I'm sure Axel and Roxas were wondering why I was looking so intently into the store window. The store specialized in camping gear, which was something the three of us couldn't muster a half-decent interest in with our combined efforts. And by myself, I couldn't muster the willpower to tell them I wasn't looking through the window, but at it - at my reflection. I was taking a really good look at the person who was looking back at me.

How many people ever had the chance to do what I was doing - look at their own face through a stranger's eyes?

It wasn't a particularly bad face, I decided. That hair needed to grow out more, sure, and that scar behind his ear wasn't completely concealed. And closer examination revealed the face was built along somewhat odd lines - sort of European, sort of Indian, even though the coloration looked all European. But they weren't exactly bad lines, or unattractive, just unusual. The hearing aids he was wearing, large and plainly visible though they were, didn't seem so incongruous as I thought they should. And, I noticed, he had very kind eyes.

As long as I don't know who he is, I might be able to like this guy...why only as long as he's a stranger?

"Are you planning on investing in a camp stove or what?"

"Huh? Uh, no..." I peeled myself away from the window and rejoined Axel and Roxas. Roxas was just coming out of a bookstore, shopping bag in hand; Axel was dancing slow circles of impatience. "Were you dancing around waiting for me or Roxas?"

"I was dancing around in relief at not being on crutches anymore."

Roxas elbowed him mischievously. "I'd have expected you to be doing a jig."

Axel laughed out loud. "I could, you know; I could. Right here, right now. You want me to?" Roxas and I just looked at each other and laughed. Axel, taking that as encouragement, started dancing a jig in the middle of the sidewalk. He attracted a pretty decent audience in the brief time before he almost fell down laughing himself. "There, was that more like what you were expecting?"

Roxas was laughing so hard he could barely talk. "You - you need to do that more often..."

"I could do it for tips!" Axel rattled off a few more dance steps, for the benefit of the audience. "We could be a street act - Demyx could play along, and Rox can pass the hat!" He laughed again. "Damn...I could use some real tap shoes aren't that much fun to dance in."

I was laughing pretty hard myself. I mean, I knew Axel could dance - they don't call him the Flurry of Dancing Flames because it sounds cool - but just the sight of him dancing away in the middle of Twilight Town like he was onstage with an Irish dance troupe had me ready to bust a gut. "'re having too much fun with that leg back."

Axel punched me lightly in the shoulder. "Hell, I'm happy to still have the leg at all. For a while, I was afraid I was gonna lose it." He looked around thoughtfully. "Hey - race you two to the ice cream shop." He took off at top speed almost as soon as he finished speaking - and Axel's top speed is damn fast - leaving Roxas and I to struggle to catch up. As expected, he kicked both our asses.

"No fair!" Roxas protested when we caught up to him. "You gave yourself a head start!"

Axel stuck his tongue out at him. "You should have expected that!" He turned back to the counter. "The usual all around, I -"

"Not today!" To the amazement of all involved, especially myself, I elbowed my way in front of him. "Hi - the three of us are gonna split a mint ice cream pizza..."

Axel stared at me. "The hell is that?"

"I dunno. It just sounded cool."

Gods, life was good just then.

AN: ...What? It's short and sweet. I used up the epicness on Lung Qin Xiang.