Xiana: Hey everyone! I couldn't resist putting up a Christmas-y Akuroku story. Hopefully it will be a little different from every other one out there. And I like to call it Jingle Bell Carol. Of course, I'm open to new names, so if you have something better, feel free to suggest it. Onward to the story!

Disclaimer: I do not own teh Kingdom Hearts. Been a while since I disclaimed anything…

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Jingle Bell Carol

-Jingle-jingle-jingle-jingle-jingle… The sound of the bell burst through the cold, crisp air. It was the sound of the holidays.

Axel slammed his car door and pressed the button that would lock it. The car honked cheerfully, shattering the tune of the bell. Axel kicked the car angrily. He didn't care about the bell, but he truly hated his car. Despite the fact that his parents were both rich surgeons, they hadn't been willing to give their young, 'irresponsible' son a decent vehicle. He went to a good school, took difficult courses, and got relatively good grades, but his parents hadn't trusted him ever since his tenth birthday party. It was the first year he had been allowed to invite girls, and a giggling Yuffie had dared him to kiss Riku. His mother had walked in that moment, and hadn't trusted him since. She could often be heard moaning to her friends about what she could have possibly done to deserve a gay son. He kicked the car viciously once again before heading into the supermarket. The one thing they trusted him to do was to get groceries, and he hated it.

The snow was falling, and Axel huddled into his fleecy coat. He stomped through the slushy street. The bell continued ringing. Axel wondered who would ever take a job like that. It seemed thankless, and who would really want to spend their day outside in the cold winter air, ringing a bell hour after hour in the hopes that some random stranger would give them money? And when all was said and done, Axel would bet they didn't get a cent. Probably only those saintly Christian types, the ones who loved everyone equally and volunteered all their time to help others would do something like that. It was probably one of those blond, preppy girls who always looked like angels up there.

He was right, in a way. As he walked up to where the air door was keeping the warmth in, he saw that the figure ringing the annoying bell was a cute kid smiling at him, all bundled up in a thick purple coat with blond hairs sticking out randomly from beneath a fluffy Santa hat. She couldn't have been more than 13, and Axel felt sort of bad. He resolved to give her some money on the way out. It was the least he could do to spend his parent's money by giving it away to the needy rather than just spend it on junk food like he usually did.

In the front of the store, a huge pot of stew was boiling, and a lady that looked like she worked in a school cafeteria somewhere was grumpily doling out portions to a bunch of hoboes. Axel grabbed a shopping cart and loaded it with the essentials: bread, Pocky, milk, eggs, Pocky, flour, Pocky, Pocky for men, etc. Once he was finished, he pushed the cart forward to wait in the long holiday line. The stewpot was right nearby, and it smelled absolutely disgusting, like old roadkill slowly decaying on a hot Arizona road. Not that Axel knew anything about Arizona. The cashier was just beckoning for him to push his cart forward to be checked out when a little kid excitedly pushing another shopping cart (for Mommy) got a little too excited and lost control. Axel was directly in the cart's path, and the juggernaut propelled him backwards so that he fell into the huge cauldron of soup. As he suspected, the viscous liquid tasted like old roadkill slowly decaying on a hot Arizona road. Not that he would know what that tasted like…

He emerged choking from the pot. The sullen lunch lady used her huge stirring paddle to lift him up and deposit him gently on the ground. If dumping him over the edge as if he were a rat that had accidentally fallen in the stew could be considered gentle.

He lay in a sopping heap until a manager came over. "What happened here?" the manager asked in disbelief.

Axel found the energy to haul himself and his extremely heavy garments off the ground and to point a trembling finger accusatorily at the offending mother and child. "That woman couldn't control her kid, and he crashed into me!"

The woman gasped and puller her child closer. "My little Jason would never do anything of the sort!" She looked gently down at her boy, who looked angelically back up at her. Axel realized belatedly that behind the two was a similar picture of Mary and the baby Jesus. All around, people were grinning and agreeing. Snow began to fall even more heavily outside, and the people began rocking back and forth merrily. Jingle bells started up somewhere, drowning out the bell from outside. The people linked arms and began to sing a song.

Axel was sort of pissed. It only got worse when the evil lunch lady smiled and kissed Jason on the cheek. "Merry Christmas," she said, in a loving tone.

"And what about me, eh? You guys get the fucking miracle of Christmas while I'm stuck smelling like roadkill in sopping clothes in the fucking middle of December?" Axel yelled, losing his temper.

The music screeched to a stop. Jason just smiled benevolently and said, "I guess some people just can't find the true meaning of Christmas," before screeching, "SECURITY!!!" at the top of his lungs. Some of the beefy hoboes advanced menacingly on Axel before throwing him out into the slush.

Axel trudged out to his car dejectedly. He pulled his key out of his pocket only to realize that the lock had frozen over. He then pulled out his trusty lighter, which would melt the ice. Unfortunately, the lighter was out of fire, or 'butane,' as some people called it.

Axel was faced with quite a dilemma. He couldn't go back into the store, from which the Hallelujah Chorus was currently issuing, nor could he get back into his car, with the lock frozen solid. He couldn't call anyone to get a ride, because his parents had decreed that he 'wasn't responsible enough' to get a cell phone, and there were no pay phones around. The sun was sinking, the temperature was falling, and he was soaking wet. It would appear that things couldn't get much worse for him.

Axel walked back up to the air door. Sometime between the 'roadkill pot' and 'out of fire' incidents, the bell ringer had left. Axel felt sort of sad about this. All this awful shit that had happened couldn't me made up for with a generous donation to the poor, but she would have been good company while he waited for the made-for-TV movie that was currently in progress inside the store to conclude.

When he had been standing outside for only about a minute, he caught a glimpse of a Santa hat bobbing away in the distance. He went over to see if it was the girl. When he saw the purple coat, he started running. Fishing his soggy wallet out of his coat, he ran up to her. "Hey! Wait up, girl! Stop!"

" 'This is a holdup,' right?" The voice was definitely masculine, but Axel didn't have more than a second to reflect on this, because the figure tuned and abruptly sank a cold, booted foot directly into Axel's crotch. He went down hard, and his wallet flew through the air to land beside the person, who stooped to pick it up. "Hmm…"

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Axel woke up toasty and warm. His first thought, clichéd though it might seem, was that he had died and gone to heaven, which was surely quite warm. Then he discovered he could smell something, and when he realized it was roadkill soup, he knew he'd ended up in hell after all.

He opened his eyes and found that he was in a bed somewhere. He sat up slowly to find the blonde-girl-who-was-really-a-guy staring at him. He would have said something like, "Where am I?" but the boy cut him off. "You're at my house, yes, I saved your life, yes, I'm sorry I kicked you in the nuts, and you smell like crap. The shower's in the other room." He left without another word. It was left to Axel to get out of the comfortable bed and stager into the bathroom. He turned on the water automatically, cursing when it was cold. It was only after he was rinsing the unfamiliar shampoo out of his hair that he realized he was –and had been- naked. He was not as disturbed as he might have been, given that he had been taken to the house –and bed- of a kid he didn't know, been stripped of all his clothes and possessions, and that his parents were going to ground him, if they didn't just kill him, when he got back to the house without his car or groceries, if he ever got back at all. But because it didn't bother him, he finished his shower uneventfully and dried off, wrapping a towel around his waist. He returned to the bedroom, where the blonde was waiting for him.

"Your clothes are in the wash."

Axel licked his lips nervously. "Uh… thanks…?"

The other boy rolled his eyes. "Whatever. Name's Roxas. Couldn't let you die."

"Uh… I'm Axel. So…"

"None of my clothes fit you. Yours were soaked with some shit or another. You'll have to stay like that for a while. Sorry."

Axel was strangely reassured by the whole situation. He knew what was happening now, so despite the awkwardness, he felt comfortable enough to joke. "Like what you see, Roxas?"

"Well, I certainly wasn't going to save some random ugly person's life. If I'm going to have to do a good deed, it might as well be worth something."

Axel wasn't quite sure what to make of this. "Then… why were you standing out there ringing that bell to raise money for the poor?" He chose not to mention anything about the fact that Roxas apparently thought he was good-looking.

"Money for the poor?" Roxas raised an eyebrow before walking over and patting Axel on the shoulder. "I'm sorry that you, like so many others, were taken in by my 'good little girl' disguise." He gestured to the red pot in the corner that, presumably, contained all the money he had made.

"So… you just wanted money?"

"Yeah. How else is a boy going to pay for all this on his own?" Roxas gestured around the room, and Axel noticed for the first time that it was a huge master bedroom with tons of fancy electronics. "And don't say male prostitution, because I'll assure you right now, I'd rather starve."

Axel hadn't been going to say anything of the sort, though he could imagine Roxas standing on some street corner waiting to purchase him for the night. "So… you're paying for all this yourself?" Axel asked.

Roxas shrugged. "Yeah. My uncle died a month or two ago, and I got this house."

"Oh… I'm sorry…?"

"Don't be. He was a stingy old bastard. Didn't give me a cent my whole life, and when he finds out he's dying, he decides to write up a will leaving me all his money and all his debt. He was a big gambler."

"Well, then how can you afford all this?"

"Oh, I make ends meet. What you saw today was my winter job. In the summer, I hire myself out as a nanny to the parents of spoiled rich brats. In fall and spring…" Roxas shrugged, "I clip coupons." He spoke nonchalantly, but Axel sensed a note of pride in his voice.

"Doesn't sound like anything to be proud of…" Axel muttered.

"Maybe someone whose life I just saved and is currently dripping on my floor wearing nothing but, oh yeah, my towel, would be a little less quick to criticize." He spoke lightly again, but there was something like a warning in his face.

"I'm sorry. It's not my place." Axel took a seat on the bed.

"It's fine." Roxas left and returned with two mugs of coffee, one of which he handed to Axel before taking a seat beside him. "I guess I should start thinking about getting a real job for when I become an old man and can no longer masquerade as a young girl."

Axel snickered lightly now that Roxas seemed to be in good spirits again. "So do you often wear a dress on the job?" he questioned.

"Only once or twice," Roxas answered honestly. "But, hell, if you got paid 200 bucks an hour, wouldn't you show up in a similar fashion?"

Axel cautiously sipped his hot, bitter beverage. "Maybe… I don't think I have quite the body to pull it off. Not that I'm saying you're girly-looking or anything," he added hastily.

"Eh, don't worry about it. I know I look like a girl. It's still sort of sad that you fell for it, though."

"Why do you say that?"

"I dunno. It just seems like you should. You know? Like there would be a headline, 'Attractive Red-headed Teen Reveals Nefarious Plot by Young, Effeminate Blonde.'"

"How would I do that?" Axel noticed that Roxas had once again commented on his appearance in a positive way. He wasn't exactly sure what it meant yet.

"I don't know!" Roxas gave an exasperated sigh. 'Maybe you'd try to hit on me or something, and become suspicious when I didn't immediately fall for your piercing green eyes, flowing red mane, and dashing smile like so many other girls have done."

"Oh, I don't know," Axel said, playing along. "I'm sure I could have convinced you in the end. After all, I am irresistible to men, women, and goldfish."

Roxas snickered. "Goldfish? They see you through the glass and throw themselves out of the bowl in an attempt to win your love?"

Axel put on a serious expression. "It's nothing to joke about. Sources have shown that I am the number one killer of goldfish world-wide, ahead of heart disease, brain cancer, and malaria."

"Somehow, that doesn't surprise me. I guess you're just that hot, Axel." Roxas' voice seemed to soften when he said Axel's name.

Axel grinned. Maybe, despite his previous claims to the contrary, Roxas was falling for him. And that was plenty pathetic on its own, that this 'cool' kid would fall in love with some random guy he had saved from a freezing death. Roxas was cute. Only… "Hey, Roxas, how old are you?"

"17. Why do you ask?"

"You're… older than me? How…?"

"I'm short for my age, got a problem? And why do you want to know?"

"I was just curious. I'll be 17 in a week…"

"I actually just turned 17 yesterday."

"Oh, well, happy late birthday then. I'm sorry I didn't get you a present, but… I didn't know you until, like, ten minutes ago."

"Well, then you owe me, I guess.:

"Well, I'll pay you back right now with a special birthday hug." Axel leaned over and pulled Roxas up to his chest. Roxas didn't resist, but pulled away as soon as he was able to.

"You freak. If you have to hug me, why not put some clothes on first?" Roxas left again and soon returned with a pile for Axel's dry, folded clothes. Axel pouted slightly. Maybe Roxas didn't like him after all. And here he had just gotten used to being homosexual again. See if he ever hugged a nice boy like Roxas ever again if he was just going to be cruelly rejected. After changing in the bathroom, he opened the door just a crack to see Roxas setting his coffee down on a table and leaning back on the bed. Perfect.

"Happy Birthday Roxy!" Axel yelled, running across the room and jumping on top of Roxas. Roxas grunted from beneath Axel, and Axel just smiled. "Is this better now, Roxas?"

Roxas smiled in a somewhat painful manner. "Oh, yeah, much better. I'm glad you waited to put your clothes on first, though."

"Any other person on Earth would love to be in your position right now, and you want me off?"

"Well, I never did say that… It's not that I don't love you, Axel, I just feel so much more comfortable with the warmth of your clothes on me than just your freezing cold butt."

"Oh, thanks. And did it ever occur to you that when you were touching my ass before, it was cold because I had been stuck in wet clothes in December?"

"No, I was touching it after you had been in my bed for half an hour, and it was still cold as a refrigerator full of penguins in Antartica during an ice storm."

"Oh. Well, then who am I to argue with you?" Axel got up and pulled Roxas to his feet. "Wait… you said half an hour? Crap… How long have I been here?"

"Oh, two or three hours." Roxas shrugged. "What's your hurry? You don't love me anymore?"

"No, of course I love you. It's just that my parents are going to ground me when I get home so late, and with no groceries either." Axel chose to play Roxas' 'game of love.'

"Why not tell them the truth?"

"Huh?"

"You know, that you couldn't get groceries because some little kid pretending to be the reincarnation of Jesus threw you out of the store, and that your car's lock was frozen solid, and some random boy knocked you unconscious then took you back to his house. That is the truth, isn't it? If you're still not convinced, you can always say I'm a girl, if it would make your parents feel better." Roxas seemed to be a few steps ahead at all times.

Axel didn't even bother to question how Roxas knew all that. "You're right, it would go over better that way. It sounds like a plan."

"So you're going to leave me after all?" Roxas pouted. "Fine, where do you live?"

"Sorry I have to leave you, darling. I live at 2215 Rosewood Drive."

"Are… you kidding?" Roxas looked at Axel oddly.

Axel stared back. "Noooo… I really have to go…"

"Not about that… 2215 Rosewood Drive?"

Axel continued staring at Roxas. "Yes…"

"I love at 2218."

"Are… you joking?"

"No joke." They stared at each other. There was an awkward silence. "So… you want me to come with you across the street to tell your parents where you've been?"

"Uh… yeah, I guess." Roxas helped Axel get his coat on, and the two headed out through the rest of Roxas' house and out the front door.

They crossed through the drifts of snow covering the street awkwardly. Roxas stumbled once, but Axel caught his hand and helped him up. They continued to hold hands as Axel opened the storm door and rang the doorbell to his house.

Axel's mother immediately opened the door and pulled Axel into her arms. "Oh, Axel, darling, I was so worried about you!"

Axel scuffed his feet nervously, crushed in his mother's grip and still holding tightly to Roxas' hand. "Sorry, but there were some problems at the store, and my car got sort of frozen. Uh… yeah. S…she gave me a ride home and helped me warm up." Axel gestured to Roxas awkwardly.

Axel's father came out from the study to survey the new arrivals. "So… who is she, son?"

"Oh, this is Roxa…s…ette."

"Roxasette?" Both parents questioned.

Roxas chimed in, in a sweet, high-pitched voice. "Yeah, I had strange parents. What can you do, though?" He shrugged cutely. "You can call me Roxy, or Roxette, if it would make you feel better."

"I hope you weren't inconvenienced," Axel's mom said, releasing Axel and leaning over to squeeze Roxas. Roxas clenched tighter on Axel's hand for support.

"No… it's no trouble… I only live across the street…" he gasped, barely able to continue in his falsetto voice.

"Really?" Axel's dad wondered. "I heard the guy who owned that house left it to his only son…"

"No, he was actually my uncle. Um, yeah, it's been nice meeting you, but I'm afraid I have to go now…"

"Will you let me walk you home?" Axel asked, to his parents' delight.

"Uh, sure…" They crossed the street again, still hand-in-hand.

When they reached the door to Roxas' home, Axel whispered, "Thanks for saving my life," to Roxas before leaning over and kissing him on the lips. He then ran back across the street as Roxas blinked confusedly before smirking and walking back into his own house.

"Falling in love with the boy across the street? That's new…"

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Xiana: Oh, what an amazing story. Should I continue it? What do you think? Let me know, okay?