---xxx
the brothers grimm
(the truth about fairytales)
xxx---

summary ;; Kairi loves Roxas loves Axel loves Kairi; when glass slippers shatter and the stroke of midnight isn't magical, all that's left is the unromantic reality.

a / n ;; I've been battling with this thing for weeks. Originally there was supposed to be more, but going in circles does not equal productiveness in any way shape or form, and it works well enough as it is now, minus the minimal akuroku interaction. Apologies?


The boy serving her coffee is the same one she's known since preschool (sitting quietly in the corner while Sora sucked paste off his fingers and Kairi glued macaroni to construction paper), the same one that makes her heart thrum against her ribs with the reckless rapidity of hummingbird wings. And he hasn't realized it yet.

Their fingers brush over the sleek plastic of her credit card. She lives for this moment and it's a minor heartbreak to slip out the door with her coffee in hand. It's bitter and it burns her mouth, but she drinks it anyway.

She'll be back again tomorrow, and the next day, and the one after that.

It's on a blustery October morning that she enters to the chorus of the door chime overhead and her eyes take in-- red. Her day has been dashed before it's even began.

"The usual?" he asks-- nametag says Axel. She wonders if it's a nickname.

She nods. They've talked before, or at least enough that he knows her order; decaf, six sugars, and cavity-inducing.

"Later, princess," he grins as she leaves, watching the wind rip at the scarf knotted around her throat.

"Hey, Rox, you're late," the blonde tugs on his apron as he slips behind the counter-- moodily, maybe, but it's hard to tell with that kid, "My shift ended five minutes ago."

"Sorry," but there's customers waiting and some conversations have to be cut off before they begin.

The bell sounds in time with the blare of a car horn and Axel looks up to see pale fingers tugging a scarf from the asphalt--red hair, red paint, red blood. Kairi bleeds red and knows her day has been dashed before it's began.

--

"I know her," he says as they strap her to a stretcher, and it's not entirely untrue.

--

She's a beauty in stitches and staples and he can't help but think this as she lies buried beneath hospital sheets and a tangled spider's web of wires. It's funny how he's never noticed before. It's funny how he notices now.

She's stunning, or he'd think that if he were a romantic sap, which he isn't. Obviously. There's just something about a girl with eyes swollen shut and the gaze they fix you with when they're filled to the brim with painkillers.

"Still here," he grins. She doesn't speak, and that is the premise of their relationship. Until one day, she's propped up and awake and tells him point blank

"We'd never work."

He laughs at this (and it's nothing like his; it's high pitched and bark-like, the laugh of a psychopath) but his forehead puckers in a frown of sorts.

He doesn't come back and she doesn't complain.

--

Roxas, well, she's not quite sure why he's here, lingering awkwardly in the doorway. His presence is so unlike the redhead whose carnations are dying in a vase on the windowsill. It's uncomfortable.

"Sora couldn't make it," he says in way of a greeting, "he wanted me to give you this." a cheesy looking card is pushed into her palms.

She places it in her lap and looks at him.

"I've been thinking since-- everything," her lips are chapped, but the words slip passed the cracked surface with clumsy ease. An oxymoron if ever there was one. "we could die at any moment. Any of us."

"I love you, Roxas." Probably since forever, and I just thought you should know.

He frowns and the silence seems to stretch into eternity, with only the steady drip drip drip of the IV jammed into her elbow to pass the seconds.

"I'm in love with Axel."

Oh.

--

She knocks on his door, skirt crumpled, eyes bloodshot. She looks a mess, and Axel blinks dumbly at her for a moment before stepping aside.

She retains all the composure of a businesswoman as she follows him down the hallway. They don't talk-- but she looks every bit an angel lying flat on her back-- and he finds it doesn't bother him as much as it should.

In between the sweat and screams and frantic scrambling of limbs, he knows she's using him, but this redheaded beauty beneath his fingertips isn't a chance he's willing to let pass him up. When he lets out a final shudder and collapses on his stomach, Kairi takes the opportunity to tug her clothes back on.

"He's in love with you, you know," She says before she slips from the room and shuts the door behind her.

He doesn't have to ask who.

--

It's kind of pathetic the way she's sitting on his doorstep waiting from him to get home from work, but that's precisely where he finds her. When she stands to meet his gaze he's struck by the thought that this is rock bottom walking. She opens her mouth and the effect is ruined.

"I fucked Axel," her tone is matter-of-fact as are her fingers as they reach up to stroke his cheek, but it's none too gentle and more urgent than sweet.

Her eyes are brimming with something he can't put a name to; a quiet, pleading desperation that leaves a bitter taste in his mouth and a peculiar humming in his heart. They're too violently violet and nothing like the ones that have frequented his dreams, but her body's all sharp angles as she presses herself against him, and if he squints his eyes just right, her hair becomes precisely the right shade of vermillion--

--he kisses her.

And so what if it isn't love? So what if this is all some sick charade? So what if the only reason he glides his hands down her bare frame is to soak up whatever trace of Axel that might still be clinging to her?

It's still something.