Updated 12/20/12

Author's Notes: Whew, this story was a major feat. By far the longest one-shot I've ever written, 28 pages, 14,000+ words. But you know what, I don't really care about the length. I'm just (for once) really, really proud of this story. It started out as a little drabble where two star-crossed lovers meet under some less than ordinary circumstances (huh, that's how my stories usually go now that I think about it). That, however, didn't last very long. Before I knew it, I already had a plot drawn up in my head, all twists and turns included. And before long, even my simple plot transformed into something more, something more rightly resembling a mini-epic of sorts. This was a nice little distraction from the two multi-chapter stories I've been working on, Razorblade Shine and Assent. Gotta love summer vacation, gives you the perfect opportunity to do some hard core writing. But alas, I'll shut up now…

Summary: They met in a toilet of all places, the older of the two jerking off because he was bored, the younger storming out, disgusted. No one ever said this was going to be the most stable and customary of relationships. Akuroku. Mild use of the side pairings: Soriku, Zemyx, and implied Cleon. Rated M due to much cursing at the authoress' discretion and her use of slightly more mature topics.

FYI: The story title and song lyrics that you'll see throughout the story are ripped from the band Live's 1994 album, Throwing Copper. The song is titled White, Discussion and I've always held a certain penchant for it and. All credit for the song use, of course, goes to this amazing band that I recommend to anyone who likes alternative rock even in the slightest. The lead singer's voice is to die for and the music is spot on.

Disclaimer: Let's cut to the chase; I don't own Kingdom Hearts. You don't own Kingdom Hearts. None of us do, with the exception of those gods we like to call Square Enix. Go figure.

Points for anyone who recognizes the scene I sort of ripped from the tv show Supernatural.

Disenchanting Discourse

Finished and edited on: July 2, 2008


They met in a toilet stall of all places, the elder of the two jerking off simply because he was bored, the younger walking in on him before storming out of the restroom, his face flushed in embarrassment, muttering something about "just never fucking being able to piss in peace." And this, however, was probably the first indication that this was not going to be the most stable and customary of relationships.

Not that either of them ever really expected it would be.

And as the decibels of this disenchanting

Discourse continue to dampen the day

The coin flips again and again and again and again

And again as our sanity walks away.

Part 1

"Wait!" the tall, thin redhead called, hastily zipping up his pants after finishing the job and briskly wiping his hands on a paper towel that he tore from the dispenser. He followed the blond out into the throng of people in the mall, his shoulder length red hair fanning out behind him as he rapidly followed. "Just wait a God damned second!" The blond promptly ignored him, picking up the pace, his hands stuffed deeply inside his jeans pockets. He was practically running now, anything to get away from the disturbing man determined to stalk him.

The aforementioned disturbing man fell into step beside the boy, his legs longer and able to cover ground more quickly, enabling him to catch up to the blond easily. He likewise shoved his hands into his pockets as he strolled along next to the younger boy, an unconscious grin developing on his face. The blond yelped slightly, horrified that the man insisted on following him. He made a beeline for the nearest store, which just so happened to be Border's, aka The Mall Meeting Place (where he would eventually be saved by his brother once five o'clock rolled around), not stopping until he reached the horror section, hoping beyond hope that the guy would realize that he wasn't interested and would just leave him the hell alone. Not that it ever worked that way, in fiction or in real life.

It was just too bad he didn't yet know how stubborn and persistent his unwelcome new companion was. If he had, it would really have saved him a lot of grief and seething and anxiety. And perhaps even a tension headache or twelve.

Thoroughly ignoring the redhead, the blond, who we shall call Roxas for sake of this story, pulled a book from the shelf, one he'd been wanting for a while and just never seemed able to quite get his hands on; Cell by Stephen King. He began immersing himself in reading the back cover, fingering the spine of the book in a nervous sort of trepidation.

Glancing at the selection of books before him, the redhead, face stretched in a wry smile only worthy of the Cheshire Cat, also pulled a book from the shelf before him, copying the boy as he silently read the back cover.

"I like Stephen King too," he said, amused as the other seemed to shrink even further away from him in disgust at the simple thought that they might actually have something in common.

The redhead replaced the book on the shelf, sandwiching it somewhere between Salem's Lot and The Shining, and turned to stare transparently at the boy. The same boy whose eyes continued to nervously dart to his left, obviously waiting for the redhead to make some kind of expected and predatorial move.

But, damn it, he was ready. Eight years of Tai Kwan Do was about to pay off once the stupid, tall annoyance tried to make a move. Big time. Oh yeah.

"I'm Axel," the redhead said with a frank lilt that was just screaming fucking pay attention to me! He was obviously not used to being ignored, hated it in fact, but would continue to play the blond's little game if he had to, if it meant finally getting his attention.

And just when the blond thought he couldn't get any more annoyed at his poor excuse for a stalker, the redhead dropped a nuke in the form of a catchphrase.

"Got it memorized?"

Roxas' eye twitched visibly, his hand shaking enough to be noticed by both parties. Axel was beginning to think that the catchphrase just might have been overkill.

Lucky for them both Roxas was an expert at keeping his cool, had to be living with two brothers who were, if not physically, mentally blonder than he was. "I don't believe I asked for your name," the boy replied, voice clipped as his eyes persisted in scanning the back cover of the book. Slowly, he felt the almost-rage that had been furiously pumping through his veins only milliseconds ago, recede, gradually easing back into the usual lukewarm that he fought so hard to maintain.

"I know that," Axel said. "I'm not deaf. I just thought that if I told you my name, then you'd do the polite thing by telling me yours since you seem so polite and all."

"Clearly, you were mistaken," the younger boy replied tersely.

"Alright then, so you won't tell me. But don't worry, some way, some how, I'll find out your name." Arms akimbo, Axel's eyes bored into the boy who again shuffled uncomfortably, weight shifting from right to left foot.

Frowning, the blond faced the pain in the ass, as he'd taken to calling Axel in his mind, and alleged, "I don't know why you bothered introducing yourself. I'm just some guy who walked in on you having your way with yourself in the bathroom stall. That doesn't make us friends or anything."

"Of course it does!" Axel said brightly. "I consider anyone who has seen my dick my friend. I don't show it to just anyone."

The shorter boy made a repugnant face, eyes narrowing in disgust. "Believe me, I didn't want to see your little penis."

"Ouch," Axel said, mock-hurt filling his vivid green eyes. "Oh, how you wound me!" He began swaying in the aisle, the back of his hand pressed to his forehead as he faked pain.

The blond noticed that people were beginning to stare and felt his face flaming. He grabbed Axel's arm and hissed, "Stop it! Just be quiet."

He stopped abruptly, smirking down at the boy. Jesus, he's cute when he's embarrassed. Those rosy cheeks... "That took a lot less time than I had expected," he said knowingly.

Frowning, the other asked, "What took a lot less time than you expected?"

"Getting you to touch me. I figured it would take at least an hour of my all-encompassing charm before you were ready to-"

"Shut up Axel!"

And with that, Roxas dropped his arms immediately, taking a step backward. His face was still flushed, but something else had replaced the emotion in his searing eyes: pure and feral anger. The blond picked up Cell, which he'd dropped when he grabbed Axel's arm, and marched his happy little ass to the check-out.

"Oh, come on, blondie. I was only kidding," Axel whined from behind him.

"Shut up. And don't call me blondie," he replied, taking his place in the long line.

"Then give me another name to call you."

"No." he replied. Short and to the point.

Axel's long, nimble fingers wrapped around the boys' forearm as he acted like a pleading child. "Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeease! Please, please, please, please!"

The boy jerked his arm out of Axel's grip, face ashen and appalled. "You didn't even wash your hands after you finished, did you?"

"Of course not! I didn't have time to if I wanted to catch up to you. And believe me, I wanted to catch up to you."

"I wish you hadn't," the blond muttered scathingly. "Would have saved me the headache."

"Aw, don't be that way, blondie. I bet your life was absolutely boring before you met me," Axel insisted.

"Don't bet on it."

Axel stood quietly beside him for a moment or so before turning to him again and grinning. "You never got a chance to go before you left the bathroom," he said singsongingly. "You still have to pee."

The infuriated crease in the blonde's forehead grew deeper, his eyes bitter. The look was enough to keep Axel quiet for the time being. The time being, however, didn't last long enough.

"It's not like I chased you out of the bathroom or anything."

The blond threw his hands up, exasperated. "How was I supposed to take a piss with some weird guy in the bathroom jerking off?!"

The little old woman in front of the two gasped, appalled, and took a hasty step forward.

Eventually, after an agonizingly long time of having to endure the irritating redhead's company, it was Roxas' turn in line. He gave the pretty girl behind the counter a ten for the book and she gave him $1.46 in change and a vast and flirty smile. Axel mouthed the words he's mine behind the blond's back, making a rather vulgar jerking motion with his hand. The girl's large brown eyes widened for just a second before her face transformed into a countenance of utter and unappeasable excitement. Yaoi fan girl, Axel thought, smirking as he followed the boy.

"I'm leaving," the blond announced as he hastily headed toward the exit.

"You're not even going to tell me your name?" Axel asked with a pout.

"Nope. Bye, stalker."

But at that very moment, Heaven would smile down upon Axel, granting him a gift of God in the form of someone barreling past him, slamming into his absconded companion. "Roxas!" the newcomer squealed. The voice was oddly familiar...

Roxas, huh? Cute name.

"Demyx, how many times do I have to tell you not to jump your younger brothers. It's unseemly." That voice was familiar as well, Axel's memory banks finally filling in the blanks.

Whipping around, Axel saw a short man standing with his arms crossed, one eye covered with slate hair, his visible blue eye trained on the two blonds that were just beginning to stand.

"Zexion?" Axel asked, taking a step toward the man.

Zexion's matching gray eyebrow shot up as his eye swung to his left, glancing at the redhead. "Axel?" he asked incredulously. "Hey Demyx, look who it is."

Demyx's head shot up as he, too, peeked at the green eyed man. "Axel!" he squeaked, launching himself at him too. "Axel, it's been so long! What are you doing here? How come you haven't visited us lately? It's been years!"

"Demyx," Zexion said, grabbing Demyx by the collar of his shirt and yanking him back. "Shut up." Demyx smiled guiltily at Axel.

Rubbing the back of his head therapeutically, Roxas reluctantly joined the other three. "You guys know him?" he asked, pointing at Axel and looking at each of them in turn. He wished the earth would open up beneath him and swallow him whole.

Zexion nodded. "We all went to high school together."

"Yep!" Demyx said, delighted, then adding proudly, "Axel's the one that burned down the cafeteria. I don't know if you remember, Rox, you were only a freshman."

"I was young, Demyx, not stupid," the blond said, still wincing as his head gave a particularly painful throb. He didn't know if it was from his brother barreling into him or the fact that he had to continue enduring the stalker's company. "And what did I tell you about jumping on me? If you want to jump someone, then you should realize that your boyfriend is standing not six inches from you. He quite enjoys that sort of thing from what I gather listening to the two of you go at it all hours of the night through the paper-thin walls of our house."

Zexion glowered at Roxas who was usually on his side, uncrossing and recrossing his arms indignantly, choosing to say nothing.

"Nah," Demyx said with a shrug, "we'll save that for later. Don't want to corrupt any young minds or anything. You know how it is."

"Demyx," Zexion vowed through gritted teeth, "I'm cutting you off. Starting right now."

Demyx promptly shut his mouth, knowing that if he argued, it would only make his situation worse. But if he played his cards right, he'd have Zexion pent-up and frustrated, hot and bothered, and crawling back to him by midnight. At the latest.

"So how do you guys know Roxas?" Axel asked his former classmates, smirking at the younger blond as he said his name, putting a little special emphasis upon it that Roxas frowned at.

"He's my younger brother," Demyx said, slinging an arm around said younger brother's shoulders. "Isn't he just the cutest?"

"That he is," Axel agreed, grinning widely.

Roxas glared daggers at the both of them.

"Actually, I just met Roxas and we really hit it off. We both have a certain fondness for Stephen King apparently," Axel stated, his eyes focused on Roxas' azure ones.

"Really?" Demyx said excitably. "That's great! It's about time Roxas found a-" He promptly shut up at the warning glare from Zexion. "I-I mean, why don't you come over for dinner tonight? My other brother, Sora, is cooking and he doesn't set the stove on fire like Zexion does."

"That was only one time," Zexion muttered, huffily, wondering why he just couldn't seem to win today.

Throwing Roxas a triumphant look before redirecting his attention back to Demyx, he said, "That sounds good to me. We can catch up."

And as Axel and Demyx continued to catch up, Roxas and Zexion began to practically run out of the store, anything to get away from the two lunatics behind them who eventually started following. Reaching the car first, they got into the front seats and locked the doors.

Demyx rolled his eyes as he reached into his pocket for his keys, hands clutching only cloth as he stomped his foot into the pavement in frustration.

"You pick-pocketed him again, didn't you?" Zexion asked Roxas with a smirk.

"It's what he gets for clobbering me." He pulled the keys from his pocket, giving them a jingle at which Demyx grimaced, before tossing them to Zexion. "You're decision. Do we leave them? Because I wouldn't object."

Zexion had been planning just that but met his defeat when he stole a glance at Demyx, who was pouting, his cerulean eyes pleading with him. Roxas noticed, rolling his eyes. "Zex, you are such a sucker. And I mean that in the most literal and obvious way possible."

"Shut up," the slate-haired man said, hitting the unlock button with his index finger. Demyx jumped with one fist in the air victoriously, opening the door quickly before Zexion (or Roxas) had the chance to change his mind. He climbed into the back behind Zexion, leaning forward to ruffle his boyfriend's hair. "This position feel familiar, Zexy?" he asked. Zexion quickly turned his face and bit Demyx's hand. With a shriek, Demyx sat back, remaining quiet.

After Axel got into his own car, pulling up to theirs, Zexion maneuvered the car out of the mall parking lot, fighting the evening traffic until they reached their house. Roxas noted the blue car already in the driveway and rolled his eyes. That could only mean one thing; Riku was here with Sora. And alone at that.

As his stomach gave an unsightly rumble that Axel smirked at as they all got out of their cars, Roxas seriously doubted dinner was ready. Or even started for that matter.

"WE ARE HOME!" Roxas announced loudly as he walked in the front door. Silence greeted him.

"You hear that?" Demyx said stridently from behind him. "Put some friggin' clothes on!"

A sudden cacophony ensued immediately before two boys around Roxas' age emerged from a room, both appearing flushed but pleased with themselves.

Roxas looked at the two of them, sporting an ill-easy, "Ew." The boys only flushed harder.

"Sora, your shirt's on backwards," Zexion said as he set his bag down on the floor.

The brunette's eyes widened as he swiftly pulled his arms out of his shirt sleeves, turned the shirt around, and put his arms back through.

"You had it right the first time, kid. Zexion's just being a jerk," Axel said from the doorway, shutting the door softly behind him.

Sora looked down, rolled his eyes, and righted his shirt as Demyx giggled. "Honestly, Demyx, grow up," Sora said somewhat breathlessly.

"You're one to talk, Sora," Roxas said affectionately to his brother. "Now wash your hands. Both of you," he added, looking up at the blushing Riku, who ran a hand nervously through his long silver hair.

What's this kid's deal with personal hygiene? Axel mused as Roxas marched down a small hallway and into what he presumed was the bathroom. "You look a lot like your brother," he told Sora.

And they did. Same face, same build and height. Same blue eyes, except Roxas' seemed to be filled with rage or annoyance more often than not. The only real physical difference was their hair colors, Roxas' hair flaxen while Sora's hair was the color of lightly creamed coffee. And the fact that it was clear Sora got helluva lot more sun that his brother did.

"We're twins," Sora replied, smiling at the newcomer. "I'm Sora and this is Riku."

"Axel. I went to school with Demyx and Zexion. Roxas and I became very good friends today in the mall."

An audible "Ha!" was issued from the bathroom as the water ran.

Sora appeared confused. "What's with Roxas?" he asked. "He's usually only in this great a mood when Hayner comes to him with all of his Olette troubles. Again. Hell, Seifer hasn't even gotten under Roxas' skin this much lately."

"Ain't it the truth," supplied Demyx. Riku merely rolled his eyes.

"Axel has the uncanny ability of rubbing people the wrong way. Roxas being one of them," Zexion explained.

"Hell, so does Roxas," Riku interjected with a grin before he noticed the way Sora frowned at him for insinuating that his twin wasn't a people person despite the very fact that he wasn't. He just didn't like people talking about his twin, boyfriend or not.

Riku tried defending himself. "Well, not everyone. It's just—"

"We understand," Zexion assured the boy, saving him from making a bigger ass of himself than he already had. It wasn't usually Riku who had the giant insert foot here! sign pointing at his mouth. Clearly, he just wasn't yet thinking with the right head at the moment.

"Sora, Riku," Roxas said as he walked from the bathroom and into the kitchen, "we should let these three catch up. After all, Axel said that he has to leave immediately after dinner."

"Okay," Sora said, stealing a confused glance at his twin. Both Riku and Sora entered the kitchen, Roxas at their heels.

"Actually," Axel said, his eyes landing on Roxas' cute butt as the boy walked away from him, "my schedule just freed up. It's not every day that I run into old school chums."

"Of course," Demyx agreed merrily. "Stay as long as you want, Axel."

Roxas' disagreement became evident as the refrigerator door slammed shut.

"He always this charming?" Axel asked his friends as he took a seat.

Demyx sighed, sitting next to his boyfriend, rubbing his temples in this slightest bit of frustration, a trace of grief detectable to only those who knew him best. "He hasn't been the same since Mom and Dad died," he admitted.

Putting a reassuring arm around Demyx, Zexion added, "He took it the hardest."

"Wait," Axel said, frowning slightly. "You're parents died?"

Demyx nodded. "Not a month after the three of us graduated from high school. Car accident."

The redhead's chest clenched unnervingly. "I'm so sorry," he murmured, looking down at his hands, suddenly uncomfortable.

"I know," Demyx said, looking up and giving him a small smile, leaning further into Zexion's embrace.

"And the two of you take care of them? Of Roxas and Sora?" he asked, feeling as if he was prying a little more that he should.

"Yep, for the past three years or so."

"And what about your older brother? Why doesn't he take care of them? You guys are still in college."

Axel vividly remembered the eldest Strife brother, blond-haired and blue-eyed, but stoic to a fault, short but broad in the shoulder. He'd always seemed nice enough Axel supposed. Fortunate in the looks department just as all the Strifes seemed to be. It surprised Axel, given all the times he'd visited the Strife household, the he'd never met the twins. That, or they were just young enough at the time for him not to pay them much mind.

"Cloud joined the army," Zexion explained. "He enlisted as soon as he graduated high school. He was a year older than us."

"I didn't want him to have to leave the army. Being a soldier was always his dream, ever since he was little kid. I couldn't ask him to give that up, not when he'd just achieved it. Besides, the twins were grown up for the most part, just about to turn sixteen, so it was really only a matter of keeping a roof over their heads so the state wouldn't take them away."

The clenching in Axel's chest returned as he thought of everything his friends had gone through in the last three years; going to college, dealing with the death of Demyx's parents, working, caring for and raising two teenage boys. Of course, Axel hadn't had it particularly easy since graduation, not with getting kicked out of his dad's house after getting caught in bed with another guy, but it was hardly a fraction of what Demyx and Zexion, and not to mention Roxas and Sora, had gone through. His respect for his friends grew immensely, Demyx for doing whatever it took to keep his family together and Zexion for sticking with him despite the tragedy and sudden responsibility he also inherited for just wanting to be with Demyx.

"If you ever need anything, and I mean anything at all, you guys just let me know, okay?" Axel said suddenly, the gaze cast upon his friends intensely determined.

"Oh, Axel, that's hardly necessary," Demyx said, wiping his shimmering eyes with the back of his hand with a shaky smile. "We get by just fine."

"I don't care," Axel said, standing up. "You ever need something, anything, you just let me know. Promise me that you'll let me know."

"Well, okay then," Demyx said, smiling genuinely up at his friend. "But the same goes for you, Axel. You've always been such a good friend, you'll let us know if you ever need anything too."

From the kitchen doorway where Roxas had been listening to the conversation between his brother, Zexion, and the pain in the ass, the blond frowned slightly, peaking at the redhead. Turning to join Sora and Riku in the preparation of dinner, he was oddly quiet, thinking that it might actually be possible that Axel wasn't as incorrigible as he had originally thought.

He was in a dark room, with only a small, flickering candle to provide illumination. Roxas looked around, noting that it was particularly difficult to discern anything in the dim room. Vague, shadowy paintings hung on the walls, silhouetted portraits of god only knows who, strange glass cases of…were those bones? Squinting, he nodded, noting the almost ethereal glow the white bones radiated, reciting the ones he recognized from last year's Anatomy class.

Tibia, fibula, femur, mandible, pelvis, sternum, scapula, clavicle, radius, ulna…

On the wall opposite the bone collection was what appeared to be a two by four foot map of the world, delicate elevated mountains and receding valleys, almost like a flat globe. Glancing around the room further, his eyes landed on something. Or rather, someone.

He was not alone.

He wondered how he first missed the person as he sat right in front of him. Whomever it was, their face was hidden in shadow. Roxas squinted, trying to make out the person's features, anything to figure out who it was. He suddenly felt anxious and, for some inexplicable reason, did not want the other to know. Sitting in his chair, he sighed deciding it best to just sit there until the other finally felt like introducing himself. He could tell that the stranger was male by the long, gangly legs in clear view, the large black Converses, untied, adorning his feet. That, or the person was an awfully awkward looking girl. A blue upside down question mark was written on each shoe, causing Roxas to frown as he gazed down at them.

The stranger began singing a tune, the melody surprisingly soothing and familiar. Trying to place the song, Roxas listened harder, picking up the memorable song as the notes, though in a different octave, made him lose himself to a different time.

"My mom used to sing that song," Roxas said vaguely to the guest when the song ended.

Obscurely, the stranger replied, "I know that."

"How do you know?" Roxas asked, inquisitively, his voice probing but not demanding. He folded his dexterous fingers together much the way a first grader would when the teacher asked for the attention of the class and rested them on his lap.

"I just do," the stranger enigmatically said before beginning the song once again.

Waiting until the stranger began the chorus, Roxas joined in. The two sang on for a time, adding their own personal touches to the song for variety, Roxas' voice softer while the stranger's was deeper, harsher. Rather abruptly, the stranger stopped singing. Although he could not even see the face, Roxas felt the stranger's eyes boring into him. Wincing slightly, he, too, stopped singing.

"When are you going to stop running, Roxas?" the stranger asked suddenly, voice grave, but earnest. Leaning forward, the visitor's face finally came into the light. Squinting, the blond barely had the chance to look at it before...

"Roxas? Roxas?"

Roxas' eyes abruptly cracked open, vision struggling to focus on the face in front of him. "Just a dream," he muttered groggily, eyes centering on the redhead who'd shaken him awake.

"Nope, pal," Axel said with a grin, "I'm real."

"That's not what I meant. Never mind. Why'd you wake me up?" he asked grumpily, his left hand rubbing his eyes.

"Everyone fell asleep," Axel said, gesturing to the room's four still-sleeping occupants on the couch and floor as the movie still in the DVD player droned on, obviously on a loop. "Including me."

"Oh," Roxas said blearily

"I just wanted to tell you that I was leaving."

"Why? You could have just stayed here. I doubt Zexion or Demyx would have cared."

"Aw, I knew you wanted me around, blondie. That just warms my black little heart," he grinned for a moment before his face grew thoughtful. "Actually, I have work in a few hours and can't be late."

"Okay," Roxas said, eyes growing heavy once again.

"Actually, I wanted to ask you something before I leave," Axel said, crouching next to the still groggy blond.

"What?" he asked, ever eloquent.

"I was wondering if you'd like to go out with me."

"Sure thing, Red," he said dismissively as he laid his head back down. Realizing what he'd just agreed to, his head snapped back up. "Wait! What?"

Axel grinned impishly. "A date. Just you and me. Alone. We can get the chance to know each other better."

Roxas thought a moment. "Will you let me go back to sleep?" he asked. Axel nodded. "Alright then." He laid his head back down and was asleep within seconds.

Axel merely smiled, shaking his head before leaning down to kiss the blond on the forehead and disappearing into the night.

Two days had passed before the day arrived that Roxas was to meet Axel at the local arcade (of all places) for their date. He had just gotten off his shift at work when he pulled into Pence's Arcade, lying to his brothers and telling them he would be working late once again. There was no way in hell he was going to tell them he was out on a date. Especially one that had been coerced from him by Axel. Still adorning the standard navy Leonhart Weaponry polo, he made his way into the building, pockets full of quarters just as had been instructed.

"Roxas, you came!" Axel said buoyantly when he spotted the boy enter.

"I said I would, didn't I?" he said, snippier than he'd intended. Oh, well. Axel didn't seem to mind though, merely grabbing him by the arm and ushering him off to Big Buck Hunter. Poor Axel, he never really had a chance…

"I cannot believe you out-hunted me!" Axel griped, tossing the plastic orange gun down.

"You underestimated me," Roxas said simply, his grin gloating. "You should never underestimate a Strife."

"So I see."

"Besides," Roxas began, his grin widening, "you should check the high scores before you challenge someone to a hunt-off."

Brow furrowing, Axel taped the start button until the high scores screen came up, his jaw promptly dropping. There, in the number one slot, was none other the name RS. Along with slot two. And three. And four. And five. What do you know? Slots six through ten also donned the name RS.

"Fuck!" Axel swore, slamming his fist down on the arcade game. "When the hell did you break all my high scores? I used to come here every day after school during high school. It must have taken you ages…"

"Nah," Roxas said with a wave of his hand. "One of my best friends is Pence Jr., and son of the owner. We practically got the run of this place as kids. This," Roxas added, tapping the high scores screen, "only took me two hours."

The redhead's eyes grew wide. " S'fucking amazing!" he said in awe. Roxas merely shrugged. "No, really," Axel insisted, "I should totally be bowing down to you right about now."

"Well, if you insist…" Roxas replied triumphantly.

Axel smirked down at the boy. "You know, you sure are a lot of fun to hang around with since you removed that stick from up your ass."

And the smile, you know, the relaxed one that went all the way up into Roxas' cobalt eyes, slid right off his face, landing on the floor with a telltale thud. Metaphorically speaking anyway.

Axel immediately knew that he'd said something stupid and silently began to curse himself for pissing off the best thing that had happened to him in a long time.

As Roxas stormed off to the vending machine, haphazardly stuffing quarters into the blasted machine for a damned Pepsi (ye gods, why was it taking so long for a stupid bottle of pop to fall), Axel followed him. "Roxas!" he said almost pitiably, "Roxas, I didn't mean it like that. It's just that the other day, you were scowling all the time and now today, you aren't. At least you weren't until I opened my big, fat mouth."

"Not now, Axel," Roxas said, fuming, waiting for that damned bottle to just fall already.

"But I mean it! I'm really sorry. I say stupid things a lot of the time. We're supposed to be getting to know each other. Well, that's one thing you now know about me, that I say stupid things at very bad times. Your turn."

Roxas merely turned to him. And glared.

And let me tell you, if pretty blue eyes could be lasers, Axel would have been reduced to a pile of human toast in mere seconds.

"Arg!" Axel said, beating his fists on his thighs, sounding rather pirate-esque without actually meaning to. "What I mean to say, Roxas, is that…I-I like it when you smile."

An eyebrow arched high and infiltrated Roxas' forehead, nearly grazing his hairline. "You like it when I smile?" he repeated skeptically.

Axel nodded, regaining his confidence that had all but been blasted away by Mr. Laser Eyes himself. "It's true. You have a very nice smile."

The scowl rescinded from Roxas' face, transforming into a smirk. Axel thought the metamorphosis was beautiful, watching in what could almost be called awe. "Nice save," Roxas said, bending to pick up his drink that had finally fallen from the machine.

Axel produced his own quarters from his pocket for a Pepsi of his own since he highly doubt Roxas would be sharing his. "It isn't a save if it's the truth," Axel ascertained.

"Whatever," Roxas said, taking a gracious gulp of carbonated-goodness. Once Axel had his drink, Roxas ushered the redhead to follow him. "Come on. I'm ready to kick your ass some more on Big Buck Hunter."

"Have you no mercy, Strife?" Axel asked, his pride wounding slightly.

"Why don't you come and find out?" Roxas asked.

Axel gulped.

"What's that?" Roxas asked as Axel held out the piece of paper for him to grab.

"Just take it," Axel said, his face reddening slightly. God, it had been years since anyone had made him blush. He was twenty-two, damnit! One blond little nineteen year old pipsqueak should not be converting him back to an awkward, self-conscious prepubescent. Fucking hormones, fucking Roxas-induced hormones.

Seizing the scrap from Axel's long fingers, he opened it, noting the hastily scribbled numbers. "Dude, your handwriting sucks," he scoffed.

"I know," Axel replied, a bit brusque. "But I just wanted to give you this."

"So what is it?" Roxas asked, curious, obviously enjoying Axel's discomfort. "It's hardly legible."

"It's a lifeline," he said. "Or my phone number, if you prefer. But anyway, call it if you ever need someone to talk to or need something or whatever. Or just call. Anytime, I don't mind."

Roxas would be the last person to admit it, but he was a little touched by the gesture. So instead of mocking or ridiculing, jesting or sneering as was per usual, he smiled vaguely, nodding. "Okay, but on one condition."

Axel's face brightened. "Anything," he said eagerly. "Anything at all."

"You cannot tell my brothers that we hung out or had a date or whatever this was. They will mock me mercilessly, and they don't need more incentive than they already have. So if they find out, I will hold you personally accountable. And I will burn this little piece of paper in a gigantic, roaring bonfire and enjoy it. Don't make it come to that or you shall never hear from me again."

Repressing a very persistent dude, I know where you live, Axel merely agreed. "Okay. I won't tell your brothers about our date. Or your brothers' significant others, though I doubt Zexion would care two pisses in a pot about your love life, though that Riku seems to be a bit of a blabber mouth…"

"Are you kidding me?!" Roxas asked dubiously. "Zexion's the worst of the lot! His power of the spoken language is unsurpassable. He makes grown men cry by simply opening his mouth. One guy was bawling after only four words. His vocabulary, his penchant for synonyms, it just can't be beaten. I can take Dem and Sora's idiotic babbling, but when Zexion's in the right mood for teasing, when that eye lands on you…" He trailed off, visibly shuddering at just what happens when that eye does land on you. "So, you will not say a thing."

"But only if you agree to call me."

"Blackmail," Roxas swore, "Why am I not surprised? You were Zex's friend, after all…"

"So you'll call?" Axel asked hopefully.

"Do I have a choice?"

"Roxas babe, you always got a choice. It's just that in this case, if you make the wrong one, you will be verbally harassed within a millimeter of your life."

"Alright," Roxas said, sighing in defeat, "I'll call you."

"Good," Axel said smugly, knowing that he won this round. "That's all I wanted to hear."

Getting into his car, Roxas was ready to slam his door shut and drive away when a hand on the door prevented it. "Good-bye, Roxas," Axel said. "Honestly, could you be even more impolite?"

Roxas face returned to its familiar scowl as he tried to wrench the door from Axel's hand.

"I'll be waiting for your call," Axel said before letting the door go. Roxas was halfway out of the parking lot before he was finished blinking. Smirking, he decided that he was proud of himself. He had restrained himself, had not thrown the blond on the nearest horizontal surface and had his way with him like every instinct told him to do. He had not even offered the cranky, yet oh, so irresistible boy a good night kiss like he had been itching to do.

And best of all, what he was proudest of, he knew he had gotten under Roxas' skin. And if he had gotten under Roxas' skin, that meant, whether thoughts good or bad, Roxas would be thinking of him.

All this discussion,

Though politically correct

Is dead beyond destruction

Though it leaves me quite erect.

Part 2

A few days had passed since Roxas' fanatical date with Axel.

At chance quiet periods of the day, especially while he was at work with countless hours of mindlessness stretching before him, Roxas found himself thinking of the perplexing redhead, trying to decipher his actions and sift through the perverted, the sincere, the curious, and the downright confusing facets of his personality.

He was utterly baffled as to why he spent so much time dwelling on someone he could barely stand despite his older brother's constant reassurances that Axel was an A-okay guy, good people and all that jazz. And it was true that he had gained himself a few points the other night at their date by being more bearable than the day they met. For the most part, anyway.

There was something about the redhead that left a strange feeling in his stomach and that alone was enough to not entirely trust him. Of course it was. It was his gut feeling, which was telling him if the redhead made him feel funny inside, then he must be bad news.

Besides, it wasn't like Roxas was ever going to see him again. He wasn't seriously going to call the redhead. It wasn't like he had any claim over him or anything, just like that fact that he meant nothing to Axel other than a way to pass the time. Axel was just like everyone else, just someone he'd met jerking off in a bathroom stall who just so happened to like Stephen King and knew his brother in high school and promised to help his family out whenever they were in need. Surely that meant he'd probably never see the redhead again.

But just the thought of never seeing Axel again caused Roxas' chest to tighten rather painfully. Fuck, the guy even gives me heart burn, Roxas fumed one day while at work.

Yep, Axel was undeniably bad news if he gave him heart burn. Obviously someone to stay far away from.

Even if he did have rather pretty green eyes.

"Roxas? Helloooooo!" Hayner bellowed, waving his hands frantically in front of his friend's face. "Anything going on upstairs? Any lights on?"

"Huh?" Roxas asked lamely, chin slipping from the palm that held it up, eyes focusing on the taller boy. "Did you say something, Hayner?"

Slapping a palm to his forehead, Hayner groaned. "Jeez, Roxas, where's your head today? Or the last few days for that matter I know weekends are nice and all but it's over. The dreaded Monday blues might have you down, but you know Leon will not like it if you are daydreaming instead of working. Even if you are his boyfriend's little brother."

"Yeah, I suppose you're right, Hayner. I'm sorry." He gave his friend what was supposed to be an encouraging smile before turning back to the stack of paperwork in front of him, pretending as if his mind had not been completely absorbed by a certain redhead for the umpteenth time that day.

The phone rang, shrill and demanding to be answered. Hayner threw Roxas one last worried, yet exasperated look before turning to answer it. "Hello, this is Leonhart Weaponry, the leading armament store in all of Twilight Town."

As if there's another, Roxas mused.

The day dragged on far too slowly as far as Roxas was concerned. He had been feeling antsy ever since Hayner caught him spacing out around eleven or so. Throwing one last wave over his shoulder at his friend, Roxas walked the two blocks from work until he finally reached his intended destination, the sole place where he could kick back, unwind, and just think. But not about absolutely repugnant and repulsive redheads.

The primordial clock tower loomed before him, as overwhelming in presence as it always was. Glancing around to make sure no one was looking, Roxas pulled the loose board from the doorway, slipping inside and replacing it quickly and as best he could. The climb to the top was long and dusty, just as it always was. Covering his face with the sleeve of his hoodie, Roxas, luckily, only had to stop once as he was coughing up dust, taking a quick puff on his inhaler and catching his breath before moseying onward.

Once he reached the top, he breathed deeply, triumphant, sitting down over the town with his legs dangling over the edge to admire the quickly setting sun.

Which lasted all of twelve seconds before his thoughts, ironically enough, turned to the unmentionable redhead. And they didn't stop there. Nope, not by a long shot.

Sixty seconds later, his hand was inside his pants, to…um, allay the tension he'd been feeling all day. And allay it he did.

It was dark by the time Roxas made his way to the car he had borrowed from Demyx that morning. Unlocking the door, he climbed inside, starting the car before pulling out into the street. He was barely on the road two minutes before a car pulled out from an alley in front of him. He tried slamming on the breaks, but wasn't in time, slamming in to the back portion of the car.

His head and arm surged forward into the steering wheel, slamming against it painfully, the arm cracking. Wincing as he looked up, he gazed at the other driver who appeared to be stunned. The man looked at Roxas, at the blood lightly trickling down his forehead, and slammed on the gas, taking off in the opposite direction without a backward glance.

"Son of a bitch," Roxas said, wishing he was under a street light so he could get the offender's license plate. Reaching into his pocket, he withdrew his cell phone, quickly dialing the number for the police department with his good arm.

A cop showed up ten long, agonizing minutes later. The report was quickly filed before the man, tall and dark haired, said, "Well, we're pretty much done here. Do you have anyone that you can call to take you to the hospital? I think your arm is broken and your head is bleeding."

Roxas nodded, wincing at the pain. "Yeah," he said, his hand going to his pocket for his cell phone. His fingers lightly brushed a piece of paper as he reached for the phone, pulling them both out.

I just wanted to give you this.

So what is it? It's hardly legible.

A lifeline. Or my phone number, if you prefer. But anyway, call it if you ever need someone to talk to or need something or whatever. Or just call, anytime, I don't mind.

Unfolding the piece of paper one-handed, Roxas saw Axel's number scrawled sloppily on it, a small drawn heart underneath. Rolling his eyes, Roxas debated whether or not he should call his brothers. Surely they would make a big deal out of the accident when it was truly nothing. He couldn't call Hayner because he was out on a date with his girlfriend, Olette. His other friend Pence worked nights at Pence Senior's arcade. Namine, Kairi, and Tifa had night classes. Yuffie also worked, though he never did quite figure out when or where. There was always Grumpy Ass Leon who would surely show up, he was his boyfriend's little brother after all, but would probably bitch the entire time. And everyone else he could call, they'd all be out or in and would probably rather not be bothered.

But Axel had told him that he'd do anything for him if he just called. He didn't really like the guy, not much anyway, but he didn't really see any other choice. Besides, wasn't Axel's number supposed to be a lifeline? His life wasn't in danger or anything, but he was injured enough to take the required trip to the emergency room.

He punched the number into his cell. "Hello?" a voice answered a moment later.

"Um, Axel?" Roxas began. "Um, this is Roxas. You know, Roxas Strife. I, um…"

Axel chuckled. "You what? Finally realize that you want to spend the rest of your life with me?"

"No!" Roxas hissed, the cop giving him a funny look. "No, I…I need a favor." he admitted grudgingly.

"Anything," Axel said quickly, his voice suddenly tinged with worry. "Just name it."

Roxas was silent for a long minute before taking a deep breath. "Can you take me to the emergency room?" he asked.

"Emergency room?" the redhead asked quickly, his voice higher and more breathy than before. "Roxas, what's going go?"

"I got into a car accident. Nothing serious, but I think I broke my arm. I couldn't call home. They'd be too worried."

"Of course I'll take you. Where are you?"

"On Fifth, right by the movie theatre."

"I'll be there in five." And the line went dead.

"You got a ride then?" the cop asked. Roxas nodded. "Good, then I'll wait with you until your ride gets here. You probably shouldn't be alone, not with a head injury."

"I think that it's just from a piece of glass," Roxas admitted. "I don't even remember my head getting hurt. It barely bled."

"Still, you need to get it checked out." The two remained in silence until headlights flooded the street as Axel pulled his car to a stop in front of the wreck.

"We'll call you again in a few days," the cop replied, getting in his car.

"Are you ready, Roxas?" Axel asked, his head out the window, staring at the boy somewhat apprehensively. The blond nodded, getting into the car.

"So…" Axel said as they sat at a red light. "What happened exactly? Your car looks like it was hit by a bulldozer or something."

"Not quite," Roxas replied, wincing. He laid his head on the cool glass of the window, eyes tightly shut. "Car pulled out in front of me."

"I didn't see another car there," Axel said, fingers gripping the steering wheel as he glanced over at Roxas.

"They took off right after it happened," he explained. "Hit and run."

"They just left you there?" Axel asked incredulously. Laboriously, Roxas nodded. "Son of a bitch!" the redhead roared, sharing Roxas' earlier sentiment, his fists slamming down on the steering wheel. "I can't believe that someone just fucking hit you and left you bleeding and broken."

"You can't?" Roxas asked dubiously, lifting his head from its place on the cool window, turning to look at the redhead. "Just look at the world we live in today. The guy was probably drunk, and didn't want to get in trouble."

"That's no excuse," Axel said, irritated that the blond, the one who'd been in the accident and had gotten hurt, didn't seem to be on his side. Sighing deeply, deciding to change the subject, Axel asked, "So why did you call me? I didn't honestly think you would, even though you said you were going to. To get me to leave you alone, I presume."

"I knew that was coming," Roxas resigned, groaning as he hugged his broken arm to his chest.

"You did?" Axel asked, stealing a glance at the passenger, his eye brow cocked.

The blond nodded. "I figured that you'd want to know why I would suddenly call you, especially after I wasn't exactly nice to you."

"Not exactly nice?" Axel asked, his shoulders shaking as he laughed, genuine and exultant. "That's definitely one way to put it. I believe that Zexion's use of the word prick at dinner the day we met was a fairly accurate assessment. Besides, he knows best, living with you and all."

"It wasn't me he was calling a prick, Axel," Roxas said, smiling slightly.

"It was me, wasn't it?" Axel asked, his face falling into an easy grin as he glanced at his passenger. Affirming, Roxas nodded.

"You are kind of a prick," the blond agreed.

Axel frowned. "Takes one to know one."

"Real original, Axel. I could never think of such imaginative comeback."

"Damned straight," Axel asserted, nodding fervently. Frowning slightly, he glanced at Roxas. "You shouldn't be taking any pleasure in making fun of me. It's just not right."

"Maybe," Roxas said quietly as he looked at the redhead, his face pensive despite the pain in his head and his numb arm.

"And what color cast would you like?" the nurse asked Roxas as he sat on his hospital bed. An x-ray had affirmed that he indeed had a broken arm. Six stitches had also been necessary for his forehead.

"Blue," Axel said quickly from beside the nurse.

Roxas frowned slightly, asking, "Why blue?"

"It matches your eyes," he replied simply, his smile somewhat mischievous.

An hour and two pain killers later, Roxas was finally released, walking unsteadily towards Axel's car. "I could help you, you know," Axel stated as they made their way to the car, watching the shorter boy stumble along like a drunkard.

"M'okay," Roxas said. Finally, after what felt like hours, the two made it to the car, Axel assisting Roxas in getting into the car and buckling his seatbelt. He was asleep before the car was even started. Axel smiled at the passenger before putting the car in reverse, and pulling the car from the spot it had occupied for the past several hours.

It didn't take long to get across town. The roads were practically dead with only the occasional car zipping by, in a big hurry to go absolutely nowhere. By the time Axel pulled his car into Roxas' driveway, it was after midnight, the moon nearing full and the stars twinkling down at them.

Axel made his way around to the other side of the car, pulling open the passenger side door and scooping the unconscious boy up in his arms. The blond, surprisingly enough, weighed more than he looked. Grunting and nearly tripping over a crack in the sidewalk, Axel finally reached the door, only to have it pulled open before he even had the chance to knock.

"What happened?!" Demyx asked, his face pale and worried as he looked at his younger brother.

"I'll tell you…just as soon as I set him down. He's heavy," Axel said as Demyx allowed him passage into the house. The couch was full of three equally worried people, Sora appearing as if he was about to burst into tears. Riku had his arms slung over the brunette twin's shoulders. "Where's his room?" Axel asked as they all continued to stare at him. Truth be told, Roxas was slowly slipping from his arms, a pain in the ass even while unconscious. He didn't think Demyx, or any of the others for that matter, would appreciate the blond being dropped on the ground.

"Follow me," Zexion said, standing up and motioning for Axel for him to follow. He was the only one that appeared calm despite his apprehension. Zexion stopped at the third door down the hall, opening the door and stepping inside. Axel followed, striding straight to the bed and setting Roxas down. He pulled the blanket atop him before turning back to Zexion.

His one visible blue eye was contemplative. "Is it serious?" he asked the redhead. Axel shook his head. Nodding in confirmation, Zexion ushered his friend to follow him out of the room.

He was practically pounced on as he entered the living room. "What happened, Axel?" Demyx asked.

"I want to go see him," Sora announced, leaping up from his seat on the couch.

"Let him sleep for now," Zexion commanded softly. Sighing, Sora reclaimed his seat next to his boyfriend.

Taking a seat, Axel looked at Demyx, who still stood, staring down at him. "He was in a car accident," he began, wishing that he didn't have to see the way four faces simultaneously drained themselves of color. Especially Sora, who looked so lost, so much like him...

"A c-car accident?" Demyx asked. "Oh God."

"It was only a minor one," Axel said quickly. "Some guy pulled out in front of him and he couldn't hit the breaks in time."

"What about the other driver?" Demyx asked.

Guessing what the answer to that question was, Zexion cut in so Demyx didn't have to hear grim news. "What is the extent of his injuries?"

"Well, he has a broken arm and had to get a few stitches in his forehead. But that's it."

"Why didn't he call? I was so worried," Demyx asked, slumping to the floor. Zexion was there in an instant, helping his lover to stand back up again.

"Oh, Demyx, he didn't want you to worry about him, that's all," Zexion assured the blond. "And I think we shall retire for the night." His face sincere, he added, "Thank you so much for taking care of Roxas, Axel. We all really appreciate it."

Axel nodded, offering his friends a small smile. "Of course."

As Demyx and Zexion left the living room, the slate-haired man rubbing the blond's back therapeutically, Axel turned to Sora, pulling a small bottle of pills and a slip of paper from his coat pocket, handing it to the boy. "Roxas will be asleep for a good eight hours from the pain pills, and here's more for when he wakes up. You guys also need to get this prescription filled."

Sora nodded numbly, taking the bottle and paper from the redhead. "So he wasn't hurt badly?" he asked, seeking absolute and utter confirmation.

Axel smiled at the boy wearily. "No, it could have been a lot worse, but Roxas was lucky. He seems to be a resilient little fucker."

Eyes still unfocused, Sora simply ran a hand through his chocolate hair. "Roxas must be really freaked out." The admittance slipped somewhat unconsciously from his mouth, the boy simply musing aloud.

Axel chuckled genially, his hand running through his own unruly red hair. "I wouldn't worry about that if I were you. Roxas isn't feeling much of anything right now, not with what they doped him up on."

"I mean before. When he first got in th-the accident. He must have been so freaked out." Clear, fretful blue eyes met Axel's. "Poor Roxas…" the boy trailed off, Riku clasping his hand.

"I don't understand," Axel replied, scratching the back of his head, clearly confused. He knew people generally freaked out some during an accident, but not like Sora was implying. Unless something else was wrong.

"He was there that day, the day they died. He was there."

"What do you mean, Sora? What do you mean he was there?"

His question only resulted in Sora's body shuddering, shoulders shaking in the onset of tears. Riku looked up at Axel solemnly, his spare arms wrapping around the boy tightly, holding the boy to him.

"What he means is that Roxas was in the car when their parents died. He was the only survivor of the accident," Riku supplied. He pulled Sora to his feet. "I hate to be rude, but it's been a long night and Sora needs to get some sleep."

Nodding, Axel responded, "Of course, I understand. I have work tomorrow myself. But I'll call tomorrow and see how Roxas is doing."

Riku nodded, following Axel to the door, closing it after the redhead walked through it, and waving at him.

By the time he reached his car, Axel realized that his gut was churning in the most unseemly fashion, his supper tumbling and rolling over at Riku and Sora's confession. Roxas had been there, there to see his parents die, carrying the guilt that only those who have been spared can truly know.

Clearly, the boy was the slightest bit damaged as traumatizing events will do that to you. Axel's jaw set resolutely, determined to be the one to bring the boy out of his shell, healing the fucker in the process.

See, under normal circumstances, Axel wouldn't give to farts about some little blond piece of eye-candy, but there was something so different about Roxas, probably the fact that he hadn't even cracked as Axel had tried to make him succumb to his vast and witty charms, that is, until he found out who's little brother Roxas happened to be. It was probably the fact that he couldn't get Roxas out of his head (nor did he particularly want to, it seemed). It was probably that fact that Roxas refused to fall for any of Axel's stunts and seemed deadset on keeping the redhead in his place. Or is could have possibly been the fact that Roxas had actually listened and called Axel for help in his time of need when he'd given up hope on the boy ever calling him.

Or it even could have been the fact that Roxas looked like a friggin' angel with a tongue that could verbally rip you a new one, could make many a grown man cry, which only made Axel swoon even more. In the manliest way possible, or course.

And, of course, there was the fact that Axel was one hundred and ten percent infatuated with the blond.

True to his word, after work the next day, Axel called Roxas, getting his number off his caller ID. The blond answered after a few rings, announcing a rather groggy, "Hello?"

"Hey," Axel began, an impish grin spreading across his angular face. "This is your savior, calling to check up on you."

"Savior, huh?" Roxas asked, his voiced remarkably more lively than Axel expected. Truth be told, he figured the blond still thought him to be a bit of a pervert and a leach (which were his exact words at some point or another). "I think a person can only be a savior if they actually save someone's life. You merely drove me to the hospital."

Whoa, Axel thought, is Roxas actually flirting back? "Oh come on, Roxas. Admit it, I saved your hide and you know it."

"Hmm, maybe my hide," he replied noncommittally. After a pause, he added, "I don't remember whether or not I thanked you for last night. If I didn't, forgive me, I was drugged, and accept my thanks now."

Contemplating for just a moment, Axel gave a hearty, "No."

"What?" Roxas asked, disbelieving, the familiar anger returning. "You won't accept my apology?"

"Nope." Answer short and to the point. Christ.

"And why not?" Roxas asked with his usual huff. Axel wasn't unhappy to hear an annoyed cadence to Roxas' voice, one that he was coming to love the more he thought about it.


"That's all you're going to give me? Stupid, immature one-syllable answers that don't really answer anything at all?"

"Yep," Axel said with a certain degree of glee. Riling Roxas up had become almost as pleasurable as jerking off to him was. And believe me, there had been a lot of jerking off lately. More so than even usual. Which is pretty amazing in that of itself as Axel is quite the masturbator.

Although he became quiet, Axel knew Roxas was still on the phone, his breath lightly flowing through the line (the metaphorical line of course as they were both on cell phones). "There is a way that you can thank me, though."

"I'm not sleeping with you," Roxas stated bluntly. Axel wasn't embarrassed to admit that he delighted in the disgust that had crept into the boy's voice.

"I wouldn't expect you to," Axel said simply, "although I wouldn't object to it. Not entirely anyway. Actually, you can thank me by taking me out to dinner."

"Dinner?" Roxas asked skeptically. "You want me to take you out to dinner?"

"Sure do."


"Well, because the human body needs nourishment if it is to continue-"

Sighing, Roxas interrupted. "No, not why you need to eat. Why do you want me to take you to dinner?"

"So you can thank me, of course. And because I had so much fun the other night," he replied as if it were the most obvious thing in the world.

Fuming for only a moment, Roxas quirked an eyebrow and asked, "Just dinner? That doesn't really seem to be your style. Besides, what will you be getting out of it?"

"Besides a free meal, you mean? I'll be getting the pleasure of enjoying your company and you can figure out just what my style is. You shouldn't judge me when you hardly know me," he said in mock-chastisement.

Another, more lengthy, pause ensued as Roxas pondered over whether or not he should accept the offer. "Okay," he replied quietly. "I guess I can buy you dinner since you took me to the hospital. When should you pick me up? My car is wrecked, obviously."

"Not today," Axel stated, "you're still high. I want you perfectly lucid on our date. That way-"

Roxas never did get to figure out what that way was exactly as he interrupted the redhead. "Nah uh," he said quickly. "This is not a date. The last one wasn't either. We went to an arcade for Pete's sake."

"It sounds like one to me," Axel said. "We're going out to dinner together on a set date and time. We'll be conversing and eating and one person will be footing the bill. Sounds like a date to me."

Huffing indignantly, Roxas spat, "Friday, seven o'clock," into the phone before hanging up on Axel, whose face was stretched nearly from ear to ear in a most victorious impression of a grin.

And as the final sunset rolls behind the earth

And the clock is finally dead

I'll look at you, you'll look at me

And we'll cry a lot

But this will be what we said

This will be what we said

'Look where all this talking got us, baby.'

Part 3

Friday arrived without ceremony as Roxas continued to brood over the fact that he had been tricked into going out on another date with his arch nemesis that he just so happened not to be able to get out of his mind (all thought on the fact that said arch nemesis just so happened to do him a big favor had gone out the window, only to be replaced by vengeful and lusty and reprising and erotic thoughts). He didn't particularly like the thought of having been 1-up'ed by someone he considered a little odd, a little creepy, and more than a little perverted. But he supposed he could deal with it. For one more night anyway. He didn't like the thought of being in anyone's debt, particularly that of the aforementioned odd, creepy, perverted redhead. Nope, he would repay his debt, buy the stupid twat dinner, and then get on with his life, daydreams aside.

If it wasn't bad enough that Roxas spent much of his time mulling over the fact that Axel had come bombarding into his life, unwanted mind you, but Axel had to show up again, on Wednesday, to annoy him further. He supposed it could have been a lot worse because Axel seemed to be on his best behavior, but still…annoying redhead equals doom. And heartburn. Can't forget about the blasted heartburn.

"What cha doing?" Sora asked his twin on Friday night as Roxas, with much difficulty as he was reduced to only one arm, pulled off his plain white tee and replaced it with a Led Zeppelin one he'd gotten as a Christmas present from Demyx the year before.

"Changing my clothes," he replied vaguely. He discovered pants to be more difficult to do one-handed. He'd been wearing sweat pants since the accident except when he went in to work. Wincing slightly, he somehow managed to get his jeans done up, lightly smoothing away the wrinkles in his t-shirt.

Rolling his eyes, Sora retorted, "I can see that! But why are you changing your clothes? You never go out on Friday nights."

Roxas sighed, trying not to get annoyed at his twin's badgering. "Well, if you're finished with the running commentary on my lack of a social life, can you leave me be so I can finish getting ready?"

Pouting, Sora reminded him, "But you still haven't told me why you're getting ready! Please tell me! Pleasepleaseplease!"

Noisily exhaling, Roxas turned away from his brother so he wouldn't have to see Sora's reaction to what he was about to tell him. "I'm buying Axel dinner in repayment for him for taking me to the hospital the other night."

Not to mention the fact that I've already had one date with him and I don't think my mind has strayed from him since. Imagination's gotten quite creative, I might add.

Roxas didn't need to see his brother's face to know that his eyes went wide, pupils constricting in disbelief and what was probably just a hint of relief that he wasn't nearly as big of an antisocial twat as Sora had originally thought. "No way!" he said, his voice growing high-pitched in excitement. "No way! You and Axel?"

Turning around swiftly, Roxas retorted, "There is no me and Axel. I am merely repaying a debt by paying for that anorexically thin person's dinner. If anything, his mother should be thanking me personally. And don't tell the others, please, especially Demyx. You know how he gets."

Roxas noted that his brother actually agreed to nothing, Sora rolling his eyes dramatically. "Sure Rox, whatever you say. Just don't have too good a time. It might ruin that rep you worked so hard building." With that, he turned on his heel and left his twin standing there, face flushing in anger, annoyance, and probably just the slightest tinge of embarrassment.

After putting his shoes on (Velcro, God's little gift to handicaps Roxas discovered), brushing his teeth, and pumping a squirt of hand sanitizer into his hands, rubbing it into his skin in all its disinfecting glory, Roxas was ready to go, making his way out the front door to wait on the porch for Axel. His wallet and inhaler were put safely into his pocket, along with the bottle of painkillers, just in case Axel got too annoying. Or he began to give himself too big a headache.

After hearing an excited giggle from behind him not a minute later and turning to see Demyx's animated face in the window, the curtain quickly falling back in place to hide the fact that he had been spying, Roxas knew Sora had, in fact, told everyone. He had a feeling that he'd be needing those pills sooner rather than later. He was fairly confident at any rate that he wouldn't be interrogated until he got home that night. Whoopee, something to look forward to.

Axel's car pulled into the driveway not three minutes later and, though he'd never admit, Roxas was extremely grateful. Stealing a glance at his watch, Roxas noted that Axel was nearly twelve minutes early. He wondered if he should just remain sitting there on the porch until it was actually seven or if he should go to the car now. There was no friggin' way he was letting Axel inside the house. That would be utter suicide and he knew it. Nothing short of ritual seppuku except for the fact there wouldn't be anything noble or honorable about his death.

Upon hearing footsteps from the living room leading right up to the front door (Demyx again, no doubt), Roxas leapt up from his seat, running to Axel's car as if Jason Voorhees was on his tail, chainsaw rarin' to go, and scrambled into the passenger seat. "Drive!" he hissed, hastily putting his seat belt on.

"Sure thing," Axel said, his face breaking out into a knowing grin as he backed the car out of the driveway, leaving a pouting older brother on the front porch.

They had driven perhaps a block when Roxas turned to the redhead (Gods, was he always this appealing? Roxas wondered) and asked, "So where exactly are we going? We never established that."

"It's a surprise," Axel said with a mischievous grin. "If I tell you, it will ruin it."

His eyes widening, Roxas blanched as an odd sort of cold fear ran down his spine in a disquieting shiver. He'd run from Jason and his chainsaw and into the belly of a viper. "You've just kidnapped me, haven't you? Now you're going to take me back to your house to dismember my body and keep me in a freezer for eternity."

The kid did have somewhat of a flair for the overdramatic.

Axel raised a single slender eyebrow in puzzlement. "What?" he asked. "Hardly, blondie. You have quite the imagination, you know."

"If you were going to dismember me, you wouldn't admit to it, would you?"

In all truth, Roxas just wanted to give him a hard time because of the perpetual hard time Axel had been giving the blond as of late, though it was completely unawares.

"Probably not," Axel agreed, smirking, supposing he could play along for a little while. "But if I was going to dismember you, I'd be caught pretty quickly, wouldn't I? I saw the way Sora was gawking out the window at us. And Demyx looked as if he was about to have a hernia on your front porch."

Roxas just smirked in return.

After ten more minutes of making small talk, they pulled into a park parking lot. "What are we doing here?" Roxas asked.

"We're having a picnic," Axel said brightly. "So you won't actually have to buy me dinner."

"A picnic," Roxas asked repeated incredulously.

"You know, where you lay a blanket on the ground and eat food from a basket."

Rolling his eyes, Roxas avowed, "I know what a picnic is. I just wasn't expecting you to take me on one."

"I'm full of surprises," Axel said simply, opening his door to exit the car. Roxas stared at Axel for a moment as he walked to the trunk, eyes narrowed in something (confusion maybe…possibly uncertainty or pacification) before following suit.

Once at the trunk, Axel inserted a key, turning it to the right. The trunk sprang open. Pushing the lid up further, Axel withdrew from it one of those small coolers, which looked as if it had seen better days and was covered in Metallica stickers, and a—

"A crate?" Roxas asked, watching the older boy withdraw the thing. "You're using a crate as a picnic basket?"

Axel smiled down at the blond, pulling the purple crate from the trunk. "I didn't actually have a picnic basket. And then I went to the store to buy one, and they were, like, fifteen bucks a piece."

"For as stupid wicker basket?" Roxas asked dubiously.

"Yeah! Who in their right mind would pay fifteen bucks for a basket? And they were all the really small ones, ones that could maybe fit two sandwiches, an itty bitty bag of chips and a fork or two."

"Crates come in handy then," Roxas avowed, giving the redhead one of his few smiles. Axel smiled back in turn, surprised, but pleased nonetheless. Roxas' heart clenched in his chest once again, a fluttering in his stomach replacing the hunger that had been there only seconds before. Damn heartburn, he thought, quickly looking away.

Frowning, Roxas stated, "We should probably go find a place to set up." Nodding, Axel led the way into the park.

"Well this is no good," Axel said, looking at the ground, which was soaking and muddy from the rainfall the night before. "I forgot that it rained. We can go try the picnic table over there."

When they arrived, both boys looked down at the single picnic table the park contained in sheer disgust. "I am not sitting there," Roxas said, repulsed. "I live in a house of four other boys and put up with a helluva lot of disgusting things, but I am not sitting there."

Turning to his companion, Axel pondered, "Why the hell do you think a dog got up on a picnic table to take a shit? The grass not good enough anymore?"

"Your guess is as good as mine," Roxas replied, grimacing at the large, unwelcomed addition splattered across the picnic table.

Once they made it back to the car, Axel said, "Well, I didn't expect the park to be such a complete disaster. All the other parks in town will probably be pretty wet too. Do you know another place we could go? I'm drawing a blank."

Roxas thought for a moment, one place immediately springing to mind. But he wasn't sure how he felt about bringing Axel there. After all, it was his place, the sole place he could unwind, watch the sunset…

But it was just a place Roxas considered, and Axel would probably forget about soon after. Besides, even if he didn't, it wasn't likely that he would ever go there again. And Axel didn't seem to be too bad, not like he'd originally thought at any rate. And when he wasn't smirking, his smile was kind of nice...

But there was also the fact that the redhead gave Roxas heartburn. He really wished he would have brought some Tums with him.

Ending the guerilla warfare inside his head, making up his mind, Roxas said, "Yeah, actually I do I know a place we could go."

"How the hell did you find this place?" Axel asked as the two made their way up the stairs of the clock tower.

Through the sleeve of his hoodie, Roxas replied, "My friend Hayner and I, and some other kids too, were playing hide and go seek when we were about eight or so. Now Hayner, for not being the brightest bulb (and I mean that in the nicest way possible. He's my best friend, after all), could always find the best places to hide, ones that would take you hours just to find him or make you so frustrated that you'd just give up. And I, being only eight, was jealous, completely determined to find a better place to hide than him. So one day while we were hiding, I came across the clock tower and, noticing that some of the boards were loose, I crawled inside. Needless to say, I was never found after that. Of course, I only ever just inside the door, that way I could hear them walk by time and again, always frustrated. But then I began coming here while we weren't playing and did some exploring. Once, I even ran away from home and stayed here."

"Why'd you run away?" Axel asked from behind the boy, his voice interested.

Smiling slightly in remembrance, Roxas replied, "I was mad because Demyx tripped and landed on my skateboard. Broke that thing clean in half. I wanted justice, I wanted revenge, but I really just wanted a new one, but Mom and Dad wouldn't give me one. They told me that if I wanted a new one, I'd have to buy it myself because it was my fault that I left it out to begin with. I stayed here for about two hours before I felt so guilty that I came groveling back home, apologizing to Mom and Dad and especially Dem…

"Jeez," Roxas sighed, pausing a moment to run his hand through his hair. "I can't even imagine being that mad at Demyx now, not after all he's done for me and Sora."

They had just made it to the top landing of the clock tower, right by the door that led out to Roxas' favorite place in the entire world. Roxas again stopped for a moment, lost in thought, not noticing that Axel had come to stand in front of him, close in proximity.

"You're brother is pretty amazing," he admitted in a murmur.

"Yeah," Roxas said vaguely, only just becoming aware as to how close Axel really was to him.

In the dim light, Roxas could see Axel leaning closer to him, closer and closer and closer. His heart began beating unsteadily in his chest, slightly wild and frantic and hopeful all at the same time. He couldn't understand it.

Axel ran nimble fingers over the stitches in Roxas forehead that would surely leave a scar. Roxas felt Axel's lips on his ear a second later, the redhead whispering, "But I think that you're pretty amazing too, Roxas," before backing up and quietly going through the door, leaving Roxas wondering why his heart was pounding so hard, why his breathing was so ragged. On reflex, he pulled out his inhaler and took a puff to help steady his breathing.

And his breathing did steady somewhat, but his heart continued to pound, leaving him wondering if maybe it wasn't heartburn after all…

After a taking a full minute to regain his composure, Roxas followed Axel through the door. He saw that the redhead was laying a blanket on the large ledge. Upon seeing Roxas and how ruffled he appeared, he smiled. "This sure is some view," he commented, gazing out at the golden rays the soon to be setting sun was casting on the now quieted town.

"Yeah," Roxas agreed faintly, "that's why I like it so much. I come here to think all the time."

"I can see why."

Sitting down, Axel began laying out everything he'd packed in his makeshift picnic basket. "I didn't know what kind of food you liked, so I asked Zexion the other day when I stopped over," he confessed, handing Roxas his favorite, a pepperoni, pickle, and cream cheese sandwich.

"You asked Zexion?" Roxas asked, relieved that Axel had been kind enough at least to ask the least neurotic member of his family. Least neurotic maybe, but Zexion sure had the sharpest tongue, though he'd been in a good mood that day.

"Give me a little credit, will ya Rox?" he said with a grin. "I knew calling Sora or Demyx would result in you getting severely teased and I didn't want you to dislike me more than you already seem to."

Axel's words, they just didn't feel right to him. Didn't sit well, no, not at all. Frowning, Roxas said, "I don't dislike you, Axel, not after what you've done for us."

"What do you mean?" Axel asked, clearly confused.

"You said you'd do anything for my family."

Axel blanched, embarrassed. "You weren't supposed to hear that," he admitted.

"I know, but that's not the point. My family hasn't been getting many breaks for a long time now. Sure, people were sympathetic and kind at first, saying the same thing you did, but I could always tell that they didn't mean it. You did. You drove me to the hospital without question and didn't tell my family when I asked you not to. Hell, you even put up with me…"

Axel was silent for a moment before leaning forward slightly, his face thoughtful. "Demyx and Zexion were two of my best friends back in high school. We all did practically everything together. I was a little hurt once they stopped calling, but I understand now," he explained.

Sighing, Axel went on, "Look, I'm not going to beat around the bush. I like you Roxas. I think you're a very strong person, and you don't take crap from people (especially from me, which I secretly admire). You don't pull your punches like a lot of the little weasels out there, but you're also sincere and honest. My own actions have been honest, but a little selfish as well because I wanted to get closer to you because you intrigue me. And confuse me. And piss me off all at the same time."

"Wait, you like me?" Roxas asked, surprised and relieved all at the same time. "As in, like me, like me?" When Axel nodded, Roxas let out a shaky breath. "I think…I-I…You give me heartburn, Axel."

Axel raised an eyebrow, clearly not expecting that in response. "I give you heartburn? Well, at least it isn't indigestion, 'cause then we might have a problem."

"Please," Roxas said, burying his face in his uncasted hand. "Don't make jokes. I'm having a hard enough time of this already without jokes."

"Okay," Axel said, suddenly serious. "No more jokes."

"Thanks." Roxas let his hand drop to his lap to join the other as he looked up at the redhead who sat across from him. "I'm not good with this kind of thing."

Running a hand nervously through his hair, Axel admitted, "I'm not particularly good at it either. I think my charming personality offsets some people. Though that definitely can't be the reason you're not good at it. No way."

"Axel," Roxas groaned. "You're joking again."

"I'm sorry. Most of the time I don't even realize I'm doing it."

Roxas nodded. "So, you like me…"

"Yep," Axel said, unashamed. "I do. And I…give you heartburn."

"I think that I only thought it was heartburn," Roxas confessed, his blue eyes wide in realization.

All the stray thoughts over the past week or more, the constant image of Axel in his mind, hell, even the jerking off where they practically now sat...Roxas did like Axel.

"Well, I'm glad that I don't actually give you heartburn. That would make spending time with me rather uncomfortable. Not that this isn't perfectly comfortable," Axel said. Roxas shot him a look. "Gotcha, no more joking."

"So now what?" Roxas asked nervously.

"I don't know," Axel said truthfully. "I still don't know how you feel about me other than the fact that I may or may not give you heartburn."

When are you going to stop running, Roxas? the voice from his dream echoed into his head.

Now! Roxas thought furiously. I'm going to stop running right now!

Roxas' face turned a rather delicate shade of crimson, his cheeks flaming under Axel's fixed gaze. "I-I think I like you too."

"But you're not sure."

Roxas sat quietly for a moment, eyes sweeping to his right to take in the view once again. "I've never brought anyone else up here before," he admitted.

"Really?" Axel asked, his heart beating, thundering painfully and contentedly in his chest at the same time.

"Yeah. I've never even taken my brothers here before. So I guess that means I do like you. Even if you are a pervert who likes jerking off in bathroom stalls."

Grinning, Axel stated, "That was the first time I'd ever done that. I was bored. But it was totally worth it. I mean, look what it got me; quality time with you."

Roxas matched his grin, noting that the feeling in his chest was a far cry from heartburn, just pounding and violent. Almost without thinking, he crawled around the pile of food set out between them, situating himself between Axel's legs, wrapping his arms, both good and broken, around Axel's neck, and kissed him.

Axel was so surprised that it took him a moment to realize what was happening. But who was he to deny a cute blond who wanted to kiss him because he liked him? So he kissed him back, nibbling delicately on Roxas' bottom lip as the younger boy moaned softly into his mouth. One hand found Axel's hair, his fingers entwining with the thick unruly locks as Roxas pressed himself fully to Axel's chest, deepening the kiss.

And the kiss, it was amazing, nothing like all the quaint little pecks Roxas had gotten from friends and past, short-lived relationships. No, this was pure, mind-spinning bliss; all lips and tongue and teeth and roaming fingertips and fire. Oh gods above, the fire. Roxas moved to kiss Axel's neck, inhaling the deep sooty scent of him, like a smoldering campfire.

When they parted some time later, both with minds filled with inordinate quantities of haze and fog, they smiled together, leaning against the giant clock, hands interlocked and food forgotten. After all there were much more important things to think about. Like who would top.


That night, as Axel watched his new boyfriend walk inside his house after a few (i.e. dozens) more kisses to get teased and verbally harassed by his brothers, he sighed happily. But he was realistic. He knew that one night was not going to heal the wounds Roxas had been carrying for many years. He knew that a little kissing and shameless groping was not going to ease the pain that death and destruction and sadness had left. He knew Roxas would still be hurt, and that the healing process would take unreasonable amounts of time and effort. But he was willing to be there for him, every single damned step of the way. Because, even though they had just met, he cared for Roxas, quite possibly more than he'd ever cared for anyone in his life.

It wasn't much, but it was a start. And all great things have to begin somewhere.

The End.

Even More Author's Notes: Bleh, my fingers desperately hurt from writing and then editing this story. Please forgive the small mistakes (I edited this baby all on my own), but I am completely welcome to any constructive criticism you have for me. It is my utmost goal to become a better writer, so anything you have for me will be appreciated. Just remember, flames make me giggle.

And all you have to do is hit that little review button, you know, the one where you get to tell me just how much you liked/loved/hated/barfed on my story. Until we meet again…mwah ha ha ha!