"…Did you hear? He had a heart attack."
"I can't believe it. He was so young!"
"I've heard it happens sometimes. Remember that figure skater? He was what, twenty? It's so sudden though. There's going to be a wake on Thursday."
"Will his lover be okay?"
"I'm sure he will eventually. He has a lot of friends and the church. But right now he's broken up over it…"
The Almighty and the Adversary watched a sad little angel moping through Heaven.
Roxas hadn't particularly protested his return to Heaven but he wasn't the same. His vibrations were still soothing to the other angels but they also promoted a kind of lethargy. The Almighty had noticed a decrease in activity wherever Roxas was. Which was fine, in a way, time didn't matter in Heaven. But he still kept the little angel moving a bit. In the long term, the effect was negative.
Down in the material plane Axel was getting by. It had been five years by the human calendar and the agonizing grief and loss had faded somewhat. Axel had worked through his crisis of faith and even found comfort in the fact that if Roxas was right, he would certainly see the blonde again in Heaven. He'd overcome a great test and was still the kind, giving person he'd always been. And yet… there were scars. The Eternal and the Prosecutor could both see the way he flinched whenever he saw hair that was that particular shade of blonde and the way he avoided Starbucks. The way he sometimes stood on the balcony, his expression bleak as he looked over the city.
"I think it's been long enough." The Almighty finally said.
"Almighty?" Satan said questioningly. Long enough for what? The Eternal rumbled a laugh.
"Long enough for the test to be over. This test, at least." All life was a test and that did not end until death. "There's no need for them to suffer any longer. Fetch me Roxas."
"Yes, Almighty." The Adversary sought through heaven and found his quarry almost instantly. The little angel went docily, uncaring about what the greater angel wanted with him. Although he roused a little when he realized he was in the presence of the Eternal.
"Roxas?" The Almighty's vibrations were gentle and Roxas wanted to relax into them. But he couldn't help but feel hurt at everything that had happened. "It's time for you to have a choice. Would you go back to the material plane again?"
"Oh! Oh yes!" Sudden hope flowered in the little angel but then he sensed the Eternal gently pushing him down. Surprised, Roxas listened as the Almighty spoke.
"Do not be so eager. Before, I created an artificial body for you to house your angelic essence. Despite the mortality of that body you were still an angel. This time, that cannot be so. You are closer to mortal than most of my angels except perhaps the highest, Roxas." Only angels like Satan and the other great angels had such independence of thought. "But if you accept this you will be mortal when I am done. You will be prey to all mortal ailments and you will know the certainty of death. Will you face that?" Roxas didn't have to think twice about it. No sacrifice would be too much to be with Axel again.
"Yes Almighty. Please, let me go back to Axel." He pleaded and the Almighty assented.
"This will be different. But you will find a place is already made for you." And Roxas felt like he was falling, shrinking, changing. A great weakness came over him and while he felt smaller he also felt greater in a way he couldn't define. And for the first time, he realized that he'd never really been mortal before. Was this what it felt like to be human?
Then his last moments in heaven faded and he returned to the material plane.
"He doesn't have any family, Doctor. It's up to us to decide." The nurse said solemnly as the Doctor perused his chart, frowning. He looked up with a sigh.
"I know Nurse. And the odds that he'll ever awaken from this coma are very low. But we'll wait until the results come back." He wasn't hopeful. The boy in the bed had doll's eyes, meaning that if his head was turned quickly to the side his eyes remained fixed. That was a sign of severe brain trauma and most likely brain death. "And I just have a feeling…" The physician couldn't have said what it was, but something about the brunette made him want to hope. Hope he would someday come out of his coma and back to the land of the living. The nurse shook her head and he sighed. "You're probably right but –" There was a sudden mumble from the bed and the both turned to look, startled. A hand was reaching up to the ventilator tube. "What the?!?"
The next few moments were hectic as they tended to the suddenly awoken and confused patient. But they managed to get the boy calmed down and stopped him from trying to pull out his breathing tube. Soon they had it removed and the boy was breathing on his own, looking at them with confused blue eyes.
"What… happened?" He said, his voice rough and pained from the long stint under ventilation. The Doctor and nurse exchanged a glance before the physician explained.
"You were in a very bad car accident. Do you remember?" Roxas was silent for a moment as he thought, his mind chasing through memories that weren't his own. He did remember. He remembered talking and speaking to a silver haired man – Riku. This is Sora's body. What happened to them? – and the sudden scream of tires and the sheer terror of the moment before something hit them. "It was a semi-truck. The driver had a heart attack and died behind the wheel. You suffered a spinal fracture and head injuries."
"…Oh." Sora/Roxas said softly, feeling a bit sick. He'd never imagined the cheerful boy he'd met at the Starbucks could have such a terrible thing happen to him. "…Riku. Is he…" The look on the Doctor's face told him everything he needed to know and Roxas closed his eyes. "Oh, Riku." He very much regretted the other boy's death. He could see from Sora's memories that Riku had been a wonderful boyfriend. But Roxas understood what the Almighty had done.
Sora had been brain dead. His soul had already fled the remains of his body and gone to Heaven. He was with Riku now, and since his body was intact enough to be used the Almighty had done so, giving Roxas a home and a ready made history. He also had Sora's memories, since they were engraved in the body left behind. That would be very useful. Roxas wasn't quite sure how he felt about inhabiting someone else's body but he wasn't going to question it. He just wanted to be with Axel again.
It took a week for his battered body to mend, and according to the doctors that was an exceptional recovery. He finally got to Sora's and Riku's apartment to find an auburn haired girl waiting for him, carrying a little dog. Pluto. The dog seemed a little uncertain, sniffing him a moment before deciding he was fine.
"Sora! Thank god you're alright. We were all certain you weren't going to make it." Roxas remembered the girl's name… this was Kairi. He felt awkward for a moment as she gripped his arm but then it melted into friendship. He knew her through Sora's memories. "I'm so – so sorry about Riku." She sniffed, rubbing her face and Roxas hugged her.
"Me too Kai." He murmured into her ear. "I have to go talk to someone. Can you look after Pluto a while longer?" Kairi looked puzzled but nodded.
"I can take care of him as long as you like." Something was a little different about Sora. He seemed far more subdued. But then, he'd lost his lover and been in a horrible accident. That was probably to be expected. Roxas nodded with a smile.
"I'll be back soon." He promised. Kairi watched, puzzled and a bit uncertain as he left. Roxas was impatient so he used his cell phone to call a cab, and soon he was at Axel's apartment complex. Roxas chewed on his lip for a moment, uncertain. He would need to be buzzed in and how could he get Axel to do that? But then he smiled as an older lady used her key and held the door open for him. The little angel took advantage of that and soon he was taking the elevator up to Axel's apartment. Taking a deep breath, he knocked briskly at the door. The redhead answered, opening it just a crack and not undoing the chain.
"I'm not buying anything." He said a touch rudely when he saw an unfamiliar, brown haired boy at his doorstep. Roxas frowned at him.
"I'm not selling anything." Why would Axel assume that? Oh. Sora's memories quickly told him why. Aluminum siding? "Axel, it's me. Roxas. I'm back!" Roxas smiled happily at the redhead and was a bit hurt when he stiffened and scowled.
"You're not Roxas." He said flatly and was going to close the door but the little angel managed to stick his foot in it. "He's dead. I don't know what delusions you have, but you're not Roxas."
"Yes I am." Roxas insisted. "Do you remember the first time we made love? It was after you took me to the Y." Axel blinked as Roxas went on. "We went to Starbucks then we played Lucky Joy Farm. We were looking for the Pretty Fun-Fun Lilies but we hadn't found them when supper was done… remember?" Axel hesitated. He could remember all the details of that day, thanks to what had happened that night, and he knew he'd never told anyone about it.
"…Roxas?" Axel stared into the blue eyes that were almost the same shade as the ones he remembered, the face that was similar although not quite the same. "How?" He hesitated a moment before letting the brunette into his apartment. Roxas took one look and made a face.
"Axel! I'm gone and you let the place go back to being a trash heap?" If anything, it was worse than when Roxas had first arrived last time. There were even more pizza boxes and pop cans scattered everywhere and it had clearly been a week since Axel had done the dishes. The only plus side was that there wasn't much actually rotting. Axel ran a hand through his hair, looking a bit sheepish.
"Cleaning just wasn't fun without you. But Roxas, how are you back? And what's happened to you?" Watching this stranger move he could see Roxas in him, yet he looked so different. Could this really be his lost lover? Roxas turned and smiled at him brilliantly before giving him a hug.
"The Almighty sent me back." He murmured as he cuddled against Axel's chest. His shirt was still soft, just like Roxas remembered. "But he made me mortal and to do that he used the body of a boy who was already gone. His name was Sora, but I'm Roxas and I love you so much Axel." Really believing for the first time, Axel hugged Roxas tightly and the blond looked up as he felt wetness against his neck. Axel was crying?
"Roxas." The redhead's voice was rough as he reached up with one hand to wipe away the tears, still holding the other boy close to his chest. "I missed you so much." Roxas blinked and clung to his lover tightly and for a moment, their tears mingled. He'd missed Axel just as much, so much it had hurt.
The intense moment of reunion couldn't last and Roxas was glad. That much emotion was painfully intense. Roxas drew back, sniffling and wiping his eyes before he smiled.
"I know what we can do to bond again!" Axel blinked as Roxas pointed a finger at his nose. "We're going to clean! Together! Go get the garbage bags." Axel grinned and went to pull out the garbage bags. That was the Roxas he knew and loved. Soon they were cleaning the apartment together and it felt so familiar.
"Axel?" Roxas said, a bit hesitantly. "I know you like big dogs, but would a Chihuahua be okay? And would you like to move to my apartment? It's nicer and allows dogs." Axel's didn't which was the main reason he didn't have one. The redhead laughed and gave him a quick kiss.
"I'd love a Chihuahua." He'd never thought about owning a tiny dog before but right now it sounded like the best thing in the world. Axel was high on life and the return of the most important person in his life. Smiling, he snagged a pop can and tossed it into the recycling bag.
All was right with the world.
Roxas pulled a batch of chocolate chip cookies out of the oven, smiling and humming to himself.
Things had changed a lot for him and Axel from what he remembered. Roxas had taken up Sora's job as a vet tech, which he knew how to do perfectly well from the brunette's memories and knowledge. He hadn't kept Sora's friends though. Most of them had been very offended by how quickly he'd forgotten about Riku. The only one he'd told the truth to had been Kairi and she had told him to see a psychiatrist. That made Roxas rather sad, but he knew Sora didn't care what anyone thought of him. He was happy in Heaven with Riku.
He had Axel's friends though, and they were all very happy to see the redhead going on and finding a new love interest. Although several of them were uncomfortable with Axel calling his new lover Roxy and a few of them had mentioned it to him. Roxas grinned as he thought about it. It had been all he could do not to burst out laughing at them. Eventually, he hoped everyone would get used to it. For now the cookies needed to –
"Those look great. Gimme a cookie kid." Roxas almost jumped out of his skin at the rough voice. Whirling around he saw a snake coiled on the kitchen table.
"No!" Roxas retorted, relishing the ability to tell the Adversary that. The snake managed to look hurt, which was a really good trick for a reptile. "What are you doing here?" Roxas didn't want to see the Prosecutor again. He wanted to go on with his life as a human.
"What, I can't stop by for cookies? Don't suppose you have anymore syrup?" The snake flicked his scales with the tip of his tail. Roxas stared at him, expression indicating he was less than amused. "You're definitely getting the hang of being human kid. Getting an edge to you, heh."
"Save it. What are you really here for?" Roxas wasn't in the mood to listen to the great angel's wit and as a human, he didn't have to.
"I just thought you'd like to know why you got sent back, kid." Roxas blinked and tilted his head. He was a bit curious about that. Satan's voice was warm as he went on. "It's because you did good, you and Axel both. You did good kid."
"Oh. Um, I – HEY!" Another snake was stealing a cookie! The snake on the table vanished as Roxas lunged at the second snake, which dropped onto the floor and slithered into the dining room. "Hey, that's not yours!" He chased the snake around the room but the reptile had a surprising turn of speed. The way the great angel was laughing at him only made it more frustrating for the little angel.
"Roxas, what's all the shouting about?" Axel's sleepy voice came from the bedroom and he walked out and almost got slapped in the face by black wings as a very large raven with a cookie in its beak made a break past him for the window. "Wha – GAH!" Roxas ran into the redhead, knocking him down as the raven cawed, amused, and took off into the wild blue yonder.
"Satan, you're bad!" Roxas shook his fist at the departing angel as Axel stared at him, wide eyed. "Don't worry. It was just the Adversary. He came by to steal a cookie." Axel started to laugh until he was shaking, and hugged his surprised lover tightly.
"Only you could say that with a straight face, Roxas." Axel said fondly as he ruffled brown hair. "I love you so much." Roxas looked up into his face and entirely forgot about the cookie as the redhead kissed him. They were both oblivious to the raven, sitting on the balcony and watching them as he ate his cookie.
Sometimes, it was nice to see a happy ending.