Hell-o again. And yet, another piece from me. It's not as well written as I hoped it would be, but only because the latter half of the story was quite rushed. Anyway, please enjoy.
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Hey, even if he couldn't keep the dog, nobody said anything about the owner.
This was it. This was fucking it, he thought, his mind swimming in a perpetual state of disbelief, with the clear stench of "What the fuck?" The day, overall, hadn't been a walk in the park. It was leaning more towards "Jumping through flaming hoops over shark-infested waters that lead into the bowels of hell." Yes. It had been bad, Axel thought. In fact, this day was probably pushing its way into top five shittiest days within the year. And Axel's life, shitty enough as it was, didn't need any more crap falling on top of other crap.
To begin with, he had woken up late that morning and his boss thought it would just be a hoot to make him feel even worse by making him work later than usual. Then the ill fortune had extended from morning till noon, when the restaurant had been packed with customers despite it being a weekday. Now, on occasion, that wasn't a bad thing. But today in particular, it was horrid.
A couple of orders had been mixed up because someone had thought that it would be funny to have the new kid, Tidus, serve the largest tables in the restaurant. Axel had then spent the next half hour trying to appease the angered and disgruntled customers, which had worked just fine and dandy, until another group walked into the restaurant through its French doors. As it turned out, they had a reservation at one of the tables that Tidus had taken orders at, and the fiasco had only just begun.
By the time that half the restaurant was deserted, and the other half looked like a war zone gone terribly wrong (there was pasta everywhere …), Axel had been just about ready to hang himself. He had then been placed with cleaning duty, because as the manager had said, "You were supposed to be in charge of Tidus, Axel. Therefore you have to take responsibility."
Yeah, well, fuck that.
That's what Axel would have wanted to say, but Court Rose paid good money, despite it being such a stuffy restaurant with stuffy employees and stuffy customers. Getting fired was the last thing he wanted.
So the afternoon had mostly been spent trying to salvage the remains of the lunchtime skirmish, with Tidus at his side, muttering things like, "Dude, I am so sorry," and, "I mean … it wasn't my fault. That asshole Gippal told me to take orders."
By the time the clock had struck two, Axel had been straining with the effort of controlling himself, wanting badly to beat his blond co-worker with the broom he held.
As if things weren't bad enough, when Axel was finally able to go home, he had discovered that his Gallardo Nera was currently out of gas. In his haste to get to work that morning, he hadn't noticed this, and then proceeded to slam his head repeatedly on the roof of the car for all of fifteen minutes until Tidus had showed up.
As a token of his apology, the kid had offered him a ride home, and Axel gladly accepted. The parking lot of Court Rose was secure, so he didn't need to worry about his car being stolen. But Axel's momentary state of relief was shot to hell when he caught sight of Tidus' red Vespa Piaggio. He couldn't possibly be caught dead on one of those things, being the owner of a sports car.
He had half a mind to just ditch Tidus and call someone to pick him up, but now was probably not the time to be picky, so he had resigned himself to the offer. He thought that at least the extra helmet that the blonde had would keep people from seeing his hair, Axel's most distinguishing feature. But again, things just had to get worse.
Tidus' scooter seemed to be moving at a sluggish fifteen kilometres per hour, and twenty minutes into the ride, Axel was feeling slightly suicidal. It took them all of two hours to get to Axel's house on the far side of town, and by that time, the redhead had half a mind to stop by the hardware store and buy rope to make a noose.
Presently, this is where we find him, trudging dejectedly up the empty driveway towards his modern-style house at seven o'clock in the evening. The small building was rather relieving to see, Axel thought, sighing with exhaustion. At least he could have a warm bath, and a comfy bed to sleep in. He would probably just call in sick come morning, because as of the moment, Axel really couldn't give a crap whether or not his co-workers would be incapable without his help. They were grown men and women. They could handle one day without him.
When he was halfway across the driveway, Axel heard rustling. A little startled, he looked towards the neighbour's bushes, raising a brow at the shrubbery. They were still for a moment, but then began to move and shake. Jade eyes narrowed, Axel paused in his trek towards his front door, eyeing the greenery with suspicion. Last time he checked, the neighbour didn't have a cat. Or other pets for that matter. Let alone mutant plants.
A little indecisive about leaving the matter alone or checking what was in those bushes, Axel paused and thought. He had had enough trouble for the day, and moving shrubbery was not something he wanted to add to his list of problems. Dismissing the thought, he continued towards his front door, looking forward to that hot bath he had in mind.
But, going with the pattern of the day's events, that wasn't going to happen unless Axel suffered a little bit more.
Just as he was about five steps away from his sanctuary, a streak of gold flashed in the corner of his eye. Axel's reflexes weren't fast enough and he didn't react in time to block the flying tackle that came his way.
The redhead was sent sprawling backwards towards his front lawn with a heavy thing landing on top of him.
It was at this moment that the first lines of the story come into play, as they are spoken by Axel.
"This is it," he muttered, tone void of emotion. "This is fucking it. I have gone mad. This day broke my sanity, and I am not getting it back."
He stared up at the golden retriever staring down at him, tongue lolling out the side of its mouth, big, brown eyes unblinking.
Axel froze. "Okay. I'm hallucinating. Xigbar, wherever you are right now, this is all your fault. Thanks for making me work overtime, man. I hope you pop an organ."
At a shooting range somewhere in town, a sneeze was heard.
For a while, Axel was unmoving as doggie breath came in puffs at his face. His brain simply wasn't comprehending the situation, probably from stress overload throughout the day. Randomly, he thought of Lucky Charms. And the leprechaun in the commercial. Then it registered that a bowl of cereal mixed with marshmallows and a little man dressed in green had zero relevance to present circumstances.
Sitting up with his elbows for support, Axel stared at the dog who had then thought it would be a good idea to lie down on his legs, resting its head on his stomach.
Axel opened his mouth as if to say something, then remembered that the dog, even if it understood him, probably wouldn't respond in English. He pondered over what he should do with the animal, petting its head a little fondly. The golden retriever's hair was well kempt, was clean and the dog actually smelled good. It weighed a ton on his lap, which meant that the little guy was well fed. It clearly wasn't a stray and was pure bred, so what was it doing wandering the neighbourhood this late?
Axel checked for a collar, and was disappointed to find none. How was he supposed to return it to the owner if he couldn't find some sort of contact number or address?
Sighing, he wriggled from underneath the dog until it got off him. As Axel stood up, he observed the retriever, hands crossed over his chest.
"Well … I wouldn't want your owner to worry any more about you," he muttered as the blond dog sat down on the grass in front of him.
Rolling his eyes in a defeated fashion, Axel started towards his front door. "Guess you'll have to come with me then. Whoever owns you owes me big time."
Quite obediently, the golden retriever trotted along beside him, and followed Axel right into the foyer. The redhead hoped to god that the dog wouldn't trash his house, because he had spent a fortune on the interior design.
For once in what seemed like forever, bad luck wasn't following him at every turn, because all the dog did was trot towards the living room and lie down on his deep red carpet. The golden retriever seemed to match the furniture and upholstery, Axel noted somewhat amusedly. The warm tan, gold, red and brown color scheme made the ball of fur blend right in.
"Okay, listen here, buddy," Axel said, squatting down in front of the dog, looking it straight in the eye. "If you're gonna stay here until I figure out how to return you, I have to lay down a few rules. First of all, slobber, piss, or chew on my things, and I'll have you in the pound, ten seconds flat. Second, my house is not a toilet. Do your business outside, preferably on someone else's property." To emphasize, Axel pointed towards the door. "Third, if you somehow manage to open my fridge or my pantry, the strawberry Pocky is strictly off-limits. You can gnaw on anything else, just not those."
Standing up, he nodded at the dog, who gave a somewhat understanding woof. "Good. We have an agreement." He then reached into his jacket pocket, pulling out his MOTO Z6w. He knew just who to call for animal consultation, but Axel hoped that Demyx wouldn't start going off into some stupid spiel about dogs, cats, or wildebeest.
Scrolling down his list of contacts, he finally found Demyx's name, and then called the blond.
Axel rolled his eyes. "Yeah, Dem. It's me. I need a few answers to some simple questions."
There was some rustling over at the other line, as the redhead moved to sit on his coffee brown loveseat, reaching for the remote to his plasma screen. "Well, well. What could the great Axel Kashou need from me, I wonder? Okay, shoot."
As Axel turned the television on, setting the channel to the Summer Olympics, he thought of what he should ask. He knew nothing about taking care of pets, except that they needed to be fed, walked, and their crap in your backyard wasn't a pretty thing. So he basically didn't know where to start.
"What do you know about taking care of dogs?" he asked, watching as the commercials rolled.
"Um, a lot. Depends on what kind of dog we're talking here. Wait, did you actually get a pet? WOW."
The redhead rolled his eyes, and petted the dog who moved to curl up at his feet. "Uh, no. I just came across a golden retriever by my driveway earlier. I figured I couldn't let the thing wander around without supervision. I'll figure out how I can find the owner later." He paused, looking up at the track lights on his high ceiling. "So, what? Tell me the basics. I don't want to kill or neglect the mutt."
Demyx snorted. "It's not a fish, Axel. Dogs don't die very easily. Unless, you know, you leave bleach lying around the house. You just have to feed him three times a day with dog food and a bowl of water, let him out once in a while so he won't do his business inside the house. I recommend the backyard. Oh, and chocolate is very bad for dogs, so don't feed him any. Wait, is it male or female? I've been saying 'he' this whole time."
Axel raised a brow at the golden retriever, amazed that he hadn't even thought of checking the gender earlier. He carefully lifted the dog's leg with minimal protest. Nodding to himself, he spoke into his phone. "Yeah, he's a guy. Is that it then?"
"Well, if you figure that you're keeping him for a while, I recommend a leash and a collar if you want him to get some exercise without running off."
Sighing, Axel turned off his television, not finding the current Olympic events very interesting. "Do I have to? Can't he just run around in the backyard?"
"I don't know," Demyx said, sounding a bit exasperated himself. "I suggest finding his owner soon, then. Oh, and try not to give him a new name. He might get used to it then get confused when you return him."
"What, I call him 'mutt' and 'dog,' then?" Axel asked in disbelief. But then he shook his head, dismissing the argument. "Never mind, Demyx. Thanks for the info."
The redhead then hung up, sliding his phone back into his pocket. Finding the owner was going to be simple. Answer: Posters. That was one less problem to worry about. He could get started on those some other time. Standing up, Axel sauntered over to the kitchen. If he didn't want the mutt chewing off the upholstery, he had to feed it, in case he was hungry. But what could he possibly have that was appropriate for a dog to eat?
Rummaging through his pantry in search of suitable food items, Axel searched for about ten minutes until he moved to his fridge. The only thing he found that he thought would be appropriate was rice. It wasn't a particularly complicated dish and didn't contain much, so it was probably safe.
After heating it in his microwave, Axel placed the rice on a clean plate and set it down on the floor. When the dog didn't ignore it and went straight to eating, the redhead figured that rice was okay. He took a plastic bowl from one of the overhead cupboards and filled it with water from the tap and set it beside the plate of rice.
On the other end of the neighbourhood, things weren't going so well.
"RIKU! HE'S GONE. MY BROTHER'S GOING TO KILL ME!"
"Sora, you idiot! We've got to find him. Roxas is going to kill us if he finds out that we lost his dog."
Thus, the mad scramble began.
Once Axel had changed into a pair of grey sweat pants and had a nice, hot bath, he sauntered shirtless into the kitchen with a towel hanging neatly on his broad shoulders. He spotted the dog obediently sitting on the floor, with the bowl and plate cleared beside him.
"Huh …" Axel murmured, raising a brow as he placed the bowl and plate in the sink. "Who knew this would be a piece of cake? You don't do much …" he said, leaning back against the kitchen counter. The retriever merely wagged its tail as a response, tongue lolling out on the side of his mouth.
He thought that if the animal did anything crazy like chew on furniture or slobber on anything that so much as resembled something edible, he would have to take the thing to the city pound. However cruel and heartless that would have seemed, Axel had his own life to deal with, and Goldy probably had his owners in a fuss. He would be found in no time. But the dog was oddly very domesticated and behaved. Which just made things easier for Axel.
Now, the next problem. Posters. It was a simple matter of taking a picture of the dog, add in his name, contact number and address, print, bam. Lost and found poster. But he sure as hell wasn't going to be the one taping them all over town.
"Hey, Tidus. We're both grown, mature men here. So I'm sure you know that last night pretty much added to my list of bullshit to deal with rather than take a load off me. I'm saying it to you straight up, man: you're scooter's a piece of crap."
The blond drying champagne glasses gave Axel a rather offended look. "Just because you drive a Lamborghini doesn't mean you have to insult my scooter."
The redhead rolled his eyes. "Even for a scooter, it's still a vehicular piece of shit. But listen, you can make amends for that if you do me a favour."
"What the hell, man?" Tidus exclaimed, throwing his drying cloth on the counter. "You insult my ride, then you ask if I can do you a favour? No can do."
Jade eyes narrowed. "Oh, really? Then I'm guessing Xigbar won't mind hearing about that time when you ate the vanilla ice cream that was supposed to be served for dessert last week. Oh, I think he's polishing his guns upstairs. Let me go get him."
"Wait!" shouted Tidus in alarm, grabbing Axel's shirt by the sleeve as he was about to go tell on him. "Okay, fine. I'll do whatever favour you want me to do, as long as it isn't degrading, life-threatening, or will cost me money."
Axel jerked his arm away from the blond's grip, smoothing the wrinkles in the fabric of his shirt with a hint of disgust. "Pointless cruelty isn't my thing. Even if it was, I wouldn't waste my time on you. Anyway, all I want you to do is put up a couple of posters around my neighbourhood this Saturday when we're not working. Piece of cake, right?"
Tidus looked at him suspiciously. "They aren't going to embarrass me or anything like that, are they?"
Patting the younger boy on the shoulder, Axel made for his exit. "They're just a notice for a lost dog. Get over yourself."
He headed out of the backroom towards the upstairs floor of Court Rose. Manual labour was now taken care of, now he just had to deal with the posters. Not a big deal. He had a computer and printer at home, so that was that. His digital camera was another story, because he had no idea where it was. Axel had little patience with trying to find it at home. So he was going with the easy way of things. The assistant manager, Zexion, had a camera. All that was left was convincing the little sucker to lend it to him for one night.
Freezing in his steps, Axel heard the voice of the manager, Xigbar. He turned around rather stiffly, readying himself for the coming onslaught of reprimanding for yesterday's fiasco. The old man hadn't looked very happy by the end of the day, and Axel had made the mistake of coming to work the next. He had thought of calling in sick until the heat died down, but sooner or later, he figure he'd have to face the impending doom.
"Buddy, I have to thank you for what happened yesterday!"
Axel blinked, trying not to gape. What the fuck?
"As it turns out, you lucky little fucker, the lady at one of the tables you handled yesterday was quite taken by you." Xigbar attempted a wink, but given his leather eye patch on his right eye, it came as more of a blink. "She donated a chunk load of money for all the trouble, and even left you this," he said slyly, handing Axel a small slip of paper with a number and name written on it.
Axel took it in his hand, looking quite bewildered. Attached to the back with a small paperclip was a picture of a total hottie.
"And guess what? That means you get a raise!"
That made Axel gawk.
"Wait, what? You're being oddly nice today. And as much of a nice change that would be, I find it creepy," Axel spoke, his tone flat. "Just how much money did this woman give you to act as an intermediary?"
Xigbar grinned cockily. "A lot." With a two-fingered salute, the raven-haired man turned on his heel, heading for the ground floor.
Axel shook his head slowly, in total disbelief. What the hell? Now, he wasn't one to reject small blessings, but this was somewhat overwhelming. Xigbar had spared his ass from a total chew out session, then had given him a raise, and a gorgeous babe left him her number. That was more than he got on Christmas. Which said, was pretty pathetic, and explained his shock.
Pushing his disbelief aside and letting the miracle sink in as a good thing, he headed towards the employee lounge where Zexion resided most of the time. The guy was more of a damage control person, and he was good at it. Where he had been at yesterday's debacle was beyond Axel.
Opening the door, the redhead stepped over the threshold, the air-conditioning hitting him at once. Axel spotted Zexion seated on one of the midnight blue silk couches, a lexicon resting on his lap.
"Hey there, Zexion," Axel spoke, trying to sound casual, taking the black velvet armchair on the opposite end of the couch, knowing how much the younger employee enjoyed his personal space.
The slate-haired male looked up, then politely took off his rectangular reading glasses and set his large book aside. "Yes, good morning to you, too. But to my knowledge, your break isn't set until an hour. Shouldn't you be handling things downstairs, Axel?"
The redhead shrugged. "It's a slow day. Listen, I need a favour." He was feeling oddly repetitive today. "I need to borrow your camera for one night because I can't find mine. I'll take good care of it, so don't worry. I just need it to take one photo." With Zexion, thorough reasoning and logic was a must, unless he wanted a flat out "NO."
The short boy blinked at him, lashes lowered like they usually were. He gave a nonchalant shrug, reaching for his book, which he had set down on the coffee table in front of him. "It's in the cabinet by the confectionary table. Third shelf from the top. I'm assuming that's all?"
Axel blinked. That was it? He had expected a bit of grovelling and pleading, but Zexion had let it go just like that? What the hell was wrong with people today?
Sighing in partial disbelief and ease, the redhead muttered his thanks to Zexion, and, as directed, found the PowerShot G9 sitting comfortably on the shelf, and took it, making sure to handle it with care.
On his way downstairs to put it in his messenger bag, Gippal met him by the entrance to the kitchen.
Great, Axel thought sourly. The idiot born to make my life worse.
"Move, Gippal," he muttered only a little begrudgingly as he attempted to get past the blond (who also had an eye patch) who was blocking the kitchen doors with his wide frame.
"Hey, there, Axel," he said with a grin. "Listen, about yesterday …"
"Don't get me started." The redhead almost snapped, but managed to get his words out in a somewhat intolerant tone. "We both know you're a bastard, and I can be one too if you don't haul ass."
Gippal scoffed. "Okay, we've had our differences, and I just wanted to apologize. The guys at back just thought it would a funny little joke, is all. I mean, man, it's Tidus." When Axel showed no sign of agreeing, Gippal merely rolled his visible eye and decided to cut down to the chase. "I thought it would be a nice way to apologize to have your car fixed up and ready to go. I heard from Tidus that you ran out of gas yesterday." The blond grimaced. "Then you had to ride on his god-awful scooter. Man, I've seen that thing go, and it ain't no fast and furious."
Axel looked at him, incredulous. His shock lasted for all of two seconds, however, as a scowl took over. "Wait, just how the hell did you get gas in my car?"
Gippal snorted, crossing his hands over his chest. "You left your door unlocked. And your key was inside, too. It's a good thing that I was the one who found out first. Had it been anyone else, you'd be in deep shit." The blond shrugged then headed towards the foyer. "I gotta fix some menus. Now we're even."
Axel frowned, not bothering to glance over his shoulder at Gippal's retreating form. "Yeah. Thanks."
He headed towards his designated locker near the backroom, placing Zexion's camera in his bottle green bag. Well, he knew Gippal could be nice on occasion, but that niceness had never really extended to him, as far as he could remember. Dismissing the thought just as fast as it had come, Axel walked out of the locker room and headed for the kitchen. The restaurant was pretty much empty this early in the morning, so there wasn't much hustle and bustle.
As soon as he set foot in the kitchen, however, Axel saw Lexaeus hanging up his apron along with the other chefs. A little startled, Axel approached the large man. "Uh, what's going on? You can't all be on break."
Lexaeus shrugged. "Xigbar and the others had something important to do in town. We're closing up for the afternoon and evening, since it's a slow day."
The redhead blinked, brows furrowed. "Okay … that means we have the rest of the day off."
Returning to the backroom, Axel couldn't stop rubbing the back of his neck. The day had gotten off to a surprisingly good start, and had gone from that to even better. He had gotten a raise, free manual labour from Tidus (the kid hadn't been fast enough to ask for payment), a camera to borrow, and now a mini vacation. Oh, and his car had gas. It was only now that Axel noticed that Gippal had placed his car key inside his locker.
Shrugging, he figured that his life was starting to turn around, and that was a good thing. He had endured crap after shit after hellhole for twenty years now; and it was time for fate to compensate.
On the way home, he bought a collar and a leash from the local pet store.
When Axel reached the veranda of his backyard, he found Goldy over by the left end of his pool, crouching by a blue butterfly. Amused, he decided to watch the dog for a moment, and was rewarded by an entertaining pounce towards the bright insect that moments before had been fluttering quite low over the grass. The butterfly flew away, and the dog began to chase it around, until it flew over the high enclosure surrounding the yard.
Axel whistled, deciding that he had had enough fun, and the retriever immediately came bounding happily towards him, woofing in appreciation.
The redhead bent over the dog, attaching the collar and leash around his neck. "Okay, boy. Since I got time today, we're walking. We don't want you getting fat and lazy."
The golden retriever barked, and Axel led it towards the fence door that led into the driveway. He decided that walking around the field in front of his lot would probably do, since it was pretty huge. The afternoon was slightly cloudy, but still sunny without being too hot and bright. It was perfect weather, and the moderate breeze was refreshing against Axel's skin. The dog was an obedient thing, and never lagged behind or ran ahead, instead just trotting alongside Axel. Whoever the owner was probably had experience in dog training.
The whole walk had been quiet and peaceful, with the occasional cyclist or kid passing by quickly. It was only until they passed by the forest area that things started to dampen.
Axel noticed out of the corner of his eye when the golden retriever's ears pricked up, it's head snapping towards the tall trees. When the dog stopped walking altogether, the redhead narrowed his eyes.
"Oh, shit no-"
His arm was suddenly tugged violently into a direction and speed that could possibly have injured something, as the dog went galloping like a horse towards the forestation. Axel's grip on the leash was lost, causing his equilibrium to screw up big time, with him ending up face first on the pavement.
"You stupid mutt!" he yelled angrily after the speeding ball of fur. "What the hell was that for!?"
Deciding that losing the dog would be a bad idea, Axel ended up chasing after it. He couldn't give a crap that the dog couldn't understand English. It was getting a good scolding afterwards.
After wandering around the woods for a few good minutes, Axel spotted blond hair behind a couple of bushes. Stomping angrily towards the dog, he was about to yell some none too gentle words but stopped dead in his tracks at the sight before him.
There by the dog, was a little kid who was crying, his face red, cheeks stained with tears.
"Kid, you okay there?" Axel asked, hurrying his pace. He bent down next to the brunet, whose brown eyes were puffy from crying.
"I-I went an' tried findin' my ball then I gots lost … and I tripped and now my foot hurts!" the kid sobbed, crying even harder.
Brows furrowed in worry, Axel took a look at the brunet's leg. His ankle was swollen, but the damage didn't look too severe.
"Okay, okay. Calm down. I'll help get you home." Axel moved to pick the boy up and gently hoisted the light little thing into his arms. "C'mon, stop crying now. I'm right here, and everything's okay now. We'll get you to your mommy and daddy if you tell me where you live," Axel said, trying to console the little guy. He looked towards the dog, who was now seated obediently by his feet. "Good job, but I'm still not happy about that little stunt of yours back there," he snapped, glaring.
The retriever merely barked happily in response.
"B-But my ball …" the kid muttered, getting Axel's attention. "I didn't find my ball."
The redhead was about to argue, but seeing as the kid would probably just start bawling all over again, he sighed, adjusting his grip. "Fine, we'll find your ball."
As soon as Axel took a step forward however, the dog went bounding off into the woods again, barking and making a racket.
"Oh, you stupid bitch …" Axel hissed under his breath, careful not to let the kid hear his terrible use of language.
"Where's he goin'?" the brunet asked, looking towards where the dog had ran off.
"I don't know, but we better make sure he doesn't get lost."
Axel was starting to feel exasperated. He knew that the day had gone far too well for his own good, and now fate decided that it would be a nice little chuckle with a few giggles here and there if Axel got a nice kick in the nuts after all his good fortune.
About a few paces from where he found the little kid, Axel heard the dog coming back, its trotting audible against the crinkling of fallen leaves. When it came into view, it was apparent that there was something in his mouth. Axel squinted and saw that it was some sort of gold ball.
"My ball!" the kid in his arms shrieked, nearly deafening his left ear. He then started flailing wildly as the dog sat in front of them, ball still in his mouth.
"Hey, stop moving around so much! Here, I'll lower you," Axel grunted as the brunet's small fist nearly made contact with his face. He squatted in front of the golden retriever, who placed the golden ball obediently in the little boy's lap. The kid giggled and patted the dog on the head before Axel straightened. Sighing in exasperation and slight relief, Axel looked at the kid who was now apparently ecstatic about getting his toy back. "Now can we get you home?"
The boy nodded rapidly. "Yup! I live in the really, really, really big house inside the forest."
Axel raised a brow. "What? You're telling me that you live in Beaufort Manor?"
The redhead developed a tic in his jaw. "You mean to tell me that you're the son of Mayor Beaufort? You're his kid, Jason Beaufort?"
The kid nodded, unaware of the slight hyperventilation that Axel was having. "Yup, that's me! I'm Jason. What's your name, mister? Are you from the circus?" Jason poked one of his facial tattoos.
Axel rolled his eyes, speed walking in the direction of the mansion everyone in town knew so well. "I'm Axel. And no, I'm not from the circus."
What the flying fuck? The kid was the son of the mayor … Axel was definitely in shock. That meant that a lot of people were probably looking for little Jason, and him finding the boy was most likely a good thing. Now … to find his house. It couldn't be very hard to miss (it was a mansion for god's sake), but with the array of trees and shrubs, any sort of path was hard to see.
After walking around for a few more minutes, Axel finally came across a leaf strewn path, and once he followed it was rewarded by the sight of the tall gates of Beaufort Manor.
Once he was in sufficient distance of the large building, Axel spotted quite a few people standing around the circular driveway that enclosed the perimeter of the marble fountain that stood proudly in front of the vast manor. As he walked closer to the gates, a man in a suit spotted him and began yelling.
"Jason's been found! Over there!"
Before Axel had time to react, he was surrounded by a swarm of people, all speaking at the same time.
"Jason, we were so worried about you!"
"Are you hurt? Get a doctor, quickly!"
"What were you thinking, running off like that?"
"Thank goodness you're okay!"
Axel coughed. "Yeah. I found him in the woods. I think he injured his ankle or something."
"It still hurts a little …" the kid muttered, still in the redhead's hold.
There was a moment of silence, that was, however, short-lived as the people suddenly began to all speak at once again.
"Oh, god bless you, young man!"
"Thank you so much for helping out our little Jason!"
Axel was starting to develop a headache. All he wanted right now was to go home and rest for a bit, because as of now, he was more exhausted than he thought. This afternoon had been meant to relax and do absolutely nothing, and instead, fate decided to kick him in the ass again, landing him with the task of saving the mayor's son. Boy, his luck was really something.
He opened his mouth, about to hand over Jason to someone else, when a foreign voice intercepted him.
"Young man, that was a gracious thing you did, and I thank you for it."
Blinking, his eyes darted over the people crowding around him to find Mayor Beaufort standing there himself. At a loss for words, Axel merely nodded.
The mayor smiled politely, his moustache moving along with his mouth. "I would like to know your name please," he spoke.
As Jason was taken from Axel by a woman dressed in a blazer and a pencil skirt, he replied, trying to sound neutral. "Axel Kashou."
"Ah, Axel. Well, as a token of my immense gratitude, I would like to give you this fifteen thousand munny cheque," from out of nowhere, a signed cheque was pulled out, "because good people like you ought to be rewarded."
The redhead's mouth fell agape. Fifteen thousand? Were his ears deceiving him? This was a fucking joke.
All other words were ignored as Axel mentally tried to process what had just happened. It usually helped to go over the things that happened in your day when you were attempting to calm down or remember something, so he started with that.
He had woken up early, which was a good thing. Riku had given him a ride to work without much fuss. Tidus had agreed with poster duty without his usual bought of unnecessary whining. Xigbar had given him a raise, and the number of a hot chick. When asked, Zexion let him borrow his expensive camera. Gippal had taken the liberty of filling his car with gas. He had taken the rest of the afternoon off. Walked the dog. Got hurt by said dog. Found a kid injured in the forest. Now he was being rewarded quite generously by said kid's father, who just so happened to be the mayor.
For no apparent reason, his life began to pass by in his mind's eye, and Axel had the slightly masochistic notion that his soul was dying quite slowly, which only left his body to deteriorate as he stood there, speechless.
It was only after a few minutes that Axel realized that he had been left alone in front of the manor, and every one else had gone moments after the excitement had passed. And all he was left with after that incident was a fifteen thousand munny cheque, a scratch on his face from when he fell, and a happy golden retriever sitting by his feet.
"What the hell!?" he shouted, throwing his hands up in the air. Axel paused in his pacing around the living room, turning to glare sharply at the dog lying quite contentedly on his carpet. "This whole day has been going all wrong, you stupid mutt, and as irrational as this sounds, it all seems to be your fault." Axel shook his head, glaring up at the ceiling then at his shoes. Good luck wasn't something he was used to, and this day had been culture shock to the max. He was used to the occasional bought of misfortune here and there during any normal day, but he had never once encountered something like this.
Axel was not a close acquaintance with blessings, and this was pushing dangerously close out of his comfort zone. His day had gone by with abnormal pleasantness, and had then expanded into miraculous.
It. Was. Not. Normal.
With a huff, he sat down on his couch, glaring down at the dog at his feet. It was a remarkable coincidence that all this had happened just after this mystery mutt had appeared right at his doorstep.
The whole house was amazingly silent for a few moments, due to the absence of Axel's panicked and upset outbursts.
Quite some time after Axel had decided to calm down, he looked decisively at the dog, and stooped lower from his seat on the couch, and pointedly raised a finger at the retriever.
"Listen here, buddy. We're going to perform a couple of experiments right before I return you. Because there is just no way in hell that you're an oversized good luck charm."
Axel had found Goldy on a Monday night, effectively setting the dog's feng shui button to "ON" the following morning, on a Tuesday.
On Wednesday, Axel found out that his loving parents had sent his allowance in advance, only the amount was considerably larger than usual. He had received a message from his father saying: "You don't get nearly enough from that absurd restaurant that you work at."
Oh, if only he knew.
On Thursday, Axel walked into an electronics store downtown to buy a USB cable because his got lost, only to find out that he was the store's hundred something or other customer.
He walked out with an Asus Lamborghini VX1 laptop. And a brand new USB cable.
On Friday, while Axel was talking with a friend on his phone some asshole bumped into him on the street which then landed his phone into downtown traffic demolition derby. The so called "asshole" compensated, however, by buying Axel a black Sony Ericsson S500i. Of course, after that, Axel wasn't complaining.
Come, Saturday, Axel had Demyx walk the dog while he instructed Tidus where to put the lost and found posters. Demyx came to Axel's doorstep an hour later, having won the lottery.
It was at that moment that Axel shut the door in Demyx's face, immediately regretting sending Tidus off with thirty posters in total to tape all over the neighbourhood.
Presently, Axel was seated on his couch in the living room, mourning the soon-to-be loss of the golden retriever. Yesterday with Demyx had proven that the mutt was some sort of godsend. It was only too bad that it was before that when he had sent Tidus on poster duty. Now the dog's owner was sure to be looking for him already, and Axel would no doubt receive a call or a knock on his door any moment soon.
"This is cruel …" he muttered, patting the retriever on the head as he lay his head on Axel's lap. "You get a taste of something good, and then it's taken away from you. Talk about kicking me in the ass."
Come Monday morning, Axel would have gone around full circle, going back to where he had been just a week ago. No more good fortune, no more blessings. He would have to go back to the way his life had been before he found the dog: shitty, crappy, and hell.
The only thing stopping him from kidnapping the dog and flying all the way to Florence to his parents was the thought that giving Goldy back to his rightful owner was the most decent thing to do. It wouldn't help to be charged of pet-napping, now would it?
The doorbell rang, and Axel was feeling quite close to tears at the moment. Now he was feeling grateful for the lack of calamity and disaster in his life, when it was right around the corner. He walked over to his front door, mentally preparing himself as he was about to be robbed of a gracious gift.
Well, he thought as his hand closed over the knob. You've lived in bad luck for most of your life. You can do it again.
When Axel opened the door, he was greeted with the sight of the mailman on his doorstep.
The man smiled at him, and the redhead returned the gesture unenthusiastically and half-heartedly. "Sir, you just happen to be the lucky winner of two plane tickets to the Caribbean for a one-week, all expense paid vacation!"
Plucking the envelop extended to him rather gingerly, Axel frowned, not quite feeling up to doing a happy dance. "Right. Thanks," he muttered quite ungraciously, which was then followed by an abrupt slamming of his front door.
He eyed the plane tickets in his hand, frowning. It felt more like a kick in the ass than a farewell present. Which was why Axel had the random compulsion to throw them in the garbage can, but thought better of it and set the envelope on the side table by the foyer. He was about to go by the couch to do some more brooding, when the doorbell rang one more time.
Snorting with exasperation, Axel stomped to the door, wrenching it open, an irritated "No, I don't want any more damn freebies, you sick moron," on the tip of his tongue. But he drifted off mid-sentence when all he saw was an array of chic blond hair and sea-coloured eyes. The redhead blinked, mouth agape, as he stared at the wonderfully blond specimen standing in front of him. Huh, maybe his good luck probably wasn't so bad after all, no matter how momentary it now was.
The boy smiled knowingly at Axel, waving his lost and found poster in one hand. "I'm guessing you have the lost dog?"
Regaining his composure remarkably fast, Axel grinned his sly smirk and nodded, arms crossed. "You guessed right." Good luck be damned, this kid could take anything he wanted from Axel.
The blond chuckled, the sound sending a warm thrill through the redhead's body. "And here's another thing I'm thinking: you probably know about his good luck tendencies."
Axel raised his brows at the shorter boy. "Oh, so all that money, free stuff, and plane tickets to the Caribbean wasn't coincidence?" he muttered with joking sarcasm. When the blond grinned at him, Axel smiled back. "I assume you're the owner then."
The boy nodded. "You assumed right," he said, mimicking Axel's earlier response.
The redhead laughed. "I like you, kid." He paused in his conversation and whistled for the dog to come, then turned to the blond angel standing in front of him. "So what's your name?" he asked casually. "Don't believe you mentioned it."
"Roxas," he said, his cerulean eyes glinting. "You didn't mention yours either."
"Of course. I'm Axel. Pleased to meet you, Roxas." Axel stretched out his hand, and Roxas took it into his own and shook. Before they completely let go of each other, Axel passed over a subtle wink, which in turn made Roxas smile in what seemed like a pleased manner.
As the golden retriever came barking to his owner's side, Roxas laughed, bending down to pat his dog on the head. "And you know what's a coincidence?" he asked Axel as he straightened. "My dog's name is Alex."
That elicited a laugh from the redhead. "Well, if that isn't lucky?"
Roxas grinned, his expression positively bright. "Alex, Axel. Quite fitting that he ended up with you after all."
Shrugging, Axel leaned against his door frame. "Well, had it been some other guy down the street, they would have had just as much luck as me. Maybe even more." Leaning down towards Roxas with a smirk on his lips, Axel continued. "You did end up on my doorstep … Roxas."
The sharp intake of breath didn't escape Axel's ears as Roxas bit his lower lip subtly. "Oh? So that makes you the luckiest guy on the block?" he whispered back, an identical smirk crossing his own mouth.
The redhead hummed to himself for a moment, fingering the lapel of Roxas' checkered vest. "Well … I figure I can't keep you're dog," he muttered, lightly touching the skin of Roxas' neck before moving back to the lining of his clothing. "So does Alex's owner have his own collar or not?" Jade eyes flirtingly met with cerulean blue.
Roxas grinned at the wording Axel chose, lifting a hand to tell him to wait for a while. Curious, Axel watched as Roxas pulled out a gold Philips M600 phone. He punched in a couple of numbers, and lifted the device to his ear.
"Yeah, Sora. You know the address on the poster, right?" Roxas never once broke eye contact with Axel. "Yeah. Pick me up in two hours." Roxas pushed a button to end the call, pocketing his phone with satisfaction.
Axel's smirk was positively nefarious as Roxas reached up to tug lightly on a lock of his hair. "And to answer your question, Axel," he muttered, stepping slightly closer, enough for Axel to feel him there, yet not exactly touching. "No. I don't have an owner."
A hand slid to Roxas' waist, earning Axel a slow smile. Roxas stood on his toes, moving his mouth closer to Axel's ear. "Well, if that isn't lucky?"
Not a second later, Axel pulled Roxas into his house, slamming the door behind him.
Exactly two hours later, Sora and his friend Riku came knocking on Axel's doorstep. Riku rang the doorbell, frowning. "I never knew Axel had the dog. He certainly didn't mention it to me when I gave him a ride on Tuesday," he muttered.
Sora grinned sheepishly. "At least Alex was safe this whole time. Roxas wouldn't talk to me all week until today when he called."
Riku glanced at Sora, something in his expression telling the brunet that he was disturbed. "Did Roxas tell you why he wanted to be picked up here in two hours?" he asked.
"Not really. He just hung up afterwards," Sora said with a shrug.
Before Riku could say anything else, footsteps and scrambling could be heard from inside the house. For a few minutes, the two just stood on the steps, waiting for the door to open. When it did, Riku almost choked on his own spit to find a very dishelved Roxas standing right beside a very smug Axel. With Alex right behind them.
"Oh, hi Riku. Hi Sora," the blond said quite airily, his smile sheepish. "I found Alex."
"And Axel, apparently," Riku murmured with a look of disapproval.
"Oh, hey, Riku." Axel smirked knowingly at the silver-haired male, only to receive a sharp scowl in turn. "Nice to see you, too."
"You know each other?" Roxas asked, somewhat bewildered.
Axel nodded. "Lucky, huh?"
Roxas grinned, on the verge of laughing. That would now be their perpetual inside joke.
Sora inched towards Riku, looking quite uncertain. "Something's up …" he whispered. "But I can't quite put my finger on it."
There was a sigh from Riku. "I'll tell you when you're older, Sora."
From that day forward, Axel noted that his good luck didn't stop from there. Maybe it wasn't the dog that was lucky. Maybe it was the owner. And Axel just so happened to be the owner of said owner.