in without being uncomfortable. With that he began making his way home, bags in hand and feeling quite a bit better about his life situation as a whole.

Axel had just turned a corner when a teenager (couldn't have been older than 17) started coming towards him, eyes directed at the ground and muttering slightly to himself. Slowing his pace slightly, Axel felt his red eyebrow raise again as his gaze moved across the younger (thought not by that much) boy with a curiosity. He was skinny and had a face that was still incredibly young and naïve. His hair was sticking up everywhere, the color of cinnamon or mahogany, and he moved with the same kind of weird warrior grace that Lulu had. The kid must have noticed his gaze because he looked up at him…with the most incredible blue eyes Axel had ever seen.

And yet…he knew he'd seen those eyes before…but not in that face.

The teenager stopped dead in the middle of the sidewalk, his eyes taking on a confused look that told Axel that something was up. When he didn't say anything, merely picked up his pace and quickly walked by (though not without glancing in a curious way up at him), Axel kept on walking. What the hell had been up with that? He'd never seen that kid before in his life, and yet he felt like he should have at least said hello…or something.

Eh…screw that. He had more important things to worry about than some random teenager.

And yet, somewhere in his brain, something had been set off. It had been those eyes…eyes the color of the purest sapphire. If he closed his eyes…and really concentrated…he could almost remember those eyes looking at him from underneath a dark cloak. Almost. But it was more of a faded memory, like something out of a dream. And who knew…maybe it had been a dream.

But if it was a dream…why did the color of those eyes make his heart ache quite so bad?