Disclaimer: I do not own Kingdom Hearts, or Weiss Kreuz. I do, however, own the brilliant idea of mashing them together. I'm pretty sure it's brilliant, anyway.
Warnings: Kingdom Hearts/Weiss Kreuz fusion (not a crossover). Language, violence, references to sex, boy/boy situations, wanton destruction of the WK timeline.
Summary: Roxas was probably a child of high society at some time he can't remember, but Sora isn't the name of the assassin who destroys the beasts that haunt the dark streets of Tokyo. Axel should have been his enemy--was his enemy, the Organization's smug-fucked redheaded foreigner, and sociopaths didn't have hearts, anyway. But when Axel isn't plotting to destroy the world and Roxas isn't busy creatively killing the upper echelons of criminal society, they'll steal a few moments alone together that'll probably get them both killed. Eventually.
Casey would like you to note: Some of you may know that yesterday was White Day, and in that regard, firstly, I am late (sorry) and secondly, I have this present here for someone very special to me. Originally, it was going to be a birthday present, and then (as I am such a great procrastinator) a Christmas present, and ultimately I decided that due to the title and content it would be best as a White Day present, particularly as that gave me three whole months more to work on it.
Which I didn't, until yesterday. Naturally.
This is for cards_slash, and I love you in so many ways for so many reasons, but mostly because you got me writing again and there's nothing I could ever give you that would be thanks enough for that. Once in a while, though, I can try. ^^
And special thanks to arithion, quietladybirman and keldjinfae for acting as betas and relieving my paranoia. xD
Roxas was crouched on the sidewalk, one knee on the cold pavement so he could shuffle through the magazines on the bottom shelf, pausing to thumb through the latest issue of Shoujo Beat because no one could see him from above, except maybe Riku--but he was too busy leaning back against the frame of the news stand and looking nonchalant, sunglasses up in his hair and staring down the sidewalk at something--someone, more likely. Behind him the city existed in its constant wall of sound, the movement of people by foot or car and the roar of a million conversations at once, electric like the hum of billboards and bright like the chime of bike bells. He puffed out a breath and inhaled another, caught the smell of the street vendor a block away and finished flipping through the weeklies, grabbed what he wanted and straightened to present them at the register.
"It's a quiet day," Riku observed, still leaning and looking at that someone down the sidewalk, one hand raising up with a cigarette that never quite made it to his mouth. Hovered there with his hand, letting a halo of smoke curl over his head and fade away across the news stand's roof. His attention wandered, across the intersection and on and up towards the busier center of Shibuya. "Is it a holiday?"
"You of all people should know." Roxas rolled his eyes, resisted the urge to hold up a paper so Riku could examine the date--he'd figure it out soon enough. Roxas ignored him instead, busied himself digging yen out of his pocket.
"I have this premonition, see." Riku smirked at the general space in front of him, took a long drag off the cigarette before crushing it out on the sole of his shoe, tossing the spent butt into a nearby trash can. "I foresee that we'll all get the night off."
"That's not a premonition, that's wishful thinking." Roxas bowed politely to the salesman and accepted the paper bag with his purchases, tucking it carefully under his arm before setting off down the sidewalk, not really concerned with whether or not Riku was following him. He was more concerned with the street vendor just ahead and the smell drifting down along the street, in between and around and among all the people walking to and fro. He settled in with them, moved along among them, simple and present and just another Tokyo youth, easy to notice and just as easy to dismiss.
Riku followed at his side effortlessly. "But Diz wouldn't make us work on a holiday." He paused, hands sliding into his pockets, head tilted to consider this. "Okay, Diz would. But Tifa wouldn't."
"You already got the morning off, Riku, I wouldn't push my luck if I were you." Roxas sidestepped a woman with a stroller, nodding politely as she passed before wriggling into the vendor's line.
"Yes, and I've spent that time off so productively watching you buy manga serials and junk food."
"And how do you propose I spend my opulent paychecks, tuition aside?"
Riku shrugged, deadpanned, "You could buy a Porsche."
Roxas stuttered and laughed, loud enough that a few other people in line shot him reproachful looks and he stopped, chuckling softly instead. "Now, that is the way to keep a low profile."
Riku's grin was feral, and he reached up to knock the sunglasses back down over his eyes--he'd be scanning the crowd from behind them, habitually watching for threats and ostensibly checking out anything pretty at the same time. "Yes, but I did promise I'd stop teasing the rookie, didn't I?"
"You did. I'll let it slide if you pay for my takoyaki." Roxas stepped forward as the line moved, slow, even shuffle, and he reached back afterwards to pull Riku with him. "And take off those glasses, you look like a yakuza."
"Sure thing, boss."
He bought three skewers just because Riku was paying, watched him grumble about it and count out the change anyway. The sun was high and just warm enough to be pleasant although it wasn't properly spring yet, the sky clear and blue somewhere up above the edges of skyscrapers. Riku stuck his hands in his pockets and kept the sunglasses on his head, glowering a little as they resumed walking, turned back towards work and home now because shift started in half an hour. That was probably half the reason for his glowering.
Roxas polished off the first skewer before saying anything further. "Do you seriously not know what day it is?"
"I know what day it is, piglet." Riku made the comment while waiting for a crosswalk, tapping a cigarette out of the pack that was perpetually present in his shirt pocket and drawing it out with two fingers. Casting a glare over at the two skewers still in Roxas's hand. He was clearly hungry and jealous. Cigarette pressed and bobbing between his lips, he reached for his lighter at the same time as muttering, "It's March fourtee--oh, shit."
Roxas grinned, pulled a dumpling off the second skewer with his teeth. "Yup."
"Work is gonna suck."
"I should have a date tonight." Riku glared at the crosswalk signal for a long moment, like it had somehow caused this wrong, before returning his attention to Roxas, who was still happily snarfing down his takoyaki. "Why don't I have a date tonight?"
"You'll find one." Roxas finished off the second skewer and tossed the wood in the trashcan nearby just as the light turned and the mass of people began moving, he and Riku with them. "You've gotta have the phone number of one of the girls who gave you chocolate for Valentine's, somewhere. Just be sure to buy her flowers. Lots and lots of flowers."
"Well, at least that part will be painless."
The shop was a cozy affair with tall glass windows on the corner of a quieter street, older brick buildings mingled with the newer, sleeker steel. It was within walking distance of both the busier center of the district and no less than three high schools. The entire female populations of which appeared to be congregated on the sidewalk now that Saturday classes had let out. Riku and Roxas spotted this phenomenon from a few blocks away and made a sharp left, sneaking around to the back entrance to avoid the crush of females.
Once inside, however, they were met promptly by a storm of brown and camouflage and aprons to the face. The smell of flowers drifting through the door to the shop's main floor was secondary.
"I'm going to kill you both," Hayner hissed as Roxas tugged his apron down until the loop hung around his neck, letting it settle there while the tirade came and went. Riku didn't even bother moving his, just left it there over his face. "And you know I can so don't even stand there like I'm talking out my ass, either. Do you know what fucking day it is?"
"I've been informed," Riku said, muffled beneath the apron.
"You," Hayner declared, eyes blazing, and grabbed the apron off Riku's face to shove it against his chest. "Deliveries."
"Oh, come on--"
"Don't bitch, Riku, you took the morning off on fucking White Day. Deliveries." Hayner poked the apron one last time for emphasis, then turned to Roxas. "And you--"
"I had class!" Roxas raised both hands defensively, last takoyaki skewer between his teeth and Hayner's scowl darkened. He stepped forward, reached out and plucked the little piece of wood from Roxas's mouth.
"You got junk food without me."
"You are so working the floor."
Roxas let out a sound that was something like a squeak (and that was very manly, really), recalling the congregation of girls outside, and he leaned to one side to look past Hayner's shoulder, noting that seeing them through the storefront was even more terrifying. Leon was near the entrance, doors open to let in the cool breeze, holding off a small group with a hose in one hand and a scowl on his face, hair tied back in a kind of resignation for the long day ahead.
This, however, gave Roxas the perfect excuse. "But Leon's already working the floor!"
"Leon can work the register. You got takoyaki without me and I know you had more than one skewer, Rox. You were late, you get the floor."
"Who the hell is in charge here, anyway?"
For a moment, Riku and Hayner just stared at him, eyebrows up, not saying or waiting for anything but the look both answered the question and invalidated the argument. Who was in charge didn't matter; there was a certain policy of fairness to be addressed.
At the end of the silence, Hayner said, "The credit card machine is acting up again. And I have fifty arrangements to finish by five o'clock."
Roxas let out a defeated sigh. "I'll work the floor."
Two hours into the afternoon, Roxas was tired of faking the smile.
Aside from the throng of girls barely kept on the edge of the storefront by the weight of the glare Leon was still casting from the register, there was the slew of actual customers. The handsome, confident guys who ordered roses by the dozen; the nervous, giddy guys looking for bunches of violets. The guys who you couldn't tell if they were uncertain or just bored, who stood staring at camellias like they were contemplating the meaning of life, or possibly just the amount of money in their wallet. A businessman waltzed in at a quarter past two, requesting five arrangements of their most expensive orchids, and around this time Roxas's customer face started to falter.
It might have been the last guy he'd helped to decide on an arrangement, explaining the flowers and their meanings, how the silent language worked and when the guy finally scooped up the bouquet of cattleya and baby's breath he broke into this goofy grin, taking a deep sniff and smiling at the flowers like they were the face of his girlfriend (wife, fiancée, whatever) and he was so obviously in love--stupidly, completely in love--that Roxas almost dropped the hose and walked out of the store right then.
It might have been the girls, too, or a combination of both. The way they cooed at him, tried to get him to let them inside, to let them keep him company, tittered pointedly about wishing someone would buy them flowers for White Day and if he turned to give some attention to the potted fuchsia, back to them, he could close his eyes and imagine that Naminé was standing there among them, smart school uniform ironed and starched crisp, ascot tied neatly, hands clasped behind her back. The way she tilted her head and said his name.
"Go on and take the register."
Leon's voice made him jump, made the ghost in the back of his head vanish for a moment and Roxas stared up at him dumbly, hose limp in one hand, dripping on his toes. Leon just jerked his head towards the back of the store, snatched the hose away from him before he soaked his own feet, and propelled him forward with one hand to the shoulder when Roxas continued to stand and stare.
Was he actually... being nice? Observant and thoughtful, even?
That was... interesting.
Roxas settled behind the register, and with his hands on the till and mind counting out change, the rest of the afternoon passed in a blessedly fast blur of red and white and violet, pleased smiles and nervous laughter, Hayner amongst the arrangement orders at the table to the side, crinkling cellophane and cussing at ribbon under his breath. And when Riku finally returned from deliveries and the girls outside (once he was done passively flirting with them and they were done sighing and grumbling) dispersed, the sound of the security door rolling down was the sweetest thing he'd ever heard.
It was destroyed, utterly, by the clack of high heels pausing outside of it.
Tifa was standing in the center of the shop with a manila folder clutched against her torso, one eyebrow raised while Riku proceeded to throw a fit.
"I'm out," he declared, ripping the sunglasses out of his hair, and really, this wasn't like Riku at all. Usually he'd be cool, have a charming smile ready for Tifa, make some smartaleck comment about the lack of damsels in distress if he didn't want to take the job--but hell, they didn't even know what the job was yet. He'd laid in immediately, mouth in a tight line, and Roxas just stood behind the register and watched it happen, fingers still resting on the open till.
"You go back and tell Diz," Riku was pacing now, one hand in the air, finger jabbing downward in punctuation for every phrase, so mad his cheeks were turning pink and Tifa's other eyebrow went up to join the first, "--tell him fuck no. I don't care if it's the goddamn Inagawa and half the Organization in that folder, we're not offing anyone on White Day!"
The room was mostly silent for a minute, Tifa continuing to stare and blink at Riku and his abrupt rage, Leon somewhere to the side, watering the lilies and wisely not getting involved. Hayner was muttering to the cellophane he was rolling up, and some of it sounded like "What the hell is he doing?" and "Don't bring the rest of us into this, man". Roxas pushed the register closed, watched as Tifa's eyes flicked over Riku's shoulder to lock with his for a moment, and he must have looked sufficiently helpless there because an instant later her attention was back on Riku, watching him suck in air and regarded him rather like she would a sullen, uncooperative child.
Roxas would know that look anywhere.
Her lips were pursed, heels primly together and the edge of the folder where she clutched it was just barely above the hem of her very brief skirt. When she tilted her head the fall of black hair skiffed across her back. "Are you done?"
Riku swallowed, straightened as though he just realized what he was doing, shoulders sagging as the tension of the moment drained away. Just as he was nodding a little, though, mouth half-open to voice something, she smiled and uttered a brief, "Good!" and slapped the entire massive folder into his stomach. "That's for you."
Roxas crept out from the safety of the counter at that point, figuring it was time to take charge of the situation, rescue Riku a little from their employers. He took the folder himself, Riku grunting a little from the impact, settling it in his hands to flip through. Before he could open it, though, Tifa's hand landed lightly on the cover.
"No, this is Riku's job now, since he so nicely volunteered."
Roxas frowned along the length of that hand, from the lacquered nails up the arm to the shoulders of the smart blazer she was wearing, watched how all her features softened just slightly when she looked at him. "He doesn't have to take any job he doesn't want."
"This is reconnaissance, honey." Her smile was fond for Roxas, turned devious when her attention diverted back to Riku. "The orders don't come through until next week. You don't even have to do it today, and you probably don't want to after the sales day it looks like you've had." She regarded the depleted shop floor for a moment, then reached up to pat Riku's shoulder with one hand. Briefly there, then she smiled at Roxas, then she was turning and walking out, hair swaying behind her. "Next week, boys. Stay alive until then."
Then the security door was rolling up, rolling slowly back down, and she was gone.
Riku's head was down, slightly cowed and sunglasses still held between two fingers; Roxas let him feel like an idiot for about ten seconds, then passed him the folder, face and voice a pointed blank, with a noncommittal, "You heard the lady."
"Yeah, I got it." Riku snatched it up, sighed a little like an apology, eyes darting to Roxas for half an instant before he shuffled off through the back door, donning the glasses on the way, fingers digging for his shirt pocket.
Roxas counted the minutes along with the till, waited while Leon started sweeping like the efficient, stoic boy he was and Hayner tried to untangle some ribbon and fold up the remaining cellophane until Roxas told him to leave it, that he had an arrangement to make for himself anyway.
At ten minutes, Riku's car started in the back parking lot. At eleven minutes it zoomed around the block, past the storefront and away into the city, fading slowly until at twelve minutes Roxas couldn't hear it anymore. They wouldn't see him again until late the next day, rumpled and hungover and rank with liquor and stale smoke and sex with a girl that wasn't the redhead weighing on his mind.
Hayner frowned at the sound, picking through the remaining bouquets to clear away any dead or crushed flowers, and cast a glance over at Roxas and his half-counted till. "Shouldn't he be--"
"He'll do it later."
Hayner nodded a little, turned back to the flowers, and the store was silent while they cleaned.
There were two white roses left, three chrysanthemums, a sprig of freesia and plenty of greenery, and that was more than enough for the vase that Roxas picked out, carefully, finding one with a sturdy base that was inexpensive, just right for its purpose. Leon was gone for the night as well, wherever it was that he went with his Porche and his baskets of flowers; they weren't at the point in their group relationship where anyone asked him questions.
Hayner was sitting on the counter with a styrofoam cup of instant ramen, picking at it with his chopsticks like he didn't care much for the contents despite the fact that he'd complained only moments before that he hadn't eaten since breakfast. Roxas informed him that professional athletes should know better than to skip meals; Hayner had laughed it off, and they didn't say anything further while Roxas positioned some ferns, clipped the ends of the two roses and nestled them in with the chrysanthemums.
"So, I guess you have plans." Hayner's voice was quiet, followed by the small clap of styrofoam settling on the counter top. He tilted forward, elbows on his knees and slumped there, staring out the front windows at the lengthening angle of sunlight.
Roxas twisted the rose in place, resettling it to show off the best curve of the blossom, thumb brushing against the soft petals. "Yeah."
"You gonna be out late?"
"Might as well, I don't have class tomorrow."
Hayner let out a breath, fingers tangling together and then untangling, and he straightened abruptly, finally looking over to address Roxas directly. "You know what would be cool?"
Roxas paused, settling a bit of baby's breath before drawing his hands away, examining the flowers critically for a moment before looking up with an uttered, "Huh?"
"If we could all have normal dates on a romantic holiday."
Hayner's brown eyes were intense, serious in a way he usually was underneath everything and every once in a while that side of him cropped up, turned on Roxas for some kind of explanation for why the world existed in the way it did. He looked back down at the bouquet, thought about where it was going and smiled a little, wistfully. "Wishful thinking, Hay." He sighed, turned the vase a little from side to side, examining it from every angle, and figured it was approximately perfect. He darted a look back at Hayner when the other boy started swinging his legs childishly, heels kicking against the counter's base. "What are you doing tonight?"
"First of all," he intoned, picking up the styrofoam cup and peering down at it in disgust, "I'm going to make something decent to eat. Then, I'm going to lock myself in my room and watch variety shows until my brain turns to mush. Then I'm going to sleep, so I can wake up tomorrow, restock the shop for Monday, make Riku his hangover breakfast, keep him and Leon from killing each other over the newspaper, and pretend today never happened." He shrugged a little, sliding off the counter and Roxas nodded, because that was how Hayner got through all the bad days; all the missions, all the fallout afterwards. "Here, man, I'll get you a box for that."
In retrospect, there probably wasn't enough cardboard and cellophane in the world to protect a fragile vase of flowers from being mussed while driven around on a moped. Roxas tried not to worry about it; he was holding a mental image of what the arrangement looked like before the trip, certain of how to fix it once he got there, and if some of the plants were a little crushed, well. She wouldn't have minded, anyway.
The city was a roar and pulse of movement, cars honking and people scurrying and he considered, for the one moment of irony he allowed himself every day, that all around him were thousands of other boys just like himself, delivering carefully selected bouquets of flowers to their girlfriends for White Day. He felt a smile tug on the corners of his mouth, felt his stomach go sick for a moment, then turned off the main road onto the little one that lead to the graveyard on the hill.
It probably should have been more disturbing than it was, wandering among the dead, walking along the avenues of granite, carved stones like miniature skyscrapers pointing towards the sky, orange with sunset now. Names in elegant kanji passing by on either side. It was peaceful here, quiet and restful; these people hadn't died because of him, or his team, or because of the Organization pulling the strings of madmen lurking in Tokyo's shadows. They died simply because that was what happened at the end of life, the inevitable close of every story, whether it was tragically young or honorably old, sooner or later everyone became ashes resting beneath a headstone.
Here in this graveyard, though, there was one exception.
It was far too easy to find the family plot; he'd been here too many times, had barely dodged being caught by Xemnas or one of his toadies once or twice. They had to have figured out who he was by now, had to know on some level why he kept coming here to trace his fingers over the little indentation of Naminé's name. Cold granite under his fingers, under his knees where he was knelt, and he set the vase there alongside the characters spelling out her existence. Fiddled with the fern and the rose in front until they sat straight again. He stared at it for a long time, white flowers and her name, then lit two sticks of incense and lowered his head.
Roxas had never been one to pray for forgiveness, until she died.
"You know what guilt tastes like?"
The voice at his back made his skin prickle, his muscles tense, and his mind immediately cataloged every weapon on his person, every instance of cold sharp steel from the nape of his neck to the heels of his shoes. He didn't move, didn't open his eyes or acknowledge the presence at all--Axel would have seen how his shoulders went tense, how he clamped down on himself. Bastard loved to sneak up on him.
"It's like those disgusting pickled things you like so much," the voice continued, unconcerned with whether he cared or was listening. "You know. The purple ones."
"Umeboshi," Roxas murmured to the inside of his eyelids, resisted the urge to tack on something about being a disrespectful, unrefined gaijin because he figured Axel knew that already.
"Whatever. Those." Axel was waving a hand dismissively; Roxas still wasn't looking but he knew the guy's mannerisms enough to know what he was doing, anyway. "Sweet, tart and salty all in one."
Roxas lowered his clasped hands, opened his eyes to watch the incense fizzle and smoke, then turned his head just enough to catch the edges of the man sitting behind him, on the ledge of granite separating this family plot from the next. Just enough to see the edges of brilliant red hair, sharp black tattoos beneath poison green eyes, the curl of a smirk on his lips. Tailored jacket hanging open and it was obscene in a way only Axel could make it. "What the hell are you doing here?"
"What do you think? I came to watch you feel sorry for yourself. It's brilliant, Roxas, how you're always such an efficient, remorseless little killer until it comes to this, and then you wrap yourself up into a pickled ball of guilt. And then," his smirk broadened and he leaned forward, chin in one hand, tongue darting out to his lips for a moment and green eyes sparkled, "after you've begged the nonexistent gods for forgiveness and relived that sweet moment when she died in your arms--then comes the best part."
Roxas tilted his head back, away from Axel and back to the smoldering incense, not really seeing it but staring just the same. "And what's that?"
The voice was like a caress against the back of his neck, shivering down his spine. "That's when you renew all those justifications for why you're sleeping with the man that killed her."
"You didn't kill her."
"Neither did you."
"It's a matter of responsibility." Roxas settled backwards, slid his feet out from under him and pulled his knees up to his chest, still with his back to Axel and his presence there was strangely comforting, albeit cold. "You created the scenario; I was the one who was meant to die. I should have seen the trap, I should never have let her get close enough to be used against me to begin with. If anything, I'm more at fault than you are."
When Axel spoke again, his voice had lost the good humor; he was losing patience with this, with Roxas and his moment of repentance. "If you're so set on being the one who died, we can take care of that problem for you. I'll even make sure they put you next to her and justify the fact that your name is already on that headstone."
Roxas found the kanji without having to search, felt the symbols carved there as certainly as though he was running his fingers over it, the way he had with Naminé's name. "Sora is dead. That's not my name anymore, it's not who I am."
"You're what Diz made you into," Axel muttered; he was sulking now, tired of the argument, tired of Roxas showing his humanity rather than indulging him. "Professionals aren't allowed to feel guilty, and if you're going to then don't bother coming over tonight."
"It's a temporary thing." Roxas stood up, gathered up his helmet and gloves and left the incense to burn out, turned away from the granite monument to the dead and the white flowers adorning it and stalked back toward the little avenue that would lead him out of the graveyard. He paused just as he drew level with Axel, looking at him fully for the first time, watching the sullen tilt to his mouth, the hint of jealousy behind his stare. "I loved her, you know. I'm allowed to feel bad."
He felt Axel watching him walk away, felt the stare like hands on his body and he dismissed it for now; he knew Axel wasn't going to follow him, right now--knew he'd probably sit there and glare at Naminé's name for a while until he got bored with envying a dead girl for hogging Roxas's attention. He'd probably steal the sprig of freesia out of the bouquet just to spite both of them, put it in a glass of water on his kitchen table where Roxas would see it, sometime later that night or in the wee hours of the morning when he was sneaking out of the apartment so he could get back home before his teammates became concerned with his absence. He'd do it, just so Roxas would scowl and hiss at him for disrespecting the dead, for disrespecting the fact that Roxas still had something like a heart left even if things like morality and conscience escaped him.
Axel, though--he was like looking in a mirror at the thing you really were, if you were honest with yourself. It was the reality that kept Roxas coming back, like he did that night after driving around on his moped until the fuel gauge read a bare notch above empty, then took the subway in two different directions to throw off any tails, real or imagined, before picking the lock to the back entrance of Axel's apartment building, sneaking through the front door that Axel never bothered locking and being pressed roughly against the wall before he made it three steps down the hallway.
Cold fingers on his skin, hot mouth against his--that was reality, the one that was going to catch up with him one day, the one that was going to get him killed. Sleeping with the enemy. Axel and the press of his body and the feel of hair under his hands, sweat and slide and shivering, moaning, hands and mouths and panting breath. Flowers were tokens, holidays were excuses, gravestones were memories best left to the past. Roxas loved Naminé because she was everything he could never have. He loved Axel because he was everything that Roxas actually was.
Nothing was right, nothing was wrong. It just was. The world in all its splendor, blank and white and endless.