Disclaimer: I do not own any of the following -- This plot, USA Today, Bacardi Rum, Kingdom Hearts characters, The Rolling Stones (or any of their songs), KVAL News, or Billy Idol.
Please read the following before continuing further:
(1) If you plan on reading this entire fic, I'd appreciate it if you took the time to review. I poured a lot of heart, time, and effort into this fic and it'd be nice to get at least some feedback. Good, bad, or otherwise. Even just one word; really, it would humble my tired heart. (Dramatics)
(2) Half way through the fic and it's starting to seem familiar? Bingo. It probably does because I jacked this idea (and quite a few lines of dialog) off of the movie this fic is based on: Life, or Something Like It. Haven't seen it? Go watch the movie directly after this - anything with Angelina J. is worth watching, she's frackin' hot.
(3) I normally HATE first person POV, but a lot of people like it...so I figured I'd give it a shot. Also, this has not been betaed, however disquietservitude will be working on getting it looked over sometime in the near future. Thanks and enjoy!
Destiny is not set in stone…
Beep. Beep. Beep.
This can't be it.
I need more time.
Beep. Beep. Beep.
I need to make things right.
I never thought…it would happen like this.
Beep. Beep. Beep.
Nine Days Prior: Tuesday
"I'm Roxas Hikari---"
"---and I'm Demyx Myde---"
"---and that's Chicago life. Have a great day everyone, we'll see you back here with the KVAL News group at five, nine, and eleven." Demyx turned to smile at me, then at the camera. We waited patiently - smiling our pleasantly fake smiles until Pence's voice rang though the studio with a resounding "Cut!" Stretching, I stood with my co-anchor, walking off set and towards the cup of java I'd abandoned fifteen minutes ago.
Pence snagged my cup as I reached for it, taking a swig of the sugary liquid before pressing the warm Styrofoam into the palm of my hand with a wince and a frown. "That…is seriously sweet. Do you take coffee with your sweetener?" Taking the cup from his hands I rolled my eyes.
"Do you really think I'm functioning this early in the morning without an overdose of sugar?"
"...The barista fucked up your order again this morning didn't he?"
"Little bastard's gonna get a shitty review if I ever see his manager." Siax walked up and could immediately tell what the flow of conversation was about by the way Pence and I were glaring down my coffee cup.
"Did the coffee kid fuck up your order again?"
"Doesn't he always?"
"Well I hate to intrude on shitty barista boy bashings, but the director wants to see you in his office, Roxas." Siax smiled politely then turned to chat animatedly with Pence about yesterday night's baseball game.
After spending five minutes checking myself over in the bathroom mirror - adjusting my tie, hair, and the cuffs of my shirt - I managed to compose myself enough to knock on the director's door.
Swallowing and running a hand through my precisely gelled spikes, I turned the knob and walked in with my TV-perfect smile, "You asked to see me, Superior?" Although our director, everyone around the station had taken to calling him the 'superior'. I don't remember when, where, or why this nickname came to be, but be it was.
"Yes! Come, sit, sit." He made a lazy waving hand motion gesturing towards one of the two chairs before his desk, eyes still locked on the paper before him. Nervously, I sat myself and waited for him to speak. "So, Roxas." He began, looking at me for the first time since I'd walked into his office, "Something's come up at the network, they're looking for someone - a young, fresh new face…for USA Today." His eyes seemed to smile at me as he folded his hands and continued, "They're asking all network affiliates to send in tapes - I'm sending yours."
"I…You…Really?" I was speechless. Network had always been my dream. Local was great but network…
Network was fucking bank.
"Mmhmm." Xemnas' phone rang, then a woman's voice filled the office, "Sir, Marluxia is on line one, he'd like to speak with you about an upcoming interview?" Xemnas shook his head, pressing one of what seemed to be hundreds of buttons on the phone, "Larxene, please tell Marley that I'll speak with him as soon as I can. I'm busy at the moment."
"So…are you, like…sure? I mean, Demyx has been here longer and he's just as equally charismatic as I am when it comes to---"
"---I'm absolutely sure." Xemnas cut in, leaning back in his chair, "Roxas, some people are local - that's all they'll ever be. But you…" Xemnas' eyes smiled at me again and he leaned forward, lacing his fingers together as he came to rest his elbows on the mahogany desk, "you have potential."
"Oh, my god." I was stunned. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Network…Network was actually an option for me. An option I'd wanted since grad school. It was my dream career - my lifelong goal. And here it was. Being presented to me on a silver platter.
"Don't let this go to your head though, they're looking at hundreds of other people you know."
"Of course." My shit-eating-grin didn't seem to much prove the 'not letting it go to my head' thing, but I didn't care because, dude, network…
"The process could take months. So, in the meantime, there's plenty you can learn around here." Xemnas leaned back in his chair again, twirling a pencil between his large fingers.
"Absolutely…" I paused, looking slightly confused, "Er…Like what, exactly, sir?" I suppose, if it came down to it, that I was game for anything that would help land me that job. The job of my dreams. The perfect job.
"Well, like camera for instance."
"Camera doesn't matter," I scoffed and rolled my eyes, "I'm in front of the camera, why do I have to know anything beyond that?"
"Camera does matter. That's why I'm assigning you to work with Axel again."
"No. No, no, no." I would do many, many things to better my chances at landing the job of my dreams. But not that. Been there, done that. Never going back. End of story. "I can't work with him."
"He's the best. And you will."
"Sir…please, what about Pence? Hayner? Anyone?"
"Look, I don't know what happened between the two of you---"
"---Nothing happened!" I defended a bit too defensively. I could feel my cheeks grow red as I took to scowling at the carpet, folding my arms across my chest with a huff.
"Whatever. Look, Roxas, do you want this job or not?" Xemnas pinched at the bridge of his nose, inhaling deeply with a shake of his head. I wasn't deliberately trying to piss him off…I just…couldn't work with Axel. Even his name left a bad taste in my mouth. He was an unorganized train wreck. Everything I wasn't. He just…irked me.
"I do, sir. I really do, but---"
"Then here's the bottom line: Axel is network. He worked in New York on the nighttime news for four years before coming here, he knows what he's doing. He's the perfect man for the job. The only man for the job."
"I don't see the big deal. You turn the camera on and point it at the reporter. How hard is that? I mean, if Hayner can do it…"
"Can you just trust me for once and do what I say?"
"If I say no…"
"No." I frowned, glancing at my watch, "Listen I have to go, we'll catch up tonight when I get home. Okay, sweetie? Mmhmm. Okay. You too. Bye." I flipped my phone closed, pocketing it as I glanced myself over in the passenger-side-mirror of the van.
Straightening my tie, I walked towards the ambitious group of youth and began updating them on how things would flow when the camera started rolling. "So, that's about it. Relax, settle your nerves, and I'll be back in five." I walked back towards the van, brushing past my redheaded cameraman without so much as a hello.
I smiled kindly at Kairi - our newest trainee (and my youngest sibling) who was tagging along. "So here's the deal - I have three kids lined up for interviews and the manager said that we could have forty-five seconds of footage. Just keep the focus on me and it'll all be good."
I sighed and pinched the bridge of my nose - I severely hated having to do these crap fluff interviews.
Beside me, Axel came to lean against the van. "Hey Axel, how are you? Oh alright I guess, I've been holding up - I've missed you a lot, ya know, thanks for asking. Yeah, it's really fucking good to see you too, man." Axel mocked a non-existent conversation aloud as I fussed with a spike of hair that seemed to have a mind of it's own.
"You know, Axel. I think that, under the circumstances, it'd be best if we just kept everything on a purely professional level." I licked my index finger and thumb, pinching at the spike that would not cooperate.
"Define 'the circumstances' and 'professional' for me, would ya?" Axel grinned at me - that same cocksure grin that seemed to be chronically plastered to his happy-go-lucky little face. I wanted so badly at that moment to shove a boot up his anal cavity. Too bad I was wearing expensive dress shoes instead. Perhaps I would invest in a pair sometime this week, maybe at the Macy's blowout sale thing Naminé wanted to drag me to on Saturday…
"Just because we're forced to work together doesn't mean either of us has to like it - And you know what professional means, asshole." I scowled at the spike in the mirror, rolling my eyes as I turned to face blazing emerald ones I'd pointedly been avoiding for the last three months solid. It took skill and dedication to avoid someone in that small studio - and I oozed both those talents.
"Referring to your coworker as 'asshole' hardly seems professional, Roxie."
"Would it kill you to have fun once and a while?"
"I have fun."
"No. It's not considered fun when it has to be penciled in." His words almost seemed bitter - and coming from that smiling face, it screamed contradiction.
"Oh? Are you insinuating that I can't be spontaneous?" I shook my head, matching his gaze with mine, "Axel, you don't know me at all."
"I know that that little five year plan of yours is finally panning out because I know that you're up for that job with USA Today - Network, just like you always dreamed. Peachy, isn't it? Fits so damn perfectly with you and your chronic planning." Axel's beautiful eyes narrowed, but the quirk of his lips kept him right on smirking.
"I have no plan. Spontaneity, remember?"
"Spontaneity my ass. You painstakingly construct every little detail of your picture-perfect, picture-ready life so you can always project the exact image you want projected of yourself."
I frowned, narrowing my eyes at his angry ones. "No, I don't." I chose that moment to walk off towards the crowd of anxious youth.
"Uh, yeah, actually Roxas, ya do." Shaking his head, Axel lifted the camera around his neck - positioning it on the top of his shoulder and in the heat of his palm. "Alright, look. Here is what we're gonna do. Okay? We're gonna start with a hard focus on that kid's sign - the neon green one - linger there for about five to seven seconds as you introduce us to what this all is. Then we're gonna zoom out, working our way through the crowd slowly and end on you and the kids around you for the last ten or fifteen seconds. Sound good?"
"Not really. Well, the end part does."
"The 'Roxas' part, right? God you are so full of yourself!"
"I am the one telling the story after all." I ginned cheekily at him.
"Haven't you ever heard the phrase 'A picture is worth a thousand words'?"
"They created picture books for people like you, people who don't know a thousand words."
"Well I know two great words. Fuck and yo---"
"Guys! Hey, hey! C'mon we need to get rolling. We have a job to do here, okay?" Kairi suddenly cut in, a timid flush tinting her cheeks. Axel and I glared at each other a moment longer before I decided to be the better man, straightening my jacket and holding my hand out.
"Fine. Give me the damn microphone."
"Here ya go, doll." Axel grinned, pressing the microphone and his hand into my palm. I yanked away, storming off towards the bustling group of kids.
"Everyone ready?" I smiled my TV-Perfect smile at the group before me, they gathered around with genuine smiles that made mine feel suddenly too-fake.
"We've got feed, Axel." Kairi said softly, peering into her camera that was focused at a different angle.
"Okay, Roxie, we've got feed. Whenever you're ready!" Axel gave me the thumbs up from behind his camera. I cleared my throat, lifted the mic to my mouth and began rolling.
"Hello Chicago, I'm Roxas Hikari, here with the kids of Laughs-A-Lot Comedy Club----" Glaring severely at Axel, I lowered the helium-voice bugged microphone from my lips, passing it to a kid at my right, "How about you take it from here." I smiled with false sincerity, storming off towards the van.
"Take us home, kid!" I assured with a wave of my hand, walking off camera where I could dutifully rip out Axel's intestines then choke him with them.
"Whazzup Chicago?! How you doin'?!" The kid in the crowd greeted the camera with joy and genuine happiness as he and his friends informed the city of their non-profit group through a squeaky-voice microphone.
I walked right up to Axel - who was still rolling footage - leaning to whisper into his ear, "Are you happy?"
He turned to grin at me, "Define happiness."
"The death of you." I bit out, walking towards the van.
Axel grinned at Kairi, "He so wants me."
Kairi shook her head. "…And you're so dead."
"He publicly humiliated me on live television!" I snapped, standing suddenly from my chair, "He's completely unprofessional. I can't work with this. I want a new partner by tomorrow!"
"It was an interview for a comedy club. I added pizzazz to your mundane routine. Spontaneity and all that jazz, got it memorized?" I turned to promptly serve Axel the best 'drop-fucking-dead' look I could single-handedly muster. Unfortunately, he didn't seem threatened.
"Look, from what I read of the reviews, it was a fun, fantastic piece. And you looked great - that should be enough to appease you, Roxas." Xemnas sighed.
"Isn't that what you chose me for in the first place, to make you look good?"
"I didn't chose you! You arrogant prick---" I spat, seating myself in the large leather chair once again.
"Oh, I'm arrogant? Look in the mirror, oh wait, you already spend so much time doing that---"
"---Guys, really, it doesn't matter who chose who or if there was any choosing at all---"
"Do you have any other cameraman who can make him look naturally blond? I'm good at what I do." Axel grinned widely and I smacked him hard on the arm with the back of my hand. He feigned hurt, grabbing at his arm with a shocked look. "Do you see what I have to put up with, Xemnas?" Xemnas opened his mouth to speak but Roxas cut him off.
"I'm a TV personality, Axel. My hair is my trademark. Just like the 'I'm-a-manorexic-and-a-three-timing-whore' look is yours."
"Roxas, enough!" Xemnas snapped. Axel went to make a snide remark but Xemnas glared him down silencing him, "Axel, I've had about enough out of you too." He stood, hands behind his back as he rounded his desk to come and stand between us. "What are you two, nine? Married? I cannot believe the level of disrespect you two have for one another, furthermore---" The door opened and a tall, slim blonde woman stepped in.
"Excuse me, Sir?"
"Marluxia is here to see you."
"Thank you, Larxene. Gentlemen, if you'll excuse me for a moment---"
"Xemnas---" I whined.
"I'll be right back. The two of you are to sit here in this office until I return so we can discuss your next story together. In the meantime, quit your bickering like children long enough to figure out some means of getting along with each other." With that Xemnas followed his blonde secretary out the door, closing it sharply behind him. Axel leaned back in his chair, kicking his feet up on the director's desk. I scoffed aloud, shaking my head at the act of impudence.
"So, uh, how's Naminé?" Axel asked, opening one closed eye to peek at me.
"She's fine. Away working on another modeling shoot in Paris." I sighed, folding one leg over the other, ankle resting on a knee. Naminé was always gone on some photo shoot or another. She was home once a week - Saturdays - and we spent that time going to dinners with her managers, viewing art in galleries, or out in the public eye in general. It was monotonous, boring…but she was famous. She was beautiful. You know…perfect. Everything an upscale young man like me would want to have in his twenty-two year old life.
I smirked at Axel, eyes bright. "How's bachelor number…what is it, seven now?"
"Ya know, for someone who supposedly hates me, you sure take a healthy interest in my love life." Axel grinned, rolling his head to look at me. I cocked my head to the side, flashing a smile that quickly faded into sarcasm.
"Hah! The word 'healthy' does not belong in the same pathetic sentence describing your love life."
Axel's emerald eyes danced with mischief, smirk creeping to his lips. "You might be right…not that you would be one to know or understand what a healthy love life is - after all, your fiancé is gone what…ninety percent of the time? How often do you see her? Better yet, how often do you two have sex? Isn't that why you---"
"You don't bother me." I smiled, staring down his intense gaze with an equal one, "And you wanna know why? You can't - because no matter how you'd like to perceive it, my life - at this very moment - is perfect. Absolutely fucking perfect."
Axel smiled at me and I knew what he would say next, "Define perfection."
I leaned across the dining table towards Demyx with a smirk. "So I said, 'I'll define perfection.' Great job, great friends---"
"---Thank you." Demyx smiled, taking a long swallow of ice water.
"No problem." I smiled, continuing, "Great fiancé, great apartment---"
"Great hair, great body---" Demyx added, smirking around his glass.
I couldn't help but grin. "---Thank you."
"Great new job opportunity." I arched a brow at Demyx and he smiled sheepishly, "Yeah, Xemnas told me. I'm happy for you." He stabbed at a cut of chicken on his plate, bringing the fork to his smiling lips.
"Really?" I took a sip from the icy water glass, my tongue tracing the cool rim.
"Really, really." Demyx nodded, stuffing another bite of chicken and rice in his mouth.
"I pretty much love you." I smiled genuinely at my best friend. He was such a bubbly personality - you couldn't help but be attracted and absorbed into his happy, pleasant life. He wasn't shy or timid like most of the staff at the station - Heavens, no. Demyx was balls out entertaining and over the top. He met the world with a smirk and a pick-up line - brash and blunt…just like me.
"You know I love you too."
He was the perfect yin to my yang and we always had the best of times when we went out after work to catch up.
"I love your chain by the way." Around Demyx's neck a thin silver chain dangled, and on the end of it was a guitar looking instrument in the most vivid shade of blue.
"Thanks, you bought it for me last Christmas."
"…Oh." I took another bite of salad, crunching on the crisp baby spinach leaves and bacon bits. "So, anyway - the point of all that - Axel's a dick."
Demyx swallowed down a bite of steamed green beans with a nod, "He's cocky and hotheaded---"
"---malcontented and juvenile."
"Arrogant and sneaky---" Demyx laughed and I couldn't fight the grin that capture my lips as we went back and forth.
"---overrated and overpaid."
"He has no concept of manners---"
"---needs to buy a goddamn dictionary..."
We fell silent for a while, then Demyx smiled to himself, mumbling quietly around the rim of his glass. "He's great in bed though." I almost dropped my fork, staring wide-eyed at my best friend who was now bright red and hiding behind his water glass.
"You…you slept with Axel?"
"Well…I…yeah. I did." Demyx admitted sheepishly.
"Yeah." I repeated, still trying to work out what the hell I was missing. Demyx and Axel? What the fuck? How had I missed catching on to that? I stared at Demyx, confused and completely blown away.
"He's…just kinda got this air about him, ya know? But you---"
"That's great." I cut in sharply, snagging a bread stick from the bowl between us. The waiter passed by, filing our glasses with more water before excusing himself, continuing his rounds about the restaurant. "So what, are the two of you are like a thing now?" I prodded, stuffing spinach leaves in my mouth and chomping on them a bit rougher than necessary. If Demyx noticed, he didn't let on.
"No, no! It's not like that. It was a casual thing. I'm actually interested in our new meteorologist…"
"Yeah, him." He smiled warmly at the name, then frowned, "You sure you're not mad about Axel?" He took to poking pathetically at the last few bites of his chicken on his plate. I shook my head, wiping at the sides of my mouth with a cloth napkin then set it on my thigh.
"I don't care who Axel sleeps with." I laughed - a bitter sort of laugh that even Demyx, my best friend, couldn't understand - and downed the rest of the ice water in my glass. "He sleeps with everyone anyway."
I stepped out of the news van and onto the sidewalk of Downtown Chicago. The street bustled with people - walking commuters hurrying down the busy sidewalk in suits and dresses, heels and shiny shoes, handbags and briefcases. A blind man dressed in a torn black coat stepped onto a little wooden box, lifting his arms into the sky and leaning his head back.
"A collision on I-9 will obstruct traffic at three o' five pm today." He called out, voice smoothing across the expanse of bustling people.
"Thanks, dude." A man said, stopping to place a dollar in the blind prophet's tip-hat.
I turned to Axel with a look of 'whathefuckery' arching a brow as we walked towards the homeless man on the box.
"What in God's name are we doing here for a sports and weather interview?" I asked, making my way through the wave of moving bodies. Axel laughed with a smile, and pointed at the man on the box. His sliver hair blew in the breeze and his skin was the color of alabaster with a sun-kissed hint. "We're interviewing a blind man who stands on boxes and shouts obscenities to the pedestrians of Fifth and Broadway?" I deadpanned.
"No. We're interviewing a street prophet - Riku. I had an interview with him about a year back - he's the real deal, Rox."
"Uh-huh. Let's just get this over with." I said, throwing on my picture-perfect smile as I walked up to said prophet. When I approached, he looked down at me placing a hand on my shoulder. I looked at Axel nervously, coughed, then went to business.
"Hello." His voice was soft as he hopped down from his pedistool. Axel excused himself, running back to the van to grab the tripod and my microphone.
"Okay, so…I…I don't really believe in all this superstitious voodoo shit, but, humor me. I have an opportunity for a big job - my dream job - and well…what do you see? Will I get it?" I smiled warmly regardless of whether or not he could see me. The prophet removed his black bandanna, and I was greeted with striking blue eyes.
The bluest eyes I'd ever seen.
I sighed, grabbing the microphone from Axel when he returned and handed it to me. "We've got feed in five, four, three, two, hit it Rox."
"Hello Chicago! I'm Roxas Hikari and I'm here today on the corner of Fifth and Broadway, wondering - like many of us die-hard fans - just who'll win tonight's football game: the Chicago Bears or the Denver Broncos. Who knows? Well one man does, lets see what he predicts for the outcome of this controversial game. Prophet Riku, enlighten us, who'll end up being top dog tonight?"
"Bears will win. Nineteen to thirteen."
"Don't go getting our hopes up now, Riku. Speaking of up, what's with the box behind you?"
"I come from a long line of prophets. The box was passed down to me by my grandfather; it elevates me closer to the voice of God."
"Uh-huh. Any other hot tips from the man upstairs today, Riku?" I smiled at the camera, offering the microphone to the blind man. He leaned forward timidly.
"It will hail tomorrow morning." He spoke with unblinking certainty, "From three o' nine to three fifteen."
"Our meteorologist says that it's nothing but clear skies through the night and blue birds tomorrow, and he's got a degree. Are you sure you're hearing the message right?" I offered him the mic again. A sarcastic grin on my face.
"I hear it. Loud and clear. Every day."
"Right. Well there you have it folks. Reported from Fifth and Broadway's very own, Prophet Riku! Tonight get ready for an upset as the Bears plan to open a can of butt-kicking on the Broncos, which will steal them a victory - nineteen to thirteen. Tomorrow morning while you're snug in your bed it will hail for exactly six minutes…"
"…And next Thursday, Roxas Hikari, you are going to die."
I blinked a few times, staring into those impossibly cold, ice blue eyes. "Er…I'm sorry...?"
"I don't ask for the visions, they just come to me. I'm very sorry."
Axel cut the feed and I glared at him, throwing the microphone down on the ground and at his feet as I stormed past him - my shoulder catching his sharply. "I will find out if you were behind this. And I swear, I'm never talking to you again."
Axel laughed calling after me, "And that'll be for what, less than seven days or so?"
I stared at the large screen with tested patience. A fucking hour this game had been on…and the score was tied at none other than nineteen to thirteen. Demyx placed a hand on my shoulder, handing me another beer. I popped the cap, tipping my head and the bottle back - cold amber liquid flowing down my throat.
"He said the Bears were going to win, nineteen to thirteen." I said for the fifth time, "He said it's going to hail tomorrow morning - well tonight, technically - and that I'm going to die next Thursday."
"Dude, the guy is obviously a whack-job. He probably lives in a cardboard box behind some dumpster and gets his kicks off of jacking our rival stations forecasts. So relax. Plus, there's still three minutes in the game and the Bronco's have the ball. They're fifteen yards away from the in-zone and they're on their first down - odds are definitely up for them. I'd bet all my money that Denver takes it." Demyx laughed, leaning across the bar counter, ordering another round.
'Huge play here, first and three…Here's the blitz…blitz coming…And there it is! TOUCHDOWN DENVER!"
"YES!" I stood up, beer in hand as I danced around in a circle, "Yes! Yes! Woo! Ha ha ha ha! Amazing play!"
Demyx shook his head giving me an eyebrow…like half of the bar was currently doing, "You do realize you're rooting for the opposing team, right?"
"It was a beautiful play." I sat back down, scratching the back of my neck self-consciously. "One hell of a pass. Really."
'Wait…wait. The Bears are contesting it… There's a challenge called against that last play. It's being reviewed right now… Yes, we have it, the replay clearly shows that the call was for a catch---'
"Dem, what happened?"
"I think he may have stepped out of bounds…"
'Its confirmed. The Denver receiver stepped out of bounds, no point. The Bears win! Nineteen to thirteen!'
"I'm gonna die." I sat horror struck, staring at the screen as the room around me cheered.
"You're not gonna die. Seriously, dude. Chill."
I flipped out my phone and punched Axel's number into the touch screen numbers, pressing the small metal object to my ear, "Did you do it?"
"Did you do it?" I asked again.
Look, Roxas, I didn't pay the guy to tell you something. I hadn't seen him since a year ago. Honestly, I don't put that much thought into you. I could hear the sound of him sighing and the pop of a beer can.
"Oh, right. Don't think too much 'cause you might hurt yourself." I spat bitterly into the phone.
Rox, I understand why you're a bit peeved - Hell, I'd be pissed too if I was told I only had a week to live and suddenly realized my life was a meaningless crapshoot--
"My life is not meaningless. Unlike yours - a rebellious, self-centered, lazy, lethargic pile of shit lifestyle filled with banal sexual and physical desires---"
Banal? There's nothing banal when it comes to my sex life, after all Roxie, you should---
"Well that's not what Demyx said."
Demyx, huh? You two should just get a room and fuck already, heaven knows you both---
Early Friday Morning - 3:10am
Three in the morning and my phone was pressed to my ear again, lights off and hail pounding against the window of my studio apartment as I listened to the ringing in my ear. I sighed when a soft, female voice picked up on the other end.
"Hey, Nam…It's me, Roxas…"
Roxas…are…are you okay?
"Yeah I…I just kinda had a bizarre day and wanted to hear your voice."
Sweetie, it's late. And I really don't feel like phone sex.
"I…Naminé…what would you do if you if someone told you I only have a week to live?"
I…Rox, are you back on those sleeping meds?
"No, no. I met a homeless guy today. He's a prophet, he predicted the exact win of a football game tonight and…I…Look, bottom line is, he's psychic and told me I'm gonna die next Thursday."
What…he has like ESPN or something?
Whatever, look, Roxas…I have to be up in three hours for a major Vogue Photo shoot, there's no such thing as ESP, you can Google most football game guestimated winning scores, and guess what, half of them pan out right. Just…just go back to bed okay?
"Yeah…you're right. Okay. I'm sorry for bothering you."
"Well, uh… you have a good day and stuff tomorrow."
Yeah…I'll see you Saturday.
I pulled the collar of my jacket closer around my neck, shivering when the wind picked up around me - tossing bits of paper and debris across the deserted expanse of sidewalk. Rounding a corner, I walked towards the dark end of the ally-way, turning right and heading towards the flicker of a barrel fire. Quietly, I looked around, spotting what looked like the body of a man.
"Psst. Riku." I whispered, walking towards where the man was laying. "Riku, hey, Riku…"
Behind me, a hand landed on my shoulder, "Yes?"
"Ah! Good God!" I yelped, jumping almost right out of my Italian leather shoes.
"I wouldn't wake Jack if I were you...He thinks he's a bloody pirate." Riku laughed quietly, his voice smooth in the silence around us, "What can I help you with?"
"Oh good, you remember me." I smiled my fake TV-Smile on instinct, regardless of whether or not the man wearing a blind-fold could see.
"No, of course not. I'm much too psychotic and delusional to remember as far back as yesterday afternoon." His soft features twisted into a disgusted frown. Idly, I wondered how the man kept his skin so soft when he lived outdoors. In a cardboard box. Behind a dumpster.
"I've brought something for you." I smiled, placing a bottle in the man's hands. He groped at the bottle for a clue as to what kind of liquor was in the bottle.
"Red wine, I'm assuming? Some expensive crap from your wine cellar?" He scoffed, shoving it back into my hands. "What do you want?"
"I want to hear that you're lying about me dying next Thursday."
"Well, I'm not."
"I'll pay you. I will pay you triple what Axel paid you." I frowned, "He did pay you…didn't he?"
"Already to the point of bribing, hmm? Moving quite quickly through the stages of grief, aren't we?" He smiled as he came to stand next to the barrel-fire, holding his hands out above the heat of the open flame. I stared at him, biting my lip in confusion. What was I supposed to do? Pay the man in hopes he wouldn't lie? Or pay him in hopes he was lying?
"Have…have you ever been wrong?" My voice was foreign to me. Quiet, far away, and grim with despair.
"Not that I know of."
"Then…then I'll just prove you're wrong."
"How do you plan to do that?"
"I don't' know, uh…give me a prediction."
"You want a prediction? Fine. You pay, I say." He smiled again, holding out a hand. I fished for my wallet, placing a twenty in the man's rough pianist fingers. He folded the bill in fours, pocketing it quickly. Glancing around - which was ironic, since he couldn't see - the man removed his blindfold, raising his hands and head to the night sky above.
"Tomorrow an angel will fall from the sky."
"Are you fucking serious?" I deadpanned.
"A prophet never lies."
"Perfect. You're making this easy for me to prove you wrong. I like it." I smiled, then frowned. "Can you give me a time?"
"Yeah, yeah. I pay. Here." I stuffed another twenty into the man's hand. He looked at me through the black of his bandanna and smirked.
"Nine ten, tomorrow morning. Channel thirteen will air it first."
"We'll see about that."
Nine twenty seven in the morning and still nothing. If an 'angel' were to have fallen from the sky, channel thirteen would have aired it by now - and they hadn't. Life was looking up! I did a little dance out of my living room and into the kitchen, grabbing my coffee cup.
And then I heard it…
'Today a pitcher from the baseball team, the Angels, died today when he crashed his private plane in a small corn field just outside the Iowa border. The crash happened at nine ten, says eye witness Farmer Tidus. We'll have more on this story as it unfolds.'
My heart stopped, hands going lax as my coffee cup fell to the ground, shattering at my feet - green ceramic chunks and shards scatterrf across the hardwood floor. Numbly, I fell to my knees; dialing speed dial number eight, I pressed my cell phone to my ear.
"So you really think you're going to die, huh?" Axel handed me a cup of hot tea as I huddled more into the blanket he'd given me when I showed up on his doorstep sopping wet from a rainy-walk. Shivering, I brought the warm liquid to my lips, sipping quietly. My life was spinning out of control. All over some stupid, homeless man who could somehow see the future though his blind, beautiful eyes.
"Yeah. I really do." I let my head fall into the plush of Axel's black couch with a groan. "My life was perfect. It all seemed so perfect…now…it just seems like some nasty, fattening, sugar coated doughnut. With sprinkles."
"Why do I even talk to you?" I whined miserably, attempting to suffocate myself in the fluffy cushion.
"What I mean is, like, do you see your life as a doughnut, like…uh…there's a hole in it…like something's missing?"
"Axel, I'm gonna die in a week---"
"---a fucking week, Axel---"
"---you're not gonna die."
"You don't know that." I groaned miserably.
"Yes, I do. Because, technically, you're dying in less than a week. And even if it were true then---"
"Then what, Axel! What?" I was shouting - shouting because for the first time in my life, I felt angry, confused, betrayed, belittled, screwed over. All my life, all my twenty one years of living…I'd never felt this way. Never failing, never getting anything less than perfect. Now here I was, the most important hand of my life...and I'm dealt a seven and a two and up against two hands of pocket rockets.
"I…don't know." His eyes seemed tired - sad in a way. The way he looked at me…it was with sympathy and empathy - pity. I'd never wanted pity - I'd always been rock solid. I was the one who pitied people. What was my world coming to?
Axel must have seen the way I was chomping my lip off because he reached across the space between us, placing a hand on my knee. "Just…relax okay. Can you do that?"
"Okay. Breathe in," I did as he instructed, breathing in deep - holding the breath in my chest then exhaling slowly when told, "There. Feel better?"
"Try another one - nice and deep." I breathed in again and, really, it was helping. At least, it was helping to alleviate the pressure in my chest…it wasn't helping my problem though. Axel smiled at me, warmth in his blazing emerald eyes as he squeezed my thigh once. "Mm. That feels good, doesn't it?"
"Oh, my god." I sat up and stared at him, my blue gaze narrowing in his general direction. "You're trying to have sex with me."
"What? No!" Axel immediately recoiled, drawing his hand back from my thigh and into his lap. "Really, Roxas, I'm not trying to have sex with you. And I was drunk that time, if you'll recall." Axel glared into the mug now cupped in the warmth of his palm - stirring the drink until the combination of coffee, cream, and sugar spiraled like a mini twister in the reflection of his green, green eyes.
"What time was that?" I asked, feigning ignorance.
"Uh…the time we had sex." Axel deadpanned, "In that bedroom." He gestured behind him and I pointedly avoided letting my gaze fall on the black and red queen size bed in the doorway. "On that bed…right there."
Well so much for the 'avoid looking at the bed' plan I had going.
"Oh, right. That time." I sighed, bringing my cup to my lips, speaking around it, "I know we haven't spoken about it much---"
"---You've been avoiding me---"
"--- but I think we both clearly understood that it was a complete mistake on both of our parts the moment we woke up."
"…And then proceeded to have sex again. Yeah. I could really tell." Axel was glaring at me from his spot on the recliner a few feet away. I snuggled into the couch cushion with a groan, setting my cup on the carpet beneath my feet.
"Look, I'm marrying Naminé - that may be hard for you to accept, but I think that it's a very bad idea for us to have sex again - especially when I'm in this emotionally vulnerable state of mind."
"Gee, thanks Rox. Might I just add that you're single handedly the most delusional, self-absorbed--"
"---let's not forget self-involved, while we're at it." I tossed in, smirking.
"---ridiculous person I've ever met."
"Let's have sex." I smirked and licked my lips.
"Roxas, I don't want to have sex with you." Axel sighed, leaning his head back against the fluff of his recliner chair.
"If you had one week to live, what would you do?"
"I would…you know…" Axel frowned at his ceiling in defeat, "I'd probably have sex with you. Numerous times."
"Look, I obviously don't know what emotional turmoil you're going through right now - realizing that your life sucks and you have basically no time to fix majority of it would piss anyone off." I rolled my eyes at this statement and Axel just shook his head, continuing, "However, if I were in your shoes…I'd probably try to live every day like it's my last - make the most of everything. Get in touch with old friends, family - people that are important to me. I'd try to memorize their faces, say things I was too afraid to say before, things like that." Axel sighed, shifting in his seat until he got comfortable again. "Shouldn't you be talking to Miss Vogue about this anyway?"
"She's still away on business." I bit at my lip, then frowned, "And I tried…but she not much for talking."
"Uh huh. And you want to marry her."
"Sure. Well…I don't know. I have a week to live. Does it even matter what I feel anymore?" I was now biting at my thumb, gaze fixed on a fray in Axel's carpeting just under the foot of the recliner. It squeaked when Axel moved, bringing me back from zone-out mode.
"Jesus, Roxas. Spare me the melodramatics already!" Axel groaned, throwing his hands into the air, "You. Are. Not. Going. To. Die."
"How do you know?"
"Rox. Let me tell you a little something my father once told me. Listen, for once, okay?"
"Okay. I'm listening."
"You are in charge of your life - you're fate, your destiny. You have absolute say in what hand the world deals you. Especially you, Roxas. Good Lord, you're king of control - an absolute perfectionist." Axel frowned in thought, then widened his eyes - as if having some sort of epiphany, "…And, maybe… Maybe that's the thing. Maybe, by trying to be so much in control, you've lost control on what's most important."
"I don't think I quite follow this psycho babble---"
"What I'm saying is like this, maybe the cards you've been dealt were for this Roxas - Roxas Hikari, TV persona with great hair, model girlfriend, and picture perfect life. But, the cards might change if you became a different Roxas. One that's down to Earth, that accepts life as it is, one with spontaneity and a lust for life and all it has to offer."
"Oh, my god, Axel! You're a genius! I think you're…I think maybe you're right…" I stood up, patting Axel on the arm as I headed out his front door. If I needed to start fixing myself…fixing my relationship was the first thing on the list.
"Roxas where are---I thought we were gonna have sex!"
The door of my apartment opened slowly and I watched silently as my petit fiancé walked in. I grinned, and she grimaced as she looked around the place - at me. My hair was sticking every which way, wild and unkempt for the first time in years as I lay sprawled across the couch in my briefs and a bath robe - a cigarette hanging loosely from my parted lips as I squinted at yearbooks through thick framed glasses. Glasses I hadn't worn since high school.
From the door of the apartment to the living room, the floor was littered with records and CD's, cassette tapes and scattered sheet music; old art and old notebooks were stacked haphazardly everywhere.
"What happened?" Naminé shouted over the blasting Blink 182 CD.
"God, I haven't heard this song in forever! I loved this song back in high school!" I smiled, taking a drag of the thin cigarette between my lips. Naminé kicked the player, silencing it as she came to seat herself on the small love seat across from me.
"Old habits die hard, I guess. I used to smoke back in high school." I sat up, handing her the book that had been pressed face down across my chest. "See if you can spot me." She took the book between her thin hands, bright eyes scanning the pages.
"No way…There's no way that is what you looked like…" She looked disgusted at the moppy-haired blond boy with braces, glasses, and a smile too big and bright for his face.
"Way." I said, exhaling a puff of smoke in an attempt to make rings. Naminé stared at me with a confused frown. "What?"
"Well…I just…" Naminé scratched the back of her neck, glancing around, "I just didn't expect this upon coming home. I mean…look at you. Have you even showered today?"
"I showered yesterday evening. Oreo?" I offered the plate that was resting on my thigh forward. She frowned, still looking confused and completely disgusted. "Oh, right. I forget you're not allowed to eat anything but tasteless twigs."
"What's with the glasses?"
"Nam, I wear glasses."
"I've never seen you wear them since we've been together."
"That's because I've been wearing contacts."
"I like the contacts better." Naminé frowned, "and they have laser eye surgery now, you know."
"Uh huh." I took a bite out of an Oreo, munching on it in thought. I hated the way Naminé was staring me down like I was some repulsive, offensive pet that just won the ugly award. It was like she didn't even want to be near me when I wasn't this collected, compulsive, organized individual. "Are we in love, Nam? Like…what is it?"
"What is what, Roxas?"
"What is it that's special about the two of us, that connects us. That makes us want to be together for the next twenty, thirty, sixty years…?" I watched her face twist in confusion…and something else I couldn't quite catch.
"Well, you have a nice body…" She laughed, then quickly stopped at the look I was throwing her, "I mean, you know, that and---"
"No, no. It's fine. That's…that's fine." I couldn't believe a woman of her status couldn't even come up with something better…something…more…real. "Well, what about our dreams. Our goals, what do you---"
"This…'us' conversation. That's always been one of the best things about you and me…we never dove into these sentimental conversations, always kept it light - kept it fun. This just…isn't us. And, to be quite frank, it's giving me a headache."
"…This is important to me, you know. This conversation. These types of things, they're real to me."
"---No. Just…just don't." I glared at the far wall, at a picture of us with fake smiles and fake tans - fake hair color, fake happiness. We would never be anything more than that picture. Pleasantly, perfectly fake. "Maybe you should just…go."
"Roxas are you…" She bit at her lip, tucking a stray strand of platinum blonde hair behind a pierced ear, "Are you breaking up with me?" She laughed almost bitterly, bright eyes narrowing in a way I'd never seen, "Because, sweetie, you know, once you let me go...there's no getting me back. There is a line of people behind you."
"I…think I am."
She was quiet for a moment, hands folded and pressed between her knees. "Are you sure you don't want to think about this for a minute?"
"A minute seems like a really long time to waste."
When I stumbled on site for Monday morning's live show Hayner took one look at me and burst out laughing; my hair was a complete mess - standing up in every which way; clothes baggy and mix-matched (I was actually wearing sweats outside of the confinement of four walls) and my eyes were glazed over.
I probably smelled, too.
"Roxas, what…the hell?"
I laughed smiling at Axel and Hayner. "Hi Hayner." The tough blond looked at me like I'd lost my marbles. Normally, I didn't acknowledge his existence. "You wouldn't believe how terrible traffic is!"
"Rox, how'd you---"
"I walked…got stuck in traffic so I just kinda left my car…"
"Where exactly did you leave your car?" A pause, then, "Roxas, are you drunk at eight in the morning?"
"Hmm…oh, somewhere on the highway… Hey, Hayner, will you wire me?" I grinned and Hayner began clipping the wire beneath the hood of my jacket. "I love you, I never was able to say that before. But I love you, Hayner. Really, you're a good kid. There's just so much about this world to looove."
"Oh no, no, no! There's no way you're going on live television like this. I'm phoning the superior right away." Axel flipped open his cell, dialing our office. I nabbed Hayner's hat, grinning widely at him.
"He called and said Demyx was on his way as of about seven minutes ago…" Hayner added casually, still giving me the 'who-are-you-and-what-have-you-done-with-Roxas' look.
"Then we'll wait for Demyx. Ah, hello, Superior…yeah. Roxas showed---"
Oh perfect! He's there? I leaned towards Axel's ear, breathing a hello into the mouthpiece of his phone. Xemnas' voice was a strong baritone through the tiny mic, and voted in favor of me covering the segment as originally planned.
"Xemnas, I strongly advise against this, Roxas is in no shape to---"
"---roll the damn camera, Axel." With that final order ringing in his ear, Axel hung up the phone then tossed a mic in my direction. I grinned at him then literally bounced off towards the mass of protesters. Axel held up his hand, counting down in fingers until the only one left was his thumb in the up position.
"Hellooooo Chicago! I'm Roxas Hikari reporting live with these wonderful men and women of the public transport behind me, who're diligently protesting against the city for better pay and better treatment." I held out my microphone to an elderly man standing next to me, "Hello sir, tell us your name."
"Cid, tell us, are you one of the many hard-pressed men and women who truck up and down these streets daily, guiding your diesel machine through the blighted city to ensure the common man makes it to his destination in a timely fashion?"
"Uh…No pride, No ride!"
I laughed, grinning widely, "Yeah, alright! Cid, tell us, what are the drivers demands for the city?" The crowd behind me roared in unison, "Better hours - yeah! Better wages - yes! Better vehicles - yeah!" I grinned, bringing the mic to my mouth, "Basically, better overall job satisfaction?"
"Alright! That sounds reasonable to me, what about you Chicago?" I grinned at Axel and the camera, then turned to Cid. "Cid, I don't know if you listen to much music, but there's this band by the name of the Rolling Stones and, amazingly enough, they sing about these very same issues! Do you know what song I'm talking about Cid?" The man arched a brow and I grinned again, "It goes kinda like this…"
"Oh my good, lord." Axel face-palmed.
"What in the bloody hell is he doing?!" Hayner had Xemnas on the phone in two seconds flat, "Are you watching this?"
And then I stared singing.
"I…can't get no. Sa-tis-faction. And I try…and I try…and I try…and I try…I can't get no, no, no, no!" Soon the whole crowd of striking men and women were singing with me - hell, Axel and Hayner were even mouthing the words, bobbing to the beat me and my group of oppressed city people were creating.
"We should cut the feed, Axel." Hayner warned.
Our song finished, and the men and women rallied behind me, shouting, hooting, and hollering as we smiled at the camera, "I'm Roxas Hikari - these are the men and women of the public transit - and that is fucking life in Chicago. Woo!"
"Oh my God." Hayner's eyes went wide, flipping his cellular closed. "He's so fucking fired."
"Oh fuck, my head…" I woke to bright light in my eyes and the sound of Billy Idol playing in the background. Rolling to my side, I was greeted by red hair, green eyes, and a concerned smile. I grabbed the pillow from under my head and smashed it over my face in an attempt to drown out the light and kill the throbbing of my temples. "Owwww…"
"Good morning, sunshine." Axel snagged my pillow, pointing at a tray of liquor bottles, "Just point at which poison you were drinking." Half-heartedly, I waved a finger at the Bacardi Rum in the center. I could hear Axel chuckle as he twisted off the cap, pouring a shot into the bottom of a clear glass with red liquid.
"I always figured you to be a rum and coke kind of guy." He handed me the glass in his hand with a smirk, "Hold your nose and down it. You'll feel ten times better." I scrunched my nose, reaching for my pillow. "C'mon, Rox. Don't be like that. Just drink it." With a groan, I tipped the glass back, swallowing the disgusting concoction with a cough and gag. It became suddenly clear - even in the haze of confusion I was enduring - that I was not at my home.
That I was back on that same black and red bed I had been one drunken night exactly three months and four days ago…
"Oh, God. Axel, did we---"
"No." I sighed in relief and Axel shook his head, "Gee, don't sound so excited, alright? You passed out in my car last night after you called me."
"…Sorry." I shook my head, trying to clear the haze of an entire twenty-four hour period I couldn't even begin to remember. "What…what the hell happened yesterday?"
"You seriously don't remember any of it?" I shook my head, "You don't remember calling me last night from the bar?" I shook my head again, "Bus driver's strike?"
"The live spot?"
I froze. "I went on the air?"
"You went on the air."
"Without my hair gel?"
"Without your hair gel. Without your dignity. Without your sanity."
"Oh…" I ran a hand through my golden spiked hair, leaning my head back against the headboard, "Oh…shit." I reached for the remote and Axel stopped me - placing his hand over mine.
"Look, you…probably shouldn't see that just yet." I tried yanking my hand and the remote away, but he kept his grip firm. "Seriously, Rox. You…you really don't want to watch that." I yanked hard, pointing the remote at the TV and flipping to channel thirteen - my live report was airing here, and on channel fifteen, and nineteen, and FOX, and CNN…
"I…I think I'm gonna be sick." I let the remote fall from my limp hand as I crashed into the pillows - my body curling in the fetal position. "My life is fucking over."
"My career, my image, my wedding…"
"Well, if you need a job, nice hair, and a model girlfriend to live, then yes, Roxas, your life is pretty much over. But, thankfully, life is much more than those things."
"Will you shut up with the philosophical bullshit already? I dumped the hottest girl on the planet, ruined my career and image - I'll never be able to walk into another store again without having the Rolling Stones sung and laughed into my face…" I sighed deeply, then coughed, "My head is pounding and I haven't had a shower since Saturday." I flopped onto my back, gazing at Axel's amused emerald eyes upside down. "Hmm. My ears are ringing, too."
"That's called a telephone, Rox." Axel laughed, pushing himself off the bed, grabbing the tray of alcohol. "I'll go get that."
"You could always leave those here ya know…" Somehow I managed to push my body off the bed and make it down the stairs alive, I could hear Axel's voice on the phone in the kitchen as I descended the spiral staircase.
"Hey, Xemnas. How are you doing? - Yeah, no problem, no problem at all. - Thanks. - Roxas? No. I mean, I saw him yesterday at the shoot but not since then. - Well it is only seven in the morning, Superior. - Okay, I'll do that if I hear from him yeah, I'll give you a call later. - Okay, thank you. - You're welcome. Mmhmm, bye." Axel glanced up at me, setting the sleek black cordless phone back onto the receiver. "So…do you want me to take you home?"
"No." I shook my head, biting on my thumb as I leaned against the wall between the dining room and the kitchen.
"You wanna go look for your car?"
"Well…" Axel grinned, resting against the counter on his elbows, "Tell ya what. How about I just take you to the airport and you can fly off to the Bahamas and spend the last of your days on Earth in the pleasant sunshine right beneath the Equator." His eyes seemed to dance, sparkling with a joy I'd never really cared to pay attention to before now.
"If…" I tugged on a spike of hair in front of my ear, staring at my toes, "If it's okay with you…I'd like to stay here for a while…" My gaze caught his and I flushed a bit, choosing then to stare at the horrendous wall paper of the kitchen.
"You can stay." His face went from sincere to bright and grinning, "But you've gotta shower first."
"Dear God, please. Lead the way."
Axel lead me to his bathroom, showing me where towels, shampoos, and other necessary items before closing the door - leaving me to my thoughts and the warm steam of the shower. I stepped into the sauna-like enclosure, leaning my head back as steaming water poured onto my scalp, over my face, and down my body. Rolling my head from side to side, I kneaded at the knot in my left shoulder, leaning my head back against the tile wall.
Life, in the span of a few days, had become so…different.
I had sincerely thought that I had my life planned out. That it was perfect, right down to the smallest of details. I still couldn't understand where I'd gone so incredibly wrong. When I'd failed.
…Maybe it wasn't such a bad thing.
Forty-five minutes later would find me sitting across from Axel on the living room floor, staring down the Scrabble board with an arched brow. "Dank?" I deadpanned, glancing up at amused emerald eyes, "Dank in what context?"
"Dank as in like, dat's dank, yo." Axel made a wild gangster-like hand gesture and I laughed, shaking my head.
"Dank is not a word. Technically. At least, it's not in the context you put it in."
"Then how is it a word in any other context?"
"Well, dank means unpleasantly damp and cold. It's a suplarative." I explained. Axel just looked at me, shaking his head.
"I'm still convinced that quid isn't a word."
"Quid is a word."
"It is not slang. The queen does not use slang." I defended with a grin, placing the word 'damper' off the 'd' Axel had played only moments ago, "It's like saying 'buck' in English."
"Buck." Axel said aloud, scratching his chin, "Like…male deer or like I have a few bucks or like, I'm havin' a buckin' good time with you?"
I grinned at him, tossing a pillow at his face. "Shut up."
Tuesday Late Afternoon
I stood on the end of the shopping cart, arms outstretched wide as Axel zoomed us around another corner. The display of Huggies diapers almost met a terrible demise when we rounded the corner of isle three. Screeching rubber against tile floor was little notice to the couple we nearly ran down; we laughed, hauling-ass down the cereal isle like children on a sugar-high. Axel yanked back on the handle, causing me to lose my balance and fall off the end of the cart and onto my rear in the middle of the isle.
"Clean up on isle four!" Axel yelled with a laugh, offering me a hand. I swatted at it, but couldn't fend off the grin claiming my lips.
"So, you're telling me that this is what you do on a Tuesday afternoon. Nothing?"
"Nothing." He tossed me an apple and I caught it, bringing the red fruit to my lips.
"What if Xemnas called you in for work?"
"I wouldn't go."
"Really? What if it meant getting fired?"
"I'd get fired."
"Hmm. So, really…no obligations what so ever?"
"None. Well, one. Occasionally."
"Sometimes I pick up my kid brother from my parents' house. I take him out to the amusement park once a month after school." Axel grinned sheepishly, grabbing a loaf of bread, tossing it into the buggy.
"Is that where we're going today?"
"…Yeah. I mean…if you want to tag along. If not you're more than welcome to---"
"---I'd like that."
We checked out and the manager kindly banned us from that particular supermarket, glaring us down as we took off out the doors laughing like high school drop outs. Axel sped down the streets like a bat out of hell, weaving and shifting through the thick traffic. It was three forty nine when we pulled up to a small green house with a white picket fence. A thin woman with black hair stood at the doorway, waving to the young redhead that was in full sprint from the doorstep - he plowed right into Axel's arms.
"Axel!!!" His voice was cute, and, if Axel could go back in age twenty years, I was certain that was exactly what he'd look like.
"Hey buddy! Ready to go hit up the town?" It was heartwarming to watch them - watch the way Axel hugged his brother with such a fierce protectiveness; watch the way his eyes grew incredibly soft, watch as his gestures became gentle and kind. It was an entirely different Axel - one I'd never seen. This Axel wasn't a jerk face who got off on annoying me, wasn't a smart ass who acted like an arrogant prick …. This Axel was tender and kind, gentle in a way I never thought possible coming from him.
"Yeah!" He pumped a fist into the air, grin all but eating his face. His brow furrowed in my direction. "Who's that, Ax?"
"Reno, this is Roxas."
"Roxas…" Reno repeated slowly. "Oh, Roxas from the TV!" He looked up at his brother with a smile, "Will he be coming with us?"
"If you don't mind, yeah."
"Fun!" Reno lifted a hand for a high-five and I met him mid-way. We all piled into the car, radio playing softly in the background as Axel drove carefully down the streets of downtown Chicago. "Roxas, do you like kids?" Reno's question had caught me off guard. I'd never particularly cared for kids. I'd never really wanted any, per se…but, generally, I didn't mind their existence...
Reno's company wasn't too bad either.
"Reno, come on, now." Axel chided lightly, glancing in the rear-view mirror at us.
Reno frowned, pouting cutely at the mirror so his brother could see, "But what if he and Naminé have kids one day?" I flushed and stuttered some incoherencies - incoherencies the eight year old somehow picked up on with his super-child hearing.
"You…you broke up with Naminé?"
"I…yeah. She's not as perfect as the magazines lead you to believe."
The rest of the car-ride was filled with questions and it had been weird - I'd never been on the receiving end of an interview, at least, not for an extremely long time…and being grilled with questions…it was tough. Mentally exhausting to bear your heart and soul to someone you hardly knew. I never knew my job was so morally controversial.
I smiled at Reno and Axel from under the Ferris Wheel, waving and hollering at them when they swooped down and around. Axel bought us all large sticks of cotton candy and I'm near positive that I enjoyed the sticky sweet mess more than the eight year old - I'd never allowed myself to eat anything less than healthy. My image had always been worth its weight in gold.
The day sped by us - minutes like seconds, hours like minutes - and it was all too soon that we were approaching that cute little green home with the white picket fence.
"You should have sang to that one, I like your singing." Reno commented at the end of a Rolling Stones song. I couldn't help but smile and ruffle the kid's hair.
"Well I'll be sure to send you tickets when I become the next Mick Jagger." Axel grinned at us in the rear-view mirror, eyes alive and bright with a joy I was slowly coming to understand.
"Buddy, we're home."
"Aww, okay." I helped Reno unbuckle his seatbelt as Axel parked the car, opening their doors.
"You got your bag?"
"Say goodbye to Roxas, Reno."
"Bye Roxas, it was great meeting you."
"It was great meeting you too, Reno."
Reno smiled, shaking his head, "I still can't believe you broke up with Naminé to go out with my brother…That's so cool!" I flushed scarlet, opening and closing my mouth like a fish. Axel went wide-eyed, shaking his hands in front of him.
"Buddy, it's not like that…you see, Roxas and I…we're just friends. Friends who work together."
"If you're not going out…why is he wearing your clothes?" Reno pointed at the shirt I was wearing, "Mom and I bought you that for your birthday two years ago, remember?"
"I…Reno…I'll explain later, okay? Now go on up there before mom gets out her throwing stars." Axel laughed, ruffling Reno's hair before leaning down to press his lips against the child's forehead. Reno grinned, waving to me once more before bolting for the door, "Mom! Mom! Guess what!" Axel face-palmed, sliding into the driver's seat, leaning his head back against the black leather. I climbed into the passenger seat, mimicking Axel's position with a smirk.
"So that's why you came back and quit the perfect network job in New York."
"You two look so much alike."
"We get that a lot, actually." Axel agreed sarcastically.
"Well it's true." I sighed, watching a star shoot across the night sky. "Do you want kids one day, Axel?" I don't know where the question came from - or if it even had a place form which to come, but I asked anyway, leaning my head to the side to glance lazily at the redhead in the seat beside me.
"I don't really know. Reno's been enough of a taste for me I think."
"Mm." I nodded, staring out the windshield at the night sky. Idly, I wondered if, when I died, I'd become a star - bright and shining in the vastness of the universe that surrounded us. Or, maybe I would become a spirit - floating around and haunting little children on Halloween, stealing their candy until some psychic finally came along and helped me complete the unfinished business I left behind…
"It's nice, isn't it?" Axel's voice was soft.
I smiled, rolling my head to look at him again. "Yeah, it really is." With a stretch, I sat upright in the chair, rolling my neck from shoulder to shoulder and kneading at a tender muscle. "So, I've seen how you spend your Tuesday afternoons. But, how do you spend your Tuesday nights?"
Axel sighed, lifting his gaze to the ceiling of the car in thought, "Hmm let's see. Normally, if I were with someone who had dazzling blue eyes - like yourself - I would maybe…ask him over to my place…" Axel glanced crookedly at me, and I smirked.
"And, if he were wearing my clothes…I would insist that he return them... All of them."
"Are you trying to have sex with me, Axel Rai?"
"Yeah." Axel smiled, turning his head to look at me, "I most definitely am."
"Axel…" My voice was breathless - pleading and soft - completely foreign to my ears. I could feel Axel's lips move against my neck, hips rocking up and into mine again and again and again… I sought out his burning emerald eyes, staring into them as we moved together. His eyes were alight with a passion I'd never seen - a blazing intensity that took the very breath out of my chest and made my heart wrench with something I'd never felt.
We stared at each other for a long time, eyes locked and hearts racing - drowning out the silence around us. It took me by surprise when both of Axel's hands slowly slid up behind my ears, fingers tangling in golden spikes as his thumbs traced gentle lines up and down my cheek and jaw-line.
It was without thought when my hand came to wrap around his - without thought when I leaned my head into the comforting heat of our palms, then forward to capture his warm lips with mine.
He kissed me slowly - tasting, feeling, memorizing the every contour of my mouth, lips, and tongue over and over again. I'd forgotten how good he tasted in my mouth, like vanilla-sugar and fire-roasted cinnamon. I let myself kiss him hungrily - passionately - like I'd never kissed anyone before.
Feeling, emotion, intensity, passion…it was all so new to me - yet, it came so naturally when wrapped in Axel's arms.
…And that was a place I wanted to stay, until my days on this Earth ended.
I peeled Axel off my neck for the third time that morning, laughing as I shoved his forehead away from me with the palm of my hand. He pinned me against the elevator door, breathing heatedly against my ear - tongue flicking out and tracing warm flesh. I shuddered, placing my hands on his shoulders.
"Axelll, c'mon, I'm gonna be late…"
"Mm, five more minutes." He purred, nipping at my collar bone and tugging on my tie.
"How about you meet me in the lunchroom for a quickie instead," I murmured into his hair, "At…hmm, say…eleven?"
"Fine." Axel mumbled in defeat, pressing his lips against mine.
"Axel, I have to go…" I managed through heated kisses - my words betrayed my actions as I continued tugging on the red silk of his tie, "I have a ten o'clock appointment to get fired, after all."
"Mm, good, maybe we'll skip the quickie all together and pull an entire repeat of last night."
"I'd like to be able to walk my last day on Earth, thanks." I shoved him off, straightening my suit, "Well, I'm off to get fired. Wish me luck!" Axel yanked me in for one more quick kiss before I took off down the hall to the door of the studio. Upon walking in, my coworkers all jumped out from behind their desks, champagne glasses and balloons in hand as they shouted a unison 'surprise!'
"I…what is all this?"
Demyx walked over to me, slinging an arm around my neck as he handed me a glass, "Congratulations, dude! You're going to New York!" Larxene opened the champagne with a resounding 'pop' and suddenly it all clicked.
"Oh…Oh my god." I stuttered, "Oh my GOD! I got the job?!"
"You got the job!" Demyx echoed, grinning from ear to ear.
"USA Today saw your little piece on Wednesday - the loved it, they want you on a plane tonight. You're interviewing Ansem the Wise tomorrow morning."
"I…holy shit…oh my god." I couldn't think. Network. I got the job…which meant Prophet Riku was wrong. If I got the job…that meant…I wasn't going to die. He said I wouldn't get the job…the very first question I'd asked him. I…
"Someone get this boy a drink! There's merriment to be held!" Xemnas shouted; everyone clapped, raising their glasses to me when Larxene poured clear bubbling liquid into the small flute shaking in my hands. I rose my glass, glancing around the office at my coworkers.
At eleven on the dot I walked into the lunchroom grinning like a Cheshire Cat as I came to wrap my arms around Axel's body. My lips pressed into the heat of Axel's neck, hands sliding up his body, tugging at his tie. I frowned when he didn't respond, coming to stand next to him.
"Er…am I missing something here? 'Cause you're acting kind of weird…"
"Define weird." Axel deadpanned, gaze still focused on anything but me.
"Well…I…" I frowned with a sigh. "I um…got the network job?"
"Yeah. I heard."
"So…Prophet Riku was wrong."
"In what sense?"
"Well, I asked him when you were setting up the camera if I would get this job. He said no."
"And that makes him wrong…?"
"Because, if I get this job, that proves him wrong, which means his visions aren't always right. Which means, Axel…" I smiled, leaning back against the table he was glaring at - elbows supporting my weight, "That I'm not going to die. That I'm gonna get the job of my dreams and live in New York." I watched as Axel's expression twisted into something I couldn't quite read….something that pained me to look at.
"When are you leaving?"
"Today. They want me on a plane and in their office tomorrow morning. And guess who they want me to interview?"
"I haven't the slightest idea."
"Ansem the Wise."
"That's…really great, Roxas." I watched that expression eat at his normally pleasant face, watched his bright eyes glaze over in a dull, lifeless, somber dinginess. I placed one hand over his, and with my other I grabbed his chin, lifting his gaze to meet mine for the first time since I'd walked into the lunchroom.
"I want you to come with me, Axel."
Axel grabbed my hand and pushed it away from his chin, "I don't want to go to New York with you."
"Because of Reno?"
"Yeah, because of Reno. And because I like it here, Rox. I like Chicago, I like my life. I'm happy here. I'm not like you."
I frowned, folding my arms across my chest, "What is that supposed to mean? 'I'm not like you'?"
"I just…think…that you don't stay satisfied for very long, that's all." His facial expression twisted again and he looked away, sad gaze focused on a black chair across the room.
"Is that what you think of me?" I asked quietly, so quietly I wasn't even certain I'd said it out loud.
"Yeah, Roxas. That's what I think of you."
"You wouldn't be saying that if you still thought I was going to die tomorrow."
"I never thought you were going to die in the first place." Axel snapped.
"But you did. You did, and I think that's why you let me in. I think that's why you introduced me to your brother. I think that's why you asked me to spend the night…because, tomorrow, it wouldn't have mattered anyway…You would have never had to follow through with your actions."
His eyes were on mine - intense, hurt, pained. I'd never seen him so…broken. He'd always been so sure of himself, so confident, cocky - arrogant. And here he was, hurting, broken - while I was throwing accusations in his face that neither of us wanted to hear.
"That's not true." He said quietly, "That's not true and you know why, Roxas? Because on Monday at the live spot…I finally saw the real you. I saw the Roxas I'd always knew was under that perfect façade. That was the Roxas I introduced to my brother, that was the Roxas I made love to last night. That's who I want…who I still want."
"…This job is everything I've ever dreamed of."
"Well then…I…" He glanced away once before meeting my gaze again, "I guess there's really nothing left to say then."
Wednesday Early Afternoon
My fist collided with the blue finish of a door three times. I stepped back, waiting until a brunette answered with a smiling face and a hug. He ushered me inside and offered me something to drink. I declined and we sat in his the spacious living room of his upscale home.
"So, brother, what brings you here?"
"I…have some great news."
"You and Nam are pregnant?"
"No, no! I broke things off with her."
"That's great news?"
"No, Sora!" I laughed, shaking my head, "I got that job I told you about last week. That one in New York…I'll be interviewing Ansem The Wise tomorrow morning."
He smiled, then frowned - a soft pout capturing his lush lips. "When are you coming back?"
"Oh come on, Sora. It's not like you're gonna miss me or anything. You have Kairi, after all."
"What's that supposed to mean?" He looked hurt…and quite possibly offended.
"I mean, you've…always kinda liked her better than me anyways."
"What kinda crap is that? 'I like Kairi better?' I like both my siblings equally, Roxas." Sora sighed, standing from his seat to pace the living room. I sat quietly on the couch watching him mull over things in his head. My brother had always been the sympathetic and emotional type. He chronically cared about everything and everyone - always ensured the was there for us, whenever we needed him…yet never asked a damn thing from anyone.
He was the kind of person you envied - his hair, his eyes, his body, his lifestyle, his attitude about life…he was perfect and kind. Everything I hadn't been. Everything I wasn't.
He sighed, ocean eyes torn, "Roxas…you know I love both of you. I can't believe you would---"
"---I'm sorry. Really, I just…" I trailed off. I just…what? I was just cold and heartless and unthinking by nature?
"I can't believe you're leaving me." Sora sat on the large edge of his window, staring off across the fine landscaping of his front lawn. "In the drawer beneath the TV…I want you to see something."
I arched a brow, standing to cross the living room. Kneeling down in front of the TV, I slid open the top drawer and was presented with rows and rows of VHS recordings, all scribbled with dates I'd done interviews, including Monday's.
"The red one…that's my favorite."
I smiled and grabbed the red case, pulling the black VHS out to slide it in the player on top of the TV. Sora handed me the remote and we sat side by side on the couch as a picture of us as kids flashed up on the screen. We had to be no older than seven, interviewing each other dressed in our father's suit jackets that hung all the way to our feet. Sora was my interviewee as I held a wooden spoon, introducing him and myself to our mother behind the camera.
Those had been the best of times…when we were children, living our lives wholly and completely - never swayed by the harsh judgments of the world around us. Our father had passed shortly after the filming of that video…then our mother eight years later. High school had been hard for us, but we managed - and Sora, when old enough, took over guardianship of Kairi and raised her.
I smiled warmly at the video, watching myself laugh and Sora giggle. Sora leaned his head against my shoulder with a sigh as he wrapped an arm around me.
"I'll miss you, ya know."
"I know…I'll miss you too." I let my head fall against his as we sat there watching ourselves many years younger on the large TV across the room.
"Mom and dad would be proud of you."
"…Thank you." I fended off tears - the first tears I'd even come close to shedding in the last six years of my life - and snuggled into his hair. "You'll watch me tomorrow, right?"
"Duh." I could feel him smile wide, then laugh, "I'm calling in sick for work the moment you leave."
"Light will blackout the city." Riku called from atop his wooden pedestal on the corner of Fifth and Broadway. Axel shook his head, glaring at the man from beneath him. "Light will blackout the city." A man walked by, thanking him and stuffing a five in Riku's upturn hat beside his feet.
"You're full of shit, you know that?" Axel bit out with a growl. Riku smiled, hopping down from his box to stand before Axel.
"Apparently I need to explain something to you." Riku sighed, placing a hand on Axel's shoulder, "I am not a therapist. I'm not a business man. I speak the word of God - I simply do his will. You and your boyfriend can't figure things out---"
"---He's not my boyfriend."
"…Did he say that? Did he say he was my boyfriend?" Axel's voice was a mixture of confused hope.
"I'm not saying anything unless you're paying."
"Right. Look pal, you're a complete load of bullshit. Roxas got the job. He isn't' going to die. You were wrong." Axel smiled smugly at the blind man who stared at him and kept right on smiling.
"Am I, though?"
"What the fuck is that supposed to mean?"
"I wouldn't be wrong if he died tomorrow, because then he wouldn't get the job." He grinned wide, climbing back onto his box, "And that would make me right on both counts."
Axel stared at the blackness of his home in numb horror. Two hours later, the power came back on - Axel flipped on the TV, watching Demyx report on the KVAL channel about the blackout.
A rather intense bolt of lightning caused our two hour black out today… Demyx's voice trailed off as Axel punched Roxas' phone number into the small metal device at his finger tips, pressing it to his ear.
"C'mon Rox, pick up…"
"Roxas! I'm so glad I---"
---you've reached Roxas Hikari, I can't come to the phone right now so please leave a brief message with your name and number and I'll be sure to get back to you as soon as possible. Thanks!
"Roxas…listen. I talked to Riku again today…another one of his visions came true…just be careful, okay? Please? I'm booking the next flight to New York - call me back soon, please." Flipping his phone shut, Axel grabbed his coat and wallet then booked the hell out of his house, slamming his car into reverse and speeding down the rain-soaked road.
"Could you go a little faster?" I grumbled, frowning at the man in the rearview mirror in the front of the Taxi. He shook his head, honking loudly at the chronically slow moving traffic in front of him.
"If I go any faster I'll kill us."
"No, I'm quite certain you wont." I grinned smugly, fixing my hair in the mirror. The car swerved suddenly, narrowly avoiding a US Armored truck that came out of nowhere. The Taxi Cab driver sighed in relief but kept clutching at the steering wheel - knuckles white, hands shaking. I simply grinned, "See? No dying on the agenda today." The cab driver stared at me with a mixture of 'wtf' and 'dropdead', shaking his head as we rounded the corner that would ultimately lead to the USA Today tower.
After paying the taxi driver and finding my way to the correct floor, I was greeted by a pink haired man with a bright smile and a firm handshake.
"You must be Roxas, I'm Marluxia."
"Marluxia…you…visited our office…?"
"Yep! Xemnas is a fine man. Great director with great ambitions. He showed me your tape. Then we saw you on CNN…" I flushed and he laughed, "It was a great piece, really. The reviewers loved it!" Marluxia grinned brightly, "In any case, Welcome to the USA Today team." He beamed at me, placing a guiding hand on my shoulder as he walked me through the studio, "So, your flight was good?"
"And your hotel, is it alright? We can upgrade if need be…"
"Oh no, it's perfect, really."
"Mm. Good. Ah, okay, here we are!" He steered me to he right and into a dark room with a bright setting. There were cameras set up from every angle around a large square room - it was a soft gray in color and had white furniture with red throw pillows and a cherry wood desk. I gawked at the scenery in amazement. Network…was amazing.
"Alright. So, you're on at nine, that's in about…" Marluxia glanced at his watch then frowned, "My, we only have twenty minutes. Here's a list of your questions---"
"Oh, that wont be necessary, I have my own questions I'd like to ask---"
"Don't be silly, Ansem the Wise only answers questions he already has an answer for." Marluxia laughed, pressing a printed set of questions into my hands for review. "Now, you really don't need to memorize those, it'll be on the prompter…you're accustom to those, yes?"
"Alright." Marluxia placed both hands on my shoulders, smiling down at me, "Nervous?"
"Great. I'll go get everyone ready, you're on in fifteen so prepare yourself and we'll see you on set."
Thirteen minutes seemed to breeze by as people shouted orders around the studio - women coming up to powder my face, gel my hair, straighten my tie. Ansem the Wise walked in barking orders at the cameramen to fix the set. I rushed over to greet him, extending a hand.
"Mr. Wise…I'm Roxas Hikari, I'll be interviewing you today."
"My are you young." He sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose, "Xaldin, I said fix the damn set! White looks terrible. Make it black, or red or…something!" He turned to me with a half-smile, "You have the questions?"
"Good, then this will be a breeze." He walked off towards the set, waving a hand for me to follow him. We sat on the matching red chairs waiting for our cue. The cameraman directly behind the prompter grinned, counting down on his fingers until the thumbs up cue was given. I straightened my posture, flashed my promotion-worthy smile and addressed the viewers.
"Hello, I'm Roxas Hikari, here with the legendary Ansem the Wise. Mr. Wise, it's an honor to be here talking with you today."
"Thank you, and call me Ansem, please." He smiled at me, folding his hands in his lap.
"Ansem, when you stand before the nation tonight to receive your well deserved award for the discovery of Kingdom Hearts, I think our audience would like to know one thing… Did you…" I trailed off, staring blankly at the prompter. What were these asinine questions? What meaning would this have to anyone watching? Scripted babble… where was the sense in that? "Did you…" I debated my options heavily before coming to a decision. "Did you…heh. Did you think it was worth it?"
Ansem stared at me with a raised eyebrow before answering slowly, "What was worth it, exactly?"
"Everything you gave up."
"Okay…for example…you were never married."
"Roxas, are you trying to pull a Deborah Connors on me?" He laughed lightly, but his eyes were tense.
"Perhaps. If a Deborah Connors involves cutting through the well placed camouflage to ask more important questions, then yes. I'm pulling a Deborah." I smiled confidently at the camera, then at Ansem.
"There is no camouflage, Roxas. I am wholly and entirely me. What you see on TV, what you see of me on the sidewalk, that's what you get. I'm the real deal." He matched my confidence with a smirk, crossing a leg - right ankle now resting on his left knee.
"So…no regrets. Nothing you regret giving up to reach this goal?"
"Wasn't Belle your fiancé, back when you were stationed in London…?"
"Yes…Belle was…that was one of the happiest moments of my life. I was young, however, so involved in my research that I walked away…"
Xaldin leaned over to Marluxia behind the prompter, "What the hell is happening?"
Marluxia shook his head, awe written all over his face, "I think Ansem is having an on-camera breakdown."
I smiled at Ansem, leaning forward just slightly, "You know Ansem, I walked away from someone too. To be here today on national Television, to interview you, just so people would see the perfect life and image I've created for myself…" I trailed off and Ansem sat up, leaning forward as well.
"My dear boy, the only image you need to create is the one you'll be most happy with - the one that shows the true you. In all my research of the heart, I've found that happiness isn't based off of what other's perceive of you, but how you perceive you. When one is happy with one's self, one's heart is whole."
I smiled softly, eyes bright, "So…no regrets then?"
"I think I may actually regret having this interview with you today." We both laughed, then I turned to the camera to close my segment.
"I'd like to thank you for being here today, Ansem. It was a pleasure and an honor, truly. Back to you Luxord." I grinned widely at Ansem when the cameraman gave me the cue that the feed had stopped, "Ansem…I…thank you so much. That was so…thank you."
"Leave. Now." Ansem stood up, storming out of the studio calling over his shoulder to Marluxia, "I want him out of here within fifteen minutes."
I stood, shocked at the way Ansem was acting. I had expected him, after that interview - after the way he'd reacted on screen - to at least… I shook my head, grabbing my things as I stormed out the opposite door Ansem had gone. Marluxia chased after me down the hall. Finally, at the elevator, I stopped.
"Roxas! The supervisor saw your taping…he loved it…No one has ever gotten to Ansem the way you just did - he wants to see you in his office right away to talk about your future with USA Today." Marluxia was grinning widely, beaming brightly at me as if this were the best news he'd ever heard.
Placing a hand on his shoulder, I smiled softly and shook my head. "That's great…but I'm going home."
Outside the studio of USA Today I stood silently, eyes closed as I breathed in the morning air. The world moved around me, as if I were in slo-mo. I noticed stranger's faces, heard the singing of larks in the crowded cityscape…it was surreal - like in a movie. The smile on my face was one of genuine happiness.
God, the world just seemed so right for once.
It was strange, in the middle of my euphoria, I heard Axel's voice - shouting and hysterical.
"Roxas! Move!" His voice seemed so far away for how loud it was in my ears, "Roxas!"
And it was surreal - like in a movie - when I turned my head and saw the shiny outline of a magnum pointed in my direction.
Saw Axel's face across the busy street.
Then - with a bang - my world went black.
Beep. Beep. Beep.
This can't be it.
I need more time.
Beep. Beep. Beep.
I need to make things right.
I never thought…it would happen like this.
Beep. Beep. Beep.
"Roxas…Roxas…can you hear me? It's three in the morning…Friday. Which means that, although hardly conversational at the moment, you're technically and legally alive." Axel's voice was broken and relived all at once, I could feel the warmth of his strong hands wrapped around one of mine.
"It's still Thursday somewhere, though." With a groan I rolled my head to face him, eyes fluttering open then squinting immediately at the fluorescence of the hospital lights.
"Welcome back to the land of the conscious." Axel grinned, squeezing my hand. I winced at the tug on the IV.
"You got caught up in a brawl, two men were arguing, one pulled out a gun and you took the bullet. Technically, you died yesterday - your heart stopped on the table and they had to shock you."
"No wonder I feel like shit." I groaned, glancing down at the piled patch of gauze over my left shoulder. Hmm. So that's where I got shot…
"You'll be glad to hear you don't look like shit." I laughed with Axel, wincing at the sharp pain it brought to my shoulder. Axel's eyes became soft and serious as he lifted my hand between his, bringing it to his chin. "Look…I don't want the opportunity to pass me by again…" He glanced away, watching the morphine drip into the tube connected to my arm, "I…" He sighed - intense eyes boring into mine, "I've been in love with you since the day I met you."
I smirked, "Define love."
"Roxas, I want to spend the rest of my life with you."
"Is that a marriage proposal?"
"…I love you too." I pulled him by the tie, pressing our lips together gently. His thumb came to trace my jaw-line while my IV'd hand slid around his neck, fingers twirling around bloody red spikes. We broke apart when the nurse walked in, stammering about how she had to check my vitals and give me more morphine. When she left, Axel laughed shaking his head.
"If I would have known kissing you would make you feel so good, I would have done it sooner."
"You're an idiot."
"Says who? You or your morphine?" I flipped him the bird halfheartedly, closing my eyes as I listened to him hum.
One Year Later: Tuesday
"Hi you've reached Axel, Roxas, and Reno. We can't come to the phone right now but leave a message and we'll get back to you. Thanks!"
Axel, it's Xemnas. Can you come in to work today? I know you hate to work on your days off but I need you to train our new kid for daytime. Get a hold of me as soon as you get this message.
I snuggled into the warmth of Axel's side, head resting on his shoulder as the sun shone heatedly down on us. Beside me, Reno jumped up and down excitedly - watching in fascination as the Angels took on the Redsox. He grinned brightly at me and I ruffled his hair. His mother had agreed to let Reno stay four weeks during the summers with Axel and I - and we were taking full advantage of our time together.
"Wooo! Go Angels!" Reno cheered. Axel leaned down, pressing his lips against the top of my head. I sighed, then commenced cheering animatedly with Reno.
If you're wondering…I've found a new definition for perfection. And, yes, I still talk to Prophet Riku…but, from now on, I make sure to only ask him about the weather and sports.
…Destiny is what you make of it.
Oh my frackin' God that took forever to write! *Pulls hair out* It was so much fun though, taking a movie I really adored and throwing my OTP in. Chya. Totally worth doing.
Thank you for your input about the Mr. & Mrs. Smith deal --- I've decided that - if I ever have time - I'll probably only jot out the hot sex scene where they beat the fuck out of each other and blow their house to shit...Assuming I can pull it off with words as smexily as they did on the movie.
Thanks for reading.