Part of a series read in this order: Cities of the Future, Black Sun Rising, Parvulus Nefas
He's a little mongrel in a blue and white striped sweater, hanging off one shoulder, and acid green knickers with pretty flamingo pink cherries on them. Not that there are too many flamingos around these days, or cherries, those sorts of natural things have been dead longer than anyone can count.
But, the little fucker, he smirks, pulling a pair goggles down over his eyes and then he just runs.
Running to the cities of the future, Axel just bets.
They try to chase him, but it's too late. The window shatters as he slams right through it. He lands with tenuously un-choreographed precision on the hood of a speeding craft. So, they shoot: plasma bullet ripping through simulated air.
That little bastard has just made off with a month's worth of Hearts shoved into his back pocket.
Larxene screams out curses after him, still wasting her endless supply of bullets on a phantom from the future.
Marluxia lights up another joint and settles himself back into his chair, to think. Marluxia has been smoking Wreath laced with Soul since before Axel can remember when. Wreath makes the world real pretty and Soul sends you higher than you have any right to go…
Point being, Marluxia's hair is the color of dried blood and that means something pretty significant when he's this angry.
"Third time," he growls. A couple of useless marksmen quiver and edge for the door but Axel just shrugs, he's now cowed.
"Third time, Axel." Marluxia articulates further, flicking ash onto the carpets without reservation. "It was bad enough that he got in the first time."
That had been a trip in its own right. There hadn't even been a security warning. Just some kid with perfectly Bliss-blue eyes storming their Castle, coming right up to their throne and telling them, in no uncertain terms, they had to stop selling Hearts.
He said it was bad for The People.
Marluxia keeps going, "The second time was aggravating, his smug little face and actually trying to 'give us a chance'. What the fuck was that?"
The kid had come back again when they proceeded on, business as usual. He'd given them a warning and they'd ignored it, Axel doesn't see why Marluxia is so surprised.
"But this? This is a step too goddamn far."
It'll give you the highest high you've ever had in all your miserable life. It starts out feeling like you've got a super-heated steel rod being jammed down your spinal cord, and then it spreads like sweet cotton candy through your veins. For the finale, it settles in your gut like spiders and sends you into the most violent killing spree you've ever experienced and you laugh the whole damn time.
So, this kid. Who is this kid? Well, this kid—this symbol of resistance—is part of a group called Kingdom Come.
Marluxia thinks he's the ringleader, but Axel gets the right-hand-man vibe off the boy. He's tough, but he doesn't have enough compassion in him, his sharp eyes say he used to be a Bliss junkie, used to be, and that's why he's cracking down on Hearts. Someone close got killed and he started feeling all 'humanitarian'. What total shit.
Heh, well, that's what Kingdom Come is all about, anyway. Once upon a—damn long—time ago it was AVALANCHE saving the planet, but that shit has long since been put to right.
Now it's Kingdom Come, trying to forestall the Apocalypse of People. 'Cause there's nothing that'll hook you like a straight hit of Hearts.
Nothing that will kill you faster than its unavoidable addiction.
But that's the point and that's what the People who take it want.
The Machine, sweetheart, is always the same.
You can run, run, run to the cities of the future, take what you can, and bring it back home? But the Machine will always be the same.
There will always be tasty patronage jobs and there will always be bosses. There will always be herders and there will always be sheep and the fodder of the day is living large, indulging fantasies. Going to the brink and laughing at God as you fall down into the darkness.
Axel, personally, doesn't much dig Hearts. He's taken it a couple times, as preparation for a fight against those good for nothing Shinras—who still haven't had the sense to finally die out, even though their line has long since lost any notability.
Sometimes, it's Maleficent, medieval old hag still lingering around with that immortality she gets from fuck knows where. Probably the old rites people like to pretend never existed because Gods are too high above them, or far too close, take your pick.
Axel, personally, knows better than that. But Axel, personally, still doesn't give a care.
He smiles at Agni, in her beautiful scarlet gown, as she watches over his shoulder.
She smiles right back.
Axel, personally, doesn't need Hearts to enjoy some of the good old-fashioned ultra-violence.
So, the year? No one really remembers it, after the Crisis everyone just kind of stopped counting. They started over at some point, whenever it was, so from that key mark it's about 1700.
Not any 1700 Midgar has ever experienced before: raging neon colors and everything that can fly, does. Anything people can inject into themselves they do. 'Cause anything they don't need to do they don't and boredom sets in upon every man woman and child like some kind of Biblical plague.
And luckily, thanks to the machine, they only have one place to turn.
The Nobodies own this damn town.
Every supermarket, every theater, ever strip club, every bar, every auditorium of every school.
They've got the goods.
They've got the power.
And when a Nobody walks past you on those suspended streets?
You better bow down as low as you fucking can.
Prithivi is lingering at Marluxia's shoulder and Indra floats near to Larxene's side.
Agni whispers to Axel's ears.
Delicious, they look, so, delicious.
Axel laughs suddenly, uproariously, throwing his head back.
Agni bites the line of his throat.
Axel, Axel, let me feed, beautiful, sweet, delicious, Axel, let me feed.
Prithivi's mouth opens and Indra swaggers with power.
I could, Axel, Axel, beautiful, delicious, tasty, Axel, let me feed.
Marluxia flicks his hand out idly, claw-like fingertips stopping mere inches from Axel's vulnerable throat. There are ten feet between them and Marluxia's arm stretches like a Wutainese paper yo-yo, his flesh is laced together perfectly like an overlong finger trap.
"What are you laughing about, Axel?" he wonders, angrily, tracing the line of Axel's carotid with the scalpels of his nails. He's been smoking Wreath again, his nails glow faintly green; so do his eyes.
"Agni thinks you look delicious."
Larxene is on her feet in seconds, stalking towards him and smacking him across the face with Indra's heavy appendage. The damn thing looks like a pizza cutter… but then again, their only purpose is to feed.
"What is thicker than blood?" she wants to know, her voice husky and dark. If she had a dick it would be as hard as a rock, 'cause Axel's cheek is leaking blood like a soda fountain.
"And what is deeper than the sea?"
"Hell is, Axel," Larxene snarls, leaning in and mouthing the wound, reveling in the hot-wet-blood-metal-life-sex taste. "And that's where you'll be if you betray us."
Axel shoves her back, every red line in his body alive and Marluxia/Prithivi's fingers caressing his face.
Axel's green eyes spark like kindling and he smiles, full of Agni's fangs, dripping with (should be) LarxIndra's blood.
Once upon a time, the world came to an end and the Gods came raining down.
They took revenge where they saw fit.
…But the world was so dark, so corrupt that it contaminated even the Gods.
Turned them into demons: into viruses.
The infection spread.
So were born the Tuners.
My loyalty to Marluxia has been taxed overmuch.
Agni snarls, her demon form restless and hungry, and as far from the Junoesque shape she takes when hovering by his side—whispering in his ears about how she thirsts, she thirsts for blood so badly, she's parched, oh, just a taste?
But if you devour them, Agni, you will only make problems for us.
She snarls again, strong fingers latching onto a tiny screaming demon, ripping one limb with the sickly sweet snap of sinew and the spew of broken arteries. Axel feels his mind fade away to the thrill of feeding; the flesh is just so tender and moist in his mouth. It's sliding down his throat perfectly, landing comfortably in his gullet.
Let me think, Agni!
She purrs, playing with her food, pinning down the writhing, dying, body beneath one of her great claws. The blood barely shows against her beautiful crimson skin. Her second mouth nibbles playfully on her prey's face. She continues to rip into the piece in her hand, until there's nothing more than bone and she's happily sucking out the marrow.
Gods… so sweet…
Her laughter burbles from her twin throats, bellowing up from the same huge stomach. She shifts inside their consciousness, making room for him at the table of their fete. He accepts readily, feeling the wet splash of lifeblood against his many sets of gums: housing rows and rows of razor sharp teeth.
The hunt tonight has no room for feeding, tonight Marluxia has barked his dog-like orders, let loose his hounds of suspicion and begun the spiral that will lead to Axel's sudden and inevitable betrayal.
Agni vocalizes her complaints from where he has pushed her to the back of his mind. Every time he jumps—from platform to platform, using hovercrafts as stepping-stones—she raises her pitch a little higher, until her protests have become screams.
No more, Axel! Let us devour them and be done with it!
He ignores her, raising both heads to the sky, trying to pick out a certain scent amongst all the others: smog, drugs, alcohol, garbage, piss, sweat, sewage, sex, animals, musk. He sniffs twice before growling and pushing himself into motion again, forcing a craft down under his weight when he slams onto its hood and then jumps again.
This—their—city is up in the clouds, because there's nothing left on the ground. Far below there's only wasteland of exiled Tuners who prey on each other constantly. Here, high up in the city-metallic skyscraper trees, there is debauchery and ruin on a far different scale. It has been carefully crafted into euphemisms of necessity.
Suddenly, like being struck across the face, the smell he's been searching for meets his noses and he changes his course violently, his shoulder slams with a steel railing. He feels the burning stinging numbness as he hurries on.
The scent is Hume, with that tang of sweat and the hostile undertone of Bliss and something more that Axel can't quite put any of his numerous fingers on. This smell is of salt and of water and a distinct lack of blood. It's like old midnight springtime—what rain should smell like—rain to a demon, it doesn't rouse his lust for flesh and blood, it calms him and he desperately wants (needs) to find its source.
His pursuit takes him to an area of the twelfth sector slums known for clubs and date rapes and illegal concoctions. Which, the Nobodies—of course—have their hands in. He lands crouched over, supported like a gorilla on knuckles and hind legs. Not that there are too many Gorillas around nowadays, but hey, it's a metaphor.
Agni laughs inside of his head. Her horrible, screeching, angry voice bouncing around within the confines of his skull, conjuring up images of primates long since dead, as a reminder that she is the immortal one in this parasitic relationship. He is a mortal host and, one day, she will move on, leaving behind his rotting body.
"Who do you think you're kidding, Agni," he says, and it comes out of two sets of vocal cords as a series of grunts and snarls. "You'll come back for a taste of me and you know it."
Axel ignores her the rest of the way, even as she yowls at him like a cat. Instead, he follows the trail to the door of one of those seedy little shit-holes. They are so overflowing with the drunken remnants of what once-upon-a-time was man; Axel can barely keep his nose down to his quarry.
He readies to revert, he knows if he goes inside with this form—the form with the perfect cerise skin and strong hands made for ripping apart helpless bodies, the form with these sharp teeth made to rend the flesh from the bone—there will be nothing but trouble. As he transforms, he feels the virus pulling back through his veins, coalescing into a wheel shaped mark kissing the curve of his shoulder. Agni resists, but in the end, she projects her Goddess form at his side, her face pulled thin and vicious with her anger.
Axel straightens himself out, tugging his black clothing back into place and zipping up his coat. Agni has always threatened to return him back to his Hume form without his clothing, but she has never followed through.
She prides herself in keeping his body all to herself.
To expose it to the world would simply drive her mad with jealousy.
"Let's go," he murmurs and then coughs to readjust himself to this singular windpipe.
Everything is made of neon and sex inside the bar; music winds its way eerily through the canals of his ears, taking root in his brain until he feels as if he's swimming.
Agni is oddly silent, only directing him to his prey, still following the scent of rain. Something no one has seen in Midgar since before the Crisis they've all long forgotten.
Axel recognizes his query immediately; the boy is still wearing the striped sweater that is far too large for his body. His pants are still those textile lime green things that end just at his knees, exposing legs whiter than milk and heavy black boots.
The boy recognizes him too, Bliss eyes turning to him, body coiling tight and watching him warily, knowing he's being stalked, and ready to fight if that's what it comes to.
Agni is oddly silent and Axel feels his thirst stirring again. He would love to devour this boy. The cannibalistic tendency to only eat other demons and the peace he'd felt at the boy' scent are suddenly overridden and all he wants is to rip flesh from bones, leave him in juicy, dripping little pieces upon the dance floor.
Axel sets out the lure, holding his hand out to the boy, moving his body sinuously in time with the snaking music. The boy comes forward after jamming a black newsboy's cap onto his head, using the brim to shade his Bliss-junkie eyes from catching the black-light and neon.
Some of Axel's tenuous sanity returns with the gesture. His senses have come back to him now, albeit heightened beyond bearing. The boy's hand is soft in his own, unbelievably so, but hard and dangerous and wonderful all at once. Axel yanks, using all of Agni's goddess-given strength to wrench the child's arm, to warn him that if he doesn't cooperate Axel will tear his arm off without a second thought—will cherish that beautiful appendage… will partake of those rations… feel flesh and blood between his teeth…
He's been ordered to bring this prize back to Marluxia.
To just… give this delicious morsel to Prithivi.
He snarls as he drags the body along after him. He leaves behind the bright flashing blues and greens and dripping blood reds of the club, choosing instead the tight smog of the open city air.
He must know, something, something about him is gnawing at his brain. "Who are you?"
The boy smiles from beneath the bill of his hat. "Rudra."
He returns to Marluxia empty handed.
Prithivi's claws rake against his face and Axel grits his teeth, willing himself to have control, to bide his time. To wait for the perfect moment—the one when he can decimate Marluxia. When he can eat every last little chunk of Prithivi's flesh and bury the rest deep beneath the irradiated ground, millions of miles below where they stand high up in the clouds.
Agni's body is aflame beside him; her ethereal beauty is lost to her rage. She's a terrible beast made only of power and sharp teeth, desperate and unabashedly ready to sink into substance.
"I'm disappointed, Axel," Marluxia growls, his Wreath tapped eyes glimmering like those neon lights in that club where he'd left Rudra behind.
Had just… just touched his neck once, felt his pulse, beating quietly, beautifully, through the paper of his skin… and then… let him go.
Axel turns his head, hair like fire falling across his shoulder to burn Marluxia's questing fingertips. Prithivi laughs at his attempts to resist.
Agni is fire and Prithivi is the earth, what does she think she is accomplishing? The two goddesses snap and snarl at each other like she-wolves, saliva and foam drooling from their jowls.
"Sorry," Axel mutters, at last, with enough insincerity to fill an ocean. "Forgive me, give me another chance."
Marluxia watches him for a long time, silent and furious, the ground quaking beneath his feet. Larxene hums with electricity, watching them both and smirking, knowing it will take more than just barely-felt apologies to win back Marluxia's favor.
"What?!" LarxIndra bursts out furiously, like a bolt of lightning. Hir face is livid, fluttering uncontrollably between hir nymph-like delicate Hume features and Indra's harsh, unrelentingly masculine power and gnashing teeth.
"One chance more," Marluxia conditions. Prithivi shifts like an earthquake at his side, her long arms folding over one another in a knot. "But… I will not take the chance of failure again." He grasps hold of Axel's chin, turning that face up to meet his. Prithivi and Agni war beside them, a silent struggle, finishing only—swiftly—when Prithivi leaps back with a yelp, the back of one hand singed and peeling and withering like a leaf.
Marluxia frowns, his pretty petal face paling. "You will take Vexen with you. You will retrieve the drugs they have stolen. You will bring the boy, and any other members of Kingdom Come you find, back to me. I will cleave them limb from limb."
Not everyone in this world is a Tuner.
Not everyone is a thrice-cursed demon host.
Axel, however, has known Agni since the moment of his birth.
It was her milk he drank.
She raised him in the quiet of the upper-reality. A separate plane that left everyone around him with advanced symptoms of motion blindness. Close proximity with his sickness—with Agni, his virus—left them blind to most movement around them.
Axel'd never felt particularly bad about it. He'd never much cared for his dead mother or arrogant father or fearful brother brothers—the family who had all called him by a different name in those days. Axel had been content to slip away into Agni's waiting arms, to let her touch him and bring them closer and closer, training his body to be able to accept her form.
It was like sex. It was like a fiery, animalistic joining, that would leave him hard and panting for more, in the days of his training.
Vexen is unpleasant.
Transitions are useless and ineffective when one goes into describing how very unpleasant Vexen is.
Agni grins horribly at Varna.
Fire and Ice.
"Do you have a plan for retrieving this child?" Vexen inquires dully. His eyes are like oil, deep pits of it just… simmering within the confines of his eye sockets. His hair is about as flaxen in color as soggy straw.
"Found him before by scent alone. He won't slip away, if we… cooperate."
Agni wants nothing more than to eat Varna, not even leaving behind bone.
The night is wet from the ground up. It will rain, but not a drop of it will land. There's a beautiful layer of destroyed ozone and heat. It will evaporate ever last drop of moisture within seconds. Has done so for so many years the people of this Midgar don't remember the last time water fell from the sky.
Midgar is cold and wet tonight, even if the rain is not for her.
He and Agni jump.
Agni is content to share conscious control, for the time being. Her sharper senses are pulling up Rudra's smell with ease. Vexen follows gracelessly behind them, grappling and stumbling for footing, it is obvious he and Varna do not have the same peace they do.
Varna's form is built for elegance and speed, it is Vexen's resistance and ineptitude which forces Axel to pause every few leaps and wait impatiently, his blood thrumming with the desire to see Rudra again.
Now that he knows the boy's name he can't stop thinking it.
Agni laughs at him for his infatuation.
Axel retorts that it is no such thing.
Infatuation is for humans, hunger is for demons.
That lesson was taught to him long ago.
Agni asks if he learned it.
It's a different club. Tiny, quiet, without colors, and it smells somewhat like Wutainese tea, but laced with something… possibly a sweet alcohol, but not drugs, not here.
Vexen hurriedly reverts from Varna's dangerous sharp-ridged form. He smoothes out rumpled clothing and casts a venomous glance at Axel when the younger man makes the same transition with greater ease.
The air throbs.
The mark on Axel's shoulder throbs too.
He almost opens his mouth to inquire if Vexen is suffering the same painful sensation, but the door opens.
The door to the tiny little café, Chestnut Tree Café… ironic.
Rudra is barely out the door before Axel has killed Vexen, his powerful red arm wrapped around Vexen's perfectly human throat, crushing with all of Agni's strength.
While Axel's own green eyes, perfectly, terribly, predictably, human—
We can fix that little flaw yet, my beautiful, Axel.
—eyes betray how startled he is with himself.
"It was the right moment," he acquiesces, to himself, to Rudra.
Rudra's Bliss-blue eyes smile up at him sadly.
"Who are you?" Rudra wonders. His blue and white striped sweater is falling off his left shoulder and his little black hat is clutched loosely in one hand.
"I could help you out, you know, Axel." Rudra murmurs. "If you'll come with me… Kingdom Come isn't just about stopping the distribution of dangerous drugs."
His skin returns to its human tone.
Agni… Agni rips at his shoulders, begging him to stop.
Squall Leonhart doesn't like what he sees.
Rudra signals him to shut up, so he does.
"This is Axel, Leon. I'm thinking he's ready for new alliances."
"He's a Nobody. Are you kidding me?" Leon deadpans. "They don't betray their own."
Rudra laughs. "Shut up, Leon," he says. He takes Axel by the hand and leads him into the warehouse.
So, this is where Kingdom Come has been hiding, Axel thinks. It's just some floating warehouse at the center of town. Hiding in plain sight, Axel is suitably chagrined, but there's something about this place… there are no scents. No smells whatsoever, even Rudra's beautiful wet-never-rain-like perfume has disappeared entirely.
That's how they hid, it makes sense, and Axel's nose itches horribly.
But, at least what it lacks in aroma it makes up for in other ways.
The warehouse of Kingdom Come is the loudest place Axel has ever been, and he quickly realizes he loves it. All those hours and days he'd spent with Marluxia and Larxene, hushed dealings, hits of drugs, shots of alcohol, silent dominations.
He wonders if Marluxia really believed Vexen would be able to keep him in line.
Agni snarls at the idea of Varna controlling her.
"Are you hungry?" Rudra asks him softly, starling him.
Axel stiffens a little out of a surprise, but finds relaxation once more and plasters a big careful grin full of teeth onto his face.
"We Tuners always are."
"Wait three days."
"Just do it."
Funny thing about Rudra?
What he says goes.
Even though it's obvious that Leonhart is the leader of this operation, Rudra still has more power. He's just never around, Axel quickly learns. He wonders where the little blond bastard goes, but when he attempts to leave to find out, Leonhart sticks out his huge gunblade and shakes his head.
Kill them! Kill them! Eat them! Destroy them!
Agni screams and rails and cries, but Axel knows better.
Axel knows Marluxia will be looking and he's grateful for a place to lay low, even if his hunger is likely to drive him mad.
The only thing he comes to count on during those—horrible—three trial days, is that, every day, at noon—Axle knows it's noon, there's a huge clock and it chimes on the hour, every hour. Gods it's loud—Rudra returns to the warehouse after his absence. He approaches the 'bedroom', which is nothing more than an area of the warehouse set aside by a wall of crates. Inside are bedrolls, one of which Rudra lies down on and promptly falls asleep.
His pretty Bliss-junkie eyes slipping shut.
Axel doesn't know what it is about that vulnerable face of his but—
Eat him! Eat him!
—he finds himself watching the boy for a few moments every day.
On the second day, Leon comes up behind him and says something angry and defensive.
Axel just smiles and asks, "How long has he been off Bliss?"
Leon just smiles darkly and answers. "His brother was killed by Hearts."
Axel hasn't dreamed since he first coupled with Agni.
But that final night, with his stomach crying out hungrily, he dreams.
He dreams about one of those gang wars. The kind they fed Hearts to innocent people for and watched them slaughter each other.
It was more entertainment than actual fighting.
Axel wonders which one of those mindless faces belonged to Rudra's brother.
Axel knows the danger of Hearts, has always known the danger.
But he's also known the power, the basic militant forces, albeit berserkers, and the money and… The few remaining police (vigilante) forces not controlled by the machine had given up after the first few weeks of the drug's introduction to the city of Midgar. Those psychotic addicts were too violent to be quelled; it was a waste of time to jail them, a waste of lives to even try.
Not to mention the average user died after only a few months, maybe a year, if they were really fucking lucky.
Hearts dried you out quick, didn't matter if you snorted it or injected it or smoked it or dropped it. You traded years of your life for a few hours of the most mind-numbingly orgasmic sensation in the entire world.
Warm blood dripping from your fingers, life in your hands.
That warm cotton candy feeling in your gut and the smile on your face.
Agni begs him to stop.
But he dreams.
On the third night Rudra takes him from the warehouse, they get one of those nice flying taxis and head to the outskirts of town.
There… there waits a place Axel has only heard rumors about. People, regular Humes, penned up like animals and…
"This the buffet?" he wonders, licking his lips.
"Be quick, this is a research facility. Don't be caught," Rudra replies.
Axel doesn't have to be told twice.
His skin has turned fire red before he's even fully left the vehicle, his mouth is watering and saliva is dribbling down his chin.
The little pigs squeal as they catch sight of him, calling wildly, desperately, futilely, for the guards. But Axel's already eaten half of a child, and the warm blood is driving him mad. It's so hot and so exciting and he's been so hungry…
Agni joins him after a moment's hesitation and they lose themselves in the feast.
There's something intoxicating about abstinence.
Something delicious about feeling the walls of his stomach cave in and then filling them unto bursting. Something amazing about smelling nothing for days and days and then letting every last putrid scent of the world come rushing in.
Something… or, Axel, reluctantly, realizes, it might just be that when he climbs into the taxi, trying to clear the blood from his face, Rudra's eyes are always so dark and perfectly wine red.
The first time, Axel had paused with surprise and stared at him while Rudra had jammed his hat down onto his head, hiding his eyes behind the brim and sharp tufts of his hair.
The second time, Rudra hadn't didn't bother, gad just turned away and told the cabbie to drive.
Agni whines at him insistently, but her voice has gotten quieter over the… over time…
Until at last he's allowed out.
"The point is, Axel," Rudra says, he's perched on top of a crate, and even then he's still shorter. Axel has learned that Rudra is in fact an adult and fully-grown, but he's at least a head and a half shorter. "That we'll treat you better and ask less of you. The point was to show you that. All you have to do, in return, is help us get Hearts off the streets, help us stop the research on those people you eat for dinner and… "
"Why would I stop it? Then there wouldn't be—"
"'Cause once you do your damn job you can go back to hunting."
The offer has its appeal. It's exactly what he needs right now, when he's on the run from the Nobodies. They, no doubt, have not forgotten his betrayal; have not forgiven him for putting a dent in their ranks.
He agrees. "Yeah, okay, I like you well enough."
Rudra makes a face; he's not particularly amused. "I was hoping you'd do it because people are dying."
"They die by my hand anyway, comes with being cursed, sweetheart." Axel sticks out his tongue, the sex in the air is undeniable.
There's a massacre, a big shit-fest off Marine Street.
It's a proclamation of war from Marluxia. He might as well have spelled it out in intestines on the sidewalk.
"They got their new hit of Hearts… " Rudra scowls, watching the blood slowly dribble off the edge of the platform, falling down towards endless cloudscape.
Sewers for the cities of the sky.
Axel laughs in reply. "As long as they have Zexion they'll always have their supply. The kid has a fully functioning lab down off Dog Street."
Rudra's eyes light up like fire.
Hearts, they discover, are quite flammable.
Ever since torching Zexion's lab there's something about Rudra that's begun to drive Axel mad.
Mad to the point where he comes back to the cab with blood on his tongue and crushes their mouths together, forcing gobbets and sweet metallic tang past the boy's lips.
His Bliss-blue eyes turn perfectly red.
Rudra licks his lips once, twice.
"Drive," he tells the cabbie and shoves Axel away.
He follows Rudra. Wherever the beautiful little creature that smells like the never-rain is going, Axel wants to know. Axel wants to wait for the right time to pin him up against the wall and remind the boy who is the demon here.
So, he stalks, reaching quietly for his cursed form to give him more speed.
Rudra's path takes them deep into town, out to the twelfth sector, to some tiny apartment on the twentieth floor.
Axel eases open the door after Rudra has shut it. He slithers through the shadows. The room is full them shadows; the only light is a thin beam coming from the bathroom. Axel follows, follows, his breath speeding and his blood roaring and Rudra's beautiful scent just so damn strong.
Then he sees it.
Rudra is stripping off his clothes, pulling the huge blue and white striped sweater up over his head and… between his shoulder blades.
A mark; a virus.
Two keys interlocking with his flesh to release his virus.
Agni hisses loudly and Rudra turns.
"Oh… Axel… " he whispers, pityingly. "I kind of liked you… "
Squall Leonhart turns as Roxas enters the warehouse; the boy is sucking his fingers methodically, one by one.
"Did you send Axel to do something?"
Roxas smiles thinly, his Bliss-blue eyes sparkling. "Axel won't be around anymore."
Leon nods and turns back to his task. "So, the drugs worked on him. Great, when do you want to raid the medical facility?"
Food, delicious, more, more, mmm, my sweet, delectable, wonderful, Roxas.
Rudra whispers in his ear.