Disclaimer: I don't own the characters to Kingdom Hearts, neither do I own any characters to Final Fantasy. Ownership goes to SquareSoft, SquareEnix, and Tetsuya Nomura. This is a fanfiction, written by fans for fans, and was created without the intention of monetary gain.
Summary: Axel/Roxas. A smile—an amused smile, a benevolent smile—brushed against those cherry-red lips as he brought his hand against Roxas' own frosted-pink ones. "Don't worry, I don't bite."
IT'S ALL IN THE
-- + PART ONE + --
"Happiness: We rarely feel it. I could buy it, beg it,
steal it, Pay in coins of dripping blood For this one transcendent
— Amy Lowell
He used to believe in the "ever after".
However, that was once upon a time, when he'd been young and naïve …when he'd believed in all those stories, ones where the prince would slay a dangerous dragon for the hand of a beautiful princess, ones that his father had told him and his brother. They were the stories where the prince, after facing such harsh adversity, would find the fruits of his effort—and his own happily ever after.
Sora sobbed beside him, trying to use the sheets to block out the heart-wrenching "hics" that would escape every now and then. Tears, the clearest, purest, and most translucent of tears, streamed hotly down smooth valleys as they landed, still warm, onto the bed with a person they'd loved more than life itself. With his hands fisting, clutching onto the bed in defiance, or perhaps, in desperate hope, Roxas felt his own eyes mist, as another sob ransacked his brother's small frame.
Sora, as Roxas had learned long ago, had always had a hard time dealing with pain.
Swallowing, his sapphire-deep eyes sought the ashen face of their mother. Squeezing the twin orbs shut when they caught onto the slightly moistened glaze to those eyes. Something in the way the tears glittered had Roxas' heart tightening, squeezing until he was sure it'd burst. Amazing eyes—the ones that both Sora and Roxas had inherited—remained solely on their father, who stood, unblinking and perhaps even unseeing. Something in the way those eyes remained unmoved, dry, and, to a degree, calm and collected, had Roxas turning around as a fresh wave of tears threatened.
She'd been the only person to keep the family alive. Already he could feel the pieces of his life crumble, as he stood beside his weeping brother and their father, who stood on the opposite side of the bed, staring blankly into the corpse that used to be their mother once upon a time.
"Mom," Almost whimpering, eyes so blurred by tears that all he could see were the whites surrounding the entire hospital room, Sora leaned closer to his mother's body, almost willing his tears to warm her dried skin. "Mom. Mom. Mom."
A part of him wanted to join Sora in his desperate chant for their mother. Maybe if the both of them called enough, she'd be returned to them, follow their voices back to them.
"Mom. Mom. Mom."
A woman, separated from the family scene, stood towards the back of the room. A track of tears, delicately shed and daintily wiped away, slipped past shocked eyes, as hands clenched against a mouth that was expertly painted. The eyes, the same ones that their mother had, turned to search desperately for their father with her hand reached out for him.
It was that one line, which got to him. The fury, the pure unadulterated rage, erupted out of Roxas, as he rounded towards the woman that had fed them candy as kids, given gifts to them for Christmas, and baked cakes for their birthdays. Blue eyes, ones which are the same as his mother's, narrowed into two slits of ice, as Sora's cries echoed in his ears.
It was a whisper, a testimony of his deteriorating patience. Anger, betrayal, resentment, and a whole barrage of emotions coursed through him, threatening to split his heart into God knows how many pieces. Betrayal and grief stung, cut deeply into his heart, so he vehemently shook them away, concentrating instead on the rage and resentment.
Disgust coated his tone as he laid a hand, meant to be comforting, but came out as protective, onto Sora's quaking shoulders. "Get away from our mother."
The slap that came across his face was both unexpected and sharp. Eyes widening, he silently watched the hand sweep across his face, engulfed in something like a time warp, as he stared into the hands of his father. Sora, looking up at his father with hate-filled eyes, jumped up in retaliation.
The loud slap that resonated across the room had the woman, standing in the background, recoiling in alarm and the father slamming into the wall.
"Don't you dare hit Roxas, you mother-fucking bastard." The eyes, usually so friendly and warm, narrowed as they regarded the man that they'd once trusted with their lives. His mouth trembled slightly, as he retracted his hand and slipped them onto his brother's, moving to stand beside him. In a second, Roxas knew, the tears would start again. However, holding the trembling hand that shook so violently in his, he only tightened his own mouth, as he regarded the man and woman that had caused the death of their mother.
"Father, Aunt Darhl."
Turning his head slightly, he felt his eyes sweep over their mother, past the sickly complexion and over the last wisps of brunette locks to lock onto the slight frown that marred her otherwise calm face. Unbeknownst to him, he gripped Sora's hand all the more tighter for they started to tremble as well.
"I hate you. We hate the both of you. Please get away from our mother." Looking into eyes so similar to his own, to a woman that had been as much a part of their childhood as any Aunt could be, he felt his veils come down, covering those windows from all outside intruders.
"We'll take care of her. We'll take care of ourselves."
"Sora! Sorry, can you turn a little to the left please?"
Smirking as Sora complied happily with the request, he watched as the brunette tilt his head a little, so that his partner could slide those arms around his neck more effectively. Brunette strands melded sharply with silver-platinum, merging to form a shade that ran closer to a golden hue than anything else did.
Touching his own hair, carefully done up by the stylist a while back, Roxas rolled his eyes, as his brother wrinkled his nose in distaste.
"Sora," was the exasperated sigh, as the photographer caught the wrinkled nose on camera.
"Sorry!" Pouting a little, swiping his bangs back a little to the horror of his own stylist, Sora shook his head like a stray dog. "I'm eating my own hair here! And it tastes like hair spray."
"Your brother's not made for modeling."
Turning to frown at the newcomer—one rude enough to make such comments over his own damn brother—Roxas felt his eyes cool as he regarded the flaming guy beside him. Amusement danced in those bewitching eyes, as the guy pushed his own flamed tips back.
Something in the way those deep emerald irises sparkled had Roxas' back stiffening. Keeping his own eyes level, his chin jutted out as he turned back to observe Sora's interaction on camera.
The camera loves Sora. Everything that he did came out wonderful on camera and it was not just because of the skills of the photographers or directors, even if it does play a significant role. The truth of it is that most of it was because of Sora's vibrant personality, one that never diminishes. Watching as he arched his arms into the air, effectively producing both an air of innocence and seduction simultaneously, Roxas scowled.
"Don't get me wrong."
Smirking and waving a hand, as he tried to appease Roxas' challenging glare, the guy pointed towards Sora and Riku, his partner and boyfriend for a year. "The kid has an amazing personality and tremendous charisma. The audience will lap it up like cream. After all, what person in their right mind wouldn't soak up the two Hashiba brothers?
"But just look at him," he said as Sora apologized again to the photographer when he'd squeaked in surprise, effectively changing another shot. "There are only so many rolls he can mangle."
A smirk, one that was both condescending and amused at the same time, lit onto Roxas' face, as he turned to regard the guy. Each and every shot with Sora and Riku in it, the guy will soon learn, will be useful. Looking into the delighted gleam of the photographer's eyes, Roxas rumbled in the back of his throat, as Sora and the others wrapped up.
There wouldn't be a single picture wasted and there wasn't going to be one picture that wouldn't be considered for the front cover of the magazine.
He was confident of that. The fact that Sora and he were both actors and not models didn't change that fact.
With work finished, Roxas watched the brunette bound over towards him, preparing for the traditional "good-luck" hug that came before Roxas went to work. Bracing himself, as Sora's sweaty frame engulfed his own, he quickly patted his brother before stepping back from him.
"You'll ruin his clothing and make-up," the redhead helpfully pointed out, smirking still.
Sora, having had decided to finish the attack on his brother, looked over to the redhead and lit up when he recognized the other guy. "AXEL!"
It was such a jubilant cry that those surrounding them immediately glanced over. Satisfied that it was only four stars—two actors and two models—chatting passionately, they soon returned to their work in preparation for Roxas' shoot.
"Axel!" Laughing happily, as he gave the redhead a hug, Roxas watched as the guy that he could only assume as Axel ruffled his brother's hair affectionately. "You're doing this shoot too?"
"Duh, little Sora," came the dry response, before he greeted Riku. Slapping hands with the silver-haired model in greeting, he turned those eyes back onto Roxas as he added, "How could I refuse when I heard that I'll be working with the famous Hashiba?"
"Rox? You're working with Rox?"
Whirling around, turning an incredulous eye towards the redhead before him, Roxas quickly reached into his pocket to search for the information his assistant had given him a week ago. Staring up at those flaming tips and emerald eyes, the blond rolled his eyes as he flipped the page back into his pants.
"Course not, Sora," Roxas snorted, waving his hand dismissively. "I'm working with Marluxia Kohno—he's got pink hair."
"Oooh, Marxy can't make it today," Axel smirked as he held out his own paper. "See, he came down with a bad case of the flu just this week. So I, being the wonderful friend I am, decided to come in his stead."
It was, by far, the worst news that he'd heard all day.
Even as his loud "WHAT?!" resonated throughout the park again, the photographer was already calling them for the shot. Slender hands, smooth in their texture and firm in their grip, reached forward to gently push the blond towards the shoot.
"Come on, my little blond prince." Leaning close enough that their cheeks brushed, Roxas felt himself flush, as hypnotizing eyes narrowed onto his own. "Let's be professional, okay?"
Professional my ass! Muttering to himself, as a scowl manifested onto his face, the blond glared into the camera, before leaning back to a pose with the redhead. Even as the photographer called out instructions, telling him to move closer to the left, raise his right arms higher, and to lower his face by half an inch, the anger didn't stop simmering inside of him.
After all, he'd decided upon their first meeting that he did not like this guy. Professionally or not.
"Relax, Goldilocks." The quiet murmur caressed his ears as Axel lowered his head beside Roxas. Blue eyes drifted close as one of those captivating—but so incredibly annoying—hands captured his to bring towards Axel's face. Hands, smooth as honey and soft as silk, brushed against his side, as he brought Roxas closer.
His breath hitch against his throat and panicked eyes shot up to stare into those green depths. A smile—an amused smile, a benevolent smile—brushed against those cherry-red lips as he brought his hand against Roxas' own frosted-pink ones. "Don't worry, I don't bite."
The excited compliment from the photographer had Roxas jolting out of the trance. Eyes flew back towards the camera, as a blush alighted onto his cheeks. Turning from the redhead slightly, almost disturbed at the intense moment, Roxas took in a slight breath of air.
Let's be professional, he'd said. Fine. Lowering his lids, letting his annoyance with the other man fade like shadows under the light of the sun, Roxas leaned back a little to bring his arms up towards Axel's hair. Disregarding the style it was supposed to be in, he let his fingers run through those silky strands as he sighed.
"Good God, you two are on fire," was the next enraptured cry, as the camera clicked away. Angles were chosen, the lighting changed again and again. Flashes blinded his eyes as one frame flowed after another. Lenses were changed and re-changed, adjusted and re-adjusted.
However, all Roxas could think about was his reaction to Axel's "I don't bite."
"You like him."
The knowing grin that Sora was throwing was getting to be somewhat annoying. Ruffling his hair for the tenth time and feeling thoroughly annoyed at the squelchy feel of gel that stuck to his fingers, he threw an annoyed glare over at his brother, as another exasperated sigh escaped him.
"No, Sora. I don't."
"Yes, Roxas. You do." Grinning from ear to ear, the brunette leaned forward from the plush seat of the limo, examining eyes identical to his own.
"Are we talking about Axel Akuseru, here?" Roxas muttered, before draining his bottled water. Frowning at Sora, while debating whether he should tell his brother just how insane that idea was, he blinked in surprise when the brunette started laughing.
"Who else would we be talking about? Marluxia?"
"Kohno would be a better choice than that Akuseru." Muttering to himself, feeling flustered all over again, the blond dumped the bottle aside and grabbed at the new notes set for him by his assistant.
"Oh puh-lease." Rolling his own eyes, flopping back onto the cushions with his hands thrown out on either side of him, Sora smirked. "If it was anyone else, I bet Axel would've been dead today after that little groping session. Instead, all you did was stomp on his foot at the end of the photo shoot. Look at me in the eye and tell me you don't like him."
He looked up from his papers, stared straight into those sapphire depths that mirrored his own, and said, "Sora, I don't like Axel Akuseru."
Sighing a bit to himself, feeling a steady pout forming, Sora puffed out his cheeks a little, as he regarded his brother. "Darn it. You're pretty stubborn when you want to go into denial."
"Sora, I'm not in denial."
Laughing a bit, blue eyes twinkled at Roxas happily, as Sora swung himself onto his stomach. Rotating his legs in the air happily, subconsciously making out the pattern of a heart in the air, the brunette sighed a bit as his usual dreamy look sprouted onto his face.
"I wonder what Riku's doing right now."
"Sitting on his limo on the way home."
"Mm. I wonder what Riku's doing in his limo."
Rolling his eyes a bit, feeling the beginnings of a smile tug onto his lips despite everything, Roxas flipped onto the next page. "Thinking about you with the same stupid expression that you have right now."
"Hm," Looking over at his brother, Sora cocked his head, as he regarded his brother. "Roxas, you need to get your own stupid look."
"I'll pass, thanks." Dry. Wincing a bit at his tone, Roxas quickly peeked up at Sora to make sure he hadn't taken offense. Satisfied at the quietly affronted pout, which Sora threw him, he added, "I believe one stupid-looking Hashiba twin is enough in this world."
"I'm not stupid-looking! Anyway, we're twins! So if I look stupid, you'd look stupid too!"
Tapping Sora's nest of brown hair lightly, Roxas felt a smirk light onto his face. "But I, oh twin, have the charisma to make my stupid-looking face appear ravishing." Laughing, Roxas ducked as Sora's bottle flew at his head. "Hey! What are you gonna do if you bruised this face, huh?"
Sora, in response, only threw the cushion at him. Chuckling a little despite himself, Roxas unfurled his legs from beneath him as the limo rolled to a stop. Yawning, he stretched out, the blond slipped on his shoes as he regarded his brother.
Sora, curled in the seat of the limo, refused to move at his brother glare.
Groaning, shooting a quiet glare up at Roxas, another pout lit onto his face as the brunette stumbled off the limo. "I call the shower first."
Rolling his eyes again, briefly worried that his eyes would permanently stay rolled toward the top of his head, Roxas followed the exuberant brunette into the Hotel. The receptionists bowed in greeting as the two passed through the door. Golden light illuminated the entire hall. It was, by the standards of most, one of the best Hotels in the city. Yet Roxas couldn't help but remember those times where the two brothers had huddled in a one-room motel infested by both rats and roaches.
"You'll get wrinkles, Rox," Sora murmured quietly, pouting, as he gently swiped at the furrow between the blond's brows. His thumb pressed against his forehead insistently, trying to smooth out the wrinkle as he frowned up at his brother. "Stop thinking so much."
Laughing a little as they stepped off the elevator, Sora ran to the nearest sofa in their penthouse and dumped himself onto the white leather. Disregarding his smearing make-up and the gel in his hair, the brunette curled back into his previous position in the limo and sighed.
"I thought you wanted the shower first."
The dismissive murmur that came a second later, along with the dainty wave of a hand, had the blond smiling again as he walked over to his room to grab his stuff. Taking out the blanket, he rolled his eyes when he saw that Sora was already fast asleep on the couch. Well, to maintain a level like Sora's throughout the day was pretty exhausting.
Walking back to his room, after checking once more to make sure that Sora was perfectly tucked in and comfortable, Roxas went into the bathroom and turned on the hot water. As water started filling the tub, and the scent of mangos filtered throughout the room, the blond quietly slipped in. Sighing, as the last of the tension dissipated from his body, Roxas lowered his head onto the tub and gently closed his eyes.
Years. It's been years since Sora and Roxas had gone into the business. Years since their mother died and years since they've seen their father. Eyes opened, opaque from the memories and swirled like the translucent mist that floated around the room.
He briefly wondered if their father was still alive.
It didn't matter. None of that matter, because neither Sora nor Roxas was ever going to see them ever again. Exhaling, quietly enjoying the sweet scent of mangos, Roxas closed his eyes as he reclaimed his calm. They're successful and will continue moving on in their life. The past had nothing to do with the future.
Sora had finally forgotten about the past. Roxas freely admitted that a lot of it was because of Riku. Ever since the silver-haired man had entered Sora's life, the brunette's usual smile had flitted back to life. Some of that pain, it seemed to Roxas, had been shared and the burden had been, invariably, lightened.
What was initially gratitude soon changed into loyalty as Riku slowly healed the brunette. Loyalty morphed into affection as the three became closer and closer. Thinking of the way Sora had glowed in today's shoot, Roxas smiled as he slowly stood. Water splashed everywhere, splattering against the marble when he stood under the overhead.
He was grateful to Riku. After all, the man had been able to heal Sora in a week more than Roxas had managed to in years. While a part of him had cried that he couldn't help his twin as much as a stranger had, another part of him cried for joy that his other half—his better half—was finally healing.
The pounding on the bathroom door had the blond jolting from his thoughts. Quickly slipping his robe on, with his hair still dripping wet, the blond opened the door to Sora's beaming smile.
"Hey, Rox. Riku wants to know if we want to go to clubbing tonight."
"Sora," sighing a bit, going back into the bathroom to grab a towel, he wrapped the fluffy whiteness around his hair as he scowled at his brother. "You were dead to the world just a minute ago. How the Hell did you even hear the phone?"
Laughing, tugging Roxas out of the room, Sora jingled his cell happily, as he danced around in circles. "I have Riku-senses, okay? I never miss his calls." Blinking, his face suddenly turned pensive as he added, "Unless I don't have my phone with me. Or when it's out of batteries. Or something."
Because that look in Sora's eyes was so serious, Roxas sighed. "Fine. Let's go to the club. When are we meeting him?"
"He's here! We have five minutes."
"Five minutes?!" Throwing a glare over at his brother as he ran out to the living room, Roxas scowled when he saw the other model perched on the same couch Sora was sleeping on just a few minutes ago.
"I want half an hour."
Riku blinked. Staring at that dripping head and chest, he snickered at the scowl the blond was currently throwing him. Drowned little kitty. "You look like you need half an hour."
Throwing his wet towel at him, Roxas stormed back into his room and grabbed the blow dryer. How come no one mentioned this during work today, when they had been so conveniently together?
Damn Riku and his impulsive desires.
Damn Sora for making Roxas always going along with their impulsive desires.
Combing the locks impatiently, Roxas turned away from his mirror as he ran into his closet to grab the first outfit available. Dragging on the tight black tank and baggy pants, blue eyes returned to the mirror to watch hands quickly dabbed into the bottle of organic gel.
Smoothing his hands over his bangs quickly, careful to keep the hair silky soft, he pulled at his back hair to make it stand in its usual style. Spraying it quickly, he let the residue sit on the blond tresses for a moment, before stalking over to grab his wallet and keys.
"Ready," he called out as he stepped into the living room. "Sorry for making you guys...ew." Staring at the position before him, Roxas gagged as he quickly threw the discarded blanket over the two of them.
"Urgh, I'll go wait in the limo." Quickly leaving the room, the blond shuddered a bit, as he descended to the first floor. Nodding at a couple of people he knew, he walked over to the front desk and requested a new couch.
Impulsive desires, Roxas decided, matched Riku to the tee. Slamming the door close, the blond closed his eyes as he settled back onto the leathery softness. It's just so wrong to walk in on your brother when he's in the middle of a massive make-out session.
Especially since that session had, obviously, been about to lead to something else.
Roxas sighed. He'd really liked that couch. It had a certain amount of softness that wasn't found in usual couches. Reminded of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, where little Goldilocks had sat until she'd found her "perfect chair", Roxas shuddered.
Did he give off the same feeling as a children's story character? Scowling, reopening his eyes to stare out the window, briefly cursing Sora and Riku for taking so long, blue eyes widened as he stared out at the passing streets.
"Hey!" he cried, pushing the intercom button. "What do you think you're doing Jackson?"
Jackson, the Hashiba driver for as long as the brothers had been in the business, winced a little into the rearview mirror. Not that, of course, Roxas could see the expression clearly. "Sorry, Master Roxas. Young Master Sora and his boy asked that we bring you to this place."
Smoothly, nearly placating in his tone, Jackson amended himself. "Well, 'I', to be technical."
Pouting a little, Roxas quickly bit his lips back as he recognized his brother's expression on his own face. Eyes turned sulky as he realized that he'd been set up since the evening. He briefly wondered how long it had taken those two to come up with this and led to wondering when Sora had gotten so good at deception.
He'd looked so perfectly innocent, sleeping on that couch!
"We're here," Jackson said as the limo glided easily onto a stop. Blinking out of his thoughts, Roxas jolted as his car door slid open. Gaping up at familiar eyes and that annoying smirk, Roxas felt his mouth drop open involuntarily. Hands, those same smooth and firm hands from this morning, gently tugged on his own, efficiently guiding him out of the limo.
The nickname had his spine stiffening. Eyes quickly narrowed as jaws snapped shut. Jutting out his chin in his characteristically stubborn manner—the one that usually had his assistants screaming and manager sighing in frustration—Roxas threw a glare over at the redhead as he tugged his hands free.
Feeling trapped as Axel's hands merely tightened on them, Roxas scowled as he prepared to step on a certain shiny shoe. "Okay, Goldilocks." Stepping out of range, keeping a wary eye on those killer shoes Roxas had on, Axel held up a hand in surrender. "Don't destroy the evening that Riku and Sora had so nicely put together for us, hm?"
Those sapphire eyes narrowed again. "Sora and Riku? Evening?"
That smile was easy and those eyes were gleaming again. Panic danced up his spine again, as Axel brought the two of them closer to the restaurant. "Well, yea." A shrug was all the indication Axel gave towards his thoughts for the evening. "Seems like those two've been planning this little get together for a while now." Looking over at the affronted look on Roxas' face, a smirk lit onto those same deep red lips. "Remind me to thank them later."
Cursing Sora, recognizing a set-up when he saw one, Roxas snarled as the two stepped through the threshold and into the restaurant. Candlelight flickered throughout the room, causing shadows to dance, golden and soft. The scent of orchids permeated the entire room, producing a scent that was both exotic and sweet. One look at the table the two were, presumably, to sit on and the source was found.
"What am I, a girl?" Roxas muttered as he followed Axel towards the table. The maitre'd bowed as he brought the two towards the table. Pulling a chair out for Roxas, the blond frowned when he noticed the beautiful pink blossom sitting on his napkin.
He is the girl.
"May I offer the champagne for this joyous occasion?" the maitre'd was saying as he held out a bottle of Pierre Perignon. Smiling when Axel nodded, the elder man popped the cork and quickly filled the readied wine-cups. Bowing once more, leaving the bottle where it was, he quickly left the two alone.
"Joyous occasion?" Roxas felt his eyes narrow as he watched Axel sip his champagne. "What's this about?"
"Beats me." Shrugging delicately, never shifting his eyes from Roxas', Axel leaned forward. Candlelight licked his face as flames danced. Those cat-like eyes, already so potent in the sunlight alone, practically glowed in the light of the candle. "But I'm never one to turn his nose up against good food."
A smile was all it took for him to reclaim the ease and confidence, Roxas realized as he watched that smile split across the redhead's face. Like a Cheshire cat. The man was exactly like a Cheshire cat who found a new, juicy secret. The discomfort Roxas felt was only because he wasn't sure what the secret was yet.
Keeping an eye on him as their food arrived, Roxas melted when he saw the trout in front of him. He adored trout. It was, in his opinion, the next best thing when compared with lobsters dishes from Maine and Chinese styled Shark Fin soup.
"So, you're a seafood guy," Axel remarked as he dug into his own tempura dish. Nodding at the fish before him, Axel smirked as he held out his own tempura. "Do you want any of mine?"
It's true that tempura looked delicious. Had it been Sora or Riku who had offered, Roxas was sure he'd have taken it without reservation. But because it was Axel, Roxas can only look back down at his delicious trout and sniffed.
"No, thanks," was all he said before taking a bite out of the trout.
God. The trout melts in his mouth. Since when did trout melt? As far as he knew, caviar was the only thing that came close. And was that butter that's currently sliding over his tongue? His eyes fluttered down a little along with a sigh in satisfaction.
"I can't believe I'm jealous of a dead trout."
Eyes snapped open and focused onto Axel. "What?"
Smiling a little, Axel shrugged. "Well, you look like you're enjoying it. Share, Goldilocks, and I'll give you some of this tempura."
"As in a trade?" Eyes narrowed on his delicious trout, before focusing onto those sizzling tempura. "Like a business trade?" he added.
"God, you're a real work of art," Axel laughed as he slid his plate closer. "Fine, we'll consider it a business transaction. Want me to use this napkin and write a contract with all the proper terms?"
"No." Quickly taking a tempura before he changed his mind, he slipped it into his mouth and sighed at the rich taste of tempura, garlic and a little something else he couldn't quite pinpoint. Maybe pepper. "I'll take your word for it," he grinned, as he slid his own plate closer to Axel.
The sudden pause on the redhead's part had Roxas looking up again. Blinking a little, unsure of the weird look Axel was giving him, Roxas quickly patted his cheeks to make sure he hadn't gotten some sauce or other onto them. Finding none, he looked back up and frowned. "What?"
Scooping out some of the trout, eyes danced as he shrugged. "Ya know, Goldilocks, you've got a pretty good smile."
That panicked feeling was back. Flushing, Roxas pulled the plate back towards himself as he quickly drained his champagne. Feeling the same suffocated feeling as before, he exhaled quietly as Axel returned to his food. Eyes trained themselves onto that alabaster face as he took another bite of the trout.
"Your passionate stare's making me feel tingly," Axel murmured as green eyes rose to catch blue. "Are you in love with me now, little protective prince?"
Flushing again, Roxas thanked God for the candlelight for hiding most of his blush. He would never live it down if it had been the harsh light of a fluorescent lamp. "Not likely, arrogant...arrogant butthead!"
Laughing, delighted with the insult, Axel threw his head up as he roared in the empty restaurant. "Butthead? Did you get that one from Sora?"
Because he had gotten it from his brother, Roxas flushed for the third time that evening as he turned back to his food. "Sora makes good insults sometimes."
It was such a ridiculous statement that Axel started laughing all over again. Even Roxas, as he watched the redhead laugh, chuckled a little with a smirk of his own.
So, maybe he's not as bad as I thought he was.
Waving at a couple of people from the studio, Roxas smiled at a fellow actor as he rounded to his dressing room. Sora, with his face freshly painted and hair recently done, poked his head out from his room beside Roxas' and smirked. "I heard your sleeeeeep-talk last night. Roxas and Axel sitting in a tree..."
"Shut up, Sora," he muttered as he stalked into his room. Shutting the door quietly, he peered at the costume for the first segment of the movie.
Just because Sora considered Axel as a friend, doesn't necessarily mean that Axel's off the hook, he decided, as he threw on the specifically made hoodie and jeans designed to look both casual and trendy. Especially made to flutter in the slightest bit of a breeze, Roxas gritted his teeth as the fabric brushed against his skin.
While Sora usually had a pretty decent eye for people, it didn't change the fact that his brother was way too trusting. Any friend that would go out of his way to insult them behind their back to their own brother had to be a pretty big scum. Not to mention the biggest retard in the world.
But still. The evening before hadn't been as bad as he'd expected. The guy was pretty interesting. And from his stories, it was pretty obvious he'd traveled around the world.
Pretty big feat for a model.
Sitting before his mirror, he took in the tubs of make-up that his make-up artist would be plastering onto his face and the piles of hair-products to come after. Rolling his eyes, he turned when his stylist came in. Greeting the girl with his usual smile, he turned back around on his seat to stare at the mirror, as she began playing with his hair. When the door opened again, both were too immersed in their own world to bother turning around.
"Larxene," his stylist greeted without turning, her concentration focused primarily on one of Roxas' stubborn strand of hair that refused to stay down. "I'll be done in just a minute."
"Take your time."
The unmistakable voice of a male, rich like cream and laguid as honey, floated through the room. Disregarding the distressed cry of his hair stylist, Roxas whirled around to glare at the intruder. The fact that he'd been thinking of him just minutes before he showed up seemed a bit too coincidental to Roxas.
"What are you doing here?" He snarled as the girl tried to sooth him back to his previous position. Noting the quiet anguish in the girl's eyes, he twirled back around to glare at the redhead's reflection.
"I was passing by and decided to stop for a visit," Axel smirked. Leaning against the door, keeping his eyes steady through the mirror, he scratched his neck a little at the vehement glare that Roxas threw him. "Don't look at me like that, Goldilocks. I'm not a stalker—Sora told me where you two were and said I should visit."
Great. Just great. Now his brother was conspiring against him.
"Well, just so you know, I—"
The startled cry that rang from behind had Roxas' eyes widening. Axel, who had been leaning against the door to this point, let out a loud squawk as the door slid open without warning. Behind him, Larxene the make-up artist could only squeal in shock as a hundred-sixty pound of muscles and limbs fell on top of her.
Twirled back around, delighted in witnessing the cool and confident Axel Akuseru fall flat on his ass, Roxas let out a peel of laughter when he caught the stupefied look on the redhead's face.
Face immediately flushed, clutching at his stomach desperately, Roxas gasped for air as Sora and Riku both appeared a minute later. The two stars stared down at the mess before them, both with such priceless faces that another shout of laughter escaped him again. Sora, looking up in surprise at the sound emanating from Roxas' room, had frozen when he saw Roxas' clutched form.
"Oh no. Oh no, oh no, oh no." Wailing now, unable to hold back the giggles that refused to stay down, Roxas tried to hide his flushed face from everyone's incredulous stare. Helpless shakes ransacked through his forms as tears of mirth streaked down his cheeks.
"Well," Larxene muttered quietly to herself as she brushed herself off the ground. Throwing a rather contemptuous look at the man that had fallen on top of her, her eyes softened a little as they alighted onto the blond still quaking from laughter before her. "I guess it's a good thing I didn't do your make-up yet," she murmured.
"S-Sorry, Larx." Gasping, turning another apologetic look up at his hair-stylist who looked positively livid by now, he settled back onto his seat and patted his flushed cheeks for a second. "I don't know, I just found that really...haha!...funny."
"Well." Over his embarrassment, Axel stood with the help of Riku before turning to examine Roxas once more. "Ya know, Goldilock, you've got a pretty good laugh too."
It took a whole morning and a good part of the afternoon for them to perfect a scene that would run for approximately fifteen minutes of the movie. Exhausted, throwing the wet towel over his face, Roxas sighed as he settled onto the chair that had been designated as his.
The touch of something ice-cold and freezing on his skin was both a shock and a relief. Jumping despite himself, alarmed blue eyes stared up in dismay at the wicked look that Axel threw at him. "You!"
"Hey, Goldie," Grinning, apparently pleased with himself, Axel settled onto Sora's seat beside him. Where the Hell Sora was, Roxas'll never know. Maybe off somewhere with Riku. "You were great today."
"Thanks." Draining the bottle of water Axel had given him, he swiped at his mouth, drying the last of the sweat. "It only took the entire morning."
"Yea, who knew being an actor's so grueling?" Throwing his arms behind him as he settled properly onto the chair, a smile lit onto that face as he added, "I thought stars only enjoy temperature-conditioned swimming pools, caviars, and massive dinner parties."
Rolling his eyes, smiling despite himself, Roxas shrugged. "And I thought models only indulged on temper tantrums, diva rants and mineral water with just the right amount of vitamin C."
Laughing now, those amused eyes pinned back onto him, Axel nodded appreciatively. "Oh, we do. Isn't it a part of everyone's life?"
The diva tone nearly had Roxas cracking up again. It almost dismayed him just how much he laughed whenever Axel came around. Sobering immediately, he turned away to look over where the main actress laughed with someone else. Shrugging a little, he turned back to Axel and gave him a smile.
Axel frowned, eyes landing on the smile. "Did I do something wrong?" The question was so serious, almost ridiculous in how serious it sounded. Yet, at the same time, because it was so serious, Roxas couldn't help but wonder if maybe, just maybe, Axel had seen right through him.
Shaking his head a little, standing, the blond placed his shades on, to hide and to protect. "No, nothing. I just have to find Sora. See you."
Leaving the redhead on Sora's seat, Roxas stalked over to the nearest restroom. Throwing the door open, eyes flew immediately to the mirror. Scowling at the sparkle that danced in them, he turned on the faucet to splash the ice-cold water onto his face.
The "ever after" isn't for everyone. He knew that.
Eyes flew open. Axel stood behind him in absolute fury as he regarded the blond before him. "Says who?" he repeated, those flaming eyes never leaving Roxas' own. "Why can't everyone have their own 'happily ever after'?"
That same feeling was back. The panicked feeling he had whenever he spent too much time with this man. It's no good, Roxas decided, staring into those adamant eyes. There's no way that he'll ever understand. Smirking a little, he sighed as he strolled past him. The hand that reached out to grab him around the arm tore a cry out of him as he was slammed none-too-gently against the wall.
"Fuck you," Axel growled. Leaning close, the same intense eyes burned into his own, as their breath mingled. "You have some stick up your arse, so you hide from every fucking person that tries to get close to you? Just how fucked up are you, Goldilocks? Huh?"
The lips that crashed onto his own were furious. None of the gentleness from before was present, no amusement, no laughter. It was all intensity, all force. No amount of power, Roxas knew, would get this man off until he was damn well and ready.
"Fuck you," Axel muttered again. Throwing himself off Roxas, breathing heavily, staring into Roxas, something in those eyes flickered. Then dimmed.
"Fuck you," he repeated. And left.
Something inside of him was cracking.
Must be the fumes stinking up this bathroom. Dimly, groping his way back to the sink, the blond stared into the mirror into his own flushed cheeks—only to jump with a start when he saw the unbidden tears running down. Quickly turning on the water, dabbing a towel, he pressed the wet, cool cloth onto his eyes. Hot, salty liquid merged with cool, clear drops as both slid down a heart shaped cheek.
Sick. He must be getting sick.
Sliding down onto the ground, closing his eyes to let the cool water work their magic, he released a single shuddery breath. The blast from the AC chilled him to the bone. The shivers that refused to stop were both from Axel's insult and from the chilling air of the AC.
Damn that bastard. There's no way that he'll ever understand.
"Happily ever after my ass...Only those that God hasn't turned from can say crap like that. Never for someone like..."
Pressing that cloth back to his eyes, refusing the new liquid that's threatening to spill over, the blond huddled by the sink. Legs curled over his chest as a hand grabbed at the keychain Sora had placed around his neck years ago, when Riku had cured him.
Eyes widened a bit as a small bomb of energy body-slammed both him and the script he was reading onto the ground. The gigantic white tanning chair he'd been lounging on for the past five minutes promptly tipped over as the brunette on top of him dragged him to the ground.
Hazel eyes glimmered up at him, smirking playfully as she backed up enough to let him sit. "The one and only!" Throwing her arms back around him, she pressed a quick kiss onto his cheeks. "Did ya miss me?"
Rolling his eyes, getting up from his position before those hidden paparazzi had a field day over their new story, the blond smirked a little, as he held out a hand to help the girl up. "You know the papers'll blow everything tomorrow, don't you?"
Giggling a little, the smile that had gotten her famous three years ago flitted across her face as she patted her cheeks in a mock-bashful fashion. "Aww. Don't you like it when the papers make up wild and ardent affairs that neither of us have ever committed?"
Shaking his head at the girl, Roxas picked up the script again as a pool boy righted the chair that had fallen over. Smiling at the teen in thanks, the blond settled onto the chair again as Selphie perched onto the one beside him. Accepting a drink, handing one over to Selphie, the blond shrugged. "Honestly? No. I hate it whenever I have to deal with Tidus—his jealousy's crazy. Thanks though. How's the baby?"
Laughing again, throwing her arms out behind her as she fell into position, one long, skinny leg dipped towards the pool as she closed her eyes. "She's a wonder. So much energy—even I can barely keep up with her."
"She's beautiful, Selphie."
Something in those emerald eyes changed, warmed; melting with motherly love and devotion as she looked out into the pool. Brushing back a strand of stray hair, letting her eyes roam over the surfaces of the water, a sweet, quiet, and utterly serene smile spread across that face. "She is."
Studying that quietly happy face and noting the healthy flush, sparkling eyes, and that smile, Roxas had to look away from them, feeling a prick cutting into his heart again.
"Tidus is such a wonder with her," Selphie was saying, sipping her drink quietly as she looked back over at Roxas. "He couldn't get enough of her. Playing with her twenty-four/seven. Buying her a million unnecessary things when he can't. He's going to spoil her, I just know it."
And he would do anything for her, Roxas knows that too. "Sounds like a good dad."
"You're entitled to it too, Roxas."
"Why can't everyone have their own 'happily ever after'?"
Blinking, looking back over at her, unnerved by the seriousness he saw, Roxas laughed a little as he waved for another drink. "What are you talking about, Selph? As wonderful as the female species are—and we all know I won't be here without them—I'm absolutely not going to return to being straight, Selph."
"Not a kid, though you can always adopt one. I'm talking about your happiness."
Exasperated with him, eyes flashing a little, she threw the script away from him as he turned back to the lines. "Look at me, Roxas Hashiba."
Roxas sighed. Scratching his head a little, careful to keep that smile up on his face, he let out a complacent shrug. "Selphie, I am happy. I'm at the height of my career right now. What idiot in his right mind wouldn't be?"
"Oh, go stick a script up your behind." Glaring at him now, utterly infuriated, the brunette leaned over the chair. Poking a finger firmly on his chest, careful to keep their eyes level, hazel burned into ice-blue. "I'm perfectly aware of both you AND Sora's acting capabilities. If it was three years ago, your act might've fooled everyone. Unfortunately for you, Sora found his real happiness—so your act's not gonna shine so much anymore, Rox."
"Ohhh, I'm so mad! Why can't you just snap out of it?!"
Damn it. Reaching out, grabbing her hands, Roxas smiled. Damn it. It's breaking again. It's breaking again.
"Thanks, Selphie. But I'm really fine. Really."
The inexplicable urge to cry overwhelmed him. Quickly releasing her hands, taking back his script, he stood. Grabbing his shades, he placed them over his eyes as he stepped out from beneath the umbrella. Sun blasted everywhere, both soothing and scorching.
Finding it a little hard to breath and harder to smile, the blond turned a little and smirked at both Sora's and his longtime friend. "Don't worry, Selph. I'll be magnificent in this movie."
"Great job today, Roxas," one of the crew threw him the thumbs up, as his co-host patted him lightly on his back. "The crew are grabbing a few drinks in half an hour or so. Are you coming?"
Sora had a date with Riku tonight. They were trying out that new French restaurant that opened just last month. While the offer of their crab had almost had Roxas agreeing to be the third wheel, self-control and common sense won out in the end.
"Sorry." Smiling a little, waving to lighten the sting of the rejection, Roxas shrugged as he ruffled his hair. He'd have to remind his stylist to change that brand of gel soon. "I have another appointment. Thanks though."
The air outside of the production studio was colder than he'd anticipated. Shivering a bit, wearing nothing but a loose T-shirt over a tank, his blue eyes sought over the mass of cars until he caught the eye of his driver.
"Take me to Studio 13, Johnson," Roxas sighed, sliding into the limo. Closing his eyes a little, letting his aching muscles relax for a second, a breath choked out of him.
His entire body hurt.
Breath haggard, Roxas sucked in a deep breath as he opened his eyes again. The color of the endless night sky, a deep, dark red-blue, cloaked the entire city. Lights flashing, the same lights that substituted the absent stars, which shimmered and winked in and out.
A passing billboard, the flaming sexuality of it, caught his eyes.
Was I really that transparent that day?
His panicked eyes were locked onto Axel's own flaming ones. Something in the redhead's smile had his heart jerking again. It was the same smile that had caused him his anxiety during the shoot and the same smile that had caused his panic attack. The nick that had never quiet healed from all those years ago bled.
"Too late now," Roxas muttered. Looking into his blue eyes, willing the absolute look of both panic, bliss, and grudging adoration away from the billboard, a single hand brushed against the windowpane.
To realize you're fucking in love over a fucking photo. Roxas, you amaze me.
Turning resolutely away as they cruised away from the photo, choking now, the blond hitched, throat clogging a little, as he let out a defiant sneeze.
"Master Roxas, we're here at Studio 13."
"Thanks, Johnson." Without waiting, the blond took his scripts and slid open the door to step out.
His eyes were blinded. Damn. Walking closer towards the bright light that he knew led to the studio, foot dragged, one before the other, as they brought him closer and closer to his goal.
It took him less than two months. To meet the guy, to hate the guy, to grudgingly accept the guy, before falling head over heels in love with said guy.
"Too late now."
Head spinning, eyes nearly crossing, the first sob in the longest time escaped him as he realized the truth.
"You have some stick up your arse, so you hide from every fucking person that tries to get close to you? Just how fucked up are you, Goldilocks? Huh?"
"Pretty fucked up. Pretty fucked up."
He briefly wondered if Sora knew, if Riku knew, if Selphie knew. Laughing a little to himself, the sound of his mirthless voice echoed through his ears as he recalled his conversation with the female singer just a week ago.
"Why can't you snap out of it?!"
He'd told her he was fine. That he was dandy and just great, hadn't he? It was just a week ago, wasn't it? Why was he breaking down over a photo? A photo he'd willingly posed in.
Reaching the door, he felt his fingers brush against the cool and the smooth. Tumbling through the door, practically deaf, the blond slumped against the frame a little as his head swirled.
The colors were blinding him. The lights were blinding him. Even if he was crying...the lights shouldn't be blinding him.
Oh God. My heart's breaking again. It's breaking again.
Something firm and strong caught him. Turning over to the person who was screaming something at him, probably something inane or another, he smiled.
It's breaking again. And this time, it'll never go back to a trickle.
"I'm not fine."
"...physical and mental exhaustion. Simply put, he's overexerted himself in more than one way. He's psychologically weak right now and suffering..."
Swimming in and out of the conversation, Roxas had the distinct impression that a couple of people were yelling. Someone was crying.
Darkness enveloped him again, just as someone grabbed his arms. The red hair that reminded him so much of Axel swam before his eyes.
Too tired. Closing them again, he accepted the blissful nothing that came for him.
The next time he woke, he found Axel sitting by his bed. He opened his mouth to say something—maybe to tell the guy to get the Hell off him—but his throat was completely dry and it throbbed from all efforts to say something. But then, before he could make a single noise, Axel was up and leaning over him again.
"Roxas! Roxas, how are you feeling? Are you—do you want a doctor?"
His throat refused any sound that wants to come out.
"What?" Leaning over, straining, Axel swallowed. "What do you want to say, Roxas?"
"The stick's wedged pretty...deep," was all he managed before sleep reclaimed him.
He didn't know when it was exactly when he next woke. Looking up at the blank ceiling, he briefly wondered if he'd been abducted before recognizing the scent of antiseptic. Catching sight of the drowsing Sora sitting by his bed, he groaned as he struggled to sit up.
Instantly the brunette was up, bleary blue eyes focusing when they caught sight of his brother. "Rox! Don't—! Don't get up yet!" Hurrying over to the front of the bed, Roxas watched as the brunette swallowed.
Blue eyes, obviously red from crying, blinked rapidly as he helped his brother fluff his pillows. "How are you...are you okay? Are you going to actually stay this time?"
Reaching over, taking Sora's shaking hands, Roxas smiled. "I'm fine, Sora. What am I doing here?"
The air whooshed out of Roxas as Sora threw himself onto him. Gasping a little, gently prying Sora off him, Roxas frowned as he caught his crying face.
"Three days," the brunette whispered as silent tears ran down his cheeks. "You slept for three whole days in this hospital. I thought...I thought it was going to be like mom all over again."
"Sora...I'm—" His mouth choked on the word. Swallowing, smiling a little in reassurance, he reached out to touch Sora's hands. "I'm fine."
Blue eyes glared up then, blasting in their intensity. "No, you're not! I'm not going to pretend to be all dandy and happy when I know you're freaking miserable! Why?! Why are you doing this to yourself? Roxas...Roxas!"
Closing his eyes a little, feeling the hot prickle of tears threatening again, Roxas lowered himself back onto the hospital bed. "OK. Fine. I'm miserable, Sora. I'm miserable, Sora. I'm miserable, Sora." Looking over at the crying brunette, swallowing a little as he laughed, he felt the tear streak down. "I'm miserable, Sora. So what can I do to stop being miserable?"
Nothing... because his happiness lay entirely in another guy's hands.
"Tell me Sora, what can I possibly do?"
Part One of this One-Shot turned Two-Shot.
First official Akuroku, as promised. This chapter's mostly Roxas-centric, as most of you could see. I'm trying to work on a new style—mostly a third-person POV rather than my usual omnipotent. It's actually pretty hard..! There were so many times where I had to delete and retract for going into another character's head...
Ah well. Hope you all enjoyed this all the same. The next installment will come, hopefully, next month.
Thanks for reading and please take a little time to review!
Lots of greets,
Edited by: Wake-Robin
Last Checked: January 28, 2007