An Axel/Roxas drabble

Axel has changed.

Roxas doesn't know how, and he doesn't why, but he does know something: that when Axel's gaze lingers just a bit longer on his face than is absolutely necessary, when Axel opens his mouth as if ready to say something, as if almost choking on whatever it is he wants to say and then doesn't, or when that fire cracker smirk of his is not enough to distract from the shimmer in his whirling green eyes, Roxas can feel that something's wrong.

Roxas doesn't say anything, though. He pretends not to feel the weight of Axel's eyes, notice his moods, see his eyes.

Trying to avoid the river where the water is wide.

"You're quiet today." Axel's voice is quiet, probing; a layer of kindness dulling what has once been a cliff to his voice, mild concern sticking to his voice like syrup to a jar. Axel hasn't said much since they've come to the top of the clock tower, devouring his ice cream bar in silence and only ever filling it with random bits of commentary. Roxas remembers him having been more boisterous back then.

Roxas turns his head to look at him, lips still slightly pursed at the taste of the sea-salt. "Tiring mission, I guess. Lots of Heartless."

Axel nods, then stretches his body, arms loosely linked above his head, loose smile playing tug-and-release at the corners of his lips. "Heartless are fun, man. They're kinda squishy, eh? Makes you want to get little Heartless plushies."

Roxas tilts his head. "You don't really think so, do you?"

Dropping his arms to his side and then propping up his weight on his palms, Axel snorts. "No."

Roxas notices the dark bags under his eyes and the strain in his jaw, and quietly looks away.

"Not just Heartless plushies," Axel goes on, and Roxas can hear the smirk in his voice, "I was thinking one of those red fire-spewing muffinhead plushies."

Roxas appreciates his attempt at lightening the mood, but only replies with a small, "Hmm".

Silence reigns, stretching out between them like a unwinding Oriental carpet glinting golden beneath the last fingers of dawn oozing out of where the sun had sunken into the distant castle's spires. Roxas wrinkles his nose as the wind picks up; he can pick up the distant smell of flowers (dandelions, he thinks, although he doesn't know where he's heard of such a word before), the first messengers of the impending spring wreathing its mark into the air.


( New beginning or the beginning of the end -- )

He slides his eyes to the corners, stealing a glance at Axel, then lets them drift back to their normal position, then darts another quick look over at Axel --

Only to catch his eyes, to see himself confronted by two glittering pools of green trained firmly on him accompanied by that ever-present small smirk and an almost contemplative expression on his face, and --

( what happened why are you like this did you kill the others -- )

Roxas is startled, just slightly, his heart picking up speed -- thump thump THUMP -- and for a moment, Roxas can't do anything, can't even look away, can only look at Axel, at his eyes, nose, jaw, lips --

( something's wrong I can tell something's up tellmetellmetellme -- )

The tension is ripped to shreds when Axel asks, "What?"

Roxas blinks.

Realizes what he's doing.

Doesn't turn his head away as much as throw it to the other side. "Nothing." Dreaded heat pulses beneath his cheek, and suddenly the stone beneath him is way too hard and too cold, why did they even come to this place, seriously, and it's not even like sea-salt ice cream is that good, really, I mean, personally, Roxas has always preferred green tea ice cream, really -- or, or at least he has a distant memory of liking it, that is, and --


Roxas's thoughts are driven into a wall, because Axel is suddenly there.

As in, right next to him.


So close he can smell him; that unique mix of spices and fire and the very own scent of Axel's scalp writhes up into his nose.

"You okay, man?" Axel's breath breaks over the shell of Roxas's ear when he leans in. "We're --" He stops, and there's hesitation in his voice now, as if he's afraid of the answer, the cool exterior cracking and revealing a glimpse of what's beneath for just a moment before he goes on, in an even quieter voice that makes the strands of hair at the side of Roxas's hair flutter, "We're -- we're still cool, right?"

"Cool. Yeah." Roxas is looking, no, staring at the last trickles of dusk running along the edge of town. "That sounds -- cool."

Axel sighs -- Roxas can feel it, warm and moist. "All right, man. Got me worried for a second there."

"There's nothing to worry about," Roxas says, and somehow his cheeks are burning. "Nothing's wrong."

He's quiet. For so long that Roxas fears that he hasn't believed it, that his heart seems to skip at the mental image of suspicion seeping into Axel's face and spreading like spilled ink, feels his heart singing in his ears --

"Cool. I mean, great." Axel starts to slide away from him, taking his oppressive body heat with him. "If nothing's wrong, then that's -- great."

And so, they launch into silence again, and Roxas knows that it won't be long before Axe, still so susceptible to cold --

(at least that hasn't changed)

-- will get up with a yawn and stretch out his limbs, and from the position of Roxas still sitting, he still will look to be a ten feet tall gangly hedgehog, and he will likely still stifle a grin at the thought before jumping to his feet and following Axel down the stairs to the streets below.

And nothing will have changed, and nothing will be wrong, and everything will be fine.

Because Roxas doesn't need to ask. He doesn't. It's not like the answer is that important anyway.

But he knows that sometimes, he'll still wonder.

( We're -- we're still friends -- )

(.... Right? )