A/N: And here it is: Shine, re-written in Roxas' POV, a.k.a Illuminate! I hope this'll turn out as good as I hope…
If you haven't read Shine yet I strongly recommend you do because this story is that story's companion...story...and it would make a lot more sense if you read it!
The main inspiration for this story is a song by a band called Acceptance: So Contagious.
All In A Day's Work.
"Hurry up, will you? We don't exactly have a lot of time!"
"Maybe if you stopped talking like that I can get this done faster."
"Just let him do his thing, Larxene."
Roxas gritted his teeth in concentration as he jammed the bent hairpin into the lock, jiggling it slightly. He could hear Larxene and Xigbar's ragged, nervous breathing from behind and it did not help with his own anxiousness; beads of sweat were slowly making their way down his temples and he was fighting to keep his fingers from shaking. He squinted as he twisted the hairpin sharply to the right; a triumphant grin crept onto his face when he heard the distinguishing click! of the lock finally opening.
"Awesome," He heard Xigbar cheer softly behind him as he turned the doorknob, revealing a small, dark office with metal file cabinets, cork bulletin boards covered in important-looking papers and a work desk cluttered with more important-looking papers. The blond watched Larxene flip her flashlight on; she scurried to one of the cabinets and pulled a drawer open.
"Nope," She muttered, throwing manilla folder after manilla folder over her head; the folders opened and their contents spilled all over the linoleum floor, "Nothing here."
Roxas winced at all of the noise she was making. "What the hell are you doing?"
"You're making a mess." Xigbar added.
The only female in the group narrowed her green eyes. "Can it, will you?" She flipped her flashlight in Roxas' direction; he was kneeling in front of the desk, trying to break into another lock. "How are you so sure it's in there?" She asked skeptically.
"You don't watch much TV, do you?" The blond briefly glanced over his shoulder to smirk at her; his navy blue eyes flashed a bright cobalt in the stream of light flooding in from Larxene's flashlight.
She rolled her eyes. "Like you do, XIII."
The sound of hurried footfalls in the near distance caught the threesome's attention, and they stiffened. Xigbar backed up against the wall, right beside the door. "Shit, they know we're here!"
The youngest of the three cursed, but he shook his spiky head and recomposed himself. "I'll make this quick, then." He pulled the cabinet open and peered into it; he pulled out a black leather satchel and grinned. "I knew it." As soon as he stood up to full height the door was kicked open so hard it slammed against the wall; five men wearing suits and sunglasses barged in with their fists by their sides. One was holding a knife.
"XIII scum," One with a buzz cut spat onto the floor, "Just what kind of people do you think you are, barreling in here with-"
"It's not our fault your procrastinator of a boss owes us money," Roxas cut him off acidly as he pulled the leather strap of the satchel over his shoulder, "We gave you a month - it's been a month and a half now and we're still empty-handed."
"Well, we're not anymore, technically." Larxene grinned. "We found what we were looking for, so if you'll excuse us…"
The men stepped closer together, guarding the only exit. They managed not to notice Xigbar, who was backed up against the wall the entire time. He leapt forward and knocked one of the men to the floor; the rest of them spun around and eyed him in shock. "Idiots." He cracked his knuckles and moved onto one of the other men.
"Not gonna use your babies this time, Xigbar?" Roxas laughed as he skillfully dodged an incoming punch.
"Naw," Xigbar patted the holsters around his waist before thrusting his fist into the jaw of his opponent, "It'll be too easy that way."
Larxene eyed the man with the knife, and she covered her mouth with one hand to suppress a giggle. "You're kidding me, right?" She dropped her flashlight and reached into the inside of her jacket; when she pulled her hand out there were four yellow and blue knives wedged in between the spaces of her fingers. The man with the knife dropped his instantly and stepped backwards, his hands and legs visibly trembling. When he dashed out of the room in a frightened frenzy the blonde sighed and shook her head. "That was only one hand, too…"
"You're not helping out here, Larxene!" Roxas griped as he dodged another punch; he was dancing in between two of the hooded men, ducking and dodging their incoming attacks. Because they were fighting in the dark it was harder for him to see what his opponents were going to do next; when he thought one of them was going to kick they actually punched instead, and the blond grimaced as he felt a hard fist crack into the right side of his face. Stars exploded in and out of his vision as he stumbled backwards into one of the metal cabinets, but he quickly shook it off and rushed right back into the fray. "Call him now!" He demanded.
Larxene rolled her eyes and pulled out her phone as she ducked an incoming punch. "Slowpoke." She poked her tongue out in between her lips as she searched her contact list. "Locked and loaded." She muttered into her phone before snapping it shut; she spun around and struck her heel into her opponent's face. "He's ready!"
Roxas swiftly ducked and elbowed his opponent in the stomach; when the man doubled over, clutching his stomach in pain, the blond straightened up and elbowed him straight in the spine, sending him crumpling to the floor. He adjusted the leather strap on his shoulder and ran his hand through his spiky hair, simpering at the unconscious thugs spawled out beneath him. "That was too easy."
A few feet away Xigbar grunted and charged into one of the men, ramming him right into the wall. "Go, go, go!" He flailed his arms towards the door, and the two blondes ran straight through it. Being the fastest one of the three Larxene escaped first; she dashed down the hallway with minimal effort and jumped over the stair railing, landing on the lower floor with ease. Roxas followed her after that, landing with just a little less grace. Xigbar, unfortunately, was not as athletic as them so he had to rush down the stairs as quickly as he could to catch up with the two jumping blondes. When they finally reached the main floor of the building they ran into more men in suits, and they groaned.
"This'll take all day…" Larxene complained.
Roxas' mouth twisted into a determined smirk; as intimidating as the men were he did not seem to be afraid. "We don't have to do much - just charge through the entrance and we should be fine."
"Easy for you to say," II grumbled, and the blond laughed.
"Alright, are you guys ready?" XIII's eyes narrowed as the men began to step slowly towards them. "On the count of three - one...two...three!" He balled his hands into fists and plowed forward, violently shoving and shouldering his way through the crowd. He could hear Larxene laughing behind him and Xigbar complaining about them running too fast, and by the time he decided to turn his head over his shoulder to look back he was already by the glass doors. He pushed them open and stepped into the warm sun; the city streets were empty, which was unusual for this time of day. He heard Xigbar and Larxene's rushed footsteps slamming against the concrete behind him as they scurried towards the curb.
Right on cue the grating noise of tires screeching against the pavement blared into the threesome's ears; a beaten up truck zipped down the street and screamed to a halt right in front of them. Xigbar hopped into the back while Larxene and Roxas scrambled into the cab; Larxene got shotgun, of course.
"How was my time?" Axel asked jokingly as he hit the gas; with another screech the truck roared further down the street. They were going so fast Roxas jerked forward and nearly hit his forehead on the back of Axel's seat. "And what's with the man purse?"
"It has what we came here for," Roxas flipped the flap of the satchel over and pulled out a couple thick wads of cash; Axel grinned at him through the rearview mirror.
"I knew you wouldn't be a disappointment, Roxas," Xigbar hollered from the back, and Axel and Larxene rolled down their windows so they could hear them properly, "Superior's gonna be in your favour for sure tonight."
"Ah," The blond brushed his thin fingers through his hair, "I don't know if I'm going to stay that long. School starts tomorrow, remember?"
VIII and XII erupted into fits of laughter. "You're kidding me, right?" Larxene snorted, "Since when do you care about school?"
"I don't, but my mother and brother do." That was the truth, and it was the only reason.
"Fine, fine, you party pooper." Axel swerved around a corner, "Way to ruin the mood." He turned into a rundown part of the city; the streets here were cracked and grey, and the buildings were dilapidated and boarded up. He drove behind one of the most rundown-looking buildings in the entire street and parked behind it; the foursome clambered out of the truck and made their way towards a thick metal door with a slider near the top. VIII shoved his hands in his pockets and kicked the door violently; the slider opened, revealing a pair of angry blue eyes. When the eyes realized who it was on the other side of the door, however, they softened at the slightest bit and stepped backwards to open the door for them.
The interior of the building was an exact opposite of its exterior; the floors were covered in cold grey tile and the walls were painted in white, grey and silver. Roxas personally thought it looked a little bland.
"Lexaeus." The blond nodded politely; the pair of blue eyes belonged to a tall, burly man with wavy copper hair. Being the youngest in The XIII Roxas had to learn to respect everyone, even when they clearly did not deserve it. Lexaeus, however, was one of the ones that did, and it showed when he smiled and nodded back. The blond handed him the satchel, and the older man accepted it gratefully. "You'll take that to Superior, won't you?"
"Superior had no doubt you would do well," His voice was a deep baritone, "You're not going to see him yourself?"
Feeling a little embarrassed, the blond smirked shyly and rubbed the back of his head. "I don't know if I have the time today." He noticed that Axel, Larxene and Xigbar had already gone up the stairs, so he excused himself to follow them. The steps were white and made of polished marble; he absently trailed his fingers along the black iron rail as he made his way upstairs, his eyes distantly drifting across the walls. He was satisfied with the feats he accomplished today, but for some reason he could not stop thinking about the disappointed look he knew his brother would be wearing when he sees him later.
He wordlessly made his way up the stairs to the very top floor, and then walked to the end of the hallway. He wrenched the door open and stepped inside, only to be greeted with a unified cheer of his name.
"Roxas!" His other comrades made a beeline for him the moment he entered the room; Luxord clapped him on the back and called him a 'resilient little bugger', Saïx actually paid attention to him for once and gave him a curt nod, Demyx punched the air and cheered and Xaldin leaned forward to ruffle his hair. The others were reclined on the white leather couches, giving him the thumbs up or nodding in his direction. He sighed and forced on another smile as he quietly thanked everybody; the attention was beginning to get a little irritating.
"Okay, okay," Roxas felt a hand on his shoulder and he looked up; he sighed in relief when he discovered that it was Axel, "He's had enough for today; you can get his autograph later." He pushed the shorter boy towards the opposite side of the room and kicked open the French doors to the balcony. It was small, but it was not like they needed a lot of space. The taller boy pushed his fiery spikes back and closed his eyes against the soft breeze. "Three years and they still treat you like a baby."
XIII hopped up to sit on the ledge and leaned backwards against the brick wall; he reached into the pocket of his tattered jeans and pulled out a pack of cigarettes. He plucked one out and stuck it into the corner of his mouth before tossing it over to Axel. "It won't last for much longer, I hope." He held out his hand just as his best friend tossed the lighter over. He lit the end of his cigarette and inhaled, tilting his head back and closing his eyes. The silvery wisps of smoke escaped his partially opened mouth and swirled upwards into the clear blue sky, weaving intricate little patterns before they faded away.
"Oh, that's right," Axel nodded once Roxas tossed back his lighter, "You're bringing whatserface next week, aren't you?" He laughed before lighting his own smoke. "It's about time."
The blond rolled his eyes and plucked the smoke out of his mouth, balancing it in between his forefinger and middle finger. "You've known her just as long as I have, Axel; surely you'd remember her name by now."
"Or maybe it's because I'm not madly in love with her, so I don't really pay attention to the little details."
"Little details? It's common sense to know somebody's name!" Roxas shook his head slowly before taking another drag. "And besides, I don't...I don't think of her in that way."
His best friend snorted, and the younger boy turned to glare at him. "What do you mean, 'I don't think of her in that way'? Quit playing around, Roxas."
He sighed and raked his fingers through his hair. "I thought I did, really, but…" He sighed again and shook his head, "It's hard to explain."
The redhead's eyebrow quirked upwards. "You know she's crazy about you; she's been crazy about you ever since you first met, and she was still crazy about you when you had that fling with-"
"It wasn't a fling," Roxas cut him off before his words were able to cut any deeper, "And I knew what her feelings were - I always did. Believe me, Axel, I'm trying...I'm trying to feel the same way, but I can't. I just can't." He threw his hands up in defeat and groaned, pressing the back of his head against the brick wall. "It's too soon to be thinking about this."
"Are you implying something?" Axel leaned in suspiciously, his eyebrow moving even higher up on his forehead. When the blond sighed and buried his face in his free hand, he frowned. "You can't stop thinking about it, huh?"
"No," Roxas groaned through his fingers, "I can't help it. I want to forget so bad, but at the same time I know it'll be impossible. It was my fault it ended, it was my stupidity and negligence that turned her away-"
"Whoa, whoa," His best friend held his hands up, "Enough with the depressing stuff, okay? You're killing me here." He twisted his cigarette butt into the stone ledge, putting it out. "You gotta learn to accept that it's over, Roxas. Move on; make room in your heart for somebody else, and learn from your past mistakes so you won't screw up again. Got it memorized?"
The younger boy inhaled his smoke one last time before whipping it hard against the ground. He rumpled his hair again and hopped off the ledge. "I know," He muttered; he was going to say more but his phone began to ring. He fished it out of his pocket and squinted at the caller ID before holding it up to his ear. "Hey."
"Hey!" A feminine voice answered him daintily; Roxas gave Axel a knowing look and the redhead rolled his eyes before strolling back inside. "How was the mission?"
"Not that bad," His fingers wandered towards his hair, "It was pretty easy, actually."
"That's good to hear," He could hear the smile in her voice and for some reason he felt guilty talking to her, "So, what are your plans for tonight?"
The guilt twisted deeper into his stomach. "Uh, I was actually planning to go home soon," His hand moved to his hair and he mentally cursed himself, "But if you want I can stop by for a little bit." Why did he always have to be so nice when it came to girls?
He could almost hear her smile widening. "That sounds great. So I guess I'll see you in a bit?"
"Yeah, give me ten or fifteen minutes."
"Alright - later, Roxas."
"Later." He cancelled the call and stared at his phone with dismay for a minute or two before shoving it back into his pocket. He walked back inside and eyed the curious expression on Axel's face. "I'm going."
Demyx, who was sitting on the l-shaped couch, turned around in his seat and gaped in disbelief. "What? Why? It's not even dark out yet!"
XIII shrugged his shoulders. "I've got things to attend to."
Xigbar raised a sly eyebrow. "You mean you've got a girl to attend to." Beside him Luxord and Xaldin snickered. "Well, we don't want to keep you - or her - waiting, so we'll see you tomorrow."
"I don't know if I can come tomorrow," Roxas frowned, "School, remember?"
"Please don't remind me," Larxene groaned as she reclined in her seat, "I don't feel like going at all."
"You never do." Zexion blatantly pointed out, and she glared at him.
Axel stepped forward and patted his best friend on the shoulder. "See you tomorrow."
Roxas gave him a tired smile. "Later." He left the room and rushed down the stairs, waving to Lexaeus as he passed through the metal door. He pulled out his car remote and hit the unlock button; the headlights to his shiny BMW flashed twice. He sighed as he approached the expensive car; he never wanted it but his mother insisted and he could not say no. He slid his seatbelt into its buckle and pushed a CD into the stereo before twisting the key into the ignition; angry music blared out of the speakers as he backed out of his parking space.
Ten minutes later he was driving down a residential area of the city; he parked in the underground parking lot and made his way towards the elevator, riding it to the lobby of the apartment. When the doors slid open and he stepped out, she was already there.
"Hey you," Xion grinned widely and opened her arms to him. Roxas forced on a smile and stepped into her embrace, hesitantly winding his own arms around her tiny waist. He rested his chin atop her head and stared straight ahead, guilt washing over him. After a few minutes she leaned away from him a little bit and gasped. "Your face!"
"Huh?" He felt her smooth touch against his cheek, and when he felt the dull ache of a bruise coming along he flinched slightly. "Oh, it's nothing."
She tutted and shook her head, her short ebony strands flowing gracefully around her petite face. "Sure it is." She laughed and pressed her cheek against his collarbone, squeezing him affectionately. "You don't have to be the tough guy all the time, Roxas."
Her words could have meant many things, and he cringed. "I know, but who else could I be?" He asked softly, his lips moving against her hair. He felt so guilty, so guilty that he was not feeling anything at the moment. His heart should have been hammering at the sight of her, his fingers should have been tingling when they grazed her back, his voice should have been stuttering and incoherent.
"I don't know," He felt her shrug against him, "But you could at least not be so...so moody all the time. It brings everybody else down."
"I can't help it."
She looked up at him, and his chest ached when he found the longing, the craving for him in her bright blue stare. "What's wrong, Roxas?"
She was not the right person to tell, so he shook his head. Frowning, she huffed in frustration and poked the end of his nose with her index finger. "Fine, but you're gonna have to tell me eventually." She jerked her ebony head towards the elevator. "Do you wanna come upstairs, at least? I'll get you something for that bruise of yours."
He shook his head and gave her a sad smile. "No, I'm afraid I don't have time. I need to get my things ready for school."
Disappointment flickered across her blue depths and his chest contracted. "Oh...alright then. I'll see you later." She stepped back and smiled her best for him, but he could tell she was hurting inside and he hated himself for it.
He leaned forward and gave her a chaste kiss on the cheek. "This weekend." He reminded her, and her face lit up. He ruffled his hair and waved goodbye before turning back towards the elevator to the parking lot, the guilt inside of him threatening to consume him whole. He replayed the image of her staring back at him with all the pain in the world in her stare, and he groaned and leaned back against the wall, lightly punching it with his fist. He knew that she knew why he had been feeling so out of it lately, and he knew that it was killing her.
How could he get over it? It was his fault it ended.
He silently made his way back towards his car. The angry music blasting from the stereo helped relieved some of the tension bunching up inside of him as he rolled out of the parking lot. When he was five minutes away from the on-ramp to the freeway he pulled his phone out of his pocket and dialed his brother's number.
"Hey Roxas," Sora sounded as lively as ever, "Are you coming now?"
"Yeah, just wait for me outside." The blond cancelled the call and tossed his phone into the compartment below the stereo. He drove on the freeway for ten minutes, and when he got off he drove down another couple blocks before turning the corner. He stopped in front of a fast food restaurant; his brother was sitting on the edge of the sidewalk.
"Hey bro," Sora greeted cheerily as he climbed into the passenger seat; his eyes widened when he spotted the bruise on his brother's cheek. "What the - what the heck-"
"It's nothing," Roxas replied through gritted teeth; his eyes glanced over to the window of the restaurant and he spotted a few people waving in their direction. When he caught a glimpse of a smiling brunette with her arm around a blond boy's waist, he immediately turned to face the front.
Unfortunately his twin brother did not miss that - he did not miss much when it came to his brother, actually - and he frowned. "Roxas…"
"I'm fine." The blond shifted gears and drove out of the parking lot; he could feel the brunet's eyes on him and he exhaled sharply. "Really, Sora, I'm fine."
"You know you can't hide anything from me!" Sora prodded; he sighed and shook his spiky head. "At least she's happy now, right?"
Roxas let his brother's words sink in a little bit more; he finally responded when he stopped at a red light. "Yes, as long as she's happy it's fine with me," He frowned and ruffled the back of his hair, "Her happiness is all that matters, but what's really bothering me is the fact that I never made her that happy. Not even once."
"Don't say that-"
"It's the truth!" Roxas' knuckles whitened as he tightened his grip on the wheel, "I was never around long enough to make her happy, to actually spend time with her! I'll never forget the look she gave me when she told me it was over…" He shook his head violently and stepped on the gas, "I hurt her, Sora."
"Maybe if you stopped running around with The XIII so much you'd find the time to correct your mistakes." Sora rolled his eyes, and Roxas glared at him but did not choose to say anything. He did not have a good enough answer, anyway.
The awkward drive lasted for another ten minutes; when the modern, open-ended architecture of the Katsura manor poked out from the tops of the trees Roxas let out a sigh. He parked in front of the house and a man stepped outside to take his car.
"Thanks, Frederiction," He mumbled as he tossed him the keys. He followed his brother inside the house, where their mother was waiting for them.
"Boys," She pulled her sons in for a hug; when she pulled away she glanced at them with a broad smile. "Are you ready for school tomorrow?"
"I think so," Sora replied, scratching his head, "Gotta double check, though - g'night, Mom!" He kissed her cheek quickly before dashing up the glass staircase to his room.
"And you, Roxas?" His mother turned to face him, and guilt bubbled inside of him again; though she was smiling he could see the pain, the disappointment in her eyes, and he knew why. She eyed the growing bruise on his cheek but she chose not to say anything, just like all the other times.
"Yeah, I think I'm ready." It was not his fault he looked exactly like his father, the man she loved so dearly, the man she thought she was going to be with for the rest of her life. Every time she looked at him she probably thought of his father - to her he was just a sad reminder of earlier, happier times. Roxas leaned in and hugged his mother again, pressing his cheek against her sleek hair. He loved his mother, and he hated how he was causing her so much pain. "I'm going upstairs now."
He could feel her thin arms slowly making their way around his waist. "Goodnight, Roku."
His childhood nickname did not make the hurt any better. "'Night, Mom." He pecked her on the cheek and made his way up the stairs, his hand wandering to his dirty blond spikes. He approached his door at the end of the narrow hallway and opened it slowly; it was dark and messy inside, just like how he left it. He absently kicked at a loose leaf of paper before sitting on the edge of his bed and burying his face in his hands; a heaviness settled in his chest, pulling his heart down to his stomach.
Why did he have to hurt everybody that was close to him? He never intended it; he never wanted to hurt anybody. He exhaled slowly and crossed his arms over his chest, his fingers catching onto the hem of his shirt. He pulled his shirt over his head and tossed it carelessly to the floor before unbuckling his belt and kicking off his jeans. After pulling his socks and shoes off he crawled underneath the sheets and stuffed his face into his pillow, breathing in deep. He did not care how early it was; he had enough of the world for today.
It was so hard to sleep nowadays; hours passed and all he had been doing was tossing and turning fruitlessly. He groaned and ducked underneath his pillow, rubbing his face with his hands and rumpling his hair. The never-ending guilt that licked at his insides was unbearable now, and he rolled over on his back and forced his eyes open, staring at the ceiling. The brunette's face flashed before him for a split second and he cringed, clamping his eyes shut. He groaned and rolled over on his stomach, trying to force the image of the brunette out of his head, but nothing was working. Her pale green eyes haunted him, and her voice was ringing in his ears. It was so hard, so hard to forget her.
Suddenly the green eyes turned into a pair of blue ones, and the long brown hair shortened and darkened into a pitch black. Xion was invading his head now with that sweet smile of hers; his hollow chest was threatening to cave inwards.
This was so stupid; he was losing sleep over girls. Roxas groaned again and rolled onto his back, throwing an arm over his eyes. He needed to get at least a few hours of sleep; he had school in the morning. He needed to attend school so he could let his mother believe that he was a good student, that he was attending class every day and getting good grades, like his brother. He needed to prove to his mother that growing up in the city with a single dad did not harden his personality at all; he needed to prove to his mother that he was just as good as Sora was.
He needed to pretend that everything was fine.
A/N: Axel's truck is a 1998 Chevy Silverado.
A couple of the songs Roxas was playing in his car: The Ex by Billy Talent and We Are The Sound by Alexisonfire, which should be the theme song for Organization XIII in my opinion. I guess it can be their theme for this story =P