Hello all, this is my latest addition to my fanfiction works. Yes it wasn't on my list of fics to finish but I got this idea one day and couldn't help it. I blame Brooke Fraser's songs for this fic and especially 'Scarlet' which happens to be an obssession of mine now and also coincidentally fits this story.
It is also going to be a multi chapter story. I have uploaded both one and two because chapter one doesn't have much action and two makes up for it. This is rated M because of later scenes (wink wink), swearing and gay/homosexual relationships. I hope you like it and tell me wether or not you would like the other finished chapters. I can't say how long it will be but I can say this time I will try, TRY to not and rush the ending.
Also it's in first person, which is another new thing for me and which I had to go back numerous times and check the tense. I made mistakes :) But hopefully they're all gone now and I hope you all enjoy.
Reviews are appreciated.
DISCLAIMING-See I did it.
Through primary school all I remembered was giving him constant brush offs and hideous taunts that I now regret. He'd come to me smiling like he always did and shyly ask me to play with him or if I could sit with him just this once. My mother thought Axel looked up to me, saw me as an idol but who was I to care? It made me uncomfortable and so I spurned it, hated it and pushed it far, far away.
During Primary School to me he was the weirdest kid around and everyone seemed to think the same. It was strange, the way that it only took one person's opinion to be branded with a bad reputation for the whole of your schooling career. Yet it took only one person to see different and say different for the pain caused by so many to go away.
I regret that I didn't do differently, that I didn't speak up even when my stomach knotted as he was kicked to the ground, books going everywhere, scraped knees leading to tears. But who was I kidding, I fitted in, for then I knew who I was and what circles I belonged to, I wasn't estranged or isolated. No I belonged so that was okay, that was all I needed, and it was all that it took to look away. But I never did join in when the fights started.
Eventually as time grew on, I became more aware and alert, wise of the ways of the world you could say and I stopped taunting him. Eventually he stopped crying when they pushed him to the ground and took it in his stride. I saw him most times avoiding teachers giving excuses to why he was bruised and battered. Eventually the other kids stopped beating him and in our last year at Primary School he wasn't physically hurt once. Eventually I didn't speak a bad word about him and then eventually I just stopped talking altogether.
The time for high school came. Along with the rush of testosterone and puberty, my world and the person who I thought I was began to change. Axel came to the same high school as me and along with maths assignments, English essays and biology reports came a new wave of physical abuse. The kids were mean and didn't hold back from fear of teachers. Too many times had I seen Axel bruised and beaten, missing days of school for God knows what number of injuries. Too many times had I stood back and watched, no longer caring about my friends or what they thought, more concerned now about the threat of power within the school yard.
I held my breath during the last moments when the fight was to conclude. I would ask myself 'would he get out of this?' and 'why doesn't someone do something'. Of course I never answered the last call but one day someone did and I wasn't sure if it was a good thing.
Axel began to fight back, give taunts and become dark and twisted. I heard rumours pass from mouths of teenage girls that he was flying off the handles doing all kinds of unnatural things. Some of them thought he was a creep but I didn't spare a second thought not really.
While I was trapped in finding myself Axel was trapped in himself. I never realised how much of a bad thing that could be. Then his father died. He was called out of P.E where no one was game enough to partner with him aside from the other outsiders or abnormal ones. I remember most of their names, Demyx, Marluxia, all outcasts just because of who they chose to be. They seemed comfortable with themselves, which is a lot more than I could say tucked comfortably in my uniformed circle once more. Axel came to school less and less that year, but eventually he would come back and eventually he sorted himself out.
Senior year came and a series of unfortunate events led to my own downfall and really my beginning.
Axel was there at the wrong time and wrong moment when he became involved in a brawl with one of my friends. Hayner had been drunk and hadn't known left from right. He'd said Axel had insulted his girlfriend and of course everyone believed Hayner, even though I watched the whole fight and not one word was uttered by Axel.
The problem was Axel knew it.
I didn't think he'd held a grudge against me all of the time we seemed to be drawn together. I didn't know how much he'd thought of me and about how he focused his anger about the unfairness of his life on me. I just didn't know; the planning, the cunning, the spite and the revenge. I didn't know about any of it and eventually my little pedistool came tumbling down, dragging me along for the ride.
The bullying started then; Axels' friends would say something hurtful when I was around that I thought no one knew but me. All of my insecurities were unearthed and only I was aware; how could they know? The trick was, they didn't but some how he did. So the paranoia kicked in and I drew away from my friends.
I felt lost and sick with nerves most of the time when I thought about the quick glances people sent my way. Then I heard them, the lies, the horrible rumours and during that week I went home and cried.
My older brother Sora came to my rescue most of the time when I called up from the floor of the boy's bathroom pleading to come home. He asked me questions most of which I just shrugged off and Sora became steadily annoyed at my distance. Then one night he lost it and then my will to hide crumbled. So I told him, all of it, all of my worries and my fears and then slowly Sora helped me up off my floor, into my bed and woke me up the next day.
Sora in a way was like a floating door for me like I was surrounded by a body of water. No really at those times I did feel like if I let go I would sink to the bottom and not come back up. Sometimes I had dreams about this, sometimes there were sharks and sometimes there was rain, every time the ending was not a good one. The bad thing about floating doors is that they can only last for so long.
Sora got offered a job in another state and told me I could go along with him. But on the when he spoke to me, making mention of my bullying and my nightmares my mother overheard us. Needless to say she wasn't impressed. She phoned the guidance councillor numerous times and organised meetings and most times as I ran past the doors or just plainly avoided them I could see a familiar spike of hair. Axel was there too, but for some reason as I stood outside the large glass door the thought of those green eyes looking at me and talking about me, listening to me talking about him and hearing my thoughts made me squirm.
The eve before graduation I was pulled out of my last two classes and sent to the principal's office. In there the brown haired balding man sat, hands laced on his desk brown uncompromising eyes boring holes through me.
"Roxas sit down." I sat in the metal chair with prickly padding that made me shift myself at least twice before he continued. "It has come to my attention and the attention of the board that you have been missed numerous classes and those that could be explained away by councillor visits have been discounted by your attendance record there too." He paused and shook his head. "I'm sorry but there's no way around this. You cannot graduate; your attendance record devalues all of your grades, because of this you haven't achieved the sufficient score required to pass High School."
I didn't know how I managed to get out of the office without throwing something or at least screaming. But I did and as fate would have it I passed Axel along the way. He looked at me as he walked past, face blank and neutral and it was then I knew I was destined for the same fate as he was. He made me feel like him, I was trapped like him. Then with all of the strength possible in my body I turned around and stalked back towards him.
Axel stopped like I thought he would, he turned and then I felt a sharp twang of pain in my right hand where my fist had collided with the done in his cheek. Initially I panicked when I thought he'd recover enough to stop me or if I missed some how, but I didn't and now all I felt was grim anger.
"Are you happy now?" I screamed at him. "I can't pass high school because of you. You fucked up my life. So why aren't you smug and smiling at me you inconsiderate fuck. Huh? Smile you dickhead, I know you want to." With the droplets of spit wiped from my mouth I turned away.
Axel lay on the floor propped on his elbows until I heard Principal Lockhart come thundering down the hallway calling out my name. He sounded furious and shaky but I just kept walking. I walked all the way to the front door before a teacher stopped me. Coincidentally it was my P.E teacher; he put a hand on my shoulder and turned me around. From that moment onwards I set a glare on my face as I marched back to the office, back to where Axel was.
"Roxas I have no idea what would compel you to do something like this. I must say I'm disappointed in you. Axel has done nothing wrong in this case, I wouldn't have suspected you of attacking harmless passer-by's." I glared at him and clenched my jaw as his eyes roamed my folio in front of him.
"I'm sorry sir, but I must tell you that you're wrong and that your obliviousness is what pisses me off more than not graduating."
"Roxas" He warned me but I was on a roll as far as I was concerned.
"We have done nothing but fight for the last twelve months, the visits to the councillor above anything should have warned you of that. When I didn't show up to class and left school early didn't you think that there might be the slightest thing wrong?" I shook my head at him, "At the beginning of this year in the newsletter you said that you wanted to be more in touch with your students. I must say sir you're off to a fucking flying start." This had him shooting forward in his chair hands slapped against his desk. I watched the slumped figure of Axel from the corner of my eyes. I saw his green irises drift towards me and a smug sense of satisfaction settled in my head knowing the bright purple bruise forming on his face was of my own doing.
"I will not have that kind of language in my office!"
"But he's right sir." Axel sat up straight and the principal stuttered. I turned to look at him this time, gave him my attention in the form of narrowed eyes. "We have been fighting all of this time and you didn't notice. If this got out people might start to wonder what other kinds of bullshit you're filled with." That had the principal standing and both Axel and I slowly turned our heads towards him.
His face was purple and his eyes tight with rage as he bellowed. "I will not tolerate this behaviour. I will not!" He grabbed the phone as we sat on in silence giving small glances of dislike to one another.
I hadn't ever really been yelled at by someone like the way the principal had but my mother came close when she arrived on scene. I sat there trying to not meet her eye as she went on and on waving her hands around. I think the principal himself was quieted by her volume and the way her words bounced off the walls.
Then Axel's mother turned up and her attention was divided between yelling at my mother and at him. Eventually the principal calmed them both down and they sat on two previously procured chairs. Axel and I were told to stand outside while a verdict was reached.
I walked out first as quickly as I could so that I was sure of not touching him. We both received glances from old Mrs Meady that told us no funny business was to be tried on her watch.
We received the verdict after twenty minutes of some heated and not so heated discussion coming from the room. I could tell Mrs Meady wasn't comfortable the level which the voices reached in the room at times. Axel glanced at me a few more times and of the times that I caught I stared at him unblinking and then eventually turned away again in what I hope he understood as disgust.
"We have reached a decision. All of us in here decide that it would be for the best that you two spend time together in a camp in the next state over. It was opened specifically for cases just like the one between the two of you. My daughter opened it some years ago and has helped many teens with bullying and the likes. Also, as this is during your summer vacation and on into the next year reaching a total of eight weeks it will be counted towards you attendance at school as psychological treatment. You both, if you attend all of the days at this camp, will be allowed to graduate school."
My hands could have made the skin under my legs bleed at any slight movement from the grip I had on them.
By the time my mother and I left it was darkening and probably for the best that Axel and I walked in opposite directions.
The discussion at the dinner table generally followed the idea that I was going to be awake at five a.m. the next day packed and ready to leave or else there would be screaming and I generally dislike screaming as my choice of alarm. The car was cold and the leather seats felt hard and unwanted against my back. The drive wasn't any better itself. Mother didn't want to talk and I didn't want her to talk so we sat in silence. Pulling into the driveway and long stretch of garden I noticed that in the sunny glow of seven thirty Axel was getting out of his car.
My mother didn't waste any goodbyes or hang around for much longer. Axel and I stood around with out bags at our feet for what felt like quite some time before a bouncy brunette came out the door.
She didn't need an introduction, her long brown hair and smiling face said it all. It echoed her pamphlet and the general 'feel' the camp wanted to generate; happiness and carefree joy. Tifa. I knew I was going to hate her on more than one occasion already.
Axel and I did share end up sharing a house located at one end of the camp. There were the watchers quarters in the middle of the house in what seemed like a square tank. I took to calling the two men that stayed there the fishbowl guys and the fishbowl guys always creeped me out. The thought of possibly being watched, my every move scrutinised did not bode well with me or my sleep patterns.
My room was blue, a very soft blue and filled with other pastels splattered on a couch or table top. I wanted to scream that there must be a mistake and that I could not stay in a room that belonged to a beach scene circa 1986. But no one would care and if anything else, the thought that Axel would probably have an identical room soothed me.
At nine Tifa came to my room and summoned me down for a little chat. Her office looked modern and much more relaxed than my own room. The chair that she had me sit on was a worn red leather couch. At once I sunk into it and I thought about the countless numbers of other bodies that had been on here. I wanted to be grossed out and move away but Tifa was watching me and I wasn't going to give her anything to compact mentalise.
"Roxas you've been told why you're here. I know why they sent you here but why are you actually here?"
"Because I punched Axel in the face and swore at your father." Sighing I crossed my ankles over where they rested on the floor.
"But why are you here? Surely you don't think you need to be here?" I looked up at her.
"Why I'm here has got nothing to do with what I want. I'm here because they made me come here or else I couldn't graduate."
"Ah but you want to graduate. I didn't ask if you wanted to be here, I asked if you needed to be here. So?" Tifa's brown eyes casually scanned some paper on her desk and wrote some things down. She was probably analysing me, writing notes on my behaviour.
I just shrugged "Dunno. What do you think, that's all that really matters anyway." Tifa mumbled to herself before putting her pen down and looking up at me.
"Adam's brother." She said with furrowed eyebrows.
"Nine down, I need the name of Adam's brother."
"You're doing a crossword?" That had me sitting up straight.
"Well you're playing games so why shouldn't I?" She hummed at me and I looked around her room.
"What do you want me to say?"
"Ah here's the trick, I don't want you to say anything. I want you to want to say something or nothing whichever. I'll ask questions and we can spend days going nowhere doing nothing because you don't want to answer. At least I'll be good at crosswords by then." She smiled at me like I was missing out on a great joke. "You can answer or you can not answer either way you still have to come here. Might as well make the most of it huh?"
She clicked her pen and nodded to the door, "That's all for today."
I left the room not really sure where any of that was supposed to go. As far as I was concerned I was fine. Did I need to be here, hell no I didn't have the problem; Axel did. It was all of his fault his problems. Just then I saw him walk out of a room down the hall in the direction I was heading. He saw me and just watched me. I walked past him and then I heard his footsteps follow me down the hall.
They were right behind me, taping out of rhythm with my own footsteps.
Clenching my jaw I turned around and stepped aside waiting for him to walk past. He stopped and looked at me. "What do you want?"
"Shrink says I should try and analyse the way you react around me. I'll just tell him pissed and aggravated huh?" Axel walked past me with a strange look. "Not like I hadn't noticed before now." His deep empty voice carried down the hallway. He hid it underneath a bouncy, scornful tone but really there wasn't any infliction in his words.
I growled and kicked the nearest wall. How dare he think that he understood how I thought?
There was a click of a door and I saw Tifa leaning against it watching me. At once I stood up straight and walked, grumbling to myself, back to my room.
It was lunch before I was summoned from my room again. This time it was much worse. The table I sat at, correction, was forced to sit at was already occupied. Axel was chewing some sort of sandwich; I sat down with my food across from him on the narrow green table. His feet were stretched out onto my side of the table and every time that I moved them I collided with his legs.
My hands dug into the sides of my sandwich and Axel looked up at me.
"I wondered where the growling was coming from." His words were mocking me and so I nudged his legs hard.
"Move your legs, they're on my side." Axel sighed and put his sandwich down.
"Why should I do anything for you huh?" He leant forward over the table and his narrowed eyes searched my face.
I barred my teeth at him, "Because you're on my side."
"No." Just then I hated how he was taller than me. His upper body even though he was leaning over the table was still higher then mine. It made me feel small and almost weak. I wouldn't let him make me feel weak.
The sandwich in my hand suddenly felt like a dead weight and with a look around the room at the other scattered kids and three or four watchers I smiled. Axel recovered more quickly then I thought he would have.
He wiped the chicken and avocado sandwich from his face and I managed to grab an apple from a tray as I ran behind the next table. Axle stood and followed after me dodging the apple I threw his way. The watchers were calling out orders but I wasn't paying attention. Axel had an orange and I ducked under the table. There was a large thud and spray of citrus juice down the side of the green wood. I turned and crawled towards the other side of the table but Axel had a hold of my leg.
I had a moment to realise the others in the room were fighting too before I grabbed a tray that to the left of the table leg. Rolling onto my back I was dragged out into clear view and Axel hovered over me with a snarl frozen on his face. Swinging as hard as I could with the tray I smacked him across the face. He flopped onto his back clutching his mouth.
I turned using the table to pull myself up and bolted for the door. Again I misjudged how quickly Axel would recover when I felt a heavy body slam into me. I hit the cement floor all of the wind knocked out of me and slightly dazed. Axel rolled me over and sat on me, hands fisted in the front of my shirt. He leant down his glare pressing into my eyes and then I heard a whistle.
"That's enough for today!" Tifa stood on a table near us glaring. "Everyone back to your rooms."
Axel and I stayed frozen, his lower body pressed hard against me holding me to the ground. My lower back started to ache because of his weight and the pain brought clarity to my thoughts. I grabbed his hands and rolled him off me with a sudden twist of my hips.
Axel hadn't expected this and thudded to the floor his legs nearly kicking my groin as he rolled off.
"You two, come with me." Tifa walked past as I was standing up and grabbed me by the ear. She did the same with Axel who was nearly taller than her. We were dragged down the halls and mercilessly around corners. We made it back to her room without anyone getting further hurt, but just barely.
I sat on one end of the red couch and Axel sat down the other. His hair was brighter than the red of the chair and I wondered if I shaved his head could I make a pillow to match the couch. Tifa cleared her throat.
"Well, anyone care to elaborate about what happened back there?" Axel and I just looked at each other. "Oh no!" She laughed evilly, "One of you boys is going to answer or you both will be kicked out of here faster than you can say Geronimo."
"He started it." I grumbled, yes it was childish but it really was true.
Axel scoffed, "Getting a chicken sandwich smashed against my face really isn't the way I start fights."
"Oh yeah I know about the way you start fights."
"What's that supposed to mean?" Axel swivelled so he was facing me.
"Like you don't know? The rumours, you're friends always accidentally saying something about me when they knew I could hear them. It's all bullshit you know." I waved my hands about hoping to accentuate my words.
"I never told them to do that." He stopped me dead in my tracks.
"What?" My scepticism must have leaked through because Axel rolled his eyes and shook his head.
"I never told my friends to do anything to you. Whatever they did was not because of anything I said. I don't use others to do my dirty work."
"So…" I frowned at him "Were any of the rumours about me started by you?"
Axel shook his head, "Only heard 'em, spreading rumours really isn't my thing. Too low class. Not that you would have noticed anyway."
"What the hell is that supposed to mean?"
"No, I want to know!"
"I said never fucking mind." Tifa said his name once to calm him down.
"Boys, I think you two need to have a serious talk. But I can't be sure that you won't kill each other if left alone. So until then put everything you've done, said or heard about each other to the side for the next two weeks. Starting tomorrow on Monday you two will undergo a number of exercises that will enable you two to get to know one another."
"Yippy." My voice dripped with sarcasm and Axel looked at me once before sighing and turning his head.
"Roxas, stay behind. Axel you can leave." I watched the red head stretch out to his full height. The black jeans he was wearing tensed around his leg muscles. The hem of the red shirt billowed around his hips when he turned to leave. I saw the black high tops leave the room before I turned back to face Tifa.
"Now what was that about?"
"What? I told you he started it."
"Not that." She waved me off, "The look you just gave Axel."
"What look? There wasn't a look." I furrowed my eyebrows at her. Tifa only sighed.
"You know what your problem is Roxas? Denial."
What the hell? I'm not in denial; there is no way in hell that I am in denial about anything. So I just sat there and looked at her.
"Who is the bully in your situation Roxas?"
"Axel, you know that-"
"It's interesting," she cut me off in the middle of my sentence and I settled down with a sigh "to note that every time a physical fight has started, it was you who provided the catalyst. Roxas to me it seems that it is not Axel but you who is the bully."
"I don't bully him."
"Maybe to you it's not bullying. You're paranoia about the way rumours are spread, the instant dislike of Axel when he seems to have done nothing wrong. You were scared and so you decided that for some reason Axel was the cause. So you reacted and you still react violently. Axel has been hurt and mistreated by many people but it is you who has been the constant bully figure in his life. You Roxas are a bully."
I couldn't answer her. Every snappy and quick cutting remark I could have come up died in the top of my throat. I just froze not blinking but letting it sink in. I Roxas was not a bully. I never bullied anyone in my life. Especially not Axel, how could she make me doubt this.
"You're wrong." My voice broke and I clamped my mouth shut when she looked up from under her lids.
"Oh no I don't think so. What did you feel today when you noticed Axel was sitting with you? What did you feel when he opened his mouth to speak and how did you react to those words. Were you tolerant, were you kind, did you ask him why he was saying that?"
Then the silence came and settled upon us and I could see her foot twitching back and forth in a rocking motion. There it went, back and forwards. Anger, instant anger was always my way to deal with Axel. By why did I feel like I needed to deal with him? Because he was different and most didn't like him? Why did I need to take it into my own hands to deal with him? No one else really seemed to need to, but maybe that was just because I was there already.
But in all honesty, I really didn't know any of the answers to my questions and it had me stunned. I felt shallow and guilty, doubting each of my actions being dubbed as the right ones. What? Why? How come? Axel never did say anything to me but he was there, always there in my life. This sounded like an obsession, partnered with my paranoia, I was a perfect bully.
"N-no." I whispered. Tifa looked at me and I could feel the familiar weight under my eyes and the rush of heat to my lids.
"No what Roxas?" He voice dipped down to my level.
"Oh shit." I couldn't hold my head up, it was pitiful but I couldn't. So with my hands pressed against my cheeks and fingers holding the tears in my eyes I sat in Tifa's office in her red couch and tried to remember to breathe.
I felt a hand come and rest on my shoulder when I looked up Tifa was staring at the photos on her walls. "You know they always say the first step is the hardest. But I wonder if this will be the hardest thing you will have to do. After all, we shouldn't always believe everything they say should we?" She looked down at me and I dragged my hands away from my head. "No anger Roxas, it isn't needed." I swallowed and stood as she stood.
Taking my cue to leave I walked back to the house that Axel and I shared. The bed I had never seemed more inviting so I collapsed onto it arms stretching out for a pillow. The softness and familiar smell of the material at once made me curl myself further around it. I closed my eyes then and held on tight to the pillow.
I couldn't explain away my actions or why I hated him instantly. Hell I didn't even know the guy. I was a paranoid, angry teenager. Let's hope the next day sucked less than today. Or maybe it wouldn't and Tifa would want be to tell Axel all about my new revelations. Huh.
Bully for me.