So, this is my debut in the Kingdom Hearts section, though I have been playing/reading for quite a while. During this time, I came to adore Axel/Naminé, so this story is based around that pairing. It's more of an implication of what's to come, so you won't find any kissing… sorry. If you don't like the pairing, I s'pose you can also see this as platonic, or just don't read. Enjoy. :)
Disclaimer: I don't own KH. If I did, Namixel would be canon, Vexen would be the Superior because he's the coolest old bat ever, and none of the Organization would have died.
xX-Find Your Wings-Xx
"You chew really loud."
Axel glanced up from his coveted bag of chips, fixating his eyes on the young girl sitting across the room. Naminé watched him as he slowly lowered his hand back to the bag and dropped the chip back inside. Her lips turned downwards when he set the bag on the cushion, crossed his arms, and looked off to the side. Now she was guilty. He really hadn't been chewing loudly, but when he manages to draw out a small bag into an hour meal, it can get annoying. Maybe that's what he was actually trying to do. Still, he did look sort of upset…
The Nobody's hands were back on the chip bag before she could finish her sentence. Naminé sighed as she looked away. Yea. Just trying to be annoying.
The girl returned her focus to her sketchpad; another drawing, another memory that she wished actually meant something to her. Thoughtlessly, she rolled a green colored pencil between her fingers and chewed on her bottom lip. What next? There really wasn't much left for her to do until Sora came, but she was afraid to draw what she wanted. She didn't want to like it, because then someone would take it away from her. Discreetly, the girl peeked over her book at the redhead that was too busy scratching out the crumbs to notice her scrutiny. Her eyes narrowed on his pocket, knowing that her most recent picture was crumbled up inside. That's what made Axel the easiest and hardest to get along with. He was nice when he wanted to be; otherwise, he made a game out of twisting her mind into knots until she had no idea what was up and what was down, like a kitten playing with its food. Or rather, a tiger.
Tonight, it seemed obvious that he wasn't going to go easy on her. Small, subtle things would always tip her off to his current mood, like his display with the chip bag and his taking her picture. Once, she had drawn a picture of him; he liked it and said it was good, but he had green eyes, not blue. The picture he had taken was of a bird in a cage.
Naminé pretended to be looking at something behind him when Axel's eyes slipped to meet hers; a silent question was being asked, and she was afraid to answer.
"See something interesting?" He inquired, falling back into the corner of the couch. Not only did he have a mind like a feline, he acted like it, too; twisting his body into formations that Naminé didn't even know were possible. True, it was a simple position, but he was graceful while he did it. He looked comfortable. Poised. Prepared.
The girl shook her head and ignored the roll of his eyes. Apparently, he wasn't completely oblivious. She twisted the spirals of her sketchbook before gently placing it on the floor beside her box of pencils. Axel yawned, attention drifting, and rested his cheek in his palm. Naminé almost felt bad for him, having to stay with her for as long as she decided to stay awake.
Just as his eyelids were fluttering closed, she shifted noisily and he jerked awake. Green eyes lingered on her for a moment, then followed her gaze towards the window. Rain was coming down in heavy curtains, hiding the moon and stars from sight. The drops hit the panes like millions of shards of glass falling from the heavens.
"You don't have to stay with me, if you don't want to," Naminé said softly, linking her fingers in her lap, "I'm not really tired yet."
Axel exhaled loudly as his head slipped to the crook of his arm, "No, I'm good."
The girl frowned, "It's not like I can run away."
His lips twitched into a quick smirk, showing his teeth, "Sure, you can. You just haven't figured out how to yet."
Answers like that irritated her to no end. Yes, she could get away by using a corridor of darkness, but did she know how to open one? Of course not; they would never teach her. Informing her that escape was so close, yet unreachable, was just an attempt to taunt her. However, she didn't want to call him out on that. He may be tired, but she knew he was still ready for anything she could throw at him.
Perhaps it was best to change the subject.
"I don't know what to draw next," She said.
"You don't have to draw every second," Axel answered, rubbing the corners of his eyes with his thumb and ring finger, "You can do something else."
"Read or something," He shrugged, "I'll bring some books by next time."
The gesture surprised her, but she deemed it was probably just something to get her to shut up so he could sleep. Even as she realized this, his eyes were slowly lowering. Dark lashes splashed over his cheeks, almost like bruises. The muscles in his face relaxed, and Naminé was shocked as the lines she thought were permanent disappeared and he suddenly looked five years younger. Despite all the cracks he pulled, maybe he was more burdened than she had originally thought.
A boot slipped off the couch and fell to the floor. Axel started, his eyes widening, and the scene was over.
Naminé smiled, "You sure you're awake?"
"Yea, yea," He ran a hand over his face as he sat up, "You?"
"I think so, yes."
"Great," Something about his tone told her that he wished she was passed out on the floor. The girl glanced outside as thunder rumbled in the distance, and an idea struck her.
"Axel?" She paused, waiting for response, but she didn't receive one, "Have you ever danced in the rain?"
The redhead's hand flopped down on the couch and he stared incredulously at her, "What?"
"You know," She mumbled, shifting awkwardly in her chair, "Dancing. In the rain."
Axel snorted in laughter, "No, and neither have you."
Although she knew he was right, it hurt where her heart should have been, "No, but my Other has."
"Yea, your Other. Not you, your Other. There is a difference, you know."
That he was able to dismiss it so quickly bothered her. Had he had any chance to form his own personality and beliefs before joining the Organization? Naminé doubted it; otherwise he would have cared what his own Other did before he became a Nobody. Whether he did or not, there were parts of him that wouldn't exist if not for his Other; he wouldn't be Axel without… without…
"Who were you before?" She asked, realizing this part of him was completely unknown to her. He displayed his surprise at her curiosity by raising his brow and crossing his arms. She knew it was unlikely he would answer her; at least, not in a lot of detail. She had found that most of them wanted to forget their pasts.
When he started talking, the girl perked up, "Lae. My dad raised me and my sister."
"Oh," Naminé fidgeted, wanting to know more, but hesitant to ask, "What happened to them?"
Axel shrugged, "Dusked, probably."
The girl was silent for a long moment. He was absolutely emotionless as he said that, like it was no more important than stating that the weather was gloomy. There was no regret, no grief in his voice. It was wholly unnatural.
"…You don't care?" She almost whispered.
"Why should I?" He waved a dismissive hand in the air, "They aren't my family. It's not my fault they were too weak to manifest as humans. I did, and that's all that matters. Now I'm in charge of myself, not that pansy boy Lae."
When Naminé fell silent again, Axel moved his hand from his eyes and watched her troubled face. His fingers flexed on the white leather of the couch, a stark contrast against his clothing, "Does that bother you?" He asked, "It shouldn't; we're Nobodies. We aren't supposed to care. You can't tell me that when you were still Somebody, you were perfectly content to allow her to make all the decisions."
"I wouldn't know, seeing as how I can't remember," She spat.
Oh, he had forgotten about that part. Naminé was weird like that, not being able to remember anything. Maybe that was the price for being a mind screwer, as he called it. She could manipulate others' minds until they loved those they hated and hated those they loved, but she couldn't even begin to tell you what her Other's favorite food was, or what her family was like. At least, not through memories of her own. Everything she knew was from a different set of eyes.
Perhaps she was lucky. She was her own person; a blank slate from birth. Everything that she was, that she believed, was all Naminé.
Axel leaned forward, "Why did you ask?"
"Ask what?" The girl prompted; she still sounded bitter.
"About dancing in the rain."
"Oh," Naminé hesitated, swinging her feet back and forth, and she looked out the window again, "Well, she liked to, and it seems like it would be fun."
The redhead narrowed his eyes at the falling rain. He hated water, which shouldn't have come as a surprise. Not only was it his natural enemy, it wreaked hell on his hair. After each shower, he had to spend hours flattening it so it wouldn't turn into a giant ball of fluff. A cotton ball on crack, Xigbar had called him. Then, ever so slowly, it would retake its shape. But the main point was that in water, he was defenseless. Fire was completely useless, except for creating steam. Hopefully, Demyx would never realize that, otherwise his days of beating the crap out of the Nocturne would be over.
Axel sighed loudly, "I'll make you a deal."
"What?" Naminé asked, but her tone was laced with suspicion. Despite himself, he grinned mischievously.
"You promise not to tell anyone and I'll take you out in the rain, okay?" He suggested, "And I refuse to get wet, too."
The girl looked unsure of whether to be cautious or excited. He really couldn't blame her; she was smart enough to be wary, and that would keep her safe for a while. In the end, it seemed she was willing to accept his offer, as she nodded and stood up.
With a cross between a grin and a grimace, Axel formed a portal behind him, then beckoned for her to follow. Naminé approached slowly, searching for any signs of deception, but he simply waited for her to pass him. She stepped easily through the portal and felt him follow behind. She didn't much like the portals because it was too quiet and too vast once inside. She was unsure of where one side ended and another began. It was obvious the redhead didn't share her opinion, as he nudged the small of her back and started forward a short way. The girl followed obediently. His heavy footfalls should have echoed in the vast abyss, but not a sound was made as he walked.
Once the portal was opened again, raindrops splattered against her skin and a frigid breeze tousled her blonde hair. She heard Axel grunt in annoyance.
"Go on, and make it quick," He muttered, crossing his arms and side-stepping away from the opening. Naminé frowned.
"You aren't coming?"
"No," Axel scoffed, "I told you, I'm not getting wet."
The girl glanced out into the rainy night, then back to him, "But it's no fun alone."
Axel was about to quip about how she doesn't even know that, but thought better of it. He had already unintentionally upset her, and he didn't want a repeat performance. He lowered his eyes on her, trying to convey the message that he had no desire to be wet or dance, but there was a confidence streak buried within her frail body that she may not have even known she possessed. It was shining clearly now, and it was something he didn't want to deal with.
"You go first," He grumbled.
Naminé narrowed her eyes, "You promise you'll come out?"
"Yea, yea, sure," He waved it off. Past experience told her to doubt him, but she wasn't going to give this opportunity up. It wasn't often anyone in the Organization offered her something like this; at least, not with a price she was willing to pay. Axel motioned for her to go ahead.
As soon as she stepped out of the protection of the portal, Naminé was battered by the torrential rain and wind. The storm threatened to carry her away, whipping her hair and dress about her body, but there was a grin on her face. The high pitched whistle of the gusts stole her air away, taking it right from her lips, but always allowed her to take another deep breath to replenish what she had lost. Clothes suddenly weighed twice as much, and sandals make squeaking noises under her feet, but it didn't matter to her. Blue eyes, now alight with excitement, turned to the Nobody still lurking in the shadows.
"C'mon, you said you'd come," She almost had to yell to be heard over the wind. She tucked a lock of hair that had been plastered to her cheek behind her ear. Axel scowled.
"I don't like water."
Naminé put her hands on her hips, "You promised!"
The girl huffed, "You take baths, right? It's the same thing."
"Who says I take baths?" He gave her a snarky grin, "Maybe I just burn the dirt off."
Naminé decided to pretend she never heard that; all the fleeting moments that he had touched her came flying back, and she cringed against every one of them. There had to be some rule regarding hygiene, right? They couldn't just prance about in leather and expect to stay clean and smelling minty fresh…
"Just come out, only for a minute," Though dubious that the tactic would work, she stuck her bottom lip out in a pout, "Please?"
It may have been the dim lighting and sheets of rain, but she could have sworn she saw Axel's face falter. Then, as quickly as it had appeared, the gentle gaze was replaced with a sneer. His hands balled at his sides, "Fine," He muttered, "But I'm not dancing."
Naminé could hardly contain her excitement when, with much reluctance, the redhead stepped from his protective portal and into the rain. The dark gate closed with a sound that rivaled that of the wind, until its low hum was overtaken by splashing raindrops. And, the girl noted with a small smile, Axel looked positively disgusted. His upper lip was pulled back, trembling, like he had just tasted something foul, and his flaming hair was slowly turning a deep maroon in color. The spikes were losing shape, weighed down by water, and were flattening against his cheeks and neck. Curiously enough, red ink was spreading down from the corners of his eyes; contrasted with his pale skin, the girl was reminded of the image in a random memory of a strange man with a painted white face, bright red lips, and a bulging red nose.
Naminé giggled, "Do you wear make up?"
The sneer melted away, replaced with wide peridot eyes and a slack jaw.
"What?" He demanded.
The girl burst into a peal of laughter, clutching her stomach as Axel continued to stare flabbergasted at her. For some reason, it felt alright to joke now, here in the outside world; in the room, she felt unsafe, and was afraid to be anything but serious. Somehow, the rain splashing down on her cheeks and tangling her hair gave her a sense of liberation. Axel wasn't a guard anymore. Naminé smiled upon him and, for the time being, saw a friend. Despite his disgruntled appearance.
The redhead had crossed his arms tightly over his chest and was glaring sourly off into the distance. His job most certainly didn't include getting wet, and yet here he was. Soaked to the bone and near shivering, another downfall of being a pyro. His temperature was higher than normal, and so when it fell to a level typical of his other cohorts, he was cold. Axel couldn't help but scowl at the jubilant girl, too oblivious to realize that he was slowly slipping away.
Well, not really. But it certainly wasn't comfortable.
"Are you done yet?" He ground out through his teeth, pressed tight together to keep them from chattering, "I want to- whoa."
Pale cheeks illuminated with a pink dusting when Axel's eyes lingered on a place that he knew they had no right being. Of course, one could also argue that the place had no right even being exposed; at least, as exposed as water upon white could achieve. It took a moment for him to stop his current train of thought and throw it hurtling in reverse. No way was he going to be thinking that, even if she did have a nice-
"Did you say something, Axel?" Naminé asked, facing him again. The redhead's eyes bulged and a sharp inhale left him feeling lightheaded. More so than he already was, that is. The girl furrowed her brow, confused by her watcher's flustered expression, before Axel lunged forward suddenly and roughly wrapped his hand around her forearm.
"Ow!" She hissed, tugging against him as the whirring of a portal interrupted the steady rumble of the storm, "Stop it! Let go!"
When she could no longer hear or feel the rain, she was released; immediately, she recoiled in on herself and examined the fading white imprints of his fingers on her skin. She could feel the sting slowly dissipate, but it didn't eliminate what he had done. And she was foolish enough to actually trust him…
A sodden, black mass was dropped in front of her. At first, she was unsure what it was, but a silver chain identified it as Axel's coat. Naminé peered up at him, her expression hurt, but was surprised to see a mix of nervousness and excitement on his face. She looked down at the coat, then back at his face, then down to the black tank top that clung to his lithe body. Blushing, the girl looked away; though his shoulders were rather broad- probably from whipping about his chakram-she was surprised by the lack of bulging muscles that she had come to assume was included with every male. Maybe that's what made him so graceful and flexible.
"Put it on," He mumbled tersely, keeping his eyes averted.
"Why did you do that?" Naminé questioned softly, ignoring his demand.
Axel's gaze flickered briefly back to her, then back out into the nothingness, "Just do it."
"Now, Naminé!" Startled by his outburst, the girl hurriedly gathered up the coat and struggled to put it on. Weighed down by water, it was so heavy on her body that she had trouble standing up. When Axel dared to look, his lips twitched in amusement. She looked even worse than before, but at least she was covered.
Watching her thoughtfully, Axel smirked and scratched his chin, "Flattering."
Naminé seemed to swell with anger, which she decided to vent by crossing her arms and huffing. A faint chortle, not strong enough to even escape his throat, surprised her. She almost never heard him laugh. Still slightly hurt, she peeked up at him; she may have been covered, but he wasn't, and that was something she definitely had never expected to see. It took her all she had not to stare.
"Now will you tell me why you did that?" She asked carefully. The smirk on his face crumbled, and he turned away, lips parted. His hand went to his head, searching for the mass of spikes to tousle, but found only thick hair slicked back by the rain.
She almost thought he wouldn't answer, but suddenly a grin devoid of all teasing was rounded upon her. Naminé blinked owlishly as he responded, "I didn't want you getting sick."
A logical response, the girl decided, except the fact that it was coming from Axel. Unless he had suddenly taken up a paternal streak, which she highly doubted, he was hiding something. And badly. Hoping yet knowing she would fail in trying to catch him, she thought of a quick retaliation.
"But I thought Nobodies couldn't get sick. I mean, we don't have blood, and isn't blood what would carry the illness?" She actually wasn't sure of that idea, but maybe she would get lucky and he wouldn't be sure either. Axel seemed pensive for a moment, until he started towards her without warning. Naminé took a few hesitant steps back, wincing when he raised his hand.
Gently, he touched her head and ruffled her dripping tresses.
"Zexion's been brainwashing you, hasn't he?"
A lone drop of water trailed down the bridge of her nose, and Naminé grinned.
"That's what I thought," He answered his own question as he reached down and brushed the drop of water from her nose with his thumb, "C'mon, you need some dry clothes."
Naminé watched his back as he returned to approximately the same place they had entered from, easily slicing open a portal in seemingly thin air. The girl frowned, looking upon her white room with the few chairs and no decorations except for what she had drawn. Axel turned back to her, sensing the hesitation in her steps. His face hardened; a frightening contrast from his display only seconds ago. He planted one foot in front of the other.
"Naminé," It wasn't an acknowledgement, but rather an order.
Freedom was sucked straight out of her; with eyes cast downwards, the girl trudged back to her cell. The prisoner had been rewarded for good behavior. Now, it was business as usual. She did not look at Axel as she passed him and stepped through the portal. Though the white was nearly blinding, Naminé found the room seemed much darker than a night's rainstorm. Footsteps behind her, and the portal closed on her escape.
Axel brushed past her; the breeze created by his movement was chilly on her wet skin. Goosebumps dotted her arms. She watched him stride to her little bed tucked away in a corner, camouflaged against the white wall. Tucked between the wall and the foot of the bed was a small chest, where the redhead was digging for fresh clothes. Naminé approached slowly.
"Are you leaving?" She asked. The carefree reflection in her voice that had been present outside was now gone, replaced with monotony and stoicism. A new white dress, longer and with sleeves, was tossed in her face.
"Soon," He answered; his tone, too, had regained what it had shed upon venturing into the storm.
The girl started to unzip the black coat, "Do you want-"
"No!" Axel whirled around, staying her hands where they rest on the zipper by grasping them tightly. He let go almost instantly and returned to her chest. Hopefully, she hadn't seen the returning red on his cheeks, "You can keep it. Just… change. Now."
Naminé stared at his back; his muscles like cords were tight along his shoulder blades. The girl could count four ribs on each side of him. She started towards the center of her room, "Don't turn around."
Both remained silent as wet clothing was shed and dropped to the floor in a pile. The girl wished she had thought to ask for a towel to dry off, but she would have to deal with the new dress sticking to her form. Oh well, the dress she just shed had clung to her, and it didn't… wait…
Naminé's eyes widened to the size of saucers and a fierce blush colored her cheeks.
"Axel!" She screeched. The redhead in question jumped a good few feet in the air, blocking his ears at the same time.
"What?!" He hollered, fighting the instinctual reaction to turn around.
"You're a pervert, that's what!"
Okay, what had he done? Axel skipped through all the things he had done to her that might be considered perverted, and came up with absolutely nothing. He paused, then repeated, "…What?"
"That's why you took me in the rain, huh? So you could see me in a wet dress!"
Axel wanted to smack both her and himself. She had sort of figured it out… though it certainly wasn't intentional. His head started to turn towards her, but a high pitched squeak reminded him that she was still changing. He turned his eyes to the floor; how to reply to that? "Well…" He trailed off, "Maybe you shouldn't have worn white."
There was silence on Naminé's end of the conversation. Unsure of what to do, Axel rocked back and forth on his heels.
"Can I turn around?"
Despite having permission, the redhead kept his eyes squinted in case she really wasn't ready. He saw her bending over to pick up the sodden clothing. It was obvious she was trying not to look at him. Axel started towards her.
"It wasn't on purpose," He said, trying to mollify her, "I wouldn't have given you my coat if I was trying to see you, right?"
Naminé paused, rolling this idea over in her mind, "I guess."
The redhead gave her a small grin, "That's right. So, no trying to kill me, right?"
The girl's lips twitched, "Okay."
"That's a good girl," He placed a hand on her shoulder, "And don't worry about the clothes. I'll take care of them on my way down." A gentle squeeze was enough to get her to drop them on the floor.
Axel followed her with his eyes as Naminé made her way to sit down at the couch he had previously occupied, painfully aware of the unease still being harboured in her mind. Had he upset her that much? It was only an accident, which he was about to remind her of, until he noticed what she was staring at.
A cage hung off to the side of the room, where a small doll with pale hair rested against the bars.
His lips pressed together tightly, "Naminé," Her shoulders hunched in response. Peridot tried to meet cerulean; when that failed, Axel took the liberty to flop down beside her on the couch. She had to throw out her arms to keep from falling over due to his weight, nearly toppling onto him in the process, but a firm hand on her shoulder kept her upwards. Axel rested back into the corner. The girl's head twitched in his direction, but she kept looking at her feet.
"You look weird with your hair like that."
A roll of the eyes, "Sorry. Maybe if I stick my thumb in my mouth and blow really hard, it'll inflate itself again."
Naminé wasn't sure whether to glare or laugh at the comment that bordered on joke and sarcasm. She chose to say nothing. She was afraid this was a sign that his was lapsing back into his usual behavior, which could not bode well for her. Didn't he say he was leaving soon? She fidgeted restlessly.
"Don't worry," He said softly, too softly for someone like him. Naminé listened up, curious, "All birds find their wings, one day."
He smiled at her, then put his hand on her head, "You won't be here forever; none of us will be. It'll all work out in the end. Sooner or later, the dealer of the cards will find his role reversed. All you have to think about is how do you plan on getting to an end that was worth your trouble?"
If anything, his explanation only confused her further. She tried to wrap her mind around the meaning, wondering if there was anything hiding in the cracks that should have tipped her off about something. But Axel didn't seem too worried whether he made sense or not. His contact with her had been reduced to one long finger, trailing slowly down her nose to rest on the tip. He gently flicked it before standing up abruptly.
"You're leaving?" Naminé asked as he opened a portal. He bent down to pick up the wet clothing.
"Yep, my shift is way over," He answered, "Marluxia'll be here in the morning."
The girl groaned, but didn't speak. Axel attempted a sympathetic smile, but it felt foreign on his face, so he abandoned it with a lopsided smirk, "Chin up, kid. It'll all be over before you know it. See ya."
Once the portal had closed, Naminé let out a long sigh. Though she was glad she had a chance to enjoy herself, Axel's presence had taken its toll on her. Sometimes he was simply too much for her, which she knew was exactly his intention. They were polar opposites, she and him; while he was outgoing and sarcastic, she preferred her company quiet and straightforward. Stumbling over the words he offered was not high on her lists of favorites. She always felt he was trying to mock her with simple ideas twisted into complex structures. This last conversation they had, however, did not sit well with her. She had to wonder what was going through his mind in order to come up with it. Was it merely advice, or something more?
Naminé's eyes traveled to her sketchbook, forgotten on the floor by her chair. She still wasn't really tired, and her newest experience was just itching to be recorded on paper. In a few quick steps, she had retrieved her book and pencils and sat back down on the couch.
The girl's face remained blank as she flipped through the pages, loving and yet hating the blurred images as she passed them by. When she came to the first blank page, a folded piece of paper slipped onto the floor. Naminé frowned; she didn't like removing her pictures. Delicately, she grabbed the paper and unfolded it.
A bird, its wings spread, flying outside of a roughly sketched cage. Upon closer inspection, the girl found that something had been erased from inside the cage.
All birds find their wings, one day.
Naminé couldn't help but smile and hold the picture close. Maybe he wasn't so bad after all.
There you have it, another piece for the microscopic Namixel following. We've been having a lot of storms recently, so I thought it'd be fun to write a story around it. I hope this wasn't too long for one sitting… let me know if you think it should be broken in half.
Inspiration Music: All You Wanted, by Michelle Branch; I'm Gonna Fly, from Kiki's Delivery Service; I Hope You Dance, by Lee Ann Womack.
I hope you enjoyed it. Reviews are welcome, and flames will be used for Axel's enjoyment. Thanks for reading.