Sometimes writing this wasn't easy, when real life problems cropped up, or when I experienced various technical difficulties or writer's block…But the support, the reviews, the fanart… I am just so blown away right now. You guys are AWESOME with a capital AWESOME! 8D
… but I'm done now, for serious this time. XD Plotline's over, ideas are used up, things are wrapped up all nicely, everyone's happy, the end. X3 So no trilogy for this plot, you hear me? I AM DONE WITH THIS NOW. XDD
Why are you still reading this, anyways? XD Skip over my drabbles and enjoy the last chapter, you silly people, you!
So much love,
And I know you're near me
I know you understand
Say that you're with me
I know your face like the back of my hand
Please don't lose hold of me out there
"February Air" – Lights
Fool Me Twice…
It's Not Over 'Til It's Over!
Roxas awoke to the feeling of warmth and comfort.
And not just the regular kind that any ol' person could get any ol' day simply by waking up in a comfortable bed. No, this was a special kind of cozy, and the blonde made some happy little wiggles and murmurs, nuzzling into the cuddly little nest…
… and that's when he realized that someone was cuddling him back.
Sudden clarity washing over him, Roxas immediately set to work trying to remember why he would be cuddled up with someone first thing in the morning. When he shifted a bit, attempting to have a look around at his surroundings, a little sliver of soreness edged with a smidgen of pain raced up his spine, and last night's events all came flooding back to him.
A wave of calm engulfed him, and Roxas opened his eyes to find Axel already awake; on his side, propped up on his elbow. He was just… just kind of looking at Roxas, seeming to be utterly pleased, but when the smaller teen looked back at him he immediately pulled away a bit, expression sobering up.
"Uh, morning, Roxas." He greeted, seeming to be a bit nervous. Roxas furrowed his brows in confusion, not sure why Axel was acting so funny, but realizing that it was making him a little bit uncomfortable too. Axel swallowed thickly, cautiously looking Roxas over, and the blonde realized that Axel was probably acting funny because he was afraid that Roxas was going to freak out again and kick him out of the house and regret what they had done until the day he died.
But… God if the redhead hadn't looked so utterly content with the world, just to be laying beside Roxas, looking at him while he slept. (Which was a little weird, in Roxas's opinion, but sweet nonetheless.)
Roxas smiled warmly, sleepily, and scooted in, intent on reassuring Axel that this time everything was okay. Finally. Snuggling up and nuzzling his face into Axel's neck, Roxas gave a sleepily returned "Morning, Axel." before wrapping his arms around the older male's bare torso, sighing happily.
He wasn't sure if things were really quite as completely 100 comfortable and figured out as he was playing it off as, but when Roxas felt Axel pull him into the warmest, tightest, happiest hug he had ever received… he figured that the circumstances didn't have to be absolutely perfect for things to be okay.
"Come on, come on, come on! We're gonna miss the train!"
Sora raced around like a chicken with its head cut off, crazily trying to get some hasty organization going in the most hindering, unorganized manner possible.
"Well maybe if you'd stop running around and getting in our way, we'd be able to get everything together!" Roxas reprimanded, narrowly avoiding a collision with the excitable brunette as he raced through the living room to get to the kitchen, and then back again.
Bags and various other belongings were strewn about downstairs as everyone tried to gather everything together. It was, unfortunately, time to leave and go back home, and the morning had been spent hastily gathering everything up at the last minute. Quite a contrast to the previous day, which had been spent lounging around the cabin for Axel for Roxas, playing in the snow for Sora and Riku, and hitting the slopes with Seifer one last time for Hayner.
Unfortunately, making the most of their last day had meant that everyone had put off packing, and were thus seriously underprepared for an early departure the next morning. Scrambling and frantically gathering possessions that seemed to have somehow gotten scattered to the farthest corners of the house during the week, Riku, Sora, Hayner, and Roxas did their best to get everything together as quickly as they could, always keeping an eye on the time so that they wouldn't miss their train.
Eventually the chaos subsided enough that organization could take place, and things could get packed properly and shoved in the rental car. Everyone did one last check of the house, making sure that nothing was forgotten, straightening up a bit.
And in his last minute checking and cleaning, Roxas paused in the upstairs hallway, looking down to the wide windows of the living room. Outside it was as picturesque as he could have ever asked for. Snow lightly drifted down from the skies, and the world was covered in a sparkling blanket of white.
"What'cha doooooin'?" Sora's chipper voice cut in, startling Roxas out of his vague, drifting thoughts. Turning to see the energetic brunette fixing him with a happy grin, Roxas furrowed his brows into a light glare.
"Nothing." He replied.
"Oh no you weren't!" Sora sing-songed. "I think you were looking out the window, fawning over what a beautiful world lays just outside, and what a wonderful vacation you had!"
Roxas fought very hard to keep a bush from rising to his cheeks. Well snap. That… that kinda had been what he had been thinking about, hadn't it? Damn it, when had he gotten so mushy? That was gonna have to stop. If Sora was capable of reading his thoughts… that just wasn't a sign of his mindset going in a good direction at all.
"HEY GUYS! What's going… on?"
Roxas's attention went right to the door, which Axel had just burst through, looking initially in high spirits, expression faltering as he took in the scene before him.
"Uh… what's going on? It looks kinda barren in here…"
Oh crap. Oh crap, oh crap, oh crap. Roxas felt the world crash around him as he realized the situation.
He had completely forgotten to tell Axel that he was leaving today.
What with the, uh… rather distracting events of the previous day, and the fact that he had plain and simple lost track of the time, telling Axel about their departure had completely slipped his mind.
"Well we're leaving today." Sora explained with a pout. "Didn't Roxas tell you?"
"Uh…" Axel looked torn between being confused and being completely stricken. "No, he didn't."
"I…" Roxas stuttered, taking a step towards the stairs. "Axel, I am so sorry, I completely forgot. I wasn't trying to…"
"Oh, no… it's okay." Axel replied, using that tone that people always use when things most certainly aren't fine, but they sure are gonna try their darndest to pretend it's that way.
Scowling, Roxas tromped down the stairs. "No." he insisted. "It's not."
Grabbing Axel by the wrist, Roxas dragged him out to the deck, shivering at the cold. Axel looked at a loss as to what to make of the situation, so Roxas pushed him up against the side of the house, holding him by his shoulders and doing some quick explaining.
"Axel, I swear, I totally forgot that I was supposed to be leaving today. I swear I wasn't trying to just… to… do… that with you, and then just disappear the next day."
"I… okay." Axel replied, looking like he believed Roxas, but disappointed all the same. "But I mean… were you even going to call?"
Roxas rubbed his temples with his fingers, fighting off a forming headache. Would he have called? Would he even have remembered? God, wouldn't that just have been perfect, to up and leave without even sparing a thought for the person who this whole trip had ended up revolving around?
"Axel, I think I'm a terrible person." Roxas said, quite frankly. "What the hell is wrong with me?"
Surprisingly enough, this was what caused Axel to loosen up a bit, look a bit more at ease. He even smiled a little.
"Rox, you're not a terrible person." He said. "You just… make a lot of mistakes, or, you know… forget about stuff. Or otherwise screw things up. But… I think you don't mean to do it, so… It's not your fault. And besides… I like you just the way you are, even the part that makes mistakes."
Well crap. Roxas had no idea how to respond to that. Axel was essentially letting him off the hook for past, present, and future instances of being an idiot. It surely wasn't meant to be a golden opportunity to purposefully be an insensitive ass, but…
Axel understood. He was willing to compromise for potential personality flaws in order to make things work. Crazy and annoying but occasionally emotional and perceptive Axel, paired up with callous on the outside, but sensitive and meaning well deep down Roxas. Well then. Didn't they make just the perfectly dysfunctional little pair?
"Okay." Roxas responded, hesitantly letting himself smile in a way that he hoped convey his feelings of gratitude for the understanding. Because far be it from him to actually come out and say 'oh well thanks, Axel! I'll try real hard not to screw up, and I like you despite your flaws too!'
Pfft, as if. The golden rule to Roxas was: deep down he felt it, but it'd take wild horses to drag it out of him.
"Hey Roxas, come on! We need to get going!"
Riku's voice called out from inside, and Roxas shouted an annoyed reply to him before turning back to Axel.
"So… I guess I'll be going then." He said, shifting on his feet. "It was, uh… nice to see you again. Um… bye then."
He had just turned on his heel to retreat back into the house when Axel snorted, grabbing ahold of his arm and dragging him back to his chest, hugging Roxas tightly from behind.
"Yeah, I don't think so." He scoffed, grinning. "You don't get to get off that easy."
Roxas found himself whirled around, only to find that Axel was smiling at him in a most unnerving way. He caught a brief flash or Sora, Riku and Hayner, who had come to the sliding glass doors leading to the patio to see what was going on, and he opened his mouth to protest any further canoodling whilst they had onlookers, but Axel dove right on in, even after seeing the other boys at the door.
Oh Lord. This was truly mortification at its best. Panic rose in Roxas, and he was on the verge of pulling away when Axel hugged him during the kiss. Not any sort of desperate clutch of passion, no trapping bind, just… a hug. Simple as that. Open and understanding and damn it… so full of love. Roxas had the feeling that even if he pulled away because of not wanting to be seen by his friends, Axel would still understand; would still forgive him.
And so with a sigh, Roxas closed his eyes and wrapped his own arms back around Axel, and he felt the taller male smile into their kiss.
When Roxas heard clapping and catcalls from his friends, he couldn't help but smile back.
Traveling by train, Roxas decided, was just about the worst form of transportation, second only to traveling by bus. He wasn't sitting next to a stranger, but he was actually starting to consider throwing himself into any other vacant seat he could find – awkward confined space with some random person be damned – if only to rid himself of Hayner's enthusiastic, incessant babbling.
"… so I told him fine, I'll kick his ass into next week, and then he'll go crazy waiting for time to catch up so that I can do it all over again, and do you know what he said to that?"
"No, Hayner. I really don't." Roxas replied in perfect monotone, face in his hands.
"Well Seifer, that ass, he just smirked and said on the extraordinary chance that I did manage to pull that off, instead of going crazy he'd just spend his time waiting by devising new and creative ways to –"
"Yeah, that's okay, I really don't want to hear about that." Roxas cut in, massaging his temples in frustration. Swear to God, if he had to hear one more story about the twistedly passionate and competitive sex that Seifer and Hayner had managed to have all week long, he was going to open the window and throw himself right out of the train.
"Oh… right." Hayner replied, grinning abashedly. "But why does it weird you out so much? I mean you and that Axel guy seem to be awfully –"
"Okay, we are not taking about this. Really." Roxas insisted, burying his head in his arms. "And since when are you so open to the whole… guy thing?"
Peeking out from the shelter of his arms, Roxas saw Hayner shrug.
"I dunno, it's not really the a 'guy thing'. I still totally dig girls and all that, I guess. It's… just Seifer. I mean… I always was aware of how much he got me going, I guess I just didn't realize that maybe it…"
Roxas stopped listening at this point, thinking about what Hayner had said. He was pretty work out of thinking about what liking Axel meant for him, but… maybe it was as simple as that. He just liked Axel. That was that. He didn't have to re-think his whole life, or have an all-encompassing label handed to him on a silver platter… it didn't even have to make sense. It was just how things had ended up, and as long as he was pretty sure that he was okay with it, that was fine by him.
After a lengthy train ride that managed to feel about thee times as long as it really had been, they finally arrived back home; back into the warm sun and familiar places and people. Roxas blinked as he stepped out of the train, shielding his eyes from the bright sky. Hayner followed after him, and Sora came bouncing out after that, seeming to be barely weighed down at all by the large luggage bag that he had slung over his shoulder.
"So wasn't that a fun trip?" he happily questioned, beaming. Roxas couldn't help the crooked smile that stole onto his lips.
"Yeah, I guess it was alright."
"I knew it!" Sora eagerly responded. "I knew you'd have a good time, didn't I tell you Riku? That it would be good if Roxas came with us?"
Riku shook his head, amused.
"That you did." He agreed. "Now come on, let's get home. Roxas, do you need a ride?"
The blonde shook his head. "Nah, I'm good." He replied. "I've been cooped up in that freaking train for way too long and my house isn't too far from here – I'll walk."
And after a few goodbyes he did just that. Despite the bag he had to lug around, it was nice to stretch his legs, and walking always seemed to sort out his thoughts. And after the week he had just had, there were a LOT of thoughts to sort out. But… it looked like everything was finally going to be okay.
Axel and Roxas hadn't really talked for more than a week. A couple of calls had been made, but it evolved into a game of phone tag more than anything else, with one of them always catching the other at a time when answering a call wasn't convenient. So a few brief "hi, how are you?'s" were exchanged, but no conversation of substance had really taken place.
And not surprisingly, the gap in communication was mostly coming from Roxas's end. He slept in for most mornings when Axel would have been able to call before work, afternoons were busy for Axel, so no calling could take place then, and evenings were always the time to run around with friends, for both of them. Initially Roxas would wake up to discover a few voicemails and text messages that had come his way from Axel while he had been sleeping in, but after a week or so they started declining.
Roxas really never had been one to spend any significant amount of time communicating by phone.
But he did miss Axel. And even though for some stubborn reason he refused to consistently make an effort to keep in touch, he did admit that he missed the obnoxious redhead. His school had a ridiculously long Christmas break, and even though he'd spent a week at Riku's cabin, there was still another two left before classes started up again. So he spent his days hanging out with his usual friends in the usual spots, but at the same time it all felt a little…restless. Roxas had always been one to ignore problems in favour of hoping that they would go away all on their own, but… for some reason his separation from Axel was really bugging him.
It probably had something to do with the fact that he had only just gotten things figured out before getting pulled away. Roxas may have been stubborn about ignoring things he didn't want to deal with, but darnit if he couldn't also be stubborn about getting something he did want.
So after that week or so of avoiding the situation, hoping that a solution would drop down out of the sky to fix his problem, Roxas finally decided it was time to put his stubborn nature to use and come up with a way to solve this weird little dilemma that he found himself in.
Axel dejectedly wiped down the café counter with a wet cloth, bored out of his mind and wishing more than anything that Roxas was there to entertain him and keep him company. He hadn't heard much from the blonde since he'd left… which was understandable, given Roxas's track record when it came to his abilities to keep in touch, but it was still disheartening.
He now had no doubts that Roxas really did care, underneath it all, but their dynamics seemed to flourish when they were in steady face-to-face contact, rather than through phone lines or letters or emails or carrier pigeons or God knows what other means of communication they could come up with. Some people did well with constant face-to-face contact, and some people did better long distance. Axel and Roxas definitely didn't fit into the latter category.
Sighing for what must have been the 19,872,529th time that day, Axel finished his sweep of the counter, and tossed the cloth in the hamper under the sink. It was a slow day, just the same as the previous days before it had been. Winter break was ending for the rest of the community, and the only reason Axel was still there was because he'd come along with Larxene, Marluxia, and Demyx to stay for the duration of their school break, which stretched much longer than ordinary Christmas vacations.
But… really, the only reason he'd come along was to have people to hang around with over break, because if he hadn't come along he'd have been essentially stranded at home with no one else. Well… that wasn't entirely true – Sora was always willing to be a friend; Riku wasn't especially close to him, but was always rather great to hang out with; and even though Zexion was rather quiet and studious, he was a good guy. But he really wasn't very close to any of them, and he didn't think he'd have been able to stand it if he'd called Roxas up over break to hang out now that there was finally no longer the excuse of school holding him back, and the blonde had still blown him off.
So up to the mountains he had gone. And even though it was great hanging out with his friends, and Ven had turned out to be a pretty great work buddy, he still missed Roxas, especially now that things were good between them and he was missing out on valuable Axel/Roxas time.
Despite Roxas's concerns, Ven held absolutely no interest for Axel, but darnit if the kid didn't look strikingly similar to his own cherished blonde. Sometimes he'd catch Ven out of the corner of his eye and his heart would jolt for a split second, until he caught himself, remembering that Roxas was far, far away, and that there was no way he was just glance up one day and see him standing there.
Nope, he was just going to have to be patient and wait, and try to enjoy his remaining time at the ski lodge as best as he could. Yep. Just push Roxas to the back of his brain and try to think about his friends and the snow and skiing and working at the café and Roxas Roxas Roxas RoxasRoxasRoxas!
"Grah!" Axel burst, slamming his hands down on the counter. The lack of distractions was infuriating in its lack of keeping his thoughts from drifting back to Roxas.
"What?" Ven asked in reply to the outburst, boredly sitting on a barstool and kicking his legs for lack of anything else to be doing.
"Just… nothing." Axel replied, sighing dramatically and throwing his face into his arms on the counter. "This has got to be the most frustrating thing in the world."
"Huh?" Ven asked, and Axel realized that having his head buried in his arms muffled his words considerably.
"I said," He began again, sitting up and leaning against the counter. "That this has got to be the –"
A little beeper went off from Ven's wristwatch, and the blonde sat up, looking pleased.
"Time for my break." he announced with an extreme amount of relief in his voice, jumping off the barstool. "Man the shop while I'm gone, I'll be back."
"Oh, right." Axel replied as Ven hurried off, no doubt to meet up with Terra. "Yeah, don't mind me, I'll just sit here, alone and friendless. Scamper off to your little boyfriend, it's cool."
Ven was long gone as Axel grumbled his little speech, but it still felt good to put it out there. Deciding to be productive, Axel walked over to the sink, preparing to wash some dishes.
Of course the moment he stuck his hands into the sudsy water, the café counter phone rang. Axel started in surprise, before glaring at its annoying sense of timing. When the hell had they gotten a phone, anyways? Had that thing always been there?
Wiping his hands off on a dishtowel, Axel stalked over to the phone, picking it up. "Hello, you've reached the Nomura Ski Resort café, Axel speaking, how may I help you?"
"Yeah, hi, can I get a double grandé mochachocolatté express, whole milk, extra hot, extra whip, with chocolate sprinkles and a just a dash of cinnamon?"
Axel reeled at the outlandish order. "Sir…" he started, trying to maintain his polite, customer-friendly tone. "This isn't a Starbucks."
"Oh." Came the voice over the phone. "In that case, can I have an iced java spiced caramel apple frapachino macchiato, minimal foam, with grated almonds scattered on top?"
Axel glared at the phone. "Sir, even if I knew what that was, I wouldn't make it for you. I'm sorry, but we're just the ski lodge café, we don't make all of those girly froo-froo drinks here."
"Okay, okay." The voice on the phone said, finally seeming to catch on. "So then… can I just get a spiced chai, with a side of eccentric redhead?"
"Sir, I… what?"
"I'm sorry, do you not have that either?"
Axel held the phone away from him for a moment, looking to it in confusion. Was this some kind of practical joke? Cautiously, he brought it back to it's proper positioning at his mouth and ear, speaking guardedly. "Uh… can I get your name please?"
Pure surprise was written all over Axel's expression for a moment as he processed this bit of information, and as the pieces fell into place he broke into a face-splitting grin.
"Roxas, what the…?" he asked, smile evident in his voice. "How the hell did you get this number?"
Even though he couldn't see it, the redhead could picture Roxas shrugging on the other end of the line, wearing a small, smug smirk. "Got it from Riku." He revealed. "And I figured I'd brighten up your boring work day with a little confusion."
Axel laughed, leaning comfortably against the counter and fiddling with a coaster. "Yeah, well mission accomplished. What the flying fuck were those things you listed off? Are those even real drinks? Please tell me they're not."
Again, Axel could see the smugly amused expression that must surely be upon his Roxie's face. "I have no idea." The blonde admitted. "I just made them up. But for all I know they could be real, what with all the crazy, froo-froo drinks out there these days."
Chuckling, Axel cradled the phone to the side of his face with his shoulder. "Yeah, that sounds about right…"
Sighing, Axel smiled, feeling extremely fond of Roxas, and quite endeared by the little stunt he had just pulled with the fake orders. "Sooo…" he began. "I've missed you."
He could hear Roxas's scoff over the phone, and he was sure the blonde was rolling his eyes, wondering why he even bothered to call Axel in the first place. The familiarity was enough to make Axel's heart swell, and his grin widened impossibly.
"Don't be such a chick, Axel, seriously."
"Well I do!" Axel defended, laughing. "And it's all the worse because someone never answers my phone calls!" he bemoaned, throwing the back of his hand to his forehead dramatically, even though he knew Roxas couldn't see it. "Every moment without you is the cruelest torture, and my heart longs for the day when we may once again meet, our lips and loins tingling in anticipation as we –"
"Okay, seriously, knock off the drama. Put on your big girl panties and deal with it. You'll see me again soon enough."
"But I miiiiiiss yoooou!" Axel insisted, trying to convey his pout in his voice.
"Yeah, yeah, yeah." Roxas exasperatedly sighed, and Axel grinned, knowing that was a Roxas version of 'I miss you too.' "So are you gonna make me my drink or what?"
Axel paused, a little confused. "Wait… you're not serious, right?"
"Of course I'm serious." Roxas replied. "What, you thought I was just calling to be cute? Yeah right, Axel, make me my drink. I'll even make it easy on you – a hot chocolate should be within your means, right."
At this point Axel was frowning, not sure if Roxas was still joking or not. It was hard to tell with that kid. "Wait… Roxas, what the hell? Are you still kidding or what? Cause I can't just make a drink that's going to go to waste…"
"Who says it's going to go to waste?"
"Axel, look up."
Confusion written all over his features, Axel looked up, not sure exactly what Roxas was playing at. The lodge was practically empty, and the snow was still falling thickly outside the… the window?
Dropping the phone in shock, Axel's jaw went slack at the sight of a very familiar blonde who was standing right outside the window, bundled up and smiling; cell phone still held to one side of his face. At Axel's expression he laughed, waving.
Roxas hadn't been entirely sure about his plan, initially, but the look of utter joy that passed over Axel's face right before he leapt over the counter, running to the door, was enough to make Roxas feel like it had been the right thing to do, and was about to become so completely worth it.
Sure enough, when the door burst open and Axel launched at him, attacking him with a full body hug that crushed the air right out of his lungs and nearly knocked them both down into the snow, it felt worth it, like it had been the right thing to do. Axel was laughing like an idiot, holding onto him like he was never going to let go ever again. Roxas just barely managed to shove his phone back into his pocket before Axel was grabbing at his face, tangling long fingers in his disheveled blonde spikes, and tugging him into a heated kiss.
In that perfect moment, wrapped up in jackets and a scarf and Axel's arms as the snow fell down from the sky, Roxas made up his mind. This was what he wanted. Always and forever, this perfect feeling of absolute complete rightness despite the absurdity.
Axel pulled away from their meshing of lips with a happy sigh, coddling Roxas to his chest like a precious, long-lost child who had finally come home. Roxas tucked his head under Axel's chin, humming a contented murmur.
"Roxas…" Axel whispered, sounding like his heart was about to burst. "I'm so glad you came back."
And Roxas smiled, closing his eyes and gripping Axel tightly, not caring who saw them like this.
"You know what, Axel? I am too."
And they all lived happily ever after!