Hit up 'The Borderland Series' on wikipedia.

Side story to my "Pride of Tomorrow".

He'd first met the kid on the train. He was a halfie on his way home and boy-o was a hume on his first trip in. Kiddy was a blond, his head looked mostly like the golden bird had been seriously ruffled and his eyes were the most blue things Axel had ever seen. That was why he'd approached, throwing himself down and setting his feet up on the opposite cushion.

"You a halfie? You pass as a pretty good hume, but the eyes give you away."

The kid had dragged his eyes from the writhing trees of the Nevernever. The sun drained from them and, all of a sudden, he'd been just another human again. Axel let out an evasive laugh, "Guess not."

The boy's eyebrow twitched a little, what that meant, Axel had no clue. The blond turned back to the window before he asked. The both of them watched the enchanted forest putter by with every screech of locomotive whistle. When Beast's Castle was well and truly out of sight, Axel took a deep breath. They were almost home sweet home to Bordertown and the hume beside him hadn't said a word.

"First time?"

Kid nodded.

"Place to Stay?"

Shook his head, no.


Sharp eyes daggered at him. Axel laughed.

"B-town gets 'em all the time. Want me to hook you up?"

The blond pursed his lips and then said,


His voice was even a little younger than he looked, but it was... like silver and gold bells. Axel still wasn't convinced he didn't have at least a drop of Elf in him. Couldn't be that beautiful if you didn't. Nonetheless, Axel leered a little.

"Your loss."

Kid sneered right back. "Sit on it and spin."

The train chugged to a halt and the blond little hume-child shoved past, his angelite eyes glowing when caught by the sun.


Stepping off the train today, Axel turned his face back to the sun. Magic and exhaust and the Mad River and a dozen other smells assaulted his nose. His ears pricked with interest at the squawk of chickens and the conversations of many. The World, Axel reflected, was so fucking overrated. Given the choice time and time again he would always choose good old B-town.

Xigbar was there to get him. He wore his hair long and drawn tight to the back of his head. Wisps of hair, in that natural elvish silver hung over his shoulder, contrasting starkly with his black leather jacket. His scarred chest was bare underneath and his jeans were almost completely ripped from the knees. He looked more disheveled than usual and, if the smile on his face and the twitch of his ears was any indication, he'd been hitting the peca. As Axel approached, the elf took a big swig of something with a sharp alcoholic scent.

His halfie passenger grimaced.

"Oi, you are not all right to drive."

Xigbar patted the motorcycle he leaned against (his baby: custom paint, chrome spellbox, and redudancy engine for those sporadic spots along the border where the spellboxes cut out) and made it perfectly clear that, if Axel didn't want to ride with him, he could walk. The half-elf considered it, taking stock of the dragon-milk gleam in Xigbar's one good eye. His mind didn't even wander to the maybe-fairy hume he'd met once upon a several years ago. Eventually, he shrugged.

They mounted and Freeshooter purred to life beneath them. She was unlike any motorcycle Axel had ever ridden. Smoother than silk, faster than a better number of cheetahs, could turn on a pinhead, and had an exhaust that smelled like something between ozone and sandalwood. His adrenaline lurched despite all of that when Xigbar cut off a couple of cars and jotted around pedestrians. The elf was so off on peca that he took his hands of the bars and crowed. Axel echoed the sound between gasps of breath.

Their Organization kept headquarters pretty close by, so there were only a few more terrifying moments left to spend on the bike. Axel dismounted with a leap before she'd fully stopped, landing on the front steps of home.

Before Faerie had come back into the World, it had been Soho's municipal center. Xemnas had liked it for the gray cement exterior and the white marble interior, sufficiently grand and bland at the same time. To Axel it was just home. Home, home...

He turned sharp and fast on the Wharf Rats coming down the street at a lazy amble. He could smell them a million miles away. High off their minds on the River and sweaty and unwashed. Axel snarled, brandishing a leather gloved fist and the studs across his knuckles. The quartet of Rats, all of them blond, paused and growled back at him, looking like they would try to take him on. Which was braver than most regular folks got, not to mention Rats.

The only girl in the group thought better of starting a street brawl. Though, her grimy face still spoke belligerence. She grabbed a boy in each hand, but that left one more.

"Ghosts! Stop it!" she said, her braided pigtails, one half-unwound, shook as she jerked back on her captives. "We're just walking by!"

"Keep your filthy feet away from our doorstep, Wharf Rats," Axel warned.

The girl struggled with her friends and the third boy lunged at Axel. It was probably the eyes that startled him into holding still like he was just going to take a hit. It was a good thing Xigbar finally bumbled out of his peca-haze long enough to catch the boy by the scruff. Seeing their friend dangled in front of them made the other Rats go pale and livid. They backed away.

"Let him go," the girl said.

"Shut up, Pinch!" the kid snapped, still fighting Xigbar's hold. The elf was a lot stronger than any scrawny little hume kid.

"Let him down, we're leaving already!" One of the boys said. Axel couldn't tell the two apart and figured they were brothers under all the filth caked on their faces.

"You too, Daggers. Shut it!"

Xigbar chucked the kid like garbage when his compadres were finally out of sight. The blond landed on the 'crete with a short skid and then was on his feet. His jean-blue eyes caught the sun as he flipped them the bird.

Axel grinned and waved after him as he left.


Axel didn't think much of Marluxia.

Larxene, he liked, she could hold her own in a fight, she argued like a lawyer, and kissed like a beauty queen. She was a little arrogant, but that was like most elves, especially ones down from Dragon Tooth Hill. Marluxia was much the same, kissing included, but the stupid halfie liked to imagine himself on top, in power. His compensating and scheming were gonna get him killed some day, Axel was sure.

But Xemnas knew what he was looking for. He needed reps all over the board, humes and elves and halfies. If that's what the man wanted, then Axel was cool with it. Even if he did wish Xemnas would pick someone interesting.


Xemnas was a halfie. He'd grown up in B-town and under those conditions, it was hard. The Pack took in humes and the Bloods took in Elves, but for the in betweens? There wasn't much. If you could pass yourself off as one or the other, maybe, but most halfies couldn't. Even those filthy Wharf Rats were hume inclined.

So, little halfie Xem grew up, got strong and got smart and decided he wanted things changed around here. Got chummy with some elves, then some humes, recruited in some halfies. Natives, Pack, Blood, and immigrants, 'til he got some of everything.

Except one important part of Bordertown culture.

Runaways, hume kids fleeing the World.

Elves leaving Faerie he'd gotten. But not the other. That's where the kid came in. Axel had only ever heard him called Ghosts, but that was his name while he was a Rat. The Organization let you have a new one. Anything you like with an X in it. The X was important to Xemnas, who saw it as a sign of intersection and equality. The kid—cleaned up, blond hair still spiked and its blades piled haphazardly to one side, leaving a strip from his temple back short and buzzed—picked his own name. A brand new one.

"Roxas." he murmured, his shoulda-been-an-elf's eyes shimmering.


He'd spent some time with the Wharf Rats. After he parted from Axel on the train, things had been as hard as he'd been told. The Rats had taken him in when no one else would and they'd given him a new name and... he'd forgotten it quickly. They all forgot eventually.

Mad River helped with that. It came straight out of Faerie full of magic and immortality and delirium. It ran red as wine and the humans who drank of it harbored an unfortunate addiction to those waking dreams. Few ever escaped its depths with their lives.

Ghosts—they'd given him the name when he first arrived and would not speak, except when he cried in his sleep, would not eat and would not go outside. He looked haunted and they called him accordingly.

Ghosts had the addiction, so too did Roxas, because he would never leave the dreams. Only inside them did he forget what he wanted and remembered what didn't matter, so he never hoped to wake.


Roxas met Xemnas when he tried to rob the bastard. He was hungry and today's River-trip was a bad one full of clawing memories. He'd left the three Rats he usually associated with; Pinch, the girl, and the two brothers, Daggers and Knives. They'd wanted to sleep and dream, but Ghosts had wanted to fight. So, the mugging was sloppy, leaving plenty of room for retaliation.

Xemnas noticed.

With his dark human skin and silver elven hair, he raised an eyebrow and made himself the epitome of curious incredulity. It pissed Ghosts off, but Xemnas just reached out, touching his grimy clothes.

"Are you cold? Would you like a proper shower?"

Ghosts had heard this shit a few times before. Daggers accepted these offers in order to knife the pervert later. Another Rat-boy, Chocobo, accepted to get fucked.

"Sit on it and spin."

Xemnas brushed Roxas's lank hair back to check his ears; round and human, even if his voice was peculiarly melodious.

"I'm not trying to pick you up. I run a place for those in need." He had a slow, intelligent voice, with just a little bit of that Bordertown drawl.

Ghosts spat on his shoes instead of in his face.

Xemnas smiled. "It's free. Free food, free clothes, and free showers."

The thing that would some day be named Roxas smiled for the first time and thought about how he'd kill this guy as soon as he'd been fed.


"Glad to see you again."

Roxas stared at the redhead blankly, he had no idea what the halfie was talking about.

Axel choked on his laughter. "Yeah, okay, we only met twice, but I remember."

The blond fidgeted, glancing around the mess hall. Xemnas and his reps, himself included now apparently, sat at the head table. The others, the troops, sat in the common space a little bit lower.

"Whatever," Roxas murmured finally. He forced himself to stop noticing all the people staring at him and shoveled some food in his mouth.

"So, I've been wondering a long time why it is you came to B-town," Axel persisted.

The boy got real stiff around the shoulders and ate with greater vigor. The redhead leaned in closer, their faces almost touching, and the human jumped back like a startled cat.

"Dude," Axel chortled. "You don't have to talk if you don't want, okay?"

The blond nodded hesitantly, spaghetti dangling out of his mouth. Axel punched his shoulder and then glanced around the room for something else to talk about if that would make the kid more comfortable. His eyes alighted.

"Look, there's Demyx with his little girlfriend again!"

He motioned to a sandy-haired human down in the commons making out with an elf with dyed yellow hair.

Roxas began to flush, a deep chrysanthemum, and Axel called,

"Hey, Demyx, give him a chance to breath!"


Demyx was a nice enough guy, a complete homo, but Xemnas actually saw sexuality and gender as separations. He didn't approve of them and openly advocated their disregard.

Demyx and Roxas made pretty fast friends in a way that Axel didn't really understand. Demyx could be kind of a major bubble-head and Roxas had a short temper and serpent's tongue. But they still hung around during the day, up in the mess hall, in each other's quarters. They'd lie around drinking Mad River most of the time, the stuff hit humans hard, like heroine. To halfies it was more like alcohol and to full blood elves it was barely more than a sugar rush.

In those terms, Axel suffered intense alcoholism.

When the cravings hit, he would join the two blonds, sometimes Saïx was there too.

Saïx was a special case, the halfie had a bad habit of taking peca and River at the same time. He got a little crazy and wild and was a serious buzz kill, but sometimes the things he and Demyx would end up doing were...

"Xemnas endorses this shit, yanno?" Axel laughed faintly.

Roxas looked at him, even in this dark little room Xemnas had set aside for them—the Addicts—his eyes were shining so bright. Maybe it was cause of the River or maybe it was a projection off the first time meeting him.

The boy's face was noticeably pink in the dark too.

"You always get that weird look on your face," Axel noted.

He'd seen it a lot over the past few months.

Demyx made a cute yowling little sound and Saïx grunted.

Roxas's eyes darted towards them and back again. Axel's eyes followed... Saïx was riding the human beneath him hard. Demyx cried out the name of his first boyfriend while Saïx whispered backwards ancient chants in a tongue known to no other.

Axel felt the hysterical laughter bubble up and out.

Then he heard the boy say, "I couldn't stay..."


Roxas was more important to the mechanics of the Organization than he liked to think. But, as the ranks stood, he was only Wharf Rat they had. A valuable insight since those damn River suckers could be so sporadic.

"Last night they hit up the Sunshine Parlor. Doesn't appear they took anything so there doesn't seem to be any reason—"

Roxas laughed faintly, his dreamwake giggle that was soft and musical but eerily like the whispers a dying butterfly might make.

"Bored. They were bored and the Sunshine Parlor always has the prettiest colors."

The other reps were Zexion and Lexaeus. Zexion was a pure-breed elf out of Faerie who came into B-town and joined up with the Bloods. Lexaeus was a big human brute who'd never been outside of Soho and knew her rules and regulations better than the Silver Suits, probably. He'd run with the Pack longer than he was actually able to run.

They both sneered, but they both knew Roxas was being serious, telling the truth and nothing but it.

"Fucking Wharf Rats," Zexion said. He said it elvish so it came out a whole lot more elegantly. Lexaeus silently agreed with him.

Normally the Bloods and the Pack would have hated each other, but somehow Xemnas drew them both in and they drew to each other.

All the more reason to hate the Rats together.

Roxas laughed again, and Xemnas's mouth also curved upwards. He looked at his other two advisers, experts on the workings of the gangs. He motioned that it was alright for them to smile too, but neither of them did.


There were a few other odd folk hanging around, one more representative of something Xemnas was looking for. Xaldin was an elf out of Nevernever. Wild and feral, so he could never be part of the Blood, nor did he want to live on Dragon Tooth Hill with all the yuppies. Before the Organization, he'd worked down in the heart of Soho, helping out at Elsewhere and a couple other bookshops around town.

Vexen was a human scientist come to do experiments on the shifting sometimes-magic of Bordertown. He was rarely seen, but the fact that he was there and was important to Xemnas was telling of their Messiah's master plans.

He even had con-artist halfie, Luxord, on hand.

Support all across the board.

But... they all really did back Xemnas's idealistic ideas. They all had little aches in their hearts where something wasn't accepted. Where they hurt and held on, birthing the strange family that passed for the Organization.

Maybe Xemnas gave a fuck about them too and this wasn't just some big political ploy, who was to say.

All anyone really knew was that no matter where you ended up, be it Roxas's Samurai, Larxene's Nymphs, Xaldin's Dragoons, you were gonna be taken in and, suddenly, you'd have more brothers and sisters than you knew what to do with.


Axel couldn't remember the exact situation. It didn't really matter and wasn't really important, not when compared with what he heard. For some reason, Axel was convinced it had been raining that day. Their arms were weighted down with stolen food with which to feed the hungry masses... Roxas had been staring at the sky and maybe... maybe he'd been crying. Axel still liked to think it was rain.

"I couldn't stay at home."

Axel looked at him, let his mouth twist into a lopsided grin. "Hey, Castle's your home now."

Maybe Roxas had smiled back. "I mean, in the World..."

Axel let the silence hang. Roxas had never finished these sentences before, he expected nothing different.

Until the blond said, "My parents found out I'm gay."

Axel probably dropped what he was holding.

He wasn't a stickler on the issue of sexuality, but he hadn't thought about Roxas's before and now he was trapped somewhere between having known that all along and being pole-axed by surprise. Roxas couldn't tell the difference, he cringed and then quickened his pace.

His halfie friend caught him by the arm. Roxas let go of what he was carrying as he tried to escape.

"Rox," Axel barked after a minute of struggling with him. "There are other queers in the Castle, doesn't bug me, kid. You just surprised me, out of the blue like that."

Kid's eyes were bright. He might have been crying again. "I didn't know how else to bring it up," he admitted wearily.

Axel laughed, but he saw the pain deep in Roxas's face and knew there was something more.

"No one here cares," he promised, trying to let his optimism bleed into the boy. It didn't work, so he ruffled his hair instead.


Roxas made a brief stint as one of Demyx's many boyfriends. Demyx was always looking for someone to replace his first, a halfie by the name of Bijou. Girly name, but the guy had been built like a firetruck and he'd sung in the opera. Demyx never did and never would find anyone to make him forget the guy. Roxas did okay for a while though. Lasted longer than any Axel could remember since Demyx had been recruited by the almighty messiah Xem-nas.

But like he always did, Demyx eventually got bored and got cranky and broke it all off without a word. The worst part was how the two of them would still linger in the dark little room the others called the "Addict's Haven". They'd sit there together, dreaming about all the things that had kept them apart while they were together and would keep them apart from every single person they'd ever encounter in their lives.

Axel watched it for a little while before he just had enough.

He picked Roxas up in his arms, princess style, carried him to his bedroom and kissed his unresponsive mouth, pulling out the deep wet lightning sugar lemon taste of the River.

The boy came out of the delirium long after Axel had entered his soft, pliant hole.

His sounds got sharp and his arms fastened around Axel's shoulders.

"Tell me," Axel said, slowing but not stilling.

"Tell you..." Roxas gulped for air. Crying but not telling him to stop. "Tell you what?"

"What's hurting you."

The boy was silent but for moans, until at last he said, so softly Axel could barely hear, "They wouldn't... they locked me up, to keep me from... from infecting them."

Axel grunted, hips pistoning and unable to stop now, especially not now, with the anger welling up inside him.

"Fuck 'em."

Roxas sobbed with release and Axel did too, pulsing and clenching and licking tiny beads of dewdrop sweat from the little boy's neck.

They lay together then.

The building's aged air conditioning unit switched on, tensing up the entirety of their flesh.

"Axel?" the blond asked uncertainly.


"Don't... don't tell anyone."

Axel looked him in the eye. Axel's eyes were a deep dark green, Roxas noticed for the first time.

"Wouldn't think of it."


The elf was from Luxord's Gamblers. The names were just a way to get people assigned into dorms and so they always knew who to report to in case of an emergency. This kid's name was Shirin X. The more uncreative kids slapped on the symbol at the end of their existing names when they came in.

But, Shirin was a scrawny little guy, looked like a faggot with his shiny dandelion mop of hair and his painted nails and fishnets, but his right jab could have knocked out an elephant. His eyebrows had been shaved and tattooed over again with sprigs of flowers. The image twitched with the muscles in his face as he slugged Roxas a good one. The cracking sound of the human's jaw was pretty much obscene.

Shirin was of the opinion that Roxas had stolen Demyx away from him.

Damn did he blush inelegantly when he discovered Roxas had been dumped too.

Their new friendship was sealed with a trip to the infirmary and a hell of a lot of kissing.

The two of them looked pretty good together when they fucked, Axel had to admit. It was awful nice of them to let him watch.


There was something special about their friendship though.

Axel and Roxas.

Maybe it was how they were... Battering down the walls of physicality and sexuality to create a deeper friendship? Xemnas would have been proud of them, really. But... what about that was... different? Special?

When Roxas was horny, he went to Axel's room.

When Axel was horny, he went to Roxas's.

Then when Roxas would drift somewhere terrifying in the River, he would go to Axel.

When he was sad and longed for his family, he would go to Axel.

Finally, one night, he said he was just feeling happy and Axel laughed and punched his shoulder.

Most times they fucked, sometimes they didn't.

Not all that peculiar, was it?

It was just Roxas—not Ghosts or that beautiful gentle name he'd had once upon a time—and it was just Axel.

The same as when they'd first met and glared and sneered and laughed at one another on the train, the wild Nevernever streaming past their windows and Beast's Castle marring the sky.

Really. It wasn't... anything special...?


Axel had heard Xigbar and Larxene giving Roxas a lesson about peca. Dragon's milk: poisonous to humans, pretty bad for halfies too—but that never stopped Saïx, it was his poison of choice. Larxene and Xigbar were laughing and both had seemingly benign little milk mustaches on their upper lips. They were obviously high and, worse, Roxas was obviously curious.

The next week he caught Roxas talking to Zexion and Lexaeus about their days of the Blood and the Pack.

He even saw the kid out front one day yammering with what must have been Wharf Rats.

It set him on edge, because he knew the evasive little ways the kid liked the work. He liked to run and he liked to hide and if you let him, you'd never see him again.

So, Axel didn't let him.

He showed up in the blond's room one night. The kid was sleeping on his stomach. Axel molded to his back and played with his pajamas, exposing skin and starting a conversation only as soon as he had penetrated and Roxas was awake, thrusting back on him.

"What's up, kid?"

Roxas moaned, pushing himself on all fours. "Why do you..." he keened, deep down in his throat, "always try to talk while we're having sex?" The whole of the message was peppered with gasps and stifled grunts.

His pretty elvenesque voice was well suited to the task however, the halfie thought pleasantly. Then he laughed and bit the knob at the base of his neck. Roxas's body would not stop wriggling beneath him, pushing back harder and deeper, back arching to a steeper and steeper angle, Axel forced up over him as well.

"It's the only time you listen."

The boy stilled, then dropped very suddenly twisting to his back and Axel yelped in pain.

"Fuck, Rox, don't do that."

Warm thighs encircled his hips and forced him forward again. It hurt, it hurt Axel who was certain it must have hurt Roxas, but the little human was insistent and...

"I'm leaving."

"W... what?"

Roxas moved again, lifting his hips and tilting Axel's whole frame over top of him.

"Leaving, can't stay. Leaving."

They were both panting for breath and neither of them could seem to reach orgasm, not with the fresh sting and the strained conversation lingering over them.

Roxas kissed him.

Soft and slow and his thighs eased up around Axel's hips until the halfie could pull out and roll them over and say,

"Don't leave me, baby."

Roxas shook his head.

"At least kiss me again."

Roxas refused, blue eyes glimmering.


The human rested his cheek against Axel's shoulder.

"What's got you down, baby?"

"Why do you keep calling me that?"

"Cause I mean it, cause I'm worried, cause you said you're leaving, cause I love you. What's going on?"

There was a little bit of quiet, the kind not even interrupted by those mundane little sounds of everyday life.

Then, like a released breath, "My brother is in town. He's looking for me."

Their eyes met.

"Kiss me?"

The boy's face twisted.

"Why are you so afraid?"

And Roxas told him about his fears. They were all little hideous things, things he thought his parents would have told to his siblings by now—or, worse, what they hadn't; that his little brother would show up at the door and demand to know why he left and Roxas would have to explain.

"Maybe you should—"

The blond froze up a little and his eyes darted in that way that suggested he was wishing for some River to chug down and make everything go away. Far and fast away.

"You should," Axel repeated. Their mouths drew close, but Roxas turned his cheek.

"I can't."


"I can't."

"Then don't!" Axel burst angrily, surprising even himself. "Just stay."

The boy stared at him.

"Kiss me, baby, please."

Roxas's mouth inched closer.

He smiled faintly.

"It matters if I stay?"

"It matters."


"Kiss me, baby."

He did.

"Still afraid?"


Standard Disclaimers.