Xiana: This is a short and hopefully funny one-shot that I wrote for SetsuntaMew based on something in her awesome story Camp Friendship. A full explanation will be at the bottom.
Disclaimer: I do not own this, and the definitions are based off of my dictionary.
achluophobia (¦ak·lü·ə′fōb·ē·ə) n. An abnormal fear of darkness or the night.
Not Quite Achluophobia
When most people looked at Roxas on any given day, they didn't see anything that would define him as abnormal. Actually, Roxas was quite easy to classify: a good Christian boy dressed up before church, a skater coming home from the skate park with skinned knees, a crooked helmet on his head, and a board tucked beneath his arm, a well-mannered young man when he held doors open for the elderly, a thoroughly bad apple when he distracted a store clerk just long enough for a friend to get away with some "liberated" merchandise. He was a good student and "A Pleasure to Have in Class" each morning when he entered school with his hair flattened down neatly and his uniform pressed and clean; he was a delinquent at lunch and after school when he lounged unconcernedly on school property, with a loosened collar and a dangling tie matching newly untamed hair and a rebellious attitude. Roxas was an average student, maintaining A's in Gym, Photography, and Biology (he was strangely good at dissections, and very enthusiastic about cutting random dead animals apart), struggling through geometry with a C, and averaging B's in the rest of his classes. He was never a particular troublemaker, and his teachers never needed to pay more than perfunctory attention to him. He had a wide circle of acquaintances, and a small group of close friends.
Of these friends, only two knew that Roxas was anything more than an ordinary teenage boy. Naturally, Axel and Demyx never passed up an opportunity to mock him for it. This is where our story truly begins.
"Roxas, you have such a weird obsession." Axel commented from where he sat on his bed.
Demyx agreed. "Honestly, you don't even make sense sometimes," he said, spinning around on a swivel chair.
"Well, what about you guys?" Roxas demanded from his place on the floor. "You've got your own problems as well! Axel, you can't stop lighting things on fire, and Demyx, you practically breathe water!"
"Well, what do you expect? His dad's a professional scuba diver and his mom's a flippin' dolphin trainer at Sea World! The kid could swim before he could walk! Why do you think he feels more comfortable around good old H2O?" Axel asked, turning knowing green eyes on Roxas.
"And what about you? You expect me to believe that there's a reason for your psychotic fire fetish? You can't play the parental influence card this time," Roxas said, conceding Axel's point about Demyx.
"And why not, Roxas?"
"Neither of your parents is even remotely involved with explosives or fire of any sort. Your mother's a caterer and your dad's an accountant. Accounting is about as far from combustion as you can get."
"That's true enough, but one time, at a wedding, some hors d'oeuvres spontaneously combusted and the bride's dress caught on fire. And one Thanksgiving, Mum brought out the turkey and it was actually on fire when she lifted the lid off the tray," Axel recalled.
"Axel, you lit that turkey on fire, remember?" Demyx chimed in. "That was the year we all ate together, and my mom put the fire out with a bucket full of fish she brought to show Roxas' aunt Lulu what dolphins eat."
"The food tasted so weird that year… I don't think that I would like to be a dolphin…." Roxas reminisced before getting back to the original topic. "So then, Axel, what's your excuse?"
Axel shrugged before pulling a purloined lighter out of his pocket and flicking it on and off. "No excuses here. I'm guilty as charged. But you know, at least they have a word for me. I'm one of the normal messed-up people. You, Roxas, are just one of the really, really, really screwed-up people. Me, I'm a pyromaniac, and damn proud." He paused and stared into the glowing red flame. "And what are you, Roxas? I just don't know."
"Definitely not normal." Demyx asserted.
"What's so weird about it?" Roxas shouted. "I'm no weirder than some of the other kids we hang out with! Larxene runs around electrocuting people, Marluxia spends all day in his happy little flower garden, Saïx stares at the moon all night and I could swear he howls at it, and Ansem/Xehanort/Xemnas has so many personalities I don't know where he gets the time to come up with lines like 'Darkness is the heart's true essence' or do research on the top-secret doomsday device, codename 'Kingdom Hearts,' which he swears will either destroy the world or 'finally be able to make us whole again.' Even my own brother wears pants so big that you could shove two elephants up them and still have room for Zexion to sit comfortably and read the longest, most intensely boring book on the face of the planet when he's not bashing some poor soul over the head with it. And the shoes! Don't even get me started on the shoes!"
"I try not to if at all possible," Axel murmured tactfully.
Demyx defended the others. "Yeah, they're messed up. But at least they realize it! Even Ansem/Xehanort/Xemnas knows! That's why he goes to counseling each Tuesday and Thursday afternoon instead of hanging out with us. And your brother changed, remember? His shoes got smaller and his pants got… less spacious."
"Yeah, but now he's obsessed with Riku," Roxas said sadly.
It was at this point that Axel grabbed the keys to his truck and pulled Roxas away. "Hey, Roxas, I think we need to calm you down just a bit. Sorry to ditch you like this, Dem, but you know how Roxas gets sometimes. You're welcome to stay for dinner if you want." Demyx nodded with a smile. Roxas certainly did get worked up about matters a lot of the time, and Axel certainly knew how to calm him down. "How about we go down to the Home Depot and I let you relax there for a while?"
"Okay." A spark caught in a sapphire eye, and Roxas buckled himself in safely so that Axel could drive maniacally through the streets, breaking every available speed limit and occasionally driving up onto the sidewalk (Axel called it "off-road") to avoid a red light or so as not to be stuck behind a line of cars (Axel always said that it was easier to plow through flesh than metal, and if people were going to die anyway, they might as well die with the least amount of damage to his vehicle. Roxas was never quite sure whether or not to believe this, though they had had quite a few close calls with old ladies that hadn't quite been able to dive out of the way in time, and Axel had actually driven over a car that was taking too long to turn right, monster-truck-style, and later moaned about how it had scratched his paint.).
Axel's driving wasn't the reason that Roxas jumped out of the car and ran frantically into the building as soon as they arrived. Axel drove over to the nearby bookstore to enjoy a latte and a book of early Victorian poetry while he waited. After about ten minutes, he determined that Roxas had had enough time, and went inside the hardware store to find Roxas.
Roxas was standing in the middle of home furnishings, as he always was, gazing at the various light fixtures, each one filled with the celestial glow of a miniature sun blazing gloriously within the contained sphere of a light bulb. Axel tapped him on the shoulder and pulled him gently away, though he was sometimes forced to fling him over his shoulder and haul him out unceremoniously in order to break his glazed focus on the gleaming filaments.
Once they were back in the cab of the truck, Roxas snapped out of his light-induced trance. Then he started crying.
"A-Axel, am I r-really so weird? I-is it so strange to look up at the f-fluorescent lights on the ceiling instead of p-paying attention in class?"
"No, you're fine, Roxas. No one ever wants to pay attention in class, and you just choose not to some of the time."
"B-but, I like Christmas not because of all the gifts, and not because of Santa and over-commercialization, but because e-everyone in my neighborhood puts up thousands of Christmas lights that stay on the entire night, filling my house with pure energy. And that's not strange?"
"A little strange, but I guess it still makes sense."
"What about the fact that the only thing that calms me down is going to a big store where they have rows and rows of glistening, glimmering light bulbs that cast their pure, beautiful light on me? What about the fact that I sometimes stare directly into the sun, reveling in its glow until I go temporarily blind? What about the fact that every single employee in that store thinks I'm stoned out of my mind every time I go in there? I can go on if you want me to."
"Well, Roxas, you're just… Roxas. That's who you are. Me, I'd be perfectly happy lighting things on fire for the rest of my life. You'd probably be happy wasting all of Larxene's precious electricity and all the tungsten on the planet to fill every particle of the Earth with your light." Axel remained positive and eventually took Roxas back to his house to get some ice cream.
Roxas was unwilling to drop the subject. "Well, what the hell is wrong with me then? Am I just scared of the dark?"
"What? What's that supposed to mean?"
"Fear of the night, or of darkness. I guess it's sort of a common problem. Don't think I haven't done my research."
"I don't think that's what I have, though."
"That's true, I guess. In all the years I've known you, you've always had a night light in your room, but you never freak out or scream or anything when you spend the night at my house. Although you did jump into my bed that one night and try to, well, snuggle with me or something."
"I did not! Oh… Wait… Yes, yes I did do that. But I was drunk that night. It was the pie."
"Pie isn't alcoholic, Roxas."
"It is when your crazy uncle dumps half a bottle of vodka over it."
"…Duly noted. Well, maybe you just remember something from your past life or something. Maybe in some other world, you were a great hero, and your element was light."
"That's about as likely as us being best friends in this alternate reality of yours before I ran away all emo-like and made you cry, and then we were reunited but I didn't remember you, and we dueled and naturally I beat you so you ran away and cried again, and eventually I got recombined into my brother's body (because all of us were probably on the same alternate plane exactly the way we are now), and in the end you probably died and I never saw you again. Oh, and we probably didn't have hearts either."
"Yeah, I guess you're right. It does seem kind of farfetched, huh? In that case, maybe you… evolved from a moth."
"I prefer your reincarnation story. Moths are creepy."
"Yeah, but they burn well."
"…Anyway, I don't think I have ambulophobia or whatever."
"Achluophobia. Ambulophobia is the fear of walking. Anyway, maybe what you have is some sort of philia?" Noting Roxas' look of confusion, Axel swallowed the last of his ice cream and continued. "Like… necrophilia."
This time, the look Roxas gave Axel was one more of disgust. "Okay, okay, that was a bad example," Axel admitted, "but it's Greek or Latin or something for 'a strong liking or affinity for.' The word for light is photo, so… photophilia?"
"Not quite achluophobia, more like photophilia. Axel, I believe we have just invented a new psychological disorder."
"I believe we have, Roxas. And it's your psychological disorder."
Photophilia ("fOt-&-'fil- ē·ə) n. Being strongly attracted to or thriving in light.
Xiana: Well, I hope you liked it!
Explanation of how this came about: In chapter 7 of Camp Friendship, Roxas mentions that he's drawn to an element (light, of course). In my review, I said "Yep, that Roxas is always drawn to light. I can just picture him now, going to... WalMart or something and just staring at the rows and rows of beautiful light bulbs..." In her review reply, she said, "Yes! Roxas and his little light attraction. Oh my gosh, I now have a mental image of Roxas going to WalMart and buying all the light bulbs and Christmas lights. Oh dear, now I'm going to end up writing a crack fic about that. It's going to amuse me all day, thank you :D"
So, Setsunta, now you don't have to write a crack fic. I wrote it for you. I may not have been reviewer number 100, but I'm still special. I hope you enjoyed it.