A/N: Oh Jesus, it's the long chapter. At around 1,500 words, this is the longest chapter in the entire story here—it's actually two separate scenes, but they're both from the 'past' part and deal directly with each other, and therefor can't be split into sections. (Anyway, if I did that, I'd have run out of present sections.) Hopefully I'll be able to convince myself to actually write the last three chapters soon. xx

Also, I have absolutely no excuse for the time it took me to post this chapter. I'm really frickin' sorry.

Warnings: Homophobia, yup.

Disclaimer: EVERYTHING IN HERE IS MINE. Except, you know, the things that aren't. Like Roxas. And Axel. I wish I owned an Axel, though.

Summary: AU. Axel/Roxas. He doesn't believe in ghosts, but that doesn't keep him from being haunted.


Axel bought himself a motorcycle on his twenty-second birthday, a few months after he'd gotten Roxas drunk. He showed up on Roxas' doorstep with an extra helmet, grinning more wildly than ever as he offered Roxas a ride to school. Roxas grinned back and dropped his skateboard to the ground, and suffered through Axel putting his helmet on for him.

"Put your arms around my waist and lean into me," Axel ordered as he straddled the bike and gestured for Roxas to climb on behind him. "Don't let go. I don't want to explain to your mom how I killed her son."

"If I was dumb enough to let go, I'd have deserved to die," Roxas laughed, giving Axel a friendly punch on the shoulder. "Come on. I can't wait for the look on everyone's faces when they see this."

Axel returned the laugh and twisted his key, speeding away so fast that Roxas had to substitute a death grip on Axel's waist for the scream he wanted to let out. He could practically feel the older man's amusement, and forced himself to loosen his grip. He didn't want Axel to know that he was scared.

People stared as they pulled up to the front of the school, girls nudging each other and giggling behind their hands as guys stared enviously at them.

Roxas clambered off the bike, fighting the urge to grin as he took off his helmet and turned back to Axel. Axel took off his own helmet, grinning enough for both of them, and Roxas could swear he heard the onslaught of gossip staring already.

"The helmet's yours," Axel said, and Roxas couldn't suppress the small smile that crept up on his face. "Get Sora to bring any homework you have for the weekend home with him. I'll pick you up after school and steal you until tomorrow. Your mom's already agreed, as long as I get you home before dinner." He reached forward and pulled Roxas into a one-armed hug, patting at his back heavily. Roxas, well used to Axel's shows of affection, patted him back just as hard before jogging off for his first class.

The rides soon became habit for both of them. Axel would always be waiting for him, and Roxas would always head straight over, hardly paying attention to whoever he was with at the time. They spent almost every weekend together—sometimes just hanging around Axel's apartment, sometimes taking the bike out to see the group of people Demyx still hung out with.

One day, Roxas approached the bike still talking with a girl in his English class that he was working on a project with. Namine was a quiet girl that always faded into the background in both personality and looks, and she'd had a crush on Roxas for as long as anyone could remember. Roxas liked her well enough, and didn't think anything of it whenever she touched his arm as she talked. But Axel stared at her as if he wanted to rip her apart.

"Who was she?" Axel asked harshly when Namine was far enough away that she wouldn't hear. Roxas resisted the urge to smile at him in fond amusement.

"Just a girl I'm doing a project with," he said instead, shrugging disinterestedly. "Why? You jealous?"

Axel grabbed Roxas' arm and yanked him forward so that their faces were an inch apart and Roxas had to put a hand on Axel's chest to keep himself from falling over. "Maybe I am," he'd whispered, voice low, and then pulled Roxas into a harsh kiss before the other could respond. Roxas relaxed into it immediately, pressing forward until his fingers were in Axel's hair again, and Axel's arm was tight around his waist.

Axel pulled slowly away with a chuckle, gazing deeply into Roxas' dazed eyes. "Guess I shouldn't have been," he murmured, moving away completely and putting his helmet on in one fluid motion. "Come on. Your mom'll kill me if I don't get you home soon. I'll just climb through your window tonight. Sound good?"

"Yeah," Roxas replied, and couldn't keep the ridiculous grin off his face as he climbed up behind Axel.

Their relationship was the talk of the school for the next few weeks. Axel and Roxas parted every morning with a deep kiss, both of Roxas' arms around Axel's neck while Axel wrapped one arm around Roxas' waist. They greeted each other every afternoon with a much smaller kiss before they sped off together.

From being pretty much ignored in school, Roxas suddenly found himself under attack. He ignored the taunts from the student body throughout the day, and never mentioned his sudden difficulty with his peers to Axel. None of it really bothered him anyway; he only cared that his brother and the few friends he had stuck by him.

It was probably this disinterest in his peers that made him unprepared for the attack.

Roxas was rushing to meet Axel while he and Namine talked about the project they had due the next Monday, and so hadn't been paying much attention to anything going on in the nearly empty halls around him. He didn't realize until it was too late that the two of them were being followed by a few of his worst tormentors, and he didn't have a chance to struggle when two boys grabbed his arms and twisted them behind his back. His head snapped to the side as a fist immediately connected with his face, and he noticed dazedly that the four of them were surrounded by a tight circle of people who were obviously there to keep anyone that may be passing by from interrupting. He was relieved to note that Namine had been pushed outside of it, but then his attention was pulled back to the kid that had hit him when the other started snarling.

"Pay attention to me, fag!" Roxas glared at the boy and tried to remember his name. Pete or something. Roxas hardly knew him, just that he was one of Sora's few enemies and probably the biggest coward he'd ever known. "I think it's time someone taught you a lesson."

Roxas just glared up at him coldly, knowing that his icy stare always unnerved people. And sure enough, the larger boy gulped nervously before gathering himself and landing a meaty fist in Roxas' gut.

"Think I'm scared of you, twerp? I could kick your little freak ass in a second."

"Only because you've got your cronies holding my arms," Roxas sneered, knowing it was stupid to make fun of someone that was beating him up, but unable to stop himself. Pete responded with a growl and another punch in the face. Roxas promptly spit blood on his shirt and scowled.

"How fucking dare--"

"Roxas!" Axel's voice interrupted from outside the circle, and Roxas couldn't stop himself from smirking as the tall redhead plowed straight through the kids trying to hold him back. Vibrant green eyes took the scene in with a glance, and Axel first ignored Pete in favor of the people holding Roxas, rushing forward and landing a heavy punch on the larger one's face. The other kid let go immediately, backing up in fear, and Roxas stumbled when his arms were so suddenly released, but Axel caught him before he could fall.

"Hey," Roxas said, grabbing hold of Axel's shirt to steady himself and staring up at the man's serious face. "Good timing."

"You okay?" Axel asked gently, gingerly touching Roxas' bruised cheek. There was fire in his eyes when Roxas winced in pain and opened his mouth to respond. Axel put a finger to Roxas' lips to keep him from speaking, pushed the blond away gently until he was standing on his own, and then turned slowly to face Pete.

"What?" Pete sneered stupidly, sealing his undesirable fate. "You want a beating too? You and your little whore could have matching bruises."

Axel snapped. There was really no other way to put it. One second he was raising a hand to gesture as he snarled something poisonous, and the next he had practically leapt on Pete, knocking the hefty boy into some lockers and sinking his fists into any body part he could get to. Roxas just watched in something like awe until Axel eventually pulled away and let Pete curl up on the floor pathetically.

"This is a warning, and I want you little shits to spread this as far as you can!" Axel yelled, spinning around to glare at the assortment of people surrounding him. He seemed to exude a frightening aura of anger and power as he sliced his hands through the air. "If anyone so much as thinks about touching Roxas again, I swear on every god I know of that their fucking parents won't recognize them when I'm through. And don't think I'll hesitate just because you're under age, or that I won't manage to find out."

He strode back over to Roxas and swept the slight boy off his feet, cradling him against his chest. Roxas didn't protest at being lifted into the air, though he'd usually be annoyed at Axel for doing anything similar. Instead he reached up and pulled Axel into a deep kiss, ignoring the pain in his face in favor of letting Axel know how much he loved him without having to say anything ridiculously sappy.

When they pulled apart, Axel's eyes were soft again, and Roxas smiled happily. This was what living was about.

A/N: FINALLY. Please excuse any mistakes, I edited this after two long days of work that utterly exhausted me. D: Oh well. Hope you enjoyed it, despite the length. The next three chapters should be short again!