Author's Note:

So like, on Wednesday I was all like, "Shit! Valentine's Day!" So I put the other projects on temporary hold so I could whip this out.

Ah, Valentine's Day...I fucking love this holiday. Let the record show, this is my 25th consecutive ValDay without a significant other, and life is good and this holiday is just good fun. So enjoy it, and if any of you feel the need to specifically wear black today, I'mma just say it's cuz you all look so sexy in some sleek, slimming black. So there. 8D

Now have a fic. Read with chocolate. ;D

Based on a true story.

There was nothing fun about stairs in mid-January.

Really, there was nothing fun about four flights of stairs and no elevator at any time of the year. They were admittedly worse in winter though, when the impossible-to-close-properly front door at ground level allowed a constant draft right up to the fourth floor of the stairwell, guaranteeing that no resident could hope for better than sub-zero temperatures until they were well and truly into their rooms.

The worst problem with these particular four flights of stairs at this moment, however, was not the cold or the fact that they seemed to go on forever. It was the five-thousand-ton, some-assembly-required desk Roxas was trying to transport up those flights of frigid stairs.

Cheers to grandmothers and their good intentions and their feeble memories resulting in late Christmas presents sent right to one's brand-new apartment. And cheers, of course, to delivery companies that merrily dumped a giant box just inside the door on the ground floor and walked off, leaving a shortish, thinnish blond with the problem of how to move the damn thing up all those stairs.

When he couldn't even fucking lift it. Not even close. Solid oak writing desk. Thank you so much, Gran.

Alone in his new town, Roxas had no one to call. He'd moved in just over a month ago after taking a new job – an administrative assistant. Or, more truthfully, a secretary for a closeted boss who really liked blonds with pretty faces and nice asses. He'd have loved to feel insulted on principle – being offered a job because of his looks, how trashy – but there were bills to pay and a living to make, and novels took time and didn't pay well and principles were a luxury and apartments on the fourth floor cost the least, even if they killed your legs on a good, no desk day.

So Roxas devised a clever plan – cut the box open and begin carrying the desk to his apartment in pieces. Big, heavy, awkward pieces – but at least ones he could lift. And if it meant he froze to death at some point in the endless climbing up and down…well, perhaps his tragic death would get his novel published posthumously. And then maybe his parents could get enough royalties to make up for how much his college had cost them.

Roxas was getting bitter in his train of thought, but really, few people could have done better in his situation. At least he was almost to his door and he could put this ridiculously awkward piece down soon. As he reached for the doorknob – left unlocked since he'd be right back – Roxas was wondering if he could leave the box down there alone for 10 or 20 minutes while he rested and warmed up…

What the… The sight that met his eyes was not familiar. The door had opened to an unexpected scene, and the first two things Roxas saw were a TV much larger than his own hand-me-down piece of shit…and a shirtless man. Stupidly, his first thought, as his mouth hung open in surprise, was, Am I getting a new TV too?

"Uh…I'm sorry," He managed to spit out an apology to the unfamiliar man, who was looking up at him with a mildly surprised expression, evidently not expecting a visitor while he was watching TV. Then, the unfamiliar face relaxed slightly, a flicker of amusement creeping into the deep, extremely pleasant voice that answered.

"No problem. Wrong apartment?"

Still in shock, Roxas glanced over at the door for a moment, finally registering the wrong number – he was on the third floor, right below his apartment. Why the hell isn't your door locked? "Yes." He gasped lamely, then turned back, brain still trying to figure out what the hell he should be saying right about now to this half-dressed stranger. Half-dressed…well-built stranger. With really startling red hair and a tattooed face – scary – and the most attractive, friendly expression Roxas had ever seen.

"Yes." His mouth repeated, without Roxas' permission. "Uh…I'm sorry."

The handsome stranger shrugged one bare shoulder – also tattooed, Roxas noticed, blinking at the green Celtic cross – and shook his head. "It's OK, no worries." Maybe it's unlocked because he can beat the shit out of anyone who tries to steal his…giant, amazing, plasma TV. Not that Roxas was looking at the TV anymore. Abs, pecs, arms…shit. Am I supposed to introduce myself? That thought didn't last long. Roxas could feel his face heating up from embarrassment, and he really didn't want to stick around and try to meet a neighbor while blushing like a schoolgirl.

Instead, he opted for one more fumbling apology and backed quickly out, trying to close the other man's door smoothly and failing with a bang, thanks to the oversized chunk of desk he was still holding. Wincing at the slam, Roxas turned tail and…well, if he couldn't manage running, he hiked back to the stairs as quickly as possible, berating himself for missing the fact that the landing turned again and led further up, rather than stopping here. Pay some fucking attention, idiot. And you, legs! I don't care if you think we should have been on the third floor! Quit fussing and accept the fact that you are fourth-floor legs already, and don't fucking ever try that again!

Roxas was so busy snarling at his exhausted legs that he dumped the desk piece in his living room and turned right back around, and didn't remember his idea of taking a break until he was back on the first floor. Then, of course, there was nothing to do but roll blue eyes heavenward and pick up another armload of wood and start another trudging, panting trek to the top floor.

This time, he was only carrying one piece, because it was the largest and heaviest and there was no way he could handle more. And even this was probably too much, Roxas realized at around the second floor landing. By the third floor, he was gasping for air and not looking up – not until shoes and tattered jeans came into view where only dirty, worn carpet should have been.

Eyes shooting up, startled, Roxas saw the man whose apartment he'd just walked into – now, fortunately, wearing a hoodie – standing there smiling at him.

"Hey. Need some help?"

"I uh…that's OK…" Roxas began, but the redheaded man interrupted him.

"That looks really heavy. You live upstairs?" Roxas could only nod, dumbfounded. "Here, let me help you with that." The man smiled, disarming him a bit, acting so friendly and casual and grabbing hold of one end of the wood. The weight lessened at once, and Roxas really couldn't argue anymore.

"Th-thanks for the help," he managed, sure his face was getting red again. He really didn't know what to say now, and he felt so awkward about having walked into this guy's living space, but the man was clearly not bothered at all…

"Hey, you live right above me," the man commented as they reached Roxas' door. "No wonder then, huh?"

"Yeah, I'm really sorry about that…" Roxas tried to speak while fumbling the new piece into his living room and adding it to the pile of desk sections already there.

The man disregarded the words. "You got more of that to bring up?" He was already heading back to the stairs. "Let me give you a hand. You must be getting tired, if you brought all that up on your own."

Roxas tried to dissuade the guy, tried to insist that, "It's really no problem, please, I don't want to trouble you…" but the redhead just waved that off.

"Psh, whatever. Come on." And that was that. The lanky young man made a few more trips with Roxas, bringing up the rest of the desk. The blond had to admit, it was a lot quicker with help. Especially help that wasn't tired already, like he was. And help that was…apparently quite strong. Wow.

On trips down the stairs, they chatted a little. Having been asked, Roxas explained about the desk and his grandmother. The man helping him laughed, but offered his sympathies, especially about the cold. Then he made a joke about working up a sweat in spite of the chill, running all those stairs.

"We've just met, and here you are getting me all hot and sweaty in the middle of the day." A sharp grin flashed and a bright green eye winked. "Tisk, tisk."

Roxas couldn't believe the guy had just said that. Nor could he come up with an answer. Not that it mattered, because this was the last trip…

But when the guy stood in his front room after dumping off his last armload and Roxas was trying to thank him again very politely, the stranger introduced himself and seemed in a great mood for friendly chatting.

"So I'm Axel, I'm your downstairs neighbor, nice to meet you." There was nothing Roxas could do except take the offered hand and shake it, answering.

"I'm Roxas. I just moved in last month."

"So, Roxas," the man's smile was still warm and casual, and really…not awkward at all. Not like Roxas felt. Or had felt…because he was feeling decidedly less awkward just being around this guy. "You gotta put this desk together, huh? Got the tools and stuff to handle it?"

"Uh…" Roxas scratched his head. Crap. He'd meant to get some basics, just…hadn't found the hardware store yet…

"No? Well, don't worry. Give me two seconds, I'll go get mine." He was gone before Roxas could protest, and back in minutes, refusing to hear arguments. Especially once Roxas had to admit that he had no idea how to assemble a desk. That made the guy – Axel – grin all over again. "Well, you're in amazing luck then, Roxas. You happen to live directly above a professional carpenter."

"Oh, but I can't ask you to…"

Axel held up a silencing hand. "Now now, don't go stepping on Fate's goodwill. She'll get pissy and make you burn the apartment down by accident, and then where will I live?" He chuckled – the nicest sound Roxas had ever heard – and slapped the blond's shoulder lightly. "Just…enough with the standing on ceremony, huh? I've got nothing to do, and I can have this finished for you in half the time you'd need to do it. Welcome to the apartment, Neighbor."

So Axel put together the desk. Roxas served Coke and Doritos and assisted when possible and they talked about the apartment, moving, Axel's jobs – being a carpenter was only one of them apparently, and the better term would have been "jack of all trades" – Roxas' job, Roxas' boss, Roxas' boss' creepy eyes and occasionally wandering hands – a lot of nothing, really.

"So your boss pervs on gorgeous young men like yourself, huh? Is he married?"


"Sucks for her then."

Roxas snorted. "Agreed, though the one time I met her…well. I didn't feel too sympathetic."

"She's a bitch?"

"Pretty much."

"Hmm." Axel fitted two joints contemplatively. "Sucks for you then."

"Yeah, thanks."

Roxas was startled to catch a wink from the redhead. "It's the curse of beauty, isn't it?" He had to fight back a rather warm smile that still managed to creep into his eyes. Is he saying…?

"What, me?" He tried to laugh it off. "Maybe to dirty old bastards."

That alarmingly attractive grin sharpened another degree. "Hey now," Axel's voice was lower all of a sudden…purring. "That's not nice. I'm not that old."

Roxas' stomach did a nervous little flip. "Oh, but you're a dirty bastard?" He watched Axel kneeling on his carpet and looking up at him, calm and unmoving a few feet away, not making any motion toward him, just…sitting there letting the air heat up between them. Lazily. Like he had all the time in the world.

Shrugging amiably, green eyes still fixed on his own, Axel answered, "Can't deny it."

Spine tingling, Roxas knew exactly what the other man was saying. And, while he knew he wasn't ugly, the implication that Axel found him attractive was…thrilling. So…that answers one question about him…

But if Roxas hoped things would go further, he was destined for disappointment. Axel just grinned at him – more than a little knowingly – and slowly and deliberately turned his attention back to the desk, and the conversation back to innocent, getting-acquainted chatting.

Roxas made Axel a sandwich for lunch. Axel finished the desk a while later. The two of them worked together to move the huge thing into place in a large enough empty corner. Axel cleaned up his tools.

"Well, Neighbor, give me a call anytime if you need anything else. Oh, right, you'll be needing my phone number for that." It was appalling how easily the man could pull off such a cheesy and possibly pushy line with easy friendliness. "Here, switch phones!"

The blond barely had time to catch as Axel tossed him his cell. He considered commenting on this sudden familiarity – maybe he could get Axel to flirt a little more – but after a pause he decided it was better to make sure he had that phone number first. So Roxas tossed his own cell back, and the two punched buttons for a minute.

One perfectly innocent goodbye later, it was the end of the first encounter. Or the second, depending on how one chose to count it. But that didn't matter much, because there would be many, many more.


On another day, Roxas' phone rang. He paused his game quickly and fished his cell out of the pocket of his slacks, which he hadn't bothered changing yet. Most of his suit had been cast off, but his undershirt, slacks, and socks remained while he shot holes in aliens.

He checked the caller ID and inhaled rapidly, grinning and trying to swallow his voice into submission, make it sound casual. "Hello?"

"Hi!" Axel's voice over the phone was just as low and friendly and nice. "You home?"


"Good, I'll be up in two minutes."

That was it.

Blue eyes blinked in a little surprise, which was even harder to conceal once Axel showed up and nonchalantly plopped himself down and joined Roxas in a little world-saving a.k.a. alien-shooting. It wasn't a level of familiarity he'd expected, but…hell, Roxas wasn't about to complain.

For the second meeting, that was all. Axel left after an hour.

For the third meeting, Roxas decided to take some initiative too. It seemed pretty clear that Axel was going to call and invite himself up again eventually, and Roxas didn't want to be a girl and just wait around for him. Besides, he could be laid-back too…if he tried a little. So Roxas made a call on a Sunday afternoon.


"Hey…you home?"

"Yeah, watchin' the game." Game? Oh yeah…football.

"Mind if I, uh, join you?"

Axel's voice took on a singsong quality. "Get downnnn heeeere!" Roxas almost snorted into the phone with laughter. Good thing Axel had already hung up.

So Roxas went downstairs and knocked, and that was how he met most of Axel's friends in one go – they were all over for pizza, beer, and football. And they were just as laid back as Axel was about new people. Roxas was pulled in, introduced, handed a beer and some pizza, and then all attention was drawn off him again quite suddenly – to the blond's relief – when the one girl in the company let out a screaming string of profanity at the TV. Everyone turned to either catch the replay of the interception or laugh at the girl's reaction.

The new guest didn't even get a chance to feel lost. Without warning, a hand grabbed his wrist and tugged him down, plopping him onto the sofa right next to Axel, who grinned in his usual lazy way and let go, draping his arm over the back of the couch…not touching Roxas, but close. A low voice muttered, leaning in, "Don't worry about Larxene, her team is losing and she's a psycho."

"Ah, right. Of course." Roxas shifted, trying to act calm, get settled, and maybe end up just a little closer to Axel. Not that it was hard – the couch practically took care of it for him. In a very few minutes, the rest of the people were sitting down again, crowding the seating and assuring that Roxas and Axel were squished into full-body contact.

Maybe Axel kept it warm in his apartment in general. Maybe it was all the people. Maybe it was the beer, or the body touching his own – shoulder to ribs, hip to hip, thigh to thigh – whatever it was, Roxas began to feel very hot. Good hot. And woozy, after a few beers. It was a wonder he didn't start sneakily misbehaving, being so close to Axel. But…they had still just met…it wasn't a familiar place, there were lots of people… So Roxas behaved. Why Axel did the same was a little harder to guess, but the fact remained that the redhead didn't make a pass at him. Instead, Roxas was eventually allowed to leave, unmolested. Unless…unless a long stare right into his hazy, intoxicated eyes counted. Eye molestation…maybe. But while a guy was just saying, "Thanks for coming, see ya later," it didn't seem that way… But then Axel's voice had been so low, so soft and purring again…

Roxas was really glad he'd called.


The next time Axel called, they didn't do much of anything. Ordered a pizza and watched TV, and Axel asked about Roxas' day, and Roxas complained a little about his handsy boss. It seemed like everything had started with a light touch on his shoulder, which had then moved every day until it was resting between his shoulder blades. Now, that unwelcome hand was making slow progress downward with each contact. It had been halfway down Roxas' back today.

"Right about here?" Axel asked with a mouthful of pizza, calmly sliding his free hand over and touching Roxas' back. The blond's stomach did one of the little leaps it had been practicing lately.

"Mmm, like, about an inch lower."

The warm touch shifted slowly. "Here then?"

Nerves singing, Roxas forced his breathing to remain steady and his face relaxed. "Yup." Axel's hand lingered for just a heartbeat longer than necessary…then it was gone.

Swallowing some Coke, Axel tossed out a concluding comment. "He ever touches your ass, I'll castrate him."

A shiver ran down Roxas' spine, headed straight for said ass. The blond took a steady swallow of his own drink and arched an eyebrow. "What if he touches something else?"

Their eyes met, then parted a moment later. "What, if he skips the ass and goes for the other thing?" Roxas nodded. Axel shook his head. "Nah. He's an ass man. He's going for that first. Even if he had you at his mercy and didn't need to pretend, he'd be forced to go for the ass first."

Snorting, Roxas made his voice sound skeptical. "You're pretty confident."

He was rewarded with Axel's grin – the brilliant one, the one he was getting very used to…the one that was beginning to play a frequent role in some very private daydreams. The man's voice was low and smooth again. "It takes one to know one."

And then he dropped it. Again. Axel's talent for implying things and then suddenly coming up with a completely new topic without seeming evasive was beginning to drive Roxas nuts. The flirting was so clear, and yet Roxas didn't feel like he was free to push the issue. Axel was always in control of the insinuations, and seemed pretty content to keep it at that, for now. Roxas just hoped he planned on letting things go further one of these days. One of these soon days, preferably.


He called Axel a few days later. "Hey, you home?"

"Ah, not yet, sorry." Axel worked odd hours sometimes. Roxas had kind of expected this sooner or later. It was why he had to work up the nerve to call at all. But Axel continued, "You are, right?"


"Gimme about half an hour, maybe 45 minutes."


Just when Roxas thought their interactions were getting easier to understand – routine friendship with torturous amounts of flirting – Axel showed up right from work, still carrying his tools and wearing work boots and looking pretty dirty. Roxas blinked. The redhead stood in the door and grinned.

"I stink, but I'm here…if you still want me." Something about the little upward curl of one corner of Axel's mouth made it hard for Roxas to get his voice out to answer.

"Absolutely." Blue eyes met green, making sure the invitation and welcome were felt. Hey, he may be fine with taking his time – he may even have reasons – but that doesn't mean I can't nudge a little.

"Great." Axel strolled in, setting his tools down and turning to Roxas. "So, what did you want me for?"

That was another new thing – Axel had never given or requested a reason for them to meet up before. He'd always acted like it was just…obvious. Roxas didn't have an excuse handy.

"N-nothing." His cheeks tried flushing a little, but he hoped he could force them back to normal…or that Axel wouldn't notice. "Do I need a reason? Can't I just…want you?"

Sparkling green eyes ran over him slowly, the laughter in them somehow so sexy, making Roxas feel so desired…

But Axel's tone was too business-like. "Well, I'll make you a deal. If you can beat me at Street Fighter without falling to my horrible personal stench, you can want me anytime and I'll come." Then he winked, belying the disinterested tone. Roxas felt himself grinning.

"You're on."

Roxas won.

The next moment, victory tune still playing, he was leaning back as the redhead advanced on him slowly. Axel was crawling forward, over him, prowling, eyes locked, face close…voice impossibly low and sexy…

"So…you win. I'm yours. What do you…want…Roxas?"

Oh my God, no way. Roxas was shocked by the sudden change, the sudden…offer. But, was Axel serious? Would he really…? But…but…I can't just say it! I can't just…when we haven't done anything at all, I can't tell him to do something! He…I…oh man, he does kinda stink…

Momentarily distracted, Roxas pulled a little further back as Axel moved forward, and automatically breathed through his open mouth. He might have made a little bit of a face, too…because Axel suddenly smirked.

"Uh oh…you were defeated by the Stink Monster after all! You lose!" And just like that, Axel was up and off him and heading for the door. You have got to be fucking kidding me. You…you…fucking tease!

Scrambling up, Roxas followed. "But…wait! That's not fair…"

His voice died abruptly as Axel turned, and suddenly they were very, very close, crammed in the small entryway. Standing inches apart…Axel's gaze focused, intently piercing his eyes, his lazy smile almost crafty, the expression was so certain, so very damn well aware

"Don't you worry, Roxas." And – Oh fuck, don't – the taller man was murmuring. Truly, totally murmuring. "I won't cheat. I'll still be yours, if you want me. But…not today." Another wicked little wink. "Today, I'm going to go home…and take a shower. So don't take a shower yourself right now, because our showers are right over each other, and they use the same pipes, and I'll be taking all the hot water. Because sometimes it takes me a really…long…time…to get all…clean…after work." He was dragging out his words, torturing Roxas with mental images of that body, naked, so close as water streamed over Axel's toned form, as his hands roamed, washing himself, touching…

Roxas was biting his lip. Movement out of the corner of his eye failed to drag his gaze from Axel's, but the blond didn't flinch when the unexpected touch came. Axel's thumb brushed his lips lightly, finger touching under his chin as a gentle pressure freed the lip Roxas had been biting…then traced briefly over that same chin. Just there. That was all. Then Axel's hand was gone, and his eyes too as the redhead vanished from the apartment.

Five minutes later, Roxas was lying on his bathroom floor, listening to water run and fantasizing. Axel did take a long shower. Roxas wondered if he was required to feel guilty about this if maybe, possibly Axel was doing the same thing.


It was only a matter of time before Roxas came home angry and exhausted one day, his legs complaining about the stairs as usual but getting no attention whatsoever. Roxas' mind was fuming and hovering on the brink of weary collapse.

His boss' hand had made it as far as the small of his back, and the man's lecherous gaze was making work miserable.

But the blond administrative assistant didn't want to think about that. He wanted to let off steam and relax. He wanted to shoot some aliens. He sat down to do so…but he sat on what had recently become Axel's side of the couch. And it was funny – Roxas didn't feel like Axel had been there nearly enough, yet apparently he spent enough time sitting here these days that the man's scent had begun to cling to the fabric a little…

Within minutes of noticing the smell, Roxas was carelessly tossing ethics and aliens out the window in favor of a little relief. Pants open and stiffening cock free, he began stroking slowly. It didn't take long to get fully hard, sitting there, surrounded by the faint trace of Axel's scent. Besides, there were just too many little memories to fuel his imagination. Too many glimpses of a narrow, probably tightly-muscled ass showing off to nice advantage in denim. Too many times Roxas' eyes had slid over to the front of Axel's jeans as well, quickly analyzing and trying to measure, to guess at how the man's member would look…especially hard. Oh God… Roxas whimpered slightly, jerking harder. God he wanted to see it. Axel. Hard. And fully naked would be nice. So nice. Grinning at him the way he always did…maybe with that little curl in the corner of his mouth, the one that made Roxas shudder with desire, made him want to claim that teasing mouth until he swallowed every trace of that lazy grin that always signaled the end of their flirting. He wanted it to continue. Continue and get bolder, hotter…more physical.

His hips flexed and his hand moved quickly and Roxas didn't bother trying to last, just let go, releasing with a soft grunt…and, when it was over, a satisfied sigh. If only it was with Axel… Roxas imagined the redhead pulling him closer now, that gentle finger touching his lips like the other day, pressing softly…green eyes eating into his soul, like acid, like a drug, like they did every single time Axel looked at him…

The phone rang.

"Hey, you home?"

Blue eyes widened and Roxas tried to catch his breath and jump up at the same time, all while sounding normal. "Uh huh."

"All right. Be right there." Shit, shit, shit!

Tissues, zipper, button, sink – Roxas was just drying his hands when Axel arrived. It was a miracle born of desperation that he managed to present a normal façade in such a short time.

"Were you killing things?" Axel inquired innocently, noticing the paused game.

Breathing out with a bit of a sigh and unconsciously rubbing at his eyebrows, Roxas answered wearily, "Yeah, kinda." That drew a somewhat more attentive look.

"Rough day?"

Flopping onto his couch, Roxas admitted, "Yeah." Axel was already following suit, flopping onto his side where Roxas had just been jerking off thinking about him and fixing the blond with an "I'm listening" look. Forcing himself to pretend the last five minutes of his life had been completely innocent, Roxas began to relate his boss' actions that day.

"Did he touch your ass?" Green eyes were narrowed, looking just a little threatening.

"No," another sigh, "but he was about as close as physically possible without actually getting there. And it was totally inappropriate…"

His words stopped. Axel was on his knees on the couch suddenly, bending over Roxas, face too close, body too close, hand wrapping around behind him and…spreading slowly over the small of his back.


Roxas gulped, transfixed. "Yeah…" He couldn't force his voice to work, could only breathe the answer. Axel's expression was suddenly unreadable.

"That is inappropriate. You should sue." He didn't move away. Not in the slightest. Roxas struggled to concentrate.

"Can't…" Because…because…uh…wow. Hot… His body was burning. "Uh, no money for a lawyer, no proof besides my word, and no job security. I need the paycheck. I can't do anything about it."

A slight crease appeared between red eyebrows. "I'm not happy about that. That you have to put up with this, I mean. It pisses me off." Wow… The blond could only gape a little. Axel continued. "If he goes any further I really will get mad. He's a fucking bastard for thinking he can touch you like that, without permission." The hand still warming the very lowest place on Roxas' back twitched slightly, the fingers moving jerkily in place, as if they wanted to move…move down… "It's only decent to ask first. Or at least give a guy some warning before going that far."

"Yeah?" Roxas was breathless. "What kind of warning?"

Axel's mouth curled slightly at the corner, and for one moment, Roxas was afraid that was it – he was going to back off and throw out some disinterested-sounding answer like always. But that fear only lasted a moment…because Axel didn't move away. He leaned closer.

Weight shifting to bring their bodies nearer, the redhead advanced until he was literally within an inch of Roxas' face, murmuring softly, "Something like…this…" Green eyes were half-closed, warm breath caressing Roxas' lips, waking his whole body up, heart thudding hard and fast as Axel paused just long enough to let Roxas know for sure that this was going to happen and give the blond a chance to collect himself and participate.

And Roxas did. Neither one was responsible for closing the last of the gap. They moved together.

Soft lips… Warmth washed over Roxas in a rippling wave as Axel's lips caressed his, very gently, very…chaste. It was a soft, slow, lips-only kiss, but it was warm and delicious and every nerve in Roxas' body was crackling with energy, devouring every detail of the way Axel kissed him and waiting for a signal, a hint, anything to indicate they could go further. He was so impatient for more, so longing for Axel's mouth to open, for his hands to…do anything! But, though the kiss lingered for a long time, the other man never advanced further. His hands didn't move either – though Roxas almost couldn't believe it. One was propping Axel up, supporting him over Roxas, while the other remained firmly on the small of his back. Come on…please move…just a little down…come on… No luck. Incredibly, Axel did not move to touch Roxas' ass. He did, however, press gradually harder and harder with that hand, bringing Roxas' lower body closer by degrees as fingers moved in slow, meandering caresses that made Roxas want very much to just snap, just grab the man and grind against him and tongue him to within an inch of his fucking life…

With a little separating sound, Axel pulled back and broke the kiss. Blue eyes opened first, watching as Axel's opened very slowly – dreamily, almost. But when they were revealed, there was nothing dreamy about the burning intensity in them as Axel stared at him for a long, long moment.

Then he moved again, eyes not quite closing as Axel placed one more kiss on Roxas' lips, slow and soft, but very brief. At that, he pulled back again, further this time, and spoke quietly, low and even, with just a little sparkle left of the green inferno of moments ago.

"Dinner's on me. Pizza or Chinese?"

What. The. Hell.

"Ch-Chinese?" Roxas swallowed hard, embarrassed by the high-pitched waver that had snuck into his voice.

"Chinese it is." And there it was again, that warm grin, just…gentle this time.

The infuriating, laid-back, smiling redhead called for Chinese delivery. The shell-shocked and very unsatisfied blond sat on the couch in a bit of a daze, mind wandering between whether he wanted Axel to come back and talk about that little kiss or just…come back and do a lot more like that. The only real point in favor of the talking option was that it might get him a definite answer about Axel's intentions, which would be more than welcome.

However, Roxas received neither. Axel came back only to put in a movie, and he gave Roxas nothing but Chinese food…and he let Roxas have both fortune cookies. "When you get something for nothing, you just haven't been billed for it yet," and "No matter what your past has been, you have a spotless future." Not helpful, not even for mentioning to bring up more insinuations and flirting.

At the end of the movie, Roxas was trying to rapidly calculate his chances of getting a favorable response if he jumped the gorgeous redhead. After all, they'd kissed…that had to mean something! Roxas knew Axel was interested, he just didn't have any solid proof, and he was so nervous that the redhead would suddenly change his mind and reject him or tell him he had it all wrong and then Roxas wouldn't be able to say anything because even that kiss could be explained away in context of the conversation and Fucking hell I'm over-thinking this I need to just stop and…

Too late. Axel was leaving.

"Sunday is the Superbowl, party starts at five thirty, so don't forget…" The tall man was talking over his shoulder as Roxas followed him to the door. He was perfectly in character, bringing something up for the first time and just assuming Roxas would come.

"…and if you can bring chips or a side that would be great, everyone's bringing something…" Thud. Blinking and stunned, Roxas stared at Axel's face, suddenly turned toward him, and realized that the man had just spun around, mid-sentence, and pinned him to his own wall. Hips to hips, chest to chest, hands fast sliding down his arms to lace fingers with his own…Roxas gasped. Axel bent down as he finished speaking.

"See you Sunday." The human voice shouldn't be able to drop that suddenly, changing tone and mood and everything in the blink of an eye…not that Roxas was blinking. His eyes were wide as Axel kissed him, and it was nothing like before. It was forceful and sensual and hard and deep and quick, just a little bit of lingering at the end, a slow withdrawal as Axel took back his tongue before Roxas could even fully register the amazing taste of the man. His body was so hot, pinned completely by Axel's, and his mind was spinning and his heart racing and then the gunshot-sudden burst of passion was over with a grin and a wink and a "Bye" and Axel was gone.

It was at least five minutes before Roxas moved an inch from that wall. It was longer before he'd fully processed everything. But by the next morning, he was sure. There had been no excuse for that. No "other reason" or different way it could have been meant.

Axel had made himself clear.


There are always occasions when a somewhat tighter than usual shirt comes in handy, and Roxas decided that Sunday was one such occasion. So it was only a slightly-small T-shirt…that didn't matter. It clung to his narrow waist and hips, and that was what mattered.

Ironically, Axel also seemed to be in possession of a smallish T-shirt, a band shirt with a weird logo that wasn't actually tight, it was just a little…small. More of the tattoo on the man's toned bicep was visible than usual, and – most important of all – there was only about a half inch of overlap where the T-shirt met Axel's rather low-slung jeans. It took Roxas milliseconds to register the man's outfit and groan internally, hoping he didn't make an idiot of himself ogling Axel in public. Oh, fucking do me a favor and buy a beltplease!

Axel didn't.

Most of the guests were already there when Roxas arrived, bringing his chips as an offering well-received. This time, it seemed he was expected to help himself, and Roxas did, having figured out how to act around these people after spending so much time with Axel. The game started. The couch was crowded, and Roxas tried very hard not to inhale too conspicuously – he was crushed up against Axel again, and God but that man knew how to smell alluring. And then he'd get up, getting more food or beer or something and usually bringing something back for Roxas without asking if the blond wanted anything. And every time Axel got up, Roxas tried very, very hard not to stare at the little flash of lower abdomen or lower back…but it was a vain effort. Especially after he glimpsed more ink…

By halftime, Roxas couldn't very well take it anymore. Screw being in someone else's house, in public. Screw Axel's casual, nonchalant behavior. That kiss had happened, and Roxas knew he wasn't the only one interested. If Axel had a monk's restraint, fine. Roxas didn't.

Everyone was up at halftime, all over the apartment, but when the halftime show started, they all filtered back to watch the band. Axel, however, headed for the kitchen. Roxas didn't hesitate. Out of sight of the others, he stepped close behind the man and spoke low – "Hey" – and he was right there when Axel turned around.

Smiling with as much allure as his racing, nervous heart would allow, Roxas let his hands rest on the narrow hips that had been driving him crazy. Axel looked down, eyebrows rising as he smiled back. "Hey, you."

Curling fingers hooked into empty belt loops, tugging the taller man closer. "You should really put a belt through these, you know?" Invitation was heavy in blue eyes. Roxas felt a small surge of triumph as Axel grinned, setting aside the beer he'd been opening and letting his body be pulled against Roxas'.

"Yeah," He answered, that curl in the corner of his mouth starting to drive Roxas wild. "But then there wouldn't be much room for your fingers, now, would there?"

It was surprising, but Roxas didn't let more than a flicker of it show on his face. Oh you tease, you fucking tease, I knew it! But all he said was, "Good point." Then he was reaching up, Axel very obligingly lowering his head so Roxas could claim his teasing, gorgeous mouth with a very erotic kiss. Oh God, yes, this is it… Roxas had been trying to recall Axel's taste for days. Now, he was going to make damn sure he memorized it. And, in the meantime, he was going to prove that Axel wasn't the only one who could kiss. Tongue moving expertly, fast at first, but then sinking into a slow, pleasuring rhythm, Roxas did his level best to make Axel just as frustrated with desire as he was.

The redhead hummed with pleasure and let Roxas take control, one hand slipping around Roxas' neck to pull him in a little more, and the other…the other started on Roxas' ribs and very smoothly and unassumingly slid around to his back and down. All the way down. So the slow, sensual groping came as no surprise, really, and Roxas was able to keep from jumping or doing anything else to break what was fast becoming a bit more than just heavily seductive kissing. Even when Axel's hand moved yet again, this time to press firmly in a very intentional spot, Roxas just whimpered and rolled his hips a little and didn't back off in the slightest. Axel just…tasted much too good. And anyway, he really, really wanted everything Axel was doing in response to him.

All too soon, however, a yelp from the doorway interrupted them. Roxas normally would have jumped back in a fit of embarrassment…if he hadn't been so utterly lost in enjoying Axel at that moment. Instead, he just opened his eyes, catching sight of Axel doing the same, making a rather hilarious expression as he peered sideways at the person in the doorway while not disconnecting his mouth from Roxas' quite yet. When he finally did – to Roxas' disappointment – it was only to send a rather irritated glare at his friend, which the sandy-blond seemed to understand perfectly.

"Holy shit, sorry Axel, I didn't mean to interrupt, I was just startled…"

Eyes narrowing, the redhead answered, "OK, so beat it already Dem." At that, the other young man smiled rather mischievously.

"Well, OK, but since the damage is already done…" He turned and, to Roxas' dismay, raised his voice. "Axel 'n Roxas are makin' out in the kitchennn!"

"Oh!" A voice replied, "Now that is more interesting than The Who!" Axel groaned, Roxas blushed, and they disentangled from each other as a loud chorus of "No way!" Bullshit!" and general laughter reached them.

One other voice – it was probably that pink-haired guy, Roxas guessed – called over them, "Blasphemy! Nothing short of fucking is more interesting than The Who, Larxene!"

Demyx, snagging a beer and turning to go, called back, "Well, they aren't fucking yet, but check them again in five minutes, Marly." Renewed laughter. Roxas just knew his face was as red as Axel's hair. Nevertheless, they had to rejoin the group now, or else suffer perverted accusations from the others the longer they remained alone.

So they grinned a little at each other – Roxas somewhat sheepishly, Axel somewhat wickedly – and returned to the couch among welcoming jeers. Then, when the attention finally returned to the game, Roxas went suddenly still to hear Axel's voice murmuring low, right in his ear.

"You drive me crazy, you know…"

The timing had no rhyme or reason, but Roxas realized something very clearly in that moment, and made a split-second decision to speak. To be honest, the way Axel was. Open and direct.

He whispered back into the redhead's ear, "Good. I like you."

Green eyes were full of flickering fire, and Axel's arm was most definitely around Roxas' shoulders this time. It squeezed him tightly as they stared at each other for a long moment before returning their attention to the party – eyes facing forward again, as if by some unspoken agreement.