Summary: His life had always been perfect, or at least so Roxas had liked to think. But overcoming his own fears for someone else isn't as easy as it seems. When both his own and his lover's past threatens their unstable relationship, Roxas has to face the truth: His life was far from perfect. But at least it was better than Axel's.

Warnings: Hu. Well. There's the unbearable angst. Mentioning of rape and attempted suicide. Oh, and a bit more angst. And... uh...sexual activities between two guys. Frot, to be exact.

Oh, come on! You all know the rating of this story! M = Mature = Not allowed for kiddies younger than 16 years. So, if you are younger than 16, stop reading right now! Well, I gave you a fair warning, and now you can go on and ignore it. I believe there are 14-year-olds out there who write more explicit porn than I would ever dare to anyway.

Pairings: AkuRoku main, RikuxSora, ZexionxDemyx side pairings. Mentioning of Cleon.

Disclaimer: Don't I wish!

Chapter Dedication: OF COURSE! My amazing beta kurosora1984, who somehow manages to reply to my emails at FUCKING LIGHTNING SPEED! Who is the BETTER WRITER, and STILL fawns over me like I'm the fucking Queen of all that is fanfiction! Who owns, uh, half of my fucking SOUL! I love you so much, darling, and I highly doubt I would still be updating anything if it wasn't for you!

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaand I dedicate this to Kuraieshi/Memorialfire as well, because her art owns the other half of my soul. Period.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaand also to Sokken, for that gorgeous piece of fanart - the link to it is in my profile, so please take a look at it and try not to die of sheer awesome!

Thanks to: Everybody who reviewed, faved, alerted, and read the story so far. Everybody who worried I would not update anymore. Everybody who did not lose faith I would update one day. Everybody who still reads this, despite me neglecting the story for... what? One and a half year? (I do not count the Interludes, because nothing actually new happened in those.) Many readers probably gave up already, but thank you to everyone who did not and is now reading this.

Shoo! Read! You waited damn long enough!

Perfect Match – Chapter 24


Oh God… Too bright, too bright, the light, it burned even through Roxas' closed eyelids, like acid etching its way through his brain. He groaned again, tried to move, but his arms and legs were tangled up in the sheets. His eyes fluttered open, but he quickly closed them again when bright sunlight almost blinded him.

He ripped his hands free and covered his eyes, moaning as a horrible headache attacked him without a warning. It felt like a red-hot pole was being driven through his skull, right behind his eyes, and instinctively Roxas tried to curl up, rolling onto his side.

Stiffly he reached down and untangled the sheets around his legs, shoving them off the bed. He turned his head to the side, buried his face halfway in the pillow. Still shielding his eyes with one hand he opened them again, groaning softly when the bright light inside his room caused his headache to recur with full force. Trying to calm his breathing he bit his lip, glancing around the room.

Nothing out of the ordinary. It was just a bit strange to see his room in bright daylight when everything should have looked gloomy and gray, and full of whispering shadows. Everything did look a bit fuzzy, but that could have been because he had just woken up. How long had he slept anyway? What day was it?

He closed his eyes again and sighed, rubbing the side of his face against the pillow… mmmm, so soft and inviting, luring him into a light slumber once more, smelling so sweet of cinnam-…

Wait a second!

That scent! The scent that was clinging to the fabric beneath his head, sweet and spicy and so familiar… He knew that scent! Cinnamon and caramel, a bit like burnt sugar…

He shot up with a loud scream, which turned into a pained groan when his head protested against the sudden movement with a throbbing ache. Ugh. Even his eyes felt like they were pulsating.

Oh God… Why did his head hurt so much? Probably because of all the crying and screaming he had done… Come to think of it, his throat was feeling quite raw too. Heh. He had probably overdone it a little.

His eyes were still squeezed shut, his hands were still buried in his hair, and even though the pain lessened after a while, he didn't want to open his eyes anymore.

He remembered… He remembered his dream, his wonderful, horrible dream, in which Axel had come to rescue him, had called him 'Sunshine'… He remembered it so clearly as if it had been real, but if he opened his eyes now… If he opened his eyes and nobody was inside his room… If he opened his eyes and realized the faint scent that had woken him so effectively just had been a remainder of his maddening, agonizing dreams, he would probably go crazy.

He wanted to go back to sleep, he wanted to dream again… he wanted to dream again and never wake up. But he was wide awake now, he knew. He couldn't escape reality any longer. With a deep sigh he let his hands drop to his lap, staring down at them for a moment longer. Just a minute longer. He didn't want to look up and see his cold, empty room yet…

He looked up slowly, feeling his heartbeat speed up slightly. Stupid, useless thing. Why was it beating faster? He knew Axel wouldn't really be there. And really, when he finally dared to open his eyes and look around his room properly, it was empty. No sign of Axel anywhere. His only company were the faceless creatures on the wall, frozen in time while jumping from shelf to shelf. Roxas shivered when his eyes fell on them and quickly looked away.

He sighed and laid his head back, stared up to the ceiling while his cold hands started to rub his arms. It was supposed to be a soothing, calming gesture, but almost instantly he felt tears burn behind his eyes. Because the hands caressing him were not supposed to be his own, but slightly thinner, warmer ones, and a gentle voice should whisper to him; that Axel forgave him, that Axel would stay with him, that Axel loved him… Just like in his dream, his vision, whatever it had been.

Only then a tiny little detail decided to settle inside his mind. A detail he had overlooked when his tired eyes had roamed his empty room.

Shoes. Shoes standing right next to his couch near the window. Very familiar, heavy looking leather boots, which definitely didn't belong to him. And a dark green, hooded jacket, thrown over the backrest of the couch and seemingly forgotten there, just as familiar as those shoes and yet not belonging in his room. He didn't wear jackets like this one; thin, long-sleeved shirts or sweaters or hoodies and sleeveless vests at the most, because the weather on Destiny Islands was very warm at this time of year already, and didn't get cold in winter at all. And green wasn't his color anyway. But he knew someone… someone who liked leather boots and didn't seem to mind warm clothing, someone who made the color green so painfully irresistible

Roxas' head whipped around, and all he could see was dull black and dark green… before the next detail decided to punch him in the face.

Red. Something red. Outside the glass doors. The sheer, see-through drapes next to the glass doors were moving ever so slightly, swaying gently because the doors were open, only a little, only a crack; they always were, because Roxas never thought that anyone could get into his room this way, no-one would be crazy enough to climb the house just to get into his room… right?

Oh, but he knew one person who already had proven his insanity once, who had climbed the house just to get to him, to Roxas; the same person who liked heavy boots and too warm clothes and who made the color green the most desirable color there was, because green was the color of his beautiful, beautiful eyes, those eyes that had looked at Roxas so tenderly once... Mere days ago, an eternity ago, it didn't make a difference to Roxas anymore, because there was no way the owner of those gorgeous eyes would ever look at him like that again.

But now… He could see something red outside, on his balcony. Balcony. The one Axel had climbed up to get to him once, weeks ago, and again in his dream the night before. And now there was something red, unnaturally red, fire-engine red, he could see it, even if barely within his range of vision…

His eyes wandered up, and he couldn't stop them from doing so.

They met bright emerald green, and Roxas felt all blood drain from his face.

Axel was sitting on the railing, pale and beautiful as ever; every red strand of hair, every angle of his face, the black upside-down teardrops under his eyes were just like Roxas remembered, but his bright eyes seemed dull, slightly reddened, and so, so tired. He was obviously watching Roxas; his face was blank, disinterested almost, when he raised his hand to his lips to take a drag from the cigarette he was holding between two long fingers. When he realized Roxas had noticed him he smiled; a thin, wary smile, sad and melancholic, but a smile nonetheless. But his smile was so wistful, and his eyes were so jaded, and they would never be filled with love and happiness again, and it was Roxas' fault, his fault, his fault…

"Oh God…" Roxas groaned, wincing when his own, raspy voice reached his ears. No, no, nononono, this wasn't supposed to happen! Axel… Axel couldn't be here!

Was he still dreaming? Was this a nightmare? It had to be, it had to; it had to be if he wanted to stay sane, it had to be a nightmare, and he wanted to wake up so badly, and when he woke up, his room would be empty, just like it was supposed to be!

Axel slowly slid from the railing and flicked the cigarette away, never breaking eye-contact. He only looked down when he opened the glass doors to slink into the room, turning around to close them and resting his forehead against the glass with a quiet sigh.

Roxas quickly crawled back as far as he could, whining softly when he felt his back bump against the headboard of his bed. He couldn't take his eyes off Axel, who slowly turned his head to glance at him when he heard Roxas move; he wanted to, oh how much he wanted to just look away, but his eyes just wouldn't move. Nightmare, nightmare, it had to be a nightmare, yes, because he had no control whatsoever over his scratchy, burning eyes.

"You're not real!" Roxas rasped out, fisting both hands in his sheets. "You're not real! I'm dreaming! You're not him! You're not here!"

A frown slowly made its way to Axel's face, and only now Roxas managed to tear his gaze away from the terrifying, gorgeous vision of the boy Roxas had loved so much; the boy who had been his boyfriend, who had trusted him, who loathed him now. He looked down, curled up on the bed and raised his hands to lay them around his torso; he felt his whole body starting to shiver and his mouth run dry, as panic suddenly clutched his fast beating heart in an icy grip.

"You're not here," Roxas repeated, clearly hearing the note of hysteria in his voice, but in no condition to care about it. "I'm dreaming! He's not here, you're not real! You're just a nightmare!"

No, no more nightmares, he couldn't stand more nightmares… The young man standing over there had to be a dream, an illusion his mind had made up to hurt him even more, because he deserved to be hurt, deserved to be hurt so much more, because he was filthy, dirty, a liar, a cheater, a monster…

"Roxas," Axel said; God, even his voice sounded real and so wonderful in Roxas' ears, but it wasn't real, he wasn't real, Axel was not

"Go away!" he shouted, pressing his hands against his ears and squeezing his eyes shut; he didn't want to hear it, he didn't want to see it, no more nightmares, no more, no more…

He screamed when a hand grabbed his wrist and pulled it away rather roughly; he screamed and pulled back, but the firm grip around his arm only tightened.

"Go away!" he yelled shrilly, tried to break free, tried to fight against the nightmare.

"Stop it, Roxas!" the voice, Axel's voice, Axel's beautiful voice exclaimed loudly; he sounded angry, Roxas noted, and he screamed again, scared out of his mind.

He couldn't take more nightmares… He couldn't take more heartbreak… He couldn't take Axel looking at him again, so hurt, so betrayed, so disgusted

"Who are you?"

"I'm so goddamn tired of your fucking lies!"

"I trusted you!"

He ignored the searing pain in his throat and cried out again, blindly trying to struggle against this… this thing holding him; he kicked at it and felt it block his legs quickly, a hand now closing around his ankle too, and he raised his free hand and lashed out at it, feeling his hand hit… something. He hit it again, felt it let go of his wrist and ankle, and now used both hands to fight; he heard it curse loudly and felt it block his weak, undirected punches and shoves with an arm while moving forward, straddling his legs to keep him from kicking again, and he felt another hand grab his shoulder.

He opened his eyes, stared into wide, surprised, green ones, and for a moment he was stunned, too stunned to move, too stunned to think; he could only… only admire that beautiful shade of green, never minding the slight redness that marred the surrounding white; the perfect almond-shape of those eyes, not even noticing the dark shadows beneath them; and how bright they seemed against those exceptionally dark lashes, which didn't seem to match the uncommon brightness of their owner's hair.

His flat hand connected with warm skin. Roxas still was too dazed to think properly, but his body reacted on its own, instinctively. The sound of his hand slapping against ivory skin was sickening, but Roxas was even more shocked at the feeling; his hand stung, and his wrist hurt a little where a warm hand had held it before. He shouldn't be able to feel this if it was a dream.

Axel's head was jerked to the side, eyes still wide and a pale cheek reddening already. But he quickly regained his composure, and turned his head to glare at Roxas again, beautiful eyes narrowing and thin, pale lips drawn downwards in an angry scowl.

"That's it," the redhead snarled, and at the threatening tone in his voice Roxas automatically raised his hands to protect himself, cowering behind his arms. He was shaking by now, frightened way beyond the point of being able to actually differ between nightmare and reality. By now neither of them seemed not to be hurtful anyway.

But Roxas just felt the redhead crawl back, and then his bed move as if someone had gotten up from it. And then he heard quick footsteps, a door being ripped open and slammed closed again with a loud bang.

Roxas' hectic pants were involuntarily replaced by frantic gasps, and he curled up and held his head with both hands; it hurt even more now, and fresh tears started to leak from his already burning eyes.

He was sobbing loudly, eyes closed, and never heard the door open again. Only when strong, lanky arms roughly pulled him off the bed and against a lean chest he noticed Axel had returned; but the redhead's hands were cold now, and wet, and Roxas tried to struggle against his hold again.

"G-Go away!" he all but shrieked hysterically, but Axel simply yanked him forward with shocking callousness, ignoring Roxas' shaking hands clawing at his thin arms and hands, and dragged him out of the room. Roxas' sobs and screams turned into desperate, pleading whimpers. He stumbled after Axel on unsteady, shaking legs, tried to grab the bedpost, a dresser, the door frame; but he never could get a firm grip on either of those, and Axel's hand around his arm pulled him out of his room, his sanctuary, without mercy.

Roxas twisted and pulled and tried to loosen the unrelenting grip around his arm, but his futile struggling only caused slender digits to dig deeper into his flesh. He cried out in pain, tried to rip his arm out of the hand clutching it so painfully, and this time he felt the grip loosen slightly, he turned around and…

"Oh no, you won't!" a voice hissed right next to his ear, and he was yanked back roughly, fell against the deceivingly warm body behind him.

"Let me go!" he pleaded, hysteria and fear fogging his brain. "Go away! Le-… You're not…"

"Just shut the fuck up, Roxas!" the voice yelled, and Roxas' struggling ceased. He knew the voice belonged to his nightmare, he knew it wasn't real, and yet he couldn't stand the anger and frustration in it… He was turned around by the hand on his shoulder, and when his eyes met flashing green, he couldn't look away, and this time he couldn't even raise his hands to defend himself.

His legs almost gave out under him, but strong arms caught him and swiftly lifted him off the ground. He didn't know where Axel was carrying him, because he couldn't tear his eyes away from those terrifying, gorgeous green eyes for an eternity. He raised a hand to touch Axel's face, but never dared to do it, paralyzed by the nightmare's angered glare. He gasped for air, he didn't register how blurry his vision had become; he heard his broken voice stammering hysterically, heard himself plead for Axel to go away, heard himself beg the redhead to leave him, but Axel just looked up and shifted him in his arms, kicking a door open.

"You're not real," Roxas whimpered again, and suddenly arched his back, almost making Axel drop him. The redhead muttered a string of very creative curses, but only gripped him tighter. "You're not real!" Roxas repeated louder, never noticing the shrill, hysteric tone in his own voice, and tried to punch Axel's shoulder again. "He hates me! Go away!"

Axel wordlessly dropped him. Roxas screamed loudly as he fell… into cold, cold, icy cold water.

Only now he realized water was running; he heard a splash, and he was immersed in cold, so unbelievably cold water for a moment before he shot up again, gasping for sweet air only to scream again, this time out of shock.

"Still think this is a dream?" Axel asked from somewhere above him, leaning against the tiled wall, arms crossed in front of his chest, staring down at Roxas pointedly cool.

Roxas slumped, drenched and wide awake and freezing. Axel had obviously dropped him into the bathtub in his own bathroom, and cold water was still raining down at him. The water was so cold, there was no way he could still dream…

He gasped once, feeling his chest constrict ever so strangely; if this wasn't a dream, then…

"Oh God, no…" he whimpered and raised his shaking hands to hide his face in them. If this wasn't a dream, Axel was really here… But why? He couldn't see him again already; the pain was still too fresh…

His breath came in harsh, jerky gasps as he was sitting in cold water, drawing his knees up and curling up, cursing himself for being so stupid. Had he thought he would escape Axel forever? Of course the redhead would come after him; to set things straight, to end their… their relationship once and for all…

Completely drained and weakened by the struggling and fighting before, he fell to the side, clutching the wet, slippery rim of the bathtub and lowering his head until his forehead rested on his cold hands. He more felt than heard Axel step closer, and the water stopped; Roxas sniffed once more, and he never wanted to look up again.

He heard quiet rustling of clothes, and then a gentle hand touched his head, long fingers combing through his hair. Roxas knew it was supposed to be calming, but for some reason, this small touch made his heart sink even more. He uttered a choked sob and turned his head to the side, away from where he knew Axel was sitting on the tiled floor now.

"Roxas…" Axel said very quiet, very gentle. "Look at me, please."

Roxas shook his head, sniffling quietly.

"We have to talk, Roxas," Axel tried to get him talk again. "Look at me."

"Go away," Roxas whispered helplessly. "I can't take you breaking up with me right now. Just… give me one day or two."


"I… I'll let you b-break up with me in front of the whole s-school if you want, I promise, just…"


"You hate me!" Roxas loathed the gentleness in Axel's voice, because he knew it had to be a cruel joke. But at the same time his heart longed to hear it again. He wanted to feel the warmth Axel always seemed to radiate, but he didn't dare to move even one inch closer to the other boy. He wanted to look at Axel, but turned his head to the other side instead. One look into those gorgeous eyes and he would be lost; and he couldn't risk to fall for Axel's bittersweet lies. His heart was shattered enough as it was.

There was a short moment of silence, only interrupted by the quiet plashing of water every time another silent sob ripped itself out of Roxas' tight chest. He was getting really cold, but right now he didn't care. Axel was really here, Axel wanted to talk to him… but he was too tired, too upset to talk.

"You just have to make this even more difficult for me, don't you," Axel said, and Roxas flinched at the strange undertone in Axel's terribly calm voice. The gentleness was gone; it seemed like Axel had decided to drop the act, and it hurt more than Roxas had expected. Not only in a figurative sense, as in the infamous metaphorical stab to the heart; Roxas felt real, physical pain, a sharp, searing clenching of his insides at the eerie tranquility Axel displayed in a situation like this. This was way worse than the fight they had had at school, after Axel had found Roxas with Demyx; worse even than the confrontation in the classroom. It was worse in a way Roxas couldn't describe, because Axel was here, ready to talk, even though Roxas was not, not ready yet, but Axel was not yelling or arguing, as if he…

Again there was the quiet sound of fabric brushing against skin, and suddenly thin arms encircled Roxas' body and pulled him up, out of the cold, cold water, interrupting his confused thoughts; Roxas was even too drained to resist or cry out in surprise, he could only cling to Axel weakly as the redhead pulled him out of the bathtub and onto the floor with him. He flopped down next to Axel, stiffening when he was pulled into an unexpected embrace, but never resisting; he allowed Axel to hug him, savored the feeling of the other boy's body heat and the contact between his shivering body and Axel's; he let his head be rested on a strong shoulder, long fingers weaving through his wet hair to guide him, even though the warmth and the feeling and the slight scent of cigarettes and caramel made tears well up in his eyes. They didn't fall though. Not yet, at least.

For a while everything was silent. Then Roxas felt Axel sigh and rest his chin on top of Roxas' head.

"My name is Akuseru Kouen," the redhead suddenly said, and Roxas froze. What the… "I'm eighteen, Scorpio, I like fire and I don't like it when people try to ask me about my past. I… can be an ignorant jerk at times, and I'm a hothead, and I'm overprotective and easily offended. I was born in Hollow Bastion and lived there most of my life in an orphanage in the Southern Districts…"

"Axel…" Roxas whispered, but Axel ignored him.

"I don't like my name," the redhead continued, and when Roxas tried to move, to look up, to ask what Axel was trying to say, Axel's arms suddenly tightened around his shoulders and waist, effectively trapping Roxas and rendering him speechless due to the sheer feeling of so much physical contact. "It was my father's name, not mine. My parents always called me Axel. They died in a car crash when I was four, along with my newborn sister."

"What…" Roxas breathed confused and tried to look up again; but Axel's hand reached up, buried itself in Roxas' golden hair and forced him to keep his head down, pressed against a strong shoulder… that was slightly shaking, as well as the hand on his head, Roxas noticed. What the hell was Axel doing?

"I came out of the crash almost unharmed." Axel's usually so smooth voice was trembling now; it also sounded a bit hoarse, and the words left Axel's mouth only very, very slow. "I was brought to the orphanage where I spent most of my life. When I was six I was beaten up by the other kids so badly I had to be brought to a hospital for the first of many times. When I was ten, the only person I looked up to left the orphanage. When I was fourteen, I realized I was different from the other kids, even more so than before… because I realized I liked boys, not girls. That's something you really should not show when all the other children already think you're a no-good, weird-looking, pyromaniac freak." Axel paused for a moment, and again Roxas tried to struggle against his hold. It was no use. He was too weak, too surprised, and Axel didn't seem to intend to let him go yet. "When I was almost seventeen," Axel went on, and now his voice sounded strange; darker than before, and at the same time suddenly eerily calm, so calm and distant Roxas couldn't help but shiver. "I was kidnapped by psychopaths. After I was rescued, I tried to kill myself."

"Axel… please stop, please…" Roxas begged, uselessly trying to free himself again. He didn't understand what Axel was doing, or why he was doing it, what he tried to explain; but all this, Axel holding him and telling him those things, the whole situation seemed so surreal, and it frightened Roxas. "Please, what are you…"

"I was having flashbacks all the time," Axel interrupted him, ignoring Roxas' struggling, just raising his impassive voice to drown Roxas' confused pleas for him to stop. "They tried to explain it to me… That I was suffering a massive trauma, that the flashbacks would go away if I allowed somebody to help me, but I was never good at accepting help, and my mental condition got worse… It was like Kadaj was with me all the time, it was like… like he was watching me." Roxas blanched at the mad amusement that suddenly crept into Axel's voice; the quiet chuckle that followed his words made Roxas want to rip his ears off, so he would never have to hear this insincere, distressing sound again. "When I was awake, I feared he would come for me, and when I fell asleep I dreamt about him. He just didn't leave! I couldn't take it anymore. I felt so worthless and filthy; you can't imagine how fucking awful it felt… I told my friends that I had done it while experiencing one. A flashback, I mean. Of course they believed me, but the truth is… I did it during one of my rare clear moments. I lied to them, like so many times. I was in my right mind when I did it, more or less, but my hands wouldn't stop shaking, I could barely hold the razor. I was even disgusted by the blood that came out of the wound, you know? Because I couldn't stop thinking that the bastard who had taken residence in my nightmares would love the sight of blood on my skin. He loved to make me bleed… just little cuts or bites, not too deep, because he didn't want to leave scars, but he got some sick kick out of making me bleed… He often 'forgot' to use lube when he…"

"Oh God, stop it!" Roxas cried desperately, finally finding the strength to break free; he crawled back a little, turned around, tried to get away from Axel, but soon found himself held back again. He grabbed hold of the skinny arm encircling his shoulders, his fingers digging into the flesh, and he felt it tremble slightly. "Why, why are y-you d-doing this…"

"Here," Axel snarled harshly and held his other arm in front of Roxas' face. Roxas tried to look away, but the arm around his shoulders quickly moved, a warm hand cupping his cheek and turning his head around again without mercy. "Here, do you see it?" The hand was removed from his face, pushed the rolled up sleeve further up the arm instead. A thin finger brushed over pale skin, and only now Roxas noticed the almost invisible line, a scar, running over the whole length of the inside of Axel's left wrist. Why had he never noticed it before?

"I slit my wrist like some fucking emo-kid," Axel hissed into his ear, and Roxas closed his eyes, throwing his hands over his face and trying to calm his erratic breathing. Why was Axel doing this? Oh God, he didn't want to think about it, he didn't, he couldn't… But it was too late, he could see it, the blood on a silver blade, on pristinely white tiles, the crying boy slitting his wrist, his beautiful face a mask of disgust, green eyes clouded with insanity; he could feel the pain, could smell the blood, the blood, so red, so red on white, white skin… "I never thought about my friends. Only when Riku found me, I realized they still needed me to fight. They needed me to get better, so they could get better as well. They… needed me to at least try." Roxas felt Axel rest his forehead on Roxas' shoulder, heard the redhead sigh quietly. "So I started to scream, acted like I thought not Riku was holding me but his brother, that sick fuck. I simulated a flashback for Riku, because I knew… he would break if he knew I was doing this willingly. That I was willing to leave them alone. And the way he looked at me… it made me realize he blamed himself for this, he was so hurt, he felt so guilty, and I promised myself that my friends would never have to see me like this again. I promised myself that I would be strong enough to hide my fear for their sake. I… I lied to them. It became a habit to lie. And I don't think I'll ever get rid of that habit. I will always try to make them think I'm alright, because if they could see how fucked up I still am, they would only blame themselves. They would think they should have done more to help me, even though nothing they could have done would have helped me, because I wasn't ready to accept help… If they knew, it would only hinder their own recovery… They are doing so well now, I can't let them know. I can never tell them. It's like a curse…"

"Why are you telling me this?" Roxas whispered, falling back against Axel limply. Why fight? He wasn't going to get out of this. Axel wouldn't let him. If he ran away, Axel would follow him. Axel needed him to hear this, but Roxas didn't understand why.

"Because… Because I need someone to know about… everything. And you… you are the only one I can tell," Axel answered, and Roxas' eyes flew open. He stared up to the ceiling, stunned into silence. "And now tell me you love me again."

Roxas' heart stopped beating for a moment.

"Wha-… What?" he finally managed to stutter. The sudden change of topic caught him completely off-guard, and it took him a few moments to grasp the meaning of Axel's last words. When he had finally caught on, he felt his insides clench as an icy feeling of dread settled inside his stomach. His hands grew cold, even colder than they already were, and he just couldn't keep his own body from shaking badly anymore. And when he opened his mouth to repeat his bewildered question, he could not believe that the shrill, panicked voice coming out of his mouth really did belong to him. "What?"

"Now you know what a freak I am," Axel hissed sharply. "Now you know I'm a no-good, emotionally defective, lying monstrosity. I'm broken, Roxas, I'm broken and dirty and weak. I lie about my condition, even though I know that everyone I allow to come close to me can see how weak I am. I lie to my friends, I lie to everybody, because I can't let them see me. I try to act confident, like I don't give a fuck about people staring at me when I really want to freak out whenever I notice people looking in my direction. I try to forget that I'm not normal, I try to be independent and strong, and I try to take care of my friends, when I'm really scared of being alone and so weak and need someone else to take care of me..."

Roxas didn't understand. He didn't understand what was happening here. He didn't understand why Axel told him all these things. He didn't understand one single word the redhead was saying! W-… Why did Axel have to be so confusing?

"You know more about me now than anybody else ever will," the redhead continued hoarsely, still clutching Roxas' arms tightly, as if he was afraid of letting go. "Not even Demyx knows about my sister. Riku doesn't know that there was no flashback when I tried to kill myself. But you know, because you deserve to know after you worked up the courage to tell me about your… experiments. Tell me you still love me." His voice was shaking now, and it made Roxas turn around, even though he was terrified of what he would see. But it was inescapable; the urge to look Axel in the eye and see how troubled the redhead was, the urge to keep Axel from telling him all those horrible things, so overpowering… Axel's hands weakly slid down Roxas' body, only to crawl up his own arms in an awkward self-hug. Roxas stared into jaded green eyes, mortified to see the tears in them.

"After all the things I did, after everything I said," Axel continued in a choked whisper, "After I told you I trusted you so often, only to turn on you when people I don't even know told me things about you… After I forced you to play Sunshine for me… After I was too weak to cope with things you did in the past, now tell me you still love me."

"But… Axel, I…" Roxas started hesitantly, only to be interrupted again. A slightly hysteric, crazy sounding giggle spilled from Axel's suddenly grinning lips, and his eyes took on a frightening glint. Roxas knew he should have been frightened; he knew what Axel was capable of when he was in a fragile state of mind like this. He should have been frightened; after Axel had treated him so roughly, after Axel had willingly told him about his past and his bad condition, he should have been terrified, because he knew what could happen. And really, his hands instinctively reached up to touch his throat, trying to dispel the feel of delicate hands squeezing his neck.

But instead of touching his throat he grazed his dry lips with cold fingers, and instead of thinking about those hands squeezing his life out of him he was reminded of gentle kisses and tender little touches and smiles. He didn't know if it had been a dream last night, when Axel had kissed him and had rescued him from the shadows, but the longer he watched Axel chuckling away hysterically, the surer he was that he didn't have a reason to be scared. Axel wouldn't hurt him, not this time, not even when his memories would overtake him completely. He was here to help, even though it was obvious that he needed help himself. It was hurting Roxas to listen to Axel's crazed snickering, and it hurt him to see the hopeless, desperate grin disfiguring his handsome features. It hurt so much he had to grab his shirt right over his heavily thudding heart, but it didn't scare him the slightest.

"You can't…" Axel whispered, still smirking mirthlessly. "You can't say it anymore, can you?" He threw his head back and laughed loudly, and it caused Roxas to shiver. It sounded so hollow, so unlike every laugh Roxas had ever heard. He couldn't distinguish even the slightest trace of amusement in it. No, it was painful, repulsive, hurt, and full of self-loathing. "I knew it! I knew you wouldn't…"

"I love you," Roxas yelled on top of his lungs, and he ignored how much it still hurt. His throat was still raw, his eyes were still burning, his head was killing him, but he needed to say it, needed to shout it out loud, because Axel needed to hear it so badly, because he had to convince Axel that he really, really meant what he said. His frantic love declaration ended the faked laughter instantly. "Stop doing this! Axel, I love you, I… Oh God, you had every right to act like you did…"

He expected more laughing, or screaming, even crying; he even braced himself for a flashback, silently praying that he would really be able to stop it from happening… Well, if he wasn't, he probably wouldn't keep Axel from hurting him anyway. He suddenly felt so tired, so drained

He really thought Axel would refuse to believe him and try to make him take it back. Axel was too upset to hear those words from him, or at least so Roxas thought. Oh, it would have been easier if Axel had just accused him of being the hideous, foul creature he was, but this… It sounded like Axel thought he was to blame for their fight; that he was the monster, when really it had been nothing but Roxas' cowardice that had broken the fragile bond they had shared. Too many people had been too cruel to Axel in his young life, it had been the only way for him to react to Roxas' treachery.

Roxas had been one of those people, and he loathed himself for it. He had hurt this beautiful, proud young man as well, when he should have protected him somehow; he was the reason the boy he loved so dearly was sitting on the wet floor right before him now, so hurt, so broken and sad, and so desperate, so bitter and yet still so lovely in Roxas' eyes.

Roxas flinched back when a slender hand was outstretched in his direction, when warm fingers briefly grazed his cold cheek; he gasped and closed his eyes, fully expecting to be hit. He expected to be hurt, to be punished for being one of those abhorrent monstrosities who had turned Axel's life into a living hell, and he decided not to fight back. He would welcome his punishment. He would savor it, because it was all he deserved.

But instead he was pulled into a warm embrace, and he felt Axel press his forehead against Roxas' shoulder. He didn't dare to move; tensing up he held his breath, feeling so cold, and yet so warm where Axel's shivering arms lay around his shoulders. He listened to Axel's slow, labored breathing, the only sound in the cold bathroom next to the loud, erratic heartbeat pounding in Roxas' ears.

"I had no right," the redhead suddenly muttered against his shoulder, breaking the silence. "No, I had no right to treat you like this. Could… could you say it again? Please?"

Roxas exhaled slowly, feeling confused beyond words. No, no, this was definitely not the reaction he had expected. Where was the… the hate? The disgust? Where were the reproaches? There was sadness in Axel's voice; tension and strain, maybe, but not even the slightest trace of an accusation.

"I love you," he still repeated quietly, cringing at the silent, pained groan he could hear the redhead letting out. Anything, anything to make Axel feel better… He would say anything to keep Axel from blaming himself…

"How can you still say that? After all the… all the things I said…" Axel asked, his voice shaking just as much as his hands, which fisted in the thin, wet fabric of Roxas' vest.

"I… I understand why you said what you said," Roxas replied, feeling his heart beat faster when he raised his own hands to run them through Axel's red hair. It amazed him every time how unbelievably soft it felt… And Axel didn't refuse his touch, didn't even flinch; and this fact made Roxas' heart ache with longing and hope. How foolish. "You… You never had a chance to get to know me. I was so… weak… You…" Roxas sniffed quietly, sadly gazing down, taking in the slight tremor in Axel's hunched shoulders. "You saw such a… perfect person in me, and I wanted to be that person for you, I really wanted to. So I couldn't tell you about my… experiments. You have to hate me. You have to be… disgusted, now that you know…" Oh, but even though he knew Axel would come to realize that he had to hate Roxas every moment now, he couldn't resist touching the redhead… He had missed it, had missed the warmth and the shy, cautious intimacy between them. His hand combed through scarlet spikes again, repeating the motion over and over, and he felt the older boy sigh against his shoulder. Closing his eyes, Roxas finally laid both his arms around Axel's head and buried his face in his soft hair, taking in its sweet and spicy scent.

He tried to say more; he tried to apologize, he tried to explain to Axel why he shouldn't be here, why Roxas wasn't worth the trouble of coming here and climbing up balconies and getting slapped and screamed at in a fit of hysteria on Roxas' part. He tried to explain why Axel was too precious for someone as filthy and faulty as Roxas. But the words were forgotten when he felt Axel turn his head and warm lips touch the sensitive skin on Roxas' throat.

His breath caught in his suddenly tight throat, but it hadn't been just his imagination; again he felt the same, fleeting touch on his skin, and this time a small sigh escaped from his lips as his eyelids fluttered closed.

"No," he heard Axel whisper, and he felt every word the redhead said, lips brushing and warm breath ghosting over his skin. "I could never hate you." He kissed Roxas' sensitive neck again, warm lips lingering a split second longer than before. "Say it again, please…"

"I love you," Roxas said without hesitation, slowly opening his eyes and watching his breath ruffling bright red hair without actually seeing anything. He was rewarded with another kiss, right below his ear this time, and one slender hand let go of his vest to cup his cheek. His skin felt uncomfortably hot all of sudden; he shivered, and he wished his cold, wet clothes were gone.

"Say my name when you say it," Axel pleaded, forcing Roxas to look at him now. Roxas almost forgot to breathe when his eyes locked with emerald green ones. Oh, he just needed to lean forward a little, and he would kiss Axel…

But he held back, dazed and intoxicated by the closeness, by the warmth seeping through his cold clothes where their bodies touched; by the faint scent of cinnamon and caramel and smoke, by the feeling of soft, red hair beneath his hands, by the warm hand on his cheek, long fingers gently caressing his skin…

"I love you, Axel," he muttered shakily, and he meant the words with all of his blemished heart. He couldn't take his eyes off Axel's, which appeared a shade darker than before all of a sudden. He barely noticed the crooked, anxious smile stretching thin lips, but he did notice how the redhead leaned forward slightly. Oh boy, did he notice! Axel's slightly parted, so unbelievably tantalizing lips were only a fraction of a hair away it seemed…

"God, Roxas… You have no idea what you're doing to me," Axel murmured, and Roxas could feel the words rather than hear them. His heart was hammering inside his chest by now, and he waited with bated breath for something to happen; he felt hot and cold and wonderful and God, why wouldn't Axel kiss him already? Was he trying to drive Roxas insane?

But then their mouths touched, just the slightest brushing of lips against lips, and it was enough to cause both boys to moan softly as jolts of electricity shot down their spines, and while the night before Roxas had believed it to be a dream, now he knew it was real; the beautiful young man kissing him, applying just a little more pressure as he kissed Roxas again, was real; the warm hands holding his head to keep him from disturbing the tender, affectionate exchange of sweetest caresses were real; the strong, lithe body beneath Roxas' hands as he let them slide down was real; the delicious shiver that ran through Axel's slender frame when Roxas' hands fisted around the fabric of the older boy's shirt was real; and oh, oh, those lips, those sweet and spicy tasting, slowly moving, sensual lips were real, so real, so real.

"Roxas," Axel said when he broke their kiss after what seemed like an eternity, so very, very quiet, as if he was scared of breaking the silence. "Don't ever hide yourself behind Sunshine again. Promise me you won't."

"I won't…" Roxas replied helplessly; he was in no condition to deny Axel anything. He didn't understand Axel's strange request, but he just couldn't refuse; not after being kissed like this, not when Axel was still so torturously close, not when he was so real… Despite the letters, despite everything, he was here and he… he wasn't mad at Roxas? He didn't hate Roxas?

"You… You are really here…" he whispered awestruck, cursing himself for being unable to resist the overwhelming hope that was drowning all rationality. "I thought…"

"I know…" Axel sighed and rested his head on Roxas' shoulder once more. Strands of his soft, red hair tickled Roxas' skin, and Roxas couldn't help a small sigh that fell from his lips. "I'm sorry. I should… I should never have believed those people."

"But…" Roxas felt his shy, wary smile vanish from his face, and the hope he had felt turned into white-hot anguish, cutting off his air and making his voice sound choked, desperate. "But they were right. It was true. What they wrote was true…"

"Oh come on, not even half of it was true. They never saw you like I see you. They never saw you smile like I did, and they never saw you being afraid, and… and you never told them what you told me. And, fuck, I don't care about them," Axel replied heatedly, and Roxas wished so desperately he could believe his words. "I don't even know them. I shouldn't have listened to them. They almost took away the only good thing that ever happened in my fucked up life…" Axel sighed again. "I always told you I trusted you, but I was so willing to trust them rather than you… Just because I was feeling insecure and secretly feared that what happened between us was too good to be true. Nothing good ever happens to me, you know…"

"I'm sorry…" Roxas whispered and looked away. He closed his eyes when Axel gently forced him to look at him again.

"Don't be," Axel said. "I don't care about what you did in the past. I never should have. I forced you to be perfect, and it took me some time to realize you are not…" Now Roxas opened his eyes again, and he saw that Axel was smiling at him. Smiling. Why was he smiling? What was there to smile about? He had just said it: Roxas wasn't perfect, Roxas wasn't the person Axel needed… Why was he so confusing?

"I'm sor-…" he tried again, feeling all choked up once more; but Axel shook his head.

"I said don't be," he repeated, leaning forward to breathe a light kiss onto Roxas' cheek. "You might not be perfect, but you are perfect for me. With all your flaws, with all your strange quirks, with all your insecurities… You are perfect for me. I'm sorry it took me so long to realize that."


"I'm not perfect for…" Roxas heard his own voice protest; he was too dazed to think, but a part of him reacted automatically it seemed.

"When you said 'You hate me,' after those guys were gone," Axel interrupted him, running his thumb over Roxas' trembling lips to silence him. Roxas shuddered, blushed slightly as a quiet moan escaped him at the contact. Oh, how much he had craved this… "I realized I could never hate you. How could I, when the only thing you thought about was how you were hurting me, when you were clearly hurt yourself, because I was being such a jackass and never saw how sorry you were? What you did was stupid and wrong, and the letters were… painful to read, but nothing will keep me from seeing the gorgeous, shy, innocent little guy who makes me forget about my past by simply smiling at me and saying my name…"

Roxas listened, his eyes growing wider with every word. He couldn't believe his ears. Axel was still talking about Sunshine there! Hadn't he just asked Roxas not to hide behind Sunshine anymore? But…

"That's not me," he whispered distressed. He felt tears start to gather in his eyes yet again, but he blinked a few times to get rid of them, turning his head to avoid Axel's eyes. "Innocent, I'm not inn-"

"But I am talking about you, Roxas," Axel interrupted him yet again. "You're always so insecure, you don't even see how… how utterly… amazing you are, but… I…" He fell silent with a deep sigh, but when Roxas tried to disagree with him once more, he just grabbed Roxas' head and pulled him into another kiss; but where the kisses before had been still cautious and shy, this one was different, so full of passion and love, slow, but demanding and overpowering. Roxas' lips parted in a silent moan, completely lost in the desire he felt in the kiss, and his eyes slid shut when he felt Axel opening his mouth as well, moving ever so slow and pressing against Roxas so deliciously, just right; they drank each other's heated breath, tasted the other one as they dared to let their tongues meet one another and curl and slide against each other. All Roxas could do was cling to Axel, his hands clutching Axel's shoulders so tight he knew it had to hurt. Axel didn't seem to mind; no, he even returned the favor and slid his long arms around Roxas' waist, hugging him close to the point of becoming uncomfortable for the blond. Roxas didn't mind. He could bear a little discomfort if it meant he would never have to stop feeling like this.

"You were the guy who didn't hesitate to come after me when his friends were against me," Axel muttered after breaking away, his warm breath fanning over Roxas' flushed skin. Roxas swallowed, licked his lips, relishing the taste and the tingling feeling the kiss had left. "You were the one who kissed me, so… selfish, so desperate. You were the one who defended me after I almost killed you. You fought my memories, you cried for me, you begged me not to trust you when I forced the secret of my sister onto you… You, not Sunshine, because Sunshine was too perfect to deal with those things. You, Roxas, it was always you. You are the one I never want to let go again. I don't care about losing Sunshine, but I can't lose you again, please, Roxas…" Emerald eyes closed for a second before they focused on Roxas again. "Please, don't take this away from me just because you're too insecure about yourself. If… If you can forgive me for being such a fucking asshole and hurting you so much, please, please don't back down because you think you were to blame for the way I reacted. You weren't. It was my fault. I… I gave you the feeling you weren't good enough, when really Sunshine was way too… too flawless for someone like me. You, with all your flaws, are just… perfect for me."

Roxas tried to reply, but there simply were no words. It was all too much, it all happened too fast… Not everything Axel had said made sense to him. He wasn't perfect, far from it! And it wasn't Axel who was to blame for their fight; Roxas was, because he had been so cruel in the past. So how could he forgive Axel, when there was nothing to forgive? Axel's reaction after reading the letters had been just what Roxas had expected; oh, he had hoped Axel would react differently, but he had known this was the only way he could react to the things Roxas had done; the only way he could react to the revelation that Roxas had never been who Axel had believed him to be.

He had thought… known that Axel would hate him, but here he was, sitting on the floor of his bathroom, holding Roxas, whose cold and weakened body had started to shake badly sometime during their conversation. He had known he had lost his beloved redhead forever, but here he was, and his warm hands were running up and down Roxas' sides slowly, in a way that made Roxas shiver even worse than the cold water still clinging to his skin did. And his passionate words reverberated inside Roxas' head, and they didn't make sense.

Axel wanted Roxas to forgive him. Axel wanted Roxas back. Axel didn't hate him.

"Why c-can't you just… hate m-me?" Roxas moaned in a somewhat high-pitched voice and leaned forward, wrapping his arms around Axel's neck as he buried his face in Axel's shoulder. It was almost too much; the scent and the warmth and the feeling and the blissful realization that Axel didn't hate him, that Axel was willing to take him back, to forgive him… Almost too much. It made Roxas want to cry relieved and laugh happily all at once.

"Because you're just too lovable," Axel replied softly. Roxas felt the redhead kiss the top of his head, and for a very surreal feeling moment he thought Axel would say more; something else; something Roxas wanted him to say so desperately, even though he knew Axel was not ready to say the words yet.

Because I love you.

But of course the words never came. Roxas sighed, hating himself for expecting Axel to say them. He knew the horrible reason why Axel couldn't say them yet. Besides, he should be more grateful, because a few moments ago he had thought this would be impossible; that Axel would ever hold him like this again, that Axel would forgive him. Yes, he should be grateful that he was even able to feel a slender hand running through his wet hair soothingly, and not think this wasn't enough. He felt so warm and happy, and it should have been enough…

It was enough. It had to be enough.

"I love you," Roxas whispered again, desperately trying to keep the bitter disappointment out of his voice. He looked up, raising a trembling hand to trace the outlines of Axel's handsome face; he could see that Axel suspected something, and again he cursed himself for being so greedy. This should be more than enough. This was more than he ever deserved. How could he ever dare to expect more than this? But Axel seemed so serious all of a sudden; his bright eyes, which were suddenly showing so much sadness and remorse, searched Roxas' face, and Roxas had to look away again. "And I'm sorry too," he added in a whisper.

He felt Axel move, and for a moment he thought the redhead would say something. But they both stayed silent, and the silence felt heavy and uncomfortable.

The warmth was gone. Roxas just felt cold. His dripping wet clothes clung to him like a second skin, and his whole body started to shiver again, despite Axel's body heat all around him.

"I'm cold," he muttered, never looking at Axel as he freed himself from the gentle embrace. "I should probably change."

"… Right," Axel agreed hesitantly. He just watched as Roxas slowly rose to his feet and turned to leave the bathroom.

Roxas felt too ashamed to look at his beloved anymore. How could he still be so selfish and expect Axel to say the words, when he had been so close to losing the redhead forever? Why did the words even matter? It was just words; a stupid cliché, not more. He knew how Axel felt; Axel showed him through his actions. Axel was here, wasn't he? He had climbed the damn house just to see him, had even endured Roxas' lunatic breakdown and being called a nightmare, and he had just willingly told Roxas so many things about himself. That surely had been difficult for him; Roxas knew how reluctant to talk about his past the redhead was. But he trusted Roxas so deeply, told him things not even his friends, people he had known for years, knew; what more proof that he loved Roxas did he need? Every kiss, every touch, every look was a declaration of love, and yet it didn't seem enough.

He didn't dare to glance at Axel when he left the room, fearing to see the confusion and disappointment which he knew would be shining out of his bright eyes. He needed to clear his head. He needed to…

His tired eyes suddenly fell on a certain door, and every thought about never outspoken vows of love fled his head. Colorful, spidery letters formed a name he should have thought of way sooner…

Why hadn't Sora rushed to his side when he had been screaming earlier? Why had his brother not tried to help him? Why had his twin just listened to his cries of fear and pain?

Where was Sora?

"Sora is not here," Axel explained right behind him. Roxas flinched, and his hand cramped around the doorframe; his eyes were still glued to the door to his brother's room down the hallway, and he barely registered how close Axel suddenly was. He hadn't heard the redhead at all.

"He didn't want to leave," Axel continued calmly, and Roxas felt a warm hand touching his cold shoulder.

Sora left me?

"I told him to go. I… wanted to talk to you. Without being interrupted."

Sora… left me alone?

"He… He really didn't want to leave. He was so worried about you…"

Sora left me…

"Roxas? Hey…" The hand on his shoulder tightened its grip, and Roxas barely resisted when he was turned around. He stared ahead without seeing anything, and slowly he raised his arms to fist his hands in his hair, the heels of his hands pressing against his skull and cold fingers tearing at his blond spikes, trying to soothe the dizziness that threatened to take over his vision. His thoughts jumbled together to create nothing but noise, but one of them screamed louder than the others:

I have hurt Sora, Sora left me…Failure, monster, hurt my brother, hurt my twin my light my life SoraSoraSora…

"Hey…" Two warm fingers under his chin forced him to look up, and for a moment Roxas couldn't explain why everything was so blurry. He blinked, and he felt warm liquid trickle down his cold cheeks.

"I'm sorry," he heard Axel whisper, and two warm hands brushed over his cold skin, wiping the tears away, before they trailed down his neck until they rested on his trembling shoulders again. Roxas barely felt it. He was still trying to process the thought that he had hurt Sora so much he had left him this time. Oh, Sora had left after a fight sometimes; but he had never before left when he had known Roxas was hurt.

Slowly he loosened his grip on his hair, and slowly his hands slid down his face, dropping to his sides. He wanted to look down again, but no avail; again a hand beneath his chin prevented him from doing so, and the miserable expression on Axel's handsome face just made Roxas feel worse. Oh, he had hurt Sora, and now Axel was feeling bad because of him as well…

"I'm sorry," Axel repeated, and now Roxas could feel long arms wrap around him, pulling him into a warm embrace. He pressed his face against Axel's shoulder, trying to calm himself; he took in that familiar scent, felt the warmth seeping through his cold clothes… and it just wasn't quite enough. It made everything worse, if anything, because now Roxas couldn't stop thinking that this was surely not what Axel had expected when he had broken into the house. It was hardly fair that Roxas was all but breaking down like this now, not after Axel had been so honest and brave and had revealed so much about himself and had confessed his fears to Roxas.

But Sora was gone. Sora was gone! Sora had left him, Sora had…

"It's my fault," Axel admitted and sighed, burying his nose in Roxas' wet hair and startling him out of his pointless self-chastisement. "I… wanted to be alone with you. I knew he would never leave your side if he was here. But I needed to talk to you alone, so I… I'm sorry. I shouldn't have made him leave."

"Y-You… made him leave?" Roxas croaked, trying to focus on that little fact; that Sora hadn't left voluntarily, that Axel had forced his brother to stay away somehow, but it was so hard to concentrate…

"He didn't want to, believe me," Axel hurried to answer, and again Roxas heard him sigh. He raised his hands to return Axel's embrace; just weakly, but he did, silently urging the redhead to go on. "He didn't want to leave. He was just so tired… He didn't know what to do anymore, you weren't responding when he tried to talk to you. He was so worried… so scared you would do something stupid…"

"But I did!" Roxas whined into Axel's shirt, squeezing his eyes shut. "He's upset because of me…"

"Don't worry, he'll be fine," Axel said and kissed his forehead. "He seemed alright when I called him last night. When you were asleep. He was happy that you were okay."

Roxas sniffed, still not daring to open his eyes again.

"Do you want to call him?" Axel asked him, his warm hands starting to rub Roxas' back in soothing circles. And when Roxas shook his head with a quiet sob, he added, "Do you want me to call him? Should I tell him that you're alright?"

Roxas wanted to shake his head again, but stopped himself; he really couldn't face Sora already, he was too ashamed to talk to his twin. But… he also wanted Sora to know that he was alright. Sora was probably worried sick… Angry, of course, but also worried, because that was just how Sora was. Because Sora was the good twin. The compassionate twin. Whereas Roxas…

He nodded slowly, letting go of Axel again. He wiped his eyes and looked down.

"Alright," Axel sighed, and he sounded very relieved. Roxas couldn't help but giggle softly when Axel tousled his hair; it was such a familiar, soothing gesture; somehow it really seemed to ease the gloominess that had threatened to take over his thoughts. "I'll call him. And you should really get out of your clothes. You feel awfully cold."

Roxas nodded again, turning around to go to his room. His hand on the handle, he turned to glance back over his shoulder again; Axel was just flipping his phone open, leaning against the wall next to the bathroom. He looked at Roxas briefly, gracing him with a fleeting smile when he noticed the blond was watching him, and gestured for Roxas to go when he raised the phone to his ear.

"I love you," Roxas blurted out, not quite sure why he had said it. He saw Axel cringe and his smile waver, then fade; he stared at Roxas taken aback, as if he hadn't expected Roxas to say that. So strange; a few moments ago he had all but begged Roxas to tell him he loved him, and now he… seemed almost… tortured by the words. Roxas couldn't think of another word to describe the expression that crossed Axel's face for a moment. It was gone so fast Roxas almost doubted he had seen it at all, but he knew he had seen it alright, if the sharp pain ripping his heart apart was any indication.

Axel seemed so confused, so ashamed; he opened his mouth, closed it again, still staring at Roxas, emerald eyes filled with regret, but he quickly looked away when a click announced the person at the other end of the line had picked up the phone.

"Hey, Pretty Boy," he laughed, but his voice sounded shaky and insecure now. "Yeah, it's me… How's Sora?"

Roxas whirled around again, quietly opening the door and stepping into his room, leaning against the door as it clicked shut behind him again. He closed his eyes for a moment, tried to ignore the painful sting to his heart. He still could hear Axel talking, laughing and insulting Riku from time to time.

Why… Why did it just hurt so much? He had known from the beginning that Axel might never say it back. Axel had even warned him, that day when he had climbed Roxas' balcony for the first time; that he might never be able to… get over what had happened to him.

He might never be able to say it back…

For some reason, back then Roxas hadn't cared about that at all. Not even when… when he had confessed his love to Axel, when Axel had admitted he couldn't say it back with tears in his beautiful eyes; not even then it had bothered him that much.

But now it did. And he didn't know why. It was unfair to expect Axel to say it. Unfair and immature and selfish. It was so obvious that Axel couldn't say it, didn't even want to hear it; it was obvious that he felt guilty for not being able to say the words, that stupid little phrase, back. And yet… Roxas found himself longing for those words, three little, unimportant words… He longed for them just because he was insecure and scared, as if they would give him some kind of guarantee that Axel wouldn't leave him again. It had been so painful to be left; he knew it would kill him if he was left like this again…

It was so stupid! Axel had suffered just like he had done; Axel wouldn't leave him again, Axel didn't hate him, Axel cared for him just as much as Roxas cared for the redhead, and a simple 'I love you' wouldn't change anything. M-… Maybe it was even better this way… What if Axel told him now and…

Roxas forbade himself to think this thought through. It was ridiculous. Axel wouldn't be here if he didn't care for Roxas at least a little bit. And he had no right to demand the redhead to say it back anyway; he had to be grateful Axel was even here.

Besides, he was getting really cold in those clothes. It was warm inside his room – way too warm, in his opinion – and yet he barely managed to keep his teeth from clattering.

With a tired sigh he forced his body to drag itself over to his bed, flopping down on it and staying like this for a while; face pressed into the mattress, hands fisting around the sheets, before he pushed himself up to all fours again. He moved until he could sit at the edge, facing the window with his back to the door, slowly bringing his shaking hands up to the zipper of his vest. He stared straight ahead, not seeing anything, trying to ban all depressing thoughts from his head. It didn't work very well.

His friends probably thought he had gone completely insane…

He pulled the zipper down and shrugged the thin vest off his shoulders, barely noticing the large tear in its side; oh, right, he had ripped it in his fit of self-hate the day before. What a shame; that had been one of his favorite articles of clothing…

Sora had left him alone, even though he had known Roxas had been hurt so badly…

He dropped it to the ground carelessly, pulling his socks off his feet and the checkered wristband from his arm before he grabbed the hem of his shirt with both hands.

His parents had not called since at least three months…

He should have heard the door open, even though it was opened very silently; but for some reason he didn't, his brain focusing on the sound of his strained, choppy breathing instead of his surroundings, and by now the cold made it very hard to think about anything else anyway. He pulled the thin t-shirt over his head, yanking at it a bit harsher when his head got stuck. He didn't care if he ripped that stupid t-shirt too.

Everyone left him alone somehow…

He simply dropped it when he finally managed to free himself of the bothersome fabric, and he inhaled sharply when his cold, damp skin was bared to the warm air inside his room. He completely missed another sharp intake of breath somewhere behind him.

And Axel couldn't say it back, a simple 'I love you' would be enough, and to know the redhead wanted to say it, that he felt guilty for refusing Roxas the pleasure to hear the only words he desired to hear, didn't help one bit…

His trembling hands instantly dropped to his lap, clumsily ripping the button of his jeans open and pulling the zipper of his fly down; he let himself fall back into the mattress, lifting his hips off the bed as he shoved both hands beneath the waistband, trying to push the wet fabric down his legs. It took him a while of struggling and wiggling to peel himself out of his jeans though; the fabric was like glued to his skin in some places.

He would lose Axel too someday; everybody left him in the end.

With a frustrated groan he finally got rid of his pants too; and just when he wanted to raise his hands to his awfully cold and awfully wet, black boxer briefs he heard a shocked, barely stifled gasp coming… from… the door…?

He froze, still lying on his back, his eyes flying open to stare at the ceiling above him; now that he actually paid attention to his surroundings, the quiet 'Click' of the door closing sounded awfully loud.

He slowly let his hands trail up a bit, then moved his arms to prop himself on his elbows; forcing himself up into a sitting position he tried to calm down his racing heart along with his racing thoughts. It took him a while until he could actually risk a glance back over his shoulder.

Axel was staring at him, eyes wide, light pink dusting his pale cheeks, thin lips parted ever so slightly, while his hand was still clutching the door handle, knuckles turning white. He still held his phone in his other hand, but now slowly moved it to let it slide back into a pocket, never taking his eyes off Roxas.

All of a sudden Roxas felt very self-conscious. That Axel was blatantly staring at him with this weird… hungry expression on his face didn't help at all. He felt so… exposed and small and vulnerable; and scrawny and frail and ugly. Why was Axel staring at him like that?

He quickly averted his gaze and looked out of the window again, raising his hands to rub his upper arms, shivering slightly.

"W-What?" he stuttered, hoping Axel had somehow miraculously missed the blush that had spread up to the very tips of his ears. Well. At least his face felt warmer now. "Did you… What did Sora say?"

"He's sleeping," was the whispered answer, and Roxas flinched at the sound of Axel's quiet, slightly trembling voice. "Riku didn't want to wake him yet."

"Oh," Roxas breathed, swallowing nervously and trying to calm his raving thoughts. "D-Did… he say anything? Is Sora alright?"

But he received no answer. He could hear Axel's soft, but somehow troubled breathing; then slow, quiet footsteps; but no word was spoken, not even when Roxas felt the bed behind him dip.

He still jerked violently when thin fingers grazed his cold skin, brushing down his neck, all the way down his back; he closed his eyes, blushing even more at the soft moan that escaped him when the light touch caused a violent shiver to jolt down his spine.

And then a second hand joined the first, and they both glided over Roxas' cool skin, up his sides and forward, over his chest… warm fingers brushed over all too sensitive skin and Roxas almost doubled over with a loud, shocked gasp at the strange, but not unpleasant sensation it caused.

Axel moved his hands lower again, until they rested lightly on Roxas' stomach; and then Roxas could feel the redhead move behind himself, the older boy's slender upper body, thankfully still clothed, unfortunately clad in only a very thin, slightly wet shirt that allowed Roxas to feel every wiry, lithe muscle underneath, pressing up against his back.

"A-Axel…" Roxas whimpered, feeling as if he would choke on a moan that he wasn't yet ready to release.

"Still so cold…" he heard the redhead behind him mutter, and he shivered at the breathy quality of Axel's usually so smooth voice. "Will you ever warm up again, hm?"

Yes, if you keep doing exactly that, oooooh…

Roxas inhaled sharply and held his breath when he felt Axel's lips touching his shoulder; the redhead's hands didn't move, but Roxas could feel slender fingers flex a little, as if they were itching to move, to caress, to touch

But Axel just continued to shower his shoulder with gentle kisses, slowly moving up to his neck; his soft lips only paused at a certain point on Roxas' neck, and Roxas was sure the redhead could feel his rapid pulse racing beneath his skin like this. He sighed in pure bliss when Axel's lips parted for a split second, allowing his wet tongue to flit out between his lips to taste Roxas…

"So sweet…" he heard Axel murmur, feeling a feather-light kiss being breathed onto the outer shell of his ear. "So soft…" And now he felt one of the redhead's hands trail up his chest, leaving trails of pure heat in their wake, to touch Roxas' smooth cheek, applying just enough pressure to turn his head to the side a little. "So precious…" Warm lips connected with his cheek, only to make their way down in a maddeningly slow pace, over his jaw, his neck, until sharp, perfect teeth bit down on the junction of his neck and shoulder none too gently. The hand caressing his face trailed further up, slender fingers lacing themselves in Roxas' damp hair. Roxas obediently tilted his head to the side a little and whimpered at the sensations assaulting his senses; he wanted to scream, but his voice seemed gone. "So perfect…" was muttered against his skin.

"I… I'm n-…" Roxas stammered when his voice finally returned to him, but the words were lost in a quiet, barely restrained moan when the hand resting on his stomach moved, just a little, enough to turn his insides into molten fire and make his mind drown in pleasure. Long fingers spread to cover as much of his skin as possible, stroking his quivering flesh lightly. Roxas let his head fall back, opened his mouth to beg… lower, just a bit lower, just a little bit…

"I'm so s-sorry, Roxas," he heard his red-headed attacker whisper behind him. What Axel was apologizing for, he could not tell; the redhead fell silent after this, just burying his face in Roxas' hair and inhaling, and Roxas was too dazed by his own desire to give it a thought.

He turned around in Axel's arms, shivering when the redhead pulled back his warm hands; he looked up, saw half-lidded green eyes burning with desire, saw thin lips parting; he raised his hand and rested it on Axel's chest, felt the redhead jerk back from his touch and felt his heart race beneath his skin.

He acted purely on instinct when he suddenly lunged at Axel; he had been denied the overwhelming pleasure of feeling, kissing, tasting the beautiful boy for so long, and he felt so cold, Axel was so warm… His lips found Axel's, hungering for more contact, his hands lacing themselves with lusciously red hair, his body pressing up against Axel's in a fervent attempt to create more friction, to be closer, to feel more of the heat that started to build up inside his body; he had felt so cold before, but every touch, every caress was burning on his skin like fire.

A small voice in the back of his head tried to hold him back; tried to remind him that Axel was too precious to be tainted by him like this, that Axel was too hurt and too confused, that he might scare the redhead, that he might cause a flashback, because he was not any better than Kadaj and his brothers, no, he was worse, so unrestrained, so savage, losing his mind bit by bit the longer he was exposed to Axel's mere presence…

But this small voice was silenced when Axel responded to his kiss; not only did he kiss Roxas back, but also raked both hands through Roxas' damp spikes, only to let them rest on the back of Roxas' neck for a while; then one warm hand moved forward to press against Roxas' heaving chest, and Roxas found himself lying on his back all of a sudden, staring up into bright green eyes, wishing for their owner to stop looking at him like that and kiss him again.

But Axel, though he obviously wanted to grant Roxas his wish, judging the way he was leaning so close and breathing so hard and trembling like crazy, just continued to stare; not once letting his eyes leave Roxas', and Roxas couldn't look away either. He was too captivated by the intensity of feelings shining out of emerald depths; he couldn't have looked away even if he had possessed the will to do so.

"I'm sorry, Roxas," Axel finally whispered, breaking the silence; Roxas flinched at the sudden sound, not knowing why. He usually liked Axel's voice, even when it sounded hoarse and breathless like it was now; he just wasn't sure if he liked the imploring tone beneath the obvious excitement.

"N-No, don't be…" Roxas panted, running his hands through Axel's hair again, brushing his shivering fingers over the older boy's pale face until they rested on flushed, marked cheeks. "Don't… You don't have to…"

"I can't say it back yet, Roxas…" Roxas almost moaned at the sound of his name on the redhead's perfect lips, and he wanted to kiss those lips again, but Axel still held him down, just out of reach. "I-I'm not stupid, I know you need me to say…"

"No, no, no," Roxas interrupted him, shaking his head, desperately trying to shut the other boy up. He suddenly felt guilty again, so selfish, so awful… He was supposed to make Axel feel better, he was supposed to make Axel feel so good, but now Axel was worried, because Roxas had acted so stupid and because Roxas was so greedy and would never be satisfied until he heard the redhead say 'I love you', but it shouldn't matter, Roxas wasn't important, he didn't deserve to hear the words anyway… "I love you, I love you so much, I don't need you to say it back, I just…"

"I know you need to hear it, Roxas, and I want to tell you how much you mean to me, believe me," Axel went on, and he tried to say more, but failed; he stared down at Roxas, obviously searching for a way to explain why he couldn't tell Roxas what he wanted to hear, but it wasn't even necessary.

Of course Roxas knew.

"Don't be scared," Roxas whispered, brushing back strands of red hair in what he hoped was a soothing manner. He shook his head when Axel tried to look away ashamed. "I know you are. You don't have to be. I won't go away, I understand, I know you need time…"

"And I know you're trying to give me more time, I know, but…" Axel disagreed, and the longer Roxas looked at him, the more he could see the anxiety growing in darkened green eyes. "That's not… I just…" Axel grimaced, but shook his head when Roxas tried to touch his pale face. "Roxas, I'm not only afraid that you will leave me," he whispered, now staring into Roxas' eyes again. "I'm also afraid of what will happen if you allow me to stay."

Roxas stared at him, rendered speechless for a moment. He blinked in shock when suddenly something wet dropped onto his cheek; Axel tried to pull back, wiped his face with his sleeve, but Roxas quickly grabbed the redhead's shoulders and yanked him back as hard as he could. With a surprised gasp Axel landed right on top of Roxas, and Roxas took advantage of Axel's surprise and laid his arms around Axel's shoulders, holding him close. He felt Axel's shallow, panicked breaths against his neck, but didn't let go, not even when he felt the redhead try to push himself onto all fours again.

"You don't have to be scared," he repeated, and he could feel tears sting behind his eyes when he heard a soft whimper falling from Axel's mouth. "Don't be scared. Please, don't be scared of me…"

"I need you, so much, so much…" Axel whispered hoarsely, somewhat choked. "But I… I'll hurt you. I don't want to hurt you… I never wanted…"

"I know…" Roxas assured him, but Axel didn't seem to listen.

"It hurts you that I c-can't say it, it hurts you," the redhead all but sobbed against Roxas' neck, hitting the pillow next to Roxas' head with his balled fist. "Y-You tell me that you l-love… me, and you need me to say it back, I can see it, I know… And I just c-can't s-say it, because I'm such a coward, I… I shouldn't touch you, because it hurts you, but I have to touch you, because I need you… so much…"

"No, Axel," Roxas tried to calm the distressed redhead down; he kissed a tear-stained cheek lovingly, and repeated the action when he felt Axel flinch at the gentle touch. "Don't worry about me. I'll be fine, I can wait, I'll give you all the time you need…" Oh, but it was a lie. He couldn't wait, he needed this too much, he would never be fine again as long as Axel was afraid of him. He needed to be assured that he was not a monster, that he was worthy to be with Axel, and he needed the redhead so goddamn much.

This time he allowed Axel to rise from the bed at least a little, just enough so they could look into each other's eyes again.

"Roxas…" Axel finally breathed, nervously moistening his lips. Instantly Roxas was reminded of their close proximity, and of the still so overwhelming desire burning in his veins. Oh, it would be so painful to hold back this time, but Axel wasn't ready, it was too early, oh, but it had felt so right…

Without thinking Roxas reached up to pull down Axel's head with both hands, giving in, but only a little, only to satisfy his insatiable lust for his gorgeous lover at least a little bit, so it would not make him lose his mind… Their mouths molded together so perfectly, and it still felt so right, so good

All too soon Axel broke the kiss, but didn't pull away this time; his lips still hovered so dangerously close to Roxas', all he had to do was moving upwards, just a little, so close

For a while there was no sound but their heavy panting, no movement but the heaving of their chests, and the closeness was threatening to drive Roxas insane.

"I can't say it, Roxas," Axel finally whispered, and Roxas' objection was prohibited even before Roxas knew how to voice it; a hand, so warm and gentle, suddenly started caressing his thigh, and Roxas closed his eyes in bliss, lips parting to let out the softest of sighs. "But… I want to show you."

Roxas' mind was too occupied by Axel's warm hand to understand what the redhead was trying to say; opening his eyes he could see how serious Axel had become, and he tried to protest.

"Let me show you how much you mean to me, Roxas," Axel pleaded in a husky whisper. "Please!"

Roxas tried to answer, he really did, but now Axel was leaning down to kiss a path down his neck, and his hand, oh God, his hand was ghosting over his skin, so deliciously close to Roxas' most sensitive area; long fingers played with the waistband of his underwear, and if Roxas had been able to remember how, he would have cursed the redhead for teasing him like that…

"Will you allow me to… to touch you, Roxas?" Axel asked, strangely timid; Roxas wanted to yell and cry and swear all at once, until it hit him; he knew why Axel was being so formal, so shy… Why he was asking for permission. He needed Roxas to consent to what they were about to do, because he had never been allowed to refuse this way of touching; Axel had never had the chance to say no, so he needed to give Roxas this chance. He was probably deadly afraid of doing something wrong, of hurting Roxas…

"Yes," Roxas answered, again capturing Axel's lips in a sweet kiss, and between kisses he added, "I want you to… show me… Axel… I love you… so much… I trust you…"

"Are you sure?" The tone in Axel's voice was begging, almost desperate by now, and this time Roxas allowed his mouth to stay in contact with Axel's longer than before, trying to show the redhead this way that yes, he was sure, and yes, he trusted Axel with all of his heart.

"I'm sure," he added, running a thumb over Axel's warm lips and loving the shuddering breath that was sucked in at the tender gesture. "I trust you. I know you won't hurt me."

"How can you be so sure about that when I'm not?" Axel laughed shakily; Roxas didn't know how to answer the question, so he just smiled and pulled Axel down again.

This time Axel didn't resist the slightest; bracing himself on both forearms against the mattress so as not to rest his whole weight on Roxas he allowed Roxas to kiss him again, and Roxas had to smile against Axel's lips when both boys sighed softly at the same time.

Growing bolder he allowed his hands to travel down Axel's back, feeling the older boy tense up at his touch; he desperately wished that Axel would just let go and relax, because he doubted Axel could enjoy any of this if he was so nervous.

So he leaned up just enough so he could whisper into Axel's ear, and breathed softly, "Just relax, Axel."

"You say that as if you didn't know what you're doing to me," Axel muttered breathlessly, and had it not been such a goddamned turn-on, Roxas would have laughed at Axel's unusually shy behavior.

Instead he kissed Axel's forehead and intertwined his fingers at the back of Axel's neck to pull him into another sweet, gentle kiss.

It was only now he felt Axel relax at least a little bit, and he sighed contentedly, only to suck in a sharp breath when Axel all but collapsed on top of him, their bodies merging just like they were made for each other and fitting together perfectly in all the right places.

And now Axel was finally, finally kissing him again just like Roxas wanted. It was hot, it was passionate, it was pure torture, but it was feeling so damn nice to press his lips against Axel's and rake his hands through bright red spikes and arch his back, to feel every inch of the warm body covering his…

… Damn Axel's clothes for keeping them from real skin-on-skin contact.

Roxas knew he couldn't just go and start to rip Axel's clothes off. The redhead was trying so hard, but he was most likely still highly uncomfortable with the whole situation. The way he winced every time Roxas tried to move his hands gave him away, or the way he couldn't stop watching Roxas, even when they were kissing. Roxas could see the wariness in every look, he could feel the caution in every movement, every touch, and the rational part of his mind tried to remind him that there was no way he could make Axel feel at ease when they were making out. It was a miracle Axel was even here, and it was even more of a miracle he was willing to do anything that had to remind him so much of his tormentors.

But really, it was so hard to keep his hands off his gorgeous boyfriend. He had to force himself to raise his arms over his head and bury his hands in the pillow, otherwise he would surely have tried to feel more of Axel…

He felt Axel smirk against his lips. Before Roxas could decipher its meaning however, Axel deepened the kiss, and Roxas was all too eager to give in, opening his mouth and submitting completely to the older boy. A protesting whine escaped him when Axel suddenly pulled away again; he opened his eyes, not even recalling closing them before, and opened his mouth to protest at the loss of warmth and contact, but forgot how to speak when suddenly dark cloth was flung to the side. His eyes were immediately glued to the partly exposed body in front of him, hungrily flitting over the tattoo covering quite a fair amount of pale skin before he felt his face heat up. He felt a bit ashamed for staring, but couldn't rip his eyes away, not when Axel was so alluring, so enticing, so goddamned seductive, and he couldn't help but let his hands follow his wandering eyes, running over shoulders and arms, feeling so smooth and so strong; then tracing red and black tinged skin, until he reached the roman numeral at the center of those artificial flames, tracing the letters with one finger; Axel let him do as he pleased, even though Roxas could see and feel how uneasy he was. He noticed how the redhead pressed his lips together, and how he frowned and closed his eyes and sighed, how his breathing hitched when Roxas' searching fingers brushed over a sensitive spot; but he held still, only grimacing and jerking back slightly when Roxas' hands touched…

"What's that?" Roxas gasped when he noticed two bruises marring Axel's otherwise so perfect skin, both partly hidden by red and black flames. How come he overlooked them before? "What happened? How did that…"

"Just a little run-in with Riku," Axel explained, lopsidedly grinning down at Roxas.

"Because of me," Roxas whispered, still staring at the nasty, dark marks, feeling completely helpless and guilty. "Right?"

"Nah," Axel denied lightly, shaking his head. Then he pursed his lips thoughtfully and shrugged. "I was being a bit of a jackass. My friends were worried, and I wouldn't tell them what happened, and Riku didn't take that too well…"

"I'm so sor-…"

"What for? That I'm a stubborn idiot or that Riku is a hothead? I tell you, don't be sorry for things you weren't responsible for." Axel sighed, and Roxas suspected that the older boy was growing tired of his endless apologies. Not that Roxas could blame him for that. He was just so sorry, for all the pain and confusion he had caused, and he felt so guilty, and…

"Ah…" Roxas' eyes widened in surprise when Axel suddenly decided to continue where they had left off; but this time there was considerably less fabric separating them, and Roxas almost fainted at the feeling of Axel's warm skin sliding against his own and nimble fingers stroking his sides and chest and stomach and wet lips sucking at the tender flesh on his neck.

Roxas felt hot blood rush to his face, but even more so to a certain other part of his body, and his reaction to Axel's caresses made him blush even harder. Axel didn't seem to mind; no, he even slid one of his hands between Roxas' back and the bed to lift Roxas' body a little, and Roxas instinctively wrapped his legs around Axel's hips, relishing the surprised and lustful moan that was only muffled by his own flesh, sending pleasant vibrations through his whole body. Roxas allowed himself to respond with a fervent, throaty cry, arching his back to increase the friction between them; the increased pressure on his groin did bring brief relief, but also ached in the most delicious way imaginable.

And it made him very aware of Axel's equally aroused state, if the breathless moaning of his name and the violent shudder that ran though the slender body on top of his and the needy, and somewhat helpless clenching of a hand in his hair were any indication. He could tell Axel was trying to hold back, to take things slow, for him, so as not to scare him, but damn, he wanted to hear that sound again, that beautiful sound that was his name, outspoken with so much need and lust and passion; nothing could have scared him now, nothing could have been too fast, oh no, not now when he was so intoxicated, so high on the pure and blissful pleasure only one man could rouse inside of him.

So he closed his eyes and parted his lips to reply with a moan of his own – his lover's name, which felt so right on his lips, in a tone that reflected his need for Axel to touch him and love him, to show him what he was not able to say out loud. Love me, Axel, he begged without words, and he was rewarded with a bruising kiss, with slightly trembling hands exploring all of his body; caressing, fondling, rubbing and groping his sensitive flesh, even going as far as grabbing hold of the last piece of clothing that was still covering Roxas' skin and pulling it down.

For a brief moment Roxas was too shocked to deter Axel from doing this; too stunned to keep the redhead from completely undressing him, but all protests were forgotten when Axel started to leave hot, open-mouthed kisses on his chest, moving down and leaving a trail of fire lingering on Roxas' skin. Roxas could barely feel the slightly wet and slightly cold fabric being slid off his legs, nor could he feel self-conscious about being exposed completely to the redhead's hungry eyes; how could he, when Axel was looking at him like this, so adoringly, when he was touching Roxas like this, as if he was the most precious being in the world…

"So perfect…" he heard Axel whisper, and for once Roxas didn't even want to disagree; because right now this was perfect, Axel and him being together like this, so right…

Roxas whined in protest when Axel pulled back, because the air suddenly felt so cold on his flushed skin, and he needed back the heat; and there was this look in Axel's eyes again, that look that was stunned and coy and longing all at once, but the longer Axel's eyes roamed his exposed body, the more vulnerable and timid Roxas started to feel. What if Axel didn't like what he saw? What if he was disgusted by Roxas' now obvious arousal, what if…

"Stop worrying, Roxas," Axel gently interrupted his thoughts, and then all 'What if's were just gone, because Axel was kissing him again, and Axel was touching him, and it felt… sogood

"You're so perfect like this," Axel sighed, but Roxas barely heard him, solely concentrating on long, warm fingers curling around his member and… and moving… so slowly, oh God, how good that felt, and Roxas couldn't help but cry out, bucking up into the touch and squeezing his eyes shut as tears started to gather at their corners.

Axel didn't notice them at first, and he continued to lightly nip and suck at Roxas' neck and move his hand until Roxas had to let out a sob, because it felt so wonderful, because it was making him feel so hot and tense, but in such a good way… because it made him go insane, and Roxas quickly reached up to tangle both hands in Axel's hair and keep him down, because he knew Axel would look up and see the tears and freak out, because he wouldn't understand that Roxas wasn't crying, that the tears were there because it felt so, so good...

"Rox-…" Axel breathed against his skin, and Roxas swallowed hard, because he wasn't sure if he could talk when he was feeling so hot. But he couldn't calm down, how could he when all he felt was Axel's body heat, his warm, soft skin, sleek muscles moving under that skin and long fingers gliding up and down Roxas' length, and… Hah

"Axel," he whispered softly, cautiously pulling at red strands as a warning when Axel tried to look up. He bit his lip to stifle a needy whine when Axel let go of him, and he blushed heavily as his body reacted instinctively and his hips jerked up, grinding his hardened length against the rough fabric of Axel's pants. Axel hissed, and Roxas groaned when he felt the hardness concealed by the coarse material. "I… I want you to know," Roxas panted, his voice barely audible, "that I want this… I want you… I… I need you, and… you're not hurting me. I love you. Okay?"

"Roxas, what…" Axel replied, and now Roxas allowed him to look up; he smiled and ignored how green eyes widened in shock and how sickly white Axel's pale face became as the redhead took in the oh so insignificant tears. "What… did I… hurt…?"

"No," Roxas replied and shook his head slowly, and then, acting without thinking about it, he took Axel's hand, which had been hovering over his face, and made the redhead touch him, fingertips just grazing his skin at the corner of his eyes, feeling the wetness. And he didn't know why, but when he felt Axel flinch at the contact he quickly turned his head and caught two of Axel's wet fingers between his lips.

He tasted his own, salty tears, mixed with a more subtle flavor that was without a doubt purely Axel; he watched green eyes widening even more, and he couldn't help but moan around the slender digits inside his mouth; he wished he wouldn't be so turned on by the surprised look crossing Axel's features, or by the way his moist lips parted ever so slightly, or by the way the redhead's breathing quickened noticeably.

He let Axel's fingers slip from his mouth with a wet sound, licking his own lips and winding his arms around Axel's neck.

"I love you," he muttered again, and he knew there was no turning back now; he was too far gone, way too lost in his own desire to let Axel go again. He was selfish, he was egoistic, but he couldn't let Axel go, not when it felt so good to feel Axel's half-naked body pressed against his own, and to let his hands explore every smooth muscle, every curve and angle, every little detail of his lover's lithe, strong body.

It was too fast, too early, and it was so wrong and Axel couldn't be ready for this, not after all he had been through, but Roxas couldn't help but move his hands between their bodies, feeling heated skin and soft hair and fumbling with Axel's very bothersome belt and pants with clumsy fingers. He all but moaned at feeling the hardness underneath the fabric, and Axel did moan, and loudly at that, and Roxas couldn't get enough of all the delicious sounds the redhead made, so he gave up on the way too complicated buckle for a moment to palm the bulge that made very apparent just how much Axel wanted this. Wanted Roxas.

"Roxas… no, don't…" Axel panted, but his body betrayed him, slim hips jerking and grinding against Roxas' busy hands. "Hah-… Wait… You don't… h-have to…"

"I want to," Roxas interrupted him, maybe a bit too harsh, but right now he couldn't bring himself to care about something as trivial as his own inept brusqueness or Axel's sadly justified doubts. Because, really, how could Axel still be uneasy when it all felt so right?

"Rox-… Ah… Just… Just let me…" Axel broke off with a sharp gasp, and Roxas watched entranced as his amazing eyes slid shut and his lips parted in a soundless moan. The sight was so unbelievably erotic Roxas had to see what he had done to cause such a reaction, and when he looked down he realized he had somehow managed to undo Axel's belt and unbutton his pants, and his hand had found what he had felt waiting beneath before.

He blushed heavily, and he had to admit he was nervous. He had never done anything like this before; he had never touched another boy like this, and it was… strange, but so exciting. He had no idea what he was supposed to do, so he just let his hand slide along Axel's hardened length, slowly and ever so light, eliciting another choked gasp from the older boy.

But Axel seemed so uneasy; he kept his eyes shut, bit his lip, buried his face in the pillow next to Roxas' head, and Roxas immediately let go of him; Axel jerked, and his body tensed beneath Roxas' hands when he slid his arms around his waist, and for a moment Roxas wanted to continue where he had left off so badly. But he couldn't; not when Axel so obviously deemed it bad. Not that Roxas could blame him. The last person who had touched Axel like this had, without a doubt, been the same who had done some pretty fucked up things to him…

"I'm sorry," Roxas whispered, and every word felt so wrong, like white-hot needles piercing his heart. No, he wasn't sorry, he wanted to touch Axel again, wanted to see the reaction to touching him there. He felt the redhead move, and his hands twitched at feeling sleek muscles moving under smooth skin. "I'm sorry, so sorry, I didn't mean to scare you…"

Axel was just watching him, with a look so intense, it was almost frightening. Roxas couldn't decipher his unreadable expression, he only knew he wanted more. Axel was so breathtaking like this, scarlet hair falling over his shoulders, pale skin flushed a lovely, light red; green eyes focused on Roxas, and only him, yet hazy with desire and something else… an emotion Roxas strongly suspected to be anxiety. It had to be anxiety. What else could it be? If only he could drive that fear away, then this would be perfect.

"I wasn't scared," Axel replied slowly, and Roxas had to stare at him, and not only because his voice had just sounded so damn sexy, so dark and breathy and full of pure want. "Just nervous. And surprised."

He wasn't scared? Roxas couldn't believe that at first, and so he continued to stare at Axel, quite dumbfounded. Nervous? What did Axel have to be nervous about? But as soon as he had managed to wrap his mind around the thought that Axel was… okay with what Roxas had been doing, his eyes were inevitably drawn to Axel's mouth, thin lips quickly forming a sly smirk that made Roxas feel so goddamn hot and bothered, and made thinking so damn near impossible.

"I love you. So much." The words spilled from Roxas' mouth, and there was no way he could have stopped them. And then he reached up and pulled Axel closer, placing desperate, needy kisses on every inch of ivory skin his mouth could reach, and he wanted to say so much more; he wanted to explain that he needed Axel to trust him, that he wouldn't hurt him, that… He didn't know, and words just didn't make sense anymore.

"I know…" Axel replied with a sigh, and while it wasn't what Roxas had wanted to hear, the loving tone of his voice surely made up for it. Roxas felt a gentle hand nudging his chin, and before he had time to think, he found his lips locked with Axel's once more. A warm, wet, so familiar tasting tongue easily slipped between his lips and into his mouth, and Roxas couldn't help but groan at the sensation.

He barely noticed the hand slipping between their bodies at first, but, as amazing as Axel was at kissing, it wasn't quite enough to distract Roxas from the feeling of long fingers wrapping around his member again. Roxas broke the kiss with a lewd cry, throwing his head back; he wasn't even sure if he had just cried out Axel's name or not, but it didn't matter, nothing mattered as long as Axel was stroking him there, nothing mattered but the heat that started to build up inside his body.

He felt so helpless against the plethora of sensations assaulting his senses at once; his body was not obeying him anymore, and neither was his voice. Breathless gasps and throaty moans continued to spill from his lips, and his hands clutched at Axel's shoulders, his arms, gripped fistfuls of red hair. His whole body was tense, his hips rocking into Axel's warm hand, following the rhythm the redhead set for him, and all too soon Roxas felt an all too familiar feeling coiling inside his stomach; like liquid fire, like pure heat, and he dreaded and welcomed that feeling at the same time.

Everything felt so clear, so sharp; Roxas barely registered his surroundings, because nothing was important but Axel and him, but every touching of hot, wet lips against his flesh, every wisp of long hair caressing his face and neck and shoulders, every brushing of breath over his heated skin was electrifying his nerves, fuelling his need until he thought he couldn't take it anymore.

Opening his eyes he was instantly trapped in that same, intense stare as before; Axel was watching his every move, and even though he seemed a bit dazed to Roxas, the blond was sure Axel did not miss even the slightest movement or the quietest sound Roxas made.

Without thinking Roxas let his hands slide lower, beneath the fabric still covering Axel's body, seemingly startling Axel out of his daze. The redhead blinked lazily, then hissed sharply when Roxas' hands squeezed his firm butt.

"Take them off," Roxas heard himself plead, and he didn't have to say anything else. Quickly resting back on his knees and straightening up a bit Axel shoved his pants down along with his underwear, wiggling out of them and tossing them aside carelessly. His eyes, now darkened by unadulterated lust, never left Roxas', and his expression was serious, and not the least scared or nervous anymore.

Feeling his heartbeat speed up Roxas watched his lover undress, unable to keep his eyes off his nude form. He had imagined how it would be, having Axel's lean body completely exposed in front of him, but this… was even better than he had ever dared to imagine.

Axel's light ivory complexion was only accentuated by the color tattooed to his skin, but not one freckle or any other blemish tainted his skin otherwise. Again Roxas followed the trail of painted fire down Axel's body; perfectly realistic flames hugging well-toned muscle, curling around the four letters right above a slightly protruding hipbone, and lower, forming complex patterns on a lean thigh, where quite a few tendrils of the faked flame reached a bony knee. The colors did even almost match the trail of curly hair leading from the navel downwards, and, feeling a bit amused, Roxas found a statement Axel had made weeks ago to be true: The 'carpet' did indeed match the 'drapes'. Of course he hadn't doubted it, but still, actually seeing it was… well, arousing did not quite suffice to describe it. And there, between Axel's long, slender legs, was the proof of his desire for Roxas, for Roxas, fully erect and just begging to be touched…

But something was off; as soon as Axel noticed Roxas staring, he drew back a little, and to Roxas utmost delight he noticed a very slight blush rising to his lover's face.

"W-What?" the redhead asked nervously, uselessly trying to hide his arousal from Roxas' greedy eyes. Roxas couldn't help but smile; Axel had been the one to initiate their little tête-à-tête after all, and now he decided to act all shy and self-conscious? Wasn't it a bit late for that?

"Nothing," he replied breathlessly, unconsciously running a hand down his own chest and licking his so dry feeling lips. "You're just the incarnation of my wildest dreams."

Axel seemed to almost choke on another, slightly higher-pitched "What?", but his wide eyes were glued to Roxas' wandering hand, and the bewildered expression on his face quickly gave way to one of hunger and want. Roxas had never seen anything more enchanting than the ravenous and downright lascivious expression he was graced with.

His whole body was throbbing with raw lust, set aflame by the coveting look in his lover's eyes, and without thinking Roxas gave in to the overpowering need to release at least some of the tension building up inside his body. He let his finger brush over his twitching erection, up and down and up again, before he fisted it and squeezed, ever so slight and yet enough to draw a choked, drawn-out moan from his own mouth.

His eyes were about to slide shut when he noticed Axel had moved; the redhead was on his hands and knees, and he slowly crawled closer again, one of his warm hands gliding over the inside of Roxas' quivering thigh and then pressing against his knee. Roxas instinctively spread his legs wider, moaning at the blissful feeling of being touched, just being touched… He spread his legs, moved the hand on his member up and down so slowly, and he moaned again, feeling the warm hand on his knee wandering up, gently massaging his flesh as it went.

Axel paused for a moment to kiss Roxas' thigh, right above his knee, and Roxas couldn't help but flinch, his breath hitching in his throat at the feeling of wet lips touching and sharp teeth scraping and a wet tongue licking his skin… and then, all of a sudden, Axel was bridging over him, still watching Roxas so intently, and just when Roxas thought he couldn't take it anymore, Axel leaned down and kissed him, and at the same time he could feel the warm hand closing around his own.

The added pressure, as light as it was, and the mere thought that Axel was touching him almost made Roxas come on the spot. He wanted to moan Axel's name so badly, but his lips were still sealed by Axel's in a slow, sensual kiss. So he just reached up with his free hand, blindly groping for soft hair and pulling harshly, greedily swallowing every soft, pleasured sound Axel made. He broke their kiss for a second, heaving a shuddering breath when he felt their joined hands move on him, but almost instantly Axel's hot mouth covered his again. The redhead's breathing was just as harsh and choppy as Roxas' own.

And then Roxas felt Axel's warm hand peel away his own fingers from his member, and he desperately tried to resist; but then there was more pressure, more friction, and Roxas all but sobbed into Axel's mouth when he realized that the redhead had ground his crotch against Roxas', and he could feel Axel's hard, throbbing erection pressing against his, and – Oh God!he had never felt anything this arousing before.

He almost lost control over his body, his mind and heart and soul drowning in pure bliss, and lost in an erotic daze he let Axel guide him, wrapping both his and Axel's longer fingers around their joined members and stroking, slowly at first, but speeding up gradually. Roxas felt the pulsing heat in his hand and the sweaty palm pressing against the back of his hand, and he felt the steady rocking of Axel's hips against his; he felt velvety skin rub and slide against his own, he felt Axel's abs clench almost violently when he let the very tips of his fingers graze the smooth skin there, and he felt Axel's hectic breath on his moist lips, as they were too busy panting for much-needed air to kiss anymore. He wrapped his quaking legs around Axel's thin waist, acting purely on instinct, forcing their bodies into a different angle to grind against, and it was even better, so much better, so much pressure, so much friction, too good, too fast, too hot, too much

And then he felt Axel grabbing his free hand and pressing it against the pillow right above Roxas' head, lacing their fingers together and squeezing it tight; and he felt the redhead press burning, desperate kisses to Roxas' skin, licking and sucking and nipping and biting, and he heard Axel's voice, right next to his ear, wet lips brushing against the outer shell…

"Roxas… Roxas…" Just a quiet whisper, accompanied by the most exquisite little gasps and pants and pleasured moans, caressing Roxas' skin as well as his soul.

With a breathless cry Roxas surrendered to the pleasure completely; he thrust his hips against Axel's one last time as he came all over his stomach, and his hand was jerking quickly between their rocking bodies, spreading some of the slick, white substance over himself and his lover. Gasping and sobbing and panting for air he tried to loosen the tight grip around his member, but found himself unable to; Axel's hand on his forced him to keep up the fast pace of his jerking, and just when the pressure and the fast stroking started to become uncomfortable for Roxas, he felt Axel's member twitch and heard his lover moan, and he felt even more slick liquid coat his hand and splatter his stomach.

They stayed like this for a moment, their bodies tense and trembling; Axel's face was pressed against Roxas' neck, Roxas' legs were still wrapped around Axel's waist, and their intertwined hands resting on the pillow above Roxas' head were clutching each other tightly.

Finally Axel's other hand slipped away from Roxas', and Roxas slowly released their softening members, feeling utterly spent and weak. All of a sudden all tension left his body, and he sighed, closing his eyes. And it seemed like Axel was in the same, drained state as he was; the redhead slumped with a small groan and relaxed, resting all of his weight on Roxas. Roxas didn't mind. It wasn't like Axel was heavy anyway, and it felt… nice to feel so much skin on skin. Really, really nice.

"…'msorry," he heard Axel mumble against his neck after a while of quiet breathing and soft sighing.

"Hm?" He couldn't even form a coherent reply. He felt just too weak to actually open his mouth, and too tired to worry anymore.

"Hope 'mnot too heavy," Axel clarified, and Roxas had to chuckle weakly at how slurred the redhead's voice sounded. "Just kinda can't move right now…"

"… okay," Roxas sighed. He turned his head to his side a little, slowly rubbing his cheek against Axel's, and he could feel the redhead smile.

"So cute…" Axel whispered, and Roxas felt a smile of his own spread all over his face.

"So hot…" he replied and hummed contentedly, and he raised a heavy hand to draw lazy circles onto Axel's back.

"So tempting," Axel muttered, bracing himself on his lower arms and raising his head a little, green eyes shining and thin lips curled upwards into a tender, perfect smile.

"So gorgeous," Roxas breathed, completely enchanted by Axel's happy, gentle expression; and like always Axel winced at the compliment, but this time it didn't take him as long as usual to replace the look of uncertainty on his face with another beaming smile.

"So beautiful," the redhead replied, and now it was Roxas' turn to stop smiling.

"Why do you say that?" he asked quietly.

"Because it's true." Still smiling.

"But you… don't like that word," Roxas protested feebly. He didn't dare to clarify his statement. He didn't want to explain that he was thinking of Kadaj's misuse of that word and Axel's resulting fear of it right now…

"I'm starting to like it," Axel said calmly, and he placed a sweet kiss on Roxas' temple before he continued, "Because it's the only word that describes your smile at least halfway accurately." And, nudging Roxas' ear with his nose, he added, "You give the word a whole new meaning."

"Oh," Roxas said stupidly, inwardly kicking himself. "Okay."

"Okay," Axel repeated and laughed quietly when Roxas suddenly couldn't hold back a yawn. "Sleepy?"

"Didn't sleep too well…" Roxas mumbled and rubbed his eyes.

"Yeah, me neither," Axel admitted, slowly disentangling his limbs from Roxas' and rolling over, laying on his side and sliding an arm around Roxas' waist to pull him close. "I guess we could rest for a bit now…"

Roxas didn't even hear him anymore. He was lulled to sleep by the dear scent of cinnamon and caramel and the warmth surrounding him, and for the first time in weeks, no whispering voices or shadows disturbed his peaceful slumber.

Author's Notes: ::frowns:: I probably won't ever be able to read that myself again. It's the fucking ninth attempt on this chapter (I started, then deleted the whole thing, tried another kind of beginnging, deleted it again, made them make up right away and deleted it, nearly smashed my laptop out of frustration, and so on...), and I am so not happy with it. Like, at all. It's full of talking. And angst. It's just not worth waiting for more than a year.

::sighs:: ::laughs:: No, you don't need to cheer me up or anything. I just feel a bit embarrassed for posting porn-ish stuff for the first time, because there's just so many better M-rated stories out there. (Commercial break: You want more sexy stuff? Really good sexy stuff? Read kurosora1984's stories!)

Ah well. Hope you liked. ::shuffles off to study::