Lose a Beat

Kingdom Hearts belongs to SquareEnix and Disney.

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Warnings!: AU, vague hints towards Akuroku

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AN: This fic came out like word vomit or something. But Axel and Roxas fics always end up doing that for me, makes them rather easy to write.

This version of the fic has been edited slightly! The original version contains an extra scene involving implied sex that has been cut to make this fic more gen. The missing scene does nothing to change the plot. If you would like to read the original, visit my writing journal at community(dot)livejournal(dot)com/kreamfilling/6898(dot)html

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"Hey Roxas, what do you think it would be like if we didn't have hearts?"

That was how it started. It was an innocent question. Axel could hardly say anything that wasn't a joke. It had been a joke, really, just like everything else he said. But somehow, it just kept coming up, was seriously discussed at least once a day, sometimes more. If they mentioned it around anyone else, they'd be called crazy, were already considered crazy by people they didn't know, noticed looks from their teachers that looked genuinely concerned for their lives.

But Roxas had been sucked in. Something about the idea was insanely intriguing and illogically fun to imagine. It was like a drug for Axel and him; while most kids hid in bathroom stalls to smoke, Axel and Roxas hid to reason motives for living.

"Isn't that a little… depressing?" Demyx had asked while he and Roxas waited together at the edge of the school for Axel to get out of detention.

"It's all hypothetical," Roxas explained. Demyx was the only one who didn't gag at the subject, but he hadn't exactly warmed up to it either. At least he didn't look as uncomfortable as he did the first time it had been brought up. "We're only looking at it from a… I guess you could say a scientific stand point."

"If you say so," he replied with a shrug. Roxas was content to drop the subject if Demyx wanted to. It was only ever fun to talk about around Axel anyway.

"I really don't see," Roxas had said another time under the bleachers during gym, "how 'searching for a heart' is a valid pursuit in their existence." Axel shook his head and used vague hand gestures to illustrate his point.

"What else is there to live for? Come on, we talked about this already. Each one would search for something to fill up the emptiness they feel, they don't have to necessarily know what they're looking for."

"But there's no way to really get a heart. Unless they want to go around ripping hearts out of people's chests or something. But even that wouldn't work, we already decided it was more of a spiritual thing," Roxas reasoned.

"We never said anything about them needing to actually get a physical heart," Axel answered, "We haven't even decided if they lost their heart or just never had one in the first place."

"But if they knew it was a heart they were missing, don't you think that's something they would try?"

"Well, sure, everyone would probably have different methods for filling up the emptiness they feel. I hardly think something like that would do them any good. It'd be a pretty shitty kick in the pants if they tried and found out it wouldn't work."

"Their whole existence would be a pretty shitty kick in the pants." Axel had laughed at that.

Roxas wasn't sure how he had felt when Axel started actively trying to get Demyx in on their theories. He had been present for one of their discussions and had left with a very baffled expression. Roxas realized he actually hated the idea of Demyx joining in when Axel finally got through to him.

"Roxy, Demyx wants in," Axel had said one day, far too enthusiastically for Roxas' liking, on the phone.

"What finally got him to agree to it?" he had asked, though he didn't really care. What he really wanted to ask was why Axel was so excited about it.

"There was no final catalyst, really. You know every time we mentioned it he got a little more used to it."

"That's true," Roxas said as he collapsed back onto his bed. He didn't dislike Demyx, so he couldn't decide what it was that bothered him about it just yet. He heard static on the other line that he thought was Axel sighing into the receiver.

"…Does it bother you?" Axel asked after a moment.

"Why would it?" Roxas replied, aware of himself at least enough to know that his nonchalance was fake. Axel didn't press him on it, though looking back, Roxas knows he probably noticed it too.

Demyx didn't last too long with them. He hardly contributed anything to their conversations and he began to look more uncomfortable with the subject all over again as the days passed. Eventually, it didn't even look like he was trying to pay attention anymore.

A week later, Roxas said, "Let's not mention this around Demyx anymore." Axel nodded solemnly, and Roxas hated himself for smiling because of that.

It wasn't long after that when the tense of their discussions changed. They started using personal pronouns, replacing words like "it" and "they" with "I" and "we." They started to become the heartless creatures they had created, completely unconsciously.

"I don't think I'd like to call myself 'heartless,'" Axel said one day and Roxas had let himself chuckle at the thought.

"That's what you would be, though," Roxas countered. Axel shrugged.

"Yeah, but that makes it sound like I'm a cold 'heartless' bastard."

"I thought you said it was a good excuse to be a bastard. That we probably couldn't help it if we had no heart." Axel frowned and looked slightly pensive.

"Well, to most people I'd probably be a bastard. But I'd still like to be nice to you, you know." Axel's smile looked mischievous as he said it. Roxas laughed mostly in embarrassment.

"I guess, if I had to be nice to anyone, it would be you." Axel grinned at that.

"So what should we call ourselves?" Roxas frowned slightly in thought.

"If we didn't have a heart, we'd be kind of like nothing…"

"I don't know about that, we'd still have our bodies, and we'd be alive for no good reason."

"Like a couple of nobodies," Roxas said with a laugh, but stopped. "How about that? 'Nobodies?'"

"'Nobodies?' I don't know, doesn't that sound a little lame?" Axel complained.

"You were the one whining about our original name." Axel just shrugged and tried saying it a few more times. His mouth kept twisting into a funny shape when he did. The name stuck, though.

Axel had begun to realize that they were going to start taking things too far and actively reminded himself that it was all made up to keep himself in reality. Roxas, on the other hand, was already too far gone, swallowed whole by their 'what-ifs' and he began to make their make-believe existence his reality.

As time passed, they both started wearing nothing but black. Or at least, in Axel's case, more black than they did in the first place. Roxas began speaking to no one but Axel and Axel had to look over his shoulder to check for Roxas if he ever spoke to anyone else. He was afraid Roxas would get angry with him if he found out, even found himself checking for the blonde when he was at home and knew he was safe. It had all become habit, all a part of how they lived.

Their grades dropped considerably, though Roxas' dropped more drastically than Axel's. They both figured school was worthless since their lives would have been meaningless without hearts. Parents were called and meetings arranged, and while Roxas still spoke to no one but Axel, Axel immediately agreed to raise his grades and did so, though it was difficult to do without Roxas finding out.

Because Roxas no longer spoke to them, his parents worried and considered professional help, but hesitated because they realized their boy no longer spoke and would not talk to anyone anyway. The worry made his mother physically ill, and she was forced take medical leave from work, though staying home with her son only tended to make her worse. His father tried to stay away from home as much as he possibly could.

Axel had stopped spending time with Roxas outside of school because Roxas never called and had even stopped answering his phone. Roxas didn't mind and had simply sat in his room doing nothing all day. His mother was just grateful that he still ate.

Even now, Roxas finds that he cannot care about much of anything, even Axel. He still talks to the red head and only the red head, because they are like comrades, the only two of their kind, but Roxas thinks he wouldn't care that much if Axel ended up abandoning him. Nobodies were supposed to be alone all the time because they had no heart to care with and Roxas starts wishing his heart would just go away because he doesn't need it anymore.

"I don't even know why we bother coming," Roxas says as he and Axel are hiding beneath the bleachers as they usually do.

"You know it's the law," he responds, and Roxas thinks he hears a hint of exasperation in his voice. He decides not to care. "At least being here isn't as shitty as it would be to live in a jail cell." Roxas doesn't realize that Axel is now only humoring him and desperately trying to think of a way to get the old Roxas back from their world of "what-if."

Roxas goes home and stands in the center of his room, suddenly lost. He has no backpack to swing from his shoulders, stopped bringing anything anywhere long ago, and also stopped being sent to the principal because of it long ago.

He simply stands in the center of his room and looks around at his surroundings. All of the surfaces are dusty and the sheets of his bed are a rumpled mess. He hardly recognizes anything in the room as his own anymore. He hardly recognizes it as his room anymore. He hardly realizes he's alive.

It takes him until the first salty tear rolls down his cheek to realize that there is a gaping hole somewhere in his chest. He feels empty and tears spill freely from his eyes.

Then cries spill freely from his throat.

Through his despair and sobs, Roxas vaguely notices someone coming into his room crying out to him and asking what's wrong. It's not Axel though, he knows. Only Axel would understand, only Axel would know his pain. He doesn't respond, just keeps crying and sobbing and howling in pain.

Some time passes before someone different comes into his room. Roxas is still wailing, he hasn't calmed down at all. Strong arms wrap around his shoulders and someone is shouting in his ear. Roxas can just barely tell that it's Axel.

"Axel!" Roxas cries and clings to the other's shirt. "Axel! It's gone! It's gone, I lost it!" His words turn back into sobs, and though he is still trying to speak, none of it sounds like words. Axel shakes him violently, trying to make him speak sense.

"What are you talking about? What's gone? Roxas, calm down and talk to me!" Axel is still shouting and Roxas can still hardly hear it.

"My heart, Axel, I lost it! It's gone, I really lost it!" Fewer tears stream down Roxas' face, but now he has become hysterical and so still does not make much sense for long.

"You're heart? What the fuck, Roxas, calm down!" Axel keeps shaking him and Roxas keeps crying nonsense because neither of them knows what to do.

"It's really gone, Axel! What am I gonna do? I'm gonna have to rip people's hearts out and find something to obsess over and stop thinking about anything and, and…." Roxas' words turn back into sobs and he thinks Axel might be crying now, too.

"Roxas! Roxas, fuck, calm down, you'll be okay! I'm here now!" Axel pulls him against his chest and holds him there tightly, now rocking him back and forth instead of shaking him. Roxas shivers and cries into Axel's shirt, though it is now not quite as desperate as it was before.

"Axel, it's really gone, what am I gonna do?" They've stopped shouting at each other, the rocking works to sooth both of them, though Axel's chest still heaves and Roxas still cries.

"You'll be okay," Axel breaths into Roxas' hair and pulls him away slightly because now they are not so hysterical and can talk to each other. Axel tries to smile, but Roxas doesn't think it works very well. "Don't worry, it's still there, Roxas, I can tell." Roxas looks as if he might start crying again because he doesn't believe him. Axel proves it by putting a hand to the blonde's chest, and then he really does smile. "See? It's right there. I can feel it, Roxas, you'll be okay. It's beating really fast."

"Axel…" is all Roxas can say and Axel holds him tightly again. Roxas now hates the heartless things he and Axel had spent so much time creating.

Roxas begins speaking again, starting every conversation with an apology for several days and Axel pats him on the shoulder every time he has to do it, because he's there and they're alright now.

Axel still asks what-if questions, but Roxas no longer finds any of them so intriguing and not so many people think they are crazy anymore. Roxas and Axel can easily laugh at themselves for being so foolish along with everyone else.

Roxas just can't bring himself to throw away the books full of notes he had taken on their 'Nobodies.'

-End