Author's Notes: Hi everyone! Recently I just finished re-reading the Animorphs series for the third time in my life (I can't help it, they're awesome!), and I got hit with this little plot bug that burrowed under my skin and continued to nip at me until I came up with something to appease it. As you can imagine, this is the result! This is just a short, one-shot fic that is basically me testing out what I can and can't do in the Animorph universe. A long time ago, I used to read Marco/Ax stuff, or Ax/Marco, and it always intrigued me. I thought that I'd take my chances and try it out. :) So, be gentle. I wrote stuff a long time ago for Animorphs, but it's been ages since then...!

So, this is an advance warning to anyone who might have not read the summary: This is a Marco/Ax fic that takes place just a while after book 54. It's a little angsty, but also a little heart-warming (or so the lovely people at the Animorphs fanfic community on LJ said!). Please be sure to leave me a note letting me note what you personally think!

Also, because FF . Net CONSTANTLY CHANGING the way you do italics/breaks/etc so my formatting--which I've had to quickly adapt to this new way--might be a little off. I apologize. I'm still used to the old method of when you italicize something in MS Word, it stays italicized and doesn't get changed... =/

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As Marco began to demorph in Ax's scoop, he found himself thanking all that they had finally figured out how to morph looser clothing. Bike shorts and shirts just didn't cut it after a while. Now, as he became fully human again, jeans and a t-shirt began forming along with him.

Of course, he was barefoot, but that was inevitable. Shoes were the devil. Thankfully, he left a pair at Ax's scoop.

It had been a month or so since Rachel's funeral. A little longer since the end of the war against the Yeerks. With all that had been going on, Marco barely had the time to stop by Ax's scoop and visit him properly. Ax understood, of course. He had plenty going on, as well. And it was a real testament to their relationship that the two of them could spend so much time apart and still be all right.

But enough was enough. Marco hadn't seen Ax in nearly a week, and he wanted to. Needed to. Ax had insisted that they see each other, as well.

And now here he was. The scoop looked just like it always did. Felt just like it always did. Home away from home. Marco couldn't help but smile when he took a few steps, moving around in a circle.

"God, it feels like I haven't been here in forever."

Ax, who had been watching television nearby, turned upon the sight of his demorphing lover. ((It has been quite some time,)) he agreed. He was smiling in that intriguing, Andalite way. His eyes squinted from it. ((It is very good to see you, Marco.))

Marco moved forward and wrapped his arms around Ax's torso, giving him a tight hug. Upon pulling back, he laughed and waved a hand in front of his face.

"Oh, man. Ax. You smell like lavender and…God, what is that? It's strong."

((It is tea tree oil,)) Ax stated. ((Cassie brought me something that helps to repel fleas. Lately they've been a real problem.))

"Ah. Leave it to Cassie to give you some naturopathic thing to help get rid of fleas. Speaking of old cow-girl, how's she doing?"

((She is all right. I spoke to her very recently. Prince Jake, as well.))

Marco sat down on the couch. "How's he?"

((He is doing well.))

Ax's answers were short, but Marco paid it no mind. That was how he was sometimes. He didn't feel the need to elaborate.

Sprawling out on the couch, the dark haired boy then suggested jovially, "Come on, Ax, morph and sit down? I missed ya."

Ax paused.

Marco didn't fail to notice it.

"Ax?"

Ax hesitated again. He turned his gaze away. Marco, concerned now, stood up and moved toward him. He cocked his head to the side to try and catch Ax's glance, but the Andalite quickly looked the other way.

And then came the reason why.

((I'm…leaving,)) Ax said simply.

Marco paused.

"Wait, what?"

((I'm leaving,)) Ax repeated. His front left hoof tapped gently against the earth below. He continued to avoid looking Marco in the eyes. ((Tomorrow. The Andalite fleet is bringing a ship, and I will take it home. There is some business that I must attend to, and it would be best done as soon as possible.))

Marco felt as if his heart had been torn out of his chest.

He had experienced unimaginable pain so many times in the last three years. He had been stabbed and slashed by Hork-Bajir blades, had been burned by Dracon beams, and had even had aliens nearly destroy his heart. But what he felt now trumped all of that. He couldn't breathe. He couldn't blink. He couldn't even form a coherent thought.

While Ax had always mentioned that he would go back to the Andalite home world at some point once the war was over, it always seemed so far away. It always seemed like it would never come.

Now, however, here it was, staring him straight in the face. It was like someone's way of playing a nasty practical joke. Only it wasn't funny. At all.

Once Marco regained inner composure, he realized that he couldn't let Ax see this. Couldn't let him see how shaken up he was. Even if he wanted to. Even if he wanted him to stay. Would do anything to make him stay.

"You said you wouldn't," he said. His voice betrayed him by quivering just slightly.

((I said I wouldn't stay indefinitely,)) Ax corrected. He finally looked at Marco, and gave a sad smile. Even after three years, it was still odd to Marco that Ax could smile using only his eyes.

"So." Marco cleared his throat and ran a hand through his short, dark hair. It was his turn to avoid Ax's glance. He almost never cried, but he knew that, if he locked gazes with the other, it would be all she wrote. His cheeks would become Niagara Falls. "Is this, uh, a good-bye, or a see you later?"

((I'm afraid I do not understand the difference.))

Ax moved closer, and instinctively, Marco did, too. He reached forward and took hold of the other's many-fingered hands. Hands that began to morph and soon only had five thicker, stronger digits.

"A good-bye means you're never coming back," Marco explained bluntly. "And, you know, it's possible. I mean, you haven't been home in years. Haven't seen your family. I can't blame you for wanting to stay. I know I would."

Now human, Ax leaned in and kissed Marco gently on the lips. Deep down, Marco felt a pang of hurt, of longing.

"I will be back," Ax replied reassuringly upon pulling back. Now he smiled—if somewhat awkwardly—using his human mouth. He had never quite learned how to smile completely as a human, both with his eyes and his mouth. Strange, considering how he smiled as an Andalite.

Just one of the bizarre little things Marco always noticed.

One of the things that he would miss terribly.

"Can I come with you?"

The words were blurted out of Marco's mouth before he realized it. Despite himself and his apparent desperation, he chuckled. Or maybe it he chuckled because of his desperation. He didn't know anymore.

Ax, too, chuckled. "No. You cannot. You would not be happy. I know you would miss Earth. You would miss Jake, Eva and your dad. And, while I love you, Marco, I do not know if I could handle hearing you complain about being so far away from them day after day."

Marco couldn't help but laugh. "Ax, did anyone ever tell you that you totally know how to ruin a moment?"

Both were silent after that. The finality of the situation was beginning to settle in.

Marco no longer felt betrayed. That had been a fleeting feeling. His heart was settled back in his chest. Not comfortably, but at least it was there. Ax had always had this in mind, and he had known that when he had started a relationship with the alien. But some part of him always hoped that maybe, just maybe, he wouldn't actually go through with it. That maybe, Ax would stay behind and they could live happily ever after.

God, how corny, he thought to himself.

"Tonight I have reserved for us," Ax explained. "I cannot think of any other person I'd like to spend my last night on Earth with."

"I know exactly what we can do, too." Marco looked over the other's shoulder toward the television. "But," he added, "I get your attention during the commercials."

Ax looked like he had been slapped. "But I love These Messages…"

Marco smirked.

He was going to miss this.