Roxas' heart was thumping like crazy. The shower continued to run in the background, Axel for the moment occupied, and, determined to create an advantagefor once, he wasn't going to let this opportunity go to waste.
The handcuffs rattled as he leaned forward, feet digging into the thin carpet. Roxas was briefly able to see his reflection in the stolen fork in his hand, gazing down at it in consternation, because there was absolutely no guarantee that this was going to work. The problem was, if he didn't start fighting back now – or if he saw the chance and consciously let it pass him by without trying anything – he had a sneaking suspicion that he never would again. He had to at least try.
Drawing a deep, bracing breath, not allowing for an instant of second thought, he lowered the fork, lined it up, and slid it into the nightstand's flimsy lock. It scraped as it entered, the blond frowning deeply as he carefully pressed it deeper, only two of the tines managing to fit but hopefully two were enough. If there was any sliver of luck on his side, this would work. He wriggled the fork, feeling for the lock's release, sweaty hand readjusting around the metal every now and again to try it at different angles. He listened for the shower so hard that it felt like his ears were doubling in size to meet demand, every drop of water that fell in the bathroom hitting Roxas' nerves like electric beads of perspiration. For a moment, he started to panic, feeling time slipping away with no progress to speak of, but then a lower, grinding sound came from the keyhole, and in the next moment the poorly constructed lock gave way with a sharp click.
Hitching in a breath, Roxas hurriedly put the fork aside, shoving it under the pillow of his tiny single bed, his cuffed right hand clinking against the metal bars as it automatically tried to jerk forwards and help. Grunting in frustration, he instead used his left, grabbing the drawer's handle and yanking it open, the ball bearings stiff against the track. There, like his own personal Holy Grail, sat the telephone, his fingers shaking as he reached for it, dragging it out with minimal noise, placing it on his lap and staring at it. God, it was beautiful; he could've gazed all night. Instead, swallowing nervously, he slid it onto the nightstand and bent down, groping blindly at the ground for the end of the cord, knowing it was down there somewhere. Cheek pressed against the hard wooden corner, he clenched his jaw and searched by touch, fingertips dancing across it several seconds later, fumbling for a moment and then snatching it up.
Sitting up with a breath, he yanked it over the back of the nightstand, turning it in his fingers so that it was the right way up and then inserting it into the phone again, returning it to its home. Now, if only the same could be said for him. Listening one last time for signs of Axel finishing his shower, finding none so far – he had looked and smelled like he had about seven independent layers of sweat glued to his skin, Roxas had to admit – the blond grated his teeth hard together once, sprang them apart, and, cautious now, picked up the receiver.
It felt heavy in his hand, almost unnaturally so, like it was holding the weight of all his hopes and expectations. It was cool against his anxiety-dampened palm; he had to struggle to keep his wits about him at this crucial point. With the same hand, he dialled, index finger hesitant to begin with but building up momentum, the low click of the old-fashioned number pad stuttering along until there was nothing left to press. With heart beating faster, louder than ever, Roxas, exhaling sharply, quickly brought the earpiece up and pressed it hard to the side of his head. At the sound of the other line ringing in his ear, he felt faint, head getting lighter by the minute. It continued for several seconds, skin crawling as he listened, small tremors quaking his muscles sporadically.
Then, so familiar and distant it took his breath away, "Hello?"
"…Hayner." His eyes slid shut at the sound of that voice, the shakes becoming more pronounced, teeth chattering slightly. There was a long pause, then an explosion of air across the receiver, Hayner nearly choking his name at the other end.
"Roxas! Roxas, oh, my God – "
Although it pained him to have to do so, Roxas cut him off, ever mindful of the seconds ticking down. Voice an urgent mutter, he said, "Stop, there's no time. Hayner, you have to listen to me, and listen hard because this is only going to come once: I'm at the other side of the wastelands, a place called Edge, but not for long – he took me, his name is Axel, he's goddamn terrifying and out of his mind…"
"Roxas, what? Where the hell are you?!" Hayner sounded angry, the tone vibrating down the phone, reminding Roxas so clearly of the other blond in a rage – but there was something else in there, too. Something desperate, something hurt and plain old bewildered. "There was that fire, and then you were just gone, and just yesterday the cops told us that someone called telling them you'd gone home! You went back to your family, but you couldn't tell us?! You left us without a word, and we were scared sick for you, and then it turns out you're completely fine? What the hell is wrong with you? Why didn't you tell us,Roxas? What's going on?"
Deep down, a layer of ice started spreading through Roxas' insides. "What did you say? The police told you that?"
"Yes, Roxas, they did, and I don't understand." Hayner hitched in a breath on the other end. "Why would you do something like this? For all your faults – this just wasn't like you."
Roxas was silent, even though every moment counted, even though Hayner had already taken up time saying his piece despite being told not to. His mind had reached a block – it couldn't get beyond what Hayner had just now said. Couldn't get over the fact that Axel… had been telling the truth. Axel had told him that someone would call claiming to be his family, throwing everyone off the scent. And now they had.
Roxas stared blankly ahead, brain grinding as it attempted to process this, delving through everything that Axel had told him, every awful thing he claimed was true and the fact that he'd been right about this – and then the pain hit. Terrible, stabbing pain that struck straight through his skull, like his ears would bleed from it, his eyes just about vibrating in their sockets from it. He gasped hard enough to choke, eyelashes fluttering rapidly, the phone almost dropping from his hand. A strangled noise escaped his throat, the agony searing across his forehead and back into his retinas, blinding, muting, deafening. He was losing himself, the world taking on a white mist at its edges, a dull roar filling his ears, he could hear every drop of blood coursing his veins like locomotives. Distantly, the last he heard of Hayner was, "Roxas? Roxas, answer me if you're there. Roxas?"
Knowing how vital it was to finish this, Roxas hung up with a clatter, yanked the phone cord free and dropped it, fighting the pain for just these brief few, self-protecting moments, long enough to return it to the drawer, slide it shut, unable to lock it again but recognising that there was nothing more than he could do. With anyamount of long overdue good fortune, Axel wouldn't think to check. Who knew? Roxas didn't even care anymore. Didn't care about Axel, or Hayner, or anything in all of existence except that his head was disintegrating in on itself, this was death, slow and deliberate. Roxas twisted on the bed, crushing his head between his hands, chuffing short breaths through clenched teeth, eyes squeezed shut. Consciousness flickered, dimmed, died out, and when it flared back into full blossom, the one to open his eyes was Sora.
He lay perfectly still for a moment, slowly examining what was visible of the room. Nothing moved. There was an unnatural silence hanging in the air, as though the world had gone from screaming at the top of its lungs to mute in the space of a heartbeat, its voice still ringing between the walls. He was alone; that was unusual. But then he noticed discomfort, shifted to allay it, and the clink of metal bindings brought the situation into sharp relief. A moment later, a white door swung open, and Axel stepped into view in damp jeans with a towel draped over his shoulders, Sora jumping at the suddenness of the appearance. He had obviously been in the bathroom – they were in another motel, Roxas was chained to the bed, and Axel had been taking a shower. The redhead looked tense, green eyes slicing over to the boy on the bed, narrowing slightly at the blue eyes staring back from within a pale, quiet face as though mildly surprised to find that he was still exactly where he'd left him. Kind of hard not to be when you were locked up, though.
Sora smiled thinly, tugging at the cuffs with a small clatter. "Handcuffs again, huh? You really have a kink for that whole BDSM mojo, don't you?"
Axel paused, blinked and turned towards him, hips canting to the side as he did so. Head cocking, the redhead's eyes grazed his prone form, darkening slightly, Sora feeling a faint clutch of tension at the expression within them.
Slowly, the man started towards him, a familiar, predatory grace to his movements. Sora lifted his knees carefully, Axel nearing the bed in a circling fashion, fingers kneading the soft fabric of the towel, the hem of his jeans dampening with the water that continued to trickle down his chest from his hair. For a stretching moment, their eyes met, silence beating in the room, before something electric sparked in Axel's gaze, the man leaning down and gripping his shoulders, massaging them, one knee pushing down the mattress at his hip as he growled with desire in his voice, "That depends on what you rememb-"
Sora rocked his lower body and drove a heel straight up into his throat. Axel gagged, releasing and reeling back, letting loose a strangled noise of pain and outrage as he staggered across the room. By the time he'd recovered, there was murder in his eyes. As he came stalking back towards the bed, hands in angry fists, Sora yelped, grabbed a fistful of blankets and yanked them up over his head, crying, "Self-defence! I call self-defence, you were fully perving on me then, I was well within my rights, and you totally can't get mad!"
Axel ripped them off, flung them away, snarled down at him, "Oh yeah? Or what?"
Sora floundered. "Or I'll… kick you again. I'll do it, I have heels of fury, you know!" He swung his feet threateningly, bony ankles tracing circles in the air, the gesture pathetic but obviously working some kind of magic, because Axel stared at him, stared at his feet, and after a moment withdrew. He backed off several steps, hands returning to the towel around his neck, expression flickering but shielded mostly from view behind a watchful mask. The lust died from his eyes, which gradually flattened the longer he observed the blond's mussed hair and defensive position on the bed.
"…I'm guessing you won't be wanting a shower now, anymore."
Sora looked at him closely, thought about it, answered carefully, "I'm fine where I am."
Axel inclined his head an inch, his whole mood now turned completely on its head, a darkness following him as this time he moved right around the bed, avoiding it like there was a force-field between the two of them. He went to the duffle bag, zipped it open and pulled out a tee-shirt, tugging it over his slender frame, hesitating slightly halfway through the act to mutter audibly, "Heels of fury…" He pulled the hem down, threw his gaze over to Sora, the boy watching him from behind the stretched and slightly twisted arm of the handcuffed hand, not flinching away as expected when their eyes met but holding the look with something… indistinguishable in his half-hidden face. "Roxas –" He stopped.
Axel looked like there was something he very much wanted to mention, or perhaps ask – but he evidently changed his mind partway through the thought, simply saying, "Never mind."
Sora returned to watching quietly, the man dropping his bag down on the floor, kicking it over to the far side of his bed, way out of reach. It was a shame; Sora was pretty sure that Axel had a gun stowed away in that ever-present pack, and would have loved to get his hands around it and get out of here for once and for all, eliminating Axel at the same time. Cleaning up after himself, as it were. But certainly nothing was going to be as easy as all that – and that was okay. Sora was reconciled with at least that much.
Axel didn't climb into the other bed in the room, instead pulling half a bottle of whisky from the bag, closing it back up and retreating to the side of the room, seating himself in a faded armchair and uncapping the bottle. He took a long swallow, looking ready to settle where he was.
"You're not going to bed?" Sora asked, studying him. "Aren't you tired?"
Axel propped an elbow on the arm of the seat, rubbing his face with his hand, letting out a long sigh as he did so. "Roxas…" He stopped again, as though the million things he wanted to say were getting jammed in the doorway in their rush to all be said at once. He pressed the heel of his palm to his forehead, supporting his head against it, taking another swig of whisky. When he did speak, his voice was heavy, rough around the edges with untold weariness and inner decay. "I am more tired than I know what to do with." Another mouthful, and no more words now. He had apparently said his piece, volunteering nothing further, instead choosing to turn his attention over towards the window, sinking broodingly into the chair and letting his gaze drift into the distance.
Sora let it go at that; there was nothing much to be said between them for the moment, anyway, and he wouldn't be going anywhere any time soon. They were here for the night.
He turned over, the clink of the handcuffs briefly splitting the quiet as he tried to find a comfortable position, the minutes ticking by at a gradual drip that made him wonder why he bothered staying conscious. Towards dawn, Axel fell asleep, Sora listening to his breaths take on a slower, gentler rhythm. He watched the sun rise against the wall, and wondered, for a short, lonely heartbeat, where Riku was, and what he might be doing. It was okay for Axel, he had his stalker fantasy in the palm of his hand, even Roxas at least had somebody who loved him, albeit psychotically… but Sora had nobody. Sora didn't even have the benefit of acknowledged existence, and that was the sort of thing that wore on a person after a while.
So, even though he wasn't crazy on sleep, on letting go of the reins when he had hold of them, Sora let himself fade away as the world got brighter and brighter in the motel room. It was rare, but for the moment, he had the sneaking suspicion that anywhere was better than here right now. Even if that meant darkness.
A bowl was pushed in front of him on the bed, Roxas peering into it dubiously. "Tinned fruit?"
"Tinned peaches," Axel clarified, tersely adding, "Don't just sit there and study it, fucking eat. We've got a lot a ground to get covered and I want to get going."
Roxas had been prodded awake a few minutes ago, bleary-eyed and disorientated, half expecting to find that once again they were halfway to nowhere and would have to go through the whole freak-out business all over again. But no – still the motel, in exactly the same state as he had checked out in.
His memories of the night before were muzzy at best, a strange kind of interference buzzing through them like television static, until he reached towards the phone call to Hayner where they simply went blank. He didn't know what to do about this. He knew for a fact that he had got the phone out, had placed the call – he could still hear Hayner's voice in his head – but the subject matter was frustratingly elusive right now, and he had no idea, none whatsoever, whether or not he had achieved his goal, or been caught, or what had happened. His eyes ticked over to Axel, who had opened up another tin of peaches and was transferring them straight from the tin into his mouth with a plastic spoon, wandering from point to point through the room like he couldn't sit still. He wasn't acting like he'd discovered Roxas mid-call to Hayner. In fact, he was pretty sure that if he had, he'd have bound and gagged the blond and certainly wouldn't be treating him as benignly as he was. After a mental check, he also found that there was nothing sore on his body, like he'd been hit or held too tightly, which, after a hesitation, he concluded must all together mean that he had got away with it. Whatever else may have happened would just have to be consigned for now to the annals of mystery, leaving him to simply hope that everything would be okay.
Despite how little he'd been eating lately, Roxas found that he wasn't all that hungry. He managed half of his peaches before giving up, a curious light-headedness swamping him after having spent a while trying so hard to think beyond the block in his mind. His eyes hurt like he'd been staring too long at a computer screen. He pushed away the bowl, Axel glancing over, their eyes briefly meeting before Roxas reflexively looked away, uncomfortable with prolonged exposure to the burning green intensity that forever lurked within the other. The redhead put his tin to one side, picking up the tote bag and wordlessly rummaging through, before pulling out his first aid kit with its bandages and disinfectant, which could mean only one thing. Coming over to the bed, he sat on the mattress' edge, saying, "We need to –"
"I can do it," Roxas interrupted, hating the close proximity, remembering all too well how Axel got when he was touching him. Feeling the grime coating his body, he went on testily, "Besides, I could use a shower – if that won't interfere with how much ground you have to cover." Noticing Axel's gaze narrow, he said swiftly and sharply, "And I'll be locking the door, you're not coming in with me."
Axel's mouth half twitched into a smirk. "…Fine. Do what you want. But I'm not letting you off that easily." He left the medical kit with the blond, getting up and going over to the bag, drawing out, after a minute of searching, the handcuffs' key. Roxas eyed him warily as he came over, Axel looking amused with a cruel edge to his smile as he casually reached over the boy's head, chest level with his face, and unlocked the cuff from around the bed frame. "Relax," he drawled down to the blond, who had his face determinedly averted to the side, "I'm not doing anything shady." As he pulled back, he muttered, "For God's sake, don't kick my throat." He allowed Roxas to sit up properly, the boy grunting slightly, twisting the trunk of his body to stretch out a cramp in his back. When Roxas then held up his wrist to be released, Axel slid back a step, out of reach, and said, "Take off your shirt."
Roxas regarded him incredulously. "You're out of your mind."
"The irony of that notwithstanding, didn't I justtell you I'm not up to anything?" Axel glowered down at him. "You want to shower, fine. You want to shower alone? I can agree to that. But I'm not going to just let it go lying down, I am protecting an investment here, Roxas, and I really don't have time to screw around this morning, literally or figuratively." He lifted his hands, shrugged and admitted, "Hey, if we had all the time in the world, sure, I'd be doing the skeezy thing, it's what I do best when you're in a room." He let them drop back down to his sides, the handcuffs key glinting in the morning light from within his fingers, expression hardening. "But we don't, and I could really do without a morning of prima donna Roxas trying to claw my eyes out for damaged dignity. You take off your shirt, I cuff your hands back together, and then you go and shower with the door as locked as you want it. But for the minutes during which I can't keep my eyes permanently on you, I want a little peace of mind." He tilted his head, smiled sardonically. "Think you can handle that much, Princess?"
Roxas was tempted to tell him where to shove it – it was like a nervous tic when he was around this guy – but suppressed the urge, swallowed it down and nodded. Feeling supremely uneasy, he then proceeded to quickly strip off his shirt, not wanting to make a production out of it. God only knew Axel was already staring like it was a peep-show, he wanted to rob it of any imagination whatsoever. When he then instinctively held the shirt against his chest, covering up, Axel smirked. "That's just fine." He stepped back towards the blond, took the loose cuff and attached it to Roxas' other wrist, hauling him to his feet in the next moment, taking the shirt away and pressing the first aid kit into his hands in its place. "Just make sure to take care of that cut on your face, we need to be dressing it at least five times a day more than we are." He pushed the boy over towards the bathroom. Roxas stumbled and entered the small room, then turned and quickly shut the door as Axel started to come up behind him, locking it, listening to the pause on the other side followed by the man's muffled voice, "You have five minutes. Better yet, make it four. I don't trust you an inch, my sweetheart."
Roxas scowled at the door, turned his back on it and finished undressing, starting up the shower. He still wasn't comfortable getting naked with Axel anywhere in the vicinity, not after last time, but it felt better having a locked door between them – and, more than that, he was just desperate to get clean. He showered quickly, keeping the time limit in mind, not wanting to give Axel an excuse to bust his way in. Finishing up long before what was satisfactory, he dried off and climbed back into his underwear and shorts, scrubbing at his hair until it was flung in every direction, but dry. The handcuffs hadn't run much interference in the cleaning process, instead serving as a demoraliser more than anything. Every time he moved, he felt them. Every time he lifted his hands, he saw the light flash against them. And every time they were brought to his attention, he couldn't help but feel fear, a slow-growing lump of it in the pit of his stomach, because he didn't know when, or where, this was going to end. He couldn't even be sure whether or not his call to Hayner had been a success. Everything was uncertain.
He jumped as Axel knocked on the door, clutching the towel tightly a moment before the redhead's voice called, "That's enough. Unlock this, you can do your cut with the door open." Roxas caught sight of himself in the mirror, held the gaze of the strained and pale face he saw there, watched his reflection swallow with jaw tensed, then did as he was told and opened the door.
"I want my shirt," he muttered as the gap appeared, Axel taking the edge of the door and pushing it all the way open, smirking lopsidedly at the boy behind it, down at his bare chest, enjoying the view.
"I'm sure you do."
Roxas glared up at him. "Give it. Now."
Axel snorted a little, disappeared from the doorway and brought back a different shirt, tossing over a slightly rumpled black tee that Roxas recognised to be his own, the one that had got wet the previous night during the storm in the wastelands. Axel must have put it somewhere to dry out at some point, Roxas had never noticed, had forgotten all about it. Axel was leaning against the door frame, observing the click and whir of gears in Roxas' mind. He mentioned quietly, "I've got the bottoms, too, if you want them."
Roxas blinked up at him, almost confused for a moment by the benevolent tone in which it was said… then, expression darkening, he accused, "You want to see me strip that badly? Forget it. I'll wait until the next shower, and change by myself." He held out the handcuffs, Axel lifting his shoulders in a careless shrug that belied the sly look on his face and reached over with the key to unhinge them. With his wrists finally released, Roxas took a moment to gingerly touch the punished skin – he was beginning to form calluses where the metal had made a habit of rubbing – then pulled on his shirt, eager to hide his flesh from view. Axel had already turned away, returned to the rest of the room and resumed packing the last of their things. Roxas peered after him, noticing that everything looked about the same as it had when he'd entered the bathroom. Had Axel spent the whole time listening outside the door? For what? Sounds of Roxas showering, and imagining it in great, perverted detail – or sounds of attempted escape? …Knowing Axel, probably both. Opportunity and precaution, all rolled into one.
Returning to the mirror, Roxas opened up the first aid kit, taking out the items he had seen Axel use on the gash that he'd made on his face in Twilight Town. Whatever regret he claimed to feel at having left it there, Roxas didn't care, or buy it. He knew that if Axel thought it would keep him in place, he'd cover Roxas' body in gouges just like it. There was no trusting what that man said – not any of it.
He stopped as, for a moment, something pushed at his mind – trapped within a snare of the static of last night's memories – but upon reaching for it, he suffered a spike of pain intense enough to force his eyes shut. He withdrew sharply, leaving it alone, whatever it was. It – weakened him to even consider going after it, filled him with some shivering sensation of dread that he would rather not confront. Not yet, at least… Later, maybe.
The flicker within his mind died away as he concentrated instead on what his hands were doing, focusing on the mirror as he carefully touched his cheek with two fingers, preventing the skin from being pulled as he peeled the plaster from his face. Once again, he found himself facing the ugliness of the stitches marring his face, the reddened slice behind them, the way none of it looked natural. Grimacing, the boy got several alcohol wipes and set about disinfecting the site, flinching away from the stinging pain as he did so, biting down hard as this in turn inevitably tugged minutely at the imperfect stitches. Sucking in a fresh breath, he nonetheless persisted, knowing that, if nothing else, the least he could do for himself was take care of this one little thing. It was the only thing within his control to do.
To finish off, he applied a new plaster over the wound, smoothing its edges with his fingertips and inspecting his work in the reflection. It looked all right; a little crooked maybe, but workable. Frowning, he glanced away from the mirror, wondering who it was he was even looking at anymore. The longer he stayed with Axel, the more it seemed he was losing himself; he never would have thought he'd have been capable of letting himself be dominated and manipulated like this, living a life of fear in thrall to a tyrant, and not even do anything about it. He was learning to be Axel's victim, bit by bit being trained by the man to not make unnecessary sound, to not draw attention to himself, and yes, there were circumstances that dictated this behaviour… but still. Even when he'd tried, like with Cid, he hadn't tried hard enough. Cid probably would have been able to handle a guy like Axel… but Roxas had allowed that opportunity to slip by; no matter what Axel had told him, he should have been able to make Cid understand, or at least raise some suspicion. He hadn't, though, and he was beginning to lose sight of what it was that justified that sort of lapse.
"Roxas, what's taking you?"
His head came up, hands automatically springing to begin packing away the first aid kit. "…I'm nearly done," he called back, finishing up quickly, carrying it out and passing it to the redhead, who had come halfway around the bed to meet him. Axel stopped him, placed a knuckle under his chin and lifted his face to check out the job he'd done on it. "Not bad."
"It's my face," he grumbled. "It's not like I want it to stay this way."
Axel nodded slightly. "Maybe so. But if that's the case, why didn't you fix it up right after it happened? You had to wait for me to come along and start the healing process for you…" He hesitated, then let his hand stray to the side of Roxas' cheek, expression beginning to soften. The boy lifted his eyes, saw the look in those gazing back, and pulled back with a jerk, regarding the hand with suspicion, pushing the kit into it and then drawing back, putting some distance between them. Axel stood there looking blank for a moment, arm slowly lowering down to his side. "…You do need me," the man said, so quietly it was almost inaudible. "To take care of you."
"I take care of myself." Roxas retreated another step, hands balling into themselves, ready to start swinging if Axel tried anything further. He supposed he wasn't too far gone, after all, if he was still willing enough to fight hand to hand. It was just the mental stuff he had trouble with, with Axel. That was the biggest part of this war – the psychology that the man was so good at bending to his whim.
Axel, however, didn't act beyond that one touch. Maybe he was learning, too. Instead, he let out a slow breath, and merely replied, "We'll see." He didn't move from where he stood, but his hand, Roxas could see, tightened slightly around the medical kit.
Unsettled, the blond cleared his throat in the silence, asked, "Didn't you have some big deadline to keep to? Ground to cover, and all that? We should – we should get going, shouldn't we?"
Axel briefly closed his eyes, then inclined his head in agreement. "Sure." He picked up the duffel bag, slung it over his shoulder and went to the small table, hooking the plastic bags with their tinned goods over his wrist. "Don't forget your flip-flops."
Roxas nodded, brow creasing as he gave a nervous cough, said, "Yeah," and began looking around for them. They were beside the bed, where Axel had thrown them at him during the night. Roxas went to them, bright points of colour in an otherwise dull setting, and bent to pick them up, one at a time. It was as he reached for the second one, resting against the base of the bed, that he realised he was beside his pillow, beneath which lay the fork, his only weapon. The only thing that could ever have a chance of catching Axel by surprise. He straightened slowly, looking carefully over his shoulder to where the redhead waited beside the door. He dropped the flip-flops to the floor, used the mattress as a support as he slid them onto his feet, and using it as a cover, slipped his fingers under the pillow and wrapped them around the fork's handle. As he turned towards Axel, he held it against his body, and when the man turned to the door, twisting the handle to pull it open, Roxas tucked the fork away into a pocket, out of sight, just like when he had taken it from the diner.
Now wasn't the time to use it. But eventually, the opportunity would present itself, and he would be forever on the lookout for it.
For now, he would walk to the door, and accompany Axel out into the parking lot, into whatever car he could procure, safe in the knowledge that at least he had something to rely on, at whatever distant point it became useful.