This fic has been long in running- it has been a year and a half since I started making the plot for this fic in my head but, even if the disease was different back then- holy shit guys. This is my very big baby that I am super-almost proud of, even if the timeline does suck as big load and I could have added a scene or two more. Gah, life, how you've caught up on me .
This fic was inspired by a mixture of things. Mainly, a fic called pity by paintxpen on livejournal, a youtube video called Noah takes a photo of himself every day for 6 years, and the song Run by Snow Patrol.
Alright. This fic is so fucking long and epic it deserves it's own damn proper warnings and disclaimers:
Warning: Angst, gay bois, character death, and overexplanation of a disease only some of you will be affected by.
Disclaimer: I do not own the characters. I'm using them to further my own writing skills.
DEDICATED TO: A Spot of Bother. She deserves the bold, guys. Seriously. Even though I didn't have her in mind while writing this, and even if she didn't help me write this particular fic, she is a wonderful author and person. She's reviewed almost every one of my stories with helpful tidbits of constructive criticism that helped me along, and whenever I read something of hers I can't help but smile . Seriously, she pwns my ass, go read her stuff.
For the 739th time, Roxas sat in his room and took a picture of himself.
It was his daily routine- get up, get ready, and take a picture of himself before going off to school, work, or wherever he fancied.
No matter what, come a distraction or the end of the world, he would take a picture of himself. Even if he looked like shit, even if he felt like he was about to die, even if he had absolutely no time to do anything but breath, he would take his camera (the kind that developed the pictures right away. It was old and difficult at first, but he thought it was the best kind) and click- take a picture.
Even Sora, his older brother, knew how important it was for Roxas to do this. If he was in a near coma from sickness or just plain exhaustion, the brunet would come into his room and pour cold water on him to wake him up.
Not the most pleasant of experiences he had ever endured, but he hadn't missed one day yet.
Getting up, he took the picture from the small slit at the bottom of the camera and shook it, opening a blue book that had a permanent place on his desk. A few minutes later, the picture he took sat in the uppermost left pocket, the date August 22nd, 2007 printed on the back neatly.
From downstairs Sora yelled, and it was only than he realized what time it was.
8:55 am. Fifteen minutes before school. A thirty minute walk from his house.
Giving a small groan, he grabbed his green messenger bag and his camera, stuffing the ancient contraption in one of the compartments before hoisting the whole thing over his shoulder and hurrying downstairs.
First day and he was going to be late. Great.
He had made it all the way to third period without getting a single lecture.
He had ran into first period just as the warning bell had rang, and the teacher, Mr. Evens, had just frowned at him in disapproval but had otherwise said nothing.
Second period he had almost fallen asleep in, but Olette had woken him up just as Ms. Gainsborough had turned around. She was his English teacher, and a sweet lady in general, but he would swear up and down that no one, no one, should ever fall asleep in her class.
His friends still couldn't pry from him what she had done or said to him a year ago, when he had made the fatal mistake to dose off during one of her lectures on Shakespearean sonnets. All they could get out of him was the plea to never, ever let him close his eyes in that class again.
Then there was third period. Graphic Arts 30.
Two minutes. He had been in that class for a grand total of two minutes before he had been dragged out into the hall to be lectured by his teacher, Mr. Strife.
All because of some red-headed loser that had sprayed water all over him, forcing Roxas to punch him. Hard.
It was a dirty shot. But the guy had almost gotten his camera wet, and...
Well, if it was his camera, he'd do anything to keep it working and... not wet.
So, now, he was being lectured by Mr. Strife in the hallway with the idiot beside him. The older man was talking about how fighting on the first day of class was abysmal (Roxas wondered if he had been hanging around Ms. Gainsborough, what with the 'big word'), and how it was his first impression of them and how bad it was and yadda yadda yadda...
Five minutes later and he was again sitting in class, at the front with the guy he had punched beside him. Which was probably the worst punishment Mr. Strife could have thought of, besides the detention he would have to endure during lunch for the rest of the week.
He resisted the urge to bang his head on his table.
At the end of the lecture, Mr. Strife had given a tight little smile (sadistic, Roxas thought) and had told them that the seating plan he was assigning today was permanent.
At the word permanent, Roxas' mind was cast into a bottomless void and the God forsaken word repeated itself over and over in a never ending cycle of disillusionment (which lasted about two seconds). Because, really, sadistic little smile plus the words seating plan, right after getting into trouble with a guy he instantly disliked?
It was obvious.
So he had ended up sitting next to this asshole. Who he still hadn't said a word to since giving him the cheap shot which he had so totally deserved.
He could ignore the guy. He really could. He had ignored people for a whole year before, as long as the guy didn't say a word to him-
"So, uh, yeah. What the hell was that all about?"
Well, that notion was shot straight to hell.
Mr. Strife glanced in their direction. He gave a small smile to show that he was paying attention to the fundamentals of graphic arts and how it was used in the daily world.
A few more minutes of silence before the guy actually had the nerve to poke the blond. Poke him. What the hell?
"Hey, planning on answering anytime soon?"
Urge to bang head against table was strong and growing by the second. He stared straight ahead, opting to ignore the annoyingly persistent bastard in favor of more intellectually stimulating sounds.
Though, to be honest, how a newspaper layout was related to the consumer and such wasn't all that interesting. Really, negative and positive space, and whatever else, and blah blah blah...
No poke this time, but now Roxas felt breathing down his neck. Which was creepy, because it not only brought to attention how much the guy was invading his personal space or how freaking tall he was, but the fact that sex was suddenly popping in his mind. Sex.
Images were suddenly invading every single iota of space in his head. Ragged breathing and moaning as he was pounded into-
This time the shorter teen whipped around, glaring daggers, knives, and other pieces of weaponry that could kill the bastard sitting across from him in two seconds.
"If you ever-" Sex needed out of head. Now. Shit. "Throw water at me, get me in trouble, or think of spewing your word vomit at me again, I will give you matching bruises on every available space of your body."
The guy looked taken aback for a second, in which time Roxas thought it was a job well done, that the guy wouldn't talk to him, or even accidentally glance in his direction, ever again.
Then the guy smirked. A sadistic, evil, I'm-from-hell smirk.
"I don't think you could reach, shorty."
He ignored his brother. Snow Patrol was playing on his Mp3. Calming music. He could imagine a movie to Run, a man, maybe a redhead, singing in the spotlight on a large stage-
A boy in a coma, deathly pale but alive-
Life support removed-
"WHAT? For the millionth time, why do you always bug me specifically when I don't want to bugged? Every single time-"
"Fine! I won't ask you why the hell you were fighting on the first day of school with another stu-"
"Shut up! It was his fault!"
"You punched him first!"
"He was insulting me! What, am I supposed to take it now? Not punch back when some guy insults me for no reason?!"
"You didn't have to punch him!"
"He didn't have to make fun of me being short!"
Here Sora did something only previously seen by their mother and father- he pinched his nose and let out an exasperated sigh. This only served to irk the younger of the two further. "Roxas..."
The blond frowned irately. He felt like his brother was treating him like a kid, when he was only five years his junior. "What?" He said tersely.
"Fighting. On the first day of school. Seriously, Roxas! That's two weeks of detention. You're lucky Oblivion doesn't have much of a punishment system going on!"
"Oh, fuck off." His voice was cross, stormy blue eyes staring at his brother. The older boy looked back at him in surprise, not expecting such terse words from his brother.
"Did you just tell me to 'fuck off'?"
"Yes. Why don't you listen?"
"Roxas, this isn't like you! What's wrong?! Is it-"
"Shut up!" The blond finally stood, glowering at the brunet. "Fuck off, I'm fine, I'll never do it again, blah de fucking blah. Tell whatever you want to mom and dad when they get home, just leave me the fuck alone!"
The last part was almost screamed before he stormed off to his room, leaving his idiot of a brother behind.
Locking the door to his room, he fumed silently, wanting to take something and just break it into pieces.Where did his brother get off on treating him like a little kid? He wasn't in charge of him! Christ, he was only twenty two and acted as if he was his father! God, he wanted to smash something!
Restraining himself, he found it better to instead sit with his back against the door and read a book of poetry by Harold Pinter.
An hour later he heard a knocking near his head. Ignoring it, he flipped the page.
Another knocking that he chose to ignore. Another page flipped. This time he landed on Cancer Cells- he stared at the words blankly, not really reading them.
A sigh came from beyond the door, then a tired voice. "Roxas? Just don't forget you have an appointment tomorrow, k? 2:30."
He gave no response that he had heard, but scowled nonetheless. 2:30? That was during fifth. That was Visual Art. They had already started on a painting that was supposed to reflect adversity in life, and he had chosen sickness, which was already a hard topic for him-
His thoughts were interrupted by a thump against the door, and another sigh. This one much more drawn out and pained.
"Roxas, I'm sorry, alright? I didn't mean to get mad. It's just your grade eleven year, and I want you to do good." A pause. "And I'm a bit stressed out, so, yeah, I freaked a bit. But I won't tell mom or dad if you won't."
The blond didn't say anything, trying to focus on the words in front of him. They weren't catching in his head, though.
"Just remember," Sora said from beyond the door. "I love you, ok?"
The brunet didn't even wait for a reply before leaving his post, the sound of his footsteps fading on the rug.
As soon as Roxas knew he was gone, he sighed, dropping the book and perching his head on his knees.
Closing his eyes, he scowled.
Christ, this sucked.
And tomorrow wasn't looking up either.
As it was, Roxas was right.
His partner for Bio didn't bother showing up, and they had already started classwork with a formal lab. Sure, he could easily do it by himself, but it took more time and now his data was all sloppy.
In second, Olette actually had to slap him to wake up. Ms. Gainsborough had not been happy when he had groggily looked up at her with a red hand print tattooed on his temple.
Third was math, which he sucked at. Enough said there (though he couldn't understand why he was good at Bio but shit at Math).
Lunch was spent alone, with Mr. Yen Sid. Redhead was being talked too about something or other concerning whatever the hell it was.
In fourth, the redhead had been annoying as ever and they were paired up to do an assignment involving determining the newspaper layout and describing the unity of a magazine ad. The taller boy had been so close to having a matching bruise on his jaw to join the first when he had 'accidently' glued the wrong side of the ad to the paper.
Fifth was skipped for a doctors appointment, and he hated doctor appointments.
Then, when he had got home, he was so exhausted he had fallen asleep on the couch and woke up hours later to the lights still off, meaning Sora wasn't home. In conjunction, it meant that pop tarts were for supper.
Later, falling into bed, he winced into the mattress.
Hopefully, third time was the charm. He didn't want another bad day.
But, of course, it didn't seem like this day would end.
He had woken up to a phone call at two o' clock in the morning. Late phone calls were never a good thing, but he still picked up.
The night supervisor had just called him in a panic, saying that Seifer and Rai had walked out on her AND Vivi had called into work, citing that he felt sick. Roxas had scoffed at this, knowing that Eternity was playing in the town over at the community center the next day.
Nonetheless, he told her he'd be there in fifteen; sighing in annoyance as well as exhaustion, he had got dressed, got his uniform, wiped off all the sweat he got while sleeping, and stole Sora's car for the night.
When he got there, Yuffie was grumbling about 'no good fucking kids that didn't know shit all about work ethics'. Roxas was almost tempted to say how much she sounded like Cid, than decided not to push his luck. He didn't want ninja stars or something equally weird in his eye today.
So, here he was: serving insomniacs deprived of coffee at three am, cleaning like crazy, and trying not to think of how sleep deprived he was going to be.
Sometimes, he absolutely hated being eighteen, and working at an all night restaurant. NOT a good thing. Not at all. He should quit, he thought.
And he would, if it didn't pay eleven dollars an hour.
A ring at the door signaled a customer (or a few, judging by the laughter coming from the general direction. Teenagers, probably. Shit.). Grumbling evil things, he grabbed his order book, looked for a large, empty table (preferably in Yuffie's section), and marched towards the door with a fake smile on.
And almost stopped in his tracks. Because, of course, to make his day absolutely worse, the redheaded kid was standing at the door with two blonds, laughing loud enough to rouse the dead and make them go on a screaming rampage.
Making sure the grin was absolutely cemented on his face and that his step hid how much he wanted to shove his foot up the taller guy's ass, he arrived at the door and asked if they would be needing menus tonight.
Redhead noticed him right away. Which was weird, because he had had his back turned to Roxas and had been laughing loud enough to make the rampaging zombies die from over exhaustion.
And, going by the wide grin that was slowly creeping up his face, that was NOT a good thing.
God, Buddha, Yevon, whoever the heck is up in those clouds... Help me. HELP me.
"Oooooh, it's shorty."
Urge to kill. It was passing boiling point before the giant idiot had even said that.
Gandhi. Be like Gandhi. Non-violent. Fuck.
"Will you be needing menus tonight than?" He repeated, smile still on his face, even if it was slightly twitchy now.
The other two finally looked at him, and the one blond (Who had a mullet... Mohawk... thing...) grinned politely. "Yeah, thanks."
One of them was an asshole. One wasn't. One was still undecided, the one with antennas on her head. Two rights could right a wrong. Or something like that. He was too tired to even remember that cliche.
"Follow me this way, please." His smile was a little less twitchy when he turned around and as he passed Leon, another night worker, he rolled his eyes. The other man just snorted and turned around to serve an old man that always came in for tea and a cinnamon bun around four.
Sitting them in a corner in his section (Yuffie had taken one look at him and shook her head viciously when she saw who he was trying to seat), he asked what they would want to drink. They each said their order, and he started walking towards the back.
That was surprisingly normal. And he would have thought the whole experience would have been normal if he hadn't heard the comment from the antennae haired girl.
"Wow, you're right, Ax- Blondie does have the nicest ass."
Eleven dollars an hour, eleven dollars an hour, eleven fucking dollars an hour, fucking eleven fucking dollars a fucking hour...
This was the only thing that kept him from coming up with creative ways of slaughtering the redhead and his friends with a pen and notepad and following through with it.
And, oh, it was such a fun thing to keep his temper in check, too. Especially when all the group left was a two dollar tip and a number with two stick figures having sex on it.
Tired. Ooooooh, was he tired. He wanted to drop dead.
Not only had he worked the night shift, he had to stay an extra hour because Tifa's car had broken down. This worked out so that Sora saw his car was missing in the morning and so was Roxas. He also hadn't had time to even change clothes- all he could do was take off his apron, take a picture of himself, and run out the door all the way to school.
And Mr. Evens was still being a bit of a cold bitch towards him for almost being late the first day. He had actually arrived four minutes early today, why couldn't the guy let it go?
He noticed that Seifer was missing. Which only proved that the older teen was missing the only class he had to go see the emo band.
Stupid ass. AND his partner still wasn't here.
Mr. Evens droned on.
Oh God. He was so tired.
Strong will and the determination not to make any more teachers hate him couldn't keep Roxas from nodding off in the middle of a lecture about particles and nature and storms.
Sadly, falling out of a desk and being stared down by one of the iciest Biology professors could wake him up.
As soon as his eyes opened, Roxas groaned.
The small, tiny voice in his head helpfully supplied that at least he wouldn't be falling asleep in Ms. Gainsborough's class.
It was the third day of school and he had more detention. That was now three weeks of lunch detention. Two weeks spent with redhead, because the guy had 'evoked him needlessly', one week for falling asleep in class. And that was in three days.
He didn't know what he had done to make whoever was up in the clouds hate him, but whatever it was, he was entirely sorry for it. He would go to mass, leave offerings at the temple, do whatever needed to be done, he just didn't want to get more detention.
Of course, saying that didn't give him relief from the three weeks he already had.
And saying that didn't hold back the want of strangling the red head who was not shutting up, even if they were in detention. Yen Sid had left the room for the lunch hour, saying that if they weren't mature enough to be alone with out killing each other than they shouldn't even be in high school.
Roxas hoped the taller boy wouldn't talk to him, so he could do his homework for Biology quickly, and more than anything, quietly.
Then the other teen's mouth opened. Which quickly sprayed Anti-Plan! (c) on his idea of a peaceful lunch hour.
"So..." The boy continued, branching off from whatever topic Roxas hadn't been paying attention too. "You work at the Owl?"
"No. That was actually my evil twin brother whose out to destroy my life." He deadpanned. He secretly thought if only.
"...You have a twin?"
"No. It was sarcasm."
"No. I was serious."
"Am I what?"
"... I'm going to the bathroom."
In the bathroom, it was than Roxas vowed that he would not commit homicide or suicide. Even if it was looking really, really tempting right now.
When he returned to the classroom and saw his page doodled on and the red head nowhere in sight, he made himself another vow: he'd commit homocide, but not in a painful way.
Then he saw the drawing was of him with a stick up his ass and the other boy laughing.
All vows were broken and the next time the red head was in his sight he'd be brutally murdered.
So, for the next week and a half, it went on like that- Axel gleefully pushing the blond's buttons and said blond trying not to gleefully murder him in creative ways involving some paper, a binder, and a gel pen. Maybe some chalk if what the red head did was truly horrendous that day.
At any rate, the other students that had detention left the classroom with cheery grins on their faces at those two's antics.
It had Roxas grumbling and practically slaughtering the redhead in the Graphic and Visual Art Classes they had in fourth and fifth together.
Three hours with the other boy was proving to be too much.
Roxas wasn't sure if he could stand the next two days when, on Thursday, something miraculous happened.
While, not entirely miraculous, but more like... surprising.
Axel had walked into the classroom where detention was held, as usual, and handed him an unsealed letter. This was unusual for two reasons:
1) Axel had quietly given him the letter, with out making any jabs at his shortness, blond-ness, gay-looking-ness, or any other physical attribute of his.
2) Axel had given him a letter. Which was all the more weird because... a letter? Why a letter? Why not just a note?
Upon closer examination, of course, he realized that it was an 'official' school letter, and, when he pulled out the piece of paper with the actual letter on it, it was from the school's supply of official paper.
It was when he read the first two lines that he just crumpled up the paper, walked over to the garbage can as calmly as he could, and threw it in.
When he sat down, the miraculous event occurred:
For the whole hour they sat there, Axel didn't say a word.
For the whole hour after fourth, and even in their shared fifth, Axel still looked like the cat that had swallowed the canary and than realized it was fake and poisonous, thanks to the actual canary.
This confused Roxas greatly.
It wasn't entirely unwelcome, of course, but still. Something was wrong.
"So..." Roxas said, using the ruler to make sure the place where the picture was going would be perfectly straight. He absent-mindfully thought of his photo album at home, and realized he needed to go buy a new one soon. "Why are you so quiet as of late?"
"Me? Quiet?" Axel snorted, flipping through the magazine for any men that looked like they had cologne on them. It was a boring process. "Impossible."
Roxas snorted, applying glue to the area he had just made and taking the picture of the man arching, looking at the camera, tan chest bare, with the words 'Smell: the first sign of a sexy male'. He secretly thought that, even if the man didn't have cologne on and he smelled like shit, he'd still be sexy. "We haven't even fought once today. And we got an hour more after this."
"Gives us plenty of time." Axel muttered, staring intently at a man, arms akimbo, legs apart, looking adventurous.
Roxas looked up, raising an eyebrow. "You haven't even made a jab at how tall I am, or how I should dye my roots because my actual hair color is showing. You're quiet."
"Well, sorry for having a day or two where I'm not my usual self." Axel muttered again, flipping the pages of the magazine. He was staring at it so intently Roxas thought it might have actually been a dirty mag. "Didn't know a person could do that once in a while."
Roxas snorted again, putting down his pencil and resting his head on his hands. He waited a few seconds before sighing, putting his hands down. "Stop being a baby. What the hell is up with you, seriously? Your 'many girlfriends' not putting out or something?"
Axel looked up and glared at him, jade green eyes narrowed. "What the hell is your problem, mother? When did you start worrying so much?"
Roxas glared right back, picking up his pencil and tapping it against the desk. "I'm not. It's just if I'm going to spend these next few hours with you I'd rather it not with you being so bitchy."
"Bitchy? Says the one whose practically raising a hissy fit-"
"Boys." Mr. Strife said, striding up to their desk and glancing over their half-finished work. "You are aware the deadline is two days away and you're not close to being close to done, right?"
Roxas nodded his head, looking down at the work they had completed thus far. He had thought they were pretty close to being done, but if the older man had said it didn't even look like they were close to being close to done... "Yeah. We're gonna work on it."
"Don't worry." The redhead said, flipping through the pages of the sports magazine lazily. "It'll be done."
"For your sake, hopefully." Strife said, and as soon as he turned around and walked away Roxas glared, whispering.
"If I'm bitchy, it's 'cause you're bitchy. Christ. I'd understand if it was a bad day, but if you're having a bad week at least tell me so I can avoid you."
Axel scowled, glaring right back at him. "What are you, my friend?"
The bell rang, but Roxas just glared right back at him, eyes set and mouth scowling. "Probably."
"So... What do you mean by 'probably'?"
"Never mind." The blond said, stirring silently in his embarrassment. He couldn't believe he told the red head he was probably his friend. Meaning he was. Ugh. How stupid.
And why the hell did he say that, anyway? 'I'm PROBABLY your friend'. OK, yeah, they always talked, were together constantly, he knew a few things about the red head that many people didn't (like how Axel was deathly afraid of the ocean. He almost drowned when he was a kid), and he actually didn't mind the other's company as much as he let on.
That didn't mean they were friends. Acquaintances, at best. At best though. At worst, they were bitter enemies, forced together by authority for a small period of time.
Actually, Roxas thought, this was their last day of detention together. Which meant they only knew each other for two weeks. And that they'd only be spending two hours together after this.
"No, I wanna know. Seriously." Axel turned around and straddled his seat, and Roxas' eyes shot down to the skinny legs in ripped jeans before forcing his eyes up again.
And, anyway, friends didn't really think about how good their friend's legs would look wrapped around their waists. Damn his hormones.
"Never mind. Forget I said anything. We're not friends. We're being forced to spend time with each other, that's it."
"Then why are you so worried about me not being my oh so usual awesome self? That has to explain something, right?" Axel said, eyes staring intently at the blond. Roxas just stared at his homework, trying to find out what the carbon date of a piece of rock was without having to do the equation on paper. After a second, he wrote down the answer then looked up quickly, moving on.
"Because it bugs me." He said simply, eyebrows drawing together.
"And why does it bug you?"
"Because it'll affect me."
"And why will it affect you?"
"Because you being in a bitchy mood will put me in a bitchy mood because I already have a hard enough time working with you without you doing a pity trip every two seconds of your day." Roxas said shortly, glaring at the equation.
Axel's eyes glinted, a smile slowly creeping up his face. Roxas refused to meet his eyes. "I think that makes us kinda friends, don't you think?"
"Being bugged by someone doesn't really qualify as friends." The younger teen said shortly, finally looking up at the other boy. "Friends are people who enjoy your company and share similar interests. I don't enjoy your company at all."
Axel pouted, as best as a man like him could do, but his smile won over again. "Well, we at least know a couple things about each other and we do share similar interests. We are taking a couple classes together, after all, and remember that little debate we had over who was the best brand name in the world of electronics? I almost got a black eye for that one."
"Still doesn't make us friends." Roxas scowled, making a furious mark on his paper.
"But I so do enjoy our time together." Axel said smoothly, making a rolling motion with his hand that might have meant a variety of things. "And you worry about me, I worry about you, I think that makes us friends."
"You worry about me?" Roxas finally looked up, one eyebrow raised, hand stalling in the middle of a pie sign.
"You worry about me." Axel said quickly, looking away for once. "You were badgering the hell out of me an hour ago-"
"No. No no no no no no. Don't change the topic." The blond dropped his pen and steepled his hands, staring at the red head. "You worry about me? Why? Is there something wrong with me or whatever?"
Well, there was, but he wasn't going to tell the red head.
Axel, in turn, looked away, leaning back as if he was trying to create a bigger space between them. His hands came to rest behind his head, and he looked up, sighing. "It's nothing. Never mind."
They were silent for a second, Roxas deciding what to do and Axel looking everywhere but him.
"I'll agree we're friends if you tell me why you're worried about me." Roxas said, finally, eyes thoughtful. He chewed his lip absent mindedly. "I think that's a fair trade."
Axel looked back at him, eyebrows raised. He stayed silent, unsure, before his lips curled in a sardonic smile. "Touche. So we're friends."
"Sure." Roxas shrugged, refusing to acknowledge the tremor that ran up his spine at the admission. "We're friends."
"Well then." Axel paused again before plowing on, licking his lips. "Mr. Earth himself told me you had a 'condition', and that's why you're not going to have a third week of detention."
"What?" Roxas burst, calm disposition being dispelled. His eyes were wide, and he leaned forward, hands flat on the desk. "What the hell? Why'd he tell you?!"
Axel shot him a look of indignation, huffing. "Because he gave me the letter to give to you and I asked what it was."
"Then why the hell did you ask?!" Roxas said, eyes blazing. "You think it's your business?!"
"I didn't think it'd be something so personal!"
"You shouldn't pry anyway!"
"Look, he just handed me the info on a silver platter, alright? Not like I asked what it was or anything, he just said you had a condition that made you sleepy sometimes!"
Roxas got up suddenly, shoving his paper into his binder furiously, intent on setting something on fire with his eyes. Axel just leaned forward again, eyebrows raised.
"What are you doing?" He asked, voice slightly miffed.
"Leaving." Roxas said, then looked up, smiling chillingly. "Consider this our first friendly tiff."
Throughout work, Roxas had been scowling, swearing whenever he did something wrong, and had been being a total ice berg towards customers. Before the end of his shift, Cid gruffly told him to head home and get a good night's sleep before coming back to work tomorrow.
Roxas just scowled and stiffly walked out of the kitchen, glaring death at anyone who dared even glance at him.
When he got home, Sora wisely stayed out of his way, softly saying that supper would be ready soon to the deaf ears of his brother.
When he got into his room, he slammed the door and threw his bag at the wall as hard as he could. It landed with an angry thump then fell silent, one of the witnesses to Roxas' rage.
"Who does he think he is?" Roxas complained, eyes narrowed at nothing. "Who in the fuck does he think he is? Seriously? Prying into my business?! Not as if he has the right to know!"
The blond kicked the bag as he headed to his bathroom, stripping angrily before jumping in the shower, setting it as hot as he could stand; it hit his skin with ferocity, turning the tan into a mad red.
He grumbled and swore under his breath throughout the shower, and when he was finished he didn't even bother drying his hair or wrapping a towel around his waist- he just walked into his room, gloriously naked, where Axel sat.
He froze, mid step, eyes locking onto Axel's wide stare. He just stared, wet and naked, at Axel, dry and not-naked.
A twitch and an open mouth later and he flew into the bathroom at the speed of light, body red and mortification scribbled all over his face.
"OhmyfuckingGOD. Oh my fucking God. Oh. My. Fucking. God."
He looked into the bathroom mirror, then looked away, not even able to look at himself straight in the face.
How fucking embarrassing. How stupid. The one fucking day he decided not to be paranoid and wrap a towel around his waist, someone was actually sitting on his bed, waiting for him. "Oh my fucking God."
He stared at the ground, wondering if it could come alive two stories above the actual ground and have him for dessert.
It was a few minutes before he calmed himself down enough to wrap a towel around his waist, wipe his face clean, and walk out to see Axel.
As soon as he walked out the red head's gaze zoomed in on him and he quelled the urge to flee into the bathroom again- with the way Axel was looking at him, it was as if he was under a microscope. Or he was a tasty looking meal. Or something not too pleasant.
"... Hi." He said, willing his face not to go red and his eyes to keep on the other teen.
"... Hey." Axel said, face set in stone. It was quiet before the other teens lips twitched, and then Roxas realized that he was trying not to laugh.
This fact hit him in the face like a wet fish. Axel was trying not to fucking laugh. Here he was, fucking embarrassed and angry as hell, and the other boy was trying not to bust a gut.
How fucking rude.
Roxas scowled deeply, fists clenching and unclenching. "What the fuck are you laughing at, asshole? If you're going to be like that, door's right there."
Axel snorted, and Roxas saw it as another attempt to cover his laughter. This only served to make him scowl deeper. "I'm not laughing at you."
"Fuck you you aren't!" Roxas said angrily, pointing at the door. "Seriously. Get out."
"Woooooah, buddy." The red head held up his hands defensively, leaning back a bit as if the younger teens anger was a little too much to handle. "No need to get defensive. I saw you naked, so what? You've been in the gym showers before, right?"
Roxas paused, thinking for a second, before scowling again. "No."
"Really? I thought you had to take gym-" Axel hmm'ed, eyeing him. "Are you a tranny or something? Like, you can't choose a bathroom so you get your own?"
"No!" Roxas flushed red from a mixture of embarrasement and anger. "I got special permission not to take the stupid class."
"Really? What for?"
"None of your fucking business."
Axel hmm'ed again, looking at him with his brows furrowed. "Why so pissy? Seriously?"
"Do you even give a shit or did you just come to bug me? Seriously?" Roxas mimicked, leaning against the door frame to the bathroom.
Axel whistled lowly, looking at him, again, like he was something under a microscope. After a second of squirming, he spoke plainly, looking directly at him. "I came to say I'm sorry."
"You're sorry?" Roxas croaked. He cleared his throat before frowning, a little unsure. "For what?"
Axel laughed, then copied some of Roxas' earlier words. "Because it's 'none of my fucking business'."
Roxas huffed. "It wasn't."
Axel shrugged, looking up at the ceiling; Roxas' gaze followed him and he realized he had a poster for 'advertising yourself'- on it, a man in a suit had a brown bag over his head and the Japanese sun behind him. He pointed towards something out of his frame, and one could only guess if he was smiling or not. "Yeah, it wasn't. Sorry I asked and all that. Are we friends again?"
Roxas looked back at Axel, whose eyes were still searching the poster. "Are you really sorry?"
Axel flicked his eyes back at him, raising an eyebrow. "You should know by now that I only say sorry if I mean it."
The blond paused at this, evaluating the answer; finding that what Axel said was true, he shrugged, mouth set in a straight line. "OK. Yeah. Whatever. Friends. I'm gonna go change."
Roxas grabbed some clothes and headed into the bathroom as the taller teen nodded an affirmative, still searching his walls for something. Maybe something about him.
While in the bathroom, Roxas couldn't help but evaluate the whole situation with Axel- from punching the taller boy to getting stuck in detention and a seating arrangement with him to being friends? He didn't know how the hell it all happened, to tell the truth. Maybe it wasn't something to look at too closely; he'd probably hurt himself in the process.
Shrugging, he exited the bathroom, looking for Axel instantly. It only took a second in the tiny room, but when his eyes landed on him he froze, unsure of what to say. Because, there- Axel was looking through his photo albums with interest, surveying each of the faces he made, the ones that stood out or faded into the background.
Sensing him in the room, Axel laughed, pointing at a certain picture. "You shaved your head once? Cool."
Roxas just shrugged, averting his eyes. "Yeah."
"No, seriously, cool. As far as baldies go, you look pretty good." Axel laughed again, flipping through a few pages until he stopped- on this one, some peach fuzz was already beginning to show on Roxas' head, and he was smiling. He remembered that day.
"Why do you take pictures of yourself, anyway? Kinda weird, but it's cool still, yanno?"
Again, Roxas paused, unsure of what to say. When it came to his photo album, words usually escaped him as easily as water through hands. Even when his brother had asked him about it, when he had first started using disposable cameras, he had been at a loss for what to say.
After the silence he finally settled on the most honest, blunt, and simplest statement he could land on. "I just want to see myself age."
At this Axel turned around and gave him a strange, steady look- Roxas fidgeted under the gaze, unwilling to give a better answer.
After another second of terse silence Axel just nodded, flipping another page. "Cool. Weird, but cool. Is this your camera?"
Pointing at the little black brick with a bulb sticking out of it, Axel surveyed it carefully. The light bulb seemed to inspire him because one appeared above his head. "Let's take a picture."
Roxas furrowed his brows, pursing his lips at the camera and Axel. "Now?"
"Yes, now. Is there even a better time?" Axel said brightly, picking up the camera carefully; he put it on the palm of his hand and wrapped the other hand tightly around the casing, as if holding it any other way would cause it to break.
"Well?" He said, looking up at Roxas. The blond's eyes surveyed Axel, deciding what to do.
They happened to drift over to the bulletin board just above Axel's head and his picture album; there, photos of his family, friends, and him were pinned; happy, smiling, raining... There was a ton of them.
And him and Axel were friends, right?
"OK." He decided, motioning over the other boy. "C'mere. I'm not letting you take the picture."
Axel chuckled and trotted over, still holding the camera delicately. "Aw, and I wanted lessons, too."
Roxas snorted, the nervous feeling from before passing as Axel handed him the camera. He fiddled with the bulb and the shutter button for a second, turning it over in his hands so it was facing them. "OK. Ready?"
"One sec. Fuck, you're short."
"Shut the hell up."
Axel snerked at him, bending his knees at an awkward angle so he was only slightly taller than the blond.
"Ready now?" Roxas turned his face towards Axel, and almost reeled back after seeing how close they were; Axel was only a breath away from his face, smiling a cat-like smile.
He turned around quickly, willing himself not to turn red.
"Ready as I'll ever be."
Roxas' finger went to fly over the shutter and, after a split second, pressed down; in the split second it took for the bulb to flash he felt a soft pressure near his temple.
As soon as the camera clicked and whirred, he turned around, affronted; his hand went to touch the side of his head. "What was that?!"
Axel's smile widened a bit, and he stood back up, wincing slightly as his knees cracked. "Wait for the picture to develop and we'll see."
Roxas frowned, turning around tersely and grabbing the thick photo paper roughly out of the slit. Silently, he waved the picture.
The colors started to develop after a minute; first the reds, then the blues, then the greens; slowly, it came into view like a long off horizon.
Finally, the last of the colors developed and he stared at the picture, unsure of what to think.
He just frowned after his brief contemplation. "Why'd you kiss me?"
Axel just laughed, leaning over his shoulder and smiling at them, caught in the moment; Axel, softly pressing his lips to Roxas' temple with his eyes on the camera, and Roxas, looking at the camera with a surprised look in his eyes and the still stuck-on half-smile on his face.
"No reason. I just felt like it."
Roxas' frown deepened; after a second, he walked over to the bulletin board of pictures and placed it in the very corner, where it lay, alone and standing out.
Axel watched the process with calculating eyes, and smirked when Roxas turned back to him.
"Let's go to the movies." He said simply, eyes never leaving Roxas'. "I feel like a horror film."
Once Roxas got home from the movie (which was totally fucking awesome. Oh, he was going to have nightmares tonight), he briefly contemplated doing some of his homework. One look at the clock told him it was too late to do anything, never mind Biology and Literature. 1:47 am. He was going to feel this in the morning. He was already feeling it, shit- his forehead, when he touched it, was hot, and he felt a bit clammy.
Deciding that it wasn't too late to take a picture, he turned on his bedside light and sat on his bed, picking up the camera that had been discarded there earlier in the night.
Before he could stop himself, he found his eyes drifting over to the picture taken before the movie- Axel still stood out from the rest, eyes glinting as he kissed the blond's temple. Staring at the stilled memory, his hand moved on its own and he found himself caressing the hair near his temple, a thoughtful frown on his face.
Even if they were friends now, that didn't mean they could kiss eachother. Actually, friends didn't kiss eachother, period. Even if Axel was weird, and even if the little peck had been playful, it was still... weird.
And he had to admit, it brought some things to mind he'd rather not think about with Axel around.
Deciding that he couldn't decipher Axel's weird behaviour, even if he wanted too, he set the camera down on his bedside table.
Whatever. He could take his picture in the morning, too. And maybe figure out why Axel kissed him.
With this in mind Roxas took off his jeans and crawled into bed, not even bothering to brush his teeth or wash his face.
Tomorrow. Tomorrow he'd find out.
Cursing his faulty memory, he got out of Sora's car, waving goodbye to his brother.
He had totally spaced out on the fact that he had a doctor's appointment. Which usually meant that he had to go during fourth and fifth period- fourth to wait in the waiting room, and fifth for the actual doctor's appointment. Which usually only took fifteen minutes.
Christ, he thought. Fucking appointments.
Opening the door, he did the usual patient thing- go to the receptionist, give his name and such, blah blah blah- and went to go sit down. When he looked down at the magazine pile, he thanked the Gods that there wasn't only fishing and farming magazines.
While, there was only Cosmopolitan besides the two aforementioned reading materials. But he'd rather read a girlie mag than one that would bore him to death- at least he could look for ads for his and Axel's Graphic Arts project.
Sighing, he picked up the pink and yellow cover and randomly flipped to a page. At least he was being productive.
Forty-seven minutes and many an odd look later, he looked up as his name was called- putting down the magazine, he got up and headed into the swinging door, then sat down in the small room he was motioned to.
Another twenty one minutes later, a knock on the door sounded and the doctor in all his white-blond glory came in. Roxas tried not to stare the man to death for his optimistic attitude.
"Hello Roxas." Dr. Wise said, smiling softly; the blond briefly wondered who the hell would name their kid Ansem Wise. "How're you feeling?"
"Better." He answered truthfully. He just wanted to get out of here and the best thing to do was answer the older man's questions as honestly as he could. "I just had a night sweat the other day, though. It wasn't a big deal."
The good doctor hmm'ed at that, marking something down on a notepad that sat on the stand. "That's quite normal." He said after a minute, motioning for Roxas to take off his shirt. The blond silently cursed at this; he hated fucking stethoscopes. So cold. "Having night sweats once in a while afterwards is just your body getting used to being healthy."
After taking off his shirt, he breathed in deeply while the doctor placed the small, metal instrument on his chest. Another smile from the man as Roxas breathed out. "You're gaining weight too, I see. Another good sign. You feel tired at all? Any fevers?"
"Tired only cuz I stay up late." Roxas mumbled, face sheepish. "And no fevers. I was a little hot the other night, but it was just a late night and my room, I think."
The shorter teen opened his mouth when Dr. Wise took out the tongue depressor, rolling his eyes heavenwards as the doctor took a good look around his mouth. "Anything new in your life besides, Roxas?"
Roxas took a second before answering- he didn't really wanna let the other man know about his life. That was a personal question, even if it was just friendly conversation. Even if they had known each other for over a year now. "Nope. Same old boring life. Just started grade eleven, though."
The doctor smiled again, taking off his gloves and disposing of the little wooden slab. When he turned around, his mouth was quirked up into a small smile. "Well, it seems like you're doing healthy. But, to keep it that way, I'm going to start you off on a new set of pills. Twice a day every day for four weeks, until you're next appointment. All they're going to do is keep your blood cell count on watch."
The older man scribbled something indistinguishable on his notepad, ripping off the paper and handing it to the young blond. Roxas looked at the writing, trying to see what the doctor wrote. "The only side effect this time is increased fatigue, so make sure you take the pills somewhere around the time you're going to sleep. You might have to wake up early to take them, and then have a nap, or risk going to school tired."
Roxas nodded, taking all the information in. He smiled as the doctor nodded at him. "Thanks Dr. Wise."
"No problem, Roxas." The blond man smiled, opening the door. "Have a good day."
"You too." Roxas said, smiling still; once the man was gone he scowled, looking down at the paper he held in his hand.
Christ, he hated doctor appointments.
"Let's just go to McDonald's." Axel complained, arms tight and in the air as he stretched. "I'm sick of health food. It's not like I need to be any skinnier."
"Some of us," Roxas ground out, throwing his binder in his locker. "Actually need to eat healthy and watch our weight and things like that."
"What, you actually worry about that stuff?" Axel said in disbelief, eyebrows quirked. "Roxas, a girlie man? Never would have thunk."
"Shut the fuck up." Roxas scowled, slamming his locker. "I'd eat McDick's if I could."
"And you can!" The red head said earnestly, hands up in the air. "You don't have to tell anyone about this one itsy bitsy little cheeseburger! Christ, you could even have a McChicken sandwich there! Or something from their deli!"
"Do you know how much fucking fat, grease, soduim, and God knows what else that contains?" Roxas hissed, throwing his bag over his shoulder. "Someone whose anorexic could eat the healthiest thing on the menu and gain fifty pounds, just from that!"
"Now you're just over exaggareting!" Axel griped, leaning against the locker next to his. "I'll even agree with you, yeah, it's a little unhealthy, but still. Christ. It's good."
"I'm not eating there." Roxas said, a tone of finality in his voice. "Anywhere else but there. You can even pick."
Axel shot him an exasperated glare, sighing. "I can pick?"
"You can pick." Roxas said, trying not to drill holes into the red head's skull.
"Fine." Axel said, face brightening a little. "I know exactly the place."
"Wendy's?" Roxas said incredulously, staring out the window at the red headed little girl that was the fast food company's logo. "Out of all the places we could go for lunch, you pick Wendy's?!"
"You said I could pick!" Axel accused, pulling up to a small parking space and parking his motorcycle there. Roxas climbed off first, handing him the helmet. "And it's kinda healthier than McDonald's."
"About an iota better." Roxas grumbled, watching the red head swing his legs over the black and red bike. "And not even that. Christ."
"You said I could pick." The tall teen repeated, unstrapping his helmet and shaking his head once he took it off. "And I picked Wendy's."
"Whatever." Roxas ground out, turning around with the other helmet under his arm. To get off the topic, he looked back at the bike, which Axel was making sure was locked. "You never told me you drove a motorcycle."
"I thought you already knew." Axel said, turning around and smirking. His gloved hand patted the seat of the bike, which lay still beneath it. "'91 Harley Davidson, kept in mint condition. My own pride and joy."
"Huh." Roxas said, looking up and grinning. "Never took you as the biker type."
"I'm not." Axel said, walking towards him. Roxas joined him in stride as they headed into the small fast food joint. "But you don't gotta be a biker to appreciate a beaut' like that."
Once inside, they ordered their food, making small chatter as they waited; Roxas tried not making a face as he was handed his small fry and spicy burger. He could thank God that they at least had milk. At least.
Him and Axel went and sat down in the corner, away from the loud din of customers, and dug into their meal.
Well, Axel dug into his meal. Roxas more or less played with his fries, taking tentative bites out of his burger every few minutes.
After their fifth minute of Axel-eating and Roxas-playing-with-his-food, the red head looked up, giving him a disbelieving stare once he noticed how little the blond had eaten. "You know we only got twenty minutes until we gotta get back to school."
"I know." Roxas said begrudgingly, taking a slurp of his milk. "I'm just not that hungry."
"Not hungry for fast food, you mean." Axel shot him a mocking smirk. "Never took you as a picky little bitch eater, Roxas."
"I'm not!" The blond said incrudelously. "I just... I'm not supposed to eat fast food."
"Why not?" Axel said, and when he remained silent, snorted. "Live fast, die young, leave a beautiful corpse behind. What have you got to lose by eating a stupid greasy burger?"
Roxas chose not to say anything, instead leaning back and putting his hands in his pocket. His hand squeezed around an object and he blinked in surprise, taking out the little plastic bottle.
"Whazzat?" Axel said between a mouthful of dead cow, edible plastic, and hard bread.
"None of your business." Roxas replied automatically. He stared at the bottle, contemplating.
He had forgotten to take his pill this morning. He just hadn't had the will power to wake up at four and take a pill. He was a teenager, damn it, he liked his sleep.
But if he used that excuse all the time...
Popping open the top, he took out the small, pink tablet and threw it in his mouth, grimacing at the taste. He quickly threw some milk back with it, making a face once it was over and done with.
He looked over at the clock that hung above the tills. "We gotta go soon."
"You haven't even finished half of your burger!" Axel said accusingly, stuffing some fries in his mouth. Roxas snorted.
"Sexy." He said, and Axel made a face at him. "Now come on. Class starts in ten minutes."
Roxas got home from school exhausted to the point of almost collapsing, and as soon as Sora saw him he told him to go upstairs and rest- supper would be his to make today.
The blond gladly complied, even being sloppy enough to drop his jacket at the door and slip his sandals off in the hall. The climb was almost too difficult, especially with the binder, but he made it to his bed before collapsing, taking a few deep, calming breaths.
Today... Christ, finals were only a week away, and he had to study, and the week was so busy, and on top of it all he hadn't seen Olette or Pence or Hayner at all. And his parents had phoned and said they wouldn't be coming home for another month. And work was brutal lately, what with the Winter Festival approaching and droves of people coming in. And then there were the pills his doctor had given him...
Roxas rolled over, eyes staring at the ceiling before he leaned over and grabbed his binder, adjusting himself to do his homework before he passed out.
Today had been a real bad day.
Half an hour later, he heard the door bell ring and Sora yelling, but he paid no attention to it- he was working on math, and that always required his concentration, as hellish as it was to keep focus at the moment. It was probably Kairi anyway.
"So..." Axel started, and the short teen jumped. "You have cancer?"
Roxas whipped his head around from where he had been working on his bed. Axel looked a part of the scenery, eyes staring at the billboard above his desk. On it was a some letters from when he was younger, photos- plenty of photos of times he didn't remember well- and various other knick knacks that didn't need explanation.
And, in the corner, the one of Axel and him- the one that stood out the most and bothered him everytime he looked over at it.
His eyes strayed back to Axel, who wasn't looking at him. He was staring so hard at that single picture as if by doing so he could make it burst into flame.
Roxas swallowed the lump in his throat, hands frozen over his homework, one hand gripping his pencil so tightly that his knuckles were white.
It took a while before he could force words past the lump, and they still came out strangled. "Who said that?"
"Your brother was on the phone with a doctor, I guess. Discussing treatments available for relapses and when your next appointment is. I kinda put two and three together in the end."
Roxas felt his pencil bend in his hand. The lump was growing bigger.
He didn't know what to say.
And, as it was with Roxas, he turned to his last resort: anger.
"The fuck?" His voice quivered. Another sign that he was panicked. "You're listening on my brother's conversations about me? Who the fuck let you in? You think you have the fucking right to give a shit about what's wrong with me?!"
He pushed himself up and swung his legs around, the floorboards quietly groaning as he stood up. His enraged eyes finally caught Axel's and the redhead looked at him, surprised. His head had whipped around faster than sound when he had heard the first angry note in Roxas' voice.
"I think," Axel said, eyebrows furrowing in either confusion or indignation. "I have a right to know when my friend is dying."
There. The wrong words.
The lanky teen seemed to guess what he had said wrong when an expression of horror took over his face. Roxas just stood there, face drawn blank, everything around him forgotten.
Slowly, he reached for the glass of water by his bedside table. Then, with all his might, he threw it at Axel.
The shards made a fantastic splash against the door jam and Axel stepped back and out of his room, making a guttural noise as a shard somehow slashed his cheek, leaving a bright red line right across the middle of his tattoo.
"Get out." He said calmly, feet taking heavy steps towards the door.
"Get out..." His hand reached for the edge of the door and he grinned wickedly, feet stepping over the glass as if it wasn't even there. Already, blood was seeping onto the floor and Axel looked at him, eyes wide and cheek bleeding. "And don't you ever fucking come back."
Then, with one last smile, he slammed the door fiercely and locked it, hand trembling on the door knob and toes curling in to try and minimize the pain.
Silence for all of two seconds before Axel slammed against the door, yelling. "Fuck, Roxas, I didn't mean it like that! Open the fucking door! I'm fucking worried about you, Roxas, you little shit!"
Roxas waited another five seconds, listening carefully. His lips quirked up when he heard his brother's footsteps racing up the stairs, taking them two at a time like he always did.
He heard the hurried voices, the 'what the fuck?' in Axel's voice, and then the quiet understanding in his brother's 'oh' when Axel told him what he had said.
Again, silence. It reminded Roxas of the hospital.
The soft padding of two feet going down the hall entered Roxas' ears, and he sighed in relief, some of the tension going out of his body but none of the muddled up feelings leaving. He muttered a quiet "Ow." when he walked over the glass and towards his bathroom, leaning on the edges of his feet to try and keep the blood off the floor.
He reached into his drawer and pulled out his gauze, then proceeded to wrap the wounds and listen for any other noises that might alert him to anyone trying to open his door or them trying to yell at him to get out of his room.
When he finally clipped the safety pin into place on his left foot, he heard the roar of Axel's old Harley from his open window and the soft, padding footsteps of his brother coming up the stairs. One at a time.
He went and stood by the door, brushing some of the glass away with his foot. He held the knob.
There he was.
"Roxas... I know you're listening."
He stayed silent. His feet hurt. Some other parts of him hurt as well but he ignored them.
A sigh. "Roxas, I know you're mad, but you shouldn't have thrown that at Axel. He's just trying to understand what he just learnt. It's hard to..."
Roxas knew were this was going. His grip tightened on the door knob.
"... Anyway, Roxas, I'm just going to leave the broom by the door, and..."
Oh? This was new. Sora was giving up earlier than usual.
Somehow, this made Roxas feel empty. It frustrated him. He felt this big longing rising up from the void of his anger, and he just wanted Sora to stay for a little while. Even if it was to yell at him, or scold him, or tell him he still cared.
Roxas wanted Sora too...
Roxas' eyes widened slightly when he realized what he wanted. Realized why he always slammed the door on his brother's face, or acted out, or... threw glass at his friends.
And he understood that, under all the anger and unhappiness and frustration and all the other emotions vying for his attention, there was always one that stood in the back and pleaded quietly to be noticed.
Happiness. Happiness that they were paying attention and that they cared, and longing for more of it.
"... appointment is on... Roxas?"
Roxas had opened the door, eyes wide, face scrunched up, standing on the sides of his feet.
"I think..." the blond croaked, looking directly at his brother's face for the first time in a long time. "I'd like to see a therapist."
They had to travel out of town to go see the psychiatrist that his mom and dad had picked out for Roxas, about an hour out. All his appointments were at ten in the morning, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so he left with Sora at nine and got back to school in time for lunch. His doctor appointment had also been on a Wednesday, so he had skipped that morning, too, for blood tests.
And this would have been fine- he could have talked to Axel and apologised first, for once- except, for the whole first week of his therapy and the one doctor appointment, Axel didn't show up to school. At all.
This wouldn't have worried him before, but Roxas felt a chewing at his heart, making him wonder where the tall redhead had gone. Axel was pretty good with attendance, just not with home work. And Mr. Strife had been making them do their final art projects this last week, and he knew Axel wouldn't do it in his spare time, and...
Well, the redhead wasn't in school.
Roxas sighed, leaning back in his chair as he chewed on his pencil. He had also been in the library during lunch for the past week to catch up on his homework. Olette, Pence, and Hayner had all understood, and had told him to keep next Friday open- he was going to have a "fan-fucking-tastic' birthday.
His birthday he had totally forgotten about, due to all the drama and unpleasent things and whatsoever..
He was going to be eighteen.
"So... I kinda understand now, yanno."
The blond spun around quickly, pencil flying and eyes wide.
Axel was leaning against the book case, eyes staring directly into Roxas'. He had no expression, really- his eyes were just brighter than usual, and he looked like a man on a mission.
He waved the book he had in his hand, eyes still not leaving the blond's. "How the hell do you say what you have? Hodgkin lym-phone-a? I've been looking for days on this stupid thing, and..."
Here, he blew a piece of hair out of his face- it looked like he hadn't slept for awhile, or taken a shower. On closer inspection, he noticed that Axel looked like complete and utter shit.
Then he backtracked.
"Did... Sora tell you... about that?" He felt queasy, and, underneath that, felt anger stirring. Then again, happiness stood under that as well.
In two days, his therapist had told him to try and identify any emotion he could before reacting. And this was amazingly simple. He had actually had supper with his broth-
"Yeah." Axel said, eyes still staring. Roxas wondered if he ever blinked. "He told me a bunch of things about the treatment and what stage you are in, and what stage they found you in. And what treatments you're going through, the radiation and chemotherapy. Why you act like you do and what I can do to help. That kinda stuff."
Axel didn't even pause once, and instead plowed on, detailing Roxas' disease. "You're in stage IIIB, or were, and they found your lymph nodes in your neck and chest, right? And you had all the symptoms- the night sweats and the fever and the sleepiness? And you were going through radiation and chemotherapy to treat it, plus pain pills. That's why you were bald. But Sora told me you just entered remission before school."
Roxas just looked somewhere passed his shoulder, not sure what to say. All the people he cared to tell knew, and most just accepted the fact that he had cancer. Even his own mother barely knew what stage of cancer he was in, or what grade he had settled on, because the doctor had forcibly told her. Sora knew because he had asked the doctor about it. Olette, Pence, and Hayner knew because they had expected that whatever he told them was all he wanted them to know.
Axel... Axel had learned he had cancer and actively taken a part in trying to find out as much as possible. Which was...
The anger was totally gone, and in its place sat a feeling he wasn't entirely over familiar with, but knew none the less.
Not sure what to do with this feeling, he let his body act on it's own. His body, once in control, got up, walked over to Axel and then threw his arms around the red head.
His mind registered the sudden tenseness, than the relaxation, and the arms going around him- all his body registered was the joy it was having at being hugged and surrounded by the warmth that was all Axel.
Choking back as much emotion as he could, he let his mouth go. "Axel? I think I like you."
Roxas hadn't seen Axel for a full week. Again. And it was Tuesday.
This worried him and had him gnawing at his nails as if they were the only nourishment left on the planet. Not only because it was weird that he hadn't at least caught sight of the flaming red hair, but... Well, ever since that impromptu confession in the library (which he totally hadn't meant to say, by the way. He didn't know his mouth was that loose), he was a nervous ball of energy and if Axel had at least said that these feelings were ok, even if he didn't return them...
Well, Christ, rejection wasn't so much a slap to the face as a kick to the ass when Axel had pulled back, looked at him critically, and walked away.
So, yeah, ok, rejection- he could handle that. It wasn't as if he was dying (ha ha, he thought weakly) or anything like that. Even if it hurt, he would definitely survive it. It wasn't as if he liked Axel that much anyway... It had just been a crush.
Resting his head on his crossed arms over the desk, he quietly tried not to groan at the lies he was telling himself.
In all his high school life, he hadn't met anyone as... crush-worthy as Axel. The guy was hot, witty, totally fun to be around, was older, did totally romantic (even if they were friends) shit on his own, with out any initiative...
And he was still his friend after learning he had cancer. Which was pretty kick-ass, because he had lost some friends to the news.
He would have gone on beating himself up if the bell hadn't rang and if Olette hadn't kindly told him that lunch was starting and he had to go see the councilor about school options. He tearfully thanked the Gods that women had the intuition to know when men were not having a good day. If he was straight, he totally would have been slobbering all over Olette's shoes.
But, since he wasnt, he just thanked his female friend and walked out of the room, head down and digging around in his pocket for his cell phone.
When he opened it, 'one new message!' flashed on his screen, and, not paying any attention, he clicked read.
His eyebrows dipped when he realized that the message was sent by number 88888888 (obviously, there was no such number as that), and that the message would be the kind you'd see if a chick was going to confess her undying love to you. Meet me at the soccer field at 6.
Olette noticed his confusion and asked what was wrong, but he just shook is head and flipped his phone shut.
Only one hed want it to be would be Axel. But that would be impossible.
But Roxas had been surprised before.
He stared at the flaming red hair fanned across the sky, the other boy's back to him as he observed something to the west.
This particular image had Roxas stalling for time, as he thought it would be the last time he would see Axel looking so peaceful when near him. It was when the other boy checked his watch that Roxas stepped out from the where the boy's lockers were, walking towards the boy he liked.
Which was still weird to say. But it wasn't like liking boys was all that new to Roxas- it was liking one of his friends that was really weird.
He stepped in a particularly squishy spot of grass that made a 'squelch' sound, and that was when Axel turned around, eyebrows raised and hands shoved in pockets.
The blond laughed nervously, shoving his own hands in his pockets so Axel wouldn't notice the shaking.
Once he was two feet away from the taller boy, he smiled a bit, trying not to let his nervousness show through. "Uh... Hi."
"Uh, hi." Axel parroted, a smirk gracing his lips. Roxas tried not to think of anything else but asking Axel why he wanted him out here after the soccer team was done practicing.
"So..." He started lamely, hands clenching in his pockets.
Axel just raised his eyebrow. "So?"
Roxas glared at the sarcastic response, not understanding why Axel was being such an asshole. Why was he acting like this when he was the one who had called Roxas out here? He was hungry, damn it!
Given a bit of courage from his anger, the blond spat out "Why'd you call me out here anyway? I'm not all for, you know, skipping appointments I really should keep."
OK, that was a lie. It was a Thursday night. He usually didn't have anything to do Thursday nights.
That seemed to wither Axel's attitude a little, because he seemed a little less cocky before. The taller boy looked like he was mulling over what to say.
It took a few minutes before the red head finally got sick of trying to collect his thoughts and blurted them out. "What's the chance of you getting better?"
Roxas felt kinda sick of that question. With cancer, it was a little uncertain, as always, but he was particularly young and healthy before he had noticed the bumps on his chest. The doctor had said...
"Pretty good." The small blond said, shrugging. "The doctor says my remission is going well..."
Axel nodded, eyes looking dead. He seemed to contemplate what he had said, before he got sick of thinking again and just blurted out his thoughts. "Do you still like me?"
Roxas blushed. He couldn't help it. What a blunt question. What was Axel trying to pull? "... Yeah." He mumbled, staring down the grass as if it had just insulted him.
"And you're going to get better?"
"... Probably..." He mumbled again.
"That's good enough for me."
Then, all of a sudden, Roxas was enveloped in warm heat and smelling hot spice as Axel practically tackled him, pulling him into a tight hug.
"AH? What?! Axel?!" The blond almost bumped his nose against the other's chest painfully, but turned his head just in time so that his ear was pressed against the skinny boy's chest. He could hear Axel's heart beat, fast and unsteady like a humming bird's wings.
"It's good enough for me." Axel repeated, and Roxas felt him rest his chin on his head. It kinda hurt, what with Axel being so bony and all, but he didn't say anything. Instead, he brought his hands up to rest on the redhead's sides, clutching the fabric weakly.
"What?" He repeated, again, lamely.
"It's good enough for me because I'm kinda fond of you myself. I thought it was kinda obvious." He muttered. Roxas closed his eyes against the deep breath Axel took. "When you just glared and started yelling at me, I thought 'Jesus. Blank with a capital B'. But I just shrugged and thought it'd take a little longer than two minutes to get you to like me."
Another big breath from Axel, and he listened quietly, being enveloped. "Then I kinda accidentaly learned you had cancer, and I thought 'Well, fuck, I like someone and they're going to go and die anyway'. Then, after you kinda went psychotic on me, I thought it over and you're a little more than a passing crush. But I wasn't gonna tell you cuz it'd be hard on both of us, yanno?"
Here Axel sighed. Roxas resisted the urge to look up. "Then, after the whole little tiff, I was content enough being around you and helping you. Then you told me you liked me, and I swear my whole world froze."
The taller boy paused and Roxas opened his eyes, thinking of how hard this must have been. Telling a kid you liked him when there was a bigger chance than not he'd die in less than five years.
"So I walked away," Axel continued. "Which musta sucked for you. Musta thought it was outright rejection and all that. But I couldn't believe it, and I admit I kinda got frustrated and scared. Why like someone whose death may or may not be coming quicker than most? But I decided it's still more than a passing crush. And I decided that, if I'm content with just being beside you and helping, how happy would I be to be beside you as the guy who likes you? And it'd make you happy. So..."
Here, Axel pulled back, let go, and got down on one knee. He then grabbed Roxas' hand and looked up into his face, more serious than the blond had ever seen him. After a pause- where Roxas looked at him, wide-eyed, and Axel kneeled in the soggy grass- he grinned, mouth opening. "Will you do me the pleasure of going out with me?"
The pause seemed to have broke and repaired, stretching over time. Axel was still on one knee in wet grass, Roxas still wide-eyed.
Then Roxas tackled the other boy, laughing and trying to hold back tears at the same time.
"You idiot." He choked, trying to stop laughing in happiness. "Of course I'll date you."
It was Friday, Graphic Arts class. Everything was in a lull- even Mr. Strife was just grading papers at his desk while the class just flipped through magazines, quietly conversing. Under the table, Axel and Roxas were having a footsie war, trying to see who could stomp on the other's foot first.
Axel prevailed, gently grinding his heel into the blond's toes, which resulted in a slight yelp. The teacher looked over at them suspiciously, and they innocently glanced down at the magazines they had in front of them; Roxas' with a Men's Health mag, Axel with a Women's Fashion mag.
The blond glared at him quickly, left hand quickly writing a note out. He passed it over to Axel discretely, who eyed him before opening it under the table. Another minute passed as the red head wrote and passed it back.
Roxas quickly unfolded the note once he got it, and his mouth quirked up into a smile at the other teen's messy scrawl.
'What do you mean you want to take me somewhere? Where?'
He wrote back quickly, smirking in the direction of the red head.
'You'll just have to find out.'
Axel rubbed his hands together in the cold, puffing in them; after a second, Roxas reached up and tucked one hand into Axel's larger one. He refused to look at the red head, who he knew was looking at him.
Never the less, his hand didn't move from Roxas'.
It was half an hour of idle chatter and hiding from the cold in their hoods before they reached their destination; it was an old plot, where a destroyed building lay. The one half of the building that stood was tilted sideways, and the windows that still adorned the charred brick were cracked, or just jagged shards.
Axel silently waited for him to speak, and when he did, his voice was whistful; a little regretful. "This was where I was born."
The red head looked at him, one brow raised and hand tight around his. "Oh?"
Another second, and then quieter- "This was where I first learned I had cancer, too."
Axel's brow rose and he looked back at the charred remains of what must have been a hospital. "Really? It burned down?"
Roxas looked down silently, nodding. "Yeah. Two years ago. I thought everyone would have heard about it."
Axel looked at him, swinging their hands a bit. "I wasn't here two years ago. I was in Ireland for a while. Just for a year."
Looking back at him, mouth set in a quizzical frown, Roxas asked. "Why haven't I heard about this before?"
"'Cuz you never asked." Axel said simply, leaving it at that. He gave their hands a big swing. "So, this was a big place for you, huh?"
Roxas turned back to the building, unsure of what to say for a moment. He sighed, eyes far off. "I hated this place."
Axel hmm'ed, eyes set on Roxas. "Well, it kinda makes sense then, right?"
Roxas looked back at him and smiled a weak smile, giving their hands a squeeze. "Can I tell you something?"
Nodding, the red head looked back at the building; their hands still swung idly between them.
"I accidentally burned it down."
Axel's head whipped around to look at the blond and he choked a little on his own spit. It took a moment for him to compose himself, but when he did, disbelief colored his words. "What?! Accidentally?"
The shorter boy looked down at the ground, a little ashamed and a little embarrassed. "Yes. Accidentally."
"How?!" Axel still looked at the boy with wide eyes, a little flabbergasted- Roxas knew he didn't look like the type to set fires to government buildings.
"I was... Well, it was just after my head was shaved. I got angry and left to the bathroom, and was playing with a lighter I found. I set the toilet paper and hand towels on fire, thinking it would piss off the staff. It got a little out of control."
Silence stood between them, only broken by the wind and the occasional far off traffic sounds; Axel stood with his brows furrowed, hands still in between them.
"... Did anyone die?"
Roxas sighed, as if he had been waiting for the question and dreading it. "A few. Some wanted to stay. Some couldn't get out because they were in critical condition."
Here, Roxas paused, as if remembering something he thought about in times that needed sadness. "I regret it every day. I know I shouldn't have but... I was kinda helpless and... Angry. Really angry."
Roxas looked over the ruins again, and turned around, mouth open- his words died in his throat when he found Axel's chest near his mouth, and Axel's arms wrapped warmly around him.
"It's ok, yanno. We all have regrets." The red head rested his chin on the crown of Roxas' head; it kind of hurt, but he didn't say anything, again. Instead, he opted to wrap his arms around the taller boy's waist, inside his jacket. "Just can't believe my little boyfriend burned a whole building down."
Axel laughed, trying to make the mood a little ligher; against his t-shirt, Roxas smiled.
"I could burn your world down."
"So, why aren't you drinking with the rest of your bosom buddies inside?"
Roxas huffed loudly as he lifted himself onto the roof, scrambling to get a hold of a loose shingle. Once he did, he hauled himself up, scrambling away from the edge so Axel could bring himself up. When he looked back, he scowled- all Axel had to do was lift his knee and he was on top of the roof.
Fucking tall people.
"Because it hurts for me to drink. Something about my lymph nodes in my neck getting irritated."
The red head nodded, crawling towards Roxas on his knees. Once they settled down, Axel spoke again, looking over at him where his head lay on his hands. "So it's part of your cancer?"
"Yeah." Roxas said, staring up at the stars. He briefly wondered if, on another planet, some other kids were doing the same as they were. Were they boys? Dating? Even human? "You tend to miss out on a lot when you're cooped up in a hospital bed."
Axel laughed dryly, and Roxas laughed with him. Only Axel was able to laugh with him about such a thing as cancer. Most of his other friend's just skirted around the issue, avoiding it whenever possible. The blond could see why, though- death tended to make people uncomfortable.
"No shit." Axel said thoughtfully after a moment- it took another second for him to speak, but when he did it was said cautiously; as if treading onto unknown territory. "You ever almost die?"
Roxas pursed his lips at this, unsure of what to say. Death, he had learned, was an unavoidable and dangerous thing. And it was most often beautiful in the face of pain.
"Once." He said truthfully, looking up at the black sky. "Or at least I thought so. I felt this big, black thing surrounding me, and for a second my whole world went blank except for that."
Another pause, then, quieter than before- "It was really comfy. I almost gave into it."
Axel hummed again, shifting a bit; Roxas suddenly became hyper aware of the fact that they weren't even two inches apart. The red head continued, unaware of the shorter teen's realization. "What made you not?"
"Sora was there with me." He answered simply, eyes squinting as he looked for the little dipper. "But he was asleep, hunched over my bed. I didn't want to make him face a dead brother when he woke up."
Nodding, the red head pointed upwards, east of the moon. "Look, there's the big dipper."
"Ah." Roxas said, and they went silent, searching for the stars.
The blond chewed his lip after a minute, then looked over at Axel, who was looking somewhere south. "What do you think about death? Like, what happens after and all that?"
Axel looked back at him, holding his eyes as a thoughtful frown came on his face. Roxas watched him think, caught up in the red head's... well, Roxas thought truthfully, trying not to blush, I knew Axel was hot.
"Death." Axel started, one hand going up to the stars; it waved in a grand sweep, as if taking tally of every living thing above them. "Is what you want it to be. I kind of believe in reincarnation. I believe I was a sorcerer of some kind at one time, cuz that's what my mom told me. She had this thing, y'know? She could tell you a lot of things about your past that you didn't even remember."
Axel smirked, lost in his own thoughts; Roxas listened intently, thinking about how Axel was opening up to him. "And, when she was telling me about my past lives, she put her hand on my head, right? And she said 'Axel, honey, you were playing with daddy's lighter today', like, not even a question. And I looked up all guilty at her, cuz she was right. Then she put me on her knee and told me a story, about how I controlled fire and I was in a big group of people that were just like me- how we all wanted the same thing, which was just to live."
Axel paused, looking up at the sky. "And I believe that. Cuz my mom was a wonderful lady who knew more about me than anyone."
Roxas took a few seconds before saying softly. "Where's your mom now?"
The red head didn't even skip a beat, staring at the sky hard as he answered. "In the insane asylum. They thought she was crazy cuz she predicted something about the president a decade from now that was really radical. Something about nuclear war, George Bush, and a time device." Axel laughed loudly, swiping a hand though his hair. "It did sound kind of crazy but she wouldn't let up on it. So they forced her there."
"I'm sorry." Roxas said automatically, hand coming up to brush Axel's arm. The taller teen grabbed a hold of it and squeezed, grin wide, showing a glimmer of teeth.
"Don't worry about it. She's totally fine, just lives away from home. I visit her every two weeks."
"Ah." Roxas said, not pulling his hand away. After a second they settled like that, hands between them. "She sounds really cool, though."
"She is. Gave me my ambitions and all that." Axel agreed, thumb massaging his hand. Roxas refused to acknowledge how relaxing it felt.
"Cool." Roxas grinned, looking over at the teen. "And what's your ambitions, Mr. Sorcerer?"
Axel laughed at that, giving him a quick grin. "Travel the hell out of the world and become famous because I'm so goddamn good at what I do."
Roxas grinned. "What, you're going to leave me here all by myself?"
Axel's grin just widened and he got up on his elbows, free hand poking Roxas' stomach; he curled in on himself, trying not to scowl at the red head. "What, you saying you'll be lonely without me here?"
"Who said I said that?!" Roxas accused, smile threatening to break out of his fake pout. "Just saying, oh, I'm going to be all alone in a big ole house, and who says I might not find some other hot guy who'll actually stay with me?"
"Was that a compliment?" Axel teased, poking him again; he swatted at the taller boy, still pouting. "'Some other hot guy', huh? Well, what if this hot guy just buys you a house when he becomes rich? You can't cheat on me in a house I bought, that's totally against nature."
Roxas grinned, leaning up on his elbows so he was a foot away from Axel's face. He stuck out his tongue, laughing. "What, you saying you'll buy me a house now?"
Axel laughed, eyes dancing. "Would you cheat on poor l'il ole me in it?"
"It's against nature." Roxas teased, one hand poking Axel's ribs. The other boy yelped a bit, swatting at his hand. "I can't go against nature."
"Well, then maybe I'll buy you a house. And... horses. Or some shit like that. Just so you won't be lonely without me." Axel grinned, sticking out his own tongue.
"Horses, Axel? Horses? What the fuck, seriously?" Roxas laughed, poking at his ribs again. "Why horses?"
"Shit, I don't know. It was the first thing that came to mind." Axel chuckled, shrugging as he leaned over the blond. "Maybe I'm a little insane myself."
"You're not insane." Roxas' mouth quirked up in a smile. "You're just as crazy as I am."
"How crazy are you?" Axel smirked again, and it was only than Roxas noticed how close they were, and how provocative their position was- Axel leaning over him, inches away, smiling like he was a little bit crazy; Roxas, under him and looking up, a little insane himself.
His smile slowly faded as this realization hit him, and he looked up into Axel's eyes, searching; he saw that the other boy noticed the position they were in too, smile fading a bit. Axel went to pull away, but of its own will his hand darted out and grabbed Axel's jacket. The other boy started, looking back at him.
"I'm probably a little insane." Roxas confessed, looking up into Axel's eyes. "Cuz how could I like a nut house like you?"
Before he could change his mind, Roxas leaned up, slowly pressing his lips against Axel's; the other teen immediately pushed back, his free hand placing itself on Roxas' hip.
They slowly kissed like that for awhile, tongues cautiously running along lips and teeth, hands moving them closer together inch by inch.
Roxas couldn't even think- Axel was- Axel was good at kissing, and the way he was caressing his side with his hand, and running his tongue along his lips-
Growing a little bolder he opened his mouth, touching Axel's tongue tentatively with his own. The red head took the invitation and their tongues twined, tasting.
Roxas breathed hard through his nose when Axel's thumb ran a little under his boxers, eyes tightly closed as he arched into the touch a bit.
Before Roxas could get too comfortable with kissing, Axel pulled away, mouth set in a small smirk as he surveyed the blond, who was looking confusedly up at him.
"How can you like a nut house like me, indeed?" Axel laughed, placing a quick kiss on his lips. The blond pouted at him, breathing a little abnormal. "Never knew you were the frisky type, Roxy. On a roof? Kinky."
Roxas stuck out his tongue again, then was reminded where his tongue had just been. He quickly put it inside his mouth, blushing. "I wasn't thinking of doing that, pervert. Whose the frisky type now?"
Axel chuckled, shifting so he propped himself up on his elbows again. Roxas followed suit, trying not to make a big deal out of the fact that they had just been making out on Pence's roof. "Never said I wasn't."
"So you're actually a big pervert into a ton of things that would make old ladies faint and priests do the rosary?" Roxas deadpanned, looking over at Axel. The taller teen just smirked, the hand holding the blond's retreating. He tried not to show his disappointment.
"That's for me to know and you to find out, isn't it?" Axel shifted again so that he was standing, albeit a bit awkwardly on the slanted roof. He took his hands and dusted off his back quickly before offering them to Roxas. "Now let's get back to the party. I hear a birthday cake with your name on it."
Throughout the rest of the party, Roxas was in a euphoric high- no one knew why except Axel, who only smirked at him when glanced at.
When it came time to pass out the presents and eat the cake, everyone hugged Roxas tightly, almost sloshing beer on him or giving him a shirt full of icing and ice cream.
All through out this Roxas was smiling, laughing, and happy.
By the end of the night, when Pence, Olette, Hayner and everyone else went to bed, him and Axel took count of his presents. What he got was:
-one new photo album, from Olette
-a skateboard with a little black bug thing on it, from Pence and Hayner
-a book about a boy with no heart, out to save the world, from Olette
-a bubble blower and a t-shirt which everyone signed, from Pence
-a book he had loved as a kid called 'Twilight Town', from Hayner
-thirty four dollars, from the rest of the people at the party
And, last but not least, and Roxas' favorite:
-a necklace, from Axel, that had a skeleton key on it
Exactly one month since they had started dating, Roxas rolled on top of Axel, looked at him with a serious face, and said "Let's have sex."
Axel startled from where he had been listening to his Mp3 while Roxas had been doing his homework, mouth working for a minute before setting in a perplexed frown. "Now?"
The blond rolled his eyes, propping himself up on his elbows as not to crush the red head under his weight. "No, I mean when we get married. I want children, Axel. Lots of them."
"No, but seriously. What brought this on?" Axel said, confusion still evident on his face. He shut off his music and threw it on a random pile of clothes before settling his arms around the blond's waist. "Did you just witness the miracle of conception and felt like trying it out on me?"
Roxas just shrugged, squirming a bit to get more comfortable. Axel snorted, but it went unnoticed. "No. I just... I want to have sex with you." He deadpanned. The red head would have believed his seriousness if it wasn't for the blond's red face and the way Roxas was averting his eyes.
Axel couldn't help it- it was just to cute- so he laughed, tightening his hands on the other's hips in case he tried to escape. "Damn. I can kinda understand, what with my sexiness and all, but why all of a sudden? No roses and candlelight? No proclamations of love? Just... sex out of nowhere?"
Roxas glared as best as an embarrassed man could while trying not to look straight at Axel. "Fine. If we're gonna play twenty questions, never mind. Forget everything I said."
He made to roll off the red head, and maybe go run to the bathroom where he could hyperventilate for a while, but was stopped by hands still on his hips and a grinning face.
"No way." Axel stated, and the hands on his hips pressed down, forcing Roxas to grind down slightly on the other man. Roxas just frowned, face going redder. "You want sex. I want sex. Why stop ourselves?"
"Cuz you obviously don't want it, what with asking all about it." Roxas groused, stiff. "So I don't want it anymore. Let me go. I'll yell rape, I swear."
"I never said I didn't want it." Axel said, eyebrows raised. "I just thought you were the type to wait awhile, yanno? Wait until you're sure and all that."
Roxas finally looked at Axel, his own eyebrows raised. "I'm not a virgin."
Axel spluttered, eyebrows shooting up to his hair line, mouth hanging open for a second before he dignified himself. "What? The hell? Really?"
Roxas' face reddened in anger and embarrassment this time, and he moved to get off again. "Yes, really. I lost it when I was thirteen. To my babysitter. Can we stop this now?!"
"No way. What the hell? Isn't that rape or something? The guy obviously took advantage of you-"
"It wasn't a guy." Roxas said. He swore he was going to die from blood loss. His face was on fire. "It was a girl. And I came onto her. I didn't want to be gay, so I thought it'd be cured if I had sex with a girl. It obviously didn't work."
Axel whistled loudly, mouth upturning into a sharp grin. "Wow, Roxas. I bet you were a regular Casanova back then, getting lucky with the ladies at such an early age-"
"Shut up before I deck you." Roxas threatened, eyes narrowing. "And stop being an asshole."
"I'm not being an asshole." Axel said simply, smiling fading slightly. "I'm finding out more about you. Aren't you all curious about my whole story?"
Roxas scowled. "No."
Well, in truth, he was, because Axel seemed like the guy who'd sleep with a lot of hot people and- that'd be disappointing, but still-
"I lost it when I was sixteen." Axel grinned. "To my second girlfriend. I've only had sex with about three different people, yanno."
Roxas' eyebrows drew together, frowning. "Really?"
"True and serious. Just, when I'm actually dating someone, I have a lot of sex. I'm a kinda nympho, yanno?" Axel laughed sharply, and that was when Roxas noticed his fingers were swirling nicely on his hips. It felt kinda of good, actually.
To keep himself from getting distracted he focused on Axel, still frowning. "Only three different people though? What do you like anyway, girls or boys?"
Axel just shrugged. "Both. I can appreciate the finer female form, and the rough manly one. I've had sex with a boy before, too, but you're my first boy-friend." Axel grinned again, shrugging. "First time was just a fuck with an older guy while I was drunk. I was bottom, which wasn't all that great because the guy just shoved his dick up my ass."
Roxas winced, and remembered half-hazy fantasies- being fucked hard, fast and slow, by a man with no face. It always felt good, but maybe it wasn't so great after all.
"I don't want to have sex anymore." He made a face, thinking of Axel's description in plain detail. "It sounds like it'd just end up being a mess."
Axel laughed, leaning up and kissing him softly on the mouth. He accepted the kiss, leaning into it briefly before pulling back.
"It doesn't hurt if you do it right." Axel said, smirking. "Got lotion?"
Roxas nodded, pointing at his bed side table where he kept a bottle of hand lotion in case his skin started cracking from the cancer or pills or treatments or diets he was always trying. Axel's grinned widened. "Then we're good to go."
"Really?" Roxas deadpanned, face no longer red, serious once again. "Too bad I don't want to have sex anymore."
Axel just leaned up to kiss him again and Roxas, again, consented, opening his mouth and trailing his tongue along the red head's lips. They kissed lazily for awhile before Axel flipped him over, pulling back and grinning. "Feel like it now?"
"No." He shrugged. If Axel tried taking it anywhere, he'd push him off, easy and simple. Axel wasn't the type to keep on going when 'NO' was clearly slapping him in the face.
Axel just leaned down again and pried open his mouth, hands moving up and down the blond's sides in smooth motions, pressing down on the other boy to elicit a sigh. Their tongues battled for awhile before Axel pulled back again, kissing his jaw and biting his neck before chuckling. "How about now?"
"No." Roxas said, a little out of breath. Unwittingly, he pushed his hips up into Axel's and rolled, enjoying the friction.
Axel grinded back into him, nipping at his neck while his hands slipped under the blond's shirt and danced across his rib cage in designs. He kissed a line up to the blond's lips before enveloping them again, tasting him.
A few minutes of just that and he pulled back, running a hand through his hair and letting out a breath. "Now?"
"You're not getting anything." Roxas said, face red from exertion. And the way Axel kept moving his hips was actually really, really nice. Like, really nice.
"Nothing at all?" The red head said, kissing his mouth and thrusting into him at the same time. Roxas gasped, feeling that the other boy was a little excited about what they were doing.
"You could try." He said, wrapping one leg around the other's knee, leaning up to steal a kiss from him. Axel released a throaty laugh at this, grinding his hips down.
"How hard do you think I have to go?" Axel looked him in the eyes, smirk set firmly on his face as he moved forward again.
Roxas let out a hiss of breath, finally admitting to himself that, yes, he was hard. Another roll of Axel's hip and he realized that he could only get harder. "Halfway there?" He offered weakly, bringing a hand up to tangle in Axel's mane of hair.
The red head just laughed, sweeping down to kiss him again as his hips rolled forward and one hand went between them, gently pushing up Roxas shirt.
Okay, Roxas thought, twining his tongue around his boyfriend's. This is good. This is actually pretty fantastic. And Axel's hands- woah, woah, Axel's hips, never mind-
When Axel rolled forward, hard, completely out of nowhere-Roxas moaned, loud, into the other's mouth. For a second, instant mortification ran across his face and he felt like rushing out of there. Because, Christ, who moaned except porn stars and sports players?
Of course he was completely wrapped around Axel, so he couldn't move, which was even more embarrassing. He was about to make an excuse for the abrupt noise- maybe Axel had pressed hard on his ribs or something- when the tall teen looked at him, a glint in his eye.
"I never took you for the loud type, Roxy." Axel purred, thumb flicking over his nipple. He squirmed at the contact, a little out of breath. "Is your bro home?"
Roxas furrowed his eyebrows, propping himself up on his elbows so he could look the other teen in the face. "No. Why?"
Axel just laughed and leaned forward to kiss him briefly before moving to his ear; Roxas shuddered as he licked the shell, gently sucking on his lobe before pulling away.
"That means," Axel whispered, deviously. The blond could imagine his devil tail swishing back and forth like a contented cat's. "You can be as loud as you want, baby."
Roxas felt a straight shot of pure pleasure run down his spine at the words- because, holy shit, yes, he did want to have sex now, and he could- and Axel would-
The blond grabbed a fistful of the red hair and pulled Axel's face towards him, kissing him hard before smiling a little. "Okay. Let's have sex."
Axel grinned, wide, one hand coming to wrap around the blond's back. "That's what I'm talking about."
Another forty five minute wait. Another fifteen minute appointment.
Roxas sighed, refusing to show any more frustration than that.
Looking to the table where the magazines usually lay, he grimaced.
And another Cosmopolitan. How fucking fantastic.
So, Roxas picked up the magazine (this time with a pink and blue cover) and sat down, flipping to another random page.
And, as if some force or fate was mocking him, the exact article he had landed on was 'How to Please Your Man (He'll be Begging for MORE!)'.
Roxas stared at the article in growing horror, a blush slowly staining his cheeks to Axel's hair color.
Which wasn't dyed, an evil, perverted little voice said in the back of his mind.
Gathering more will power than he was used too he stared at the article, slowly reading over what was point number one.
'(1) Tease him: Right before sex, prep a nice dinner, romantic candlelight, the works- than casually tell him you're not wearing any panties under your little sundress. This will get him thinking in the right direction, and when you know his eyes are on your prize, sit on him while watching a movie, and then, after a little foreplay, give him a slow hand job-'
And that was where Roxas stopped reading. Christ, this wasn't a girl magazine, this was a fucking porno mag.
This time he had enough will power to close the magazine and throw it back on the table, where it would await other prey.
Oh, God, he thought weakly and a with more than a little embarrassment. I had to land on THAT when me and Axel just had sex last night-
Roxas made a face of horror as he realized he had just admitted that he and Axel had had sex. Which was just making him sound like a school girl and- Christ, he and Axel had had sex and- they- Christ-
The blond spluttered, burying his face in his hands as his mind stuttered and skipped over words he was usually comfortable saying.
The worst part, Roxas had thought, was that they didn't have sex once- no, they had had sex three fucking times in a row.
Fuck, he knew he was a teenager, but... Christ. And he had been loud. And- Axel had used his tongue- in his ass-
Roxas spluttered again, burying his face deeper in his hands. God, they hadn't even kept it to his bedroom-
The blond looked up, flustered, when his name was called. The nurse smiled calmly at him as she pointed through the door, where Dr. Wise was.
He thanked her politely, face still on fire, and headed to the third door on the left. When he entered, he was thanking the Gods Dr. Wise would be another fifteen minutes so he could calm down-
He looked up into the kind blue eyes of the doctor and the color drained from his face instantly. He remembered another time where the doctor had been in the room when he had entered with Sora- when he had been first going in for tests for a fever that just wasn't going away-
"No." Roxas whispered, staring at him with pleading eyes.
Dr. Wise sighed, apparently remembering the same time. "Please sit down, Roxas."
Roxas, unable to think of anything else due to the nervousness and disbelief racking his soul, sat down on the patients table. He stared at the ground, awaiting the words that would probably bring his world crashing down again.
The older man seemed to figure out what Roxas knew he was going to say, which just bought a defeated hand to his shoulder. "I'm sorry, Roxas."
Roxas stayed silent, looking blankly at the floor as he awaited the next words.
"The cancerous tissue has come back." The doctor said, finally, and the words sounded rank coming from him; as if he had not wanted to say them ever again. "I've already contacted your mother and father and brother on the matter."
It took a minute, but Roxas closed his eyes against his next words. "And?"
The doctor also seemed to take a minute to gather his words and courage, and when he did the blond's shoulders slumped forward, as if trying to cave in on himself. "And you'll have to go into the hospital for radiation and chemo therapy. We'll also have to put you on a diet and exercise regime, as well as a new set of pills."
"What about the ones I was taking?" The short teen asked weakly, still not looking up.
"Little more than placebos." The doctor said apologetically, hand not moving from his shoulders. "They didn't slow down or quicken the process at all."
Silence. The silence of defeat, of death, of hopelessness filled the room, and Roxas felt it all on his shoulders; drowning him.
He took a breath of air and looked up, finally, but not into the doctor's face. "How long until I go into the hospital?"
"Friday." The doctor said gravely. "To get your affairs in order."
"Alright." Another pause. "Is that all?"
"Can you give me a minute?" He asked weakly, looking down again. "I... want to..."
"Alright." The doctor said, and left with little fan fare- the quiet shutting of the door was all the blond heard before he took a great, big, heaving sob that racked his whole body.
"Not again." He whispered into the air. "I don't want to die again."
He felt the hot prickles of tears in his eyes, and he took another huge breath, trying to compose himself.
It took a few minutes, but he did it with a few big breathes and a kleenex, to wipe away what little tears had escaped and to blow his nose.
When he left, the nurse smiled, none the worse for wear; the Cosmo still sat on the table, and the mother who had been waiting with him was still nursing a baby with a red face.
When he stepped outside, he took a big breath, staring at the sun.
Today was a Tuesday. And this was the day his world came crashing down again.
Roxas walked slowly, unable to go any faster because he felt like there were heavy chains attached to his shoulders, dragging him down.
He checked his phone again- 8:13 pm- and grimaced. He was a bit late. But that was okay, he guessed. He wanted to be a bit selfish today.
When he got to the park, Axel was sitting near the playground on one of the old park benches, smoking what looked like a cigarette.
When Roxas got closer, he wrinkled his nose at the smell- which definitely wasn't that of a normal cigarette. Christ, he could smell the pot ten feet away.
Sitting downwind of the red head, he made a face, leaning into him. "You know it's illegal to smoke that in public, right?"
"Not in Jamaica." Axel stated simply, swinging an arm around him. The blond leaned into the touch, trying not to shy away from the awful smell.
"You could still get caught."
"In this park?" Axel laughed, swinging the roach around. "The cops come here to buy their own drugs. They won't bust anyone whose smoking it out in the open."
The red head took another drag of the rolled up pot, and Roxas watched him; there was a certain grace to the way the red head did it, as if it was a privilege instead of a luxury. He blew out the smoke, too, as if it had the utmost pleasure in being in his mouth.
Another second of watching the red head and he made a decision, holding out his hand. "Here, gimme some."
The taller teen quirked an eyebrow at him, holding up the joint. "Gimme gimme never gets, Roxy."
"Don't be an asshole." Roxas said, laughing a little. "Gimme."
The red head passed over the joint, staring at him as he brought the drug up to his lips, trying to remember what and what not to do- don't breath in quick, take a slow, deep breath, hold it in, then let it go slowly.
He managed to do this with only a little cough, head already a little dizzy from taking his slow time in swallowing the smoke.
"I didn't know you smoked up." Axel said simply, rubbing his shoulder as he coughed a little.
"Not usually." Roxas said, between another small fit of coughs. "I don't buy it, but if someone else has it, sure."
"Ah." Axel said, taking another drag before flicking it off into the distance. "You're one of those druggies."
"Shut up." The blond said, poking the other boy's stomach; Axel just shifted at the contact, shooting him a quick grin. "I don't do it that often."
"Sure." Axel said, and they fell into silence; Roxas could feel the pleasant tendrils of the drug threading through his veins, making his world hazy and out of focus.
Christ, if only cancer was like that, he thought depressingly.
He went to go turn around and break the news to Axel, once he remembered, but stopped at the thoughtful look on the red head's face; at the way his eyes were sharp and vivid against the dark, hair standing out, skin pale in a beautiful way.
This flesh, he thought philosophically, held a person that was way too wonderful for this world.
That was when he knew he couldn't tell Axel right then- he couldn't break the news to the boy when he was so peaceful, on a night like this, where there was nothing bothering them but the wind.
He couldn't tell Axel. Not right now.
So, instead of the devastating words that were going to come out of his mouth before, new words fell out, totally unplanned. "I love you."
The red head whipped around, looking straight at him and blinking owlishly, eyes squinting in the dark. "What did you say?"
"Never mind." The blond said hurriedly, eyes turning to stare intently at the ground; he tried not to blush but it was a lost battle, like always. "I didn't say anything."
"No no no." Axel said, leaning forward a bit to look him straight in the face. Roxas' face finally gave in and he blushed heavily, still refusing to look at Axel. "You said you loved me."
"So?" Roxas said, trying to calm down. Fucking drugs, making him feel all warm and fuzzy. "Let's not make a big deal out of it. God."
"No, seriously." Axel said, still trying to look in his face; he turned around further so that his feet were dangling off the narrow part of the bench and he was practically turned with his back to Axel. "Is that the drugs talking or something or do you mean it?"
Roxas mumbled, and when Axel poked him and repeated his question, he spoke a little louder, embarrassment coloring his words. "'sn't the drugs."
"Are you serious?" Axel said, still trying to look at him without getting off the bench.
"I said let's not make a big deal out of it. God."
Oh God, this was embarrassing, he thought, trying to find things that would take his mind off what he had said and the inquiring boy beside him. How fucking embarrassing.
"No, when you tell me you love me I'm going to take it seriously." Roxas wanted to strangle the red head. Christ, he could just drop it. "Seriously? You love me?"
"I already said yes. God."
"Say it again then." Roxas whipped around, almost smacking his chin on Axel's cheek. The boy leaned back a bit, unfazed and staring at him.
"No." He said, incredulously.
"Please?" Axel said, and the way he said it, Roxas couldn't see any trace of mirth in it- it was said in a slightly pleading voice, as if the red head was begging.
The blond looked down, blush still staining his cheeks. "I love you."
"Again." Axel said, leaning in closer.
"I love you." Roxas repeated, quickly glancing at Axel's eyes, which were intent on him.
"I love y-" His words were swallowed up as Axel kissed him and he gave into the feeling instantly, mouth opening slightly as the red head's tongue caressed his lips.
They kissed like that for awhile, Roxas' neck at an awkward angle and Axel leaning forward oddly, taking all his love.
When they separated, Axel laughed, leaning his head on Roxas'. "Lucky me. I have a boy that loves me."
"Christ." Roxas said, for lack of anything better to say. He was still embarrassed over the whole thing.
"You know what, though?" He could feel Axel's sharp grin against the side of his head and he leaned back, shifting so that he was leaning against his boyfriend's skinny frame with his arms wrapped around him.
"What?" Roxas said, staring off into the distance where lights shone brightly.
"I have a certain thing for this boy." Axel started, kissing his temple. "And I'm pretty sure I love him, too. Think he'll take it?"
Roxas sat back up, turning around and staring at Axel. The red head gave him a quirky grin, hands shoved into his pockets.
The blond laughed at Axel's face- that of an eager puppy, ready to please, and more than a little embarrassed- and he kissed him, wiping off the expression.
"Of course he'll accept it." Roxas said, after separating from the red head. "He loves you, right?"
"With all his heart and soul, hopefully." Axel gave him a quick kiss and Roxas settled back down, leaning into him again.
"Him to know and you to find out, right?" Roxas hummed, looking up as best he could at the angle he was at. Axel kissed his forehead, and he grinned.
"As it always is." Axel said, and they settled into easy chatter, forgetting the time.
It was only when Roxas was dropped off by Axel, only when he opened the door and walked into Sora's worried arms, that he realized that, not once- Not once had he thought about cancer, death, or hospitals when he was with Axel.
"So, what do you want to do Friday?" Axel asked casually, lounging on his bed as if he owned it.
Roxas hummed in thought, trying to hide his anxiety at the question. "I don't know if I can do anything that day."
"Why?" Axel threaded his fingers through Roxas' hair, massaging the scalp gently; Roxas tried not to lean into the touch, and instead sat up and looked at Axel, avoiding his eyes.
"Something came up."
"Something?" Axel joked, meshing his fingers together and putting them behind his head. The blond tried not to think of how relaxed and peaceful the boy looked, of how it was going to break in a few minutes here. "What, you secretly rendezvousing with 'some other hot guy'?"
His worst fear was that Axel would say 'fuck it' and leave him to deal with it by himself. Before, he had had Sora and Olette and Pence and Hayner. Now, he had Axel, too. And he wasn't sure if he could do without him the second time round.
"No." Roxas said, getting up off the bed and going to randomly flip through his new photo album. His face was the same in the most recent ones- blond hair, blue eyes, slightly tanned skin, heart-shaped face. But he knew that it was going to change. "Just... Something."
"C'mon, tell me." He heard Axel rustling behind him, probably moving into a position that was more comfortable. Roxas forcefully reminded himself that he had to tell Axel today. "Are you seriously cheating on me or somethin'?"
"No." At this, Roxas looked back at Axel, face set in puzzlement. "What's with the whole cheating thing? You think I'm a slut or something?"
"Don't change the subject." Axel grinned, sharp, leaning forward with his hands on his crossed ankles. "I know you enough to know you're just trying to change the subject. C'mon. Seriously. Tell me."
Roxas saw the earnestness in Axel's eyes, and knew he had to tell him now. Now was the time. Tell him now.
"I went to a doctor's appointment on Tuesday." He started, looking at the bagheaded-man above his bed. If he had a bag over his head, it would probably be a lot easier to say what he was going to.
"And?" Axel motioned with his hands, telling him to go on. "You on a new set of drugs or something?"
"No." Roxas turned around again, taking a few deep breathes. It was only when Axel said his name that he turned around.
He looked at the red head quickly, whose smile was slowly fading, hands clenching on his ankles. The blond looked down and away from the sight, still trying to gather up the courage.
SAY IT, a voice inside of him screamed.
"It's back." He blurted out, hands tight in his pockets.
"'It'?" Axel said, eyes narrowing. "What's 'It'?"
Roxas, for the millionth time it seemed like, couldn't meet Axel's eyes. "The cancer."
Axel was silent and the blond was still not trying to look at him; his eyes fled to his bed table, where a book of Harold Pinter's poems lay. In his head, a line repeated: Cancer Cells are those which have forgotten how to die...
"Your cancer is back?" Axel said finally, eyes narrowed. "It's back, and you didn't even care to inform me?! You know, like, maybe Tuesday night would have been nice?"
Roxas' eyes shot up, glaring at the teen who sat on his bed. "I was trying, alright? Not like it's hard or anything to tell someone close to you you're dying!"
"Bull shit!" Axel said, hands flying up. "You know I would've understood! I could have taken you to so many places, Roxas! Instead of just lounging about in your bed all day, skipping school with you! Christ, we could have gone to the beach or something!"
"Is that all you think about?" Roxas said sharply, glaring holes at Axel. "Taking me places while I still got time? Fuck, you think I'm going to die?!"
"No!" Axel said loudly, staring at him in disbelief and anger. "It's just, now, you're going to be in the hospital for so many months and you won't even be able to go out! I could have shown you a good time before you were cooped up with all those old people!"
"They're not all old." Roxas said stiffly, eyes shifting to glare at the wall above Axel's head. "If you hadn't noticed, I'm young. And dying."
"You're not fucking dying!" Axel said angrily, unfolding himself. "And you're not going too!"
"Who the fuck says I'm not?" Roxas screamed, hands thrown up in the air in frustration. "You don't even know what it's like! You're dying, every single fucking day, and it's not like, 'Oh! I might be hit by a car today' kinda dying- You. Are. Dying. And there is nothing you can do."
Axel scowled at him, standing up and walking over to the blond. "Yeah, I don't know what it's like, but it's still hurting me, too! What, you think the people watching you 'die' are enjoying the view?! Bull shit." He spat. "If I had a choice I'd make it so I had the fucking cancer, not you!"
"But you don't have the choice, and you can't do anything but watch." The blond said coldly, staring up angrily into Axel's eyes. "I'm the one dying. Me. And, at the end of the day, I fucking wish with all my soul that I could get it over and done with."
"Shut up." Axel scowled, eyes on fire. "You don't fucking mean that."
"I do!" Roxas said, hands knuckle white at his sides. "Because it hurts and it sucks because I'm a fucking teenager. I shouldn't be dealing with this shit."
"But you are!" Axel said, hands thrown out to his sides. "And we're all fucking here for you, if you hadn't noticed!"
Roxas scowled, glaring to the side. "It's not like you can fucking help anyway."
"I can try." Axel growled. "Look at me, fuck."
"No." The blond stared stubbornly to the side, anger stirring in his veins.
Axel just scowled more, standing there awkwardly for a few seconds before throwing his hands up in the air. "Fuck! Whatever. Fuck this. I'm leaving."
"Go right fucking ahead." Roxas said coldly. "It's not the first time you walked out on me."
Axel didn't even dignify that with a reply, instead grabbing his jacket and throwing the door open as if he had a personal vendetta against it. It was a few more minutes before Roxas heard the roar of his motorcycle and the squeal of tires that signified that Axel had left.
It was only than that Roxas screamed, savagely whipping around and punching his closet. The cheap wood relented, and the blond was left with his anger still there and a dent in his closet.
He stared at the cheaply made wood for a second before dropping down to the floor, putting his face in his hands.
Second time around, and he felt all alone.
Roxas felt like shit.
Which was understandable, really- Christ, he had cancer, of course he was going to feel like shit. But today especially, because he had just went in for chemo earlier. Five hours ago. And he still felt nauseous. It always made him feel gross, like something had just ran over him. Something sticky and mucky and oh-so wrong. It was a really bad feeling.
And he still had radiation therapy to go to. Which wasn't a basket of laughs, either. And new pills to take- new ones that they were preceding with cautiously. The doctor said it raised his chance of living by seven percent.
It wasn't much, but it was still something. Roxas would take anything.
Roxas sighed and fumped back onto the upraised mattress, eyes straying over to his bedside table. Almost immediately he sat back up and reached over, pulling the drawer out.
Inside was his camera- the first thing he had thought to bring when he was leaving the house. And he had forgotten to take his picture today. Understandably, again- it was only eleven o'clock in the morning. Fucking chemo, he thought darkly.
He raised the camera up after turning it on, ready to take his picture- his finger went to fly over the shutter button and press it, but a peice of hair blocked his vision.
Annoyed, he moved his other hand to grab it and pull it to the side.
At that instant he froze, shocked- when he pulled the hand that had went to swipe the hair out of his face in front of him, there lay that exact same piece. The one he had been trying to move out of his face.
And he had hardly even touched it. He had just- swiped at it- and...
He let his camera drop into his lap, staring vacantly at the piece of hair.
All at once, it hit him- the fact that he was in the hospital again, that his spleen was swollen, that he was waking up from night sweats, that he was always tired, that he was taking chemo, radiation, and pills, that he had fucking cancer and he was only eighteen.
Before he could stop himself his knees bent and he slammed his head violently onto them, not even bothering to register the pain or the fact his camera had almost fallen off the bed. Tears streamed down his face as he sobbed openly, arms going around to hug himself.
"I-It isn't fair." He whispered viciously, fingernails digging into his knees. "I d-d-d... I do-don't want to d-d-die. I hate this. I hate this. I hate this."
He took a deep breath, letting out a whine as he banged his forehead against his knees again. Fat tears sped down his cheeks, and he could taste the snot and salt in his mouth; this only served to make him cry harder, face drawn in painfully.
"I don't... I don't w-wanna die."
Roxas froze, trying to quell his sobs as much as he could. When he looked up, there was a flash- he stared in amazement as Axel stood there, calmly taking out the photo and shaking it lightly.
He scowled after a second, bringing up an arm to wipe at the tears that still ran freely down his face. "How do you know?" He hissed angrily, nails digging into his knees again. "You don't. You can't promise that."
"You won't." Axel said again simply, placing the camera and the photo on the window sill. The red head turned around and stared at him, eyes drilling into his. "And I can't promise that. But you won't."
Roxas just scowled deeper, shifting his eyes over to the side. He silently stared at the cards and flowers his friends had given him. He absent mindedly thanked the Gods he had stopped crying.
A few minutes of silence passed and Roxas felt the overwhelming urge to get up and hug Axel- he refused to do it though. Axel didn't understand that he didn't need his bull shit when he was back in the hospital with a higher chance of dying than last time.
He was about to turn around and ask the other teen to leave when he felt warmth envelop him, and he smelled hot cinnamon and pot. He automatically breathed in, relaxing.
"You won't die." Axel said softly, kissing the top of his head. "I'm going to do everything I can to help. If it involves finding Atlantis or climbing to Heaven, then sure. Whatever, I'll do anything."
Roxas' hands came up tentatively and wrapped around Axel's forearm, which was around his knees. Looking to the side, he noticed that Axel was kind of at an awkward angle- one knee was on the bed while the rest of him stretched over the short distance and hugged him. He considered letting the red head sit beside him.
But the hug was too nice. He really needed the hug.
"I'm sorry." Axel said quietly, but it was met with a comfortable sort of silence. Roxas sniffed to wipe away the last traces of crying and Axel waited patiently, arms lax around him.
When he sniffed one last time, he looked down, brows drawn and frowning. "... My hair is falling out again."
"You'll still be beautiful." Axel replied automatically, arms tightening.
"... I'm losing weight again. I've lost thirteen pounds so far."
"You won't be able to make any more phone pole jokes about my weight anymore."
"I'm going to be sleeping most of the time. Not just from the cancer but from the pills and chemo and radiation therapy."
"I can watch you sleep. It's entertaining enough- you like to talk about the most random shit, yanno?"
"I'll be feverish. I won't talk much."
"It'll give me something to do while I wait for you to get better. I can be your errand boy."
"I'm going to be sickly and pale and look like shit all the time now."
"And you'll still be beautiful to me."
Roxas felt tears prickle his eyes again- not at the fact that he had cancer anymore, just at the fact that he was putting Axel through so much. It wasn't fair to him, either- having a boyfriend who was going to die.
"Why do you love me so much?" Roxas finally whispered, arms tightening around Axel's. A single tear rolled down his cheek and fell, barely falling on the arms around him.
And Axel, Axel didn't even pause- just tightened his arms and said "Because you're my whole world."
The second month of his stay in the hospital, and right after Christmas, Dr. Wise came in smiling, hand holding a bundle of sheets.
Before he had walked in Axel and Roxas had been playing a card game- Roxas had been losing horribly at the new game the red head had been teaching him, which involved putting down triples of cards or suits and... It was fucking confusing.
Axel had just laughed at his frustration, saying that Luxord could have taught him much better, but he'd still lose even if he got good enough to beat the professionals.
They looked up at the new arrival, and Axel stood, automatically stepping out of the room. The short teen looked at the doctor expectantly, face blank. Good news or bad news, it wouldn't help if he freaked at the man.
"Roxas." The doctor said, tone serious and mouth set in a forced smile. "How're you feeling?"
"Cancerous." Roxas said, lips quirked as he lay back on the bed. His smile faded as the doctor shifted uncomfortably, and he realized that not everyone shared the same humor as him and Axel. "But good."
"Hm." The older man said, standing at the foot of his bed. "That's good, but I'm afraid I have some bad news."
Roxas stared at him, face blank once again. He wished that he could freak on the man so it could be good news. "Yeah?"
"The level of chemo and radiation therapy you're at now is just bringing your cells to a stand still. It isn't slowing them down, or even killing them at all. I'm afraid we're going to have to up your dosage and frequency of visits." Dr. Wise said gravely, clipboard to his chest. "You know what that means, right, Roxas?"
"Yes." Roxas said automatically, dread collecting in his chest.
"More food, more exercise, more time spent with the nurses." Dr. Wise sighed, a little more human emotion showing in his face. "I'm sorry about this."
"It's alright." The blond said blankly, turning to stare out the window. "You're doing all that you can."
Out of the corner of his eye he saw the blond man hang his head, and he refused the urge to turn around and try and hurt the man verbally. If he was doing all that he could, wouldn't he be out of the hospital by now?
"Your next radiation treatment will be at eight o' clock tonight, and you're next chemo session will be at six o' clock in the morning. Get some sleep, alright, Roxas?"
The blond didn't answer, waiting for the man to leave. Once the man left, he turned onto his back and threw his arms over his eyes, taking deep breathes.
"Fuck." He hissed out between his teeth. He could feel his body already straining from the fucking treatments he was taking now, why did he have to fucking take more of it? At this rate he was going to die from the fucking treatment, not the fucking cancer! "Fuck!"
"What's wrong?" He heard from his left, and he opened his eyes against his arms. He already knew it was Axel.
"Nothing." Roxas automatically replied; he felt the bed dip as the skinny teen sat down to the left of him. He refused to look over at him.
"Bull shit." Axel said, a hand landing on his fore arm. "I know you're lying. You won't look at me when you're lying."
Roxas laughed a bit at that, mouth quirked up into a humorless smile. "Oh, you know me so much, don't you Axel?"
"Cut the shit, Roxas." The red head said roughly, hand not moving except for the small, reassuring circles his thumb was making. "I want to know what's wrong."
The blond deflated at that, blinking slowly as he tried to clear his thoughts and mouth so he could tell Axel that he was going to be seeing less of him.
"... The treatment isn't working as well as they thought it would."
"And what are they going to do about it?" Axel answered back quickly, thumb stalling; Roxas winced at the small note of panic hidden in the other's voice, and took another minute before he answered.
"Increase the dosage of everything. Including exercise and meals."
He let Axel absorb that information for a minute, eyes closing against his frustration and hatred against whatever was making him go through this hell. "That means my visiting hours will be cut down."
"I figured." Axel said gravely, a sigh escaping his lips. Then, on a lighter note, he laughed. "I guess I'm going to have to start sneaking into your room at night."
Roxas laughed a bit at that, bringing his arms down so he could give a watery smile to his boyfriend. "I won't tell them if you won't."
Axel grinned back at him, leaning over and kissing his lips quickly before winking. "It'll be our little secret, baby."
Two weeks into his new treatment, and three days after New Year's, Roxas was sleeping most of the time, barely being able to stomach his meals and walk the five miles he was supposed to walk every day on the treadmill.
Axel sat patiently by his side, usually reading a magazine or one of the books that Olette bought Roxas every week.
So, when the doctor came in, he silently put the newest book down (something about Twilight. Axel was guessing that was Roxas' favorite time of day) and moved to get out; he was quelled by the doctor's smile and a request to wake the sleeping teen up.
He gently shook the boy awake, and it was in a few minutes that the short teens eyes were blinking open and looking around dazedly. It took a light peck from Axel to get him fully awake, eyes darting to Dr. Wise.
The doctor only laughed, eyes twinkling. "Don't worry, Roxas. I already know."
The short teen shot Axel a watered down version of his best glare; Axel just shrugged, confusion written clearly on his face.
"Oh, no, Axel didn't tell me about it." The older man said. "I figured it out on my own. Someone would have to be blind to not see how much Axel loves you. He's practically here more than the nurses."
Both Axel and Roxas blushed at that, refusing to look at each other; Dr. Wise just laughed jovially, hands going to his clip board. "I do have some good news today though."
Previous embarrassment forgotten, both sets of eyes shot to the blond man, who just smiled at their intent stare before zooming in on Roxas. "It seems the double dosage and increased treatments are working, albeit at a slower pace than usual. At this time, we're not going to decrease or increase your treatment, but if it continues this way we can cut down the radiation and chemo and up the dosage on your pills a bit."
It was Axel who spoke next, eyes hard and face serious. "Does that mean Roxas can go outside soon?"
"I'd say in about a week or two, if his body's natural immune system starts kicking in." Dr. Wise hummed thoughtfully, tapping his pen against the board. "A couple days from now, if he's feeling good and if we can give him exactly the right dosage, he can go out for an hour or so."
Roxas smiled at that, not speaking so much as thanking the doctor with his face. The doctor smiled back, looking back and forth between the two. "I have other patients to tend to, so I'll leave you two alone."
And, without further ado, the good doctor left, leaving behind a wide grinning Axel and a softly smiling Roxas.
"You hear that, Roxy?" Axel crowed, looking at him excitedly. "You might even be able to get outta here by the weekend!"
Roxas smiled at him, though a bit wider. "That'd be great. I haven't been out in a long time. Did you even tell Olette happy birthday for me yesterday?"
"Of course I did." Axel scoffed, leaning back on his chair. "You take me for a shitty errand boy?"
"You're so whipped." Roxas laughed weakly, eyes closing for a long second before opening again. "Not many can say their boyfriend is at their beck and call at all hours of the day and night."
"Only cuz I love you, baby." Axel crooned, leaning forward again. "And crazy for you to boot."
"Whipped." Roxas repeated simply, taking a deep, stuttering breath; Axel was used to these by now, the halts in breathing that had him scurrying for a nurse or four in the beginning.
"Yeah." Axel agreed, leaning over to kiss Roxas' cheek. "But whatever. I'm too cool for being whipped not to be uncool."
Roxas smiled waterly, hands slowly reaching towards the table to grab the camera that stood proudly on his hospital side table. It was the only thing on it besides the flowers from his boyfriend.
"Axel, take a picture of me."
The older boy looked at him oddly, his brows raising quizzically at the request. "What? Why? Didn't you already take your picture today?"
Roxas remained silent for a second, eyes drifting off. It was only when Axel said his name that Roxas snapped back to reality, eyes more drained than they had been before.
"I haven't taken my picture yet today. I had radiation treatment this morning, then my walk, then I fell asleep."
"Ah." The other boy nodded in understanding, hands reaching towards the camera. He fiddled with it, much like Roxas usually did, then held it up to eyeview. "K. Tell me when you're ready."
The boy laughed quietly, one hand coming to swipe over the tight skin over his head. "I'm as ready as I'll ever be, Axel."
The redhead grinned, setting the camera to his eye. All he saw was the sickly pale boy, centered in glass. "Smile, beautiful."
Suddenly, Roxas' eyes were wide, panicked. His face seemed more strained than before.
He got the inexplicable urge to just drop the camera and hug Roxas, to never let him go.
He was about to, was going to risk breaking the stupid camera and face the wrath of his boyfriend just to hug him, when the blond smiled again- tired and looking for all the world like he had just made peace with himself.
A click and the picture was taken, the square photo slipping out of the slit at the bottom a minute later.
Axel took the photo, shaking it before labelling it in his own scrawled writing- April 21st, 2008, taken by Axel, sexiest beast alive..
Handing the photo to the blond, he grinned at the small giggle he made.
"Sexiest beast alive, huh?"
The taller man winked, grin wide. "And all yours, baby."
Roxas laughed again- it sounded so carefree this time. It was like the strained laugh he had heard before was a figment of his imagination. Like it had never been there in the first place.
Axel decided he'd go talk to the doctor later about how soon he could take Roxas out. He wanted to take him to the beach tomorrow.
The blond closed his eyes, setting the photo down on his lap.
"I knew there was a reason why I loved you. But I'm going to sleep, k? Wake me up in the morning. Night, Axel."
The redhead smiled, kissing his boyfriend's forehead before heading out.
He'd wake up Roxas in the morning and ask him tomorrow if he felt like going to the beach when he was allowed out. The blond would love his surprise.
Axel didn't get to wake Roxas up. The only ones allowed in the room were the family. Mourning rights went to them first, after all.
The funeral wasn't a dramatic affair. Roxas lay in front, surrounded by flowers and cards and candles. The t-shirt with all his friend's names decorated on it lay on the bottom half of his casket. The necklace Axel gave him hung around his neck.
The only thing that really stood out from every other funeral Axel had been to was that, above Roxas, were his pictures made into a video montage. It started from the first day he had learned he had cancer to the very last photo. The one Axel had taken.
In them, there was so much change- Roxas bald, Roxas with short hair, Roxas with a new piercing, Roxas with make up on, Roxas in a Halloween costume, Roxas smiling and looking healthy...
Kairi said that every single photo was heartbreaking and beautiful. The redhead smiled and told her she should have hung around Roxas more- that was the most beautiful sight in the world.
The tall teen didn't go into the chapel, joking that he'd burst into hell fire upon entering the threshold of the church. Instead, he sat outside the entrance with the doors open, listening to the service, to the sobs of his parents and the tearful goodbye from Sora.
He stayed outside until the casket was closed and it was brought out. He took his job as the pallbearer and carried it to the hearse.
He drove to the cemetery on his motorcycle, following behind the family's black limo. Behind him, cars drove, a tail of mourners.
He again took his post as the pallbearer when they got to Radiant Garden graveyard, but refused to lower the casket into the ground.
He listened to the service, and left as soon as the last shovel of dirt was placed onto the new grave.
Hours later, in the dead of night, found him in front of the new grave. He knelt at it as if it was an altar of God, staring at the writing as if it held the future for him.
All of a sudden, he couldn't help it- he laughed.
"Roxas," his laugh was loud, breaking the silence. "Roxas, you fucker, why the fuck did you tell me to wake you up tomorrow?"
He laughed again, hanging his head low. "You even knew there was no tomorrow, you little bugger. You knew. I know you did."
His laughter fell silent, escaping in small sounds. He looked happy on first glance, but a close look revealed that his face was drawn in on itself- his eyes were scrunched desperately, as if trying to block out the sight of the grave instead of the tears.
Few minutes passed before he started speaking again, voice broken.
"You knew, Roxas. You knew and you never told me and I wish you did and- fuck. Fuck you, because I didn't even say goodnight."
Another giggle escaped him, but it sounded more desperate than the last. Silence, and then he folded forward, hands holding his stomach.
"How the fuck could you do this to me, Roxas? You made me fall in love with you, you little bastard." A hiccup escaped his throat. He didn't even care to wipe the tears away, or try to hold them back anymore. "Aren't you supposed to take responsibility for me? Like, you know, make sure I don't feel lonely or anything like that?"
He didn't even laugh- he was trying so hard not to sob.
"I'm fucking lonely right now, Roxas. So lonely. I feel empty, and- fuck. Fuck this. Fuck it. I miss you so bad."
His forehead touched the ground. His tears hit and were soaked up instantly by the newly turned soil.
He seemed to stay in that position forever, but it was only minutes before he unfolded, sitting on his haunches. His face was red but his eyes were clearer. He smiled tiredly.
"No use talking to a gravestone, huh? May as well give you your surprise while you can't refuse."
This time he got on one knee. He stared above the gravestone, as if looking at a figure that was actually there. Slowly, he took a small, blue box out of his pocket, snapping it open quickly. He smiled nervously, lost in his own world. It took a moment more for him to speak, voice lost and nervous.
"You know I love you, Roxas. With all of my heart. And we talked about moving in together, remember? Even though it was a kinda stupid way of asking you. So, to make it solid, why don't we... Well." He paused, still lost. His next words were strong, as if he were actually speaking to someone. "Roxas, will you marry me?"
And he could imagine it now.
Roxas stared at him in disbelief, leaning back on his hands on the boardwalk above Axel.
"Wait. Axel, seriously? You want to marry me?!"
The redhead laughed, still on his knee with the box open in front of him. Inside it was a ring with a simple heart. A small engagement ring, really. "I'd appreciate an answer, you know, instead of the disbelief and 'holy fuck?!' reaction. I'm practically having a heart attack, my heart is beating so fast."
"But..." The blond couldn't take his eyes off the small ring. Behind them, the sun set into twilight, casting a golden glow. A golden glow on his golden boy, Axel thought. "You.. you really want too? You'd be willing to... give up everything... for me?"
"I wouldn't be in front of you like this if I wasn't serious."
Roxas went quiet at that, face contemplative. It was two minutes- two minutes too many, in Axel's opinion- when he finally moved, hoisting himself off the boardwalk onto the sand.
The redhead thought his worst fears were coming true- that Roxas had finally come to his senses and was walking away from him.
The fear only increased when Roxas kneeled infront of him, closing the box and putting it off to the side, safely away from them.
I really am an idiot, Axel thought. On the outside, he laughed, a small smirk on his lips. "I guess that's a n-"
He couldn't finish his sentence before the blond grabbed his face and kissed him hard on the mouth. It wasn't even a real kiss- just mouths pressed together in an almost painful way.
Nonetheless, Axel's heart positively soared.
When they broke apart, Roxas was flushed, breathless, and smiling. He laughed, the sound so happy and carefree Axel couldn't help but grin.
"You idiot." He said, the disbelief still on his face. "Of course I'll marry you."