It's the tone of voice that does it. It's one that Axel hasn't heard before; at least, not from the vaguely-familiar blond boy standing behind him, fingers nervously (nervously? And there was another curiosity to think over later) twisting at the fabric of his scarf and breath misting in the cold morning air.

"Uh..." he has to think for a moment. Blonde. Skinny. Blue eyes. R-something. Ross? Ryan? Ron? "It's... Roxas, right? Roxas Strife."

"Yeah." The boy smiles, and Axel is a little puzzled by the happiness evident in his eyes.

After a long, long moment of silence, Axel supposes he ought to say something.

"Did you... uh, want something?"

"Um..." The scarf will be hopelessly creased when he takes it off, the fringed ends knotted over and over by his long fingers. A deep breath, an exhalation turning the frosted air white. "Um... Yeah, I, er - I – I was wondering if you –"

Beep. Beep. Beep.

"Oh – uh, one second, kid?" Axel scrambles in his pocket for his mobile, flicks the screen open, smiles in delight, turns away. "Yeah – hey, Dem! Yeah, great night – no way! Oh, you did not..." and in the background, a blond boy stands in the cold morning and shrinks further into himself.

"...actually? Cool. Okay, see you there. Yeah... sure. Bye –" he listens, then smiles, "- yeah, love you too."

Flipping the phone shut, Axel turns back to the blond kid with a smile. "So, what were you saying, kid?"

"Uh..." the boy looks down at his feet, hands stiffly held at his sides. Axel's eyes cannot help but be drawn to the way the watery light gleams on his hair. "Nothing, really. Doesn't matter. I've – I've gotta go. See you around!"

And he turns and walks away, a little too fast, shoulders stiff, his strangely compelling hair still shining in the light.

Axel looks after him, and frowns.

Then he turns too, and walks away, leaving a trail of melted footprints in the frost.

All the way to class, and for a long, long time after that, he has an uncomfortable feeling in the pit of his stomach that he's missed something. But he's not entirely sure what.

AN - So I'm evidently incapable of writing anything longer than 2000 words. Whatever. Reviews are love, etcetera, and no, I do not own them. Because if I did, they wouldn't be legal. Not even in Canada.