AN: TWO. YEARS. LATER (OR IS IT THREE)

GUYS. DO YOU KNOW HOW LONG IT TOOK ME TO REMEMBER MY EMAIL AND PASSWORD JFC KDFJK. remember when my last update was me spazzing over how i finally finished after six months? HOW DOES IT FEEL NOW THAT IT'S BEEN TWO YEARS LMFAO. okay, so i have a few apologies to make. i'm horrible, i know.

my writing style has changed quite a bit and i'm sure you'll have noticed in this latest chapter. however, i did say that i wasn't going to give this fanfic up and i'm trying to keep my word, even though i'm taking forever in updating. some of you have probably stopped following this fanfic, and i can't blame you, but for all those who have been following until now, thank you. thank you so much. if i've got anyone to thank for getting me to continue this story, it'd be you, because kdjhksf you're all so encouraging and nice and strange (that's said in the loveliest way possible because i love strange people) for sending me reviews and messages. i was reading this at 2 AM in the morning some days ago and i … haven't read my own fic in over two years. i cringed and laughed but it made me realize how much i missed this. so while i've got this incredible urge to start over and write things a little better, ic, less cliché, (and oh god what was i doing to sephiroth i'm so sorry sephiroth pls forgive me for ruining ur character), etc, i think you all deserve a proper update and a proper ending (it's not ending yet, don't worry, but it's getting there) before i start revamping. hey, i might even start a new kh fanfic. who knows? (probably not) (but axel) (what is self control)

some of you have written some of the loveliest reviews and i still am mind-blown that i have become an inspiration for some of you. ;;; that's one of the biggest compliments i will ever, ever, ever get. and it really means a lot and. i was at a down-low with my writing but you guys brought me back and i can't thank you enough for it. my writing has changed, for better or for worse (? i'll let you be the judge of that) but it's what i'm decently happy with right now.

thank you again for staying with me, and hello~ to all new readers (? if there are any). i love you.

p.s i went back and casually weeped at the rape-scene memory because it was so horribly written … also wow my fifteen year old self threw the word "rape" around so loosely, i'm really sorry about that. WHY DID NO ONE STOP ME ; aaaaa ; " sorry for all this monologue. back to story!


XXII

"Roxas? What's wrong?"

The boy hadn't budged. He was rigid, as if turned to stone. Axel took Roxas by the shoulders and was startled when he felt the younger trembling beneath his fingers. It took him less than two seconds to figure out that this man was bad news. He coolly lifted his eyes over Roxas's brown hair and stared steadily at the stranger, who, in the end, seemed to be solely fixated on his boyfriend.

"It's…" Roxas stuttered. "It's…"

Axel heard a frightened, shallow breath and was about to say something when the man interrupted. "Roxas," he said, patronizing. A small smirk lifted the corner of his lips. "We need to talk."

The thought of the man calling his Roxas "Roxas" didn't even occur to Axel; he was too preoccupied with the younger male's state, which seemed to get worse when the man beckoned him over. Roxas, seemingly unable to pronounce a single syllable, numbly walked out of Axel's grasp and towards the silver-haired man. "I'll be back in a second," he heard Roxas murmur quietly.

"You sure?" Axel cast another dubious look at the man.

"I'll be fine." But even he didn't seem so certain.

Struggling to stay where he was (trust him, Axel, just trust him), Axel watched as they both walked out of sight.


Roxas never felt so sick in his life. The nerves were getting all jumbled in his stomach, jumping and unravelling every time Sephiroth turned around to see if he was still following him, then tightening as he took another step forward. He wanted to run around the corner and throw up, but his feet kept moving against his will. Tap, tap, tap. Roxas held in a suppressed sob in his too-tight throat. Please, God. Please… But he didn't know what to beg for.

They were walking too far from the entrance now. Being trapped in a secluded area with Sephiroth was the last thing Roxas wanted, so he stopped in his tracks, planting his feet stubbornly where he was. "I… That's far enough." A year ago, he wouldn't have had the courage to stand up to Sephiroth, but this was enough. This was the only place he had ever felt at home. He wasn't going to let Sephiroth take that away from him.

The man turned around slowly, a belittling, almost mocking, look adorning his pointed face. "Feeling brave, are we?" Then suddenly, his voice dropped to a dangerous croon. "You've disobeyed me, Roxas."

"It's just school," Roxas said, hoping to appease, to amend what he knew couldn't be fixed with so little words. "I'm still modelling. I'm still doing what you want me to do. I haven't really disobeyed. I haven't done anything wrong. I know it's your money but I earned it through my job – I just – I haven't done anything," he cut himself off. He wondered if he was making sense at all. He felt nothing in his lips and it felt like he was babbling nonsense. Sephiroth seemed to bristle.

"You earned that money?" Sephiroth sneered, slow and unwavering. "You? Because of your little stunt, I've been having to pay extra money because you were stealing from me." Roxas bit down hard on his tongue to refrain from denying the accusation. "You have nothing, Roxas. You have nothing without me. Have you forgotten that already?" He leered at him, straightening to his full height and towering over the smaller boy with a disdainful look. "This has gone far enough. And don't think I don't know what you've done to your own body."

Roxas stiffened. At first, he didn't know what Sephiroth had meant, but then he felt a small twinge on his back and he remembered – "My tattoo?" he asked, incredulous. "Plenty of models have marks – it's what makes them distinct! I can do what I want with my own body. I can…" he faltered, catching the murderous look in Sephiroth's eyes. And the man was smiling. Patient smiles. Roxas shivered. Please, he begged silently again. I need to stop talking.

But I don't want to lose everything.

"Please," Roxas said quietly, feeling rather small and more than just a little selfish. "Just a few more months. Exams are coming up and I just want to finish the year. I'll…I'll quit after the term is done, okay?"

"You'll quit before the week is done." Roxas was about to protest that it was a Wednesday, that the week was almost through, but the look on Sephiroth's face shut him up instantly. "I'll speak to your principle. You're done. You have a lot to do. A lot to fix." His voice suddenly became quiet, dangerous. Roxas shivered, and found himself to be very, very frightened. "You're lucky if I don't maim you until your pretty face is the only thing that's pretty about you, Roxas."

Sephiroth hadn't touched the blond in years, so there was a moment of doubt when those words reached Roxas's ears. He slowly looked up – and was paralyzed with fear when he saw that his uncle was smiling with such sincerity that it pierced through Roxas's façade of bravery.

"Do you doubt me?"

Roxas bowed his head silently, his bottom lip trembling in anger, defeat, and fear.

Sephiroth breathed in slowly, satisfied with the fear lingering in the atmosphere. He was in control and Roxas now remembered. He let his gaze fall on his nephew's head and his lips tightened to an irate scowl. "And what, may I ask, is that?" As if he had just noticed. Roxas jumped and ran his fingers nervously through his fake auburn hair.

"I—"

"Take it off."

"But—"

"This instant."


What's taking him so long?

Axel kicked himself off from the wall, uncrossing his arms and gracing his features with a rather worried frown. He should've been back by now. He knew. Roxas had told him to stay but there was an uneasy feeling lingering in every thumping beat of his heart. He stooped to pick a white dandelion from the school gardens. So … go after him, don't go after him, go after him … don't …

I shouldn't.

Then he grinned. "When the hell have I ever listened to my own conscience?" he asked aloud before following the path around the building where Roxas's footprints seemed to have led. There was a surprising lack of students on school property and Axel vaguely wondered if there had been some sort of event that he had missed an announcement on. With a distracted mind, he only looked up in time to see Roxas with his head bent. Narrowed green eyes flashed in suspicion to see Roxas look so … submissive.

Wait, is this…?

Axel cursed at himself, having figured it out too late. This was the man who –

He had to stop this.

He took a step forward, mouth opening to call something out, perhaps something crude to catch their attention, or simply a "Step away from Roxas and no one gets hurt." would have worked as well, but the words caught in his throat when Roxas reached up to his hair and – pulled – until he was holding brown tufts of hair in his hands to reveal sunshine, golden locks.

What…?

His footsteps choked to a complete halt as Roxas tilted his head. There was still so much familiarity while looking at the boy from afar – it wasn't as if he hadn't imagined his Roxas to be blond before, but seeing it happen was like an origami lie unfolding before his eyes, unveiling something beautiful to be something … else. Axel felt like his ribcage were wrapped in shrinking ivy, finding a weight like his bones were closing in on his heart, like the bones could pierce through and –

It hurt.

Roxas turned around.

"Axel…?"

Horror had never looked clearer in those cerulean eyes and Axel couldn't find it within himself to reach out. Roxas dropped the wig and started to run towards him, staggering on the first step. Sephiroth, surprisingly, didn't stop him.

"Axel, I'm—"

"Roxas." The name tasted strange and, yet, he felt it was accustomed on his tongue. Then a sudden thought settled in. It was a lie. I didn't even know this person. I let myself fall in love with this boy … and I never knew. His eyes flitted up to Roxas's hair. Suddenly, so much of the last few months made sense: how Roxas never let him touch his hair, all those questions, all those fucking little hints ("you might not like this other side of me"), and – God, how could he have been so stupid? It was so obvious now. And he felt angry. Betrayed.

Rokusasu Hale doesn't even exist.

Axel stepped back, shoulders stiffening to guard himself from Roxas's reaching hand. A sickened look, a livid, confused glare, graced his face. "What the fuck."

Roxas stopped, his hand shaking in hesitation. "I can ex—"

"No," Axel hissed. Roxas stuttered, and suddenly because Axel could see him as Roxas DeRenzis, he found it incredibly … annoying to even hear a syllable coming out of his mouth. He found he didn't want to know any more; he was afraid to know how much of this had been a goddamn lie."Do I even know you anymore?"

Axel stared hard at him, into the same blue eyes, the same face he had kissed, held in his hands, loved. This boy he had come to fall in love with – had he ever existed to begin with? Or was that just another act? The glare hardened and it finally admonished a reply from the blond.

"It was a … I just wanted to …" Roxas's voice rose higher, eyes pleading with Axel to listen to him. Axel shook his head, amazement and disbelief written plainly on his face. Heavy silence filled the space between them. Five, ten unbearable seconds passed

Then Axel let out a harsh bark of laughter. Incredulous. Roxas blinked, surprised, almost relieved, until he saw the look of disdain and disgust on Axel's face. "Spit it out. It was all just a fucking lie, wasn't it?" He didn't wait for Roxas to respond; he already knew the answer. "That's what all the secrecy was about, then? Didn't want me to know about this other persona of yours. Fuck." His jaw set as he grit his teeth in resentment. "I wouldn't have been this fucking pissed if you had just told me from the beginning. If you had just trusted me." He laughed again. A clipped, dry sound. "Fucking played me like a fool."

"I—"

"I don't want to hear you speak."

He turned aside, his hand clenched into a tight fist as he shoved it into his pocket; he was afraid he would lose control over his temper and take a violent swing at Roxas. His eyes flitted back to the younger boy's face and he only felt mildly disgusted with himself when he told himself that he actually wouldn't mind knocking out a few teeth for this lie. He felt too nauseated to say any more, bile threatening to burn his throat as he finally wrenched his gaze away from Roxas. He didn't know what to think.

"Don't follow me."

He walked away without another word.


Axel was gone. It had been a long thirty-five seconds as Roxas stared into the empty space before him. He had gone without another word, without even turning back just like he always used to, with a smirk and – no. Roxas had a strong feeling it wouldn't happen ever again. Not after what just happened. A chill crept up his arm. Still he stared, perhaps hoping that Axel would come back, head thrown back in a laugh as if nothing was wrong. He waited. One, two, three held breaths. Nothing. Axel was definitely gone.

Roxas swallowed hard, a sickening throb in his brain as he turned around. The only thing relieving about this entire situation was that Sephiroth had left. With his heart pounding against his chest, he stumbled over, dropping to his knees and clawing at the forgotten wig on the ground. With a choked, frustrated yell, he threw it at the wall (it fell unsatisfyingly on the ground) before striking his fists against the bricks. The pain didn't even account for what he felt inside, but it stung and it distracted him enough to slide to the ground with a sob.

I'm so stupid. I'm so, so, so stupid.

He sat on the ground, another wretched sob wracking his frame. "No one to blame but yourself," he whispered thickly. It didn't rain, but he wished it would. Pathetic fallacy would have made him feel better about crying. He wished the sky would darken, wished the sun would stop fucking shining. The warmth on his hair never felt so cold in his entire life. Roxas curled up, buried his face into his arms, and cried himself to sleep.


"The name's Axel. Got it memorized?"

"Hey, sunshine!"

"Give me a real smile, won't you, Roxas?"

"You know I'm always here for you, Rox."

"I'll hold onto you. Promise."

"I'll take care of you, Roxas. I'll protect you."

"I told you I was going to stay with you, no matter what."

"Is that a promise?"

"Do you want it to be?"

"Hey, I love you, Roxas."

"I love you."


He woke up to a tumult of disorientated feelings, with dirt pressed damply against his cheek and a throat too sore to speak. He opened his mouth; a painful, scratchy cough was the only sound he could make. His eyes felt swollen, like he had received two swift punches to each before falling unconscious.Where am I? he thought, lifting his head. A heavy pulse shot through his head and he held it between shaking hands. For a breathtaking, oblivious moment, he forgot what had happened hours ago.

Then it all came back to him.

He decided he would rather take the two punches over this.

Roxas crawled onto his knees, fumbling with his pockets before dropping his cell phone onto the ground. Axel… he had half-expected to see his name as the LED light flashed blindingly into his tired, dulled eyes. No New Messages. He checked his inbox. Nothing at all. His eyelids suddenly felt heavy.

Feeling completely and utterly cold and miserable, Roxas dragged his feet back home.


AN: sephy ain't stickin' around for boyfriend drama nope the bamf has other things to do like ruin someone else's life.

you guys are crazy for sticking around. crazy awesome. ok though i willingly admit that this wasn't my best writing and you guys deserve better. u_u" but accept this for now? g-gomen. ; w; there are no words to say how sorry i am for making you wait this long ; ^^;