Hey everyone! New story! It was going to be my Christmas gift, but I fell short of that date, so now I give it to you as a celebration for the new year 2009! YAY! It's like super long, for me anyways, I've never written anything so long! This one's dedicated to Manwathiel! She kept me going and yanked me out of my funk with the ending, I hope you like the way I ended it... I seriously had like five different ways to end it and I chose this one. I left it open for a small sequel, too, which I think I'll write, unless you guys think I should leave it...? And yeah, I still have that other piece for you Man, I wil be done it sometime this new 09, lmao. But enough talk! I hope everyone enjoys it and I hope you like it! Happy New Year's everyone! And long live AkuNami! Tee hee! ^_^
Disclaimer: Everything belongs to Square Enix and Disney, cept me writing...
A pair of unblinking emerald eyes passed over the secluded hill area before them. The fiery-haired man, to which these eyes belonged, felt a frown pull at his lips like gravity. They'd arrived here several minutes ago, yet the girl still hadn't budged from his side. He cast an uninterested glance behind him, acidic eyes narrowing as they passed over the small memory witch. Her pale arms clutched at her sketchbook, hugging it tightly to her chest; pink lips quivering as she tried to hold back a small smile. Axel thought she could be doing a better job of it though. But who was he to blame her for her excitement, it wasn't very often that she was taken on these little trips.
Glimpses of the worlds outside her prison were few and far between, and an actual visit was even rarer.
Unfortuately for her, none of this could change the fact that his whole day was blown because Marluxia decided to, yet again, chuck some overtime right at his head. That was something Axel had a hard time being thrilled about, even if he knew he should be trying a little harder to suck it up. It really wasn't her fault, but the girl still remained a constant reminder of the time he could be spending somewhere else. And that, was proving to be kind of annoying.
The pyro leaned against a nearby rock, waving a leather-clad hand across the scenery before them, "What are you waiting for? Go crazy."
Naminé jumped at the sound of Axel's voice, her baby blue eyes flying to his face. Her knuckles grew white as she drew her sketchbook even closer to her body, hesitantly moving forwards. He almost didn't hear the apology she mumbled as she passed him; her feathery voice nearly stolen away by the breeze.
"You have nothing to be sorry about... not yet anyways," He said with smirk, "Just stay where I can see you and we won't have any problems. Got it memorized?"
Her blonde hair shimmered in the dying rays of the sun, falling over her shoulder as she turned to give him a silent nod. His eyes followed the delicate bends of her body as she carefully picked her way through the tall grass, making her way to the old tree that towered above from the hilltop. His lips twitched in amusement as she stumbled over a stray rock that he could have alerted her to, but he'd always had the firm belief that it was more fun to discover things on your own. Not to mention, fun for those watching said discoveries.
The pyro momentarily closed his eyes, hands behind his head. Weariness was trying to creep up on him; the edges of his thoughts slowly becoming fuzzier. Ever since Xemnas had placed Marluxia in charge of Oblivion, the weed-sprouting bastard had been throwing all sorts of stupid missions his way. He couldn't even remember the last time he'd gotten a full night's sleep. Maybe this would be a good time to catch a few Z's, it's was pretty quiet here...
And there went that idea.
His green eyes shot open, a blur of flames swirling around his hands as he instinctively summoned up his chakrams. Fire-laced veins burned dangerously, the flames inside his body just waiting to be unleashed. His blazing eyes engulfed the surrounding area, darting restlessly as they tried to find whatever she had been screaming about. Only, there was nothing for him to find, and Axel's gaze rounded on Naminé as he realized this.
The fire in his eyes faded as a question filled their wake instead, "What?! What the hell are you yelling about?"
Her baby blue eyes stared at him with an equal amount of confusion, "I just wanted to know if this was too far..." She called back.
"That's IT!?" He yelled in exasperation; vice-like grip, thankfully, clenching around nothing more than the air as he dismissed his chakrams.
"Well... " She added, nervously fidgeting with the coil of her sketchbook, "There was something else, but nevermind. It's nothing."
The fire tamer raised an eyebrow, his temper fading as her after-thoughts piqued his curiosity, "You've already effectively caught my attention, Naminé," He coaxed with a smirk, "Do you really wanna go and waste it like that?"
His green eyes squinted in the fading sun as they followed her pale arm, porcelain skin glowing as she pointed shyly at the impeding sunset. Her pretty blue eyes shined with faint hope, a hope Axel could see she was trying to hide from him. Probably so he wouldn't see it break into a million tiny pieces when he failed to respond the way she would like him to. But, she really didn't have to try so hard to hide this death from him; he'd seen her hope die so many times, it had long lost it's affect on him.
Or so he thought.
"I thought, maybe, you'd want to see it." She said softly.
Axel's gaze soaked in the vast horizon; the skyline softly painted in pastel pink and golden orange. It looked like the night had set the sky on fire, burning away the day until the only remnants were twilight's shadowy, black ashes. It was nice, but in no way did the pyro think it was worth hollering about. He'd seen them plenty of times before, the allure of their beauty had just about worn off by now. All the rather unimpressive sunset managed to instill was a case of mild irritation, some of which he directed at the little witch who'd found it amazing enough to screech about.
"Let me get this straight... you were screaming because of THAT?" His gloved finger pointed at the smoldering sky for emphasis, "That's what we call a sunset, Naminé. And sorry if I'm letting the cat out of the bag on this one, but they're a dime a dozen," Axel turned away, glancing over his shoulder as he dismissed her suggestion, "And to answer your question... no. I don't really feel like staring at it."
His words seemed to set her hope on fire, burning it away until there weren't even ashes to betray its presence in her eyes. He wasn't sure what flowed through him as he watched her turn away, her small shoulders sinking dejectedly. His emerald eyes watched as she whispered another apology, reading the "I'm sorry," that wrote itself across her rosy lips. Her voice too quiet to reach him this time. He tried to ignore the knowledge of what her broken hope would instill in anyone with the ability to feel. But, it's not a wisdom you can easily dispose of; you always know what you would be feeling when you have nothing left to feel. He hated it. Sympathy always found a way to sucker him in. Whenever the memory witch was involved, he could never seem to care as little as he imagined he would. As a Nobody, that seemed odd to Axel.
"Naminé, wait..." He watched as she turned back to face him, hesitation lacing her body.
She looked at him uncertainly, "Yes?"
His lips curved into a smile as an idea came to him, "Draw me a picture instead."
"What do you me-"
He bit back the bitter taste of irritation; keeping his voice even as he cut her off, "You know... the sunset. That way I don't have to miss it, since it seems to mean so much to you that I see it."
Axel's suggestion brought a renewed sparkle to her blue eyes, and a faint blush at his implication that she cared. A warm sensation unexpectedly spread through his chest. He had liked these things; the sparkle, the blush, the warmth. It unsettled him. So much so, that he pushed the warmth away, attributing this unique heat to his burning center. His twig-like arms crossed definitively over his chest, reinforcing the decision that the warmth was nothing more than his imagination; his core temperature playing tricks on him. Still, the thought that something he had said had brought the light back to her eyes made him feel strange. A good strange, he wouldn't deny, but strange nonetheless. Luckily, her soft voice drifted through the evening air, cutting off the unhelpful input of his thoughts.
He watched as Naminé let her excitement bubble over; fingers already trying to find the sunset's rich colours in her array of crayons. She struggled to hold everything in her slender arms, still looking for somewhere she could sit; eventually settling in a cozy nook between two of the trees roots. The top of her blonde head poked up from the wood of the tree, so he didn't feel like objecting to her position. He could still technically see her, though he knew any of the other members would have made her move closer to their immediate sight.
"Hey, Witch... could you do one more thing for me?" He questioned, once again finding his spot against his rock.
She didn't even look up from her sketchbook, "Sure... "
He raised a skeptical eyebrow.
"You should probably get into the habit of waiting for people to say what they want before you go around accepting blind favors." He advised, "Not very smart of you, I wouldn't recommend it in the future. The others aren't quite as nice as I am."
This was enough for Naminé to rip her pretty, blue eyes away from her picture. Her pencil teetered dangerously between her fingers; forgotten and about to fall.
That had been a lie.
He really wasn't that much nicer than the others and she knew it. Just more frequently in a good mood. So, Axel wasn't sure why he had said it... manipulating foolish prisoners was something he enjoyed on occasion. Bending and twisting someone's words into something they weren't; unknowingly and unwillingly handing their future a little further into the Organization's hands. Except something had made him unwilling to do that to her. At least at the present moment. He wouldn't lie and say that it wasn't something he had done to her before. But, he had felt like he wanted to help her out... or at least let her know how to do it herself.
He didn't really know. Maybe it was her innocence. No matter what, they never seemed be able to touch it; stain it black with their corruption. He'd never really liked placing impurity where it didn't belong, he'd never really tried to taint her... he didn't think darkness would look too good on her. Besides, Axel thought she looked fine just the way she was. It felt like he was just fishing for an answer now, truth was, he wasn't entirely sure that he could even explain his motives.
Well, whatever his intentions were, she had to go and ruin them.
"You're right... I should be more careful," She began, lips tearing into a little frown, "I'm sor- "
His enviable temper flared, green eyes flashing as he failed to keep it under his control, "Would you stop saying sorry already! Seriously, you'd think they're the only words you know how to say."
Axel hated those words; her apologies. She said them all the time, even when she wasn't the one who needed to say them... usually when she didn't need to say them at all.
Naminé's teeth cut into her lower lip, biting back another apology that seemed to be the only answer she had to his words. She'd admit that she apologized a lot, but it was a survival instinct to her now. And it was his fault; their fault, that she'd even learned it. A defensive measure burned into her being ever since the Organization had been brought into her life. It was usually better for your health to just apologize if you ever said or did the wrong thing. And she'd fallen into their grey area of 'wrong' enough times to know better than to say anything but those words of apology.
They didn't usually care for anything else that she chose to say.
So, why was Axel all bent out of shape? She had only said what was expected of her. Why did he even care? He probably didn't. This had to be some twisted game meant solely to mess with her head. But... she was still curious. He'd never encouraged her to think for herself. None of them had. Nobody encouraged free will in a prisoner. She thought that was probably the silliest thing a captor could do.
Her brow furrowed slightly, her soft features nullifying the frustration they were supposed to convey. Naminé attempted to hold his gaze, but was forced to look away as his crippling green eyes bruised her gentle blue ones. A fire always seemed to bleed right into his eyes when his temper was roused; straight from the tempest of fire that simmered in his empty soul. She wasn't sure if anyone could endure Axel's blistering stare, but then again, she could hardly hold her own weakness as a basis.
"What do you want me to say then?" She probed, ignoring the sting of his words and keeping the tremor in her voice as quiet as possible.
He ran his fingers through his fiery hair, coming to realize how pointless this conversation really was. There was no way she'd ever say anything she wanted to or what she should. Here she was, asking him what she should say. They'd hard-wired her brain to base everything she did on their reactions. Naminé would never do anything they wouldn't expect her to. Maybe she had known how to protect herself all along. Compliancy. Axel could understand why he didn't recognize her form of defense; it's not something he usually had to subject himself to afterall. He could choose to be a little uncooperative now and then. A luxury they'd never given her. Nor would they.
The fire tamer waved away the question with his hand, "You know what, just forget it. You go ahead and apologize to your heart's content."
Naminé frowned. She didn't like Axel's lack of an answer. She really had to stop trying to exempt him from the games the others played with her. He was exactly the same; played all the same games. Pushed and pulled her until she had no idea what was going on.
The hot-tempered man closed his eyes, "Just do me a favor and wake me up in couple hours. I'd like to try and get back before it gets too late." He cracked open an eyelid, "You can do that, can't you?"
"Yes, I can." She answered, a hint of indignation shining in her oceanic eyes.
The sliver of his green eye eclipsed, "Good. It's nice to know you can do more than draw pictures and apologize for no reason. You really had me worried for a moment there, Naminé."
He laughed quietly to himself, hearing her sigh softly as she returned her attention to her paper. It was really the only way she could answer him. Come to think of it, he didn't always get pissed off by Naminé's mindless compliance. Sometimes, he actually preferred it. Like when he joked around with her; he was never worried about becoming a casualty to some form of violence. A far cry from the times he'd said something in jest around Larxene... women and their hormones. He'd never understand it, and maybe it was better if it stayed that way.
Nightfall began to silently plunge from the heavens, a shadow of midnight entwining with the crimson laced sky. Axel felt weariness begin to trickle into his bones like molasses; he had almost forgotten how tired he'd been lately. Stupid Marluxia and his 'authority'. Amusement smoothed his scowling lips into a subtle curve; some rather entertaining thoughts of the man and his daisies suffering from some not-so-spontaneous combustion, courtesy of the Flurry of Dancing Flames. Maybe these thoughts would make their way into his dreams; he thought he'd rather enjoy that.
The pyro felt the arms of slumber slowly encircle him, all the while hoping there would be no further disruptions. He needed the rest. If the witch started screaming again, he couldn't guarantee that there wouldn't be a pair of lovely chakrams flying in her general direction. He'd hope it wouldn't come to that though.
Leaves rustled faintly; the breeze stroking their emerald flesh as it floated past. Mother Nature seemed to take pity on the heartless man; blending up her gentlest lullaby for the world to sing to him. A lullaby for a Nobody. In a matter of minutes, Axel had given in to his exhaustion.
A howl of sorrow echoed through the night sky, a cry of utter loneliness. A wolf without his pack; pleading to the moon above for a little companionship. Axel groaned in irritation. Damn animals and their loud noises. That was the last time he ever tried to get some sleep in the wilderness. Not half as effective as his bed back at Oblivion; mediocre as it was, it still got the job done. His eyes opened lazily, their emerald hue illuminated by the opalescent moon above. The sight carved a deep frown into his lips.
"Shit... I overslept." He grumbled, eyes slowly sharpening.
Axel found this little predicament kind of funny. And not the 'ha ha' kind of funny. More along the lines of 'I could've sworn I asked Naminé to wake me' funny.
It looked like Naminé really couldn't do much else besides draw and apologize. He should've known; he was rarely wrong. At least she'd get some decent mileage out of her skills; he could already hear the endless apologies that would slide from between her lips. That is, when he found her. Axel rubbed the last bit of sleep from his eyes, gaze panning across the area as his gloved hand fell to his side. A smile tempted the corners of his mouth; green eyes falling on the hilltop and the thick roots where she had crafted her small cubbyhole.
The moon's eery glow chiseled out a silthouette of Axel's lanky frame; his long strides carving a path through the tall grass with ease. Reaching the tree's base, he ran his gloved hand along it's weathered bark, slowly circling the trunk to her makeshift nook. He rounded the last curve, viridian eyes gleaming through the darkness like an animal's might. He looked down, expecting to find Naminé. A frown stole away the sly smirk on his lips; piercing eyes only finding nothingness where the girl should've been nestled between the gnarled roots.
"You've got to be kidding me." He groaned.
Axel crossed his arms over his chest, trying to physically block out the mild panic that was threatening to set in. If he didn't find her, or if anything happened to her... he was so screwed. Clearly there was a reason these trips were kept to a minimum... things like this happened.
The fire tamer scoured the emptiness she had filled just hours earlier; catching a brief glimpse of colour. He knelt down to a crouching position. Reaching out a gloved hand, he picked up the small box of crayons that had been tucked safely under one of the roots. The bright colours peeked shyly at him from under the lid; he could see that a few of them were missing. Flipping the box open, he ran his finger along the rich sweep of colours noticing, under closer inspection, that practically all the ones missing were on the darker side.
Where was she?
Axel closed the box once again, rising to his feet before shoving it into his coat pocket. His blazing eyes scalded the surrounding area, searching for any sign of the witch.
"This had better not be some stupid game she's playing."
She was probably mad because he had gone all psycho on her for waking him up. So what if she'd had good intentions, he was tired! Maybe that was why she hadn't woken him, or maybe she was just doing this out of spite. Though, he had never really pegged her as the revengeful type.
He cupped his hands around his mouth, calling out, "Come on Naminé! I didn't mean to get angry before, if you're trying to get back at me, you win okay!?" He lowered his hands from his mouth, lips set in a firm line as he muttered, "But only because you're cheating."
A sigh escaped Axel's lips, gloved fingers toying with a blade of jade that he'd ripped from the ground. The idea of torching the sea of grass was tempting, but burning Naminé to a crisp wouldn't exactly improve his situation. Not to mention, the higher-ups would be less than impressed. But she could be anywhere... there had to be a thousand different places she could be hiding.
"She wants a game of hide and seek... well, she's got one." He grumbled.
He set out into the swaying shoots of green, lanky arms cutting through the leafy veil like scythes. His emerald eyes were focused intensely on the ground. If looks could kill, he'd be standing in one thoroughly burnt field. He couldn't even enjoy the pretty smells of the countless flowers he trampled on; yeah, he was that pissed off. The pyro continued on, growing accustomed to the different sensations that were crushed underfoot. A patch of bluebells, some small pebbles, grass, a couple of gross mushrooms; that must've wreaked some kind of hell on his boots, even more grass, and then... hmm. Something different.
His emerald eyes drifted to the ground, and he lifted his boot; nose wrinkling in disgust as the smell of mushrooms hit him. There, mixed in with some dirt, pebbles, and bits of smooshed mushroom; were the remains of a boot-crushed crayon. Crumbles of deep violet littered the ground. He felt a small wave of relief. Naminé had been this way... maybe she was even somewhere close. The idea made him a little less angry.
The fire tamer looked around carefully, pensively scratching the side of his head. His eyes squinted as he examined a slightly darker area in the sea of green; a void of some sort. The crayon he'd found nearby was doing wonders for his dwindling optimism, and general mood. Maybe she had made this one... it wouldn't hurt to look. All he'd lose was a little more time, and that was something he'd already lost a buttload of. Really, what was a few more minutes?
Mind made up, Axel headed towards the grass hollow. He kept his pace slow, not risking the hazards of accidentally stepping on her if she was anywhere close. Though, the idea of barreling right through all the tall grass had it's appeal. He approached the void warily, looking in as he parted the thin wall of grass that surrounded it.
A very familiar pair of baby-blue sandals met his eyes. Axel smirked to himself.
There she was. She was a sneaky thing, wasn't she... or she thought she was. His eyes travelled up her body and he frowned; realizing that she was lying down. He felt stupid for not noticing that sooner. His frustration melted away, his focus switching to the suddenly fragile-looking memory witch. Axel stepped into the clearing, moving to her hesitantly. He saw her sketchbook; closed and lying to the side, crayons spilled across the cover like a small, dark rainbow.
He looked down at her, confused by a desire to make sure she was okay; a desire that didn't stem from her importance to the Organization. As his eyes caught the rise and fall of her chest, Axel felt that longing fade away; leaving him even more confused than before. So the pyro decided to do something true to his nature; distance himself from this desire-ridden person he didn't recognize. A devious smirk sparked on his lips, erasing the conflict from his angular features. Axel lowered himself to his haunches, moving his hand so it hovered over her nose. His emerald eyes flicked to her sleeping face, mischievious grin softening as he did.
Her delicate face was lit softly by the moon and stars. Sure, he could deny that Naminé was beautiful, so could anyone else if they wanted. It'd be a lie. One he could tell to any number of people, just not himself. Because unlike sunsets, the allure of her beauty had yet to wear off. He was sure that'd get him in trouble some day.
But what might happen in the future, wasn't going to stop the fire tamer from living in the present. That just wasn't his style.
Axel gently squeezed her nose with his thumb and index finger, stealing away the ability to breathe through her nose. It was a little trick he'd picked up from Roxas; one of the most effective waking methods since the alarm clock. Not to mention one of most annoying. He watched with a wide grin as she snorted softly; lips parting as her body demanded she get air from somewhere else. As her azure eyes flew open, he removed his hand; smirking as she sat up. Naminé took a few gasping breaths, eyes widening as she became fully aware of Axel's presence beside her.
"You forgot to wake me," He pointed out, face close, eyes staring at her intently, "So... I thought I'd wake you. I happen to know how much it sucks to oversleep, thought maybe I'd spare you the experience."
"I'm sor- " She cut herself short, remembering his rather sensitive temper.
But the fire tamer only urged her on with a slight wave of his hand, "You can say it. Call me crazy, but I don't really mind it when it actually needs to be said."
"I'm sorry... I didn't mean to forget. I got distracted and then, I guess I fell asleep." She said sheepishly, cheeks flushing slightly.
He quirked an eyebrow, sleeping issues momentarily forgotten, "What could possibly be interesting enough to make you forget about me? I thought I was pretty damn thrilling..."
Naminé smiled at him, seeing his lips twitch the way they always did when he was joking around. She liked Axel better when he was like this. When he was nice to her. She just didn't want to say or do anything that would turn him into the Organization member she didn't like quite as much. She stole a glance skywards, returning her sparkling gaze to his in a matter of seconds.
"I... I wanted to see the night sky. The stars, the moon. They're so beautiful." She breathed in wonder, stealing another glance at the midnight sky, "I never thought the night could be more colourful than the day."
Instead of seeing the stars for himself, Axel studied the small witch as she did; eyes captivated by the way the moon illuminated her angelic face. He looked away so she wouldn't notice his eyes on her, but she just continued to gaze at the sky. He felt strangely ashamed at the idea of being caught staring, and that unnerved him. He'd usually stare at whatever he wanted, and whoever happened to fall within his gaze just had to deal with it; including her in the past.
Why were things different now? Why did a prisoner like Naminé seem to make the old, apathetic Axel slip away? Maybe he shouldn't read too much into it.
"Wow. I must be some kind of boring then." He said jokingly, running his hand idly through his fiery hair.
Naminé pried her gaze away from the heavens; staring into his emerald eyes, as if they, too, held their own constellations. It surprised her when she didn't find a fire set deep in his gaze; the inferno that usually threatened to burn her in half when she even dared meet his eyes. She liked that Axel wasn't sending her this usual inclination to look away, but it felt so strange to look at him for longer than a few seconds. This was probably the first time they'd had anything even resembling a conversation and the first time he'd truly been alone with her; nobody else hovering over her shoulder alongside him. For some reason, Axel's sole presence made her shyness surface a little more strongly than usual.
"You're not boring, I just see you all the time at Oblivion," She said softly with a smile, "But, if it makes you feel any better... there was something else that distracted me."
The fiery haired man lowered himself to the ground, sitting beside her with what looked to be genuine intrigue shining in his eyes. Of the few times Naminé had snuck a glimpse at him in the past, the only thing she'd ever seen him look at her with was annoyance or mild amusement. The only attention they'd paid her, they'd used to manipulate her. So this seemingly string-free attention Axel was giving her, made her feel agitated. At least when the Organization paid her any interest she'd known their intentions.
This she didn't understand at all.
"Let's hear about this other distraction... then I'll decide how hurt my ego is." Axel said with an amused smile.
Naminé gently tucked a few blonde strands behind her ear, rosy lips twitching as if they were didn't know whether to smile or frown; unsure if they should turn her voice into words.
"You promise you won't laugh?" She asked quietly.
His finger drew an invisible 'X' over the left side of his chest, "Cross my heart."
The memory witch winced at the gesture, wide blue eyes following Axel's long finger as it cut across his empty chest like a knife. This felt like a game. Swearing on a heart he didn't even have, it couldn't of felt more wrong to her.
"You don't have one."
"I know. I don't need a reminder." He said harshly, bristling at her words.
"Then why would you promise on it?" Naminé whispered, looking at him with painfully innocent eyes.
Axel narrowed his emerald gaze in irritation. Deep down, he'd admit that, maybe, she had a point. But after all her time in captivity; he thought she'd have grown skin a little thicker than that. The girl put too much thought in places where it wasn't needed. It was just a figure of speech afterall... she really had to learn to lighten up. But then, maybe that was expecting a little too much from her.
"Fine. Consider it revoked," He said with a roll of his eyes, stroking his chin as he tried to think of something better, "Hmmm, how about this instead... 'I solemnly promise not to laugh at whatever silly thing Naminé tells me, if she ever gets around to it'... is that any better?"
She nodded mutely, smiling as she saw the ever-familiar smirk on the pyro's lips.
"Good. So, let's kill the suspense already."
She took a small breath, "A while back, I was taken to the library to pick out a book and I found one on stars that I really liked..."
Naminé's eyes drifted to his face, a little startled that his full attention was still focused on her. She had half-expected to see the pyro flicking his lighter, or playing with the strings of his coat; not really investing himself in her words. But he was actually listening to her every word, his eyes looking at her, not through her. It was enough for her to continue; keep her talking while he still cared enough to listen.
"Have you ever heard of the North Star?" She asked, looking at Axel with curiosity.
His brow furrowed, "Maybe... if I have, I don't remember it. Care to enlighten me?" He suggested with a smirk.
"Okay..." She blushed as Axel leant a bit closer, the intensity of his green eyes becoming a little overwhelming, "They say that every night, if you look to the north, you'll always be able to find it in the sky no matter what..."
Axel invaded the small pause in her voice, "That... was a bit of a letdown."
The girl frowned, watching him lean away from her in his disappointment.
"I wasn't finished." She mumbled.
"Oh... I knew that." He cleared his throat awkwardly, "Well, what are you waiting for? Keep talking then."
She giggled quietly as he ran a hand through his fiery hair; a crooked smile strangely softening the strong angles of his face. She could hardly remember the cold eyes that used to force her gaze away; replaced with a warmth that invited her to take more than a fleeting glance. Her azure eyes roamed curiously across his face, noticing how good-looking Axel really was; something she had never seen with her sight so heavily veiled by fear. Naminé flushed as her inquisitive eyes found their way back to his own; realizing the quirk of his brow and the question in his eyes as they looked into hers. She shouldn't of been staring at him like that... he was one of her captors; one of them.
Embarassed, the memory witch moved her sapphire eyes to the sky, "T-there's a story to the North Star, and when I read it... something inside me wished that, someday, I'd get to see it."
Axel stretched out his long body, adopting a reclined pose in favor of sitting. From the moment he had caught her staring at him; which, he'd enjoyed a lot more than he should have, his excitement at her apparent attraction had slowly faded. It was just another glance. This thought chased away enough of of the jumble in his mind to demand, 'What the hell do YOU think you're... well, thinking!?' He'd never taken pleasure in a glance she'd stolen; never thought about the memory witch as anything more than a nuisance.
Was it just all the clean, natural air messing with his head? She was their prisoner; she couldn't be anything else.
Whoever said a little fresh air will clear your head must've literally been out of their mind. Otherwise, they'd know exactly how much space it freed up for all the thoughts that had no right being there. He'd never once thought about her like that back at Oblivion... it must've been all the musty, stale air. The nauseating smell of Marluxia's god awful flowers must've helped too; it's pretty damn difficult to think when it seems like someones shoved perennials up your nose.
"What's happening to me?" Axel thought idly, plucking at some blades of grass and twisting them between the leather of his gloved fingers, "I'd better hope this all the air's fault. I can think of eleven people who wouldn't like it if it was mine. If they found out, that is. If... what a great word."
Naminé cautiously moved her gaze back to the redhead, frowning as she caught sight of him. She could clearly see his interest waning. Thin torso propped up by his elbow, leather-clad hand cradling his chin as if his neck couldn't carry the weight of his head. The fingers of his other hand were tangled in a patch of grass, misfortunate strands sharply ripped out by their roots. His emerald eyes were downcast, completely absorbed in his gardening.
She sighed softly, unsure if she should continue when all these things were clearly pointing to a case of lost interest. However, Axel's voice cut through the silence; pressing her for more before she could make this decision for herself.
"You know... it seems like I've been waiting a long time for you to get to the point of your little story," He remarked, looking up with a broad smirk, "Do you think I'd get any closer to hearing it if I sent in a complaint? I've been debating it."
Despite the negating playfulness in his tone, she knew better than to overlook the impatience in his darkened eyes.
She smiled meekly, "Right."
Axel blinked in suppressed surprise. He'd anticipated an apology, it seemed like an instance where she'd usually give one... you know, where it wasn't necessary. And, she hadn't. The fact that she'd managed to throw him a loop, startled him more than the backbone she'd apparently grown in the past hour. He couldn't help but smile at this, though he did his best to keep it hidden as she continued on... nothing weirder than smiling for no reason.
"Ever since the North Star was discovered, it's been used for navigation," Her voice became a little softer than usual, "Whenever someone had lost their way, they could look to the sky and... the star would help them find their way back home," Her fingers were clasped tightly in her lap, "... I wanted to see if the North Star would be there to help someone like me; someone who isn't really anyone at all."
Axel looked at her through careful eyes, sitting up, "So, you were looking for it?"
"Stupid, right?" The bitterness in Naminé's sweet voice sounded wrong and out of place.
"I never said that."
She didn't respond, the look in her blue eyes belying her disbelief. He wasn't completely shocked that his words meant so little to the memory witch, but secretly, he'd hoped that maybe they might have meant more.
"Well... did you find it?" He asked, surprised by how soft his own voice had become.
Naminé smiled at his question, but this reaction only made the pyro frown. Anyone else would have easily misread her lips, but Axel could pierce through anyone's deceptions, no matter how deep they were. No one was safe from his emerald eyes; especially not a Nobody.
They were so easy to read, even more so than a Somebody who actually had emotions to conceal; feelings to find. People who could experience the full intensity of their emotions so often chose to hide them away, but those who couldn't feel them at all; chose to paint their emotions across their face like some clown at a carnival. Expression with a great lack of sensation, the story of every Nobodie's non-existence. It was the closest they could ever get to their emotions.
Axel had gotten really good at reading these emotional masks; finding all the small nuances in a Nobody's face. Naturally, Naminé wasn't very hard to read. He knew her answer before even a single word could split apart her lips.
No, no, no. Everything about her had been a dead giveaway of this answer; a sadness infused in every inch of her body. Though she smiled, Axel had found the sorrow deep in her eyes, echoing in her voice, and written on her face. The memory witch was a typical Nobody in this respect; putting on a big show of emotions, so everyone could see just how much she couldn't feel, and how much she wanted to.
Naminé sighed heavily; releasing a weight that was just too great for her small body to hold, "I should've known better than to think a Nobody like me would be able to... we don't even have homes to find our way back to. No one's waiting for us, no one cares if we can't find our way back."
A silence, almost as heavy as her sigh, closely followed her words. It wasn't uncomfortable, but it wasn't terribly comfortable either. Axel stared at her for a moment, unsure of what he should, or even could, say. This was a situation he didn't think his silver tongue could soothe; no matter the words they chose. His emerald gaze fell away from the small witch, unable or unwilling to look upon her in her damaged condition. He doubted that the heart was the only thing that could be broken. But that opened up a couple more possibilities; like, what even needed to be mended, and how would he find all the pieces? Axel wasn't even sure if this was something he had any intention of fixing.
Was it something he was even capable of? Why did she make him care so much, anyways?
The fiery haired man raised his eyes, emerald orbs scanning the star-studded sky. He'd never imagined that Nobodies would be exempt from more than just their emotions, but there really were other things they didn't have... hearts, homes, family, sometimes even hope. He hardly thought she needed another reminder from some stupid star; the cruel absence of any beat in their chests was something they'd never forget. Axel's eyes sharpened as he glared up at the heavens, thin lips frowning as a thousand of the night's eyes simply scathed him back.
Stupid, good-for-nothing stars.
He brought his gaze back to earth, sneaking a glance at Naminé. She'd brought out her sketchbook, and it now lay open in her lap. Maybe she was trying to find a happy memory to take comfort in. Though, Axel wasn't sure if that was possible when none of them were her own... even if they had been, they couldn't make her truly happy. It just wasn't possible. As her slender fingers tenderly brushed away an old page, a new picture was brought into his vision; one he recognized.
He leaned forwards, flicking the tip of the picture with his finger, "Is that the sunset I asked you to draw for me?"
"Yes..." She looked up, smiling shyly as she moved her sketchbook so he could see it better, "Do you like it?"
It was like she had cut the sunset right out of the sky; a shadowy twilight slowly bleeding into a tinge of lavender, soft blushes of pink, golden ambers, and rich, ruby reds. The death of daylight captured in its last moments of resistance. Was it strange that he liked the picture more than the actual phenomenon? Probably. Despite this truth, saying any of these things to her would only make him sound like the liar he was.
Axel's emerald eyes flicked to her face as he reached for the pad of paper, carefully taking it into his hands as she entrusted it to him with a blossoming smile. Consumed by the colours, he didn't notice as Naminé inched a little bit closer. She craned her graceful neck; baby blue eyes flitting expectantly between his face and her picture.
"Heck, I'm glad I passed up the real thing... this one's definitely worth more than a dime." He said with a smirk, though this could not lessen the amount of sincerity in his voice, "I don't remember any of your picture's back at Oblivion being this good."
"That's because those are Marluxia's pictures she's drawing back at Oblivion... none of those are ever her own. Don't be an idiot, you know that behind those castle walls... she owns even less than we do." The pyro's thoughts chided in cruel and cold honesty, a hard truth he tried his best to ignore as he struggled to keep his grin carefree. Why did his stupid head have to keep messing with his good intentions?
"Umm... thanks?" She said in slight confusion, smiling at him warmly nonetheless, from what she could tell, he'd meant well. Relief flooded his body, thankfully, all his words had told her was that he really liked the picture; not, that he really wished she could always make them that way. It was a good thing she hadn't thought about his words quite as thoroughly as he apparently had.
Remaining unfazed, he gave her a wink, relishing the rosy blush that crept into her cheeks, "Don't mention it."
The fire tamer became a little more aware of their proximity; his eyes dancing as he saw every tiny crinkle in her nose as she unsuccessfully stifled a giggle. Since when were witches this cute? Why couldn't she be the ugly, hag that she was supposed to be? Axel doubted that he'd have any trouble resisting her if that had been the case. He ripped his gaze away, growing a little fearful of what he might do with her allure so close at hand.
His fingers flirted with the edges of the drawing; eager to see more, but seeking permission, "Can I?"
Naminé bit her lip. Uncertainty circling her irises in a deeper shade of blue.
"You can say no." The pyro offered, green eyes staring at her searchingly.
Did she want to bring this fiery-haired man, who she'd been scared of just hours earlier, a lot further into her shell than she'd ever imagined she would? Naminé was finding that the reasons of why she should, came to her with an ease that she had so often associated with the reasons of why she shouldn't. Maybe the trust he kept making her feel wasn't just a ruse... he was giving her the choice to refuse. She knew that if it had been anyone else; she wouldn't have been given this courtesy. Everytime she looked, it seemed as if Axel stumbled into another situation where he proved that he was different.
Maybe he was.
She shook her head, blonde hair stirring with the motion, "No, it's okay."
Naminé frowned, "It's fine, really."
"Alright, alright... no need to get feisty." He chuckled; turning the page carefully under her watchful eyes.
A picture similar to the one she'd drawn of the sunset met his curious gaze; though this one depicted a darker side of the sky's spectrum. Only Naminé could draw both and somehow find a way to make each as beautiful and colourful as the other; even if one should be as dark and monochromatic as the coat he wore. She conjured up the night with deep shades of indigo, violet, and a touch of pink that just kissed the edges of creamy white stars. And somehow, she managed to capture the lustre of the moon with a polished gray that shined like silver.
Axel instantly understood why she'd said the night could be more colourful than the day, but what he didn't want to understand, was why he'd remembered the words of a prisoner like her.
He turned to look at her, unable to believe the dissatisfaction that her drawing seemed to instill in her eyes, "Naminé... this is pretty amazing."
"It didn't turn out as well as I thought it would," She said softly, her eyes looking vacant as they examined the drawing.
"What picture are you looking at?" He squinted his emerald eyes, lifting the sketchbook a little closer to his face, "As far as I'm concerned, this puts you right up there with all those Davinci-esque type guys."
Naminé smiled at this, but she couldn't keep this curvature of her lips for as long as he hoped she would. The mere inches between their bodies was brought even closer to Axel's attention; the skin beneath his coat tingling warmly as her arm brushed against him. A warmth he couldn't, in all honesty, blame on himself. Her slim finger pointed to a vacancy in her drawing's dark sky; an area void of even a single twinkling star. He didn't need to think twice about what she had intended to draw there; the North Star.
"I thought that I'd find it if I kept drawing, that the next time I looked up; I'd see it." She explained sadly, removing her fingers as he ran his own over the starless hollow in her picture, "But I never found it. And all I was left with, was a blank spot that the North Star couldn't fill... so I coloured in the rest, but it just doesn't look the way I wanted it to."
The only thing Axel could answer her with was his silence. There really weren't any words to say, and Axel had always thought that there was nothing lies couldn't fix. But, that was probably one of the bigger lies he'd ever tried to tell. So, the fire riddled man thought about what he could do instead, since words seemed to have escaped him. An idea slowly began to form in his head, swirling beneath his crazy mass of red hair. If anyone deserved to see a star as special as the North Star, it was Naminé. If he could manage to do, what he thought he could do... maybe he could show her one.
Cue the lightbulb! Axel had officially come up with an idea.
The red-head gently handed her sketchbook back, cracking his long fingers when they became empty.
"This North Star is really starting to piss me off,"
The pyro's words prompted Naminé to look in his direction. Expecting to see his face hardened from the irritation she'd heard in his voice, but only catching mischief dancing across his lips.
Axel lowered his voice, looking at her slyly, "You know what you should do, Naminé?"
He was obviously up to something... but she wasn't really afraid of finding out what it was. This Axel wasn't so scary.
He could see how hard the girl's mind was racing; her curiosity was so easy to ensnare. Her sketchbook lay forgotten by her legs, having slipped carelessly from her fingers. Axel didn't really mind that he had proved to interest her more than her drawings did, he didn't mind it at all.
A smile twitched behind her lips, eyes unable to hide their spark as she shook her head, "Tell me."
Axel's spiky hair swayed as he looked around with mock suspicion, like what he was going to say was only meant for her to hear. A secret meant to be kept between them.
"You should find a better star." He said simply, white teeth gleaming as he grinned widely, "I mean, how great could the North Star really be if you couldn't even see it? I'll bet you any munny, that you can find one that's brighter... one that you'll always be able to find."
"Really? All by myself?" She asked worriedly; the delight in her eyes still twinkling as she watched him stand up; towering above her.
"Nah," Axel offered her his hand, "I'll help you."
Naminé smiled, but moved her eyes from his outstretched hand, to his face, and then back again. A part of her was still wary of him, but she didn't want to be when he was being nothing but nice. She knew it wasn't necessary for him to be so friendly; that definitely wasn't in his job description. Letting go off this doubt, she carefully placed her hand in his; indulging in the growing sense of trust he instilled. The warmth from his skin bled through his gloves; his fingers encasing her hand in black leather and heat as he gently pulled her to her feet.
A gentleness she'd never imagined the redhead could be capable of.
Even standing, Axel was still a fair bit taller than her, and the memory witch looked up at him shyly. Naminé couldn't help but wonder if the equality she felt between them would simply end here; the jailor and his prisoner once again. She really didn't like thinking about it that way; she didn't want to believe that it might be true. She pushed this thought into one of the darker corners of her mind, so far back that no light could hope to find it. But in hiding that thought, another one was brought to the surface of her mind.
"Aren't we supposed to be back at Oblivion soon?"
"Sure, we're supposed to, but that doesn't mean we will be." Axel scoffed, looking at her like this was something he shouldn't of had to tell her, "I'll just make something up if they actually notice that we come in late... I've got it covered." He assured her, willing away the worry in her eyes.
"Okay... I trust you."
The pyro blinked in surprise, her words igniting a tiny flame in his chest.
She trusted him; depended on him. It made Axel smile, the kind of smile that people only saw when he thought they deserved it. And he couldn't decide whether he was pleased or bothered that Naminé was one of those very few people. The fire tamer shook away this conflict, returning his attention to the memory witch before she had time to catch onto anything amiss. He really had to try to be more careful around her.
"Alright then, let's go find you a half-decent star." He said with a grin, unable to ignore the contagious excitement that brightened up her beautiful face.
The redhead started towards the tall grass; planning to cut out an easier path for the petite witch, but something stopped them both. A soft tug of restraint shot through the muscles of their arms; emerald and sapphire eyes falling towards their hands. Fingers tangled; his shadowy gloves smothered out her ivory fingers, leaving only the smallest, chance glimpse of her snow-white skin. A lot like a light that refused to go out, even in the deepest darkness. Maybe it was his imagination, but Naminé's fingers seemed to fit perfectly with his own.
Had he gone mental? This was wrong.
It didn't freaking matter how 'perfectly' her hand felt in his - and this perfection had been his imagination by the way - this was definitely wrong. Only, Axel couldn't shake the truth in this unfortunate cliché; it might've been wrong, but it still felt so right.
But, was he the one holding her hand, or was she the one holding his?
Who was at fault... were they both?
"No. Why would she hold your hand? This was all you Axel, and you know it."
The reality of the situation hit him like a brick, and Axel hastily removed his hand from her own, mentally cursing himself for letting Naminé's temptation get the best of him without even realizing it. The pyro stood paralyzed for a moment or two, avoiding her questioning eyes; face flushed in a shade that was all too similar to his crimson hair. The girl reached out to him tentatively,
Her fingers brushed the sleeve of his coat, but this only made Axel recoil as if she was the one who's touch could burn. He couldn't even look at her, he was afraid of seeing the endless questions that must've been swirling behind her eyes. Questions he didn't have a single answer to.
Before he knew what he was doing, Axel found a gruff apology slipping from between his lips and his feet carriying him off into the grass ahead. His emerald eyes snuck a glance at the memory witch over his shoulder; her pale skin glowing like a beacon even through the darkness and the distance. Naminé looked lonely standing all by herself; staring after him with abandoned eyes, but there was just no way in hell that he could even think of going back without calming himself down first.
The inferno continued on, thoughts racing; the majority of which hopelessly circled around her. An anger at his own foolishness caused flames to ripple just beneath his skin, "I thought you were supposed to be CAREFUL! Why the hell were you holding her hand!? Just imagine what she's thinking... no! Don't do that."
Axel's stride slowed, and he rubbed his face wearily, doubtful, yet hopeful that this action could somehow wipe away the thoughts of Naminé. Thinking of her... just another instance where he knew he was wrong, yet still found that it felt right. It seemed like the more he tried to deny these thoughts, the further he was pulled into them. Could he even afford to deny them any more than he was? What would happen the next time he got in too deep... the pyro could only imagine that it could only get worse from merely holding her hand.
One thing was certain; whether or not he'd screwed up, he couldn't just abandon her like this. He'd have to go back.
Plus, Axel wasn't ready to just forget about, what he thought, was one of his better, if not best, ideas. He'd told Naminé that he'd help her find that star and, awkward or not, that's what he was going to do. The inferno happened to know, for a fact, that he was the only one who'd know where to find it.
Naminé didn't follow Axel, only watched as his tall frame grew less and less visible through the dark. Her eyes drifted to her hand; slender fingers tingling from the warmth of Axel's grip. It was so strange... his heat had never been anything less than intense, and normally she could've felt every single wave as it rolled off his body, even when she'd been on the opposite side of the room. The small witch had always been scared of it, but now... she hadn't even felt it when he had been touching her, and everyone knows you can't be scared of something you aren't aware of.
It had changed somehow... or maybe, he had been the one who'd changed it. His warmth had been so tender, so much so that she hadn't even felt it until the pyro had left and the crisp, cold air had swept in to steal it away.
As tiny goosebumps spread across her skin, Naminé was surprised to find that that she wished Axel were still close, maybe... even holding her hand. Was it wrong for her to be thinking like this? Could she actually like this unpredictable man who kept her imprisoned? She had never even imagined that this question would pop into her head; only, now it had. Maybe if this night had gone normally; it wouldn't have. But, the fire tamer had become someone different; someone so separate from who he was at Oblivion.
But, maybe that didn't make it alright...
The memory witch felt that, in thinking that it wasn't wrong, she had gone and blindly overstepped some boundary. She was the one who'd been clutching at his hand, right? She was the prisoner; the vulnerable one, right... right? That had to be it. She was the one at fault. She was the one foolish enough to look to him; one of her captors, for comfort.
This must've been why Axel had gotten mad. Naminé could vividly remember how fast he'd stormed off. He'd barely given her enough time to look at him, but from the deep, scarlet flush she had caught on his features, she thought she could safely say that he hadn't been happy. Why'd she have to go and make a mess like this? She should've known better... should've never forgotten her place. The pyro may not have been able to feel his anger, but he sure knew how to efficiently epitomize it, and now she was the one he was angry at. She'd witnessed Axel angry enough times to know that he never fared too well against his own temper.
But she would be the one to suffer. The only people harmed when Axel lost a match with his own temper, were the ones stupid enough to stick around... and Naminé knew that she didn't have the choice to leave. Why did things have to turn out this way? Everything had been going so well... leaps and bounds from any other time. The memory witch couldn't help but smile to herself, the pyro's words instantly coming to mind.
'You know what you should do, Naminé? You should find a better star... I'll help you.'
But then her smile was slowly erased; cruel, new lines etching her lips with a frown. It was probably better if she completely forgot those words, along with the person that Axel had become outside Oblivion's walls. With him angry, the chances of both still being tangible was growing increasingly slim. Naminé doubted that she'd ever find her better star now... and maybe she'd been stupid to believe that, even with his help, she might have found it. Either way, it didn't matter. He'd never help her now, and she tried to ignore the thought that maybe he'd never intended to.
She didn't want to think that this had all been a twisted game of hope and trust. A little trick to get her to follow him to the ends of the earth... all the way back to Oblivion where they should've been hours ago. She didn't want to wonder why he would help her at all. She didn't want to believe that there was no special stars, and that there was no real honesty either.
But, maybe... the only thing she could really depend on was her prison of white, the pages of her sketchbook, and her small box of crayons.
Naminé cast a long glance in the direction Axel had disappeared. He'd come back eventually; he had to, and all she had to do was wait. The prison guard always came back to lock up the prisoner. And she was his prisoner, nothing else. Her thoughts shifted as this crossed her mind; wishing instead, that he wouldn't come back.
Because the person he'd been tonight... wouldn't be the one who came back.
It would be Number VIII, not Axel. The heartless, impassive Nobody who guarded her at Oblivion; the person she'd somehow allowed herself to forget about. She wanted to miss his presence, not fear it. She... she wanted him to be someone different, not just someone convincing.
Bad thought, after bad thought. The memory witch was glad that at least she didn't know how to convince herself. There were still a few shreds of hope that she had for the unusual pyro. He was the only one who'd ever tried to be kind... even if he didn't necessarily acheive that outcome. He'd listened to her, made her smile; laugh, talked to her, made her feel like... someone. It had been seared right into the nothingness inside her; she couldn't forget it. A notch in her a-little-less-vacant chest, that only kindness could leave.
And she didn't want to think that this mark Axel had left wasn't as kind as she thought it was.
There she went; creating another shred of hope in her chest for him.
Naminé stood uncertainly, the night growing colder and her surroundings looking even emptier. The night wasn't quite as pretty when no one was there to make it less scary. She began to wish Axel would come back; mere minutes apart from her wish of the opposite. A chilly gust of wind whipped at her delicate face, blonde hair tangling with itself. The doe-eyed girl carefully wiped a thin web of hair from her face, gathering up the sketchbook and crayons she'd left abandoned in the grass. She'd have to go back to the tree to get her box before they left.
But, she'd wait for Axel first... that was a little further into the night than she cared to venture alone.
She gingerly sat on a nearby rock; slim fingers skimming the hazel cover of her sketchbook. Naminé slowly cracked open the pages to the semi-starless night she had drawn. She knew that she'd be feeling guilty if she could be. To her, it was like a tiny, hidden manifest of the pyro who'd told her he would help her fill it. It felt like she might as well have been looking at a picture of him; everything about it made her think of him. His warm green eyes, careless crimson hair, teardrop scars, and joker-like smile.
Number VIII. Axel.
She shouldn't be thinking about him at all; this she knew. And she never really had before tonight; this strange, confusing, and exciting night. Her fingertips seemed to move with a life of their own; caressing the perfect shade of dark blue in her picture. She wished that the evening with Axel could've ended on a better note; that things with him could've ended better. Because she knew that they could have.
The small witch looked up in surprise, a pair of emerald eyes staring right back at her. She couldn't tell whether it was Axel's or Number VIII's gaze that drifted to the open sketchbook in her lap; little nervous butterflies fluttering in her belly as they did so. However, a million tiny wings were stopped dead as her colour-coated pages were suddenly snapped shut. A wave of warmth sunk beneath her skin; Axel encasing her hands with his own. Firmly, but gently, holding her sketchbook closed.
"You gave me the impression that you'd rather be looking at something a little more starry." He raised a brow as his serpentine stare flicked, once again, to the sketchbook that she had been absorbed in; voice falling to a smooth whisper, "I'm beginning to feel like you were leading me on..."
Naminé felt every muscle in her body tense; one after the other like some chain of flesh sensation. His gaze was speckled with dark spots; the demand in his expectant eyes, forcing just enough control back into her neck so she could weakly shake her head in answer. This made his lips settle comfortably in a satisfied smirk, her breath catching in her throat as his fingers slipped away from hers; stealing back their proximity.
She exhaled softly, the release of his touch also freeing the breath trapped inside her body. Her limbs slowly relaxed too, his warmth sitting snugly in her bones as he became less... overwhelming. Naminé didn't know how a man of pure fire could cause her to freeze like that, as if ice was what truly coursed through his veins. Send her on edge and put her at ease in the lapse of a couple seconds. It was strange to feel these levels unbalance and then balance in such rapid succession.
Why was he even capable of doing that to her?
The pyro cut off her thoughts as he spoke again, "Well in that case, I think my company could be pretty valuable to you."
Axel watched the memory witch in a careful calm; his twisting insides completely unknown to her. There they were... the questions in those baby-blues of hers. Old questions from earlier, new questions from now, and he still didn't have an answer to a single one of them. He hoped this was a moment where she'd prove to be too shy to voice them.
Luckily for the pyro, Naminé's mind wrapped around his hints before they could do the same with the questions she'd had. His worry dwindled as her curiosity-charged eyes were eclipsed with twinkling realization. He smiled in amusement as she sprang up from her seat like he'd physically lit a fire beneath her. She looked up at him; lips barely parted as if she was afraid to take a breath. Every past thought of his anger, his touch, and just about everything else was wiped clean from her head.
Axel and his words swiftly became her new fixation.
And if the redhead had had any doubts about his idea, or just about anything else, they were completely swept away by her at this moment. If anyone else could've seen her glistening blue eyes; they'd understand why you couldn't possibly worry in the presence of such pure hope.
They'd get it in less than a heartbeat; which was even realistic for someone who didn't have one.
"Did you... did you find a star?" She breathed; voice unbelievably soft, fearful that even one extra decibel might shatter this fragile idea.
Her words did bring one grain of concern to his attention, though. It was the thought that he might do something to smash her hope to smithereens. That he'd break it into a million tiny pieces, the minute she stopped trying to hold it together herself. The very second she relied on him to keep it safe.
Axel wanted to handle this, and her, with the care that he should... maybe a little more than he wanted to admit.
He'd keep it loose though, keep it cool... bring some suspense too. It was basically just the bending of faith. All he had to do was be careful, and that, he already intended. Two birds with one stone, right there. He knew how often people forgot to be gentle with someone else's hope; how easy it was for their strength to snap it clean in two. He just wasn't going to be that guy; the one who shattered Naminé's only glimmer of hope. Not today.
But, he'd still be doing a bit of bending. She'd bent him over a fair share of suspense, afterall. He wouldn't be much of a gentleman if he didn't return the favor, now would he?
Axel looked into her upturned face casually, a sly smile spreading across his lips, "Yes... and no."
She tilted her head in confusion, murmuring quietly, "What does that mean?" Pink lips pursing as her thoughts spun uselessly in her head.
The memory witch was lucky that her spinning thoughts, had spun so uselessly. Anything of importantance that had chosen to spiral alongside them would've soon found itself forgotten. Entirely devoured by Axel's hypnotic, green gaze as he leaned down close to her face; her sapphire eyes widening with every inch he seized.
To Naminé, the time it took Axel to actually stop his physical advance seemed to stretch on for several minutes, though it had truthfully only taken a few seconds. The heat that bled from his body seemed to melt away her sense of time, and just about everything else that her head tried to grasp and understand. Now he lingered in a proximity so close, even a single inch would probably leave their noses touching.
The girl's puzzled, blue eyes blinked nervously at the pyro, sending his lips into a careless smirk with ease. She inhaled softly as his cheek grazed hers; his lips nearing the shell of her ear. His warm breath rustled her hair, strands of blonde tickling her skin.
"It means, follow me and you'll find out... that's what it means." He whispered, voice like velvet.
The pyro smirked as he moved away, catching the breathless, "Okay," That barely escaped her lips.
Throw in some physical tension, mix in a jumble of confusing words, and you've got some grade 'A' suspense on your hands. He liked playing this game.
Naminé didn't know what to do with all the nonsense in her head. The things he said, the way he acted, the way he made her act with the things he said. She didn't know how to make sense of it. Then again, could you ever really make sense, of nonsense? Axel made it seem too hard. Maybe things made more sense when you weren't trying to make sense of them. Did that make... sense?
Maybe things made more sense when you stopped caring if they did, it seemed easier to do anyways.
Maybe that was it. All she knew, was that when she felt Axel gently captured her fingers with his own; it didn't make any sense, and she'd completely stopped caring. A soft tug on her arm spurred her legs into motion; allowing him to guide her to the path of trampled grass that he'd made earlier. The pyro went ahead of her, this time, remembering to let go of her hand. She quicky fell into step behind him.
He took in his surroundings every few minutes, eyes recognizing the personal imprint he'd already left on the nature around him. A shriveled flower here, a blackened branch there, even a smoking toadstool or two. Axel sent a quick glance over his shoulder, smiling to himself as he saw Naminé searching the sky for her star. Those awe-filled eyes, the way the stars were reflected in her stare. He could only hope that she looked just as happy when she saw her star.
He returned his attention to the path ahead, spotting their destination a little further ahead.
"We're almost there," He said over his shoulder, pointing to the clearing with his gloved finger, "You're gonna have to close your eyes when we get there, though."
Naminé's eyes fell away from the heavens, opting to, instead, stare suspiciously at Axel's back, "Why?"
"Because I said so," The pyro answered without hesitation; his tongue managing to find words before his head could, "Why does it matter? I thought you wanted to see it?"
"I do... more than anything."
"Then just shut up and close your eyes when I tell you to." He said simply, chuckling under his breath.
She took his advice and grew quiet, even though she couldn't help but think that having your eyes closed kind of defeated the purpose of finding something as beautiful as a star. Her sandals fell softly into the larger steps that his boots left in their wake, following him in silence. Naminé entertained herself by keeping her feet from stepping anywhere outside his footprints; nimbly hopping from grass impression to grass impression.
A game she soon grew a bit too absorbed in.
Azure eyes downcast, she didn't notice as Axel suddenly stopped, and her eager little legs weren't given the time to avoid him. The redhead didn't even budge as her small body, infused with hopeful energy, collided with his sturdy frame. Amused, emerald eyes stared down at her as she gently rubbed the slight bump on her cheek. Naminé's fingers fell away from her face, noticing that they were now standing in the clearing that she thought he'd only just pointed out to her.
The blue pools of her eyes flitted across his face expectantly, but all this elicited from the pyro was a look of irritation.
"Close. Your. Eyes." He said slowly, ennunciating every word for emphasis.
His reminder made Naminé's lashes flutter nervously; nodding at him with a sheepish smile. She exhaled in preparation, ignoring the inferno as he rolled his green eyes at this, slowly surrendering her sight. Her eyelids flickered, opening and closing several times. It was still so hard for her to trust him. The girl watched as Axel's lips eased further and further into a grin as her lashes descended more and more deeply. That didn't really help. Finally, the last sliver of her sapphire eyes disappeared entirely.
Shrouded in darkness.
Naminé squeezed her eyes even more tightly as she sensed him grow nearer, the effect of his warmth gradually becoming more intense. His steps were quiet, but drew nearer with every second. How close was he now? This question ate away at her mind like some kind of disease, her lip trembling from her growing uncertainty. Axel's hot breath suddenly grazed her soft features, her skin tingling wherever it touched.
"Now, don't open them until I tell you." He murmured, and she thought she heard the smirk on his lips as he added, "Got it memorized?"
Her lips twitched involuntarily, just barely suppressing the desire to smile. Her body felt like it was about to tear into two, one half of her bursting with excitement and the other screaming in confusion. She was this close to seeing her star, but Axel was another thing that was just as close, if not closer. Both sent her head spinning in a million different directions... every abnormal sensation becoming something normal to her. A star that was supposed to be miles beyond her reach and a man that should've been just as far, except they weren't.
And Naminé knew that the worst part was that she liked this closeness... and she wasn't just referring to the star.
Luckily for her, Axel wasted no time in moving further away. The heat that kissed her skin began to fade as quickly as it had rushed in; carried away along with his footsteps. Every few seconds, rustling noises and muffled grumbling drifted to her ears. The memory witch bit her lip in an attempt to drown the growing temptation to sneak a peek. She knew how great the chances were that the minute she did, he'd catch her red-handed.
Very little got past Axel, and you'd be stupid to try and get that much.
Besides, the last thing she wanted was to be caught doing something that might turn him into Number VIII. Naminé shifted her weight from one foot to the other, the silence ringing in the air as the pyro's noises suddenly died away. What was he doing? Where had he gone? When would she get to see her star? Why couldn't she open her eyes anyways? The whole night seemed like a endless slideshow of questions.
Her eyebrows furrowed as a slight crackling sound slowly started to ring in her ears; like a newly born fire that was struggling to stay alive. She listened intently in an attempt to pinpoint exactly what it was, frowning as the crackling began to soften and then completely disappeared. Naminé leant forward curiously, wondering where it had gone. Out of nowhere, a loud FWOOM-like explosion shattered the silence, her whole body recoiling sharply.
She resisted the instinct that screamed for her eyes to open, her voice wavering as she called out instead, "A-Axel?!"
The majority of her nerves were calmed as, somewhere in the distance, she heard the pyro let loose a string of inaudible curses. A small smile tugged at her lips. At least he was still nearby... and alive enough to swear. From what Naminé could tell; that noise had come from him, but what had he been doing to make it? Her ears easily picked up the sound of his boots crashing through the forest, the stealth completely void from his strides.
Heat, once again, flowed into her limbs; her body sensing and anticipating the pyro's approach.
"Everything's fine, no need to panic!" Axel's voice grew louder with every word, but he didn't bring his proximity as close as he had earlier, "Just had a minor combustion problem... s'all good now." He added casually, sounding a little out of breath.
Her mouth fell open, breath catching in her throat, "You... you almost combusted!?"
How could he be so calm for someone who, less than a minute ago, had almost exploded? If he wanted her to keep her eyes closed so badly, why was he doing everything possibly to make her want to open them? Explosions, combustion, intrigue; Naminé knew she couldn't hold out for much longer if he kept this up.
"No. I just thought I'd spice things up a bit... the truth would just be boring," Axel replied with a laugh, watching as the girl exhaled in relief. Again, the pyro warmed at the idea that she cared at all, but was that really so bad? It didn't seem as awful as it had earlier. Maybe it wasn't. This thought made it so hard to keep his voice carefree, and he prayed that she didn't hear this internal struggle as he spoke again, "However, that brings me to something I think you'll find much more interesting."
Naminé's unamused face changed as she heard these words, her lips shimmering as they fell into a perfect smile. She felt and heard him take a couple steps closer, knowing only that he stood somewhere in front of her. Her ears prickled as she heard the pyro capture and release a heavy breath; his voice quickly following.
"Okay, Naminé... open your eyes."
In the seconds before she did, the memory witch had to wonder, for the umpteenth time, why she'd had to blindly wait for something she just had to look up to see. But as her long lashes lifted away from her sapphire eyes, all her questions and doubts melted away.
There, cradled between Axel's gloved hands, was a small orb of swirling light. Naminé blinked rapidly, eyes widening in disbelief. Words escaped her; rendered speechless as her gaze shifted between his face and the glowing orb. She reached out tentatively, her fingers hovering a few inches from the fiery globe.
"What is it?" She asked softly, her eyes filled with wonder.
Axel lowered his hands, the light floating in the air of its own accord, "I guess I'd call it... Naminé's Star."
He grinned as these words brought a look of pure delight to her face. Her reaction was exactly the way he'd hoped it would be, if not ten times better. He didn't even care that she couldn't truly feel happiness... she sure knew how to show it, and that made her joy so much more real to him. She was the only Nobody he knew who could do that. Come that close to the emotions that she merely needed a beat in her chest to reach.
How could she be so amazing... why was she so incredibly strange? Sometimes he wondered if the ethereal girl was truly a Nobody. Her uniqueness made it so hard for him to accept the fact that, somehow, they were the same. The similarities always ended at their equally empty chests.
Naminé failed to notice as Axel's emerald gaze changed focus and rested on the ball of light, the orb suddenly springing to life. She gasped softly as it danced around her face and body in smooth circles, her eyes unsuccessfully trying to follow its quick movements. She giggled happily as it finally slowed; settling in her hands, and Axel couldn't help but stare as the small light beautifully illuminated her smiling face.
She looked up; sapphire eyes sparkling like the jewel they resembled, "Is it really mine... a star just for me?"
"For you... yes," Then the pyro frowned, idly scratching the side of his head, "But, a star... not exactly."
Naminé stared at the luminous globe thoughtfully, "What do you mean, 'not exactly'?"
"I mean that it isn't really a star... I sort of, well, made it." Axel confessed, watching as she inspected his work curiously.
"Where's the fire, Naminé?" The redhead said with a twiddle of his gloved fingers, smirking as his hand was engulfed in flames, "Right here. Condensing it into something as small as that; walk in the park."
"So, what was that explosion then?" She asked innocently, releasing the little light from the cage she'd fashioned with her fingers.
"It was nothing." The pyro lied smoothly, his green eyes narrowing as the fiery orb floated around his face, fruitlessly trying to swat it away. Why wasn't it listening to him? The stupid thing was almost more trouble than it was worth. Almost.
Her blue eyes were captivated by the soft glow cast across Axel's handsome face, her gaze snagging on a smudge of black on his cheek. The smirk on his lips faltered as a situation played out too quickly for him to avoid, Naminé's cool fingers suddenly touching his face. Her fingertips grazed the skin just below his cheekbone. A part of him wanted to put as much distance between himself and this dangerous contact, but her touch seemed to encase his veins in a layer of ice; freezing every inch of fire in his body.
Rendering him, the Flurry of Dancing Flames, completely vulnerable. All because of her timid, little, knock-me-out fingers.
Axel had to question whether he'd even do anything about it if he could. He'd never experienced anything like this... not even when he'd had the ability to. He wanted this so much more than he wanted to get rid of it; no matter how hard he tried to grasp the situation as something horrible and wrong.
The feeling of her silky skin abruptly ended, her fingers slipping off the edge of his jawline. As the slow burn of his body returned, the fire tamer blinked his emerald eyes, moving his confused gaze to Naminé. She smiled shyly, holding up one trouble-making, porcelain finger.
"I thought that 'nothing' would leave a little less behind..." She said softly, blonde bangs falling into her eyes.
Hearing these words, Axel took in the black stain on her pale fingertip. He was thrown off guard as he felt his cheeks flush hotly. He couldn't remember the last time he'd ever gotten embarassed, and he definitely couldn't remember ever blushing the way he was now. His gloved hand moved to wipe the dark smudge from his face, and hopefully erase the annoying red tint, too. The pyro grinned awkwardly as Naminé giggled, girlishly trying to hide her smile behind her hand.
It was funny; the more time he spent with her, the less shy she seemed to be... and the more he liked her. She was far more interesting when she wasn't cowering in fear, as bad as he knew that probably sounded.
"Okay, so maybe it was a tiny bit harder than I thought it'd be," Axel admitted, scratching the back of his head with a lopsided smirk, "You should consider yourself lucky. I'm not usually one for extra effort... especially when it's on my part."
It took a second or two for him to realize what he'd said, but when he did, regret sunk in with a vengeance.
The redhead watched with an aching chest as Naminé's smile grew fainter and fainter; she, too, beginnning to grasp his words. Before either of them knew it, they'd fallen into silence. A sudden and uncomfortable plunge that they could no longer save themselves from. He averted his eyes, knowing, even in this absence of sight, that she had done the same. She was much too smart to have missed the 'I wanted to help you' that lay beneath his words, but she wasn't smart enough to know what to do with it.
And neither was he.
Axel glanced at her as casually as he could, watching out of the corner of his eye as her little star nuzzled its way back into the safety of her hands. A small smirk flitted onto his lips, the tiny fireball was just as stubborn as he was... it didn't even listen to him anymore, content with doing whatever it wanted. Which seemed to entail a lot of hovering around Naminé. Upon noticing this, the scarlet haired man couldn't ignore the fact that he knew he cared for the beautiful girl just as much as this fragment of fire did.
The little witch stood quietly, gently curling her delicate hands around her tiny light; clutching it to her chest. Axel watched her do this with greater intent than he meant, but he just couldn't control it. Could she possibly care for him, like she seemed to care for her star? Was there even the slightest chance that she thought of him when she saw it? When she held it close... did he cross her mind at all?
Tangled so desperately in his thoughts, the redhead jumped a tiny bit at the sudden sound of her voice, quiet as it was. He blinked himself from his stupor, emerald eyes cautiously wandering to her face. It didn't matter, she wasn't looking at him. He wished she would. There was nothing he wanted more than for those pure, blue eyes to look his way again. He watched Naminé's small ribcage swell as she took a breath, her slender fingers clasping around her star with more strength than he thought she posessed.
"Why did you do this for me?" She asked softly, granting the pyro his wish as she lifted her azure gaze.
That was a very good question.
"I know feelings aren't exactly one of my strongpoints, but the last time I checked," Axel began slowly, lolling his fiery head to one side in reluctant thought, "I can still feel like doing something nice... "
He watched as the petite witch bit her lip uncertainly, fully aware that she knew he hadn't answered her question. Was that something he could even do? How could he admit to her the simple, yet ridiculously complicated fact, that he had only done these things because she was the one they were for. There was no way he could let her know that she was the reason behind everything he'd done.
All he could do, was hope that she didn't pick today to be...
"But why would you be nice... to me?"
The redheaded Nobody sighed, his lips twitching before they slowly slipped into a small frown, "Would you prefer it if I wasn't so nice, Naminé?" He asked, one of his crimson brows raising slightly.
The small girl blinked in surprise, taken aback by the sudden turnaround in Axel's mood. Though his tone had been as casual as ever, the tiny edge in his emerald eyes told the girl that that he could easily make that possible, and she certainly wouldn't like it. Why did she care so much anyways? She should've been glad that he'd been nice to her at all... why couldn't she just appreciate his kindness like any normal human being would? Why was she being so weird?
She looked away meekly, suddenly feeling so small under his accusing gaze, "No... "
"Then why do you have such a big problem with me wanting to be a little nice?"
Her head jerked up, sapphire gaze flying to his face so she could bore into his eyes. "You... you wanted to be nice to me?"
"Well, yeah..." Axel began, shifting uncomfortably under her skin-tingling stare, "I wouldn't of done anything if I hadn't wanted to."
There it was. The horrible truth; floating about in the open air. He had been nice to her, because he'd wanted to.
The pyro glanced off into the night, hiding his face from the doe-eyed witch. Nobody else had ever made him want the kind of things she made him want. Smiles you can't erase from your lips, glances you can't help but steal, words you won't tell anyone else, laughs you can't hold back, and touches that truly made you weak. The whole time he'd been in her presence, every passing second had only made him want these things even more.
The only thing he hadn't wanted, was for her to know that he'd had even one of these desires.
But now, she had enough of a hint to figure it out. She wasn't stupid.
Naminé watched him in silence, unaware of how sharply this tightened the knots in the pyro's stomach. His long arms seemed to be crushing his ribs; having crossed so tightly over his chest, he was lucky there was nothing inside in any danger of being damaged. She wished his warm, green eyes would look her way, but the only thing Axel seemed interested in staring at was a scraggly-looking tree to his left.
She wanted that attention back.
A small smile curved the lines of her lips, her fingers parting so she could peer into the soft, white light in her hands. She couldn't stop thinking it over. He'd actually wanted to do this for her... hadn't he. It wasn't some trick, or game; he'd just been trying to be nice to her. The memory witch felt her smile slip into the familiar contours of a frown. This whole time, all she'd been doing was trying to find a weak spot in his kindness. Find it, so she could poke a hole right through it. She was so used to the Organization's not-so-nice niceties, and now, because of that, she'd tried to rip his genuine attempt into a thousand tiny pieces.
I guess it was true that you really were your own worst enemy... the midnight-cloaked Nobodies had never managed to make her feel as horrible as she did now. He must've thought she was the most ungrateful person in the world.
She caught an acid green flash as he glanced at her out of the corner of his eyes, the muscles in his biceps tensing even more. If he tried to cross his arms any tighter than they were, she was afraid his lanky body would snap right in half. Her pink lips parted as she anxiously waited for him to respond to her in a more vocal way. But it didn't seem like he felt the least bit inclined to do this, as a muffled grunt proved to be the only sound he thought she deserved to hear.
Naminé exhaled softly, looking down at her little star. She wished that he still found her as important as he had when he'd made it for her; now, she wasn't even worthy enough to hear him speak a single word. He needed to know how much it meant to her. But what could she do to get his attention again?
Her lips pouted gently, trying to come up with something attention-grabbing. Another glance at her shining light was all it happened to take; her lips smoothing into a not-so-innocent smile as she was hit with inspiration. Ever so slowly, her grip on the small light began to loosen...
Axel noticed a soft light flicker around the edge of his eyes, and he turned his fiery head just in time to see the mini-globe of light drifting from the girl's fingers; quickly climbing it's way towards the sky.
All the tension in his body seemed to flood into his upper torso, thin arms rapidly breaking their cross. His gloved hand shot out, capturing the light mere seconds before it would've escaped into the night sky. The pyro frowned as he turned his emerald gaze to Naminé, the wick of his temper growing dangerously short as he took in the look of indifference on her features.
He glanced down at his ink-like fingers, the light inside surrounding his hand in a faint glow, "Was she trying to lose it or something? She didn't even try to catch it... I bet she would've bent over backwards if I had exploded."
Axel took a few tentative steps forward, coming to a stop directly in front of the memory witch. He slowly leant down so that his face was level with hers; emerald challenging sapphire. His eyes flicked to her lips, seeing a tiny smile hiding in the corners of her mouth. Had he imagined this? Maybe... it was gone by the time he looked again. She gazed at him with her round, blue eyes. He could've sworn that something strange swam in their oceanic depths. Had this been his imagination, too? Perhaps so... he didn't catch it again.
His serpentine eyes glinted as he neglected to entertain these thoughts any further, his silky voice remarking, "I don't know about you, but I think the sky already has enough stars."
Before Axel knew what was happening, his satisfied, kind-of-pissed-off smirk was wiped clean off his face as Naminé leaned in and kissed him on the cheek. The instant her soft, cool lips touched his skin, every drop of tension and worry seemed to flee from his body. His eyes closed as the airy affect of her kiss began to sink in, leaving him reeling... and to think, she was nowhere near his lips. That definitely made him think. The pyro's fingers slowly unfurled; the grip he had on the small star loosening as his strength began to fail him.
As she pulled away, she lingered close to his face just long enough to whisper, "Thank you..."
The crimson-haired man opened his eyes just as the glowing star floated up past their faces, bathing them in a gentle glow. And this time, neither of them tried to catch it. She smiled shyly as he erased the stunned expression from his features, a grin pulling his lips away from his teeth.
"Anytime... " He said softly, silently cursing the distance he had to force between them as he stood tall once again; eyes raising as they gazed after the fiery light, "But, what about your star?"
Axel watched as the angelic witch lifted her sapphire eyes; smiling beautifully as her star disappeared into the sky.
"It's okay... " She said in that sweet voice of hers, delicate face falling down from the heavens before she continued, "I think, I might've found something else that makes me feel the same way it did... something that's a little bit harder to lose."
The pyro had to quirk a brow at this; immediately curious, "Really now? Care to tell me exactly what this thing i- "
He stopped short as Naminé timidly, yet boldly, slipped her fingers into his; nervous blue eyes meeting his own. He had to admit, his green eyes were probably just as anxious. Though the redhead knew there was no way the swelling in his chest could've been his heart; he didn't care. It felt good to feel anything in there... even if it was only the pressure behind a heavy breath. She did have a tendency of making it hard for him to breath... and she had an even greater tendency of making him feel good.
And he was coming to realize that good... wasn't as bad as he'd thought it was.
Axel squeezed her hand gently, smiling widely as this caused the apprehension in her eyes to disappear; overcome, instead, by sparkling delight. But then the fire tamer forced the smile off his face, the memory witch making this even more difficult as she tilted her head cutely; puzzled by the sudden change in his expression.
"But Naminé, I think I should warn you..." He began with feigned seriousness, an attempt he simply ruined as his lips broke into a broad smirk, "I have a feeling that it'll take more than 'a little bit' for you to lose this thing... whatever it is, of course."
"I'll keep that in mind." She answered, a perfect smile blooming on her rosy lips.
"Good to hear," Axel replied, his own lips easily matching her smile. Fingers cozily entwined, the pyro began to gently lead her back towards the path they'd taken to get there, "What do you say we get back to Oblivion? I bet Marluxia's just about sprouted half a greenhouse in concern for our well-being..." He remarked with a grin, spiking the word 'concern' with an extra dose of sarcasm.
The little memory witch tried -and failed- to hold back the laughter she felt bubbling in her throat; a peal of giggles bursting from behind her smiling lips. Subsequently, this only caused Axel to lose the battle with laughter, but in his defense, her laugh was just too infectious to even consider winning.
Sometimes you just had to take one for the team.
Their footsteps eventually carried the two Nobodies back to the hill-top, the place where the whole night had begun, and now, where it would have to end. Naminé gently untangled her fingers from his, smiling shyly over her shoulder as she set out to gather up her things. Axel gazed after her small body with watchful eyes, leaning against the same rock he had earlier that day. It was funny how he could stand in the exact same place and have such different things running through his head as he stared after her now. The only thing separating this situation from that sheer feeling of deja vu, were the thoughts swirling inside his mind; the knowledge of how things were different.
Overtime really wasn't that bad, he could actually come to like it quite a bit if it always entailed an evening like this.
Marluxia... well, he'd always find some way to be an asshole, but if that brought more overtime Axel's way, then the stupid pansy could just go on and shovel it out. Keep on thinking that doing this was some kind of burden.
Maybe the witch was still a reminder of another place he could be spending his time, but now, thoughts of these places included her presence beside him.
And Naminé herself... she was definitely more than some bird in a cage. Definitely.
It was funny how fast things could change...
Naminé made quick work of her little search and rescue mission; her sketchbook and crayons swiftly filling the emptiness in her arms. She caught herself sneaking the tiniest of glances back at the fiery-haired man waiting for her. Physically, they were right back where everything had started. Her, travelling up to the giant tree, and him, following her with his eyes as she did so. But... how could she describe what had changed? Something inside was different, but what was it? It couldn't be emotional, but did that automatically make it mental?
If it couldn't be her heart, could it only be her head? Couldn't it be more?
The small witch shook herself from her reverie, nearing the great tree and heading towards her little nook of bark and roots. All she had to get now was the box containing the rest of her crayons. She carefully crouched down, her snowy fingers reaching under the thick roots. A frown slipped across her lips as the only thing she succeeding in finding was dirt under her nails. Naminé withdrew her hand with a quiet huff, her knees gently touched the ground and she sat on the balls of her feet.
Her blonde head bent down to get a better look, "Where could it be..." She murmured to herself, sitting back up when she failed to find it.
"What's the big hold-up?"
The sudden sound of Axel's voice behind her caused the girl to jump, her hair twirling like a pretty, golden umbrella as her head spun around to look at him. He raised a single scarlet brow as she tried to give him her idea of a glare; a look of mild annoyance, all her extraordinarily gentle features could probably muster. He had to surrender a smile at her very unsuccessful attempt, and this, in turn, only made her smile too.
It was amazing how quickly she chose a happy expression over any other emotion she could wear; just pluck it off that great colour wheel of fake feelings she had. It was rare, and usually creepy, when any of the other members ever smiled for the pure sake of it. It was unfortunate that people who no longer had any true reason to smile so frequently forgot how to make it look... well, happy. But, Naminé made it look effortless, and as an added kick, she made it beautiful too.
How was it even possible for a girl like her to be so sweet and lively when she was just as heartless as the rest of them?
Her equally dulcet voice broke Axel away from his thoughts, "My crayons..." She said in answer to his earlier question, glittery blue eyes aimed at his face, "I left the ones I didn't take with me under these roots, but now they're gone."
A glint of recognition ignited in the pyro's eyes as he idly watched her wipe dark brown fingerprints across her flawless white dress. Her curious gaze followed his gloved hand as he delved into one of his coat pockets. As he pulled his hand back out, an even happier smile wasted no time in flitting across her lips. There, in Axel's fingers, was her missing box of crayons.
Yeah, he'd taken her crayons, so what?
The inferno refused to let a hint of guilt invade his features, instead deciding to look really pleased with himself, "I'll tell ya, memory witches seem to be in short supply, I actually had to settle for a half-empty box of crayons... raw deal if you ask me," He mused with a suggestive grin, carefully passing the small box into her last empty hand, "I have it on pretty good authority that those mind screwing ones are really something else..."
Her cheeks blushed like bright red cherries.
He could only grin even more.
"I'm glad they weren't lost," She said quietly, Axel's unabashed teasing still inflicting her with shyness; could anyone ever get used to someone so bold? She embraced all the drawing tools in her arms, a light smile on her lips, "I was going to draw something special, and for a moment I thought I wouldn't be able to."
Naminé watched as the fiery-haired man casually summoned up a portal; his thin lips twitching subtly as his green gaze returned to her, "Something... special?"
"Yes," She answered softly, taking a few small steps towards the swirling black gateway.
Her body was a mere meter away from disappearing into the portal, darkness rolling across her periwinkle sandals, but Axel suddenly stopped her; stepping directly in her path with one fluid side-step. She stared up at him questioningly, but all he did was cross his arms and stare right back; revelling in the smirk on his lips.
"I believe I asked you a question."
Her brow furrowed in confusion, blonde bangs falling in her eyes, "But... I answered you."
"Not the way I wanted you to." The redhead countered with a small smile, his white teeth gleaming in the moonlight.
"Well, what was I supposed to say?"
"You were supposed to tell me what's so 'special' about this picture you were, apparently, planning to draw."
Naminé blinked, her soft voice innocently asking, "Why didn't you just ask me that, then?"
Axel had to resist the urge to unhinge his jaw; caught off-guard by the obviousness of her suggestion. His biggest problem was that he usually did the unobvious things you couldn't even think of... he'd always seemed to have trouble grasping the more tangible things in life. That sure as hell made his attraction to the very, VERY, untangible witch make more sense.
"Because... it's more fun this way," He supplied hastily, uneager to let some silence clue her in to the fact he hadn't considered it. Even if that called for a little, white lie. He didn't like it when he fell short of being clever; striking the center of stupidity instead, "Anyways, don't change the subject. This is about you."
The pyro narrowed his emerald gaze, looking at her expectantly, "Well? Are you going to tell me why it's special?"
The memory witch chewed on her lip idly, sapphire eyes sent skyward as if she were deep in thought. To Axel's surprise; however, the only thing she ended up saying was a simple, "No."
"W-what!? Why not?" The fiery-haired man could only manage to stumble over these words. Stammering... that was a first for him, but maybe it was just so infrequent that it seemed this new.
"Because..." An evasive smile curved her soft, pink lips, "It's more fun this way."
This time it was just too hard to keep his jaw from slacking up, and Axel's mouth hung open for a good second or two before Naminé's quiet giggles snapped it shut again.
The little witch sure lived up to her name... so what if she wasn't physically messing with the things in his head, she was sure casting some kind of spell. He'd never been so captivated by anyone. It was like a single drop of the magic trickling through her veins slipped into all the things she said, all the touches he experienced, even the very face he glanced and stared at. He made her do things that no one else could, or at least made him submit to them much faster.
He didn't think she'd meant to do it, and he hadn't meant to allow it, but ever so slowly, he'd been bewitched.
As the pyro shook himself from this more temporary spell of amazement, he noticed that she had taken advantage of his dazed state and wriggled her way around his tall, formerly impassable, body. His emerald eyes whipped behind him as they found the girl again, his mass of crimson hair swaying with the motion. Her indigo eyes sparkled as she looked at him over her shoulder, her white dress glowing against the dark portal she stood in front of.
"Maybe if you come to visit me more often... you'll find out for yourself." She suggested softy, searching his face with more uncertainty than her words had held.
This night, strange and amazing as it had been, hadn't affected her awareness of the person he had to be back at Oblivion. Nor the fact that who he was right now; right here with her, probably wouldn't walk out the other side of this portal. But, just maybe...
Naminé cursed her bad luck as the redhead decided to make his way over the very second she decided to take a nervous breath; finding that it immediately got stuck in the middle of her throat. She looked up into his unreadable eyes, trying to act a little brave even if her sapphire eyes would only belie the small sliver of anxiety inside. Next thing she knew, she felt Axel's hand lighty press against the small of her back; sending a tingling up every ridge in her spine that his smooth warmth quickly sunk in to soothe. Her trapped breath sent free as this touch reminded her very vividly of the person he could be, Oblivion or not.
He gently nudged her forwards, a sly smile materializing on his lips, "I guess we'll both just have to wait and see."
And with this, the two Nobodies were both swallowed up by the churning gateway of darkness; on their way back to a forgotten place where maybe more things would suffer the same fate.
The last thing running through Naminé's turbulent mind was that she was glad that she hadn't been able to find the North Star. She was glad she had purposely lost her own star, and she was also glad she'd lost it by accident. If she hadn't lost these things... if she had found a star before he'd found her, she probably never would have found him. And now, she had reached the point where maybe, she'd have to lose him as well.
She wasn't sure... she'd have to wait and see.
After all, the only thing you can do when you're teetering on the edge of lost and found; is wait to see where you fall.
Well! Hope you liked it! Tell me what you think! Was it good? Was it horreeeblehhhh? Should I invest in a program with spell-check? Like the idea? Hate it? Did my summary suck... they usually do. You name it, I appreciate all the feedback, as long as it's constructive. Have a great new day to the New Year!!!!!!! Flames will be used to warm up my friggin' freezer of a basement and also to bake cookies for all the nice people out there! Sequel or not? It'd be pretty short... but let me know, eh? YAHH!!! I've been up all night lmao... too much wine.
Cheers! & no more cheers for me! HA!
- Michelle :)