A/N: I don't know how to play chess. No one can be that perfect…. Heh… Just kiddin'… Anyway. Someone warned me that the boys are a lilttle OOC on this one. I can't say that for sure because I haven't played 358/2 Days yet. All I've got is what I had after playing KHII FM, and it doesn't really leave a complete overview on their personality. Suggestions are welcomed.

Summary: How can a friendship improve from an apparently unimportant thing like a chessboard? Axel POV.

Disclaimer: Square Enix owns them, not me. Lucky bastards...

I swear I couldn't understand: how the hell could he spend so much time playing chess with himself? Especially considering the fact that lately he showed absolutely no patience at all. But there he was, and I already counted three hours of this, sitting all by himself in the library... I came, went, came again, went again, came again another time and he was still there.

I saw Demyx try to get him to do something else a few times, failing miserably. It was quite a scene, though... He even tried the "Demie's special pout", the most powerful weapon inside the Organization XIII's walls. No one could resist those crying eyes and the full pouting lips designed to seduce even the coldest bastard into doing whatever wishes Demyx had in mind. Fake as it was, anyway. It was incredible how it worked on some of the guys… Well... some of them, but not Roxas. The kid sometimes was an iceberg molded into a boy's shape.

After the fourth hour of his head floating over the board, the eyes focused and the hands grabbing the edges of the table, I started wondering what was going on. He wasn't the best at concentration of the organization (far from that, actually, he was usually the first one to lose it... Well, of course, there's still Vexen. NO ONE loses temper faster than Vexen... But that's just a minor detail), but now he looked better than Saix (before going berserk, of course), looking at those marble pieces like his life depended on them, moving one or another from time to time. I decided to intervene for the sake of his mental health. And above my obvious concern for him, MY mental health was at stake here. I couldn't stand to see him sitting there for another 15 minutes or I would start ripping my hair off my scalp. I came close to him, right by his side, and stared at the board.

"If you look any harder at them, they are going to blush and run away..." I pointed out, my best smile spread over my face.

"..." He barely gave me an answer of any kind, his breath turning from soundless to a puff of air indicating he was getting slightly annoyed by my presence. That wasn't even close to enough. Let's try again...

"Roooxieee..." I tried for that obnoxious tone of voice I knew was guaranteed to bring his attention up to me, a smile creaking up on my face. BINGO! He raised his head, that "I'm gonna kill you" look plastered to his face, the baby-blue eyes shimmering with an assassin instinct.

"Don't... Call... Me... Like… THAT! Why are you such a pain in the ass sometimes...?"

"I'm not a pain in the ass, baby. I'm Axel. Got it memorised?" I smiled at him, not exactly caring if he wasn't all that happy with my presence right now.

"Unfortunately, yes. What do you want?" He turned his face again to the chessboard and moved one of the pawns on the opposite side to him. I knew almost nothing about chess, but from what I knew, if I were playing with the pieces from that side, I would be winning in a few more moves. Was he losing to himself? The thought seemed vaguely disturbing to me. It was plainly… Stupid!

"I was just wondering if you wanted to take a walk or something. You've been sitting here for like an eternity now. I got tired just from watching you." I scratched my head, thinking this was the most absolutely lame thing I could come up to say. In fact I wanted to ask him why the hell he would waste so much time in a stupid game like this when he could be spending some real good quality time with me. But no, I wouldn't risk losing my neck like that, right?


"Just a minute." He seemed to think for one or two minutes, moved two pieces and dropped the king with a third to the board, with a low thump sound. Then he looked up at me, got up from the chair and started walking towards the door of the library.

"Let's go." The only thing I felt myself able to do was stare at him, blinking.

Four hours. Four hours. Four long full hours lost to finish the game, get up and take leave like that. He wasn't normal. I wasn't normal. I couldn't be. It's one thing to not have a heart, and all that shit that came along with it. But that?


Breathe... Calm down... Ok, now... It's not that I'm not smart. I could play chess with him, even though I don't like it (and probably I would lose it between ten and twenty minutes, IF I lasted that long). It's just that I cannot figure out why someone would lose FOUR FUCKING HOURS like that. The boy was in a life-or-death need for another, healthier (maybe more... active and social...) hobby. Involving me, maybe. See? That's why I said I'm not normal. I pay attention to people like that. I pay attention to HIM! Why couldn't I pay attention to less complicated nobodies? Maybe one that knew the advantages of good, wild, regular... Oh, damn... Yes, I'm a pervert, thank you very much.

It took him a while to notice that I wasn't following him up. He stopped on his tracks, turned on his heels and smiled at me. This boy was going to drive me completely crazy sooner or later. How... How could he glare at me with such hate in his eyes and the next minute smile at me like that, the perfect happiness face? Worse than that, to the others he was just your regular cranky, anti-social ill-mannered teenager. But he kept giving those heart-breaking smiles to me. ONLY TO ME! Why me?

And I was the unstable one. Go figure.

"Are you coming or not? I'm sick of this library. I want to catch some fresh air… Not that it's going to make any real difference, but it's funny anyway."

I went to him at a slow pace, my hands clasped behind my back. I stopped in front of him, a good ol' boy smile on my face too.

"Can you answer me just one simple question before we go?"

"Yes." He tilted his head to the side and blinking once after answering me, like he did give it second thought, but dismissed it just as quickly.

"Why did you stay playing for so long if you could have finished it like that? You could have used those moves like... Two hours ago." I waved one of my hands to the air as if emphasizing the meaning of my words and swiftly returning it to its original position.

He imitated me, hiding his hands behind his own back, that unnerving smile beaming at me.

"I wanted to see how long would it take for you to try to get me away from the game. You're always trying so hard to be friends with me that I wanted to see how far you're willing to go to achieve that. And you passed the test. You respected me. At least as much as you could before going nuts."

I looked at him, refusing to believe what I'd just heard. I was... Being TESTED! Ok, this was just too much for me. I stormed out of the library, not caring about Roxas calling me back. Sometimes it was just this side of not being worth taking all this shit from this kid just to have him by my side.

My mind was firmly deciding against this crusade to fall under his graces when I felt a small hand getting a strong grip on my wrist and stopping me.

"Thank you. I guess you're the only one here that... Really deserves being called a... Friend."

He loosened his hand and descended it to intertwine his fingers with mine, leading us to the corridor ahead. I looked dumbfounded at that enigmatic boy, pondering about the whole situation. I came to the conclusion that it was worth the effort. Even if I had to spend another four hours by his side over a chessboard. If that was all I needed to have him call me a friend... I started to wonder what it would take to have him consider me more than that.

Well, tomorrow was another day.