A/N: I swear to God, I'm going to start writing regularly again if it kills me.

Inspired by 358/2 Days, ish. Hi Axel. c:

viii. Words

In the beginning, he was almost convinced that Axel knew everything. None of the others had much patience for Roxas in those days, newly-born as he was, slow to move and speak and understand. He'll snap out of it eventually, they reasoned, let's just keep him out of the way until he does, it's always like this when they're new. Only Axel thought to try speeding the process along—out of boredom, he says now whenever Roxas thinks to ask him why.

In the beginning, he followed Axel around like a lost child (which he was at the time, he supposes, but now it's embarrassing to admit), and learned the names of the things around him. Castle. City. Chair. Staircase. Sky. Keyblade. Axel would point at the thing, or touch it, and then he'd say its name and the word would push its way sluggishly into Roxas' mind, a painfully slow swirl of silver fluid. When you've just been born it's hard to remember words, harder still to form them into sounds that you can say, but Roxas always tried, always. He took pictures of the things in his mind, pinned the words to them, told himself in the silence inside his head that he had to remember or he might as well just not exist.

Axel, said Axel, pointing to himself. Roxas, as always, took mind-pictures—red spiked hair, wiry limbs, glass-green eyes and a lazy smile and a long finger pointing and a drawling voice enunciating slowly Axel.

He was almost convinced that Axel knew everything.

It was harder, in the beginning, to learn the names of things that didn't exist in their world. When they'd walked the length and breadth of the cold castle and the silent city and named the things with names, Axel told him stories. Even then, Axel had been to many worlds.

What were stars? What was a sun? What were beaches and oceans and ice cream? And how could there be any other worlds than the castle and the city and the dark sky?

Roxas pointed to himself. There was something of a question in his eyes, but it was heavy and sluggish and slow to form on his tongue.

Oh, said Axel, with a crooked smile, and he too pointed at Roxas' chest, fingertip trained above the space where the heart should have been beating, stupid of me for forgetting the most important thing of all. Roxas. That's you. That's your name.

Roxas frowned, bent his head down and scratched it a little. It was starting to hurt from holding so many words. What was a name?

Don't frown like that, said Axel, and his smile widened a little as he patted Roxas' shoulder. It's okay, no pressure. I'm your friend, Roxas.

A name was what something was called, because everything had to be called something, otherwise people would only be able to say "this" or "that," and that would confuse everyone. But what was a friend? Did Axel and friend mean the same thing, or could friend be a second name for other things too? Wasn't it confusing for something to have more than one name?

R-Roxas, friend? he stammered, awkwardly and a little painfully, pointing to himself again. Axel only smiled and smiled.