(A/N): I usually try to have reviews, alerts, etc. handled before I upload something new, but I'm seriously behind on my messages. I apologize about that, guys - I'm not ignoring you, promise. Reviews are always appreciated.
Disclaimer: Don't own it.
A Matter of Existence
Roxas is new to the whole business of being a Nobody, but at least he knows that he doesn't know. So he keeps to himself, sits back and lets the other members try to feel him out, and he gives them as little to work with as possible.
If the Organization is an enigma to him, he'll be an enigma to the Organization.
He carries out his missions with ruthless efficiency, and that's enough for the other members to realize he's capable of handling himself and stop constantly circling, searching for a weakness. Roxas figures that's the best he can ask for for now.
Roxas isn't sure when Axel started following him everywhere, but he finds it easy enough to ignore the man. He just shrugs away the hand on his shoulder and tunes the redhead's voice out of his mind.
Until Axel lets slip something he probably shouldn't have.
"You're never gonna get your answers, kid," Number VIII sighs, propping his booted feet up on the table and regarding Roxas with a crooked smirk. "No one here's gonna give 'em to you."
Roxas's eyes flash to Axel's face. The redhead's smirk just widens, and Roxas realizes this is just Axel's way of feeling him out, fishing for a reaction, any reaction. He still can't keep himself from asking. "What?"
Axel laughs, the sound dry and devoid of even an echo of any sort of emotion. "You're Number XIII, kid. The Keyblade Master. Our last, great hope." He scoffs as he throws his head back. "If you get your answers, you'll leave, and where the hell does that leave us?"
Roxas only narrows his eyes and turns away again, feigning indifference. But a flash of what might be excitement arcs across his brain – there are answers, somewhere. He just has to find them.
Roxas finds himself spending more time with Axel, hoping the redhead slips again. Axel doesn't seem to mind his presence – he actually seems to get a twisted sort of enjoyment out of it.
Roxas isn't stupid enough to come straight out and ask Axel for what he wants, so they dance around each other in an intricate ballet of half-truths and outright lies. Roxas is shocked when he realizes there's a perverse sort of camaraderie growing between them.
But Axel doesn't slip again.
When Axel leaves for Castle Oblivion, Roxas doesn't think much of it. It's just another mission, and Roxas has plenty to occupy his time during the redhead's absence. His subtle and not so subtle prying for the answers he so desperately wants has hit a wall, and now he has the dreams to deal with – dreams of a bright-eyed hero of a boy that make Roxas uneasy for reasons he can't name. When he comes right down to it, Axel's absence is something of a blessing – the redhead has a habit of monopolizing Roxas's time when he's around.
But then Axel is the only member to return from Castle Oblivion, and Roxas finds he thinks far too much about that. Number VIII is bluntly unapologetic for his manipulation and assassination of IV and the others, and suddenly everything clicks over in Roxas's mind and he wonders how he didn't see it before.
Axel knows the answers; always has.
He didn't slip that day all those months ago – he told Roxas exactly what he meant to. Because for whatever reason, he settled on Roxas and told the boy whatever he thought would keep him close.
Staring into Axel's acid-green eyes, Roxas knows he'll never get his answers where he is.
Roxas is staring up at Kingdom Hearts when Axel comes up behind him and cuffs him across the back of the head. "What, you think you can pick yours out if you just stare at it long enough?" he asks mockingly. Roxas just hunches his shoulders and glares at the sky.
"If I left," he says at length, catching the way Axel stiffens and turns his face toward him in his peripheral vision, "if I left the Organization, would you kill me? Like Vexen?" Axel eyes him narrowly before he speaks.
"You know I would." He steps forward and grabs Roxas's shoulder, yanking the blond around to face him. "You know I would, Roxas, so don't do anything stupid." Roxas only grins and steps out of Axel's grasp, straightening his jacket.
"It was just a question."
Axel lets him go, and Roxas knows he'll be able to leave, after all. Axel's never as cruel as he should be, not around Roxas.
It's time to bring their game to an end.
Roxas walks away and knows Axel won't stop him. He supposes if he had a heart, he might consider it cruel, but he doesn't. On both counts.
Staying with Axel won't make him complete, won't gain either of them a heart. And if it feels like something inside him's dying just a little, there's also the infinitesimal chance he'll be successful – find his heart out there and be able to come back and get Axel his back, too.
If he could hope, he'd call it that. But he can't and he doesn't.
As he tries to filter out Axel's soft, "I would," Roxas knows cruel is the only way to do this. Regardless of the state of his heart, he wants Axel to keep (not) living. In the months they've danced around one another, Roxas has learned which buttons to push, what will keep Axel fired up and angry enough to keep going.
And Roxas wants him to, even if Roxas gets himself killed out there in his foolhardy quest.
So he shrugs off the memory of a hand on his shoulder and tunes out the redhead's voice.
It's easy, really.