(A/N): Whew, I thought I'd have this up sooner, but life kept interfering in a completely random and annoying way. What can you do? Reviews make me smile.
Disclaimer: As much as I may wish it were otherwise, I don't own the characters, yadda yadda, you've probably read this thing a hundred times before.
A Friendly Conversation
When the knock came at his door, Axel quickly decided to ignore it and hope whoever it was would go away. The room was dark and he had just gotten back – they might not know he was there if he kept quiet.
He was sprawled across his bed, arms flung out at his sides, legs dangling over the edge of the covers, staring up at where he knew the ceiling must be. Three missions – three missions in two days. He was worn out. He ached in places he didn't know a Nobody could ache. The last thing he wanted was to be sent back out now that he was finally finished.
Whoever it was knocked again. Axel closed his eyes, cursing the persistent messenger vehemently. Why couldn't they go away?
His door creaked softly as it was pushed open, and light from the hall spilled in through the jamb. He threw one arm over his eyes with a groan, shielding them from the sudden harsh light.
"I'm not going," he grated out. "Tell Xemnas he can go fu – "
"Tell him yourself," a familiar voice said dryly. "He's right behind me."
Axel snapped into a sitting position, lowering his arm from his eyes, blinking rapidly against the glare. He tried to sputter his excuses, but his throat clenched at the thought of what the Superior was going to do to him after hearing that little remark.
When mortal agony didn't descend on him in the space of twenty seconds, Axel squinted and took another look at the door. There was only one form silhouetted against the light spilling in from the hall, and it was far too short to be the Superior. In fact, it looked a lot like –
"Roxas," Axel groaned, falling back onto the bed, shielding his eyes from the light once more.
"You should think a little more before you say stuff like that," the Key of Destiny told him in the same dry tone. "What if the Superior had been with me?"
Axel just groaned again, rolling slightly so that his face was turned away from the door. "That was a shitty thing to do," he groused, running a hand tiredly over his eyes, trying to soothe away the phantom images seared into his retinas. He didn't need to look at the kid to know the Key of Destiny was raising an eyebrow at his behavior.
"Bad day?" Roxas asked blandly. Axel didn't bother to respond, hunching his shoulders and running gloved fingers through his hair. Roxas huffed at his back, pushing his blonde hair out of his eyes. "Can I come in?" he asked abruptly.
Axel glanced over his shoulder in surprise. He couldn't read Roxas's expression – the young Nobody was still silhouetted against the light from the hall, his face in shadow, but while the request wasn't an unusual one, the edge in Roxas's voice made Axel suspect something was bothering the kid.
"Yeah," he said, wincing against the light. "Just close the door, would ya?" Roxas cocked his head to the side, and Axel could picture the look of bemused exasperation the kid was fixing him with.
"I'll break my neck," Roxas said evenly. "Why the heck are you lying here in the dark anyway?"
Axel grimaced and flung out an arm, fumbling with a drawn shade until it snapped up. Lambent moonlight crept over the windowsill, bathing the room in a gentle glow that Axel's eyes could tolerate.
"Happy?" he queried, rolling onto his back again. "Close the damn door."
Axel could see Roxas cock an eyebrow at him, but the Key of Destiny pushed the door closed behind him before crossing the room and settling at the head of Axel's bed.
"Bad day?" he repeated, tucking one leg underneath him. Axel chuckled dryly.
"I was trying to get some rest before Xemnas decided to send me out on another useless mission," he said tiredly. "I swear he does this to me on purpose."
"You should know anything the Superior asks of you is of the utmost importance and should be your only priority," Roxas intoned gravely, but the edges of his lips quirked just slightly. Axel smirked up at him.
"Shouldn't you think before you say stuff like that?" he asked sardonically. Roxas shrugged. Axel waited for the kid to say something, but Roxas simply stared at a spot on the opposite wall, idly playing with the hem of his dark jacket.
So it was gonna be one of those conversations.
Axel closed his eyes, letting his mind wander. Roxas would talk when he was ready. He had just settled into the comfortable haze of almost-sleep when Roxas's voice brought him back to full consciousness. Axel repressed the urge to sigh.
"Do you remember your Other?"
The Key of Destiny's voice was tight with something Axel couldn't name. Axel tensed, keeping his eyes closed as his mind raced. They were skating dangerously close to forbidden ground – Xemnas had pulled Axel aside one day and told the Flurry of Dancing Flames he was strictly prohibited from telling Roxas anything about Sora or the Keyblades.
While Axel thought Xemnas was a bit of an overbearing prick, there was a reason the tawny-eyed Nobody was the Superior of an Organization as dangerous as theirs – Axel didn't want to tangle with him.
Still, if Roxas ever asked him directly, he didn't think he could bring himself to lie to the kid. His omissions weren't exactly lies if Roxas never asked, but if he ever demanded answers – well, Axel had never lied to the kid before, and he didn't think he'd be able to start, Superior or no.
Roxas's voice pulled Axel from his musings. Axel shrugged noncommittally.
"Sometimes," he answered truthfully. "Just flashes, impressions – nothing solid."
"Oh." Roxas's voice was soft.
"Does it matter?" Axel asked, opening his eyes and glancing up at the Key of Destiny curiously. "Even if I do remember, it doesn't change anything – I'm not him. Can't be. Hell, I wouldn't want to be him even if I could."
"What about when you get your heart back?" Roxas asked quietly. Axel snorted. Roxas glanced down at him, frowning slightly. Axel pulled himself back into a sitting position with a groan, turning and facing the younger Nobody. He grabbed the back of Roxas's neck and pulled the boy forward until their foreheads were touching.
"Look kid," he said quietly, squeezing the base of Roxas's skull gently, "Even if we get our hearts back and become whole, it's not gonna change who we are now. Our Others died, Roxas – they lost their hearts and we're all that's left." He pulled back a little, making sure Roxas was paying attention to what he was saying. The kid's eyes were locked on his.
"I know you don't remember your Other," he said flatly. Roxas winced a little and his eyes began to shift away from Axel's face. Axel frowned and squeezed the kid's neck forcefully. Roxas's eyes snapped back to his face. "It doesn't matter," Axel said slowly, enunciating every word carefully. "Who he was doesn't change who you are, understand? You're you. You're Roxas, and you'll always be Roxas, even if you get your heart back – got it memorized?"
Roxas just looked at him, expression unreadable. With a sigh, Axel released his hold on the blonde's neck and sank back down on his side.
"What'd you and Xemnas fight about this time?" he asked wearily. Roxas didn't reply, but he twitched slightly and an angry flush spread across his cheeks. Axel smirked tiredly. "C'mon, Roxas – "
"I wanted to know about my Other," Roxas interrupted harshly. He turned his face to the window, jaw clenching irritably. Axel bit back a groan.
"Why?" he asked, trying to keep the irritation out of his voice. Roxas's recent obsession with trying to remember his Other was beginning to annoy him.
Roxas didn't answer him. The young Nobody pushed himself up from the bed, turning and looking down at the redhead severely. Frowning, Axel began to push himself upright, but Oathkeeper and Oblivion suddenly sang to life in Roxas's hands and the Key of Destiny threw himself at Axel.
"The hell?!" Axel yelped, ducking as Oblivion whistled through the space his head had just occupied. He threw himself to the side as Oathkeeper came crashing down on the bed, hands tightening into fists. Axel slid to the floor as Roxas made another pass with Oblivion, and before the kid could raise Oathkeeper again he was thrown against the far wall by the force of the older Nobody's fiery explosion.
Axel was up immediately, the chakram clenched in his hands as he snarled wordlessly. He threw one of the weapons at Roxas, but the Key of Destiny batted it aside as he pushed himself away from the wall.
The kid didn't say a word as he brought his Keyblades to bear again. Axel blocked one, two, three strikes from Oathkeeper and Oblivion, lips skinned back from his teeth in a feral growl. Roxas swung low with Oathkeeper, trying to catch Axel's legs, but the Flurry of Dancing Flames launched himself up and over the Keyblade's arc, bringing both chakram crashing down in a crippling blow aimed at the Key of Destiny's head.
Roxas shielded himself with Oblivion, and the Keyblade sang in protest as the spikes of the chakram ground into it. Roxas crumpled slightly under the weight of Axel's attack, but he surged back, pushing Axel up and away from him – Axel twisted in the air, coming to rest behind Roxas. He danced back a step in preparation for the attack he knew was coming.
Roxas whipped around to face him, Oblivion crashing down in a diagonal arc from his left shoulder – Axel caught the teeth of the Keyblade on the interior curve of his left chakram. With a savage yank, he unbalanced the Key of Destiny, and Roxas lost his grip on Oathkeeper as he stumbled forward in shock.
The kid's eyes widened at the sight of the chakram he was falling into, but Axel let the weapon fade and caught Roxas by the throat with his right hand as the Key of Destiny pitched forward. Not giving the blonde a chance to recover, Axel spun the kid around and slammed him into the wall, pinning the still-trapped Keyblade with his chakram.
Axel tightened his grip on Roxas's neck, slamming the Key of Destiny into the wall again for good measure. He let the heat build in his fingers as he dug them into the kid's throat. Eyes narrowed to furious slits, he brought his face close to Roxas's.
"What the fuck do you think you're doing?" he growled. Roxas winced a little, but he glared back up at the older Nobody defiantly.
"Why?" Roxas almost hissed. "Why do I have these things?" Oathkeeper appeared in his hand again, but he didn't raise it against Axel. "The Superior knows, I know he does, but he won't tell me."
Roxas's face fell slightly, his shoulders slumping as the Keyblades faded away. "I didn't ask for them," he rasped out.
Axel kept him pinned against the wall for a timeless second before he stepped back, releasing Roxas's throat. Roxas immediately began to massage the bruised skin, staring at Axel wordlessly.
"That's it?" Axel asked, baffled. "That's what this was all about?" Roxas's brows lowered, but before he could speak Axel was running a hand through his hair, turning away from the younger Nobody. Muttering under his breath, Axel wandered back over to his destroyed bed, glaring down at the smoking ruin as if the preceding events had been entirely its fault.
Roxas came to stand beside him, still massaging his bruised throat. "Sorry about that," he croaked. Axel snorted.
"What the hell were you thinking?" he sighed, running one hand over his face tiredly. Roxas scowled and hunched his shoulders irritably. Axel sighed again, reaching out and wrapping the younger Nobody in a one-armed hug. Roxas tensed at Axel's touch, but he quickly relaxed into the embrace, burying his face in Axel's side.
When Roxas stepped back, Axel let him go. The Key of Destiny glanced back down at the smoking remnants of Axel's bed, lips twitching. "Need somewhere to sleep?" he asked, voice rasping slightly. Axel smirked.
"It would help," he admitted, feeling his former aches and pains begin to clamor for his attention. Roxas turned away from him, calling up a door to the darkness. The two Nobodies stepped into the shadowed corridors without a word, leaving the smoldering wreckage of Axel's room behind.
When they stepped out of the darkness and into Roxas's room, Axel made a beeline for the bed and collapsed onto the sheets with a sigh. Ignoring Roxas's annoyed huff, he burrowed his face in the pillow, his body eagerly relaxing in anticipation of some much-needed sleep.
Roxas kicked the bottom of Axel's right foot. Ignoring the redhead's injured yelp, he yawned quietly. "At least take your boots off," he muttered, trying to worm his feet out of his own dark footwear. Axel muttered something unintelligible into the pillow, but he pushed himself up and began to yank at his boots irritably.
When both boots had finally sailed to the other side of the room, Axel collapsed back onto the bed, only to be shoved rudely to the side as Roxas crawled in beside him.
"Move over," Roxas ordered, poking the redhead in the temple. Axel swatted the kid's hand away, scowling, but he shifted to the edge of the bed and rolled onto his side to give Roxas more room.
Roxas pulled the covers over him with a sigh, and Axel reached out and wrapped one arm around the younger Nobody, pulling himself a little closer to the Key of Destiny. Roxas murmured a half-hearted complaint before he tucked his head under Axel's chin, and Axel smiled sleepily before allowing his eyes to drift closed.
"Mm?" Axel couldn't muster the energy for a more coherent response. He felt Roxas sigh against him before the Key of Destiny wrapped an arm around his waist, pulling himself a little closer to Axel's warmth.
"Never mind," he murmured, burying his face in Axel's shoulder. Axel tightened his arm around the blonde as sleep crept over him.