Memories of Winter
Disclaimer: I don't own KH.
Warning: Gay love, AkuRoku below.
Summary: Were every storm so spice/The value could not be/We buy with contrast - Pang is good/As near as memory - -Emily Dickinson
A/N: Maybe a little too short and dark for Christmas, but w/e... Slow reading speed is recommended - this is a postmodernist fragmented piece.
He stopped his hands. The water was running cold in the bubbles. Outside there was snow everywhere. The kitchen was bright with the December sun. Something felt missing. He couldn't quite figure out what.
Arms snaked up around his torso. He jumped. What is it this time? Another one of the monsters from his nightmares? Will they creep up on him, and drag him to oblivion?
"'Morning, Sunshine." Someone said. He relaxed. It was just Axel. They kissed chastely, and Axel proceeded to the dining table, flipping today's newspaper open. He better hurry up with the dishes and go make breakfast. Why hurry? It's Sunday. They'd have the whole day to themselves. Don't rush, Roxas. Rushing makes your life end faster. That's what they say. Axel thinks so, too, doesn't he?
He looked over to Axel. The newspaper was folded and put away. There was a serenity in those fervently green eyes that pacified him. He would go make breakfast, and then they would spend the rest of the day in each other's company. Maybe even go out and enjoy the nice dry day.
Axel tensed. That wasn't a smart move he made. Another day, another story. No, keep the stories away from Roxas. Wouldn't want to start it again, would he? Fold the stories away, they need to be gone. Don't let your guards down. Tough battle, tough day.
There was snow outside. He didn't like the snow; but Roxas loved it. They would probably spend the afternoon outside throwing snowballs at each other. He always gives Roxas what he wants. He gotta look out for the both of them. Don't repeat that mistake he made then. That was another foolish move. But who was to blame? It happened spontaneously. No, no. Things build up. Remember the saying: even dusts can build up mountains.
Sometimes Roxas felt lost. Like he could be playing snowball fight with Axel one moment, and then the next moment he would be all alone. Cold in the blank white world. Alone; no Axel. Just himself and a stranger. And then a fear would bubble up his heart, as if he forgot something important. Where was he? What was he doing? Where should he go? What's next?
"Roxas, Roxas!" Someone said. And then Axel and the ocean and the sky and everything came back. "Are you okay, baby?"
Axel's hand was warm. The fear subsided and he needed to hug Axel. This was as real as it could get.
Every time he saw Roxas smile, his heart throbs. Oh goodness please make this last forever. Roxas was in particularly good condition today. In fact, Roxas was able to get a snowball flying into his ass. That means he's been eating. Well, of course he's been eating. They had breakfast together. Eating good, fasting bad, like the doctor said.
But it always won't be long before those blue eyes dim to an inattentive gray. No, come on. Come back. Fear stirs in Axel's heart. Gray can't recognize him. Can't lose him now, not again.
"Roxas, Roxas!" He ran up to Roxas. Turn blue. "Are you okay, baby?"
Roxas hugged him. This wasn't something he expected. Don't get your hopes up now. It would be a long way to recovery. He knew it better than anyone else. That day wouldn't come until they both take away what shouldn't be there.
But what happens if you take too much?
He felt uncomfortable. She was staring at him with such eyes.
"Are you okay, Roxas?"
Why is everyone asking him that? Does he look sick? Certainly he couldn't be. Otherwise Axel would tell him.
"Yes, mother." He said. "I'm fine."
Her eyes softened. It reminded him of fifth grade, when he flunked a test. He was frightened then, as he shamefully told her his grade. Her eyes looked just the same: patronizing, protective. Even if he's an adult now. Parents never acknowledge that. Generation to generation; children will remain children in the eyes of the parent.
"Would you like some fruit?"
"Sure." Why not? He walked to the TV room. There was that feeling again. He forgot something. What? Never mind it's not important if I can't remember it.
The television mumbled: " 'And he said, he said, "Jonathan, do you want to redeem your sins? Do you love God?" And I said, "Yes, Father, I do." Then he tells me to take off my clothes, then he, um…' 'So you were unaware that he was sexually abusing you?' 'I… Kind of. In the back of my mind I knew something was wrong. That's why I, you know, tried to kill myself…' "
Sexually abusing. Sexually abusing. "A shocking rape case last night: a young man on his way home from college was attacked by another man and was apparently raped. Police said that the assaulter may have known the victim, and attacked him because of the victim's sexuality. The County Assistant Chief of Police advises that people of all genders should avoid going outdoor at night…" Rape. Rape. Rape. Rape. Raperaperaperaperaperape. Pain. Stop it. No. "You like this don't you you little fucker huh faggot cocksucker how does my cock feel in your ass?" No, no, no, no. Stop, it hurts. Somebody please help me. I can't breathe. Let me go. Let me go. Why who what when how. Why? Why? Why? Dirty. Filthy. Disgusting. You're disgusting.
"Roxas? Roxas? Roxas! Roxas!"
"Axel." Roxas' voice was sweet. He has to be one of the luckiest men alive.
"About what?" He propped his head onto his hand.
"Forgetting." Roxas said. "Sometimes I feel like I forget things. Really important things. Sometimes I feel like I even forget you."
He frowned. This isn't good. How should he deal with this? Can't lead him back to that yet. Roxas isn't ready for it.
"I'll make you remember me." He said. "I promise."
"Really, really promise?"
He smiled. The pendant. Give him the pendant. Roxas' blue eyes glittered at the necklace. He put it around his neck. "There; now you're mine."
And Roxas smiled. They kissed, and fell asleep in each other's arms. It hasn't been that way for a while.
Partly it was his fault. He'd figured that before passing out. Always too damn happy, too damn in love, too damn blissful in front of everyone. He should've known. Gay couples weren't exactly glorious. It's dangerous out there. You could get mugged. You could get attacked. People don't like seeing you together like that. It's unsightly. Obviously he didn't think so. Obviously he underestimated the anger of the people.
But how? How could something like Axel, something so beautiful, be unsightly? He refused to believe it. Was there no room in the world for something that beautiful? Of course not. All the room is already filled up with ugliness. Beauty is a sin here. Beauty is purged here. Don't come near us. You're too beautiful. We're just too ugly. Axel reminds them of how ugly they are.
Laughter. A smile. He was laughing. He was happy, damn it. He has Axel. He was happy. You have nothing, loser. I have Axel. I have the most beautiful thing in the world. And you have nothing! He won.
See. Told you to keep the stories away from him. He'd tried so hard. He'd done everything he could. Not everything. His resolve was thinning; he could feel it. Roxas. Please, don't do this. Don't make it harder. They've worked so hard to get to where they are now. They can't go back. Rewinding would ruin everything. Rewinding would tear them apart.
A nurse came in and asked for someone. Someone to do the procedures. Roxas' mother followed the nurse out the room. He turned back to Roxas. So the anxiety had exploded. What now? Where to go, what to do? Say something, Roxas. Don't sleep.
"Roxas…" He said. Roxas had thinned so much. "Please… don't do this to me. I promise I'll protect you. I promise, so… Hey, Roxas. I love you. Did you know that? I love you. I love you to my death. So, please…"
He kissed Roxas' hand. There was a slight warmth. He has to still be there, somewhere.
He was alone in the snow that day. Flunked another test in calculus. Oh come on Roxas don't be a crybaby you're such a failure get over it and grow up. Too fucking bad. Life's not one straight line you can't just know one thing and move on with it. No you have to know everything and be perfect at everything thing so if you can't do that too fucking bad.
A stranger came around asking if he was okay. No he's not. Can't you tell? But on the lips he'd say Sure I'm fine. Why did he care anyway why would anyone fucking care anyway? The stranger said, "Your eyes look tired."
No shit he was tired. How would you feel if you were living in misery for your whole life, your entire existence? Be nice now, don't snap. Control. Come on you can do it.
"I just… didn't have a very good day." He said.
"Want to tell me about it?" The stranger said. Who are you? People don't go around poking into other people's business. They don't ask you to tell them about your bad day. They don't want to hear about your bad day. They're too busy. Always too busy. Too busy with themselves.
Then he found himself pouring out all his troubles to the stranger. He didn't laugh or anything. He just listened intently. Slow blizzards brushed against his cheeks.
"By the way." He said. "I still don't know who you are."
"Name's Axel." The stranger said.
How it all started – ironically, was when they were debating love itself. It was because another douche was hitting on a girl he just met, and so he brought up the topic of love at first sight. Roxas said he didn't believe in it. He asked why. And that's how it all started.
"You can't just fall in love with someone you don't even know!" Roxas said. "It's infatuation, at the very best. For all you know, that person can be the shallowest girl you've ever seen in life."
"Yeah but that won't be a problem if the man can't even realize that the girl was shallow." He said. "If he was just too fed up with her looks, he wouldn't think twice on her personality."
"Well then that's not love." Roxas said. "Love isn't something you can see. At least I think so. Love is something for you to feel."
"I never knew you were such a romanticist." He said. "…Then again, you were almost crying the first day we met."
"Shut up." Roxas said, embarrassed. He laughed, and then, as if he had done it a million times before, ruffled Roxas' hair affectionately, and kissed his forehead. The impact of shock came a while afterwards. What'd you just do? The blues were ice clear. Fucked up big time. Damn.
"It's okay…" Roxas said. Skin flushing up. How to get out now? You're doing it wrong. Can't possibly mean that. No, no can't possibly be that.
Roxas was the first to push him to the wall. A giant vortex spinning down his head. Can't think straight can't see straight can't even hear straight. Just heat. Go on, move. This feels right this feels just perfect. It's like they've done it before. They haven't. But it feels like it. How long has it been? Oh goodness let's go again. Remembering. They're doing all the remembering.
There was something forgotten. What, Roxas? What have you forgotten again? Damn it what's wrong with your memory? I don't know! Come on let's try it. Forgot something. Forgotten memories. Forgotten victory, forgotten pain.
An altar before him. Chest up atop it. It looked like a chest from where he stood, at least. He walks up to it. It gets longer. Longer. Longer. Now it's a coffin. Big and heavy. Who's inside? Wait no don't open it I don't want to know don't want to see it's too scary too frightening. Hands choke him down onto his knees. No, I don't want to die. Get the key open the coffin jump inside whatever who cares who's inside just get away now! He opened the damn thing. Hands are gone but he is just as terrified. Bruises on the body, the legs, scratches leave raw marks, broken and bare, the hands were bruised too the knuckles scraped, the wrists purple. He worked his eyes up to the face. It is himself. The face swells too with red. The eyes are unclosed they are not dead. He is not dead. Fragile icy blue but they are crying. "Can you hear me? Hey! Wake up!" He shakes the body. No response but a quiet tinkling. He looks down to the hands. They are holding a pendant. A quiet laugh. He looks back up. The face is now smiling. The eyes are tearing but he's smiling. Whispering something. What? Get closer Roxas, I can't hear you.
He woke up on the ground. His head hurts and his arms hurt. He must've fallen from the chair. Not a good idea to sleep in a chair. You fall from it and you make noises and the nurses get mad at you. Don't do it next time. Let's hope there won't be a next time. He didn't wake Roxas up. Still sleeping, peaceful.
He probably should get some coffee. Been running around too much the whole day. Thought maybe for once he could let Roxas have his own day. Get back to his mother and have a nice afternoon talk with her. He feels selfish. He's been keeping Roxas ever since and she rarely had the chance to see her own son. It wasn't right and Roxas probably wanted to spend some time with her anyway. Thought they could enjoy themselves. Too careless. Just didn't think of the possible stimuli.
Time was sucked out of him. Under the gray hospital lights he aged several decades. It had begun snowing again outside.
A jingle of wheels. He lazily turned around. Shock filled him.
"Roxas…" He said. Roxas was holding the IV stand next to him, leaning on the doorframe for support. "What are you doing up?"
"I wondered where you went…" Roxas said. He stood and ushered Roxas back into the room, coffee forgotten on the table.
"Go back to bed. You need some rest." He said.
"I've been resting the whole day." Roxas resisted. His hand clawed at the doorframe. "I've been resting the whole damn months!"
"Hey, hey." He said, hand on Roxas' chin. "Calm down." He looked into the eyes. Clear bright blue. Strong and plain powerful. No way. Hasn't seen those in a while. No way. He's gotta be dreaming. Gotta be still in the chair. Still on the ground. Too good even for a dream.
"I remember, damn it!" Roxas said. "I remember everything."
Oh no. Is that a bad sign? He can't tell anymore. It's been too long. Roxas walked around him and sat. He sat back down next to Roxas. Be careful now. Be very gentle, very delicate.
"I was there." Roxas said. "I was there all along and I was watching you suffer and oh God… What have I done to you?"
He pulled Roxas in and cooed. Forget about how much it burned his heart right now. How could Roxas think it was his fault? The whole thing was wrong – twisted, wicked. Turned up from the inside out.
"Listen." He said. "You didn't do anything to me."
"But I forgot!" Roxas cried. His tears dropped like ices. "I forgot about all of it! I didn't even give you a chance to talk about it. I didn't even let you in. You weren't… You weren't even…"
"Go ahead." He said, knowing the answer. "Go ahead and tell me. What did you do that was so bad?"
"…" Roxas choked in realization, and sobbed again. "… I lived."
That's right. Roxas lived. Roxas lived on for him. That's the terrible thing he did.
His arms were wrapped tightly around Roxas. "Will you be able to live with that, if I told you meeting you was the best thing that happened in my life?"
Friction against his shoulder. He couldn't see it but he could feel it; Roxas nodded.
So everything ended. All the anxiety and the forgetting and the rewinding. All of that have stopped. So what happens now? Who knows. But he was there, with Roxas, under the blinking light of the hospital, layers of snow outside, peace in mind.
A/N: Merry Christmas.