a devil's child with dove wings

He glances up and down the aisles of his eyelashes, grimacing at the cold concrete beneath his back, reveling in the boy's soft gaze.

"You mute?" he wonders curiously.

The boy bursts out in laughter and then shakes his head, no.

"Why don't you speak?" Axel continues, chagrinned.

The boy shrugs and looks up at the ceiling, he doesn't smile much. Even when he'd laughed, his mouth had been open but in no way smiling. He might even talk more than he smiles.

"What's your name?" Axel thinks he's being quite sly.

The boy's hands grip the bars of his cell, and he looks at Axel irritably out the corner of his eye.

"Shut the fuck up in there," a filthy warden shouts.

There's an echoing silence, and then Axel ventures a whisper.

"Why are you here?"

The boy's lips purse and they are plunged into darkness.

he gave me a venus witch's ring

And what of those places you think you've seen in a dream…

What of the faces you are unfamiliar with that draw you close and make you wonder, who are you, who were you, when will your name mean something to me?

and at the same time I'm right here in your picture frame

The man's name is occasionally Xigbar; fake as Axel's hair color.

Xigbar has a huge tattoo on his back of a ship and, if pressed, will say it means something special to him. No one knows about the tear inked to his hip, but if they did, and if he was pressed, he would say the same thing and be referencing the same person, but with a different meaning that no one would understand.

Xigbar pimps teenage girls to a selection of high profile clients, something Axel is not.

Axel is neither a whore nor a client, more accurately he is a bastard combination of the two. And so is the little sister he never knew he had until the whispers reached him and the trail led him here: to Xigbar who has a past he doesn't tell and one eye that doesn't see.

"So, you think I got your sister. You planning' on making off with her?"

Axel chews on his lip for a while, looking endearingly younger than his mind has ever been. He mutters, "If I took her she'd probably just starve or freeze to death or something."

Xigbar appraises him, glancing over his too large clothes, his frayed shirt and his split seams. He counts the number of holes in Axel's jeans and decides which pale shade of pallor this skeletal creature falls into.

"That's talkin' sense, man," he laughs. "Well, you know which one is yours?"

Axel shakes his head. "Our mom was one of yours though."

Xigbar's expression twinkles darkly and he nods, "I know just the one."

he took me past to the outskirts of infinity

Kairi, ironically enough, has dyed her hair a darker, but equally gaudy, shade of red. She looks healthy. She looks unhappy. Unhappy, but fed.

Her nails are painted blue and her eyelids are streaked gold and her bloody mouth twists when Axel enters her room, "Well?"

"I think I'm probably your older brother." Axel says flatly. He shuffles his feet in their too-large sneakers.

He looks up hurriedly as she makes a choking-sobbing sound. Tears streak her face and she mumbles, "Liar."

He twists his mouth too, but into a grin. A shit-eating grin cocky grin and he shouldn't use it on his sister, but it's habit, and one day he'll grin and he won't ever be able to stop.

He sounds like a human when he asks, "Why are you crying then?"

well, the night I was born

On the way out, lip bloodied to match his pretty little sister's, Axel looks over at Xigbar.

They're about the same height, Axel might even be taller.

"Are you our father?"

Xigbar makes a sound like a wheezing old dog and never looks back at him.

lord I'm a voodoo chile

"Three point five million," a voice says from behind the vanity.

"What was that, Zex?" Marluxia asks, uninterested.

"Three point five million homeless," the voice repeats.

Marluxia puckers his lips and paints them a tacky flamingo pink. "Sure thing, Zex."

Axel is the only one who can see the disgusted expression that crosses Zexion's face on the other side of the mirror.

"Is it really that high?" Axel wonders, drawing his legs up onto the chair with him. His long limbs just barely fit. "Yeah, the shelters fill up, but you don't see bums lying around like you do in France."

"Have you ever been to France, Axel?" Marluxia retorts as Zexion replies, "And strangely enough our homeless rate is still higher."

Axel draws in a deep breath through his nose and decides not to play Marluxia's game of bitch and mouse tonight.

He just watches as the other two men finish getting ready, gluing on fake plastic eyelashes, pulling on flesh-padded bras and sequined leopard-print leotards. He watches as they oil up smooth legs and then slip into clicking high-heeled shoes. They bicker between themselves, unmindful of him.

The boss calls to them pithily, "Marluxia, Zexion, I don't pay you to sit around and bitch, get your asses out there, now."

The ladies respond to their cutesy stage names and huff out of the room, asses shaking with the slant of their hips and the settle of gravity on their heels.

They pass their boss with simpering half-assed smiles. The Boss is a pallid failure of a man, small and homely, hair the color of straw. Axel can't figure out why anyone listens to him—and knows he wouldn't, not for any amount of money.

Vexen barely even glances at him as he sweeps the dressing room with his eyes, but as he heads out the door he says, "You looking for a job?"

"No," Axel answers bluntly.

from far away as jupiter's sulphur mines

"What did you do for fun as a kid?" Axel questions insistently.

The boy looks at him tiredly from across the table and then goes back to eating his chemical-laden food.

"Did you play any sports?"

The boy shakes his head, no, no he didn't.

"Video games? Books?"

The boy shakes his head, his perfect-silent-no.

and arizona new red sand

Their bones sizzled and the air smelled of burning hair, the hamsters squeaked as they died.

well my arrows are made of desire

Axel likes to hurt people.

Maybe it's because he likes the way it makes them look-and-listen, maybe it's because he has no regard for others because no one ever had any regard for him.

Whatever it is, Axel likes to hurt people.

His roommate at the reformatory dorms was an overconfident prick with a name like Riku. After a few months with Axel, he wasn't so arrogant anymore… At the worst of it, Axel reduced him to tears with his whisperings of shame and abandonment and hatred.

lord I swear the moon turned a fire red

A woman from a church takes him in for a week. She feeds him and clothes him and lets him sleep in the pews.

He repays her with deceit. He weaves elaborate plays centering on a man she might have loved, if not for what Axel had done.

"What could he want from you?" Axel muses and then leaves the church and never comes back again.

well, mountain lions found me there waitin'

He goes to prison for the first time when a theft goes sour. He paints his face like a poor mistreated orphan and gets off with a few months.

He's only twenty and a few months are long enough to make friends. A friend, to Axel, has always meant someone smart enough or strong enough to hurt him in return.

I have a humming bird and it hums so loud

Blood on his thighs, he trembles, strong enough, he thinks he could acquire a taste for this.

and lord knows you'll feel no pain

There's a man named Luxord who takes the girlboys out for dinner once a week and offers to let Axel come along.

Axel never turns down the chance to use someone.

"So, Axel, where are you living?" Luxord pries, the undercurrents of his voice as lecherous as required with two tranny showboys in his entourage.

Axel glances up over his wine glass and wonders how much he sticks out in this fancy restaurant with his gender-fucked friends and his own shabby clothes.

"Nowhere, can't you tell?" his voice is wit and martinis.

and set me on a eagles back

Axel sighs deeply. "How blood spattered is your face?"

The boy looks at him warily and runs his fingers along his cheeks.

Axel tilts his head to the side to watch before mouthing, "Oh."

you think you were losing your mind, hmmm…

Axel lets a man fuck him for cash for a few week. Then he lights the man's house on fire and gets arrested for arson and goes back to prison for three years.

He's twenty-five and this time he makes less friends, but thinks he might have broken (so far beyond repair) the barely-legal drug dealer he'd taken as his bitch. A name like that has a taste he could get addicted to.

say, I make love to you in your sleep

Axel and Larxene play games.

He pretends to be on the straight and narrow, she pretends to love him.

He uses her credit cards to help speed up some of the deals in his new trafficking business. She brings home other men.

He calls her a slut, she calls him a failure.

He fucks her over the couch and she sometimes remembers to call out the right name.

When he hears her call for Marluxia, he laughs.

"He let you strap up and fuck him in the ass?"

She purrs and asks him if he's interested.

say my arrows are made of desire, desire

Axel gets tired of waiting and fucks the boy in the shower.

Those interested stay to watch; others finish what they're doing and leave.

Axel curves to the boy's slick back and grunts into his ear, "How old are you?"

The boy shivers and makes a high, strained-laughing sound, "Twenty-five."

Axel bites his ear harder than he means to and the boy begins to bleed. "Not as young as I thought," he comments around the copper taste of his mouth. "I'm only thirty."

The boy—not much of a boy, but still small and fresh-faced and younger than Axel—makes that little sound again and Axel feels his body coil tight.

well I float in liquid gardens

Kairi's new man is young. His name is Sora and he's an uncomfortable heir to a huge fortune and he's too kind for his own good and Kairi likes him.

It takes Axel effort not to snap him in half.

Sora looks down at his hands, somewhat abashed. "You're, uhm, Kairi's brother, so if you need anything you can—"

"Spare me," Axel complains. "Try this speech again if you ever plan on marrying her."

Kairi's face becomes cloudy, Axel is unapologetic.

well, I taste the honey from a flower named blue

The borderlands of sleep awaken the faces of many, the voices and complaints of thousands of buzzing flies. One carcass, one mind.

and the new new york drowns as we hold hands

Axel doesn't take care of others. So, when he finds the girl, he takes her Xigbar and Xigbar pays him fifty dollars and Axel doesn't think about her again.

He buys a new sweater that day and new shoes at a consignment store. He buys a six dollar lunch and spends the last fifteen bucks on a knife.

That night, he takes out a local kid for his merchandise and goes to town, selling all of it and turning his fifteen dollar investment into twenty-five.

The cop who catches him doesn't turn out to be terribly clean, but in a city this big, they can't all be heroes.

One hurried blowjob, Axel thinks, is a fair enough trade for weaseling out of a murder rap.

'cause I'm a voodoo chile

People don't hire thieves and people don't hire arsonists. Axel'd had a job, once upon a time, it'd been arranged by the reformatory for his eighteenth birthday.

He'd gotten fired after about a month because he only showed up once a week. Every job following went the same way and then he'd gotten arrested. And no one hires thieves.

Vicious cycle, Axel thinks, laughingly.

well my poor mother cried out lord

The man is taller than Axel, he's wiry and he has defined cheekbones and smiling eyes. He says he's a marine home after nearly ten years of service. He says Axel reminds him of a woman he once knew.

Axel doesn't believe him, but is interested anyway, and the man begins to talk at him.

She was a whore working for a man he'd once known, he says. He grins wryly and admits his life was pretty shady before he let the military straighten him out.

Axel doesn't care much about his personal history. He lets the man buy him another drink and asks about whores and pimps.

Nursing one of countless drinks, the man murmurs, "I don't remember either of their names, but I do remember she died after having her little girl..."

the gypsy was right

Axel traces the sharp lines of the bones in the back of the boy's hand.

"You got parents?"

The boy shakes his head.

"Me neither," Axel tells him, and wonders if the kid even cares.

The boy's eyes look at him, empty as the sea.

"How long are you in here for?"

The boy settles back against the concrete wall and murmurs, "Consecutive lives."

"Oh? Earned a life myself, how'd you get it?" Axel asks, hungry for an answer he won't get.

"Didn't plead insanity," the boy sighs, lips just barely parted.

and I seen her fell down right dead

The hunger can be unbearable sometimes, the sizzling of melting bones and the horrible stench of death… he doesn't find it so horrible at all. He moves upward, and reaches until his fingers meet flesh.

(it's the eagles wing, baby, what did I say)

When Axel gets caught for the third time, he spills the name of a shady officer and still gets life. But, that's what happens when you kill someone.

It isn't so bad; he loves prison like he doesn't really seem to love anything else. Prison is his church, his religion, his god.

"What did you do?" Is the only question the boy ever asks of him in return.

Axel doesn't have to consider his words, "He put my sister in his will. So I killed him, thinking I'd get some of the money out of her later."

and he said fly on, fly on

He hates blood, he hates saliva.

well, I make love to you

They come to take the boy away.

And when they come, Axel realizes that he lied.

"What's your name?" he demands through the bars as they lead the boy away.

Empty eyes lurch towards him and the boy smiles slowly. "You won't miss me."

"What is your fucking name!" Axel doesn't realize he's shouting until the silence sets in.

The boy and the guards are halfway out the cellblock now. They pause for a second to tell him to shut up.

Axel shouts again, "Tell me your name. Damn it!"

The boy looks at the ceiling lazily and says, from down the cellblock and barely audible, "Roxas."

As fake as Axel's hair color, which has grown out from the roots the past two years, it's so very dark underneath.

"Roxas," Axel repeats to himself. "Roxas… you lying shit. What did you do to get on death row?"

Roxas leaves forever without answering.

(have mercy)

Electricity is like a green rainbow. He shudders and thinks about pure romance. It must feel like a concrete wall against his back. He hates the lingering feel of fingers on him.

(way down by the methabe sea, yeah)

Kairi comes to visit him and he tells her about Roxas and all the things he'd told Roxas about himself that he'd never told her.

She fidgets uncomfortably in her nice new clothes and eventually she says to him, "I'm sorry, Axel."

He grimaces. "Shut up, Kairi."

On the other side of the glass, she nods silently and then she gets up and leaves.

A lesson she must have learned from him, Axel thinks, because she never comes back.


Standard Disclaimers. Lyrical breaks belong to Jimi Hendrix. Voodoo Chile, if you're too stupid to tell.