This is Riku-Rocks' birthday present. I'm honestly not sure if this covers what she wanted but hopefully it's close enough.


Brief Tranquility

"Hey." Axel dropped down beside the other hooded figure on the roof. He threw back his own and turned his head toward the unmoving body next to him. Lifting a red eyebrow, he waved his hand in front of the other's face. "Hello?"

The covered head turned as the upper half of the black-leather clad form shifted away. "I'm not in the mood, Axel."

Sighing loudly, the Nobody leaned his weight back and braced himself on his hands. "Alright, what are you being emo about now?"

"I'm not emo," the other one countered, straightening out and returning to his original position. "Do you see me cutting myself while waxing poetic about my life being a dark abyss?"

"Well not at the moment but I have seen your sketchbook, Riku."

The hooded head whipped toward him. "When did you…?"

"When you fell asleep after our little session last week." Axel smirked at him. "Now take off the damn hood and tell me what's going through that self-depreciating mind of yours."

For a moment, it did not look like Riku was going to comply but eventually he reached up and pulled back the head covering. He automatically shook out his silver hair, some of it looping in the side of the blindfold he wore. "You make is sound like I hate myself."

Axel stretched out his arm and pulled out the hair that had gotten caught in the black cloth around Riku's head. "Naw, I know that you don't. However, you are almost fanatically fixated on the idea that you are responsible for everything bad that's happened in the past year and that you have to make yourself suffer as some kind of atonement."

"That isn't what I'm doing."

"Oh, no?" Axel chuckled. "Then tell me why you refuse to take a day off from this stake out? I want to find Roxas just as bad as you, probably more actually, but I know that if I don't stop every once in awhile, I'll just drive myself insane."

Riku turned his head toward the one who should have been an enemy yet somehow wasn't. He wanted to say something but any protest he could think of at that moment felt wrong even to him. It was really strange how well the Nobody seemed to understand him.

Rather abruptly, Axel leapt back to his feet and held out his left hand. Before it a dark corridor appeared and he looked back to Riku. "Come on."

"Axel…"

"Nope," the redhead cut off all protest. "Get up and let's go."

Riku studied him a moment. He knew that Axel was not going to give up on whatever idea was going through his head and that it was better to just go along with him for now. He stood up on his own and stepped up to stand beside the wiry man.

Axel grinned at him obnoxiously. "I knew you couldn't resist me."

Riku rolled his eyes. "Where are we going?"

Even though the fire-wielder continued to grin, a sad quality came to his expression. "We're going to one of my favorite places in all the worlds."

Axel disappeared into the corridor and the twilight keybearer frowned after him. He had no idea what was going through the other's mind or what exactly he wanted to accomplish. However, he trusted Axel enough to know that he was not being lead into some kind of trap and stepped into the darkness.

They emerged on a clock tower over looking a small town. It was sunset, everything visible bathed in an orange glow. A tram ran the streets and a few people walked around completely unaware they were being observed.

Axel stood on the corner of the concrete, long coat flapping in the soft wind. "Has the old man told you about this place yet?"

Riku took in his surroundings. He had never been here before nor did anything particular stand out to him. His attention stopped on the low sitting sun and suddenly something Diz had said rose to the front of his mind. "Is this Twilight Town?"

"Yep," the red-haired man turned. "I'm sure you'll eventually be seeing a lot of this place. Roxas was found here."

Riku started a bit. Diz had not told him about that. The only time Twilight Town was mentioned was when the man stated that he had set himself up there. He never told Riku where it was or what its significance was. With this little piece of information, a whole lot of things fell into place.

"If I leave you for a minute, you promise to not run away?"

Riku narrowed his eyes and his lip twisted. "We just got here and you're already running out on me?"

"Heh, I'll be right back." Axel opened another corridor and slipped into it.

The fifteen-year-old sat down on the edge of the narrow space, letting his feet dangle. He gazed over the town and wondered where Diz had his base of operations. He doubted it would be anywhere in town but there did not appear to be many places to go outside of it.

There were heavy woods to the west, however, that looked dense enough to hide a few buildings. It was likely that the man was holed up somewhere in there. Maybe since he was here anyway, he should investigate a bit. Diz was horribly secretive and vague with Riku usually.

A familiar noise echoed softly, followed by a few footsteps. Axel dropped down beside him with a smirk. In his gloved hands he held two ice cream bars. "Now I know you aren't planning to ditch me to go searching for the masked man's little compound."

"I considered it," answered Riku honestly.

Axel tsked him as he handed over one of the frozen bars. Shaking his head, he looked out at the view. "Ya know, you really need to learn to stop and just enjoy a moment for once."

So they were back to this. "I don't have time to-"

"Oh, shut up and eat your ice cream." Axel bit into his own bar and actually chewed. He caught Riku's stare and lifted an eyebrow. "What?"

"I can't believe you chew ice cream. If I did that, my teeth would freeze."

Shrugging, Axel swallowed and took another bite. "It melts pretty fast, probably 'cause I'm so hot."

"Uh huh," Riku agreed in an extremely dry tone. He studied the light blue frozen treat in his hand for a moment before experimentally licking it. It… was different. It was not overly sweet with a light, salty undertone to it. "What is this?"

"It's called sea-salt ice cream," explained the Nobody. "It sounds kinda gross but it's not bad. Roxas loves the stuff."

Riku looked over sharply. Before he could ask, Axel chuckled and grinned. "No, he's not here. Trust me, I've checked the place thoroughly at least ten times since he disappeared and I doubt he'd come back here at this point anyway. He wouldn't want to risk running into me."

Again that hint of sadness crept into his voice.

The silver-haired teen spent a moment observing the other as he continued to chew on his ice cream. His tattooed eyes looked out over the view, expression normal but his eyes… For a being supposedly incapable of feeling emotion, this particular one showed an awful lot of them.

"Your ice cream's melting," Axel noted quietly. "And that stuff ain't cheap."

"You used to come here with Roxas," Riku declared. When Axel did not confirm or deny it, he knew he was right. Why had the Nobody decided to bring him here?

The corner of the frozen treat dripped onto his coat and Riku moved his hand out to keep it from happening again. While he and Axel had formed an unusual friendship, if he could even really call it that, they were both still keenly aware that they had opposing agendas. He had seen first hand how quickly the redhead's attitude could change and just how efficient of a killer he was…

"Roxas and I used to meet here after every mission, whether we had been together on it or not." Axel stared out at some non-specific point. "Whoever got here first bought the ice cream and we would just sit here. Sometimes we talked about odd things but usually, we kept quiet and just enjoyed the moment of peace."

Riku studied Axel for a brief time before turning away. He licked at the drips of his ice cream quickly and once finished with that, took a much more leisurely pace. He did not bother looking at the other and forced himself to not think about anything.

He shut out any thought about what he should be doing, what he had done in the past, how he was ever going to make up for those things… He did not think about Sora or Roxas or anyone else that his life had intersected with, for good or bad. There was nothing but the moment and all the moment had was the soft occasional wind that brushed past his face and the soft, silent sunset casting over the peaceful town below.

Riku was rather surprised how easy it was to not only fall into this calm state but maintain it as well.

When he finished with the ice cream, he set the stick to the side and leaned back a bit. He rested his weight on his hands behind him and closed his eyes. It was relaxing to be simply sitting here and tension that he had not been aware of slowly drained from his body.

"So was I right?" Axel's voice was soft and when Riku cracked an aqua eye open and glanced at him, he noted that the Nobody had adopted nearly the exact same position.

"Yeah," the silvered teen straightened up and rolled his shoulders. "I feel a lot better."

"It's good for body and mind to just stop every once in a while," Axel smirked as he leaned forward and turned his face toward the other. "Heart, too."

Riku smiled at his companion. "Thanks for this, Axel."

"Hey, no prob," the wiry framed man climbed to his feet. "I gotta make sure you're in top shape for the inevitable finale in this little game of ours."

Riku also got up and nodded. They both knew that eventually one of them was going to lose for they could not both get what they wanted. Much as Riku had grown to like the Nobody, there was no way he was going to fail his best friend again. He understood that Axel was just as determined to get his own best friend back.

"So, see ya around?" Axel asked casually, opening a dark corridor.

"Yeah," confirmed Riku.

Axel gave a little wave then disappeared into the vortex. Riku waited another moment, looking back in the direction of the woods he noticed earlier. He was tempted to go investigate but decided against it. His job was to find Roxas. Though Diz had said to bring him to him, Riku knew that Diz would somehow know when he had apprehended the rogue Nobody and would come to him.

With a sigh, Riku opened his own corridor. He was extremely grateful to Axel for this brief moment and he made a mental note that he needed to do things like this more often. For now, however, it was time to get back to work.