So...wow. Intense. I wrote another oneshot. I'm kind of scaring myself. (Though I'm still a dumbass and haven't replied to any of you guys - so I guess all is still right with the world, haha).
But yeah. It's...weird? There are about three to four different moods, and it's all kind of sudden - schizophrenic, even. I dunno. I just wanted to write, so I did, regardless of how crappy the turnout probably is. But! Here you go. Hope you enjoy.
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
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"Kid, my apartment is not and will no way ever be a nursery. Got it memorized?"
Roxas, trailing wind and rain in across the threshold, shot him a murderous glance as he steadily dripped water droplets onto the floor. In his arms he hoisted his tiny godchild higher, teeth chattering as he kicked the door closed with one soaked sneaker and proceeded to trudge miserably towards the coach. Axel, without any real motivation to send his friend out of doors, simply turned and watched with crossed arms as the blond let the backpack hanging by one strap on his shoulder fall, kicked it, and fell into the couch cushions, a look of exhaustion on his face.
"Seriously. I ain't takin' care of that thing."
"Axel, bite me."
"I would, but you have weird rules in front of the children."
Sighing, Roxas shot him a withering stare, bouncing the red-haired boy on his knee as one arm remained secure around his ward's back. High-pitched, twittering noises tumbled forth at fast pace from the child's lips as he attempted to talk at high speed, the end result becoming a sickening collision of sounds that would soon give Axel a headache. Sighing and pressing his fingers wearily to the bridge of his nose, he waved his hand dismissively and turned on his heel, heading towards the kitchen and the beer in the fridge.
"Why can't Kairi look after the brat again?"
He said this safely from behind the refrigerator door, his mint-colored eyes glancing over a half-empty carton of milk and various plastic-wrapped leftovers that he would most likely never get to. His fingers wrapped finally around a random can just as a loud squeal sounded from further in his apartment, and as he jumped Axel slammed his head against the top of the fridge, hissing in response to the pain. As he pulled away and straightened, rubbing the back of his head in annoyance, he shut the door and popped the top; leaning then against the doorway leading back into his family room, he took a swig and opted on watching Roxas lift his little relative high above his head, the both of them sporting grins as the red-haired harpy kicked his legs and flailed his tiny arms.
"Because Kairi's with Riku, actually getting out for once," the blond remarked, sensing Axel's returned presence. Smirking, the redhead watched as Roxas bent his arms fast, the child dropping with a shriek of laughter, and then raised his arms high once more.
"You sure Sora would like that? His innocent little princess with his best friend?" A wry look on his face, Axel took another swig of his beer, watching as the child suspended above the blond's head slowly began to lose his smile, flailing his arms in impatience to be let down again; Roxas, for the moment, seemed to forget about the boy.
He was quick to remember, however, and another sound of childish laughter broke the silence as Sora's boy plummeted. "It's not like they're doing anything. She's helping the loser find an anniversary gift for Naminé, since he's too incompetent to do it on his own."
Axel snorted. "Nice to see your hatred's softened over time."
"And what about two nights ago, huh?" Axel pressed, ignoring the blond's retort. "Her little dinner with Hayner. Were they shopping for Naminé, too?"
At this point, he could visibly see Roxas's agitation. The blond had ceased his little game with the child, and now he simply bounced the redhead on his knee, staring pointedly at the wall.
"She was meeting an old friend. She deserves to get out more often."
"Ah, and that's what she's doing today, right? 'Getting out more often.'"
Half-turning on the couch, Roxas glowered fiercely at him. Grinning back playfully, Axel crushed the empty can in his hand, brow arched in anticipation. He wanted the boy to snap – he was far too boring when he played the role of the responsible adult.
"Knock it off. He's dating Olette."
"Ah, right, right. And Olette was your…what?"
"Axel, I swear to G--!" Inhaling sharply, he turned back abruptly and bouncing the boy impatiently on his knee, shoulders stiff and tense. Chuckling softly under his breath, Axel swaggered forward into the room, leaving his empty beer can on the kitchen counter and eventually propping himself up against the couch's arm. Moving his stare from Roxas's brooding countenance to the self-absorbed child sitting in the blond's arms, he rubbed his cheek in idleness, sizing the boy up.
"How do you enjoy watching this irritating little cretin?"
This, too, earned him a vicious look from his friend, but he merely shrugged it off. Swinging his legs over to rest his feet on the couch, he propped his elbows up on his thighs and cradled his chin, staring at the child that was currently gurgling spit bubbles and tugging at Roxas's shirt absentmindedly with his right hand. He wrinkled his nose as he continued to watch.
"Laex is not a cretin, so shut up." Fondly, the blond smoothed his hand over the child's red locks, and a smile softened the hard line of his lips when the boy giggled as Roxas tickled a spot near his ear. "And what's your problem with him, anyway? He's named after you, you dumba--" Wincing, he caught himself. "You jerk."
Axel smirked. "Please, Blondie. There's only one me, so why would I want a sniveling little brat to be named after me? Totally no creativity on Sora's part."
"You're such an idiot." Roxas sighed, tossing him a tired glance as he hugged Laex closer to his chest, cradling the boy with care while doing his best to not get the child completely soaked with rain. The redhead contemplated getting a towel as he watched Roxas suppress a shiver, but he decided that getting up would be work, and work was something that he liked to avoid doing. Besides that, the blond looked especially cute when he was so vulnerable.
So, rather than do something he productive, he reached in his pants pocket and pulled forth a cigarette carton, tapping it against his palm habitually.
Before a stick could even fall out, though, Roxas snapped, "Don't even think about it."
"'s my house," he teased, waving a cigarette before his face to further infuriate the blond. He was surprised, however, when the red-haired child in his arms laughed and reached out to grab it.
"Dammit, Axel!" Roxas growled, snatching the stick away before either redhead could make use of it and crushing it in his fist angrily. Then, standing up in resolution, he stormed away towards the kitchen as Laex began to fuss in his arms. "I'll never be rid of your stupid habits, will I?"
"Aww, c'mon, Roxy." Trailing after the blond in amusement, Axel pocketed the carton in compliance, figuring it wouldn't do him any good to further piss the temperamental male off. Leaning against the counter as Roxas leaned against the sink across from him, he gave a little laugh. "You have to appreciate the irony."
"Don't talk to me." Cross, exasperated, Roxas hoisted the boy upwards again and held out a small bag of animal crackers. Eagerly, Laex shoved his little fist into the opening, the plastic almost jostled from the blond's shoulders as he struggled to balance both and his waning patience.
"You know you love me," he purred, stretching slightly over the countertop, smug grin dancing on his lips.
The blond shot him a steely look, his eyes a cold and bitter winter sea, flashing with all of the emotions that he couldn't let loose in his godchild's presence. It only served to further amuse Axel as he stared on and rested his chin in his hands once more.
"Don't push your luck."
"C'mon," the redhead laughed, eyes trailing after Roxas as the blond again moved around, heading back towards the couch. He narrowly avoided Axel's hand wandering near his waist, and his footfalls were heavy and exaggerated as he stomped away. Muffling his amusement, Axel followed, not yet done pushing the blond's buttons. "I mean, really. There's no way in hell you like that brat more than you absolutely adore yours truly."
"Try me," was Roxas's muttered response as he cradled Laex and watched the boy fumble with the animal cracker bag. Rolling his eyes, Axel again perched himself on the edge of the couch, hands resting on his bent knees as he absently surveyed the room, eyes passing over the television, coffee table, and various pictures that filled up the emptiness and cheerlessness of his apartment. It really needed the blond's obsessive-compulsive and charmingly distinctive touch.
"That's just stupid."
Bored, Axel leaned his cheek into the heel of his palm, staring at the blond settled comfortably on his couch cushions. Ignoring his remark, Roxas smiled gently and thumbed away crumbs from the drool-bucket's mouth, which made Axel cringe slightly. It mystified him, how his friend could devote himself so entirely to such an irksome creature. Even now he was irritated by the little monster, watching with disdain as crumbled cracker bits stuck to his saliva-covered hands and coated his navy blue shirt in a layer of food dust. And yet Roxas absolutely fawned over the boy, laughing as redhead suddenly sneezed and spat food out accidentally – Axel's gut churned just slightly.
"Oh my God, you actually like this thing."
At the utter absurdity of his statement, Roxas actually laughed in surprise. From his pocket, meanwhile, he fished out a handkerchief, which he used to wipe up Laex's mess. As the boy fidgeted and turned his head away, the blond paused and incredulously remarked, "And you're surprised? He's Sora's son, for God's sake. Why wouldn't I?"
Rubbing at his forehead tiredly, Axel grumbled. "No, I mean, like, you really like this thing. You're mooning over it and everything – like he's your own annoying little brat or something."
Rolling his eyes, Roxas went back to wiping at the child's food-covered countenance. Displeased, Axel made a face at the attention-stealer, and Laex giggled slightly, clapping his grimy hands together. "What's your problem today? You're seriously being ridiculous."
"Am not. You should see yourself." Cocking his head, Axel took in Roxas's contented expression, the gentleness in the way he handled his godchild, the sweet softness of his eyes as he took in the boy's innocent, two-year-old appearance. It made his heart stutter somewhat, seeing such love on Roxas's normally hard and stoic expression. He looked his actual twenty-two years sitting here, laughing and coddling his cousin's baby boy. Axel felt a pang of envy at that. "Really."
"It's nothing." Shrugging, the blond pulled his handkerchief away, beaming at the clean and blinking face of his godchild. Then, pocketing it again, he slipped his hands under Laex's arms and lifted him up over his head, making the boy giggle and clap his hands over the return of their little game. "He's a sweet kid. Sora and Kairi made a good kid."
Lowering the boy close to his face, Roxas laughed and rubbed his nose against Laex's, his eyes closed and his smile wide as the redhead shrieked for joy. Fingers cradling his cheeks as he kept his chin propped up, Axel arched his eyebrows.
"You want one, don't you?"
Raising Laex again towards the ceiling, Roxas looked over towards him in confusion, brow furrowed. "Huh?"
"A kid." A slow grin spread across Axel's face. "You want a kid of your own."
Embarrassment gradually colored the blond's cheeks, and he lowered Laex to hold him in his arms. "I do not," he protested, looking away pointedly.
Triumphant, Axel lowered his arms. "You do! Jesus, Blondie. You want your own little hellion following every step you take. You wanna be a daddy." He smirked smugly.
Impatience clouded Roxas's once placid expression. "Shut up. You don't know what you're talking about."
"Oh, it's really quite adorable, Roxy," he drawled, sliding onto the couch and draping his arm over the blond's shoulders. He tried to jerk away, but Laex made a squawk of angry protest, and so he was stuck.
"No, I think it's cute. Really."
Shoulders tensing, the blond tilted his head further, a searing red burning in his cheeks and scorching his ears. Laex continued to entertain himself as Axel shot him a wry look, slowly leaning towards Roxas in the process.
"And hey," he murmured, poking absently at the child's forehead even as he spoke to Roxas. Incredibly, the small boy laughed at the offensive gesture – he definitely had his father's spirit. "I'd be more than willing to offer my assistance."
"Get off me!" he shouted, pushing Axel away from him hastily, the reddish color of his face creeping now down along his neck. Breath coming short, Roxas shook his head repeatedly to shrug off the shock, and the redhead gave a soft laugh at the blond's shyness.
Both jumped in surprise, however, when the child resting in Roxas's quivering arms let out a mournful wail. Obviously shaken by the blond's sudden, jerking movements, he now tossed uncontrollably, fussing and moving away from Roxas's pacifying gestures. Biting his lip, the blond lifting the boy up high, struggling with an encouraging smile, but the boy only screamed more, which disheartened Roxas immensely. Hurriedly standing, he drew Laex to his chest, patting him awkwardly.
"Ech," Axel sighed in disgust as he rubbed at his temples. "Can't you stuff a sock in his mouth or something?"
"Axel, shut up!" Roxas shouted, which startled the two-year-old more. As Axel shot him a surprised glance, the blond nearly broke under Laex's shrieking, bouncing him in his arms helplessly. His eyes desperately trailing back towards Axel, he remembered his previous anger, and he summoned it once more; the redhead watched his eyes flash dangerously. "Goddammit, this is all your fault!"
"My fault?!" he shot back incredulously, standing up. "Hey, you're the one who--"
"Just shut up!"
Turning abruptly on his heel, Roxas sped out of the room and down the hallway. Irritated, Axel hurried after him, all the way to the door of his bedroom. Before he could even open his mouth to ask his question, however, his door slammed promptly in his face. Blinking, he stared at the chipped, white wood, bewildered for a moment.
"Are you serious?" he muttered to himself, pressing a hand tiredly to his forehead. "Rox, you are such a girl." This he said more loudly, so that the blond would, in fact, hear him. He received no reply, though, and he debated storming right in and raising more hell. But as the shrieks of the child continued, his hand hesitated on the knob, and finally he decided to simply wait.
Seconds passed – then minutes. Still, Laex quailed horrifically, and Axel groaned as he leaned his forehead against his door, nails scraping against the faded paint in annoyance. More minutes passed in this way, muffled footsteps pacing from within and Roxas's nervous voice murmuring pleas for the child to quiet down. Growing more aggravated by the second, Axel wasted several more minutes away, until finally he turned around and stomped towards his kitchen, in need of alcohol to cool his temper. As he sank into a chair once there, he glowered exaggeratedly a wall, the refrigerated can serving to cool his throbbing forehead as time continued to fade into the background. Eventually, though, he drained the liquid within, so that the can lay crushed and pitiful on the tabletop.
Massaging his temples in frustration, Axel finally stood and dragged his feet over the floor. He hated Roxas's temperamental attitudes, his high-maintenance, the way he withdrew from everything whenever he had a problem; and, more than the blond, he hated that stupid brat of Sora's that hoarded all of Roxas's attention for itself. It aggravated him to no end to see the red-haired pestilence in his home.
Stopping at the face of his door, Axel pressed his fingertips into the middle of his forehead, blowing out a frustrated breath. "Rox?" he grumbled out in irritation, shuffling his feet once, then twice. He received no answer. "Roxas?" Quiet reigned. "Dammit, Blondie, I'm coming in whether you like it or not."
When this, too, garnered no response, Axel rolled his eyes and promptly forced the door open, since there wasn't a lock on the door to worry about. Threading his fingers tiredly through his hair, he stared at his bed, belatedly surprised to see Roxas lying on his side, Laex sleeping a few feet away from him. The blond didn't shift at his sudden presence, but Axel knew that he was awake – his eyes were open, and tears glistened on his cheeks in the half-light filling the room.
"Hey, look," Axel said softly, walking forward. "If I hurt your feelings – God knows how I did, though, because, really, I did nothing wrong – well, then…I'm sorry, Rox."
"I can't do this, Axel."
Surprised at the hoarseness of the boy's voice, he hesitated. Arms moving from their placating position to cross over his chest, he curiously tilted his head. "Beg your pardon, Blondie?"
Drawing the heel of his palm over his cheek, Roxas sucked in a shuddering breath. "I couldn't get him to stop crying for so long. I don't know what I'm doing. I can't--"
"Rox, kiddo, seriously. I mean, if you want a kid that badly, don't worry about it, okay?" He gave an uneasy laugh. "One bad experience with a screaming devil child isn't reason to get so depressed over--"
"He had…no right…"
Joking façade dropping completely, Axel stared at the Roxas stoically. He took in the blond's shaking shoulders, the hiccupping breaths which he fought to quiet, the tears which coursed in rivers down his face – and the redhead realized just how much the responsibility couldn't hide how young Roxas really was, and how much the happiness couldn't hide his hurt and suffering. He saw the pain he'd been ignoring in the blond all afternoon, and he knew in an instant why he was crying, and why everything was all Axel's fault.
"Rox…I'm so sorry." His voice was soft, and he stepped forward to hover before the blond huddled into himself on the edge of his mattress.
"I…I can't do this," he gasped pathetically, pressing his palms to his eyes. "I…I can't help Kairi, and I can't help Laex, and I can't…I can't…"
A heart-wrenching sob shook the blond's entire body, and Axel leaned down and gripped his collar, pulling the boy close. Both fell to the floor, and in the tangle of their limbs and blend of their clothes Axel sat tall and crushed Roxas to his chest, running his fingers through blond, rain-damp locks.
"Why'd he do this to all of us…?"
Cringing at the boy's pitiful whisper, he held the blond close, staring at Sora's son sleep on despite all of the heartache. His fingers digging accidentally into Roxas's jacket, he pinpointed one reason to explain his dislike for the little child resting there, and his eyes narrowed as he cradled Roxas close as he nursed his own growing anger.
The child's father had been a fool. He'd played the hero card, sacrificing himself for everything that he loved only to lose everything in the end. He should've just been selfish – then Roxas wouldn't have had his heart ripped out of his heart so completely.
"I-I…I miss him." Hands fisting the fabric near Axel's shirt, Roxas shuddered again in his hold. "He was…always there for me. He said he wouldn't abandon me – he…he promised he wouldn't be like everyone else…"
"Rox…" Grinding his teeth, Axel forced out a frustrated breath through his nose. He hardly wanted to defend the brown-haired bastard who'd left them all – himself included – to suffer without his obnoxious cheer and sparkling eyes, but he couldn't stand to see Roxas this way. "I mean, it's not like…he wouldn't…lie to you. He's…he's still with you…you know."
He hated how corny and ridiculous that sounded, because it was something Sora would say, and he himself didn't do sympathy and compassion. But Sora would still mean it, and he did, too. He knew the spiky-haired idiot was watching them from whatever kind of world he now haunted, and he wouldn't want to see his beloved cousin unable to function without his presence.
"So just…y'know…stop crying."
"I can't do this without him," came the blond's soft murmur.
Hands playing with the blond's stiff, cold locks the color of sunlight, Axel sighed in exasperation. "Shut up. He'd hate to see you like this."
"Well I hate him," Roxas whispered, though the shudder of his shoulders betrayed his words.
"Right," Axel laughed in disbelief, pushing the blond slightly away from him so that he could get a look into the boy's face. Stubbornly, Roxas kept his countenance concealed, his head lowered as a cross expression flittered over his features. "Just keep telling yourself that."
Roxas grew quiet – he followed in suit. The room grew steadily darker as Sora's son remained nestled in the comfort of the bed sheets and Roxas in the comfort of Axel's jacket. He didn't know what to say anymore, to ease the blond's pain, to take away the hurt that caused the tears. He only knew that sitting there, being there, even if he grew bored and stiff and frustrated, was something that would help Roxas, and that was enough incentive for him to stay.
As the quiet remained unbroken save for his and Laex's and Roxas's steady breathing, he remembered. It had been a long time since he'd seen the blond shed a tear. It had been a long time since they'd shared this type of moment together, undisturbed.
But it didn't last forever, though he'd vainly hoped that it would. As near full darkness descended upon their forms, Laex slowly awoke to a startlingly quiet room, and he raised a fit of even more startling cries. Roxas, stirring to life at the unrest, breathed a quiet thank you as he removed himself from Axel's weighed-down arms, and the redhead shrugged with nonchalance as he stood, exiting the room as the blond tended to his godchild. Fingers finding their way to his crimson locks, Axel staggered towards the kitchen on unsteady feet, his body craving a beer, a cigarette, a quick fix to keep his mind away from the warmth and allure of Roxas's body, the softness of his skin, the sweetness of his breath. Because Sora had stolen that from him.
With his death, Roxas had lost his heart – he'd lost the ability to love everything fully.
He'd lost the ability to love Axel anymore.
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See? Ridiculously random. But anyway - please review. I love feedback.