Rinse

Rating: M

Summary: In the end, Roxas finds there is no 'cure.'

Pairing: Axel/Roxas, mentioned Sora/Kairi

Warning: AU, self-mutilation, suicide, character death, drug abuse, probable horrible OOCness that many will not agree with, boyxboy love, general DARKness.

A/N: Here's part two for this lovely little story. We're reaching the end, we are! I want to thank all those that reviewed the last chapter; it's so nice to hear back about my work. There's only one more part after this, and then this story is done. Well, I hope you enjoy the ride.

C&C appreciated.

Part Two

____

Rinse, clean, redo. It'll all go away, Roxas. All you have to do is wash the sins away…

The next few weeks Roxas found himself floating. The classes were a lot harder than he expected them to be, which was good; Roxas loved a challenge. He wasn't at the top of the class, which didn't bother him one bit. In his science class, Namine walked him through anything he didn't know. She was a sweet, wonderful girl, who unfortunately had moments of being lost within her own illness. In math, Axel and Roxas sat at the back of the class, talking aimlessly while still somehow staying ahead in class. Roxas was horrified to see that Axel beat his scores on almost any test. A pot-smoking pyromaniac was beating him? Roxas swore to score better than him on the next few tests.

His gym and shop classes were uneventful. In gym he spent time competing with Riku, since the boy was always looking for a challenge. Roxas had no problem living up to his challenge. Shop class was at the end of the day, and it always made Roxas' good mood dissipate. All he could think in that class was running his arm under one of the saws, or shooting himself with a nail gun.

He thought about getting a part time job within the school for after his classes. There were many good choices, but in the end, Roxas decided his time was better spent in his room, smoking pot with his roommate.

He finally met his counselor a week into his time at Sacred Heart. The man was a fumbling man who always had a smile on his face. Roxas had watched him with distaste for a long time, and through their hour sessions every second day, he merely sat and glared. For the most part, he seemed like a good guy, but when he brought up Sora in a way that Roxas didn't appreciate, Roxas' lips clamped shut.

Roxas had begun to realize as time went on that he didn't know very much about Axel. And so, when they were shut up in their room, about to start smoking up, Roxas asked, "Why are you here?"

Axel's green eyes shot up to him, surprised. "What do you mean?" he asked, turning back down to the task at hand. "The fact that I can't go a day without accidently setting something on fire—"

"That's not what I'm asking," Roxas cut him off. "I mean, how did you end up here?"

"Oh," Axel said, his brows shooting upwards as he focused on rolling the cigarette. "Well, my dad got sick of me when I lit our third house fire. But my mom didn't want to send me to prison, because she knew it was an accident. So they dumped me off here." He smiled, holding up the finished cigarette, placing it between his teeth. "Haven't seen 'em in three years."

The familiar smell of marijuana smoke began to fill the air as Axel passed him the joint. Roxas was lost in his own thoughts, trying to imagine that. "Any siblings?' he asked curiously.

"Only child," Axel replied with a shake of his head. He ran a hand through his hair, and Roxas was fascinated with the way his hair moved as his fingers combed through it. It gave his flaming hair life, making it truly look like a fire had broken out.

"Ah," Roxas said simply, focusing on the cigarette in his hands before handing it back to Axel.

"So kid, I blabbed, your turn," Axel said, leaning forwards to jab him in the chest. "What happened that you wound up here?"

Roxas' eyes dropped down to the floor, unsure of how, or that he wanted to answer such a question. He stayed silent for a long time, accepting the drugs from the other man every once in a while. Finally, he turned his deep blue gaze up to meet Axel's fiery green one, and sighed. "There was an accident," he admitted quietly, unsure of how to start. It seemed like such a long time ago, when it was really only six months.

"My mom didn't really care what we did, Sora and I, we just…. Did our own thing. My dad left a long time ago, so it was just the three of us. Sora and I got wrapped up in a lot of this… stuff, and we decided to commit suicide together." Axel's gaze was completely focused on him, making Roxas feel almost like running away. Almost. Roxas' eyes sat glued to the ground as he continued to speak. "We did a lot of screwed up stuff, took a lot of pills, did whatever we could do to hurt ourselves. Sometimes I don't think Sora wanted to do it, you know? I told him one day that I wanted to commit suicide and he said he'd come with me. Because we were twins."

"I've heard that twins have a very close bond," Axel said when Roxas fell silent. "When one dies, the other does too. Metaphorically, of course."

Roxas looked up and nodded simply, his gaze returning to his feet again. "We had decided on a date to do it, and everything was set. But then… something happened. He came to me one day, was upset about something, and said everything was all falling in on itself. He said that he ended up taking up too many pills, and that he was afraid he was going to die. So we went to the washroom, and we were going to make him throw it all up. But he was already starting to pass out, so I figured there was no saving either of us.

"I tried to kill myself. There wasn't anything to do that in the bathroom, so I filled the bathtub and tried to drown myself. I don't know what Sora took, but he was throwing up blood by that point. I tried to drown both of us, but I couldn't stay under. And by that time…" Roxas trailed off. "My mom had found us."

Axel listened to the entire story intently, long after the drugs were gone and the smoke had dissipated into the air. "So," he drawled finally, leaning back on his own bed. "Your brother's dead?"

Roxas shook his head. "He's in a coma," Roxas replied simply, turning his gaze back up to meet Axel's. "He's been like that for six months now. The doctors don't think he'll wake up."

Axel took it all in stride, letting out a deep breath. "So, that explains the nightmares," he muttered to himself.

Roxas shot him a weird look. "What are you talking about?"

Axel shrugged his shoulders. "Ever since you came here, every night it looks like you're having a nightmare. You thrash around, and are always crying out for 'Sora'."

Roxas shrugged his shoulders, falling back onto his bed. "I haven't had a decent night's sleep since it happened. I think it would be easier to deal with if I knew he was dead. But this, waiting for him to die…" Roxas trailed off. The drugs and his depressed mood were making him want nothing more than to curl into himself and sleep. He curled under his blankets, rolling over so his back was to Axel. He listened as the man got to his feet, pulling off his shirt and getting himself ready for bed. He waited until the lights flicked off and the room was plunged into darkness that he spoke.

"I'm… going to go see him at the end of the week. You could… come, if you want?" Roxas offered quietly.

"I wouldn't miss it," Axel replied quietly after a few minutes.

Don't drown, Roxas. Just rinse it all away. Don't breathe in, because the water can't help if all you're letting it do is kill you.

Roxas felt himself jolted awake when the bus came to a stop outside of the hospital. He blinked himself awake, rubbing at his sore eyes as he shuffled off the bus with several others, Axel included. Lately he was having trouble drawing the line between sleeping and awake, wondering which voice was Sora's, and which one was his own subconscious desire to die.

He shuffled his feet along slowly, feeling the muted light of yet another overcast sky warm his back. The scent of rain was thick in the air, and Roxas knew it wouldn't be long until a thunderstorm would hit. Still, he said nothing as they made their way up the stone steps of the hospital's front doors, and made the short trip to Sora's room.

Roxas stopped before the imposing door, taking a deep breath in. He glanced back at Axel, who was bundled up in his sweatshirt, glancing over at him with a concerned gaze. Roxas couldn't help but give the man a small smile. He'd begun to learn as time went by that Axel was much more sensitive than he allowed anyone to see.

Roxas opened the door and stepped inside, glancing around a familiar white room. As his gaze settled on Sora, his heart broke just a little more.

Sora was wrapped up beneath white blankets, his eyes closed in slumber, hooked up to several machines that were all monitoring different parts of him. His hair had grown in the time which he'd been unconscious.

Seated next to him was a face that Roxas knew all too well. A sad young woman was seated next to Sora, her hand clasped tightly in his. Her long red hair hung freely on her shoulders, and her eyes held unshed tears as she turned to look at him.

"Roxas," she said, wiping at her eyes as she stumbled to her feet.

"Hey Kairi," Roxas replied awkwardly. "Oh, Axel, this is Kairi, my brother's girlfriend. Kairi, this is Axel, my roommate at school."

The pair grunted their awkward hellos to each other, before the focus once again fell onto the unconscious man in the bed.

"How is he?" Roxas asked quietly, pulling up a chair to sit in with his brother's girlfriend. Kairi sighed, letting her head hang as she slid her hand back in with Sora's.

"Better," Kairi replied sadly. She turned her tired gaze up towards Roxas as her lips pulled into a grim line. "If… if they just knew what he took, Roxas, the doctors say they could help him."

"I don't know what he took," Roxas replied, his tone a little sharper than before. "The only person who knows that is Sora, and he's in a coma."

The room fell awkwardly silent for a long time. As Roxas settled his gaze on his brother, he let out a small sigh. He knew it was his fault that Sora was in the coma. If it hadn't been for him, then Sora would have never gotten involved in dealings with suicide or drug abuse. He had only done it because he couldn't stand the thought of being alone. He wished there was something he could do to make everything go back to before any of this had happened.

Roxas got to his feet, leaning over his brother and pressing a kiss to his forehead. "I'm sorry Sora," he replied quietly, before turning for the door. He didn't wait for Axel as he stepped out of the room and down the hall. He could hear Axel's quick footsteps as the red-head tried to catch up with him.

"Roxas, hey, what's going on?" he asked when he caught up with him. Roxas threw open the door to the hospital, stepping outside into the streets.

"I can't stay there for very long," Roxas explained briskly as he glanced back and forth.

"Okay," Axel replied awkwardly, unsure of how to approach the situation. 'Do you want to go get lunch then? I have some leftover money."

"Yeah," Roxas stumbled out. "Lunch. That sounds good…"

Axel wrapped an arm comfortingly around his shoulders as the pair made their way from the hospital down a relatively empty street. They slipped into a small deli, where Roxas ordered himself something meager as they took a seat in a small booth. Axel tried to cheer him up with casual talk, but Roxas wasn't feeling any of it. He could feel himself drifting away, staring out the window as the overcast sky began to rumble, dark clouds preparing to pour down its thick, fat raindrops.

"Roxas?" Axel asked for the third time, causing the youth to blink out of his stupor and turn to look at the other man.

"Oh, sorry Axel," Roxas mumbled quietly, turning back to his food and picking at it. Axel pulled out a light and fiddled with it anxiously.

"It's not your fault, you know," Axel said, out of nowhere. Roxas' gaze flickered up to the other man, who was looking at him with full sincerity in his eyes. Roxas wanted to smile, at least a little, but didn't have the heart. Axel was always making him feel as though he could smile. It was a strange feeling. Instead, he placed his head in his hands, pulling apart his salad with his fork. He was hungry, yet his appetite was absent.

Axel rolled his eyes when Roxas didn't reply. "Look, I may have only known you for about a month so far, but that's enough to get into that little head of yours. You're taking it too personally. What happened was an accident, you said so yourself."

Roxas didn't seem so sure of himself. He blinked when he found a fork in his face, turning his gaze up to settle on Axel's determined green eyes. "Your brother's going to wake up, and then he'll tell you himself."

"I don't know," Roxas said, his confidence wavering again as his gaze shifted back out the window. "I don't think he'll ever wake up. And I don't think I can take that much longer."

Axel was beginning to grow frustrated, his face twisting in displeasure. "Stop talking like that," he barked, causing Roxas' stunned gaze to slip back to the other man. "You're better than this, damnit. I know you're hurting, and this is really hard to take, but you have to be a man about this." Roxas' nose wrinkled; he didn't like where this was going.

"Okay, look," Axel tried, combing another hand through his fiery hair. "I know I'm out of place here, but you can't let yourself go like this. Sora wouldn't want you to just give up."

Roxas wanted to argue, wanted to bring up the fact that Sora had been willing to go with him. However, as images of his twin came to mind, Roxas could feel himself overwhelmed of memories of Sora; Sora happy, Sora sleeping, Sora crying, Sora, Sora, Sora.

Roxas could feel tears stinging his eyes as he jumped to his feet, storming from the restaurant. He threw open the doors to the restaurant, stepping out into the insistent downpour and letting the rain soak him through. In the white noise of the storm, Roxas felt the building emotions spilling forth, hot tears rolling down his face in the chilling rain.

"Roxas!" Axel called, pushing open the restaurant doors and following him out into the downpour. Almost instantly, his long red hair was pasted to the sides of his face, the cold rain and dim lighting making Axel almost look ethereal. Despite the dreary atmosphere, his hair still shone brightly. Roxas turned from him, continuing down the street as Axel hurried to catch up with him.

"What's wrong with you?" Axel cried, grabbing his arm, and making Roxas turn towards him, anger creasing into his features.

"Don't talk about things you don't know!" Roxas snapped, taking a step towards the other man, forcing him to take a step backwards.

Immediate anger began to well up in Axel as the man stepped towards the shorter boy. "Don't act like you're the only one in the world suffering!" he shouted, throwing his arms out wide. "You go to a school for people with fucked up lives, and you can't even appreciate that!"

Roxas wasn't sure where it came from, couldn't stop when he saw his own fist approaching Axel's face. The sound of flesh connecting with flesh was overwhelmed by the pain blooming in his fist. However, Roxas realized his mistake only a few moments later, when Axel hit him back with ferocity he should've anticipated.

Roxas stumbled back, wiping rainwater and blood from a split lip. He looked at it, then at Axel, and lunged again.

The boys threw punch after punch, blow after blow, until they were forced from the streets to the nearby parks. No one was out, so their brawl went on uninterrupted. Finally, Roxas fell back against a tree with a moan, clutching his stomach and slumping down into the mud. Axel stood over him, wiping blood from under his nose and flicking it onto the ground.

Roxas looked up at Axel through eyes heavy with tears and rainwater. He'd never had anyone hit him before, and the experience was kind of exhilarating. Back at home, everyone treated him with the greatest respect, and when they found out about his condition, everyone treated him as though he would break. Axel was the first one to stand up against him. Despite several bruises, he felt much better about the situation.

"Are you going to shut up and listen to reason now?' Axel asked him. Despite the rough question, there wasn't any bite in his tone.

Roxas laughed a little, but ended up stopping because of the pain in his stomach. Roxas stumbled to his feet, mud cloaking most of his body, his clothes completely soaked through. "Maybe," Roxas said, as he stumbled to his feet, having had admitted defeat, if only to himself. Axel proved he was better with his fists, even if Roxas was a lot faster. "At the very least, if we keep doing this… one of us… will break something…"

As Roxas managed to stand upright, his foot slipped out from under him on the slick mud, and he felt himself about to tumble down the small hill. Axel reached out without thought, grabbing the younger male and hoisting him to his feet. As Roxas turned sheepish eyes up towards Axel, he couldn't help but grin awkwardly.

"Thanks," he said quietly.

"No problem," Axel whispered in reply, straitening the young man but reluctant to let him go. "You know," the redhead added. "I like seeing you smile. You should do it more often."

Roxas wasn't sure what to say to that, so in the end he fell silent. They slowly made their way back towards the bus station that would lead them back to school. As they waited in the incessant downpour, the mud was slowly washed from them. Roxas let his head dip forwards, thinking about Axel and Sora and the things that had happened without any regret.

They waited for the bus for what seemed like forever in the rain. When the creaky bus finally pulled up to their stop, the pair of boys slipped on soundlessly, taking a seat and riding it back to their school. They said nothing to one another, but it was a comfortable silence that Roxas found himself enjoying. They retired back to their room, where Roxas stripped himself of his sopping clothes and slipped into something more comfortable. Both of the boys were exhausted, and Roxas was looking forwards to slipping into a blissfully dreamless sleep.

"Hey," Axel called, causing Roxas to turn to look over at him. Axel was a lot closer than he expected, causing the blonde to glance up to look into his eyes.

"What?" Roxas asked.

"I'm proud of you," Axel said, bending down so their foreheads were almost touching. "Really. You had a lot of interesting breakthroughs today."

Roxas resisted the temptation to reach out and touch Axel's hair, afraid it would burn him. He nodded numbly, turning back to meet Axel's eyes. "Yeah," he mumbled. "Though I'm not sure how productive they were."

Axel merely smiled, turning and crawling back into his own bed. Roxas was left stunned, and slightly confused.

Don't let the passage of time slow you down, Roxas.

Months passed by without Roxas even noticing. He was getting closer to his roommate, and feeling himself coming out of his shell more. His regular visits with the counselor had ceased for a period of time as he was relocated with a woman psychologist. Roxas found he was able to talk to her much better, even if it was just a little.

He found himself being introduced to others within the school as well, Demyx, Larxene, Saix, Vixen, and many others. Slowly, Roxas found himself sliding into life at Sacred Heart, and finally found himself a part time job. It seemed as though the darkness that had loomed over his home had begun to recede. The more time he spent with Axel, the more he began to realize he'd never had someone in his life like Axel. Roxas was completely comfortable with the other man, in all sorts of ways. They could compete with each other in fights or in games, lie in bed and talk about anything, or share heated debates. Roxas was beginning to realize that there were very few things about Axel that he didn't like, and even less that he absolutely couldn't stand.

On Saturday night, several weeks into Roxas' stay, they had both decided to order pizza to their room and enjoy a movie. Technically it wasn't allowed, but no one stopped them, so the boys enjoyed the fresh hot pizza and watched several movies. They merely lazed about, enjoying the rainy afternoon day.

Part way through their monster-movie marathon, Axel had gotten up from his bed and cross the room over into Roxas. "You can see the TV better from here," was all the explanation he provided. Roxas didn't mind in the least.

The boy watched another two movies before finally Roxas began to realize that he wasn't paying attention to the movie anymore. The Count of Monty Crisco was playing, one of his favorite movies. However, he had it completely memorized, and could recite it from memory. Part way through, he noticed Axel shifting next to him.

"What is it?" Roxas asked, glancing from the movie to the young man next to him Axel's hair was spread out over his pillow, his green yes radiating seriousness. As Roxas looked down at him, he felt a sudden seriousness he wasn't sure what to do with. He found his gaze locked with Axel's, unsure of what to make of them emotions washing over him.

"Axel?" he breathed, almost afraid to speak.

Axel said nothing for a long moment, his eyes betraying nothing of his inner feelings. Roxas could feel his stomach tying up in knots, though he wasn't sure why. Finally, Axel's green stare rolled away from him, and he let out a soft sigh. "I hate to say this," Axel said softly, his eyes rolling back up to meet Roxas'. "But I'm going to kiss you. You can hate me, call me whatever you want, and request to change roommates, but I'm going to kiss you anyway."

The words hung in the air; as Roxas breathed them in, Roxas felt as though he was breathing in thick smoke, making him unable to breathe. Finally, he swallowed, nodding simply.

"Okay," was all he whispered.

Axel sat up on his forearms, moving in close to kiss him. Roxas could feel his head pounding in his throat, shocking him. For some reason the entire scene scared him. Seeing Axel close in on him was absolutely terrifying, but Roxas couldn't bring himself to stop him. Their lips closed over one another, and for a moment time stood still. Roxas had to break the short kiss to breath, having forgotten in the heat of the moment.

"Well," Axel said, a blush creeping up his cheekbones. The normally composed man felt himself at a loss of words.

Roxas didn't both to try and break the awkwardness that seemed to settle everywhere but upon him. He simply leaned down and pressed his lips to Axel's again, the kiss turning much more passionate as Roxas clawed at Axel's shoulder, clinging to the other man's warmth.

Axel broke away when the need for air became too much. "We should push the beds together," he breathed out in a single gasp.

Roxas stared at him for a few moments before nodding his head quickly. "Yeah," he breathed, before the boys propelled themselves from Roxas' bed. Each worked quickly to push the beds away from the opposite walls towards the center of the room.

From there, Axel and Roxas crawled into bed, clawing at one another and feeling through their movements. Roxas didn't think, didn't allow any thoughts to disrupt the amazing sensations washing over him. He moved in whatever ways felt good, sliding his fingers delicately over Axel's chest and loving the way it made the other man gasp. Their beds became devoid of any blankets or pillows when they got in the way of the heady, sensual play the boys had engaged in.

All the while Roxas' head was spinning, and with each gasp that escaped him, he couldn't stop Axel's name from rolling off his lips like a mantra, praying to some estranged god for release.

When the two men fell still and Roxas' head had cleared enough for him to think, he dwelled on the actions that had left him naked and strewn out over both his and Axel's unmade beds. One of their blankets had been tossed over their bodies as Roxas used Axel's chest to pillow his head. He stared up at the ceiling, listening to the way Axel's heart beat beneath his ear.

A part of Roxas wanted to know what had just happened, and why he let it happen. But really, he already knew the answer.

Roxas sat up, letting the thin blanket pool around his waist, for the first time feeling mildly ashamed of his nakedness. "Axel," Roxas said quietly, admiring the way that his red hair spilt out over his pillow.

"Scared?" was all Axel asked him. Roxas wasn't entirely sure he understood the question, and merely gave Axel as puzzling look as the man sat up, cupping a hand around his head and bringing him close. The simple touch of lips seemed so strange compared to their actions only moments ago. "Relax, Roxas. I know what's going on in your head right now. You're twisting everything around in your head to make it not as great as it was. You just need to stop thinking about everything." Axel gave him a small smile, poking his nose. "If you enjoyed yourself, then you enjoyed yourself. If you didn't, you didn't. It's not much more complicated than that."

Roxas' voice died in his throat, and a helpless smile crossed his lips. "I think I really like you," he said quietly. "Where have you been all my life?"

"Here," Axel replied, indicating the room they found themselves in. "Waiting for you."

Roxas couldn't stop the laugh that broke through his lips. It was a pained, sharp, almost sarcastic laughter, but the feelings of joy and amusement were the same. It had felt like so long since he had honestly laughed. He collapsed on Axel's chest as the man wrapped his arms around him. "You're so weird," Roxas finally managed to get out between breaths.

"I know," Axel replied simply.

Roxas had never slept so well in his entire life.