A/N: Sooo here I am with another AkuRoku! Weee!~ It's your stereotypical, run-of-the-mill AU that had just popped into my head the other day. It's written in first person, Roxas' POV, which is really the only way I can type, haha. This will probably have some SoRiku, Zemyx, or any other couple I want to throw in with it; though it IS a little hard to focus on more than one pairing with the first person writing style. CURSE ME! D: I don't expect this to become big or anything, just writing for fun here! And maybe some nice reviews. :3 Anyways, enough of my worthless rambles, I hope you enjoy this! :D (And yes, I named this story after my icon, how lame is that?)

Rating: T. Will contain strong language and sexual content later on. (Yaoi-ness my friends. Don't like it? Then for heaven's sake, don't read this) Suggestive themes and the use of alcohol and drugs most likely too. The first few chapters will be pretty innocent though.

Disclaimer: I don't own Kingdom Hearts, Axel or Roxas. I also don't own the world, but I plan to someday.


-TWO HALVES MAKE A WHOLE-

Chapter I: Cold Integrity Keeps Me Wide Awake

I remember rain. It was cold too. My arms must have been covered in goosebumps. I was most likely shaking on the hard ground, my arms probably wrapped around my torso, as if securing myself from the world around me. My whole body ached like a throbbing bruise for reasons unclear to me. My head was a jumbled mess; it was hard to focus on just one thing and it ached horribly when I tried. In the back of my mind, practically my subconscious, thoughts erupted like a bout firecrackers, causing my eyes to water. I was suddenly thinking, or even hoping that perhaps, by some whim of fate, this was all just some messed up and dysfunctional dream. I wished it, actually. Wished it with all my might. My eyes closed shut so tightly it felt like they would eternally stay that way as my mind flooded with worry and dread. Would someone come to save me? Would anyone help me? Was I bound to wade this out while I writhed in agony? What was going to happen to me? Though…this had to have been my fault from the beginning, hadn't it? The memories tugged at my brain, willing them to surface but having a hard time seeing as how my mind was so cloudy. The reason I was lying here, the reason I was alone and cold on the ground. It was my fault. I'd done this to myself in the first place. No. I hadn't meant for everything to go so completely wrong again – I'd just wanted it all to end. Not to keep going at the same dead pace it'd been at for the past few months. Had I thought, that maybe by doing this, it possibly would be the end? I must have. Then, there would be no more pain. No more lies. No more life itself. That was what I wanted. What I longed for. I only begged for peace, silence, tranquility. Nothingness.

But what I got was the exact opposite.

"Roxas, honey, come help your mother with this," said Mom while bringing down one of the many boxes from the attic. Her lean frame stepped down one last rung of the ladder and held out the over-sized box for me to take.

I nodded, my eyes still glued to the television I'd been watching and headed over towards her. My arms came up automatically and latched onto the sides of the heavy thing. "Just why are we bringing all this with us? Can't we throw this stuff away? It's not like we use any of it," I droned, heaving the box towards the kitchen table.

"I can't just throw it all away!" she exclaimed quickly, as if I had just told her to get rid of precious jewels and not some old dusty artifacts. "They're special and they hold many memories," she finished, clasping her hands out in front of her and smiling over at me.

I sighed, placing the box onto the table and folding over the sides of the cardboard. I resisted the urge to cough at the dust that floated up towards my eyes and mouth and reached into it, pulling out the first thing I saw a teddy bear that had defiantly seen better days. "Is this…Jasper?" I asked with the slightest amount of astonishment, my eyes narrowing momentarily at the toy. Memories flooded my mind from when I was a child. Didn't I used to carry this ratty old thing around with me everywhere I went? To the park, the playground, the beach, school even? Since when had it ended up in the attic…?

"Oh!" my mother squeaked, running over to me. "You used to love him, didn't you Roxas? You would hold him wherever we went. You cried when I took him away." I looked up at her, her eyes seeming distant.

"So you jacked the thing from me, huh?" I deadpanned, turning the doll over in my hand.

"Your father thought it was time for you to grow up," she almost whispered, her deep blue eyes focusing on me intently.

I sighed and threw the thing back into the box with leisure, wanting nothing more to do with it. "Good thing too, I might still have been lugging it around even now," I tried to make my words sarcastic as I could.

She only smiled and gave me a quick hug, which I wasn't really expecting. She let go before I could protest. "We'll be gone from here in less than three days," She held up three fingers for emphasis. "Just make sure you have everything packed up and ready, alright?"

I inhaled and nodded slightly, scratching the side of my head. "Yea Mom, I know. You've told me hundreds of times."

Her eyes rolled to the side and she poked my nose with one of her dainty fingers. "You don't seem as excited about this as I had hoped," she said, her lip turning down into a small frown, but the smile still ghosted over her features.

"I am, really," I started. She didn't seem convinced. "I want to move. Twilight Town is really getting on my nerves anyway." I remembered all the snow we had just amounted over the last couple of days. It was May for crying out loud and this stupid place had a foot of the lovely white stuff.

"Then just you wait, Destiny Islands will be a shock to all of us, I'm sure." She smiled even at the seriousness of her voice and then gave me a quick pat on the head before returning off into the attic.

Am I dead? I hope so. Please oh please let me be dead. I wanted to open my eyes, see where I was. Maybe, perhaps, I was in Heaven. I doubted it though. Church wasn't exactly my forte and God had never answered any of my prayers, so it wasn't like I believed in him. Where else could I possibly be? Hell? But would Hell feel this comfy? I scrunched my fingers into a fist at my side and felt blankets fold underneath the pressure. So…maybe Hell had some type of Hotel system. Room service would be nice, I was starving. I held back the urge to open my eyes as I moved my arm over slowly, searching for the phone so I could call for a hot fudge sundae and six doughnuts. My hand, incidentally, didn't find the phone it was hoping for. Instead, my fingers formed around human skin. It was warm to the touch, soft and smooth but rough at the same time. For some reason, I didn't back away from it. I let my fingers brush across it, leaving lines that seemed to appear behind my eye lids. For a few moments, that was all I did. All thoughts left me. I didn't much care where I was anymore than I cared who I was. An airy feeling entered my stomach and I reconsidered that maybe this was in fact Heaven.

Before a voice filled my ears, interrupting my façade of happiness. "Does my arm really feel that good, or are you just desperate for some loving?"

I didn't think when my eyes shot open, quicker than I would have hoped. Light blinded me for a couple of seconds and a headache settled deep into the confines of the back of my skull. Great, just what I needed. This most defiantly was not Heaven.

I moaned, ignoring the voice I had heard and rolled over onto my side, opposite of the person, recoiling my outstretched arm. Whoever it was they had no idea what I was going through and really didn't need to get messed up in it. No one needed that, no one deserved that. No one.

"Alright, don't wanna talk I see. Don't worry about it, I can wait…" the voice trailed off, sounding bored but patient. Now that I thought about it, I couldn't quite pin point this voice. It was laid back, in no hurry for conversation but it had a kind of cockiness to it that I didn't appreciate. The last thing I needed was another arrogant brat on my case.

I decided I was also in no rush for the world's biggest confession on my part, and snuggled deeper into the covers of the bed. With my eyes closing, forgetting completely about the voice beside me, I drifted off once again into sleep. But I wasn't expecting it to be restless, no. I would have a dream again. A dream about my former life. Of what I used to be.

I tapped my fingers in a drumming motion onto the desk once, twice, three times. My chin rested in my hand that was propped up onto the structure. School wasn't always the most invigorating thing in the world for me; sure it could be interesting at times, something for me to do, but boring as hell. Especially when the teacher had a monotone voice that practically lulled you to sleep. I felt my head slipping from my hand, my eyes closing without intention. This had to be the most boring lecture in the history of lectures, ever.

"Hey…pssst…!"

I blinked my lazy eyes, this new voice buzzing in my ear like an alarm compared to the teacher's.

I looked to my left, slowly, without much interest. Whoever it was most likely just wanted to tell me my shoe was untied or something useless like that. My eyes focused on the boy next to me, his curly, dirty blond hair sticking out on his head. I'd seen this boy around; he was in some of my classes, though I had yet to learn his name. In his hand was a triangle shaped note, he nudged it towards me with urgency. One eyebrow lifted on my face as I glanced back up at Mr. Manson, his back to the class, still going on about the structure of DNA and atoms. I rolled my eyes back over to the blond, his features twisted into confusion and stress, probably wanting to get rid of the note before the teacher turned around. Sighing softly, I reached over the walkway and grasped the small note between my index and middle finger. The boy smirked at me, obviously happy I'd finally accepted his memo then turned back to listen to the lecture.

Glancing once back at the boy I looked down at the message, unfolding it casually. Word's appeared behind the folds and creases, I read them slowly.

Hey, I'm Hayner; I'm in your calculus class too. You just moved here from Twilight Town, didn't you? Anyway, we should hang out sometime. Pence and Olette keep asking about you. They're the two sitting behind me who're always following me around. Write me back.

I tapped my finger on the note, once, twice, my features probably set into an annoyed glare. This boy obviously didn't see the elusive wall I so earnestly tried to keep up around me. Friends were nice, but mostly just slowed you down in life. Who really needed them?

Being the rude person I was, I ignored the note, folding it back up and pushing it to the side of my desk then tried to focus on the lecture once again. It was hard, with the blond casting me side glances every two minutes, watching to see if I was going to respond to him. Well he could stare all he wanted; I wasn't writing him some stupid note like I was back in grade school.

The bell rang much too late, I'd almost fallen asleep by the time it did. I was glad for its loud, annoying ring, anything less wouldn't have woken me. Just as I had almost reached the door, moving quickly to evade the eager blond, a tug on my shirt stopped me abruptly. I sighed deeply, my plan foiled. Just how much did these kids want to hang out with me?

"Wait up, Roxas! You didn't write me back, what's up with that, man? To busy paying attention to the Manson or are you just trying to avoid us?" the blond's confident voice echoed in my ears, a slight chuckle laced his words.

I set my stare into a casually bored one before turning around to face him. This time the two kids he mentioned were trailing behind him, one on either side of the blond, like two human magnets. One was a boy, the other a girl. The boy was shorter, rounder, with spiky black hair that stuck out from the sweatband around his forehead. He smiled at me, so did the girl, her brown hair flowing neatly over her thin shoulders.

I rolled my tongue around in my mouth, thinking of something to say. I could be mean that would get them off my back. Or maybe for once I could not be an ass and actually try to be the least bit civil towards others. Well, that wasn't going to happen anytime soon.

"The latter," I replied, shrugging my shoulders with the slightest of effort. Hayner's face set into a frown, the other two's smiles faded as well like they were all connected somehow.

"Look, we're just trying to—"

"Be nice?" I cut him off quickly, ignoring the glares I received. "Yea, well, thanks for trying, but I have a class to get to." I turned around without another word and stalked off to History.

"We won't give up on you, Roxas! Just you wait! One of these daysyou'll be begging to hang with us!" Hayner's smug voice echoed off the school walls and a smile actually danced around the edge of my lips.

He was right though, one hundred percent right.

The smell of antiseptics woke me this time. It filled my nose and burned it, sending me to latch onto the sheets on top of me in a desperate attempt to cover my mouth. I didn't have to question if I was dead or not this time, I would recognize that smell from anywhere. Again I was in this damn hospital. I only wondered what I'd done this time to get me here.

"Morning sunshine," a cheery voice came from the same spot as before. It almost scared me for a second, but I remained calm, hand resting on my nose, the sheet placed firmly beneath it.

"Is the smell too much for you? I can open a window or something…" The voice traveled the room as it spoke, growing softer every step it took. I let my eye lids fold lazily back over eyes, semi-blocking out the glare from the bright fluorescent above. The headache still persisted though, strong as ever.

I heard the creak of a window and then the smell of fresh air wafted into the small white room. I subconsciously lowered the cloth from my mouth and breathed in the new, inviting aroma. It smelled like freshly cut grass and summer breeze. I enjoyed the moment while I could.

"So, are you going to stay awake this time? Because I am getting a little tired of waiting right about now." This guy just didn't know when to shut up.

I made no move to answer, no move at all. Hopefully he was the least bit smart and would take that as a 'no' and maybe I could get some more sleep – dreamless would be nice.

"You don't talk much, do you kid?"

I resisted the urge to flip the stranger off. Under all my pent up and anger and annoyance, I could still muster enough strength to ignore him, I just had to keep trying. Keep it together; I could not let him get to me.

"I know you're awake and I know you can hear me," the voice pointed out smugly. "So go ahead and talk." It grew to a whisper before it finished, "Unless you're…scared?"

I let out a long sigh, the heat of my breath curling around my chapped lips. The anger was coming. I'd given him many chances to avoid it, but he just had to keep provoking me.

"Hmmm…I guess you are scared. There really isn't anything to be afraid—"

"You had better shut the fuck up before I make you wish you'd never spoken to me in the first place," I growled, voice low and hoarse from the days spent without talking. I felt the need to cough hysterically, but I held it in for the sake of the comment. A coughing fit would totally ruin the depth I was going for.

"Oh ho ho – so he speaks?" came the response. Was he …laughing at my threat?

I tried to search for any reason for the hilarity. Perhaps he thought I was going for sarcasm, maybe my voice really wasn't strong enough to ensue the death sentence I had invoked. Joking. Maybe he thought it was a joke, a laughing matter, something to play around with. Or he could have just been laughing at me. Making fun of me, like the bastard he was. He would regret that.

Heat boiling in my veins, my eyes clamped tight, I let out a low growl before I shot myself up from my lying position on the bed. I ignored the fuzzy feeling in my head and opened my eyes, quickly intent to glare at the voicer before I ripped him to shreds.

That was when a red flare hit my eyes. It made my lightheadedness even worse, but I held strong. I blinked a couple of times before I focused on the man, I could still feel the anger pulsing through my veins like wild fire. It was ready to be let out and this guy was a perfect venue. The blurriness faded quickly but when he came into full view, my heartbeat suddenly slowed. My face lost its intensity and my fists loosened up. I could almost feel the heat leaving my cheeks. Was I actually…calming down?

It seemed the more I stared at him, the less I felt the need to punch his guts out. His emerald green eyes stared into mine with curiosity, kindness and warmth. The hair atop his head was like none I'd ever seen before. It was red but not orangey-red like a carrot top, no; this was almost like the color of blood. So bright. So red. That couldn't possibly be his real color, could it? I observed it further, seeing how it pointed into long straight spikes towards his back, all of them falling into a mass of hair like a fiery red bush. He had two diamond shaped tick marks tattooed underneath both his cat-like eyes, almost like teardrops. Resting against his lip was a small silver hoop, which matched the many others scattered throughout his ears. So many piercings…and he had tattoos too. He was leaned over in a chair just inches from the bed, inches from me. For a few moments, I had completely forgotten the reason why I was looking at him in the first place. All sense had gone out the open window, or so to speak.

I noticed, after the few beats of silence I'd been looking him over in, a small but confident smirk settle over the man's perfect features, causing his lip ring to adjust to the movement. Either he was glad his interesting face had distracted me or he was just smiling at the stupid look that was most likely plastered on my own face. Anger tugged and yelled at my conscience, begging me to get over my slight and weird infatuation, if you could call it that, with this boy and just start beating him up already. But I wouldn't; I couldn't even move.

"What's the matter, Blondie?" the redhead asked with that cockiness from earlier sneaking its way into his words. His voice was smooth, without fault, ringing like a bell in my ears.

I ground my teeth together in my mouth, asking myself that exact same question. Just what the hell was the matter with me? I was practically fuming just a minute ago…

"Cat got your tongue?" he sneered suddenly, catching me off guard. The ring twisted back and forth on his lip, his tongue obviously behind the movement. I blanched, my eyes growing wide, my heartbeat resuming its race. Why couldn't I treat this stranger like I treated everyone else? Why was I getting all nervous and tense? Why the hell was I acting like a 12-year-old girl?!

The door on the other side of the room slowly swung open, taking my eyes off the redhead at last. I saw him turn to the noise as well, his smirk fading as a woman in a white trench coat entered the room. I sighed, relief stricken. Good – it was one of my father's lackeys. Finally someone who knew what they were doing.

"Ah, so Roxas is awake I see," said the woman as she pushed up the glasses that rested on the bridge of her nose. She walked slowly over to the side of my bed, her hands grasping a clip board with a pen positioned to write. She would tell me what happened and then I could leave. I could disappear and hopefully never come back.

"I'm Aerith – a nurse here." She stopped in front of the bed, a few inches from where the annoying redhead sat lounged in the chair. "So how are you feeling today, Roxas?" She spoke directly to me, her eyes focusing intently through her thin rimmed spectacles.

I shrugged and loosened up my features from my earlier stare down with the redheaded stranger. "I'm feeling fine. No, better than fine. I'm feeling great." I had to lay it on as thick as I could – no need for further examinations or probing, I only wanted to leave.

She smiled at my enthusiasm and scribbled something down onto the paper. I bit my lip nervously. "Good," she said finally, lifting her hand from the clipboard to rest it on my forehead. I sat as still as I could, her hand feeling icy cold on my heated skin. "You still seem to have a little bit of a fever," she concluded, jotting something down again.

I sighed and let my eyes drift around the room, stopping at the closed door I studied it intently while I mulled over a question in my head. I might as well. "What…exactly happened to me?" I asked with caution. Maybe I was really better off not knowing – the memories could possibly eat me away once I knew. But not knowing was killing me too.

Her light green eyes blinked a couple of times, long eyelashes brushing her cheekbones. "You don't remember?" It seemed she didn't know much about me after all. Forgetting things was in my record, as was getting into hospitals left and right.

I shook my head and she continued. "I guess – that it's natural that you would forget." She pursed her lips over a growing sad expression and I waited while she thought of a way to break it to me of how stupid I had been. I would have liked it more probably if she just yelled at me, gotten straight to the point, not beat around the bush like this. I was getting restless. Testing my patience wasn't exactly the smartest thing to do. "Well…when they found you, you were unconscious. Apparently you had run out into the woods while it was raining no less. Your father wasn't home, so you must have spent a little more than an hour lying there before he called the police and said you were missing." She tapped her long, painted finger nails on the clipboard, thinking again.

I decided to cut to the chase. "Was I smashed?"

She cleared her throat, obviously perturbed by my formality as I stared at her through half lidded eyes. "Well...your BAC was 0.19 percent, if that is what you mean…"

"Damn," I muttered under my breath, running my fingers along my jaw line. I'd gotten drunk again, obviously wasted. That would explain my pounding head and hazy eyes. Though the symptoms weren't as bad as I'd thought they'd be, which I was extremely glad for. The full blown hangover had toned down to more of a headache or a piercing sting. I must have been sleeping for more than a few days. Sleep was pretty much the only thing I was good at. Being unconscious – it was almost like a profession for me.

"You…were also found with…" The woman reached down slowly, moving towards the arm that was rested against my chin. I looked at her, confused for a second before she made me realize that both my wrists were bandaged up in a thin white material, all the way up to my thumbs and forefingers. I turned them over, scanning them thoughtfully, watching my fingers shake as I tried to hold them still. It wasn't a surprise, actually I was kind of wondering just when something like this was going to show up, dampening my parade even more so.

"How bad?" I asked nonchalantly, turning my wrists over and over again in front of my tired eyes, never looking back at her. I couldn't feel the pain, so I guessed they had already given me a nice amount of pain killers. Numbing the wounds was the best thing to do anyway.

"Well they may take some time to heal properly," she decided to say, her voice still kind and calm.

I lowered my wrists, sighing, glancing down at the baggy white hospital clothes I was dressed in. I'd have to get changed if I was ever leaving this place. They had better have kept my clothes from before. If I had to walk out in public with these on it'd be mortifying. "Alright, so when can I leave?" I asked quickly. "Do I need to do any paper work? Or has my Dad already—?"

"Roxas," she cut me off, staring into my eyes with her own, her suddenly sharp voice putting me on edge. "Your father…he – has told us to put you in the care of someone else."

My eyes narrowed incredulously at her statement. It didn't take long before anger flared once again in my chest, the realization of her comment taking some time to sink in. My dad…so he was just going to abandoned me now? Give me away like some freaking dog? Finally gotten tired of me. So he's had enough of the crazy, suicidal, fuck-up teenager.

I gripped both my fists together tightly, feeling the white medical cloth stretch around my knuckles. I had to calm down. My father hardly meant anything to me anymore; I couldn't get so worked up over him. Besides…it was my fault as much as it was his. I took a deep breath through my nose and let it out through an opened mouth. I could get through this. I would get through this.

"He thinks that…a sort of…foster care would work well," Aerith spoke up slowly and carefully again after I'd calmed. I glared back at her, my anger subsiding for the moment as she continued on. "Like adoption, but not that extreme. It'll be the same as if you were living back at your own home, only…" she trailed off and I expected the worse. "You will be watched 24/7 and under strict house arrest for the next month."

I sighed again for what seemed like the hundredth time. Of course I was expecting something along those lines – either that or jail. I guess…that this wasn't so bad. I'd rather live at a stranger's house than get raped in prison or have nowhere to go and end up living on the streets. If my father didn't want me anymore, I guess this was the best thing to do. I just had to accept that and move on.

"How…does that sound to you, Roxas?" Aerith asked, her curiously piquing at my silence.

I held back the complaints I desperately wanted to spit and simply answered, "I don't really have a choice, do I?"

A smile lit across her soft features, probably happy with my cooperative mood, glad that I hadn't lashed out on her. Yea, she was just lucky I guess. "Then you can get going. The paper work is already taken care of and—"

"Wait a second. Who am I staying with?" I asked quickly before she could say anything else. Of course I wanted to know just who was going to be watching me all the time and whose house I'd be aimlessly thrown into. Maybe I'd be lucky and get somebody who wouldn't give a damn about me. Though luck was never on my side.

"Oh! Right," Aerith chirped as she looked to her left, down at the redheaded stranger I had all but completely forgotten about for the past few minutes of talking to the bubbly nurse. With the smile still on her face, she danced around to the back of Mr. Redhead's chair and placed her hands lightly on his two shoulders. A sick feeling entered my gut causing my eyes to narrow into slits. "This is Axel; you'll be living with him."

As I glared into the newly named stranger's eyes, that stupid grin still lingering on his lips, I figured that I might as well be cursed to Hell.

"We'll have plenty of fun together, won't we?" Axel said, his chin resting under his knuckles, elbow propped up on the chair's arm.

Out of everyone in the whole goddamn world, I just had to get stuck with this idiot.

xXx

"Okay, so…this'll be your room."

I looked around the small but quaint space, my eyes never staying on one spot for too long. A bed, dresser, desk, closet, television, and a window portraying the trivial down town city portion of Destiny Islands flashed across my vision. I scowled out at the world just beyond that window – the bustling people, the bright sunny sky, the ocean lapping its waves against the shore, and the white puffy clouds floating by, just out of reach to the rest of the world. It made me sick. No, more than that, it practically made me want to throw up. I swallowed down the acid bubbling up deep in the back of my throat and tried not to focus on how awful this stupid damn situation I was in was. Disregarding the redhead's comment, practically forgetting that he was even standing in the same room, I silently sauntered over towards the small bed. While kneading a hand against my forehead I quickly sat myself down, facing opposite the window and the man called Axel. A silent second faded by before I let myself go, slumping down onto the bed fully, the side of my head hitting the pillow softly, my knees and legs feeling the need to join the rest of my tired body up on the comfy surface as well. I let them hang off the bed for a few moments, my toes fruitlessly scrunching in my sneakers, eager to rid myself of the binds. I stared down at my faded and warn out blue jeans, frowning. I'd received my clothes, washed and dried, and changed out of the hospital garments as soon as I'd been allowed. Though, at the moment, the clothes only seemed to bind me, causing memories to flood my head and weigh me down. I soon kicked off both my shoes, sending them fumbling to the floor beneath my short legs before I reached them both up and curled them close to my body. Wrapping my arms around the appendages I hoped that if I closed my eyes tight enough, held on tight enough, that maybe the world outside would just…disappear.

Silence filled my ears, flooded them, practically hollowed them out. I felt the need to scream. Why? I didn't know. I wasn't in pain; my wrists were bound tight enough for me to hardly feel the lacerations at all. So if I wasn't hurting then why was my heart beating like a freaking drum on steroids? Being there shouldn't have terrified me so much. I was welcomed into a home, a roof was over my head and I was going to be taken care of. Yet…I was freaking out. I was scared. Scared that if I got too close to something, it would break apart – fall away beneath my finger tips. Worried that if I was allowed near anyone or anything again, something terrible would happen that I could never fix. And it would be all my fault.

My heart constricted deep in my chest, overwhelming me, eating me from the inside out when a rough hand was placed on my shoulder. I froze like ice, heat rising in my cheeks in spite of the cold I felt throughout my body.

"Hey, are you okay…?"

I closed my eyes tighter, resisting the urge to yell and scream at the man to get his damn hand off me. He was invading my space, practically braking down my wall. I didn't even know him. Why should he even care if I was feeling well? I quickly remembered my father. I felt the need to snarl at the very thought of him, my breath catching deep in my throat before I could stop it from leaking out. He was most likely paying a great deal of money for this service. Paying his heap loads of cash to keep his own son out of his hair. Then there was that damn hospital, greatly in the care of my parent. The poor idiots who worked there practically doted on him as if he were some kind of god. It made me sick. Nevertheless, my father was the one in charge and if he had ordered I'd be taken care of, then that was what had to ensue. If anything happened to me…it would be this guy's fault. The redhead didn't care about me – he didn't care one bit.

He just didn't want to get in trouble.

"You're shaking, kid."

I stared down at my hands clutched around my knees. Yea, they were trembling – I'd noticed. Way to point out the obvious, Mr. Genius.

"Do you want a glass of water…? Anything? I can't really figure out what's wrong when you don't even tell me what's going on," he chuckled gently, his fingers brushing against my shoulder again with the slightest of movements. I scowled into my jeans at his light mood and violently shook my left shoulder, the man's hand jerking back at the motion.

"How about you leave me the fuck alone?" I murmured harshly, hardly able to hear myself over the trembles in my own voice. I didn't need water. I didn't need his meaningless words of endearment. I didn't need him. I only needed solitary confinement.

I heard the man sigh from behind me, tired of me already I presumed. "They really didn't joke around when they told me how standoffish you were."

My eyes couldn't help but shoot open at his sudden statement. It sickened me to hear that people were talking about me behind my back, as if I wasn't already messed up enough. I could just picture all those nurses and doctors, explaining to the redhead just how screwed up I really was. Damn them for saying things about me. Damn people. Damn them.

I clutched tighter at my jeans, feeling my short nails pinch into the skin of my legs, sending little vibrations of pain up through my nerves. Anger again – stupid anger. Calm down. Just calm down.

"Hang on; I'll go get you some—"

My mouth flew open before I could clamp it back down again, "I said why don't you leave. Me. The fuck. ALONE!"

The room seemed to emanate with my yell – words of hate-filled anger. Had I meant to scream that loudly? I almost took it back when I heard the door creak open and close shut, leaving me sobbing into my knees, trying my best to hold myself together despite the emotions clawing their way through my chest.

I tried to tell myself it wasn't worth it. Getting close to people meant vulnerability – they could hurt me in seconds if they wanted. And I could hurt them just as easily. Why is everything in life so damn difficult…?

xXx

The growing hunger in my lower stomach was what woke me from my partial slumber. My eye lids fluttering, I looked around at the unfamiliar surroundings of the room. It took a few moments for my brain to register the place. The apartment. The redhead's apartment. It hadn't been a dream. I really was here. I narrowed my eyes at nothing in particular, something nagging me at the back of my mind. I tried hard to focus on what my former subconscious was trying to tell me, but I couldn't think of anything, my mind was blank.

Blank.

I hadn't dreamed. Nothing. Not one.

It struck me as odd for a moment, and then I began to panic. Nervousness engulfed my stomach as my mind struggled to find a reason for the missing dreams. It shouldn't have upset me so much, shouldn't have even worried me. I hated those dreams. Hated them so much that I had begun to seek shelter beneath them. They brought back who I used to be, how life really should have been. Even if it was just me pretending, even if I could never bring them back, it still felt nice to actually be. Maybe I didn't hate the dreams after all.

It must have been a fluke – I probably wasn't even sleeping just then. Yea, that had to be it. I must have—

My stomach growled impatiently once again, sending me out of my fretting state. I didn't have to worry myself so much about the dreams; all I needed now was some food. I hefted my tired body from the comfortable bed and approached the door, with no thoughts in my mind but how good it was going to feel to finally get something in my belly. How long had I gone without anything to eat? Must have been at least two days, I was practically starving.

As I reached the door I could hear noise on the other side, it sounded almost like a…television? My eyes widened and I retreated back a step, causing my heart to pound in my chest. That's right. I was not alone here. The redhead was just outside that door, most likely sitting in the small living room, watching what sounded like some cheesy soap opera. A rumble escaped from my abdomen again and I felt like kicking the door down. I would have too, if it wouldn't cause such awkwardness. I didn't want to go out there and ask the man for food like some child. I was not a kid. I could just imagine myself, sauntering out of the bedroom, smiling like some idiot, saying, "Is dinner ready yet?" or, "I'm hungry, can I please get something to eat?" The redhead would either totally ignore me if he was still angry about earlier, or he would just laugh. Could I even handle either of those scenarios?

Stupid. So stupid. At my house I made my own food, cooked for myself every day. I made myself dinner and lunch when I was hungry. I hadn't had a real meal with my family since…

I swallowed thickly, not finishing my thought, instead thinking of a new one. I couldn't possibly just talk to this stranger again, not after I'd told him off so many times. Not after the things I'd said to him.

So what, I was just…not going to eat the rest of the night?

I turned around for a moment; the window practically glared me down. The sun had already set – the sea was now in a dark midnight glow, the moon reflecting off its waters. From this high up off the ground, it almost looked like the sky had fallen into the mere. The people and cars from earlier had been replaced by street lights and the sound of crickets. I flitted back around to glare at the door, groaning softly, my socked foot tapping against the carpet on the floor anxiously. I kind of had to have food; it wasn't an option to go hungry for this long. Maybe if I wasn't such a—

"Kid, I ordered some pizza; it's out here if you want any."

The knock had me reeling, sucking in a deep breath of air so I wouldn't hyperventilate at the shock. I was just thankful he hadn't opened the door; I was not fond of getting my face smashed in. I opened my mouth but shut it sharply when a small, unrequested squeak escaped. I quickly clamped my palm over my lips, eyes owlish. I waited uneasily as the footsteps retreated, leaving me once again alone with my thoughts.

The redhead had bought pizza. Pizza. It'd been awhile since I'd had it. My innards grumbled and moaned just at the thought. I wondered briefly if the redhead had had to travel down the apartment steps to the front doors to retrieve the food from a teenage pizza boy who in turn took his money and left in one of those geeky cars. Well, most likely. That was how you ordered it. I used to all the time…

The idea of warm pizza in my mouth practically had me flinching as I stood there, staring at the door. I had to. Had to. I couldn't just stay in here forever no matter how pleasing that sounded. I wished for a second that the stupid redhead had just slipped me a piece or two from the door. Why did I have to go face him now?

It took all I had to just turn that handle, but once I did, I was actually surprised at how easy it was to walk into the kitchen. My eyes didn't linger on the body sitting on the sofa, still obviously engrossed in whatever he was watching. As long as he didn't move from that spot and just let me be…

"Look who's finally joined the land of the living."

I swallowed so hard it felt like I'd accidentally gulped down my own heart. Okay so, maybe this wasn't as easy as I thought it would be. On second thought, I wasn't even hungry anymore. Who needed food anyway? Besides, I could stand to lose a few pounds. Okay, that wasn't true – I was as skinny as a stick. But that's not the point. The point is that I didn't want to be anywhere near food at that moment. My stomach felt so nauseous. His footsteps came closer and closer still and my heart didn't slow.

"I'll get you a plate. Do you like soda?"

I watched, slightly amazed as red hair flashed in front of my eyes and moved over towards the cupboards of the small kitchenette. I made no move to open my mouth; I just knew that I would have sputtered out some stupid answer if I tried. I wasn't ready for this; maybe there was still enough time to run back into the room…

"Hey Barbie, do you want soda or what? I've got Root Beer and Mountain Dew," the redhead tried again, urging me to answer.

My mind swam for a few moments, comprehending that, yes – this man had just called me "Barbie". Okay, wait a minute…what the hell?

"Ex-excuse me?" I floundered. My lips refused to close so I probably looked like a damn fish. This guy just was so weird! Why had I even been put under the care of someone who was hardly any older than me? With flaming red hair and an attitude to boot. It was pure madness, that's what it was.

A hand came up to his red head and he ran it through the long conspicuous spikes and sighed, "You're getting Root Beer; I don't care if you don't like it." He reached into the refrigerator and snatched a can of pop from its confines, sending it to clatter across the counter, sitting inches from my frozen body.

I made no move to pick it up; maybe I would have if I wasn't trying so hard to keep my sanity in check. Root Beer actually did sound nice…

"Have as much as you want of the pizza – I've already eaten," the man said while grabbing a can of Root Beer for himself. He set the plastic blue plate that he'd grabbed onto the counter next to my soda and then trudged on back towards the couch without another word.

I stared into space, star-struck for a moment before reality hit me. There were so many questions I wanted to ask – myself and the redhead. But they'd have to wait. I was hungry and that pizza smelled like heaven.