Author's Note: Excuses? Nope. This is just insanely late. I'm sorry.

Eighteen. The Letter


I nearly dropped the phone. "Roxas. What's happened to my Roxas?"

Sora blinked up at me. His thick lashes hid the horror that flashed in his eyes. It took a moment before I realized that the person on the other end of the line was saying something.

"Hospital," someone was saying in the background. "We need to get to the hospital." I think it may have been Demyx, or possibly Namine. My brain couldn't process any difference between the two right now.

My vision blurred just a slight bit, blending the trees and sky and grass together, so everything looked like black sky. Sora's hand was on my elbow, and his friend Kairi had my other arm. Riku's arm slid around my waist, and I wondered what he was doing, with Sora watching and all. Then I realized it didn't matter, since Roxas was dying. Dead.

Roxas was dead.


I felt the jarring movement of someone shifting gears, and Sora was pulling out of a parking lot I didn't know we'd been in. Sora was the one talking to me.

"Axel, what the hell?" he said, racing out of the lot and spraying gravel from behind the tires. "Nobody's dead. For god sakes, get a grip."

"You leave him alone," Riku said, his arm still around my waist. "He's having a nervous breakdown. He loves Roxas, Sora. It's hard on him."

"Oh yes," Sora said, rolling his eyes at the rearview mirror. "Because I'm what, important to Roxas because we trade sandwiches at lunchtime? I'm related to him, you know. We're fucking twins. I've known Roxas for more days than Axel has been sober."

"Not like that's many," Riku mumbled from underneath my arm.

I slumped downward in my seat, and sudden anger overwhelmed me. "Fuck off. If you can't take us to the hospital in a safe manner, we're all going to be dead. You just ran another stoplight, Sora. Weren't you the one saying nobody's fucking dying?" I paused and leaned against Riku's shoulder again, breathing in his clean smell. "Fuck."

Sora's car screeched to a stop in one of the handicap spots. Kairi mumbled something about it being illegal as she hopped out of the car and opened the door for Riku. Sora said something about me being handicapped, since Riku had to carry me to the car, and he was probably going to have to carry me into the hospital, and wasn't it good I was so skinny from all that coke I had snorted when I was younger?

I didn't say anything. I hadn't seen Sora ever this angry before. Maybe he blamed me, as though it was my fault, since I'd thrown Roxas into a rage he hadn't come out of. Roxas hadn't been right to drive in his mind-state. Now he wasn't right for anything.

Riku dragged me upright, but I was so much taller than him that my feet dragged me on the pavement. Riku set me down, and then someone else was at my shoulder.

Kairi knelt down next to me and put a cool hand on my forehead. "Axel? Can you walk?" She said it in a way that was not condemning or chiding, but merely concerned. She certainly didn't see the need for the drama or the long, drawn out arguments. Kairi just wanted us to all get inside to see Roxas.

Here. This is a friend.

I rose to my feet and stood as steadily as I could manage. Kairi handed me a tissue, and I wiped away blue streaks from my eyes. Stupid Manscara. She put a hand on the back of my neck and I slipped my arm around my shoulders. There. Like brother and sister.

The doors swooshed open, and Sora and Riku demanded to see Roxas. The secretary typed something into the computer and told us he was in the ER on the first floor, left wing. We took off down the hallway, Sora in first, followed by a worried Riku, and Kairi and I trailing in last like weary contestants in a three-legged race.

The ugly plastic chairs in the ER waiting room were nearly full by the time we arrived. Sitting there were Olette, Namine, and the others from the party, including Demyx and Zexion. I didn't know how they'd all managed to get to the hospital before us, but I was glad they were here.

Kairi dropped down into the empty chair next to Demyx, and I took a seat at his feet. Zexion reached down and ruffled my hair. "It's going to be fine," he said, though his voice never made it sound like anything was going to be fine at all.

Demyx put a hand on each of my shoulders and gave them a squeeze. "Cheer up. They said Roxas' injuries aren't terribly fatal, so he'll just be a little incapacitated for a while." He opened his mouth and began to sing. "I see you…you beauuuuutiful thing…"

"No," Riku said, pointing a finger at him. "You are to never sing that song again. It's an abomination to the world of music."

"Why?" Kairi said. "I like that song."

I groaned, because I knew what Riku was going to say next. He'd said we wouldn't talk about this until later, with Roxas. None of these people needed to know yet.

"It's an abomination," Riku said, "because…" He paused here, mostly for effect, but also to delay the answer he knew he had to give. "Because…"

"Because I wrote it, okay?" I yelled. Everyone jumped a little. I was sick of all this stupid dancing around. Didn't famous people ever get to take credit without regretting anything? "I wrote it a few years ago, and now it's the song for every stupid romantic comedy in history. Now if you'll excuse me, let's focus our attention back to Roxas."

"Why? It's just chat to pass the time," Kairi said.

"No. Axel's right. We should wait for Roxas." Riku ran his hands through his hair. "Hey," he said, partly to Sora but mostly to the floor. "Do we even know what happened, anyway?"

"There was an accident," Olette said softly. I blinked up, and finally saw her for what she was: scared. Not a Roxas-stealing whore. Just a sad, scared little high school girl. "Roxas…he tried to swerve, but this guy just came out of nowhere…I mean, we had a green light and everything, and next I know the seat is pushed out from underneath me, and Roxas had some window glass stuck in his arm, and burns on his face…I was scared. And then someone was yelling, and Roxas was completely out of it, because he was saying stuff that made no sense, and then some ambulances showed up, and they fixed the cut on my head, and they took Roxas on a stretcher." She paused and let out a long, heaving sigh. "They were just about to ask me something else; I think it might've been about what happened, when Roxas' phone rang. And then he did the funniest thing. Roxas…wrinkled his nose up and made a real frustrated face. And then he said something like 'I'm not getting that'." She laughed as she imitated his facial expression. "And then…they brought us here," she finished lamely.

"Figures," I said. "Roxy, stubborn with me even while delusional."

"Sooooo," Seifer said from across the room, trying to delay the inevitable awkward silence. "Sex tape, is that right?"

I watched as Sora blushed furiously and Riku tried to look stunned. It wasn't really working for them either way. Even I had known they'd done it, but I still couldn't see Sora as anything but a virgin. He was too naïve to be anything else.

"Press will be hell," Riku said. "Especially when they hear I visited the hospital, too. You watch. Tomorrow, The Continental Undercover will be saying I gave Sora herpes."

"But sweetie, you did give me herpes," Sora said, laying his hand on Riku's thigh and batting his lashes up at him. "You gave me herpes and I liked it."

"Sora," Kairi said. "I think you're getting herpes mixed up with hickeys."

"Or he's being an idiot," Riku said, putting his hand on top of Sora's.

"But a loveable idiot," Sora added, giving Riku's thigh a visible squeeze. "Admit it, Riku. You looooove me."

Riku sighed and pulled Sora over the armrests between their chairs and into his lap. He laid Sora's head against the hollow of his throat and laid back against the chair like he was in bliss, closing his eyes.

"I'll deal with you later," he said quietly.

I closed my eyes and leaned back against Demyx's legs. Stupid lovers, everywhere, and not a Roxy to drink. I wanted to see him. I wanted to tell him that he was an idiot for not being more careful or something, and that he was never allowed to leave my side again. And, sick as it made me to say it, I really wanted to fuck him silly.

The light above the emergency room doors shut off, and someone stepped out. He was a doctor, it seemed, all clad in white with a white mask hanging just below his chin. "Which one of you is related to the boy?" he asked.

Sora jumped up from his chair. "Oh, that's me. I'm his brother, Sora."

"Sora?" the doctor flipped through a pile of papers he was holding. "Oh, Sora. Yes, here you are. Says you're twins?"

"I'm the older one," Sora said.

I leaned back against hard wood and cold, shiny vinyl. Figures. I had to be a pedophile with the younger twin. And a pedo. Me. Lord, it wasn't the first time, but it sucked like hell. Was there some sort of doom that cursed me to fall in love with younger men?

And, just when I though this situation couldn't any worse or more complicated: Sephiroth. He was there, dressed in something black and tight, standing over a half-asleep Riku. But then again, Seph was always there. He was never appropriate, in time or clothing choices. Stupid ex-best friend. Stupid happiness-stealer. Stupid bastard I missed so much that I had to use his younger brother to fill whatever it was he had taken up.

He put a hand on Riku's shoulder. "Hey," he said, giving Riku a gentle shake. "I thought you'd be here when I heard about the accident on the news. You okay?"

Riku slowly opened his eyes and squinted, probably because the fluorescent hospital lights were glaring directly into his eyes.

I stood up and crossed in front of Riku's chair. "What are you doing here?"

"You're in this too?" Seph said. "Figures. Kid can't get into some sort fiasco without you."

"Hey. I thought we agreed you weren't mad at me anymore."

"No," he said. "I'm not mad at you for that anymore. Now I'm just mad at you for this."

"Oh, yeah," I grumbled. "That makes perfect sense, since this is so obviously my fault."

"You are the reason Roxas drove off in a rage," Sora said from somewhere behind me. "If we really wanted to, we could say this is your fault."

"Shut up, virgin. Nobody asked you."

"I'm not a virgin!" Sora yelled.

The woman at the reception desk gave a small gasp as she shuffled papers, and I swore the doctor backed a little further away from Sora.

"I mean um…crap. No, Mr. Sephiroth, I didn't really!" Sora cocked an eyebrow, and a bit of realization came to him. "Uh, Mr. Sephiroth, why are you here?"

"He's here for me," Riku said tiredly from his chair. "He's my brother."

And, like we should have expected, Sora panicked, Kairi and Namine read the month-old copies of Starlet magazine on the coffee table without much interest, and the doctor tried to tell us we could go back and visit Roxas.

I was the only one who heard him.

While Sora and Riku were still having a battle of why-didn't-you-tell-me's and you-never-asked's, I snuck down the hallway. Roxas was sleeping, and there were cloths on his head and a needle in his arm.

To this day, needles always brought that acid into my throat. They made me sick, thinking of getting high and shivering. I pulled up a chair and stared at his face, just to try and get the needle out of my head. But his face was painful, too.

His clothes were folded in neat pile on the nightstand. It made me smile, and I looked at the names of his nurses on the whiteboard. They had plain names, names I'd forget in a few hours.

I picked up the whiteboard marker and wrote 'Thank You' underneath their untidy scrawls. Nurses were like mothers, I decided. They did way too much and didn't get paid enough.

And then there was something white in the pocket of Roxas' jeans. An envelope, with my name on it. And inside there was a letter addressed to me. It made me think back to that first letter, the one I'd thrown away. I'd met him anyways, and still fallen in love with him even though I hadn't known anything about him. That letter had been unnecessary. Just like this one. I put it back without reading it.

I already knew what it said.