Author's Note : Finally, a chapter 2 for this story. Sorry for the long delay…

Chapter 2

Hanging On

Roxas woke up. The sky is getting darker by the night but the rain still seemed reluctant to fall. He is a bit surprised when he sees Axel's face close up in front of him. He jumps up, sitting. On his left side, he finds Riku. The two sleeps soundly. Roxas takes care to not wake them up and slowly slides of the bed. He still can't believe that he is going to live in that big house. However, he is sure that Riku and Axel's father won't let him stay. No family would ever take a child who has lived his two years in streets from stealing to their house. The room is messy. The least he can do now is clean up. And so, he starts picking up the clothes on the floor. Folding it neatly and placing them back to the dresser. Soon, everything is cleaned.

Having nothing else to do, he decides to go to Axel's room. Axel's room is messy and it really could use a little clean up. Roxas opens the door, trying as hard as he can to make as little sound. Axel's room is very close to Riku's so he arrives there in no time. Roxas did the same thing at Riku's room. However, he didn't fold the clothes. It doesn't seem like washed clothes after all. So he picks all of the clothes lying on the floor one by one. It's dirty, some even have stains of food. After he is done with the clothes, he decides to clean up any dirt from the floor. However, before he could do that, the door to the room finally opened and there stood a grown up man with long straight silver hair. "What are you doing here?" He asks unhappily. "I thought I heard someone sneaking around."

"I… I just…" Roxas tried to explain.

"You are getting your punishment, boy. No matter what your explanations." Yazoo glares and drags Roxas away easily.

Roxas is scared. Tears are welling up in his big blue sea eyes. He could only watch as the older man dragged him away to a room he hadn't been to before. It's a dark, clean room, made of stone, a dungeon... Even though it looked clean, there are rats scurrying about on the floor. Roxas can hear the sounds of mouse squeaking and the figures moving around on the floor. He's not scared though, he has been living with those filthy animals for years. However, after having gotten free of them for a day and having to go back to that life again made Roxas desperate. "I'm really sorry… I didn't mean to…" Roxas managed to muttered out.

"Look, boy." The man hissed, "I don't know what you are planning with my little boys. And whatever it is, I'm sure you're up to no good. You are staying here."

And so, Yazoo dragged the boy, opened a cell, and pushed him in, quickly locked it before Roxas can shout a protest or even hurried out. The man left him alone in the dungeon there. Roxas let out a soft cry, and then calmed himself down soon. This is his life. It has always been like that and there is no use crying over it. At least, he got to know good people like Axel and Riku. He took a seat inside the cell, in the corner, leaning his back against the wall, trying his best to make himself comfortable.

--

Riku woke up sooner than Axel. Lazily, he reached out his hand to the side a little but found nothing. The bed is empty, only Axel there. He opened his eye lid slowly and looked around, shaking his head a little to make himself a little bit more awake and sober. He is a little bit surprised that his room has been cleaned nicely, not even a single piece of strayed clothe, "Didn't Mom and Dad forbids the maids to clean our rooms?" He muttered under his breath, putting a hand to his messy shoulder length hair to comb it a little.

He shakes Axel awake after. Axel budged a bit, "Need… more sleep…" He muttered slowly, reaching out, wanting to hug Roxas that was supposedly sleeping beside him. "Nnnhh… Where's Roxie?" He opened his eyes a bit, looking at Riku.

"I was gonna ask you that. Did you take him somewhere?"

Axel sat up and glared at Riku, "How could I? I was dead asleep."

"Yeah, and you're always dead when you are asleep." Riku smirks a bit, jumping out of the bed. "I can guess that Roxas is definitely the one cleaning your mess."

"My mess? 's your room, Riku." Axel jumped out of the bed too, yawning a bit, "Let's go find Roxie. Maybe he's in my room now?"

Riku nodded and followed his red headed brother out of his room. They went inside Axel's room and found out that the room is cleaned too, not as cleaned as Riku's because of the horrible mess that Axel has piled up over the months but it can still be called 'clean'. "I love Roxie." Axel grins.

"Yeah, for cleaning up your room. …Where'd he go then?..." Riku's face turns grim.

"You don't think he went away, do you?"

"I dunno. Roxas would pull stuff like that, wanting to thank us for everything by cleaning up our room and quietly sneaks away." Riku reasoned.

"Or maybe… Dad found Roxie…"

"If that is so, then there is only one place that Dad will put him to."

"The dungeon… I hate this…" Axel shook his head, "It's about to rain too…"

"Another one of your infrared antenna rain sensor, brother?" Riku mocked. Axel scoffed and nodded, "I suggest you go curl up in your room before you get us in trouble then."

"I can hold myself just fine. Let's go, hurry." Axel hurried out the room, again, followed by Riku. The big door to the dungeon is locked. Riku and Axel cannot fine the way in. Axel wouldn't give up though and bumped on the door, hard, with his knuckles, "Roxie, ya there?!" But no matter how many times Axel shouts, there is no answer from the dungeon. "He's not in here?" Axel had finally given up and turned around to look at Riku.

"I don't think so… The dungeon's door won't be locked for no reasons."

"Yeah…" Axel nodded. "Let's go find Dad."

"Let me ask you something first, Axel." Riku stood, leaning his back against the wall. Axel waved his hand, gesturing for Riku to continue and Riku nodded, continued, "Why do you care about Roxas so much?"

Axel walked closer to Riku and pats the silver haired head, "We've become family, remember? He's basically our little brother now."

"Heh." Riku smirks. "Yeah, that happens last time with Loz too. That's why Dad is so freaked out at new family members."

"I wouldn't say freaked out for that."

"Your right." The both laughed and set off to look for Yazoo. They bumped into their mother along the way. Kairi quickly stopped the two boys from stepping further inside the hallway leading to Yazoo's office. "Riku, Axel." She hugged them both.

"Aww, Mom, we need to meet Dad." Axel said, trying to pull away from the hug causing Kairi to tighten it.

"You'd better not." Kairi said with a soft voice, almost whispering, "Your father's very mad right now. You boys go back inside your room."

"Mom, we can handle Dad." Riku said reassuring.

"No, you can't. You've been beaten hard last time by your father. I won't risk that anymore."

"Mom…" Axel tried to persuade again. "If we don't do anything, you'll be the one that got beaten."

Kairi giggled, "Yazoo wouldn't beat me. I believe that."

Axel sighed, "C'mon, Mom. Just let us through. We need to confront Dad."

"Riku, stop your brother from doing this." Kairi eyed Riku, hopeful.

"Sorry, Mom. I'm going with Axel on this one." Riku smiled calmly.

"That's a first time." Axel grinned. "Aww, my sweet little brother. I love you so much." Axel proceeds to hug Riku causing Riku to choke a bit at the crushing hug. After noticing that Riku is struggling, Axel immediately let go. "So, Mom, can we go?"

Kairi sighed in defeat, knowing that there's nothing that can stop his two boys once they decided to do anything together. She placed a hand on her forehead and said, "Alright, but promise…" Axel widened his eyes, giving that puppy dog look while Riku just stood waiting for his mother's condition, "Be polite, listen when your father is talking, no biting his words back, try to reason calmly, and no fighting to win over what you are talking about. Let your father win, okay?"

"What's the purpose of meeting Dad when we just let him win over us?" Axel said, confused, tilting his head.

"Riku, I'll leave this one to you." Kairi winked. "And you, young man, control your anger." She stared Axel.

"Cool, Mom. We're off." Riku said, grabbing Axel's wrist, dragging him away. Kairi followed shortly after into the room and sat in one of the chair placed there.

It is a square shaped room, pretty big, about the size of Axel's and Riku's room. There is a fireplace at the other side of the room which was lit and burning fiercely, painting half of the room yellow. The sound of the fire burning the woods and flickering fire can be heard. In the left corner of the room stood a big clock which ticks away with time. Bookcases are lined up nicely to the wall and the books are arranged neatly inside them. Papers are lined up on the table in the middle of the room where Yazoo is sitting. Yazoo, who was holding a pen, put it down on the table slowly, and lifted his head to look at his boys.

"We need access to the dungeon, father." Axel said, making out the best behavior he had.

"And why is that?" Yazoo asked with a calm and deep tone, leaning back against the chair, sitting comfortably, intertwining both of his hands together.

"We need to find Roxas." Axel answered. Riku stayed silent beside Axel, observing his father's expression.

"Who is this Roxas?"

"Roxas is our little brother now." Axel said, determined, with a stare.

"Brother?" Yazoo's face broken into one grim expression, certainly not happy.

"Father, we found Roxas yesterday in the streets." Riku started with his explanation, "He was beaten by some guy in the streets. I and brother saved him. We took him home, cleaned him, and because he is all alone, we decided to take him in as our little brother."

"And who gave you that power to decide?" Yazoo asked again, staring intensely at both the boys. Axel and Riku did not falter though. They stood still, keeping their calm and gave back the stare to their father. Riku and Axel both had been raised in this environment. Yazoo had always been a strict and sometimes even cruel and harsh father and Kairi had been always the caring and compassionate mother she is. However, Kairi isn't about to join the conversation as she knew that it would just turn out worst. She's there to hopefully, be able to stop Yazoo if he turns insane and started hitting the boys.

"We have no power to." Riku admitted. "We are about to ask for your permission when we woke up. However, Roxas was already gone by that time."

"So, you make decision before asking for permission? Who taught you that?"

"Father, this is our fault…" Riku admitted again. Axel is about to open his mouth to debate and started bashing his arguments to his father but Riku grabbed his hand, signaling him to not say a word of offense. "None of this is Roxas'."

Finally, Axel added, "Yes, father. Don't punish Roxas for this. I will take the punishment. I'm the one who made the decision and Riku just followed."

"Axel…" Riku wanted to protest but decided not to.

"You will get your punishment in the morning, Axel." Yazoo shot him a glare. "I found that little Roxas of yours sneaking around in your room. He must be another spy just like that Loz."

Axel and Riku are both silent, but finally, Axel spoke again with higher tone, "But, last time Loz is caught with proof. Is Roxas stealing anything?"

"I caught him before he can do anything and at that, your punishment will be slightly lighter."

"He's not doing anything, Dad. That's why. Besides, last time, Loz is your friend, father. Roxas can't be blamed for this."

Irked at the argument, Yazoo stood up, "So, you are defying me for that boy?"

"No, he's not father." Riku jumped into Axel's defense. "He's just…"

"Yazoo…" Kairi stood up and hug Yazoo's arm, preventing the man from doing anything.

"You stay out of this, Kairi." Yazoo said with a slightly calmer voice.

"Not if you are hitting the boys."

"Father, please, Roxas is not bad. If he is doing anything wrong, I will take full responsibility of it. You can punish me, even kill me, father." Axel said with a determined voice. Riku is a bit shocked to hear Axel uttered those words so easily since he knew that that brother of his is always fooling around.

There was a long silence before Yazoo finally threw Axel some keys, "I'll take you up on your words."

"Thanks!" Axel jumped happily while Riku just smiles.

"Meet me tomorrow, Axel. You'll be getting your punishment then."

"Okey-dokey, Dad." Axel said, already forgot about all his manners. Kairi smiled softly, letting go of Yazoo. She is relieved that nothing bad happened. "Let's go, Riku." Axel dragged Riku away. Riku just followed.

When they are running across the hall to the dungeon, they bumped into Reno and Namine, "Whoa, boys, where are you going?" Reno asked curiously.

"See ya later, uncie." Axel said, without even stopping. Riku, who was just being dragged answered fast, "We're going to get Roxas." And both the boys disappeared down into the hallway to the dungeon. From behind, Reno and Namine decided to follow.

Excited, Axel quickly took out the keys his father gave him and opened the dungeon door in less than one minute. After the door is opened, Axel went inside the dungeon, not holding Riku's hand anymore. Inside, he found Roxas in the first cell though he could not see clearly due to the room getting darker as the sky starts rumbling, a warning that the rain will start pouring down. He opened the door with the keys again.

Roxas remained seated on the floor, hugging his knees closer. He doesn't even budge knowing that Axel is there in front of him. Axel noticed it and just decided to put on a huge grin, "Roxie, you alright?"

"I… Got you into trouble, ain't I?" Roxas said slowly, hiding his face between his knees.

"Nah, I'm alright. Big brother Axel can take care of everything."

"Roxas, we come to take you out of here." Riku said calmly.

Roxas raised his head again, slowly. "I-I'll go away from this house. Thank you, really…" He stood up and bowed his head.

"You're not going away from here, Roxie. You have to be good and proof to father that I am right about you, alright?" Axel said, also standing up.

Roxas tilted his head in confusion. Noticing that, Riku added, "Something about Axel taking responsibility of you. Father will kill Axel if you take one step wrong."

"Kill? But…"

"Little Axel's taking responsibility?" A laugh comes from the door. Then two figures appeared in the dungeon. It is Reno and Namine. "That's a new one." Reno added.

"C'mon, Roxie." Axel walked closer, reached out a hand and grabbed the blond's wrist. Roxas just followed.

Namine approached with a warm smile, "Are you okay?" She asked.

With a smile, Roxas nodded and answered still with his wrist grabbed by Axel, "Yes."

And the sky rumbled again, the dungeon become very dark that no one can see anything, rain starts pouring down without any warning this time. Reno took out his lighter and lit it up, revealing Axel who is holding and hugging tightly to Roxas now. Roxas blushed with embarrassment, still having no idea of what happened with Axel clutching him so tight. Namine, Reno, and Riku laughed, "He'll be hanging on to you now, Roxas." Riku said with a smirk.

"Urm… hanging on?" Roxas said, holding himself up desperately. The older and bigger boy is basically jumping on him now, hugging him like a koala baby to its mother. Roxas can feel Axel's body shivering.

"Hold it there, little one." Reno laughs.

"This is what happens when the rain pours out." Namine explained. "Axel will start clutching onto people nearest to him and not let go until the rain is over."

"I'm glad it's not me this time." Riku laughed.

"Me too." Reno sighed with laughter, "I had a feeling that the rain will last until morning."

"Umm… Axel…?" Roxas tried calling the red headed boy.

"Just… stay still." Axel managed to mutter out despite his shudders.

"So, umm…" Roxas looked to Namine, Riku, and Reno, "What should I do?"

"Let's just get you guys into the bed for now. Think you can handle it on your own?" Reno asked, a little bit worried that Roxas body will snapped at Axel's strength and weight.

"I – think so…"

Roxas started walking desperately with all his gathered strength up into the dungeon stairs, to outside. He finally arrived at the hallway but falls down with a thud on the floor, Axel still hugging him tightly. Roxas panted, catching breaths. The three just stared, letting Roxas handle it all on his own. Besides, they think it's so cute seeing Axel and Roxas like that.

Finally after a hard and gruesome effort, Roxas and Axel arrived in Riku's room, which is closer to the dungeon. He had to walk a little further to Axel's room but Riku said that they can stay in his room and Roxas took the offer instantly. He went thumping down into bed with Axel. "We'll just leave you two, then." Namine said softly. "Just stay there until the rain's over, Roxas."

"I'll be sleeping over at Axel's." Riku said.

"You still have your training, young men." Reno reminded.

"I'm not going today." Riku said with a smirk, "C'mon, Reno. Axel is not there. People might think that you're a pedophile, training with just the both of us."

"Pedophile?" Reno shook his head, amused at Riku's statement.

"Yeah, what will Namine think?"

Namine blushed, "Riku…" she reprimanded.

"Alright, you smart little ass." Reno sighed in defeat, "We skip the training for today."

"Yeah, because you want to spend time with Namine too, don't you?" Riku quickly ran away before Reno could catch him.

"That kid is just too smart for his age." Reno shook his head in disbelieve.

"Isn't that good then? He and Axel are bright kids." Namine said cheerfully.

"Yea, I know."

"So, we'll leave you alone, Roxas. Just shout if there's anything happening okay?"

Roxas nodded a little and the door is closed, leaving only him and Axel there. He managed a chuckle then, with Axel curling into a ball, digging into his chest, hands still circling tight around Roxas' waist, "Are you afraid of the rain?" Roxas asked slowly.

After a long silence, Axel finally whispered, "Rain is bad… I hate the rain."

"But, aren't we inside the house? The rain is outside…"

"It's the same, rain is bad everywhere and anywhere."

Roxas feels amused that the usually cocky and cheerful Axel had become a child just because of the rain. "…Alright then…" Roxas said softly, with a smile. "Just rest and hang on."

"I'll be hanging on, alright."

Roxas laughs, "Right."

Axel made himself comfortable. He feels strangely safe and calm holding onto Roxas like that. The same feeling when he is with his mother. Of course, he knows quite well that Roxas is definitely not his mother. He just had this strange feeling of attachment to Roxas though he wouldn't ever admit it.

And so, the room is becoming darker as the rain pours down. Roxas stayed awake, watching Axel's head. He can't sleep after all that sleep this afternoon. He quietly thought that Axel's hair is really beautiful, it's a little bit itchy as it made contact with his face, but nonetheless, it had this special scent that made Roxas feels addicted. Axel fell asleep a while later and Roxas feels himself slowly drifting into his slumber too.

--

Alright… So, lesson number one, doing three stories at once is a bad idea. My brain got mixed up of the stories and I have to spend my time to read back what I had written in the past chapters. Lesson number two, making people wait is also a bad idea. I'm sorry for the long update. I can't promise that I'd update the next one fast but I surely won't leave any of the stories behind. I'll finish all of them, though these new ideas for new stories keep pouring out in my brain. Sigh… There are actually two new stories stuck inside my computer that I haven't submitted yet… haha…

Well anyway, remember to leave a review. Tell me if there is anything good or bad. I'm open to any critiques. Thanks!