(A/N): Before you begin hurling pointy objects at me, I do have a first draft of the next chapter of Waiting done. It just happens to be a very bad draft that needs to be edited with the literary equivalent of a machete. Moving on, I really don't know what I think of this fic. I did a lot of little things here I usually don't do, and I'm not sure what to think about the result. I would really appreciate feedback on this one.

Disclaimer: The standard disclaimers apply.

Age of Consent

Roxas woke slowly, struggling up through an alcohol-induced haze as he fought to crack his eyes open. His head was spinning, but not yet pounding with the brutal hangover he was sure was only a few hours away. Wincing at the pale light filtering through the blinds, he buried his face in the pillow, trying to remember where the hell he was.

Hayner had been the one to insist Roxas needed to get out of his dorm room, dragging the college freshman downtown and into the first club they could find. Roxas had suspected Hayner's choice wasn't quite as random as it first appeared when he'd noticed the disproportionate number of men grinding against one another on the dance floor. Hayner had already been raising his hands in a defensive gesture as Roxas turned to glare at him.

"I just thought –"

Roxas hadn't given him time to finish, shoving past him and making a beeline for the bar. Hayner had trailed behind him, face unusually drawn as he stuffed his hands in his pockets. "Look, I'm sorry," he'd muttered, sidling up next to Roxas as the blond threw back the first of what would be many, many beers. "I guess it was a stupid idea."

"Yes, yes it was," Roxas had growled, glaring at the counter with what should've been enough force to cause it to implode.

"Look, if it bothers you that much you can always leave," his friend had snapped, eyes flashing as he'd crossed his arms over his chest. Roxas had only scowled at him as he tipped back another long swallow.

Hayner's eyes had narrowed further before he'd turned away. Roxas thought he'd heard a "Whatever" but he hadn't been sure. And he hadn't really cared. He knew Hayner had just been trying to help, but dragging Roxas to a gay club was not the way to help the blond come to terms with his newly discovered sexual orientation. Roxas's scowl had deepened as he'd thrown back the remainder of his beer.

He'd been truly surprised by the realization. He'd always thought of himself as asexual – he barely even liked most people, and Namine was certainly the only one he'd ever allowed to hold him, kiss him. Though looking back now, the fact that they were always light, butterfly kisses against his cheeks or temple probably should've tipped him off sooner. He had a sneaking suspicion Namine had suspected his true orientation for some time and had just been waiting for him to catch on. Which did nothing to improve his mood.

Roxas had been determined to leave as soon as he had a sufficient buzz, but as one beer became two became ten, he'd decided he was just fine where he was. One glare was usually sufficient to discourage any interested parties, and there was absolutely no reason to have to search out another bar when he was fast on his way to becoming totally shit-faced right where he was.

He couldn't remember much beyond what he thought might've been his ninth beer or so, but he thought he could fill in the blanks when his gaze fell on a head of wild red spikes beside him. He bit back a groan.

So much for asexual.

Trying to make as few movements as possible, Roxas slid out of the bed, releasing his breath in a silent sigh when the guy didn't turn over and look at him. Still feeling slightly tipsy, Roxas stumbled around the end of the bed, scanning the floor for his clothes. He spared a glance at the sleeping redhead – dark tattoos stood out on his cheeks, and Roxas thought he might remember vibrant green eyes, but the eyes in question were still closed in slumber, and he really wanted to get out of there before that changed.

Hurriedly grabbing up what he thought was his hoodie, but which proved to be at least two sizes too big, he scrambled into his jeans, fumbling with the doorknob as the redhead groaned and rolled over behind him. Mercifully, the guy didn't wake up, and Roxas eased the door shut behind him before scrambling for the front door. He blinked down the hall, trying to figure out where the hell he was. It didn't look like any housing he was familiar with.

Shielding his eyes with his hand – his head was beginning to throb in a low, steady rhythm, a foreshadowing of what was undoubtedly going to grow into a bitch of a hangover – Roxas managed to find the stairs, descending three stories to reach street level. Nothing looked familiar, and he realized with a sinking feeling that he was clear on the other side of town across from Hollow Bastion University's campus.

He dug around in his jeans pockets until he unearthed his cell phone. Moving a little further down the street, trying to put some distance between himself and the redhead even though he had no idea where he was, Roxas muttered a silent prayer as he punched in Hayner's cell phone number. His friend's voice was hard and flat when he picked up.


Roxas winced and held the cell phone away from his ear, hunching his shoulders as he tried to shield his eyes from the sun. His head was beginning to pound in earnest and there was a sour taste in his mouth; he didn't feel up to arguing with Hayner at the moment. "I need a ride," he muttered, wincing at his friend's irritated snort.

"Sucks to be you." Roxas took a deep breath, reminding himself that exploding at his best bet at a ride back to campus would most likely be counter-productive.

"Look, I'm sorry," he ground out, backing under an awning and closing his eyes against the glint of sunlight off a storefront window. "But I got completely trashed last night and I don't know where the fuck I am –" He broke off as Hayner muttered something he couldn't hear. "What?" There was a long moment of silence before Hayner sighed heavily.

"Can you see any street signs?"

Roxas grit his teeth together and glanced at the intersection, ducking his head back into his chest and placing his hand over his eyes almost immediately. "I'm at the intersection of Thirteenth and Vine." There were muffled sounds in the background as Hayner muttered to himself.

"How the hell did you get all the way out there?" Hayner demanded after another few minutes' worth of mumbling. Roxas winced, picturing mussed red spikes and dark tattoos.

"Don't remember," he practically growled. There was another short hesitation on Hayner's end before his friend sighed again.

"Whatever. I'll be there." He hung up without waiting for Roxas's response. Roxas scowled at the phone before he returned it to his pocket, drawing his hands up inside the oversized hoodie's sleeves as a cool wind picked up, tumbling dead leaves along the sidewalk and past Roxas's feet. He kicked at them idly as he watched the front of the apartment building from the corner of his eye. He should've walked a little further away before he'd called Hayner.

Hayner showed up twenty minutes later, face set in a fierce scowl and fingers wrapped tightly around the steering wheel. He didn't speak as Roxas climbed into the car. Hunching his shoulders, Roxas curled in the passenger seat, resting his feet on the dashboard and throwing an arm over his aching eyes. Hayner pulled away from the curb without a word, and Roxas had time to hope he was going to get away without a fight.

"You're an ass, you know that?" Hayner growled. Roxas sighed and sank down a little further in his seat.

"Whatever," he mumbled. He suddenly felt exhausted – so physically drained it was an effort just to keep breathing. Hayner glanced over at him, eyes hard, but he pinched his lips together before turning his face back to the road.

"Sure. Whatever." A harsh bark of laughter tore its way out of his throat, and Roxas winced guiltily. Hayner didn't speak to him again, ignoring Roxas's mumbled thanks when they reached his dorm. Roxas glared at him for a moment before he pulled himself out of the car; he stuffed his hands in his pockets as he watched Hayner leave without a backward glance. Ducking his head and sighing, he turned and trudged to his room.

Pence wasn't there, for which Roxas was silently grateful. He closed the door with exaggerated caution before he took the two steps to his bed and crawled under the covers. He couldn't swallow a quiet groan as he buried his face in the cool pillow, letting his eyes slide closed as he wondered if he should take something for the throbbing in his head. He was still debating whether it was worth moving for when he fell asleep.

Roxas kept his head down as he dug in his backpack for the appropriate notebook. Hayner hadn't spoken to him since yesterday morning. Namine had slipped into his room and woken him sometime in the early afternoon, smoothing his hair out of his eyes as she smiled gently at him. He'd winced at the shadow in her eyes.

"Screwed up again, didn't I?" he'd muttered, rolling over to face her. She hadn't answered, and Roxas had let his eyes slide closed again. "Yeah, I did."

Namine hadn't asked about the night before, hadn't voiced any judgment on what Roxas knew she suspected had happened – he'd still felt guilty, having to make an effort to meet her eyes at times.

Roxas brought himself back to the present with a small start when he realized someone had spoken to him. He swung his head up with a distracted "What?" His eyes widened and his mouth fell open as he took in wild red spikes and dark tattoos under the brightest green eyes he'd ever seen. He could practically feel the blood draining from his face.

"I said you stole my shirt," the redhead grumbled, throwing himself into the seat next to Roxas. Roxas's mouth moved up and down uselessly for a minute, throat closing so he couldn't produce any sound louder than a breathy gurgle.

"You're not in this class," he finally managed to choke out. The redhead's eyebrow lifted as he stared at Roxas.

"Uh, yeah I am."

"I've never seen you before," Roxas insisted, wincing at the way his voice cracked on the last word.

"You remembered me well enough the other night," the redhead grumbled, glaring at Roxas suspiciously. Roxas's mouth snapped closed as he flushed deeply, turning his face away and glaring at his feet.

"I was wasted," he muttered. The redhead snorted.

"Yeah, I kinda noticed." Roxas didn't respond, sinking down lower in his seat, doing his level best to sink into the floor. "So can I have my shirt back or what?"

"I don't have it here," Roxas hissed, shooting a glare at him. The redhead sighed, running a hand through his hair as he leaned back in his seat. "Look, I'm sorry, all right? I was just trying –"

"To get the hell outta there, yeah, yeah, I get it," the other guy grumbled, crossing his arms over his chest. "I'm very familiar with the morning abandonment routine, kid." His eyes flashed to Roxas's as a crooked smile spread across his face. "Though I've gotta say being on the receiving end blows." Roxas ground his teeth together and sank down even further in his seat, until he was afraid he might just slip off of it altogether.

"No – look, it wasn't like that, okay? The whole thing was a mistake. I'm not…" His throat closed again, and he glared viciously at the floor as the redhead turned and raised an eyebrow.

"What? Gay?" he drawled, and Roxas stamped down on the almost overwhelming urge to belt him.

"I'm not sure," he growled, refusing to look at the redhead. A sharp grin flashed across the other boy's face.

"You give pretty good head for a guy who's not sure," he smirked. The next thing Roxas knew, they were both in the aisle and he was on top of the taller boy, hands scrabbling for the guy's throat. The redhead remained too dazed to react for a moment; then his eyes cleared and he smacked Roxas's hands away, grabbing the blond's wrists and trying to wrestle him off of him.

They both jumped at the loud crack when the professor smacked his pointer so hard across his podium it snapped in half. "Tarshil! Strife! Out!" he barked, jabbing a finger at the door. Roxas opened his mouth to argue, but thought better of it when the man's golden eyes flashed and his lip drew away from his teeth, exposing unusually pointed canines. Grabbing up his books and backpack, he stormed out of the lecture hall.

"Hey, wait!" Grinding his teeth, Roxas lengthened his stride, trying to outrun the lanky redhead. It was a futile effort – the guy's legs were longer than Roxas's, and he closed the distance between them in what Roxas felt was insultingly little time. "I said wait," the redhead snapped, reaching out and digging his fingers into Roxas's shoulder. He spun the blond back around to face him, ignoring the blow that glanced off his arm as Roxas threw a wild punch at him.

"Let go." The guy blinked at Roxas's tone, but he only wrapped his hands around Roxas's upper arms, shaking him slightly until Roxas quit trying to hit him.

"Look, I'm sorry, all right?" he spit out. Roxas just glowered at him. The guy's shoulders drooped before he drew himself up again, glaring down at Roxas. "I am," he said, voice calmer. "I thought you were just being an ass. I didn't know – I'm sorry. Look, just gimme my shirt back and I'll never talk to you again, I don't care."

There was a short silence before Roxas took a deliberate step backward. The redhead let him go, arms falling back to his sides as he stared at Roxas silently. "Fine," Roxas growled, rubbing a hand against his temple and wondering why he felt so tired. "Gimme your address." The redhead blinked at him, features twisting into a frown.

"Just bring it to class –"

"No," Roxas spit out, glaring up at him. The guy's eyes narrowed before he shrugged and dug a pen out of his backpack. He grabbed Roxas's hand before he could object, jerking his hand around a little more forcefully than he needed to before he carefully began writing on Roxas's skin. "Don't you believe in paper?" Roxas snapped, snatching his hand back. The redhead grinned.

"Someone's gotta save the rainforests." When Roxas just glared at him he sighed and turned away. "You're kind of an asshole, you know that?" Roxas glared after him until he was out of sight, then slumped forward and tore a hand through his hair. Oh, college was turning out wonderfully.

Roxas tucked his skateboard under his arm and ran his free hand through his hair, glaring up at the apartment building. He should've said the hell with it and kept the hoodie. The guy could just go buy another one. He could still turn around and leave.

His fingers clenched around the edge of his board before he lurched into motion, marching grimly toward the apartment complex's entrance. He paused in the small entryway and dug the scrap he'd copied the redhead's address onto out of his pocket, double-checking the room number before he headed for the stairwell.

He listened to peal of the doorbell echoing behind the door and hoped to God the guy wasn't home.

The redhead pulled the door open. And blinked at him. "Why the hell are you wearing my hoodie?"

Roxas fought the debilitating urge to simply turn around and leave. He slouched forward, feeling weariness washing over him. "I wasn't gonna skateboard across town with a backpack, moron." The redhead blinked at him again, gaze shifting to take in the board tucked under Roxas's right arm.

"You…rode your skateboard across town," he said slowly. Roxas ground his teeth together.

"Yes. Can I come in or what?"

"You rode your skateboard across town."

"Yes. Do you want your fucking shirt or not?"

The redhead shook his head. "Are you insane? How long did that even take?"

Roxas tore a hand through his hair and glared heatedly at the spot above the guy's right shoulder. It had taken him the better part of an hour, but there was no way in hell he was gonna let him know that – and there was no way he was gonna bum a ride from one of his friends for something like this.

When Roxas didn't answer him, the redhead sighed and took a step back. "Whatever. It's your business." Jaw set, Roxas stalked into the apartment. His eyes darted around the interior, tongue unconsciously darting nervously across his lips. If the other guy noticed, he didn't say anything. "Thanks for bringing it back, I guess," he muttered, toeing the door closed and moving past Roxas and further into the apartment.

Roxas nodded jerkily, propping his skateboard against the wall before he drew his hands up inside the oversized sleeves. He slipped the hoodie over his head, making sure the shirt he had on underneath didn't ride up. Shaking the hair out of his eyes, he held the garment out to the redhead. "Here."

The redhead laid it absently over a faded armchair before stuffing his hands in his pockets. "Did you want something to drink or something?" Roxas scowled and reached for his skateboard.


"Okay." Roxas paused at the redhead's tone and glanced over his shoulder. The guy was just tilting his head back with a sigh, eyes falling closed as a thin line appeared between his brows.


The redhead jumped in surprise before his head snapped back down. He regarded Roxas silently for a moment before he shrugged. "Nothing."

"Look, I brought your shirt back, okay?" A humorless smirk flashed across the redhead's lips.

"Yeah. Thanks." Roxas waited, but when the redhead didn't say anything else, he turned and left the apartment.

He opted to walk back to the campus.

Roxas stared at his computer screen, gnawing absently at his thumbnail. His report stared blindly back at him, cursor blinking steadily as it waited for him to return to work. Roxas sighed in exasperation and rubbed at his eyes, wiping one hand across his face as he tried to drag his mind back from its wanderings.

It had been over a week since he'd returned the redhead's hoodie to him, and, to Roxas's immense relief, the guy hadn't tried to speak to him again. But Roxas had been shocked to find he shared not one but three classes with the other college student. He'd picked out the wild red spikes with no difficulty and wondered how he'd ever missed them before. He never tried to approach Roxas, but more than once the blond had turned his head and found the guy staring at him, expression blank but eyes burning. Roxas always had to look away quickly in those instances, an irrational sort of guilt burning queasily in his stomach.

"Earth to Roxas!"

Blinking, Roxas shook himself out of his thoughts and glanced up at Pence. "What?"

"I said we were all thinking of going out tonight, did you want to come?" Pence's round face looked a little vexed, and Roxas suspected he'd blanked out several minutes of the other boy trying to catch his attention. He flexed his fingers against the keyboard of his laptop and returned his attention to the screen.

"No," he said at last, catching the way Pence's expression fell slightly from the corner of his eye. "Thank you," he added on lamely, belatedly trying to soften the refusal. Pence sighed and turned away, muttering something under his breath. "What?" Pence paused before turning back to face him, face screwed up with some emotion Roxas wasn't sure he wanted to decipher.

"I said you can't live your life in this room, Roxas," he muttered, expression distressed. Roxas's fingers tensed on the keys.

"I'll see you later, Pence."

"Roxas –"

"Have fun."

Pence regarded him unhappily for another moment before he grabbed up his jacket and left, closing the door behind him. Roxas stared blankly at the screen, but the words of the paper he'd been trying to type refused to come into focus. Without his realizing it, his hands curled into fists on the keyboard. Abruptly he shoved the laptop away from him and stood, jerking a hoodie from the top of a pile of clean-ish clothes and covering the distance to the door in two strides. He slammed the door behind him.

Roxas tried to roll over and smacked into a soft but unyielding surface. Groaning, he pushed at it, but it refused to be moved. He gave it one last vindictive shove before he rolled back into his previous position. He managed to crack one gummy eye open far enough to find the surface he'd smacked into was the back of a couch. He closed his eyes again.

That was just great. Not only had he managed to drink enough to lose the entire evening and give himself a brutal hangover, he'd passed out in one of the common rooms.


Roxas's eyes sprang open at the voice, and his head screamed in agony as the light stabbed into his eyes with the force of javelins. His stomach heaved, but before he could try to scramble up and away a strong hand was wrapping around the back of his neck, holding his head over a cheap plastic trash bin. Roxas's throat burned as he emptied his stomach into the bin, tears of frustration and embarrassment pooling in his eyes.

As the last of the dry heaves dissipated, he tore himself out of the stranger's grip, chest heaving as he tried to wrestle his gag reflex back under control. Trying to wipe the tears out of his eyes without being obvious about it, he blinked until the room swam into focus, lifting one hand to try and block out the bright morning light streaming through the open blinds.

An infuriatingly familiar redhead was regarding him with veiled eyes, head cocked to the side and vomit-filled garbage bin still clutched in one hand. An uncomfortably liquid burp bubbled its way up Roxas's throat and the redhead thrust the bin at him. Roxas stamped down on the urge to vomit again and smacked it away, struggling to sit up.

"You…what the hell…?"

"Yeah, yeah, it's nice to see you, too," the redhead muttered, setting the bin aside and dragging a beat-up footrest over to the couch. He propped his elbows on his knees and stared at Roxas. "Your tolerance for alcohol is embarrassingly low, you know that?" Roxas fell back against the cushions, hating how tired he suddenly felt.


The redhead sighed and tore a hand through his hair. "You're a mess, kid," he informed him. "Just go back to sleep." That suggestion made a beautiful sort of sense to Roxas.

"Okay," he muttered, eyes already sliding closed. He heard the redhead sigh again before sleep rolled over him in a deadening wave.

He woke some hours later, sweating under a too-warm blanket and with a new trash bin positioned on the floor near his head. Wiping the gunk from his eyes, he shoved the blanket off of him and tried to force his mind to begin working again.

"You finally up?"

Roxas almost fell off the couch. Scrambling upright, he spun to face the redhead – he was stretched out in the sagging armchair, television remote resting across his stomach as he stared at Roxas. Roxas glanced away. "You feeling better?"

Roxas put off answering, nudging the plastic trash bin with his foot. "Did you put that there?"



"So you didn't barf all over my carpet."

Roxas blinked, meeting the other guy's eyes for a moment. He looked away when the redhead's lips stretched in a sharp grin. "No, I mean – why?" The other boy shrugged.

"I dunno." Roxas glanced at him, surprised, and the guy shrugged again. "Personally, I think you're a giant asshole."

"Thanks," Roxas muttered, rubbing tiredly at one temple. He hesitated, not sure he really wanted to know before he asked, "What happened?"

"You can't hold your alcohol at all," the redhead snorted. "If you want to go on keeping your little sexual identity crisis to yourself, you should really swear off the stuff. You're a fucking friendly drunk."

Roxas tried to stomp down on the flush creeping up his neck. "Shit." He raised his eyes to meet the redhead's again and felt the warmth spreading to his cheeks. "Shit. It was me, wasn't it? The first time." The way the redhead's eyes narrowed gave him his answer. Roxas dropped his head into his hands, shoulders curving as he curled in on himself. "Shit."

The redhead watched him for another moment before he tossed the remote onto the coffee table and stretched. "You want something to drink?" Roxas didn't respond, and the redhead sighed in disgust before he moved toward what Roxas assumed was the kitchen. Roxas glanced up when he returned, soft drink in hand.

"Look, for what it's worth – I'm sorry." There was no humor in the smirk that plastered itself over the redhead's face.

"I have to say Roxas – it's not worth much."

The redhead drove him back up to campus. They spent the entire trip in silence. It was only as the other boy was driving away that Roxas realized he didn't even know his name.
Pence didn't say anything when Roxas stumbled into their room. Roxas didn't offer any explanation for where he'd been for over twelve hours, only curled up on the bed and didn't move for the remainder of the afternoon.
The next day Roxas waited for the redhead after class. He felt faintly ridiculous leaning against the wall next to the door, and he straightened hurriedly when the redhead emerged from the classroom. The redhead blinked at him once, scowled, and tried to brush past him. Roxas had to swallow several times before he could force the word out of his throat. "Wait." The redhead tried to push around him and Roxas grabbed his arm, glaring up at him. "Please," he snapped.

The redhead blinked again before he sighed and steered them away from the classroom door. "What?" he asked shortly, shaking his arm free of Roxas's grip. Roxas's mouth opened and closed. The words he'd planned to say had vanished, and he stuffed his hands in his pockets and scowled. Above him, the redhead blew out an aggravated breath. "Fine."

"I'm sorry," Roxas ground out, snaring the guy's arm as he tried to brush past him. "I am. I didn't – I wasn't –" He took a deep breath. "I never even said thanks for the other night. You didn't have to do that."

"Is that all?" the redhead asked coldly. Roxas glanced away, feeling the warmth creeping up his neck.

"I, um…" His tongue seemed intent on fighting him every step of the way. "I – shit. What's your name?" The redhead stared at him, slack-jawed, and Roxas could feel his face burning. Anger suddenly flamed in the redhead's eyes and he shoved past Roxas without another word. Roxas slumped against the wall, tangling one hand in his hair and sure he had completely fucked up.

Roxas allowed his friends to drag him out of his dorm that Saturday. They all squeezed into a small booth in the back of Pan's Pizza, chattering and laughing. Namine kept her fingers tangled with Roxas's, and he didn't have the strength to ask her to let go. He watched them talking and laughing and felt like a stranger. He was dying for a beer.

He settled for water.

Roxas was slumped over in his seat, staring blankly at his notebook when the redhead dropped into the seat next to him, expression wary. "Can I sit here?" Roxas jumped in surprise before he scowled at the guy.

"You already are." The corner of the redhead's lips twitched upward as he leaned back in the seat.

"Guess so." There was a brief silence as Roxas tapped his pencil against his notebook, studying the redhead out of the corner of his eye.

"I thought you weren't talking to me," he said at last, cringing a little when the other boy glanced over at him.

"I'm not." He paused. "Wasn't. Whatever."

"Ah." Roxas tried not to sound as confused as he felt. "So…why now?" The redhead shrugged.

"I thought you were just being an asshole about everything," he muttered. "You really didn't remember anything, did you?" Roxas stared resolutely at his notebook, refusing to meet the redhead's gaze. The guy blew out a breath, but he sounded amused, not exasperated. He nudged Roxas with his elbow, and Roxas blinked and focused on the guy's outstretched hand. "Axel."

Roxas stared at his hand for another moment before his disbelieving gaze rose to Axel's face. Abruptly he doubled over, desperately trying to muffle his hysterical laughter. It was all so damn surreal. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Axel grinning, and was suddenly incredibly relieved that the redhead seemed to understand.

He didn't hear a word of the day's lecture.

Roxas was sprawled across Namine's bed, chin resting on his forearms and eyes fixed on the television screen. Namine was pressed against his side, her hair tickling his right arm. Pence and Olette were squeezed together at the head of the other bed, and Hayner was sprawled across the foot of the same bed.

Roxas couldn't remember who had decided it was high time they had a movie night like they'd done in high school – probably Olette. He'd have to remember to let her know it had been a good idea. Abruptly the picture cut off, static filling the screen. Roxas glanced at Namine, but she looked just as puzzled as he did.

The static cleared. Olette clapped a hand to her mouth as a shocked grimace crossed Hayner's face. Namine ducked her head into her hands. Roxas could only stare. Because there on the screen were two men, one straddling the other and riding him up and down, up and down, head tossed back and moaning obscenely loudly. Inanely, the only thing he could think of was that the movie was supposed to be rated PG-13.

Olette fumbled for the remote, finally managing to turn the television off. There was a moment of shocked silence before she spoke in a dazed voice. "Aren't they supposed to check for things like that before they rent the videos out again?" Pence laughed – a high, nervous sound that cut off abruptly as he glanced at Roxas. Suddenly everyone was looking at him. Roxas couldn't decide whether he wanted to laugh, scream, or cry.

He settled for doing nothing at all.

Roxas was nursing his third beer of the night when it was plucked out of his hands. Axel spoke close to his ear. "I thought we agreed you can't hold your alcohol." Before Roxas could answer, another voice rose above the din of the bar.

"Axel! What the hell did you just take off like that for, idiot?" Roxas swiveled his head and saw a tall blonde woman loping toward them, her short hair slicked back. She paused as she spotted him, her lips twisting in a wryly-amused smirk. "This your boy?" Roxas stiffened in his seat, and Axel's eyes flashed as he glared at the girl. She ignored him, tilting her head to the side and giving Roxas a quick once-over. She lifted one elegant eyebrow before she flashed a highly amused glance at Axel. "I see how it goes. I'll tell them you're not coming back."

Roxas's jaw clenched as he watched her walk away. Abruptly he shoved himself off the barstool and past Axel, ignoring the redhead's startled yelp. He was halfway down the block when Axel caught him.


Gritting his teeth, Roxas kept walking, cursing Axel's longer legs when he felt the redhead dig his fingers into his shoulder. Axel jerked him to a halt, coming around to stand in front of him and bracing his hands on Roxas's shoulders. "Shit, don't get like this," he snapped, giving Roxas a hard shake. "Larxene didn't mean –"

"You sure as hell didn't correct her when she called me your boy," Roxas interrupted, snapping his hands upward and breaking Axel's hold. Axel tried to grab him again, expression furious, but Roxas slipped out of his hands and stepped around him. "Leave me alone, Axel. Just leave me the fuck alone."

He made it another two steps before Axel's hand slammed down on his shoulder again. Axel spun him and grabbed his biceps in a steel grip. "You little shit," he growled. Before Roxas could say anything he leaned down and pressed his lips hard against Roxas's own.

Roxas froze.

When he didn't respond Axel pulled back, features twisted in anger. He opened his mouth, closed it again, and finally shoved away from Roxas, turning and heading back for the bar.

Roxas stood, stunned to stillness, in the middle of the sidewalk. Then he did something he thought only happened in movies and cheesy romance novels.

He collapsed.

The next few days were a blur. When it was all said and done, he wasn't sure he wanted to remember them, anyway.
When he was allowed to go back to class, Axel wasn't there. Roxas was too numb to feel much of anything about it.
They were all squeezed into the back booth of Pan's Pizza. Namine's fingers were linked with his, and Roxas clung to them like a lifeline. For the first time since he'd come out to his friends, he didn't feel like they were weighing everything they said before they said it, weren't studying him from the corner of their eyes and trying to gauge his reaction to every little thing.

He felt like laughing. And crying.

He settled for smiling and grabbed another slice of pizza.

Roxas didn't look up when Axel dropped into the seat next to his. "Can I sit here?"

"You already are," he sighed. Axel laughed, but there was no strength in the sound.

"Yeah, guess so." He glanced at Roxas, but the blond kept his eyes fixed on his notebook. "Look, for what it's worth, I'm sorry." Roxas nodded and sat back in his seat with a sigh.

"I know." Axel propped his feet up on the seat in front of him, picking imaginary lint from his jeans.

"So…now what?" Roxas shrugged.

"I dunno. Personally, I think you're a giant asshole." Axel blinked at him, a tentative grin working its way across his face. Roxas sighed and sank down a little further in his seat. He extended a hand toward Axel. "I'm Roxas." Axel stared at it for a moment before his eyes rose to Roxas's face, peering at him intently. A small smile curved his lips as he clasped the blond's hand.