Roxas had another taste of his favourite salted ice-cream as he looked toward the sunset. It was afternoons like these that made him wonder about the same thing over and over again, feeling and unfeeling at the same time, whether or not he really was what everybody else said. He sighed in frustration as the bell on the clock tower rang loud and clear, signaling the passing of another hour, and the ending of another day of hard work. A few minutes later he looked down to see diminutive people exiting buildings in satisfied stretches as they headed home to their loving families.
He looked up once again at the setting sun, but instead encountered startling green spheres. He jolted back in surprise as a smirk was drawn across the face of the taller man. "Geez, man, I didn't know my face was really ugly enough to scare you!"
Settling into a more comfortable sitting position, he took a bite out of his frozen treat and said in a controlled tone: "Don't be ridiculous, it will take more than your face to scare me."
Axel's face contorted into a dubious and irritated look, "I'm not sure how I should take that…"
Roxas laughed in amusement as he took in the sight of his good friend, who, against his own wishes, cracked along into laughter. He recalled how Axel had been the only one to welcome him into the Organization while the others dully gazed at him in an unamused fashion. He briefly wondered what had been special enough about him to have made the redhead befriend him in that way.
As the laughter died down, Roxas asked him absentmindedly while licking the sea-salt ice cream bar, "When did you get back? I thought the mission was going to drag out until tomorrow."
"Ah, well, Larxene started PMSing about how I'm such a, in her exact words, 'worthless bastard who isn't even capable of handling the simplest task' and that 'a blind, brain-damaged monkey with one arm could do the mission better than I.' I just contacted the boss and asked if I could trade with Demyx."
Roxas blinked in a confused manner, "But Demyx hates doing missions with Larxene."
"Is that so?" Axel replied slyly, yet mockingly innocently.
Roxas laughed "You are such an asshole!"
"Hey," Axel said in sudden seriousness, "that isn't something I'm proud of."
A few awkward seconds passed in silence as Roxas felt a tugging in the pit of his stomach. As he risked a glance at his companion, he noticed the corner of his lips twitching, and then Axel broke out in delighted laughter.
"Alright, alright, maybe I AM proud of it!" Roxas was grinning widely. He had been far too surprised that the red-hedgehog-haired man was being serious about something like that…anything at all, really. "Hey, gimme some of that." Axel demanded as he reached out for the ice-cream Roxas held in his hand.
The ice-cream was deliberately rudely snatched away from his range of reach, "No way, get your own!"
"Aw, come on, don't be such an ass, I just came back from being told a blind handicap monkey can do a mission better than I can!" He stretched to get to the blue treat, in turn getting uncomfortably close to the blonde.
"Oh, psh, like that's MY problem!" He exclaimed, and when he realized the fire-head was near enough to his objective to achieve it, he hastily took a huge bite out of the ice-cream, finishing it. Nearly choking, he began coughing. Suddenly enough, though, the ice cream melted in his throat, but left in its path a head-splitting brain freeze going across the middle of the blonde head, making the boy hold his head in pain.
"See? That's what you get for being so heartless!" Axel flashed a smirk, which was suddenly wiped off by the processing of what he had just said. After a couple of seconds, upon realizing his un-intended pun (which could only be grasped by a Nobody), he burst out laughing. His booming laughter brought a chuckle to his friend's face.
When the laughter ended, the atmosphere was replaced by a comfortable silence. Nevertheless, there was something bugging Roxas. "Hey, Axel, do you really think so?"
Misunderstanding, Axel immediately began forming an apology, "Oh, I'm sorry Roxas, I didn't mean to be so mean, I was only joking, you're not a bad guy, I like you, you know you're my best-"
"I don't mean about why you said it," Roxas sheepishly smiled at the attempt at making him feel better "I mean it in general, do you really think we don't have hearts?"
"You're getting into this again?" Axel furrowed his eyebrows worriedly.
"It's only because you always avoid it. I want to talk about it." He looked up at him with his big, sparkling blue eyes." Please…"
Swallowing hard at the convincing effect those eyes had on him- which, if you asked Axel, he would assure his friend did it on purpose- he replied characteristically, avoiding the gaze, "Yup, I do think so." There was an unpleasant churning in his stomach as he gazed at the purple horizon.
"Why?" The question snapped his head right back at his friend, who he found staring down at the now empty street. For some reason, he had expected him to scream out contradictions, which is why he had always avoided the topic.
It took him a while to come up with an answer, "Well, that's what we're told, right? That's what the boss always says."
"Who is he to say that?"
"Well…the boss, of course." Axel said hesitantly.
"I would believe it if we were all like him," began Roxas with a hard expression on his face, "after all, he looks like he has something stuck up his butt at all times. He's always so monotonous!" Axel chuckled at this, "but why must he drag us all along with him? We're not all the same; we're all our own individual with different personalities, right?" His voice turned hoarse.
Tactfully, Axel responded in a gentle tone, "We're Nobodies, Roxas, we aren't entitled to be individuals. We are all just a shadow of someone with a strong heart who became a heartless, nothing more-just a reflection of THEIR personality." Even for the man with the fieriest attitude in the Organization, it was hard to break all of this to the gentle key-bearer. Then again, perhaps it was his innocent naïveté that made Axel sensible to his moods.
"But then doesn't that mean we're all part of the same heart?" He whispered in a manner that made him want to run away from the deep, hopeful eyes that glistened with the early starlight.
"We're not them, Roxas. The truth is that we're not at all. Nothing." He slowly tore his eyes away from the insisting gaze. "Anyway," he got up, "we should get going, it's getting dark out, and it's not like we're gonna change anything by staying out to talk about non-existent feelings." The truth was hard and cold, but he had to break it to him.
Axel started to walk away toward the door leading to the stairs going down, when he was stopped by a voice. "I don't believe that." He looked back to see Roxas still sitting at the ledge of the building. "I really don't think it's like that at all." Sighing, Axel returned to his previous spot, convinced his best friend wouldn't drop the subject. This gave Roxas leave to continue, "Don't you think that if we really had no heart, we'd all be like Xemnas? And even he, no matter what he believes, has a dream, an ambition: that Kingdom Hearts thing he's always blabbing about. He's determined to make it happen, and I'll be damned if he isn't disappointed if it somehow fails."
The bigger man puts a hand on his friend's shoulder comfortingly, "Roxas, that doesn't prove anything about us having hearts-"
"But it could!" the blonde Nobody screams in desperation, "It could…" They sit there in silence for a few tense minutes. "Do you…care about me, Axel?"
"What?" Once again, the question caught him off guard.
"Your hand…on my shoulder. And earlier, you were saying I'm your best friend…what of that?"
"Come on, man, you know that's hard for me to answer and keep to my argument at the same time." Axel said sheepishly, taking his hand off the boy's shoulder.
"If I died…would you care if I died?" He bit his lip as he frowned.
Axel, at a loss for words, stared down at his lap.
"I would." Roxas continued upon seeing the lack of response from his comrade. "I would care very much if iyou/i died. I'd be crushed." He chuckled sadly.
Following a few more minutes of nothing but the sound of the cool nighttime breeze, Axel, albeit tentatively, put a friendly arm around Roxas' shoulders. "I'd care….a lot if you died. It wouldn't be the same without you. I'd…I guess I'd miss you." He blushed at his admittance.
"I think that's having a heart." Roxas smiled softly, sadly. "I think the sense of longing for someone to be safe is the essence of having a heart. "
"Maybe…"Axel volunteered uncomfortably as he set his arm back beside his own body, "maybe you really DO have a heart. After all, you have the keyblade, right?" he chuckled nervously, "gotta count for something, huh?" Although he was a bit reluctant to say that, he believed maybe that all Roxas needed was somebody to agree to the possibility. He hated seeing his best friend suffering, so he decided that, even if he didn't completely believe what he said, he would do anything to cheer him up. "Plus, I think it would be really hard for me to be such an awesome guy like myself if I didn't have a heart, don'tcha think?"
Roxas chuckled at the boldness of the statement. "There may be some truth in what you say. I'm going to leave which part unsaid, though."
"I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt!" Axel said as he grabbed Roxas into a noogie, dissipating all tension between them. After a bit of laughter, Roxas grinned at him and thanked him.
"What are you saying thank you for?" Axel placed his hands on his hips as he asked.
"For listening…and agreeing. I know you may not completely agree, but I'm glad you care enough to try." He began walking toward the door which Axel had intended to go through earlier, then stopped and turned back to look at Axel, who was looking toward the horizon once again, "And by the way," He grabbed the red-head's attention, "I think you do have a heart…and a big one at that." He beamed, turned around, and kept walking.
Axel smirked at the retreating figure of his friend. Looking down, he noticed the sea-salt ice-cream stick and picked it up, somehow amused that it had started the whole conversation in the first place. "Oi!" He called out in an obnoxious manner; when Roxas looked back, he said, "Don't you dare die, if you do I'll be stuck with Larxene as my permanent partner, got it memorized?" He smirked as he added his trademark phrase.
Roxas let out a brief laugh, and smiled dazzlingly at his friend, then proceeded out the door.
Axel briefly thought to himself, 'It doesn't matter what the answer is…' he smiled contentedly ' at any rate…he makes me feel…like I have a heart.' He chuckled at his silly thought, chucked the insignificant piece of wood off the building, and loudly exclaimed: "Wait up!"