Sanctuary

His essence was slowly fading, the darkness that lent itself to his form dissipating in wisps of smoke. Sora watched, confused and alarmed and disoriented at the fact that they were suddenly alone, all of their opposition wiped away in a blaze of flames. And now the redhead was paying for it. "Axel, you're...you're fading away."

Axel looked at him, raising his hands in front of his face as he watched them slowly lose form. He let out a bitter chuckle. "Well, that's what happens when you put your entire being into an attack. You know what I mean?"

Sora didn't know why he suddenly felt so lost. This man was his enemy, part of the group that was damaging their world and yet watching him slowly disappear was making something inside of Sora hurt. Hurt with an intensity that he'd never felt before, hurt with the knowledge that once Axel was gone he would never be whole again. And hurt by the fact that he didn't understand why. "Axel, you can't leave. There has to be some way for you to stay...you could fight with me, against XIII...and...and..." He put a hand on the man's fading arm.

"Think I'll pass," the redhead laughed weakly. "My heart just wouldn't be in it, you know? Not that I've got one, or anything, but I digress."

"Maybe—maybe I shouldn't be here—maybe I should go—" Sora moved to stand up, feeling guilty that he couldn't do anything for Axel. He was making it worse, he obviously wasn't what the redhead needed, he should let the man die in peace—

A hand shot out, grabbing his arm.

Startled, Sora stared at the quivering fingers where he ended and Axel began, a warm feeling spreading from that spot and through his body like hot chocolate on a winter evening. He was so confused, he didn't know why he was feeling this way and why something inside of him was telling him, begging him to touch the redhead. "Axel, what were you trying to do?"

There was a sudden sadness in the man's eyes then, and his grip on Sora tightened, drawing the brunette near again. "I wanted to see Roxas," he admitted, his voice quiet. "He...was the only one I liked."

His heartbeat quickened. Roxas...was inside of him.

"He made me feel...like I had a heart."

So then whose feelings are these?

Roxas'?

...mine?

"Axel—"

"It's kinda funny," Axel whispered, softly tugging on Sora's arm until they were close socloseohgodwhyarewethisclose the breadth of a hair away a single quiver and they would be kissing roxas why are you making me feel this way

"You make me feel...the same..."

Sora idly wondered, as trembling arms encircled his body and his eyes slipped shut, who Axel was thinking of. He held two pairs of sapphire eyes, a shy glance and a changed alliance, a mind and a half in a single body. There was another spirit within the brunette, a person that never had a right to be had crash landed into Sora's life and changed Sora's world forever. And Axel wanted...that spirit? Its keeper?

The brunette didn't know.

Axel's mouth moved with his, a vanishing hand cradling the back of his head and suddenly, he was in Axel's lap, his hand in Axel's hair and Axel was all he knew axel axel axel axel axel

Roxas?

Sora.

"Maybe I shouldn't have done that."

Sora's lips were swollen, his face was flushed, and his shorts were becoming unbearably tight. It was a great feeling. "No, I didn't mind—it felt...nice."

"That's not the point, Sora." Gently, the man nudged Sora off his lap, and the brunette clambered off, cheeks burning. "I know where Roxas is. And I guess I'm not being very fair...to either of you."

And with those words, he could sense the redhead pulling away, sadness and regret taking him over and bringing death closer, faster, like a rushing train. He grabbed the redhead's arm and held on, afraid that it would disappear and Axel would never know—he needed to make the man understand something that he barely understood himself, needed him to go to Oblivion knowing that he hadn't left a broken soul behind. "Axel—"

"No, I shouldn't have kissed you." Sora was surprised to see tears welling up in those green eyes, though Axel fought not to let them fall. "I care about him, and I kissed someone else...why did he have to leave me?"

Things were slowly becoming clear to Sora. Why he felt so strongly about someone he'd only just met, the hurt that he couldn't seem to shake, the urges to touch that he knew couldn't have come from him. It was Roxas. Roxas wasn't just someone living inside of him—in a way, he was Sora. He was Sora's darker side, the half of him that he'd never gotten a change to explore. The half...that belonged to Axel.

"Roxas is a part of me, Axel," he said running his fingers through the dying man's hair. "We may not look alike, but we are each half of the same person...I know that now."

"What do you mean?"

"He wasn't complete, Axel. His life...it was all a lie. Everyone lied to him...he just needed to be whole again, even if he didn't fully realize it."

"Sora, I..."

"Roxas cared about you, Axel," Sora said firmly. "He still does. And I do too...if that means anything."

Sora felt another blush heat up his face as the redhead kissed him again, softly, relief and happiness evident in his eyes. "It does."

Hand violently shaking, the man opened a portal to the World That Never Was. Surprised, Sora turned to stare at him. He hadn't been expecting that. "Kairi's in the castle dungeon. Now, go."

The brunette turned his head away, not wanting to watch his friend and...lover die. A single tear fell into nothingness as Oblivion finally took Axel, his whisper of "I love you" carrying on the gentle wind.

"I love you too, Axel..."

He sat on the ground next to where Axel had lain for long minutes, staring into the pulsing black portal and knowing what he had to do. Axel's touch still tingled on his lips and he touched them gently, a pang of sadness welling up inside of him.

I wish I had gotten to know you better, Axel.

His Nobody's voice came like a soft echo in his mind. You knew him, Sora.

You knew him too.

A glint of silver caught his eye as he stood up to leave. Picking it up, a tender smile graced his face as a tiny chakram on a chain dangled from his fingers, the ruby, onyx and diamond that made up the replica giving off thousands of rainbows. Smiling, he clasped the keychain around his neck, feeling the surprisingly warm metal settle pleasantly in the hollow of his throat. I didn't think metal would be this warm...

Calling his Keyblade to his hand, he turned to leave, walking to the portal's threshold. A single thought crossed his mind as he entered the blackness, leaving his past behind him and starting a new adventure.

I didn't know you very well, but Roxas did, and we'll miss you. Thank you for saving me. And thank you for helping...us understand what we are.

Goodbye.

fin