He felt like a convict, walking through the halls with some man in a long white coat marching beside him and people peppered on the sides, all glancing at him when he came within their range.

He couldn't imagine living here. It would be horrible. Disturbing.

None the less, he was here. It wasn't his first time being in this horribly stabilized place, either. It was his third.

One visit. Every week. On Thursday, between the hours of two and three. You could only carry one item with you and that had to go through inspection, no matter what it was.

Beneath his overly baggy pants it felt like the object in his swim trunk pocket (as they wouldn't search under his pants, and his swim trucks had a little zippered pocket on the inside to put easily lost items in, like keys) was burning a hole through his skin. Branding him with it's engraved lines and saying I'm here, this is mine.

He tried to ignore it and instead walked through the halls with what he had dubbed the white man, glossy magazine clutched tightly in his right hand.

When he got to the specific room (grey, dull, threatening but trying not to be), he went inside after the white man motioned him in - Like I need to be told where to walk. Fuck off- and sat in the plastic chair that looked like it was stolen from McDonald's and near the table which looked fifty years too old to be between him and the person sitting on the other side.

They both wore solemn faces before the white man left, going to sit on the observational room on the other side of the glass with a security guard that probably could have worked in a lot better place than where he was now.

Then they grinned and it was like the object that he had hidden in his pants was suddenly blown over with ice, cold and prominent against his thigh.

The first thing the person across from him said was "So, Roxy, whaddaya bring me this time? Something I don't need? Something to entertain me in this-" Here he raised his voice, staring directly at the glass at which he couldn't see through. "FUCKING BORING ASS PLACE."

He could almost feel the twitch of the white man's finger from behind the glass, ready to press the button and declare a Code.

He racked his brain for the color that the doctor would call before giving up, instead focusing on the grinning Cheshire face of the person sitting across from him.

His eyes glowed like bright beams of light, a car in the distance. His grin glinted like a knife at the bottom of a pool- bright and sharp, but murky and filled with something between them. He couldn't imagine what meds they had put him on, but it had seemed to dull his personality into a dull, malformed version of his usual self.

After a split second he threw the magazine on the table between them, another object between them. The other guy's fingers scrabbled to pick up the flimsy thing, and Roxas noticed that his fingernails were cut short, to the edge- almost to the point of being painful.

He never cut his fingernails before. He still remembered the dirt caught beneath them, artistic reminders of where his hands had been and what they had touched.

He chose to ignore this, another cut to his friend's personality, and instead smiled like he was supposed to. He hated doing this but he couldn't do anything else, especially not with so many doctor's and nurses around and especially since his friend needed someone close lying to him. At least that. "Yeah. Blender came out yesterday, so I got you that."

He paused, looked at his friend's muddled complexion, red hair slicked back from grease, shirt with a small stain of what he thought was ketchup near the collar. Then he smirked in a sardonic way. "Maybe I should have bought you Cosmo. Tell you five ways to make you look cleaner without using actual products."

Laughing, his friend flipped him the finger, right hand holding the magazine open. Another twitch from behind the glass resounded in the grey room.

"Fuck off, Roxas. I don't even get time to shower because I'm so laced out on drugs I almost forgot you were coming today."

The almost echoed between them, stretching across the table in a sharp crack. Roxas could imagine the other boy leaning over the table, pressing his lips to his collar bone, gangly arms clenching at his fore arms and branding him there, another place that screamed mine.

None of this happened and, instead, Axel asked how everyone was doing. They conversed, and, if they had been outside of these caged walls, he probably would have Axel holding his hand or laying his head in his lap or they wouldn't have been talking at all.

Near the end of the hour- he could only tell because Axel's face only got more downtrodden or muddled or whatever emotion the drug made him feel multiply- he scooted close to the chair, fucked his arms beneath the table and, with some difficulty, got the item from inside his swim trunks out and held it in his hands, which remained under the table.

His back sat, stiff and straight like a stop sign pole, to the person in the observational room. The side of his face only showed an expression that said Look. Axel glanced at his eyes and scooted closer, hands finding his own under the table.

Their fingers tangled and the way they tangled was like speaking itself. Don't leave me here, keep me safe, come back.

In the end, Roxas unknotted his fingers from Axel's and pressed the item into his hand. He made sure the sharp part pricked his skin instead of the redhead's. The bruises from needles still stood prominent on his forearms, track records of vampire bites from people who were supposed to be taking care of you.

Then he let go and, all at once, he felt like he could drown in all the words and actions he wanted to let loose. But, instead (always instead), he remained composed and stared at Axel's pale face, scrunched in poorly hidden hurt and suppressed confusion.

Axel was on a lot of meds, he guessed. He wouldn't look this way otherwise.

After a second more of questioning eyes, Axel scooted back on his chair and looked into his palm. His eyes lit, bright beams on the highway in the dark now. Roxas smiled but tried not to look like he was too happy at the look on his friend's face.

In his palm, unseen by the white man, sat a small earring. It was a star. One half was black and the other white. It was the only color in this room that wasn't alive.

Axel's face looked heartbroken. He'd only seen that look when they were younger - when the goldfish he had named Roxie died because he kept on tapping the bowl to see if it was awake- and strained. Trying not to show too much emotion, like the old Axel would have done effortlessly.

His fist clenched around the earring after a second, then were placed in the pants Roxas had brought him two weeks ago- grey huskie sweats that had pockets and hung loosely around his protruding hips. After a second the spiny limb came out and his fingers fanned across the table, frail as bird wings.

It was only two seconds, though it felt like endless minutes, when he almost vaulted over the table and Roxas met him halfway, lips desperately pressed against Axel's. Straining to convey feelings he couldn't say out loud.

Their lips sought and looked and tried to find anything- desperation, hopelessness, loss, anger, sadness, want, love.

They heard the guard burst in from the door Roxas had come in, but didn't care until Axel was jerked away by his shoulder. The blond only gasped, his breath stolen from the redhead, taken with him towards the opposite door and only released with a sharp smile and a laugh.

"Seeya next week Roxie! Bring me another Blender!"

He nodded and waved. Breathed

From there to his car, he listened to the white man counting the indecencies he had committed, say if he chose to do that again he would not be allowed to come back, and all he could remember him saying was Axel's name.

---

"Roxas? You're home already? It's 3 o' clock, honey, what happened to your last class?"

"The teacher sent us home early."

"Well, can you explain to me why I got a call saying you missed your fourth period class too?"

"I needa get to work, mom. I'll talk to you later about it, okay?"

"Well, ok than… But we will have that talk, young man."

"Ok."

-----

He picked up the plates, fingers pressing as close as they could to the edge of the china. The remnants of what was probably delicious food- his stomach grumbled at the reminder that it hadn't eaten all day- dripped off the plate and into the baby blue tray he held between the table and his thighs. He snorted at how gross it all was.

It was three minutes later, when he was wiping the table and putting the condiments back into their proper places- menu tray, salt and pepper- when someone tapped his shoulder, spoke with words too loud for such a formal restaurant.

"Hey, did I happen to leave some earrings here? Spiky, kinda in a loop?"

He turned around and smiled at the good looking man, who was in a suit and had his red hair pulled into a messy ponytail, and nodded. Like a good dishwasher/table cleaner would.

"Yeah, here." He put his hand in his pocket, pulled out the loopy silver earring and held it in his hand. His blue eyes flitted to the prominent hole in the conch of the man's left ear.

Instead of just smiling, saying thank you, and leaving, the stranger looked at the baby blue tray he had set on the cushions of the booth and grimaced.

"I guess we really made a mess, huh? My uncle eats like a pig, but I can't say much for myself either."

Roxas laughed.

He chatted with the stranger until one of the bitchier waitresses told him that two other tables needed cleaning up.

Snorting at the face Roxas made at the girl's retreating back, the other man waved goodbye and left.

He didn't see him for another three weeks, but it felt like longer.

-------------

"Roxas…"

He looked up at the only girl in his group of friends, on his stomach and filling out the notes that accompanied the text he was supposed to be reading. He lay on her bedroom floor while she sat on her bed, so he had crane his neck back far to look at her.

She was biting at her lip ring, acquired only a month ago and without the permission of her parents. It was the only rebellious thing she had ever done and she'd been grounded for three weeks. He remembered the laugh Axel had barked out when he had found out- remembered the exact words of "Well, if my piercings are good enough to ground a kid because they're too cool to take out , I'm getting better.".

That was a newly discovered habit, he supposed.

"I'm… Well… Where do you go every Thursday? You always skip Math, and you know you're failing that, Roxas…"

His back stiffened but was unseen from under his red hoody. His eyes looked panicked but he hid that by looking at his book, pretending to look at a question that needed some concentration. His response was quick, unsuspicious, but the lie lay fresh on his tongue once spoken.

"I'm just putting in some extra hours at The Olympia, Olette. I didn't want to tell mom or dad because she'd freak, but I need the money to buy that new car I want."

Here he paused, dramatic effect hanging in the air for two seconds. Olette was one of those girls- excited by drama and sworn by secrecy by herself once someone had told her something that sounded confidential. His voice sounded defeated and he wondered why he felt that way, too. "Please don't tell anyone, okay? They'd give me shit for it."

She, too, paused, conveying the strain it would take her to not say anything. Maybe, instead, to guilt Roxas until telling her what he really was doing because she knew he was lying. He brushed the feeling of paranoia off like snow on his shoulder. "Alright, Roxas. But, quit soon, k? You can't fail math, not when we're in grade twelve."

He smiled, looking grateful. Suddenly wished he wasn't in her pristine room and she wasn't sitting on the bed. Pictured red and black and white teeth.

"Thanks."

He didn't say a name because he knew he would say the wrong one.

-------------

That day was a blur until two o'clock, sitting across from his friend with their hands tangled under the table. Not sharing a secret, but just trying to touch.

Axel's voice was a fast smear across a blank sheet of paper- he couldn't hear half the words and it was like five different stories were being blended and told at once. He smiled and laughed and felt whenever he heard something. Anything.

"Man I can't even hold my own fucking lighter in here they have to light my own cig for me and Jordan, ya know her, she was at that one party with us, was chatting me up real hardcore before the attendant sauntered up to us and told us what we were doing was inappropriate. We're being too inappropriate. So they put me on the 'all men's' floor."

Here they shot a grin at each other, eyes a landscape of color- green for grass and blue for sky, his hair the sun in the sky- before breaking out into laughter, still desperately holding hands. Putting a gay guy in an all men's floor would surely be less inappropriate than a genderless floor.

Secretly he worried if Axel would be 'inappropriate' on the men's floor, the pads of his fingers touching the tan skin of some other boy, younger looking with eyes brown or hazel or even green but never blue. The same pads of fingers pressed into the curves of his fingers now.

Their hour was over but their feelings were not- a slight brush of lips and a brief touching of the skin under his shirt was all he got before Axel was forced to leave, asking for magazines and porn before the door flapped uselessly behind him.

The places where Axel's fingers trekked left molten trails on his skin. Another branding that he could feel vividly until he got back to his car and everything become muddled again.

---------------------

"Hey, Roxas, what would you bring to a deserted island? One item only."

He looked up at the paler face of his friend, reading near the rail of the steps of the library. The redhead had his arms folded on the steel pole, grinning lazily with a mischievous gleam in his eye.

The words were instantly out of his mouth, dodging the hidden question which was supposed to bring out your desires. "A boat, Axel. A boat."

His grin stretched, even lazier, across his face. It was enough of a sun for Roxas "Ooo. Smart, Ro-xas."

"It's obvious." He deadpanned, curious but unable to ask the question he wanted answered. After a few seconds of silence, in which he was about to return to his book, Axel spoke again. His voice was humming, full of life.

"You know what I would bring, Rox-y?"

"What?" He flipped a page.

"You."

------------------

In math class on Wednesday, he doodled in his margins, doodled silly things and serious things he didn't know where he got the inspiration from, and couldn't remember where he had picked up the habit.

--------------

He was kissing someone, pressing his tongue against the other person's, hands clumsy against their skin. It was only when the girl giggled, tried bringing him up the stairs to a dark and unoccupied space, that he really felt skin on his hand.

He couldn't remember the girl, the expressions or words, but he was outside when his mind finally snapped back into his body- cold because his shirt was open and goosebumps rose like statues on guard.

His eyes trailed from the trees, caked in snow, to Axel, who was glaring furiously at him. It was the only time in the four months that Roxas had actually known Axel- five months of you counted from when they had met- that the blond had actually saw him this angry. The lines between his eyebrows and on his forehead were deep, scary.

"What the fuck was that, Roxas? Really, you were about to go and fuck that chick upstairs and l-"

"Look…" His voice seemed heavy with emotion but he couldn't feel anything. "I'm notta fucking kid. You dun't needa look after me and-"

Axel interrupted him, throwing his arms out to the side. Tried to look more intimidating than he was supposed to be. "Look," he said mockingly, with a slight imitated slur. "You're drunk. You were about to lose your virginity to the town bicycle. Making out is ok, but sex is where I draw the line! Especially with Selphie! That girl has fucked anything with a pulse!"

"FUCK off." His voice rose and lowered without him wanting it too- it was weird. It was like he didn't control his own body. "It's not like you haven't done that to me before, left me at a party to go fuck some random girl in the next room-"

"I've done that twice!" His face was a snarl, more dangerous than it was supposed to be. "And that was when I was blown out of my fucking mind. No one cared what I did until you started bitching at me to stop that. So I'm giving a shit about what you do with other people, because you'll thank me in the morning!"

"FUCK YOU. You don't give a shit." Realization dawned on his face, a wrong epiphany. A shot in the dark. "You probably just wanna fuck 'er yourself-"

And then there were fists- the rough skin of knuckles against his face, an elbow in his neck- and it was only when he was on the ground and dizzy, staring at his friend's face, that the other boy spoke, breathing hard with a bleeding mouth.

"You fucking idiot! Have you ever thought that maybe, just maybe, I want your first time to be with me?"

---------------------

Today, Axel looked worn out. Rag-dollish. The edges of what was supposed to be a full image.

Nonetheless, their fingers played under the table- knotting and twisting until they couldn't figure out whose was whose. They only let go so that Axel could show him this trippy trick that this kid, ViVi, had taught him with his fingers. It had Roxas making a face that was kin to morbid fascination/disgust, and Axel laughing at him.

It was half an hour through that visit when Axel was reading through an article in the newest edition of Blender. Roxas looked back and let go of his fingers, and Axel looked up, offence clearly written across his face in poor lines.

"What? Am I that dirty that you don't even want to hold my hands anymore?"

"No, no, it's not that." His blue eyes flitted to look behind him, head slightly tilted to scrutinize the glass before looking back at Axel. "Do you think they'll be pissed if I sit on the same side of the table as you? I wanted to read that article too, but I have no money left now."

Axel shrugged, looked and scrutinized the glass too. Glanced back at Roxas and then swiped his tongue across his lips. The blond couldn't help but look. "Whatever. If they get pissed, fuck them. I'll pull a Code Red on their asses if they force you out early."

He hesitated a second until Axel screeched his chair to the left, leaving room for him. He got up, pulled his chair around the table and sat, lacing his fingers with Axel's automatically. It felt as if he had just run a marathon and won when, after a minute, no doctor came into the room to yell at him for moving inappropriately.

Hands laced, they read the article in comfortable silence.

And, for one flitting moment, he wished they could stay like that.

---------------

"So… Does this count as our third date? Can I kiss you on the cheek now? Start pulling back the chair for you to sit on? Buy you expensive shit that leaves me broke for three days?"

Roxas snorted, feet hanging off the bed as they shared headphones. He had the right headphone while Axel had the left, so they're heads were close together as the music flew out of the speakers like butterflies. "I would hardly count this as a date. I just finished my homework, and you just finished whining at me to stop trying so hard."

"So? It can still count as a date. You just dodged the question."

"Dodging? I gave you a straight answer, moron."

"Aw, I bet you're just secretly shy."

"Me? We're still talking about me, right?"

Axel snorted, turning slightly to look at him. "Who else would I be lying in a bed with, sharing the wonderful genre of political metal with?"

Roxas laughed, mockingly. "Wonderful? This sounds like shit."

"Just because you're jealous doesn't mean you have to make fun of it, Roxie."

The blond hmm'ed, going quiet as a whispering took up the headphones.

The truth was, he was scared. He had never dated a guy. Never thought of dating a guy. The thought of touching hard ridges instead of soft flesh scared him. Even if he got slightly heated whenever Axel took off his shirt, he was scared of what lay past simple kissing and on the bed. His virginity would be taken by a guy. That really, really freaked him out.

Once the song was done, he looked over at Axel, who already had his eyes on him. He refused to let his face light up, refused to ask how long Axel had been staring at him.

"What?"

Axel grinned, Cheshire smile in place. "Well, I was just thinking how much ILY."

"ILY? What the hell is that?"

"Figure it out and you'll know."

-----------

"Roxas, I'd like to speak to you after class, alright?"

Tuesday, Roxas thought. He could spare time on Tuesday. He didn't even work today, either. He could go out after school and look for something else to buy besides magazines.

"Yeah, sure."

Without further ado, the class started. Numbers droned at him from their places on the blackboard and he scribbled down the right way to find the right answer. Didn't really understand it all, but he would figure it out.

He doodled in his notebook when he had time, write 'ILY' every few minutes when he couldn't think of anything else to draw. The bell rang when he had finished the 'Y' of his seventh 'ILY', and he waited until mostly everyone was out of the room to approach his teacher.

The older man sat at his desk and Roxas stood near the door, ready to leave at any given moment. It was when he fixed him with a look that all teachers gave to those 'special' students that he wanted to leave.

"Roxas, I'm concerned about your math mark. It's dropping steadily over the semester and you keep on missing this particular class. I might have to remove you from my class if you don't decide to become dedicated to your schoolwork."

The blond nodded, face bored, but inside he was screaming in embarrassment, yelling at the other man to fuck off and not talk to him. Leave him alone. He could handle all of this.

Instead, he nodded, said sorry, made excuses, and left with an unsatisfied slump to his shoulders.

--------------

"Axel." He gasped, rocked his hips forward, clamped his hands on the other boy's sides. His neck was burning where Axel kissed it, biting and licking at spots he was marking for himself.

"Ah, Axel! Mm." His voice was a delicious mixture or lust, want, and pleading, bursting from his usual scorning and sarcastic tone. His hands bunched the cloth at the sides until the were near his underarms, ready to be pulled off at any given second.

Axel leaned up and took off his shirt, throwing it to the ground, diving back to press his lips to Roxas in an open-mouthed, wet kiss. His whole body leaned forward, bare chests touching Roxas'. Skin trying to stay as close as possible to the heat underneath him.

Again, Roxas' hands fluttered to his sides, smoothed his way to shoulders and pushed with a will that wasn't really there. The redhead seemed to get the message and pulled back, eyes heavy with want and questioning.

Roxas looked to the side, suddenly embarrassed to be beneath the hot gaze. Even if this wasn't the first time they had gotten 'heavy'- no, Axel had given him a few blowjobs and Roxas had given one to him, and the number of times they had made out exactly like this was unknown- it was the first time he wanted something else.

No one was home, and he had planned it that way when he had invited Axel over. It had been three months since their relationship had started, three months since Axel had confessed on a drunken night that he liked the blond 'like that.' It was in the shower that Roxas had finally realized that he really, really wanted to show Axel he loved him. Actually loved him.

He felt like a teenage girl, but he bundled up as much nonexistent courage as he could, and looked back into Axel's eyes before speaking.

"I…" Wow, words were hard to say. Really hard. "I've been thinking."

"That's not a new development, but still Roxy, now?"

He swatted at his boyfriend's arm, glaring before continuing on. "I'm trying to be serious, so shut up and listen."

Paused again, gathered up courage again, spoke nervously again.

"It's been three months since we started dating, right? And, well, we're…" He fished around for words, dipped into his brain for them, and almost couldn't find them. "We're… well, it's been a long time and I've gotten to know what I want from you and to know you're not going to abandon me anytime soon or some shit like that…"

Here he looked into the green eyes, who were starting to light up with understanding, a little eagerness, some fear.

Looping his arms around the redhead's neck in a sudden show of embarrassment, he pulled him down so that their eyes weren't seeking eachother and his mouth was next to Axels' ear.

"Think of this as a late anniversary present, but… Axel, I…"

Fuck. Fuckfucfuckfuckfuck. This was so hard.

I love you, he said in his mind. Really, really, actually love you.

"I love you, Axel." He said with his voice, squeezing his eyes tight. "And I want to…well, you know what I want, right?"

Before he opened his eyes he felt Axel lift up, look at his face, scrutinize it.

A light kiss coaxed him to open his eyes, and when he did, he saw the biggest, most honest smile he had ever seen on Axel's face displayed just for him.

"You idiot," The redhead said, a light laugh escaping him. "I love you so fucking much it hurts sometimes."

--------------------

He was kinda nervous, but he strolled through the halls like he always did- stride even, face blank, shoulders square. The red coat he was wearing rippled like a flag, announcing what it was and who it belonged to.

When he reached the room and sat down, he didn't look at Axel until he was sure his face wasn't screaming red.

What he saw was a bigger grin than last time, the most normal looking grin he had seen of Axel since forever.

"So, Roxy." He purred, elbows on the table, leaning on them. His teeth glinted in the fluorescent lights. "I'm guessing you missed me?"

"Shut up." Roxas said uncomfortably, throwing a new magazine- Tour Bus- on the table with more force than necessary. "It's comfy, that's all."

"Suuuure." Axel purred out again, grinning. "Comfy."

They sat in silence before Axel got up, dragging his chair over to Roxas' side of the table. The blond blinked at him and Axel scowled, nudging the leg of his chair with his foot.

"Move over. I don't want us both staring at the glass and wondering if the pervert is staring at us from the other side."

Obediently, Roxas moved over, and Axel sat down close. Their hands laced together as if they were meant to be that way.

Opening the page to a random article, they started reading, Roxas pointing out that this was a poor piece of journalism and that he could do better. They had started arguing when a speaker crackled and a voice- slightly panicked- spoke through it.

"Code White, Code White, Code White. In the Gym room. All staff not immediately engaged report to the area immediately."

They looked at each other after a crackle signaled the exit of the bodiless voice, and it was only Axel who looked at the glass with a plan in his eyes.

"Hey, Roxas."

"Hmm?" The blond looked at him, thoughts still pondering of what 'Code White' meant.

"The doctor watching us? He should be on the phone for a good fifteen minutes. He'll have his back turned to us."

"So?"

"So?"

It took a few seconds before understanding dawned in Roxas' eyes, and a red stain creeped up his neck.

Axel searched his face, lips tipped deviously up, placing their hands on top of both their thighs.

After a few awkward seconds, Roxas smiled, shakingly. "Alright. Ok."

"You sure?"

He paused again. "Yeah. I'm sure."

Here Axel kissed his cheek, a soft, reassuring squeeze to his fingers.

It took them only a few awkward minutes to get both of their pants undone, hands grasping half-hard members and backs to the door, leaning forward but not touching each other. They jerked each other off desperately, breaths loud in the quiet room and no eyes watching.

Axel came first, lifting his fingers to catch the cum as it came out, continually jerking the blond off all the while. He only watched Roxas' expression, his tilted eyebrows, soft gasps, half-lidded eyes until he came, not even bothering to try and catch the mess.

Once they were done, they sat there, gasping, waiting a minute until they both did up their pants.

Axel grinned, kissing his lips lightly and again tying their fingers together. Roxas wasn't sure if he wanted to touch Axel's hand, but he held it anyway.

"That was refreshing. It's fucking hard to jerk off when the nurses come in and check on you every two minutes and you only get ten minutes in the shower."

"Is that why you're so dirty all the time?"

"That's soooo not the reason. Whenever I try and take a shower, the fucking chick on floor 2 tries to kill herself with the wall. That's probably what the Code White was for."

"Really? Are all the people here like that?"

"You trying to insult me? You wound me. You really do, Roxy-"

"No! What I meant… Geez, Axel."

"You know you love me."

They bantered for another fifteen minutes before the white man came and the other guard took Axel back to his room. The redhead blew him a kiss before he disappeared.

He couldn't help but blush when the white man's gaze fell to his pants, where a dark new stain lay, brazen and loud. He hadn't noticed it until the other man had looked.

The doctor didn't say anything the whole trip to his car, but he doubted it would have made it any less embarrassing.

--------------

"Today, another fire broke out, causing the death of Dr. Vexen Mardasi, 34 years old and a prominent professor at Hollow Bastion university-"

"That's a shame, huh? I'd hate to die by being lit on fire because some maniac wanted to light my house up." Roxas munched on his chips, leaning into Axel's body for support on the ugly green couch they lounged on. Axel just laughed, switching the channel before it showed where the resident lived or how he died.

"Well, maybe it was his fault? Probably had a meth lab in his house and it caught fire or something."

"Yeah, I know, but that's been happening a lot lately. Thirteen fires in two months? This isn't that big of a city to have fires that often."

"Maybe we just live in an age of pyro-ism. We're all freaks who love fire."

Roxas snorted, poking his side. "You'd be one of them, Axel. Probably the leader."

Axel barked out a laugh, opening his mouth for a chip that Roxas shoved in after a second. He chewed and than continued, lifting his hand from over the arm of the couch and bringing up a zippo. He lit it in a flash, a bright blazing glory before snuffing it out with the cap.

"I can't even deny that, ya know."

Roxas laughed, eyes glued to the screen where a robotic chicken was being strapped to a chair by a mad scientist. "I wouldn't even be surprised if you were the one starting those fires."

The blond didn't see it, but the redhead grinned, teeth sharp and threatening. "Yeah. I'm totally someone who would start doing that."

------------

It was the first time in a while, but Roxas sat on a couch in the middle of a large party, fifth drink of the night in his hand and a giggling girl beside him, leaning into him.

He didn't have the right judgment right now, and as the girl put her face close to his, he breathed, smelling of alcohol and failed decisions. She giggled anyways, handing him another beer and telling him he had the most gorgeous eyes ever.

Grinning, he downed the sixth beer. And the seventh. And the eighth.

In the morning, he woke up naked and with the girl laying beside him, hair a black stain on the pillow and mouth hanging open.

He had never felt so unattracted and ashamed in his life.

---------------

"Axel? You fucker, where are you?"

Roxas yelled loudly, looking wherever his eyes could see. He was walking down the alley, searching where Demyx had said to look. It was near some abandoned buildings. Apparently, Axel came here to have a smoke alone or buy his weed.

Walking a few more steps and yelling again, he heard someone call back and recognized the voice as Axel's. Picking up his pace, he didn't stop until he reached his boyfriend.

He stood in a deserted lot in the shadow of a tall, skeletal building, yellow grass fanning out beneath him like priests at an altar of a God.

If he could take a picture, he would.

Walking up to the other boy, he stood beside him, hands stuffed in his warm coat. Axel had a thin zip-up on, a scarf tied around his neck haphazardly and a smoke hanging from his lips.

"Hey." Roxas said, cold air puffing out of his mouth. Axel looked at him and smiled, hand reaching up to take the smoke from his lips.

"Hey, Roxy, what's up?"

"Oh, nothing. Except, you know, the movie we're supposed to be going too. Which starts…" He glanced at the watch he had after pulling down the puffy sleeves of his coat. "Ten minutes from now."

The lanky boy's eyes widened and he hurriedly looked at his watch, and the shorter boy laughed at the expression on his face. "Holy fuck, it's that time already? Let's fucking go, than! I don't want to miss the previews, either."

"Whose fault do you think it'll be if we do?" Roxas snorted. Axel just grabbed his arm and laughed, breaking into a fast walk. Before he made it past the broken fence, Axel flicked his half-done cigarette into the grass, not even looking back once.

"Won't that catch?" He questioned, looking back in place of the redhead. He couldn't see the cigarette but could only imagine the glow it would make in the dead field.

"Huh? No. I was almost done anyways. Hurry up, we're gonna miss the movie!"

"If someone had actually been at his house, where he was supposed to be when I was going to pick him up, we wouldn't be in this situation right now, would we?"

"Oh, shut up and use that breath to run."

---------------

He was suffocating. Literally. He wasn't able to breath, and the stares he was receiving down the halls were piercing into his body, knowing his dirty little secret. The one he would have to tell Axel.

When he sat down, the other boy automatically picked up on his nervousness. Could tell something was wrong, but left it to him to say what.

Axel was way too good for him.

Instead, the blond threw a CD onto the table, the newest one from some band he knew Axel liked to death. The redhead was at ease with conversation, with his thanks, while Roxas squirmed and jittered. It was only when Roxas didn't go to hold his hands that Axel looked at him, questioning.

Now or never, he thought.

His words… Fuck, it was hard. An egg had gotten stuck in his throat. He felt like he was about to vomit.

And he did, yet it came out in the form of words.

"I cheated on you. By accident, I didn't want too, fuck, no, I was drunk, I can-"

Axel stared at him. His eyes were suddenly blank, emotionless, and Roxas hoped to any fucking God there was that that was the medication, not actually Axel.

Axel continued to stare at him and it was as if his jaw was wired shut; like bolts had been implanted to make sure he couldn't talk.

"Are you sorry?"

That was the three words spoken between them first, a grim line setting into Axel's mouth and a panicked look in Roxas'.

The bolts had loosened but his tongue was glued to the bottom of his mouth. He could only gape until Axel scowled, pushing out his chair roughly and not even waiting for the guard to come in and take him out.

Roxas looked at his watch after a few minutes of stunned silence, eyes searching for forgiveness in the face.

Twenty one minutes. They had been in there for twenty one minutes only.

And he hadn't even taken the CD.

------------------------

"Here, come on over here. We're almost there."

"You realize you've been saying that for over twenty minutes, right? I can't even see where we're going."

"Yeah, but it's called patience, Rox. I'm surprised you aren't using it."

"Shut up and show me wher- hey, what's that?"

Axel peered into the thick bush, trying to see what the blond had pointed at. Once his eyes had adjusted, he grinned madly. Would have rushed over if he hadn't had his hand linked with Roxas'. "That, Roxas, is what I'm looking for."

"A… Wall? That's a wall, right?" He squinted, trying to see more detail.

"Yeah, a wall. They're pretty common nowadays, ya know?"

"Shut up before I kick your ass."

"Ooo, getting grouchy? Gimme another minute. Gotta find the entrance."

For the next five minutes they felt their way across the wall, following it until they came to a massive, wrought iron gate. Across the gate stood a white house, still grand, large, and imposing against the darkening sky.

Watching, Roxas was about to turn around before he felt arms circle his neck from behind, linking together in front of his chest. He raised his hands to hook with the loose fingers, staring at the draped windows. They looked like lonely eyes to him. "So, what am I looking at?"

"A house, smarty."

"No shit. But, why?"

Axel didn't speak for awhile, instead watching the windows. It was a moment before he spoke, voice pleasant. "This house is said to be haunted, ya know."

"Yeah. So?"

"That's not the point. It's fucking huge, right?"

"Yeah. Aaannnd?"

"Well, one day, when I become famous, I'm going to buy you a house exactly like this."

It took a second to sink in, but Roxas finally laughed, leaning into his boyfriend's arms.

"What? Is that like a marriage proposal or something?"

He felt Axel's sharp grin from behind him, felt his love by the tightening of his arms.

"If we were to marry," He started. "I would do anything for you."

------------------

"I'm sorry. Axel can't have any visitors today. He's been rather… uncooperative this week and we're not allowing him to have any favors. Come back next week, please."

--------------------

He walked into Axel's room, watched him light a paper on fire and aim for the waste basket five feet away from him. The flaming paper fluttered to the floor, burning until it ran out of life and left a scorched mark in his linoleum floor as a reminder that it had been. The burns were littered around the wastebasket, and many more around the room. He wondered if he had even gotten any in the bin.

Shrugging, he went to sit on the bed, beside his boyfriend who sat with a brightened look on his face. Before, he looked bored, undone- totally lifeless.

"Hey Axel."

"Hey blondie."

The blond snorted, swatting at his arm. "Don't call me that if you want to keep your pride as a man."

"I'm hurt, Roxy." He grinned, grabbing his arms and pinning him down in quick movements. Not that he resisted that much, anyway. "You'd actually think of hurting me?"

Roxas rolled his eyes, leaned up for a kiss that Axel gladly gave him. "Of course I would. But, if you don't start trying to light your apartment on fire, you're gonna kill yourself."

"Aw, are you worried?" The taller man kissed his neck, lips spread against the flesh.

The shorter boy squirmed, trying not to grin despite wanting too. "No, just about your pyromaniac tendencies."

--------------

"Roxas, you have to stay after school today or I will be forced to excuse you from my class. Is that clear?"

-----------------------

When he got near Axel's apartment, close enough to see from where he was walking, all he saw was orange and red flames licking at the sky. An eerie image of hell trying to reach heaven.

He didn't think the fire trucks zooming by or the loud sirens and screams in the distance meant that it was Axel's apartment on fire. He had thought that they were going out of town or nearer to the edge, not close enough to be near Axel.

His heart wasn't beating, he swore. It felt like a dead weight in his chest as he ran, making his feet heavier and feelings all the more askew.

When he got to where the fire was, his eyes searched worriedly for the crowds, trying to find something that might blend in with the flames. It took him a full four minutes to find him, and that was only because a firefighter was hauling him away from the fire as he cursed, bare except for his black boxers.

As soon as Axel was put down. without any embarrassment or restraint, he flung himself at him, face buried automatically in his chest and eyes refusing to meet the surprised green ones.

"Roxy? What's happening? Why are you here?"

The blond growled in his chest, eyes tightly closed and arms wrapped around him in a fierce embrace. "You fucking idiot! I told you I'd be here after school! And this is what I come to find? Your apartment on fire and you being dragged out by some firefighter?!"

His heart was heavier still, but it seemed to have grown wings and was trying to fly- it only made it slightly above the ground, wings struggling all the while to lift it higher.

Hearing the deep rumble of Axel's laugh before it even escaped his mouth, Roxas dug his nails into his side and basked in the slight yelp and 'Jesus, Roxas!' the redhead gave him.

"Fucking idiot…" He mumbled, still refusing to look up.

"For one, you little jerk," Axel, he could tell, was afraid to call him anything harsher in the state he was in. "I was being dragged away from the fire. I was a little too close to it. For two, I'm perfectly fine. See? Not even a scratch. I got out before most of the other people did. And, for three, my home is currently burning. Even an elephant would forget in an event like this."

His heart got a little lighter. It was halfway to the sky now, he supposed.

After a minute or so of burying his face in his boyfriend's chest, who now had his arms wrapped around him in what was supposed to be a caring embrace, he turned to watch the fire, not saying another word.

When he looked up at Axel to say something along the lines of him being right but it still worried the fuck out of him, he found a large grin on his pointed face, eyes lighted up more than they should have been.

His heart got a little heavier, and he looked at Axel questioningly. Why was the redhead grinning as everything he owned was burnt to a nice, unhealthy crisp?

Sensing his stare, Axel looked down at him and his grin only widened. By only a fracture, but it still freaked him out a bit. "You have to admit," The taller boy said thoughtfully, turning back to the fire. "It's pretty cool. All the flames and destruction and shit."

"Cool?" Roxas said, voice indignant. "You realize most of your life is in there and is currently being burned away?"

Something in Axel's eyes dimmed a little but his smile didn't falter. Not once. "Yeah. But whatever."

------------------

After ten minutes of waiting the doctor finally came out, clipboard in hand and face the same as always. Roxas wondered if he had any other facial expressions besides bored.

"Axel doesn't wish to see anyone today. He said that…" Here, the white man paused, and Roxas added another facial expression to his now growing list: irritated. "Well, what he said I cannot repeat professionally, but he doesn't wish to see anyone for a while after this as well."

The blond felt his throat close up for one split instant and his eyes sting- felt his heart give a squeeze and his stomach drop. The multiple feelings were gone in the next second, and he was left to fish for words that he couldn't think of at the moment.

The words he did find seemed to escape his mouth like bullets, shooting at the doctor but not wounding him. "Can I… Can I write him something than? And you can give it to him later?"

The doctor added another facial expression once he had digested Roxas' request: understanding. Maybe he liked him a little bit after all.

"You can write it in the lobby and I'll give it to him soon. You have twenty minutes until I leave for the day."

His smile felt like it was breaking his face, but he gave the doctor words of thanks before he ran out to his car and back to the lobby, pen and papers in hand.

When he sat down and posed his pen to the blue lines, though, it seemed like all he wanted to say vanished- poofed into the stale air around him. It took him a full five minutes before he could even write down 'Axel,'.

Another two minutes passed where he just stared at the paper, no words coming. It was then he sighed and closed his eyes, remembering all he wanted told and all he saw written.

The gentle scratching of his pen filled the silent room, and it took him half an hour to finish the two page work. The doctor came and took it away, to Axel, and he left with a heavy heart but a smile on his face.

--------------------

He woke up to a burning sensation, to rough smoke filling his lungs and heat licking at his skin.

Jumping up immediately, he wondered if this was all a dream. A nightmare he was trapped in, as if he had fallen down the rabbit hole. The thing that confirmed it wasn't was when he tried opening his bathroom door and icy pain flowed from his hand and through his arm, making him yell in pain and jump back.

It took him two minutes to bound through the smoke and towards the apartment door, which was already open and half broken; beyond the door, flames licked at the opposite wall, breaking the pictures that lined the wall and heading into his neighbor's apartment.

Having no time to think for the safety of his neighbors, of Pence or of Ms. Maleficent, he ran for the stairs and made it down two flights before his way was blocked- flames roared at him to stay back or they would make his skin peel away from his bones like wallpaper.

Looking around, he saw no escape except for the fire filled staircase. It was then that the situation hit him full frontal and his eyes starting watering, a sob escaping his throat.

He didn't want to die- he was so young. He was graduating next year. Axel was out there, probably asleep, dreaming. His parents were both working the night shift, safe, unlike he was-

It was then he saw movement- a flaming red down the stairs that was much softer and more inviting than the ones that licked at the floors and walls all around him

It was as everything suddenly became clearer for that split second- that, for a split second, there was no fire, no danger, just Axel. Axel and his weak smile and worried face. Axel looking frantic, mouth opening, probably to tell him to hurry-

"ROXAS. ROXAS! COME ON." This was screamed in a panic, hands motioning wildly. The taller man coughed after screaming, but his hands stayed stretched towards him the whole time.

He was about to head down the stairs, grab Axel's hand, when a beam crashed from behind him. Jumping, his hands went to grab at the pole which creaked and groaned beneath his weight.

Hurriedly he let go, almost predicting what would happen next. The beams supporting his weight fell in that instance, roaring as they fell into the red abyss.

He heard a swear, of boots coming up the flaming stairs- he was glad, waiting for Axel, before he heard the boy's next words.

"I never meant for it to burn this far- I didn't mean to do it! C'mon Roxy, we gotta get outta here, you probably inhaled too much smoke as it is-"

The blond froze, eyes confused and panicked. Axel seemed to see his expression, seemed to hear what he had said moments before. It was as if they had both stopped moving- figures that would be unharmed in the fire.

"What? What did you just say, Axel?!" his voice was getting hoarser and his will weaker. He felt like collapsing. "What did you just fucking say?"

"Roxas! It's not the time!!"

"NO." He snarled, grinded the words between his teeth like gun powder. "Tell me why you said that. What the fuck is going on?"

Sensing the blond wouldn't budge, he was about to just grab him by the waist and drag him out of there until he saw him backing up. Away from him. Afraid.

It seemed that almost all the life drained out of the redhead- as if someone had thrown water on him instead of at the fire.

It took another moment- the only one they could afford- before he spoke, voice trembling and unbridled.

"I… I don't know why, but I'm the one starting all those fires around town. I'm that big bad arsonist. I can't help it. It makes me sick, but I can't help it… But Roxas… Let's go. I'll tell you everything. Let's just go!"

Here the other boy stretched out his hand, a promise and a saving grace.

But he couldn't take it.

He stared at Axel, unwilling to take the hand offered to him even as the fire blazed around them. He wasn't sure if he could trust Axel, trust him to get him out safely-

Axel looked desperately at him, eyes shining devilishly in the fire light. Somewhere, a pillar crashed through the floors.

"Roxas! Why aren't you coming? Take my hand!"

"No!" He bit out, voice rough. He was getting weaker, but what he wanted, greatly needed, seemed to override his need for life. "Axel, I want you to tell the police what you did! I want you to get help! This is serious, Axel! You're killing people!"

"Roxas! Now is not the time, take my hand-"

"NO!" This time he coughed, doubled over for a second. He stood up when he was done, eyes watering. He couldn't tell if it was from the smoke or the fear and sadness for and of Axel. "No! Because, if you don't decide now, you won't do it, and if you won't do it, Axel…"

In the smoky air his words hung, a larger flame between them.

If you won't do it, Axel, I'll have to leave you.

The taller man stared, his red hair bleeding into the flames behind him. It took another crash- very close to where they were- for him to agree.

"Okay, Roxas! I'll do it. Anything, if only you'll grab my fucking hand!!"

Smiling, he reached for the hand, finally fainting into his lover's arms.

-----------------------------------

"Axel,

It's been two years since we started dating, and two and a half since we've known each other. And that beginning sounds so horribly cliché, but I promised myself I would not stop writing and wouldn't erase what I said.

Axel… Holy shit, do you know how much I think about you? It hurts to see you in here, in the stupid fucking psyche ward where everything is white and the doctor's only care the amount their paycheck says they should, but I know you have to do it. Because, if you don't, something else is going to happen. One of us will wind up dead, and I don't think you have a choice in who gets to live and who gets to die.

You killed people, Axel. Mrs. Maleficent and Pete just accepted they would die and perished in the flames. Pence's mother couldn't get out because she was in a wheelchair. The landlord died because he was trying to get everyone out safely.

And the people in those other eleven fires? A professor, a biologist, my teacher, a millionaire and her children… So many other people that had lives, Axel. They were happy, hopefully, but now they can't be. They can't see their daughter's recital or kiss their sweetheart good morning every day.

What if that had been me who died in the fire, Axel? I was so close to death it was fucking scary. When I woke up, you weren't beside me, and I panicked because I thought you had died in the fire. Then I thought you abandoned me or something stupid like that. Then I found out you were in jail because you had admitted to starting all those fires, and I felt glad and happy and sad. I was so grateful for what you did.

You burned my whole neighborhood down. And… Well, fuck, I've already forgiven you. I've forgiven you for ruining my home and countless lives because I love you. And I know I don't say that enough, but you know how I am.

Right now, it doesn't seem like I love you. I know that, fuck. I didn't mean to sleep with that girl. I didn't want too. I was drunk and… remember when you kinda confessed to me? At that party and Selphie tried taking me somewhere and you pulled me outside and hit me and told me you were in love with me? Anyway, when I was making out with Selphie, it was like that. Just skin. I was lonely, Axel, because I felt like you weren't going to come back, that you'd never get better. That's what I think I might have felt, anyways. Frustrated and Lonely and Abandoned, even if I was the one who told you to go away. I can't analyze the past because I feel so horribly sick of myself for doing that to you.

I, as painful as it is to admit for fear of my masculinity, cried for what I did, when you walked out of the room I've seen you in for the past five weeks with that look on your face. I didn't/couldn't go to school the next day. My professor kicked me out of his math class.

Well, fuck Mr. Zexion anyways, he can kiss my ass.

I worked it out with the school counselor, though. He said I can just take it next semester if I take a take-home course.

And, I don't know why, but I also told him about you and... Well, fuck him too. You can guess what he said.

My parents are pretty pissed at me, and you too. They told me pretty much the same thing as the school counselor, but with much more threats in the mix. Fuck them too.

Olette found out what happened and where I was going every Thursday, and that I had lied to her. I don't want to say she can go fuck herself, but I'm pretty close to doing that.

Everyone… fuck them. I want you to say it's over before I can admit it's over.

I'm basically saying I love you with all my heart and I want to have you children and live in that haunted old mansion and have tea with those ghosts. I'll even wear the dress at the wedding and look like a drag queen hooker. I'll cut the cake with a butter knife and you can keep the candles to burn down to the wick.

That was diabetic death sappy. But I'm trying to come up with shit that will get to you how much I actually really fucking love you.

Axel, just tell me if you want to do all of the above. Because I'm no good at writing and you know that, too.

Well… I'll just end it now, because the doctor is here and he's the only one whose been nice to me since I've seen you. I was supposed to be done ten minutes ago so he could leave but he let me finish up to this.

I love you.

-Roxas

-----------------

"Your honor, my client has pleaded insanity and wishes to go into a mental institution to cure what he calls 'his sickness'."

The court room went quiet- Roxas sat straight up in his seat, as rigid as the hard boards they called seats. In the glass box where the prisoners were kept, Axel stood, head down and eyes only looking at him. It had been that way for the entire session, green eyes drilling into him, asking for forgiveness and demanding that he see what he was doing.

The judge, a man with long blond hair and a pale complexion, sat in his seat, a king in his court. After a minute or so of deciding, where the typist's fingers paused and she awaited his decision, he spoke, voice low.

"I've decided that the client is guilty and fully remorseful for what he has done- he will be sent to St. Oblivion's institution for the Mentally Ill until they dub him mentally healthy."

Here he banged his gavel, loud as a shotgun. "The court is dismissed."

Murmurs broke out over the crowd, soft and flowing. Seats were scraped back, the sound of footsteps headed towards the door. From inside the glass box, Axel was being led to the exit door by a blue haired guard with a large 'X' slashed over his face.

In the split moment it took for Axel to get through the door, Roxas finally looked at him. Eyes met, and time stood still.

Then the blond smiled, and the prisoner sighed in relief.

--------------------------------------------------------

He crashed into the warm embrace of his boyfriend, hugging him tightly enough to squeeze the air out of him.

The man he was hugging laughed- a light, free laugh he hadn't heard in ages. For over a year.

The realization hadn't hit him until he saw his boyfriend walking out of the white, foreboding doors without a doctor on his arm and a watch strapped to his wrist. His bags hung from various places on his body, and it felt like he hadn't seen his face in ages. He noticed his hair had grown longer, long enough so that it couldn't spike up artistically anymore.

That was when he had near tackled the other man, hearing the thumping of bags and the laughter that almost sounded foreign.

"Gimme a break, Rox! I haven't seen anything this energetic since… Well, five minutes ago. There are some serious ADHD kids here. You shoulda met one- Larxene. You woulda liked her, maybe." He gave a sharp Cheshire grin, and it was all him- not one of the drugs had it's hold on his body.

Smiling, Roxas let go- it was like he had a perma-grin now. He couldn't stop the smile from spreading over and staying on his face.

Once they had packed the small car, kissed, and got over the fact that Axel was free, they stood side by side, backs towards the building and eyes towards the sunset.

After a moment of silence, of letting it all sink in again, Axel spoke, looping his hand with Roxas'.

"You needa show me your new apartment. My first apartment was shit, but I bet yours is fucking sweet." He paused, looked into the sky again. Humming, he looked at his boyfriend. "Nice day to be let out though, huh?"

Looking at the sun setting, at the firey red surrounding the horizon with warm colors, Roxas' smile softened. Put his hand out to cover the sun and the red around it, to only leave the blue.

"Yeah," He said. "It's really nice."