Disclaimer: I own nothing.

"From what I've tasted of desire,

I hold with those who favor fire."

---Robert Frost


Roxas looked with anticipation at the flyer posted to the band room's notice board.

Radiant Garden University's Marching Band Workshop

RGU Campus, Saturday- August 30th

Colorful pictures covered the poster. Roxas scanned it, singling out the ones that featured his fellow clarinetists. Roxas definietely was not known for having the most pep or school pride, but if there was one thing he was fiercely proud of, it was playing the clarinet.

'I'm actually excited to go,' he said to himself, a bit surprised. 'I wonder if--'


"Jesus!" Roxas exclaimed, eyes wide, hand over his chest in shock. Sora chose the oddest moments to pop out of nowhere. Ignoring Roxas' still frightened expression and his near hyperventilation, Sora looked pointedly at the poster that he had been examining.

"Rox, are you coming to the workshop tomorrow?"

"Well, I--"

"Come on, Rox. You never do anything! Besides, there'll be tons of fun stuff, and other band geeks, and hot, sexy college men. You'd like one of those, right?"

Roxas felt his face turn red. He'd only told Sora that he might like guys, but Sora had taken that admission to heart, constantly scoping out potential boyfriends for him.

"If you don't come, I swear I'll—mmph!"

Roxas sighed as he covered Sora's mouth mid-sentence. "Sora, I'm going. Calm down, would you?" Sora glared in response. Roxas grudgingly removed the hand, knowing he would regret it as soon as Sora opened his mouth.

The brunette smiled broadly. "So, I see the temptation of older men has already swayed you, eh? You're so shallow, Rox." He poked Roxas in the stomach playfully. Roxas slapped at the hand, earning him a pout from Sora. Curses were exchanged, hair was pulled, and within minutes, the two were embroiled in an all out tickle war on the floor of the band room.

The tickle-fight-fun was ended, however, when a certain silver-haired senior entered the room.

"Oh my God," Sora gaped, "it's him!" He shoved an unsuspecting Roxas off of his body and tried to hurriedly fix his unmanageable hair. He stood and brushed out his clothes, hoping Riku hadn't seen him rolling around on the ground with Roxas and gotten the wrong impression.

"Oh, don't bother trying to help me up or anything," Roxas mumbled dejectedly from the floor. Sora ignored him. He was good at that.

"Look at him! Would you just look at him? Amazing. He's a freaking sex god, Rox. Smart, too. I could go for that," Sora said wistfully.

The sex god in question was currently taking out a polished silver trumpet, carefully examining the instrument for any fingerprints or scratches. His white gloves accentuated the long fingers that delicately turned the horn.

Sora swooned.

"Oh, come on," Roxas said, exasperated. "He's not that great, Sora."

Roxas knew he was fudging that a little. Riku was pretty much the total package-- rich, handsome, and talented. It was common knowledge, to most of the juniors at least, that Sora had been interested in Riku for years now. And by interested, they meant nearly obsessed. Sora had even experimented with switching to the trumpet just to be in the same section as Riku, but was disheartened to find that he had no talent whatsoever for the instrument. Nope, he was stuck with the flute.

Sora shrugged noncommittally, and Roxas knew without a doubt that Sora hadn't even heard him. He grabbed Sora around the waist and dragged him out of the room, hoping it would free him from Riku's spell.

'I swear, Sora would jump off a cliff if he thought it'd make Riku love him,' Roxas rolled his eyes at the thought, but was a little disturbed by the truth in it. It was a good thing that Sora was deathly afraid of heights and all things cliff-like.

"Roxas. Roxas, hello? You can put me down now. And don't worry, I'm not cuckoo-bananas over Riku," Sora muttered as he sullenly leaned against the wall. Roxas crossed his arms and shot him a challenging look.

"Okay, okay, I'm not too cuckoo-bananas for him," he relented, picking at one of his fingernails, his bottom lip jutting out in a standard pout.

"Good," Roxas confirmed. He listened absently to the muffled notes as Riku started playing scales in the nearby room. The two wandered up and down the hallway in silence.

Sora couldn't stand silence. "So, you're really going to the workshop, right?" he asked hopefully, kneading his hands anxiously.

"I can guarantee that I'll be there. Do you know who else is going?"

Sora put a finger on his chin, thinking. Roxas couldn't help but grin at how adorable he looked. Sora had a classic face, complete with all the beautiful, soft features Roxas could only wish he had. And he never made any fuss over his good looks-- one of the many reasons Roxas liked him.

"Well, there's you and me," Sora started, counting off on his fingers, "plus Riku, Kairi, Tidus, Wakka, and Yuffie. Maybe Naminé, if she's feeling better. Plus people from other schools. Isn't that great?"

Roxas nodded in agreement, letting out a wide yawn. "I should go. This is my free period, and I'm ready to go take a nap," Roxas said as he scratched lazily at his stomach.

"Yeah, you look it," Sora teased, poking him again. "Go get some sleep, fatty."

"Shut up, Sora, or I'll run you over in the parking lot," he countered seriously.

"And then you'd get charged for vehicular manslaughter, so ha! Just remember to call me before you leave tomorrow morn-- no, wait-- on second thought, let's drive there together! I'll bring the cheese puffs, you bring the soda. Two whole hours of quality bonding, just you and me, can you believe it?" Sora pumped his fists in excitement, very nearly punching an innocent bystander.

"Great, I just can't contain my bubbling inner joy. Goodbye, Sora."


Roxas was really, really regretting choosing to come to this workshop.

"Take a lap!" one of the instructors shouted, waving his arm in a 'hurry up and move your ass' gesture. Roxas reluctantly jogged to the track.

He felt disgusting. And he looked just as disgusting as he felt. Sweat soaked his entire shirt, making the light grey fabric look more like… well, a darker, wetter shade of grey. His normally fluffy hair was also drenched and stuck uncomfortably to his head. His only source of consolation was that the rest of the high schoolers looked just as horrible as he did.

Roxas finished his lap with Sora panting beside him. He doubled up, hands on his knees, baking under the hot August sun. Sora, if it was possible, looked even worse off, shaking from the exertion. They had been on the RGU campus for two hours now and hadn't even taken their instruments out of their cases; it was nothing but pushups, laps, and more laps. And yelling.

"Alright, alright," the RGU instructor shouted, "I can see you all aren't quite up to this, so I'll let you take a break. Five minutes." He stalked off toward the water tent.

"Asshole," Sora wheezed.

The rest of the group from Twilight High soon gathered around, passing water bottles around and starting a very productive complaining session.

"The papers didn't say anything about doing all this," Kairi griped, her hair in a sweaty, sloppy ponytail. She flapped her arms in an effort to dry out the sweat stains.

"It's over a hundred degrees out here. I feel like I'm going to die," Riku added, flushed, as he fanned himself with a music folder.

"I'm already dead," Sora wailed melodramatically, covering his face with one sunburned arm.

"I don't really mind, ya," Wakka said amiably. He got nothing but stares of hatred.

"You freak," Tidus said spitefully, swiping at the larger boy. "It's not fair, you're used to insane weather like this," he complained.

Yuffie jumped up from her place on the ground. "Did you see all the people that just up and left? Sissies."

"Ugh, when do we actually get to play?" Roxas questioned anxiously, reapplying his sun block.

Riku grimaced. "Soon, I hope." He passed a water jug to Sora, who for a moment looked perfectly content with sweating like a pig, as long as it meant Riku would share drinking vessels with him. Roxas noted that the students from other schools had also formed their own circles, and that from the sound of their grumbling, were no happier with the conditions.

"Alright, y'all, listen up," a voice rang out from a loudspeaker, the southern twang apparent even from across the field. "We're going to divide you up into groups… and then head on inside!"

The cheers were instantaneous. Tidus fell to his feet, thanking God as well as the inventor of air conditioning, while Yuffie poured a bottle of water over hear head, screaming ecstatically. A girl from another school actually did cartwheels, and if Roxas had thought he was physically able, he might've joined her.

"Haha, just kidding," the loudspeaker voice continued. "I can't believe you fell for that, how lame."

Roxas' grateful grin fell, and all celebration stopped. The speaker jogged slowly to the center of the field, obviously unaware of the death glares he was receiving.

"Okay," the sandy blonde shouted, foregoing the loudspeaker, "first of all, I'm Demyx. Nice to see y'all! Right now, we're going to pair you up with one of our upperclassmen, who'll help you with fundamentals and whatnot." He smiled broadly.

Tidus was hard at work sharpening a small twig he'd found. "Stab him right through that mulleted head of his," he muttered under his breath as he whittled away. Roxas took a step away from Tidus.

Demyx began reading names off of a list of names, telling each person who their partner was and where to find them. Predictably, he came to a grinding halt at Roxas.

"Roxas K-- uh… Hold on, I've got this." Demyx's face contorted as he squeezed out a few more syllables, still unable to get it right.

Tidus and Yuffie snickered as Roxas dragged himself to centerfield. He was used to people having trouble with his last name. Darn his parents and their need to hyphenate their already hard to pronounce surnames!

"It's Kudryavtsev-Monceaux," he told Demyx matter of factly.

"I'm sorry, Roxas," Demyx replied, looking genuinely sorry. "I'm an idiot. My last name's a pain too, and I hate it when people get it wrong, so I should totally know better. Won't happen again," he promised, patting Roxas on the shoulder.

"Okay, Roxas. Your upperclassman is-- Axel! Hey, I know him, and you'll love him. He's great. And you need to meet Axel at the field house. It's over that-a way," he said excitedly, pointing off into the distance. "Good luck, have fun, bye!" He shooed Roxas away, even going so far as to smack him on the ass with the paper in his hands, urging him on.

"I feel violated," Roxas said, half-scandalized, half-amused. "What kind of college is this?"

Demyx laughed and and waved him on, then returned to dividing up the remaining musicians.


Roxas enjoyed the walk to the field house, happy for the chance to relax. No laps, no pushups, no hellishly cruel instructors. He dawdled, wanting to stretch this free time out as long as possible. He managed to take fifteen minutes to get to the field house, but there was no more prolonging the inevitable.

'He's supposed to be here,' Roxas thought, a little worried. He peered into the field house's windows, but saw nobody. He tried to open the door, but it was securely locked. He walked slowly around to the other side of the building, which was heavily shaded by thick oak trees, and saw a figure sitting atop a large crate, alternating between smoking and eating something.

"Hey," Roxas called uncertainly, "are you-- um… are you my partner guy?" he questioned shyly and shuffled into view, mentally berating himself for forgetting the name Demyx had specified.

The figure turned and, for a moment, Roxas was frightened. Dark, secluded area plus mysterious man equals bad, the CSI watching part of his brain warned. He stook a step back, stopping when he heard laughter.

"Hey, kid," a mellow voice called out from the shadows. "Don't be scared. I don't bite, I promise." Roxas could practically hear the amusement in the man's voice. "Though I have been known to nibble occasionally," he added conspiratorially.

"Oh." Roxas wasn't sure what to say to that.

"And yes, I'm your 'partner guy'," he continued, sliding off the crate and extinguishing his cigarette. As he walked out into the sunlight, Roxas struggled to keep his jaw from dropping.

The man was gorgeous. Not in the conventional sense, not like Sora or Riku, but gorgeous all the same. He had light, fair skin (a miracle with all this sun, Roxas thought) with spiked red hair and green eyes so bright that Roxas thought of street lights. His height and thinness could have made him seem skeletal, but instead added to his look.

Before Roxas knew what was happening, the redhead was standing in front of him, toe-to-toe. He leaned over to compensate for his height, nearly touching noses with the blonde. He found himself staring at the two small tattoos on the man's face, amazed that someone would actually let a needle that close to their eyes. Intense green eyes found his and Roxas sucked in a startled breath, smelling cinnamon, citrus fruit, and faint traces of smoke.

"Having fun so far, kiddo? Sure looks like they've been workin' ya," he laughed, gesturing to Roxas' still sweat-soaked clothes. The blonde blushed, self-consciously smelling himself and wishing he'd had an opportunity to shower after the morning's rigorous exercises.

The red haired man held a pair of drumsticks in one hand and a half eaten tube of cookie dough in the other. Roxas felt his stomach begin to growl at the tantalizing scent and coughed loudly to cover up the embarrassing noise.

"The name's Axel MacKenna. Get it memorized, 'cause you'll be with me a lot today." He paused to bite off a chunk of cookie dough, chewing as he continued. "What about you?"

"Roxas Kudryavtsev-Monceaux," Roxas said with a pout already in place.

"You're a mouthful, Roxas," the redhead said teasingly, fighting back a grin. "So tell me about yourself. Let's get to know each other, eh?"

"Get to know each other?"

"Yeah, I want to hear everything-- your favourite food, where you go to school, childhood stories, your hopes and dreams, your deepest fears and darkest desires, all that good stuff."

"Um," Roxas stalled, unsure of where to start. "Well… I like turtles."

Axel snorted with laughter. "I ask you to reveal your innermost secrets, to lay your soul bare, and you tell me you like turtles? You're either funny or just plain weird, I can't really tell."

"Well, there's not much about me that's interesting to tell. I go to Twilight High, I play clarinet--" Axel made a disgusted face "--my best friend is named Sora, I'm a junior, and… I like turtles. See? I've come full circle. There's nothing else about me worth knowing," he finished, crossing his arms over his chest.

Axel smiled softly and gave him a look that he couldn't quite identify. Roxas furrowed his brow, wishing more than ever that he could read minds.

"If that's what you want to think," he said, shrugging. "I guess it's my turn to tell something, hm?" They both sat on the grassy ground, legs crossed.

Roxas watched as Axel chewed thoughtfully on more cookie dough.

"Well, I'm twenty, and I'm a junior here at RGU. I major in anthropology and minor in music. Weird combination, right? I love music, though, and if you haven't run away from this place crying yet, I'd say you love it, too-- this workshop isn't exactly a cakewalk. I'm a percussionist, by the way. My hair color's natural, and I'm Irish-- half at least. I spent this summer traveling abroad, and I just got back last week. And I like turtles, too," he finished, smiling as he licked the side of his hand, where a little cookie dough had fallen. Roxas gulped as he watched Axel's tongue slide over his skin, far more interested than he felt he should be. He distracted himself with picking at flowers and fallen leaves.

"So what do you have against clarinet players? I saw the face you made when I told you that's what I played," Roxas complained, picking a blade of grass and tearing it to pieces.

"Oh, nothing personal. I'm sure you know how it is," he added, smiling devilishly. "The wind players always say that the percussion is too loud, or off tempo, or that we waste our free time goofing off and telling sex jokes. The last one, I'll grant you, is more often than not true, but that's beside the point. The point is… sometimes we just talk shit about other sections for the hell of it," Axel shrugged, chewing on a long stalk of grass and stretching out his legs. "It's like a tradition. I mean, it's not like we actually hate each other. After all, I like you, Roxas, and you play clarinet," he finished with a sly smile.

Roxas couldn't help but notice Axel's foot brushing against his thigh. It was a ghost light touch, but it tingled and burned- in a good way- all down his leg. Roxas sighed quietly as he felt a heated blush shiver up his neck and a similar feeling slide down his stomach.

"So… what are we supposed to be doing now?" he questioned as he stood abruptly, brushing the dead grass from his pants. Axel was up beside him in seconds and Roxas had the unusual sensation of standing next to a skyscraper.

"Fundamentals. The basics, you know. Marching backward, using the right technique, posture," he replied, twirling a drumstick in one hand. He held out the tube of cookie dough, shaking it in Roxas' face. The smell was almost too good to bear.

"I heard your stomach, kiddo," Axel teased, waving the dough temptingly. "And it's peanut butter-chocolate chip," he drawled, luring a willing Roxas in. His stomach growled joyously as he snatched the tube and took his first bite, savoring each mouthful until he had finished it.

"Alright, alright. Are you ready to get to work, you lazy, good-for-nothing clarinetist?" Axel asked, grinning. He leaned in a little, raising his dark red eyebrows questioningly; from this close, Roxas could even see a number of pale freckles running across the bridge of the older man's nose.

Roxas allowed himself a small smile, and followed Axel as he retreated to the other side of the building.


I like the idea of having a southern sounding Demyx. Is that weird? I mean, he's got a mullet! It works! I'm sorry for OOC-ness, but it will probably run rampant. Be forewarned!

I'm also going to ask- -no, shamelessly beg for reviews. See, otherwise, I can't really tell if people are actually reading this or if they click on it, read the first two sentences, decide it's crap, and then leave. I don't want to waste time putting this up on the internets if no one wants to read it! I'm way too lazy to go through all that just for myself.

So please review!

Especially if you spot a typo or something. I hate those.

It would make me oh so happeh!