Stranger

Namine sighed, and opened her yellow backpack- searching it contents again, for almost the sixth time since she had sat down. She flipped open it's flap with impatient hands, and peered down into its lemony depths.

She bit her bottom lip, and made of list of what she had remembered to bring with her, before she had left home. Well- it hadn't really been a home. No. She was glad she didn't have to bear living there anymore…

Six plastic wrapped sandwiches- she had hurriedly made and thrown in there, were at the top. She had foolishly thought they would last her long enough until she could find a decent place to stay in… Namine clenched her hands in frustration. How stupid she had been!! Four damn sandwiches weren't gonna' last her week!! It could be a month till she found a place to stay! To tell the truth, she didn't even know if she would be able to find herself a new home… And if she did, she'd have to get a job to pay for food- and, she hadn't even finished high school yet…. That- just wasn't going to happen. Of course, other sophomores in high school had jobs, but- Namine wasn't particularly good at anything. Just, drawing- and painting- and coloring.

She doubted she could make a living off of that

Namine shook her head, and brushed away her nervousness, that seemed to take her every time she let her guard down. She'd find it. A new home. A new life. She would- she had to. Thinking otherwise- wasn't gonna' help anything...

Beneath the meager food she had packed, was a brush- because her hair had the tendency to get out of control without that much motivation. Next to that- some cans of food. But- she didn't bring anything to open them with, much less cook them. Nice one Namine. Real nice…Then, there were a couple blankets- she could sleep on if push came to shove. Mabye she could find a nice little patch of soft grass to lay them on, and sleep there until she found a job? Ya- right. Folded neatly next to the blankets, were some extra clothes. Some light sweaters, she could layer if things got cold, and an extra pair of jeans, and a couple shirts. Namine tucked a lock of her sandy hair, that hand managed to escape her sloppy braid back behind her ear, and fingered the soft fabric. They were her favorite shirts. Mabye- she should have brought more? Too late.

Quick hands buried beneath the clothes, and found almost her dearest possession she had. Her bear. Yes- she was fifteen, and she knew it- and she still needed her bear when she went to sleep. But, she had never outgrown him. He didn't really have a name, just bear- but he was soft, and squishy, and smelled of past smiles and tears- something to hold onto when she had nothing left. Namine sniffed, and let her hand wrapp around his soft belly once- before continuing her hunt through her bag.

Some socks, an extra pair of shoes, and her wallet and cell phone- at the very bottom. In her wallet, a denim blue, was a hundred and fifty dollars. They wouldn't last her long, she knew that. But, they were better than nothing! They'd buy a couple meals when times started getting rough…

And- that was it.

Namine squirmed on the hard, stone bench beneath her- and looked up.

Up- to see the low, deep train trails in front of her, black and sleek. They ran in giant stone ditches in the earth- disappearing into a dark tunnel to her right. In that tunnel, where it led- Namine had no idea. But she knew she wanted to get away from her present life- anywhere so long as that she didn't have to put up with it for another day…

The walls around her were covered in dull white tile, scuffed and scratched over years. Giant posters of every color covered their surfaces- like stamps on a letter. The tile that could still be seen, gleamed dimly in the flickering lights.. Above her- was a long stone ceiling, curved like a tube. She smirked. Yes- that was where she was. A giant, underground tube, where a loud, screeching chain of huge metal cans would take people away- all over the city.

The subway.

She sighed, and closed her back pack- setting it back snuggly next to her side. In a sudden screeching of metal against metal, a subway train roared into the station- stopping slowly in front of Namine's bench. A light flashed, and the doors opened. People piled out of the train, and other's piled in. All around her people bustled with their day to day lives; embracing loved ones as the stepped off the train, others saying goodbye. People chatting obnoxiously loud on their cell phones, and others hauling suitcases madly onto the subway- hoping desperately they wouldn't be left behind. Some were going to work, others just taking a holiday.

Namine wrung her hands, and tried to look like she belonged there. That she didn't have a clue to where she was going, and that her parents (as if they even cared) had no idea where she was. That she had some destination- like her grandmother's house- at the edge of town. Yes- that's what she was doing. Visiting relatives, by herself, alone- at night. Ya- that was believable wasn't it?

Then again-… maybe not.

She could feel their eyes on her- and it made her chest tighten with panic. As if the knew. They swarmed around her- the people, flowing and rippling like water; all talking, and shouting, and moving to make a din that almost overwhelmed her. Then, there was a person talking really loud-

-and the subway screeched once like a bird, and was gone again.

In it's wake, a wave of dank air hit Namine in the face, and she shivered. Why was it so damn cold in the subway? She tugged her purple skirt over her knees, stretching the wrinkled fabric until it could no more. She flicked her bangs out of her eyes, and wrapped her green cardigan more closely to her body. It didn't do much. The sweater was thin, and soft- made more for style than for warmth. Namine cursed herself for not bringing something thicker, and rubbed her hands together for lack of something better to do. Namine patted her bag again, wishing she could hold her bear-

-and almost jumped when someone sat down on the bench next to her.

Icy fear settled on her skin like a layer of frost, and she swallowed dryly. 'Calm down, Namine,' she thought to herself, inching away from the stranger she didn't dare look at- as far as she could.

'Just ignore him.'

She picked at one of the buttons on her sweater, and tried to stay calm. She looked one of the posters in front of her, advertising for some musical 'Coming to Theatres Soon!' It was a deep violet, with swirls of pink and yellow dancing along its edges.

It did nothing to distract her. Who was sitting next to her?! She wanted to look, but- she was afraid of what she would find.

People walked slowly around them, waiting for the next train- or just wandering around for the fun of it. Their footsteps echoed in the tunnel- seeming unusually loud to Namine. She swallowed again, and picked at the wood button.

"So- where you headed kid?"

Namine froze. He spoke to her.

She answered before she could stop herself.

"I'm not a kid," she whispered, and her eyes flicked to her side to get a hungry look at him.

She stilled at what she saw. Next to her, on the opposite edge of the bench- sat the most interesting looking man she had ever seen. He looked to be about in his mid twenties- and his hair was unlike any other's. It was long, and a bright red. Bright, apple red. Or, maybe a candy red? Like red skittles. It flowed down his neck in stiff, ruby spikes- and brushed his shoulders with dark crimson tips. The edges around his face were spiked too, running over his ears like bristly side burns. They framed his face, tan from days out in the sun, and made his prominent cheekbones and strong, sharp chin all the more noticeable. His nose was long and sleek, and his lips were twitched up in a bad boy grin.

Then there were his eyes. Amazing, emerald green eyes- shadowed by dark red brows.

Namine gaped, and the man's smirk grew bigger.

"Oh really?-" he drawled, his voice deeper than she had expected.

Namine collected herself, and formed a reply. "Y-yes. Really. Fifteen years old, is not a kid," she said, her voice a little higher than usual. He really was stunning. A black, thin triangle ran down each cheek- the only tattoos visible on his sandy skin. Like the joker in a deck of cards she had once had…. She had never seen anyone like him before.

He was defiantly not someone she should be talking too. Mabye he was a thief? Or a pedophile?! Namine's insides squirmed under his green gaze.

His eyes turned away from her, to look at the trails in front of them.

"In my book little girl, any age that has –teen at its end; is a kid," he said, his smirk never faltering. Namine bristled, and looked away from him. 'Okay- don't look at him anymore,' she told herself firmly. 'Mabye his train will be the next one?'

She desperately hoped it was.

There was a thick silence- and then another screech as another subway roared to a stop. People poured out, and others in. But of course- the red headed man to her left- did not.

Namine clenched her teeth in frustration- and then the train was gone again.

After a couple minutes- she felt the man's eyes on her again. She wanted to become invisible. She was tired of people looking at her- trying to strip her of all her secrets.

"So-" he started, and Namine ignored him. "-where are you headed?"

She pulled her sleeves over her wrists, and shivered in worry. Actually- she had no idea where she would go. She had to get on one of those trains eventually… But, which one? Namine hadn't decided yet… Ya- that was it. Hadn't decided…

The man tried again after a couple minutes. "Oh- so, you live here then?"

Namine met his eyes unwillingly. They sparkled in laughter.

Was that-... a joke?

"I don't talk to strangers," she said, and crossed her arms in a sign of defiance. The man laughed, a warm laugh that seemed to chase away the cold a little, and Namine glared at him.

"Really? But- you already did," he said, and grinned that grin again. Namine turned away again, and looked at the tiled walls. 'Well, that time didn't count, pedo,' she thought, and rubbed her bare knees. Her skirt had ridden up again. She frowned, and wished desperately she could change into some jeans.. Why had she ever picked that thing?

The man sighed then, and she heard him stretch. His arms settled on the bench behind her, his fingertips resting a foot away from her shoulder. She wanted to scoot farther away from him- but she was already as far as she could go. Of course- she could move to a different bench, but she already had that spot all warmed up! Sitting on cold stone wouldn't help her warmth problems at all.

She'd just have to bare the strange man a little longer till' his train came…

"Look kid,-" he said, his voice a little softer "-I know a runaway when I see one.."


Namine froze- her breath catching in her throat and she gagged. She broke into a fit of coughing and the man raised a crimson brow at her. When her lungs had started working again, her bangs in disarray across her vision, she met his eyes.

"E-exuse me?" she breathed, her hands locked together in her lap- her fingers numb. The man blinked, and looked down at her more intensely. "You're running away. No- don't deny it. I know- I was one too." He looked at her bag and smirked, before meeting her eyes again- green eyes sparkling in laughter. "Why else would you be packed for a mini vacation?"

It took Namine a little while to process everything he had said.

He knew.

He knew.

It seemed all her paranoia hadn't been wasted. She'd been caught. She'd been found out. She looked at him, fear making her throat so tight it was almost painful to breathe. "You're not gonna'- you're not gonna' make go back- are you!?" she whispered, grabbing her bag, and clenching tight against her chest; as if it could protect her from this man's un-said threat.

He smiled then, a bitter smile that didn't reach his eyes, and shook his head. "No. I don't really care why you're running away kid. That's your business. It's just-" his eyes looked deeper at her then, and Namine had to fight not to squirm. "-you need to come back to my place."


Her heart stopped;, and then started up again- five times faster.

"WHAT?!" she screeched, drawing the attention of several passer bys.

They stopped, and looked the red headed man- running a parental gaze over him. Of course they didn't exactly like what they saw. Every part of him screamed trouble maker. He smiled back at them, an uncanny flash of white against his tan skin, and they went back to what they were doing.

"Look- girl. I'm not going to rape you or anything," he said, as if explaining something obvious to a very dumb child. It did nothing to stop her racing pulse. She felt the blood rush to her cheeks, and she suddenly became acutely fascinated with the texture of her shoelaces on her converse. The man lowered his head, which brought him that much closer to her. Suddenly- the air around her felt warm. Very warm.

Nothing like the cold that had been creeping up along her skin, and chilling her chest the entire time she had been there. No. Now- she was hot. She didn't like it.

"It's just that- in a couple hours- this place will get a lot darker, and the people that come out in the dark, will do things much worse to you- than I ever could," he whispered, and Namine felt the sweat on her neck freeze.

Namine gulped, her throat dry and cracked. She looked to him- and found his eyes on her. They had never left.

Namine knew he wasn't lying. She had always been warned about the subway's, especially the one in the part of town she just so happened to be in, at night. She had just thought- she would catch a train before then…. Instead, she had spent the whole day worrying. Panicking. Though she didn't want to admit it- she had no idea what she was doing. She didn't know where to go, how to get food- how to survive on her own- out in the city by herself….

Right then, the red headed man, with the bright eyes and dark grin didn't seem too bad. She didn't have anything to loose by staying with him, anyway…. And, she couldn't go back.

"Or- I could rent you a hotel room. What ever you want. It's just-," he motioned around him "-you really shouldn't sleep here, when it gets dark."

She nodded weakly, and released her death grip on her bag. "Okay then-," she whispered, and got to her feet. She almost collapsed, her legs feeling like noodles. "Okay. But, I- I sleep on the couch. You cant-," she started, and stopped when the man stood up.

He was actually pretty tall.

Her neck just reached his biceps. She noticed his clothing for the first time. Old faded jeans- with black converse, dirt and scuffs covering their surfaces. A dark red shirt, with an army green jacket, unzippered. He was slim- like an athlete.

He smiled, and started walking towards the tiled steps to their left. The steps that led out. The steps that led back to the real world.

"Trust me, kid-," he said, when she caught up to him ",-I wont touch you."

"I promise."

She looked up at him, trying to keep pace with his longer steps- and, amazingly, she did.

She hauled her yellow back pack over a shoulder, and looked back at the stone bench.

She wasn't going to miss it.

Namine glanced up at the man, buttoning her cardigan and pulling up her black leggings, while trying to walk and keep up at the same time.

"So- what's- your name?..." she breathed, her hair stickling to her neck in the muggy air. Man- she couldn't wait to get out of there.

He looked down at her once, before taking out his ticket and starting up the steps.

"Axel," he said softly, and Namine's fear slipped away a little… Letting a meek smile steal onto her lips.


O.K, O.k- it's another KH fic. But, I coudn't resist! I've always loved Axel. This story is for him. And for my Namine of course! Lol! Hope ya like it!!

PLEAZE REVIEW!!

-Kirin