I sighed and leaned back in my cushioned chair, the wood creaking as I did so. I took in the world before me. It was drizzling, and it was as if gray paint was raining down from the clouds instead of water. Gray coated everything; the shops, the cars, the people, even the animals. Scruffy cats that were probably once orange and black gleamed like faded silver in the alleys. It was my kind of day. The day that gave me inspiration; a little burst of life through my hands. The rain pitter-pattered on the small canvas roof that covered me and my shop like lazy fingers. It poured from the sides of the purple material, and spilled into long gray eddies on the sidewalks. I watched it idly before turning my attention to my paintings. They were laid out in front of me, like a little museum. My little messy rainbow that shown out brightly through all the gray.

I grinned and allowed myself a little pride at looking at them. Usually I would have at least three customers a day, maybe five if I was lucky. Today, business was slow, and everyone that rushed by my little shop didn't spare me a single look. They simply huddled deeper into their coats and umbrellas and remained shut in their own little worlds. But, that was fine. I didn't want any customers. I just wanted to relax… So, I pulled my green cardigan just a little tighter around my white sundress, and closed my eyes.

So, you want to know the whole story? Well, too bad. Here's a long story short. I ran away from home and met this strange guy in a subway tunnel. He was the weirdest guy I had ever seen, and I moved into his house like a hobo. Nope, I'm not proud of it, but it was the only way I was going to get some food and a roof over my head. At first, things were kinda' tense between us; Axel's his name. He could have done so many bad things to me, but he didn't. He helped me. Me- a dirty little girl he picked off the streets. Later, I found out that he genuinely cared for me. I know. Hard to believe. A complete stranger I knew barely a week, cared for me, more than my own two parents had in their entire lives…. That's why I had left them. Thank God. Axel saved me. Took me in like the broken bird I was and taught me to fly again. So, after a failed abduction via my mom- he found me and brought me back to his place. Well, our place. Yep- we're kind of a couple now. Okay okay, I know that doesn't sound right. He's like seven years older than me, has a job, and a lot of mental issues to boot- but I love him. I'm sixteen and I know I will never love another man like I love him. He loves me for me. Sees who I really am… So, there you go. Oh, and about my little shop. As a surprise birthday gift, Axel got me a little patch of sidewalk next to the crabby cabbage lady to sell my art on. I don't know how he did it, but it was the best present in the world. My sidewalk neighbor is this short Asian woman who always smells of smoke and spice and shouts at me a lot, but I know deep down she likes me... I come down to my little shop, which is really just a little wooden stand with a tarp over it, everyday except Sunday. Due to the advice of a friend, I started selling my work a couple weeks after Axel rescued me. Amazingly, it's actually worked out pretty well! Puts a few dollars in my pocket when I'm not working at Axel's car repair shop. Ya, I work as an errand girl there now. Not a real job since I didn't finish high school, but I like it. I know it might sound a bit corny, but I couldn't stand being away from Axel. He's….-he's everything to me. And, he's all I have… But, there. Now you're up to speed.

A raindrop landed on my nose and I blinked open my eyes. I yawned and brushed some bangs from my face. My eyes drifted to the cat key chain hooked to my belt loop and I squinted for the time. 3:30 Time to go get some lunch. I yawned once more for good measure and got to my feet. The stone crunched wetly under my converse and I smiled. I looked over to Mrs. Chang and waved awkwardly to get her attention. Black beady eyes glanced to me and she rolled them. "Ugh! What you want now Painting Girl?" she called to me, resting tanned wrinkled hands on her hips. I smiled timidly and gestured to my line of paintings.

"It's about that time again Mrs. Chang. Could I um, leave my stuff with you?" It was sort of a ritual she and I had worked out. She would store her my unsold paintings and drawings at her place, and bring them back down to the sidewalk the next morning.. Er, well the next day I had off that was. Axel and I didn't have the room to store them at our place. In exchange, I would paint her something every week, free of charge. Mostly she just wanted water color paintings of cats and clouds. So, it was a good deal for me. The old woman sighed, as if I had just asked her to fetch me the moon, and gestured for me to start loading them into her carts. "Fine fine," she snapped and turned away to inspect some giant green vegetables. "The things I do for you… I want a painting of Chu Yen by Tuesday!" I smiled and scampered over to her side. The rain had stopped and the world was left shiny and blurry like glass. I gave her a quick hug before moving all my stuff into her carts, closing down my shop, and setting off down the street. She called out some angry chinese after me and I just waved.

I looked up at the silver clouds, sunlight already peeking through, and patted my denim purse at my hip. What a great day this has been. A perfect Saturday..

I pushed through the McDonald's door like I owned the place and ordered a number 5. I handed the cashier the money with a warm pride glowing like an ember in my chest. 3 weeks. It had been three weeks since I had been a runaway with not a cent of money in my pocket. Now? Now, I was paying for my own food. With my own, hard-earned cash. It still felt wonderful. I grabbed my sandwich and settled myself at an empty booth. I dug into it like a pig. Hey, sitting around all day in the drizzle takes a lot out of a girl! I didn't notice a tall figure slip in front of me. He coughed discreetly and I stilled. With hesitant eyes I looked up at deep green ones. Axel.

I smiled and quickly swallowed. He grinned and handed me a napkin. "Man Namine, am I ever going to get used to you eating like a starved dog?" he said silkily and I batted my eyes at him. "Nope!" I took a sip of my sprite and pushed some fries his way. "So, how's work going without me?" I asked and moved my sandwich away from me. Luxord had given me some time off because I had called in sick. Really, it was just an excuse to have another day at my shop. He sighed and took on a pained expression. "Horrible. Demyx is driving me mad. He only gets this way when you're not around you know," he said and stole a golden fry. I shrugged and tried to hide a smile. My Demyx. He worked with me at the repair shop; visiting me almost as much as Axel did. "I blame all this misery on you," he said after a while and I looked at him curiously. "It is your fault after all, since you should be there, and I should be headache-free right now," he continued and leaned over the table. I laughed and leaned in as well. "Oh? So what you gonna' do about it?" I teased softly. He reached over to tuck some stray strands of hair behind my ear, fingertips soft against my cheek, and then was suddenly back against his chair. "Hm- let me think. What would be a fit punishment for Namine?" he asked playfully, green eyes turned up towards the ceiling. I pouted and felt cheated. I had been expecting some sort of physical contact. Something involving his lips…. So, in retaliation, I took up my sandwich and returned to my scarfing. He looked back at me and grinned. "Got it," he announced. He stole a couple more fries and examined them like a cat does their claws. "How about, she gets no kisses for a week? Think that's a good idea fries?" he said, looking down at them with a smirk.

I blinked a couple times before frowning and setting my sandwich down for a second time. "Hey- now wait minute-," I started and he cut me off with a raised hand. "No. No butts. You deserve this." He lifted my drink to his mouth and took a long sip. I glowered at him and absolutely refused to smile. "Oh ya?" I called and popped the last bit of sandwich into my mouth. I quickly chewed and wiped my sleeve across my face. "I bet you can't last a day without kissing me," I purred and grinned. He shook his head, bottle green eyes glinting in the dull light. "You underestimate my strength Namine," he returned and flicked some salt from his fingers at me. I laughed and threw a fry at him. He caught it deftly and popped it in between his lips. "So childish," he sighed and shook his head. I spit my tongue out at and suddenly remembered the news I had for him. "Oh Axel!," I moved my elbows onto the table's plastic surface and rested my chin on clasped hands. "Guess what?" He raised a crimson brow and leaned in again; cheek cupped in a tan palm. "What?" I smiled and quickly took in the man across from me. Axel. Apple red hair was a spiky halo around his head, and black tattoos under his eyes made his face look long and feline. A moss green T was stretched tight over a lean chest and a black leather jacket showed off broad shoulders. He looked so handsome it made my stomach flutter. "Mrs. Chang wants me to draw another one of her pets so I'm gonna' get home late today." I watched him carefully and saw his smile fade. "Again? I thought you already gave her a painting?" he said slowly. I shook my head. "Nope. It's gonna' be fun though. She has such a cool house, full of incense and vases. It's like a little antique store in there.." I said; mind filled with images of lanterns and potted bamboo. Axel sighed and crossed his arms. "You're always over there Namine," he said, voice serious. "Are you tired of me already?" I blinked and looked up at him. He was looking at me intently. He was serious.. I grabbed one of his hands. I had always loved how big his hands were. Like lion paws. Mine were lost in his as his tan fingers intertwined with my own.

"You don't want me to go?" I asked softly and he didn't even hesitate. "No. I mean, I haven't seen you all day.. I don't-," he said and then stopped. He looked away and I squeezed his hand. He didn't like revealing much. Even with me. "Then, I won't go," I said brightly. It was a simple as that. He grinned at me and was suddenly on his feet. "I'm holding you to that," he said and pulled me up to him. His strong arms wrapped around my waist and his cheek pressed into my hair. My heart gave a little flip and I smiled into his chest. He was so warm; I loved pressing my body against his. "See you back home then, okay?" he whispered to me. I nodded and he broke away. We looked at each other for a long moment, before he gave me one of his smiles and walked away. I watched him go and sighed. Work kept us so busy. The only time him and me could really talk was at lunch, and when we both got back to the apartment. But, that was going to change soon. Vacation time was coming up. It would just be us for weeks on ends doing stuff without a care in the world. The thought was bright in my head as I walked out of McDonalds. My feet walked down the misty sidewalk with no apparent destination and I let them take me where the willed. After all, I still had a whole afternoon to burn…..

My black converse sloshed like wet sponges as I walked up the stairs to Room 18. It had rained again around 5:30, and I had been caught with no umbrella. Of course. I had ran into the nearest store and was forced to purchase a Hello Kitty umbrella for a ridiculously high amount of money. Handing the perky blonde woman in front of me so many sweet dollar bills had been like having nails pounded into my heart. Okay okay, maybe not that terrible. But it still hurt. I forced it closed, pink and white plastic spraying yet more water on me, and stomped the rest of the way up the carpeted steps. Stupid umbrella. When I finally reached the desired door, a nice trail of rain behind me, I fished a key out of my soaked pocket and shoved it in the lock. After a bit of finger wrestling, it opened and I threw the umbrella at the coat rack with a shout of triumph. I peeled off my wet sweater and my purse hung them on the wooden pegs. The heat of the room was like a breath of summer air. It warmed my skin and I smiled in pleasure. Next off were my shoes and socks. Then, I started walking towards the bathroom. A nice warm shower would help. I waved at the yellow couch as I passed it and gave it a little pat. Then, I was surrounded by white tile, steaming water sprinkling over my face and chest, and I dozed off.

When I eventually woke up, the water had turned cold and I yelped. I pulled back the curtain and scrambled out the shower. I grumbled under my breath and silently cursed our faulty water heater. I hadn't been out for that long- had I? I pulled a towel around myself and marched of the bathroom feeling quite ruffled. My feet expertly wove themselves to Axel's wardrobe and I pulled out some of my things. The customary tank, knit shorts, and some undies. I returned the bathroom and pulled them on with slow hands. I ran a brush through my hair, sandy bangs refusing to leave my eyes, and walked out into the living room.

The TV was flickering, soft sounds of people screaming and laughing coming from its speakers. I frowned. I had left the TV on? That was sad. The rain must have really got to me. It had filled my head with water just as it had my clothes. With a sigh I crossed the room to it and made to turn it off. A warm hand on my wrist stopped my and my head whipped around to the sofa.

My favorite man was stretched out across it, leather jacket gone and bright red hair tied at the nape of his neck. He grinned at me and pulled me over to him. "That's very rude you know," he said softly and I tried to get over my shock. "Axel?! You- got off early?" I breathed and he nodded. "I have my ways," he replied and I smiled. Happiness welled up in me at his early return warm and bright. I flopped down on top of him, and twined my arms around his neck. His hands came to rest on my hips and I let his warmth seep into me. "Well good," I said, resting my head on his chest. "I would have been lonely waiting for you for a whole hour." I cringed mentally at the thought. His hand wove itself into my damp hair and his body shook under me as he laughed. "Really? You could have just gone to Mrs. Chang's and let her cats keep you company," he said and I rolled my eyes. "Do I sense some jealously?" I grinned, moved my head to look up at his eyes. They were fixed on the TV and I laughed. I cupped his chin and positioned my face over his. That got his attention. Emerald irises shot to mine and I let my fingers run softly over his rough cheeks. "Axel, I will never love anyone or anything more than I love you," I whispered. He looked so deeply at me then I felt as if would take all my secrets from me. Not that I kept many from him. My head grew heavy and I felt my lips moving closer and closer towards his own...

How I wanted to kiss him. I almost did, too. Then, I remembered our bet and I moved my head back to his chest. I heard him sigh and I smiled evilly to myself. Ha! That would show him. But, I did mean what I said. With every cell in my body. He knew that. He had to. He didn't say anything after that. He simply held me, and I him- and we watched whatever show our hearts desired. Not that there was much on.

After who knows how long, Axel turned off the TV and the room went dark. Keeping my eyes open was a labor and thoughts were fuzzy. I could see nothing; only feel Axel's hard body beneath me. His hands on my back, on my hair, on my face. I sighed and managed to get my head up to look at him. I could make out nothing in the darkness. "Bed time?" I whispered to him. I didn't see him nod- but then he was gathering me in his arms and walking over to the bedroom. My head rested on his chest as he walked, the gentle sound of his heartbeat soothing enough to have me slipping yet again to sleep.

When we got to his room, Axel laid me on my side of the bed and then moved over to his. The covers were so soft and cool to my skin, like wind made into fabric. I smiled and buried my face into a silky pillow. The bed dipped as Axel's weight settled on the mattress. The bed creaked and blankets rustled like leaves until the man stilled.

Then there was silence. So loud like someone shouting in my ears. Darkness was a thick veil in my eyes and light was no where to be found.

It was in this stillness that Axel reached out to me. Long hands settled over my waist and dragged me to him. Covers moved like water beneath me and soon I was pressed against a very warm chest. Strong arms clamped around my back and Axel held me tightly; our bodies fitting perfectly together like puzzle pieces. His chin settled on my head, and I wove my arms around his waist.

My body rose and fell in a sigh of contentment and I closed my eyes. My heart sung in my chest. How I loved being so close to him. I felt his heartbeat as if it were my own, breathed his breaths, dreamed his dreams. I was perched precariously on the edge of reality, ready to fall into sleep and abandon the world, when I heard Axel's soft voice.

"Namine," he whispered. I nuzzled my face deeper into his chest and stepped back from the edge. "Mm?" I mumbled back. One of his hands moved from my back and began drawing tantalizing circles on my bare shoulder. I shivered and wound my legs over his hips. Axel took in a sharp breath and his hand stilled. "I was thinking, about our vacation," he began softly, and moved my body up until our faces were level. My eyes slid drunkenly open and found his; bright emerald even in the dark. "There are these nice little islands I know of. White sand. Huge palm trees. Sparkling ocean-," his words danced through my head, creating a beautiful picture of sun and pleasure. The more Axel spoke, the more I longed to go to wherever it was he described. ",-it's the perfect escape. From work. From life." He grasped my chin and his calloused thumb moved back and forth over my lips. I looked at him and felt very impatient. He should have given in by now. I felt his eyes on my face, and his fingers hungry on my mouth.

Was he going to kiss me? Or was he simply adding to my pain?

Axel continued to whisper in the dark and I listened distractedly. "Would you like to go there, Namine?" I blinked and gathered my thoughts. "Of course I would, Axel. It sounds beautiful." I could have sworn he smiled, and then he bent his head until it was so close to mine I could feel his breath.

"Then that's where we'll go. Tomorrow. We won't tell anyone where we're going. We'll just pack our things and leave all of this behind." His words were palpable against my mouth, like I could just eat them up. I nodded and traced his ears with gentle fingertips. "That sounds- nice. Just you and me. No one else," I added weakly. "No one else," he echoed softly. Then, his hands were behind my neck and his lips were on mine.

The time of taunting and baiting was over. Finally. His mouth claimed my own and his tongue danced with mine. He stole my breaths and breathed into me. His fingers wrapped around my hair; gripping me so I couldn't pull back.

Not that I wanted to.

The kiss lasted eternally, and was over too soon. He let all the emotions he could not put in words roll over me and I melted under their intensity. When his lips eventually broke away, my chest heaving, they trailed more gentle kisses over my cheeks and nose. My eyes were so heavy. My lips were on fire and my body ached for him. But, before anything else could happen, I grinned and let my head fall against Axel's shoulder. "You lose," I whispered. He didn't seem to hear me and clasped his hands behind my waist. "Didn't I tell you? You really can't go a day without kissing me…."

His chest rumbled with laughter and I smiled. "I see nothing wrong with that," he whispered and continued pressing kisses into my hair. "You don't know how hard it is for me to not kiss you. Torture. Pure torture." My chest swelled with love for the man in front of me. I moved my face to his; our noses brushing. My eyes closed once more and the desire to stay awake was gone from my mind; even with my body alight for Axel.

"I love you," I said to him, and sighed. A gentle darkness seeped into my mind and I clutched Axel just a little tighter.

"Love you more," he whispered back.

Then, we were both asleep- dreams of our coming vacation dancing through our heads. How perfect it looked. How beautiful...

Well, this is the end guys. Jeez, it took my a while didn't it? I'm really, really, really sorry. I'm such a lazy-ass I should be punished. T.T But, at least this thing is done now. Axel and Nami finally have their happy ending... Thankyou everyone who read and enjoyed this story!! If you did enjoy it- then mission accomplished. I give all of you huge hugs! (few that you may be) and hope you still like this story even though the ending took way too long to happen. ;3

Yours truly, Kirinlover