A/N: I'm sure I'm going to make many of you happy when I say that I will now start updating more frequently again. Also, expect a special Christmas story sometime within the next few days…. =w= Happy reading.

Twelve Earth days had passed. The supreme Asura, Xemnas, sat upon his throne made of white ivory, adorned in the black and white robe issued to only those of his kind. One gloved hand was pressed onto his jaw, his elbow resting on the arm of the chair as the opposing hand drummed idly upon his lap. His golden orange eyes seemed to be clouded, distant…for he was lost in thought.

You are more valuable than you think, Axel, Xemnas mused to himself. Yes, Xemnas had been watching the redhead for some time now. He had spies within the walls of Heaven that had brought him files of souls that had previously belonged to the Asuran race. Many of his followers thought he was simply seeking out more allies, but that was far from the case. He was looking for one ally in particular. His partner, his yin to his yang, the one that had helped him rise to the highest power of the Asurans as their ruler.

"Saix." Xemnas finally spoke, summoning in blue-haired minion. It took a few moments, but in a swirling shadow of black and purple, Saix appeared. The Preta looked rather disheveled once the darkness of the corridor dispersed. Saix seemed to be aware of it as well. His hair was standing on end, but it was easily fixed with a few brush strokes of his fingers through the wayward locks. A silver brow was cocked in his direction, an indication for an explanation.

"Forgive me, Superior." Saix mumbled in his monotone voice, not yet looking Xemnas in the eye until he had fixed his hair and wiped away several streams of crimson that had trailed down his chin. He had been feeding.

"Let the apology be mine." Xemnas bellowed as he nodded his head. "I did not mean to interrupt you while you were indulging in your sin."

"If I may, it no longer counts as a sin in my eyes." Saix countered, his tone dropping a few syllables to sound defensive.

"As much as I love a good slaughter, even I would think twice before taking an infant's life."

"Your judgement can't undo the price I must pay. You summoned me for a reason. Let's get down to the bottom of it."

"Of course." A smirk slid upon Xemnas' lips. Of all the Pretas he had seen and worked with, Saix was quite an oddity. Previously a doctor in 19th century United States, Saix had preformed thousands of dangerous and illegal abortions on young women that often resulted in their deaths. The deaths were not intentional, of course. At least, they weren't at first. Over the course of several decades, Saix was seduced by the rush he felt, knowing these women's lives were in his very hands. Soon, he began killing every pregnant woman that came to him for his services, whether it was an abortion or just a check up. He was soon caught and hung for his deeds, and in his next life as a Preta, he was sentenced to feed upon the blood of infants until he had atoned for his sins. Xemnas loved to remind Saix of this fact and catch glimpses of the otherwise emotionless man's sorrow. Besides, Xemnas would kill a child anyway without batting an eyelash.

"It is time to bring Axel here to join our ranks." Xemnas began after clearing his throat and sitting up straight. "I planted a double agent amongst those he has recently encountered. I want you to go to them and alert them that it is time to bring him to his new home." Xemnas was rather pleased with the web he had weaved for himself. Axel had been in the presence of the one who would be his undoing for a long time and didn't even know it. Oh, Xemnas could only wish he could see the look on Axel's face…but Asuras, just like the rank of Heavenly beings above him, were unable to leave the skies above. Saix, however, didn't seem so enthusiastic, if that was even possible.

"…I was under the impression I would be the one bringing him here." Saix said, sounding a little put off.

"Did I ever explicitly say you would be?"

"…No, Superior."

"Then follow my orders before you become my next project in the lab." The Asura hissed, orange eyes narrowing into a glare that would send most of his underlings into a shivering fit. Saix did not fall into that category.

"….Tch." The bluenette scoffed as he turned around, his back facing the Asura. Xemnas wouldn't even be as far along in his project if it wasn't for him, Saix thought to himself. He had been hoping he would be the one to dispose of Axel. Just the sheer disposition of Axel and the relationship he shared with the living…it was disgusting, a mockery of their race. Saix hoped to feel that rush that intoxicated him so many years ago once more. Sadly, snatching an infant from their crib isn't quite as fulfilling as watching the look of sheer horror of a grown adult's face when death rises from the ground to greet them.

"….This is the part where you say something so that this particular moment isn't so awkward." Axel mumbled.

"…I don't really know what to say, Axel." Roxas said just as quietly. How…could he process all of this information? Axel was cheated out of a great life, one that he deserved. He had died a hero, obviously…but a hero that no one in history probably even remembered. He endured terrible suffering, pain, and betrayal. Yet here he was, sitting on a clock tower with a boy he had only known for a short time, sharing this information- sharing his story.

"…I never thought I'd actually tell someone about it." The Preta sighed, at last making a movement by putting a little distance between him and Roxas. He reached back over to retrieve his prized possession and clasp his gloved fingers gently around its worn fabric. Drawing his knees up to his chest, Axel just sat there with an arm draped over the top of his knees, the other reaching over the top of his head. He honestly looked like he was trying to protect himself from some oncoming aerial threat. "I could have saved her, Roxas. I could have prevented everything that happened to us. All it took was just some…crazy chance of an encounter and one stupid mistake. They took what was mine…and for a long time, I believed by taking Ventus' life that I had evened the score."

"You didn't mean to take it, though…"

"That's true. At least towards the end. But for sixty years, I have been wrong. I didn't settle anything. It wasn't Ventus' fault. If anyone deserved to die in that fire with me, it was every single one of those bastards that had the nerve to wear a swastika on their arms. I could have dragged Hitler himself to Hell with me if I had been given the chance…but that still wouldn't change anything."

Axel's voice gradually began to grow quieter, and perhaps more fragile as he spoke. He had exposed the worst of his psychological wounds, and though Roxas couldn't ever truly understand, he was reliving every single moment. The sudden movement that Axel made not too long after that made Roxas jump out of his skin, because the redhead went from sitting there curled up into a ball to springing onto the blonde and grabbing his shoulders.

"You need to promise me something." Axel said sternly, his green eyes noticeably glassy. That could only mean that…he wanted to cry. This man deserved the chance to cry without judgement, Roxas thought, but yet Axel was still trying his hardest to contain them.

"I-I…" Roxas' throat vibrated as he tried to find words to speak, but none came. He felt like he should say something, but when Axel narrowed his eyes and gave Roxas a look that told him to piss off and shut the fuck up, he did so.

"I have been with you for all these weeks. I've been here with you, watching you deal with your own problems and bottling up your anger and contempt for those around you. Stop it."Roxas could hardly tear his gaze away from Axel's, but he only did for just a moment to look upon his right shoulder where he felt the Preta's hand beginning to tremble. "Don't make the same mistakes I did. Don't… blame others for the way you feel. Promise me that when tomorrow comes, you'll set aside your dislikes for the city and live your life to the fullest. You do have friends here, Roxas…you just have to give them a chance. Sure, there aren't any four-wheelers, potato cannons or casseroles anywhere in sight, but you can adapt. Because you never know when your time is over. All that anger can make you bitter…and you could end up just like me."

"Axel…" Roxas had never seen Axel so wrapped up in himself like this. But the floodgates had been opened, and Axel wanted to convey his moral to his story to someone…anyone who would listen. The Preta soon leaned in to press his lips to Roxas', giving him a deep and loving kiss. Of course, Roxas wasn't going to deny it. He almost instantly wrapped his arms around Axel's neck to return the gesture. Axel's hands soon went from Roxas' shoulders to the sides of his face, framing his lovely cheeks and stroking them with his thumbs, just trying to savor the taste of this kiss that came from the boy he had fallen absolutely and ridiculously head over heels for. The only thing that could possibly be wrong with this moment was that he couldn't tell Roxas how he felt. It would only break his heart after he had to leave.

A second contender for ruining this moment made it's glorious entrance only a few seconds later in the form of Roxas' stomach snarling it's declaration of 'food goes in here in the morning, jackass' from what sounded like the bowels of Hell. Having become so used to hearing Axel's stomach growling like that, it didn't even register with Roxas that it was his own stomach until he decided to make the brave move of inviting his tongue into the equation of their lips, only to find that his tongue met with open air.

"That's a nice look for you, but it isn't me bringing the party pooper this time." Roxas' face was red in a matter of seconds, his tongue quickly withdrawing back into his mouth.

"Wh- well you don't have to leave me hanging like that!" Roxas retorted back.

"I wouldn't have, but that was so loud that it even scared me, and that's saying something." By now, Axel's voice seemed to return to its normal tone, save for his eyes were still a little watery. It wasn't something that a quick sniff of his nose and a rub of his eyes couldn't fix, though. Roxas was still embarrassed, but he was just glad that Axel wasn't so upset anymore to the point of being next to tears. It tore Roxas apart worse than he ever thought possible.

"I didn't get the chance to eat breakfast before we left…I'm sorry." Roxas rubbed the back of his head, deciding that the sky off to the right seemed very interesting all of a sudden.

"I guess I should have let you eat before I rushed you out here." Axel shrugged a little as he grinned, then reached out to wrap his arm around Roxas' neck and pill him close, keeping his grip firm.

"Fuu- let go, I can't breathe!" Roxas gasped.

"Not until you promise me what I said earlier."

"I was going to before you went all Gone With The Wind on me."

"Sorta got lost in the moment. I could have pulled a Jack the Ripper instead, if that's what you preferred."


Roxas wheezed as Axel let him go, but Axel simply ruffled the blonde's hair, knowing he hadn't caused him harm. After recollecting himself and smoothing his hair back into place, he heard Axel sigh.

"Hey, Roxas?"


"…Thanks for listening."

"You don't have to thank me."

"I feel like I should." Axel shrugged, looking out to the horizon as he placed his hands behind his head. "I know just listening to my story doesn't seem like much, but you have no idea how hard it's been to carry this burden. Now that I've finally said it, I guess I feel a little better. And when you're a demon in constant suffering, that's saying a lot. So…thank you." Roxas could tell these words were coming straight from Axel's heart. He was being so candid, letting his true colors show for the first time. And though they were distorted and depressing, Roxas sort of felt lucky he was the one to help put a restless soul at ease. Not exactly in peace, because Axel wasn't going anywhere like most spirits do in the movies or whatever. At least that's what Roxas thought. So the blonde just smiled, and followed Axel's lead of looking out over the surrounding buildings and sky overhead.

About a minute or so passed before Roxas spoke. "… I hate to ruin the moment again, but this hunger issue seriously needs to be addressed."

"Look who you're talking to." Axel teased. It only made Roxas roll his eyes.

"Can we just go back home for a little bit so I can eat something?"

"Can't you just wait a little longer?"

"We can just come back here when we're done. Better yet, bring lunch back here."

Axel really, really didn't want to leave. He had a very distinct feeling that once they left this tower they would never come back. He also knew that if he kept resisting, Roxas would get suspicious and want to know Axel's true motive. Instead of coming clean like he should have, the Preta just shrugged and sighed.


But Axel's reluctance did send up a tiny little red flag to Roxas. It sort of seemed like he was avoiding coming home… but it was probably nothing. Axel had come clean. He wouldn't hide anything else from him, right? He hoped that was the case.

Within a few minutes, Axel had ushered them both through another corridor to materialize in Roxas' kitchen. The redhead was taking a big risk doing this. He would have been more comfortable coming back through Roxas' room, but that meant time would be wasted as the blonde went downstairs, and it would also leave Axel momentarily alone. He hoped that whatever was going to happen would not occur as long as Roxas was nearby. The spiritual world seemed to favor doing things in the absence of the living, and that's what Axel was counting on. However, coming back to the kitchen had one major problem.

"Where are the dogs?" Was the first thing out of Axel's mouth, green eyes darting from one door to the other for any sign of the filthy canines. Good grief, the hairs on the back of his neck were already standing on end.

"…I honestly don't know what my mom does with them after me and Sora leave for school." Roxas replied, walking to the entry way that lead to the living room and sticking his head out to search for them. When they had lived back in Georgia, Tifa used to always let them outside in the mornings. Now that they lived in the city, it was dangerous and also illegal for dogs to be running around outside unsupervised. When Roxas didn't see them, he glanced over his shoulder to Axel. "We won't know for sure unless I call them…"

"Are you out of your fucking mind, don'tdo that!" Axel hissed, now starting to get anxious. If it was true that dogs could smell fear, well….Axel was a sitting duck. "Just hurry up and get something to eat so we can leave."

Roxas was sort of starting to get annoyed with Axel's fear of dogs. He loved to play with Shelby and Rocket, but he couldn't do it as much with Axel around. Maybe I can work on helping him over his fear next, Roxas thought. It would be fun to be able to play with his dogs and having Axel join in. It would probably also help the redhead heal. That, however, was a goal that would take a lot of time and work. Strange, Roxas kept thinking that he had all the time in the world with Axel. He tried not to focus on the technicalities.

So Axel slid onto one of the bar stools and glanced from one door to the other like some kind of basket case, Roxas decided he would just make a couple of peanut butter sandwiches. He made haste digging through the pantry for the bread, the jelly, and… oh damn it all. Of course the new jar of peanut butter was on the very top shelf, and Roxas was only a couple inches from being able to reach it.

"Axel, could you give me a hand?" Roxas asked after his third vain attempt to grab the jar.

"For what, you have two of them."

"Thank you Captain Obvious, but if you were paying attention you'd see I can't reach the peanut butter." He heard the bar stool creak as Axel slid off of it and made his way over to the pantry, chuckling at Roxas' predicament.

"Move over, Shorty." The redhead teased yet again as he gently eased Roxas out of the way to grab the peanut butter for him. Roxas decided it would be best not to try to retort to that one, but his frown as he yanked the jar away from the Preta made his lack of amusement quite clear.

Just as Axel closed the pantry door, he heard this loud snap, like a large limb had broken in half or something of the sort. He quickly looked to Roxas, instinctively thinking that he had broken something or he had fallen, but Roxas was perfectly fine.

"Did you hear that?" Axel asked.

"Hear what?"

"That noise just now."

"All I heard was you shutting the pantry door."

SHOOOM.There it was again.

"And you didn't hear that just now?"

"Um, no?" Roxas was in the middle of spreading the peanut butter over the bread as he looked over at Axel skeptically. Axel only looked back at him with the same incredulous look. It had been pretty loud. How could he not hear it? Unless…

"Hey, I'll be right back." Axel said as he bypassed the blonde to slink off into the living room. As much as he didn't want to, he had to check it out. If Roxas didn't hear it, then it only meant one thing. And, as previously stated, he didn't want Roxas present when the time came.

Axel crept cautiously through the living room, both to listen for the slightest sound and any sign of something out of the ordinary. Unfortunately, Axel didn't think to turn the lights on as he went along. While the sunlight did light up the room somewhat, he was not used to the surroundings of the lower level of Roxas' home. He ultimately ended up stepping on one of the dog's squeak toys, practically making the demon jump out of his skin. What the heck was wrong with him, making these stupid mistakes and jumping at every little thing? Axel wasn't afraid, he just didn't know what to expect. He had no idea what Asuras were capable of.

"Dum fickt speilzeug*." Axel cursed under his breath as he yanked the toy out from under his foot and threw it across the room in a small outburst of anger. The toy hit the opposite wall and squeaked upon impact. This was ridiculous. He had to pull himself together, damn it.

The sound of claws scratching against hardwood floors reached Axel's ears, and he was filled with dread. It sounded like it was coming from behind him. Sure enough, when he dared to turn his head around, out came a large fluffy ball of fuzz from one of the hallways. It was Shelby, the German Shepherd mix, and she had been awoken from her nap on Tifa's bed by the sound of her favorite play toy squeaking.

Shelby took this as an invitation to play. Her tail was wagging, her tongue hanging out, paws shuffling underneath her like she was anxiously waiting for Axel to pick up the toy and play with her. Axel, on the other hand, was far less enthusiastic. His eyes were wide with terror, his mind racing a mile a minute. To him, Shelby's body language didn't say 'let's play.' It was more along the lines of 'prepare to get your throat ripped out.'

"Easy….easy…." Axel turned towards the dog and raised his hands up defensively. "Just….stay right there." It was quickly becoming apparent that this stranger didn't want to play with her. In a dog's mind, if this unfamiliar presence didn't want to play, it only meant one thing: Intruder. Shelby barked once. Then again as she took a few steps forward, her inner guard dog churning in her blood.

"Nononono, back off, fleabag." The Preta hissed, taking several steps back. He was retreating, which only made Shelby react further by throwing in a little growl. Okay, so, dogs can smell fear. Perfect. Absolutely fantastic. Axel had successfully gotten himself into a situation he had been trying to avoid for weeks.

Fuck. This.

Instinct overshadowed common sense, so Axel opted to make a mad dash for the closest door instead of doing the smart thing and teleporting somewhere else. All he could think about was that horrifying incident where he was chased down by that German Shepherd in his complex. The snarling, the teeth, the pain. Rational thought was long gone at this point. In a matter of seconds, Axel had practically flown out the front door of the house, unsure of whether or not he heard Roxas yell something through the pounding in his ears as he slammed the door behind him and pressed his back against it like he was trying to keep Cerberus himself from breaking down that door. Breathing heavily, he clutched his chest and tried to recollect himself. Absolutely nothing scared Axel shitless like that in this world… except for dogs and airplanes. At last, Axel let out a heavy sigh. So much for that, he thought. The adrenaline was dying down, and now he just felt stupid. At least Roxas didn't have to see it. Speaking of which, he should be done with those sandwiches by now. The demon's thought process, however, was disturbed by what felt like a rope suddenly coiling around his neck.

Axel quickly stepped away from the door and managed to snap whatever it was that had looped around his neck before it had the chance to constrict him. The front door was now covered in fast-creeping vines, weaving against one another and growing thicker by the second. It was clear that these vines were intent on keeping Axel outof the house.

"What the-?" Flames engulfed his fists as he ripped through the vines in an attempt to reach the doorknob, but those that he managed to burn through were only replaced with thicker, stronger vines. With each passing second, the situation became more and more dire. He ripped, he tore, he burned through the foliage until he at last had his hand upon the doorknob, but promptly lurched his hands back with a painful hiss when the vines sprouted razor-sharp thorns.

"That isn't very wise, Axel…" A familiar voice purred nearby. Hands still ablaze, Axel whipped around and found a certain pinkette standing at the bottom of the steps as roots cracked the concrete of the walkway beneath his black boots and vines rose from cracks in the ground, slithering like serpents to root themselves upon the house. There was an evil, arrogant smirk upon the rose-eating Preta's face that Axel took all of two seconds to realize he really, really hated. There was only one reason why he was behaving this way.

"Marluxia." Axel hummed as his eyes narrowed into a glare.

"It would seem the fox has been outwitted. I thought you would have grown suspicious by now, but it seems you aren't as bright as I originally thought." Marluxia said as he flipped his hair over his shoulder. Axel should have seen this coming. How could Marluxia have known about Demyx being hurt that night several weeks ago? He had claimed he heard the screams, but the park was several blocks away. In hindsight, Axel realized the clues were all there. He just let his guard down Yeesh, is everyone and their grandmother working for Xemnas?

"I can only assume this isn't a social visit." Flames spiraled down Axel's forearms, channeling into his palms to form his chakrams.

"Your time is up, Axel. The Organization has chosen you, and it is time to join us in our quest for salvation." The pinkette bellowed as his right hand reached forward, seemingly to grasp at thin air. Cherry blossoms exploded from his fingertips and fluttered about as his sythe took form in hand.

"I think I'll pass. I don't think Heaven or wherever you're from has what it takes to handle a guy like me."

"You do not understand the opportunity before you, Axel. You and I are one in the same. We both share the same sentence. You are being given the chance to relieve yourself of your pain and join us in a conquest to change the very laws of our spiritual universe…you could be a part of something grand."

"The laws are there for a reason. That's sort of what laws are for."

"I see your opinion on our methods has not changed." It was obvious that Marluxia was quickly losing his patience, for the plants that surrounded him were beginning to shutter and more wild in their actions. More roots and vines sprung from the ground, making that cracking noise that Axel had heard. "You have two choices, Axel Daecher of Germany. Join us, or die."

The air around Axel became distorted as it grew hotter from the heat the Preta was generating. Fire swirled around his palms and his ankles as a smirk came to his lips. His eyes became practically feral, the same effect that Xion had witnessed moments before Axel struck her. Axel wasn't preparing for just any kind of fight. He was ready for a fight to the death.

"Let's dance."

"Shelby! Shelby! Here Shelby!" Roxas called to his dog to distract her attention once he heard her start barking and growling. It sounded like Axel had found her, and he knew this wasn't going to end well. He abandoned his now finished peanut butter sandwiches and rushed into the living room to find Shelby barking at a now slamming front door. Hearing Roxas approaching and his calls, she was at his side in a matter of moments, ready to play like any other dog. Roxas just sighed and crouched down, petting her and letting her lick his face a few times in the process.

"This is gonna take a lot of work." He thought aloud as he scratched Shelby behind the ear. After an encounter like that, trying to get Axel to be more comfortable around dogs was going to be next to impossible. Maybe he would wait a few days before bringing the topic up. That sounded like a plan. For now, he decided to go and make sure Axel was alright and help him calm his nerves. After distracting Shelby by throwing her toy into another room and closing the door, he went back to the front door and tried to open it. Strange, it wouldn't move.

"Axel, Shelby is gone, you can open the door now." Roxas called against the door, thinking Axel was forcibly keeping it closed. No response. Roxas just rolled his eyes and tried to jiggle the door handle. "Axel, come on. Open the door." Still no response. What the heck was he doing? Roxas tried pounding on the door, but no luck there, either.

And then suddenly the room got much, much darker. Roxas knew the lights were already off, so his first reaction was to look at the windows. The blonde gasped and staggered back a few steps as he watched as what seemed like thick, green tentacles or something to that degree was creeping over the windows, blotting out the light. Something was wrong. Terribly wrong. Roxas' fears were only confirmed moments later when he heard the sound of screeching and clashing metal from outside the house.

"Axel!" Roxas cried out and started pounding at the door, trying to open it in any way he could, but this time the doorknob wouldn't even budge. He tried shoving his shoulder into the door to force it open, but there seemed to be a heavy weight on the other side keeping it closed. He had to be fighting someone, or something. Is that why he was acting so weird about coming home?

With the front door practically useless, Roxas went to try his luck with the back door. Unfortunately, he found the same result with that door, too. The upstairs window, he thought. Maybe I can see what's going on from up there.Roxas took to the stairs as fast as his feet could carry him. His bedroom window faced the front of the house, so that was where he decided to try and look first. Fortune decided to favor Roxas this time- only the thinnest of the vines had made up to the second floor just yet, so Roxas was able to easily rip them as he opened his window.

"Axel!" He searched for the redhead frantically outside, but Axel was moving so fast that Roxas could barely keep track of where he was amongst the vines that were starting to creep in through the windowsill and brush against his arms. Roxas couldn't see what he was fighting, so he realized that whatever the threat was, it was from another Preta or some other spiritual entity. Paying attention to the invisible brawl was starting to become a chore in itself with these pesky vines becoming increasingly persistent to molest every possible surface of the outside of the house, and now the inside thanks to Roxas opening the window. Roxas kept having to swat the vines away and try to keep them away from him, but it was like the appendages had minds of their own. And they now had found some new prey.

Marluxia wasn't as quick as Axel, but Axel was having a tough time trying to land a good hit on the pinkette. His scythe had a very far reach that made close combat too dangerous to consider. He was also using his vines as well, tugging on Axel and trying to confuse them with their quick, twitching actions that could easily become a distraction if Axel didn't keep a sharp eye on the exact location of his foe.

"This would be a whole lot easier if you would just give in!" Marluxia called out to him whilst trying to outrun the fire-weilding Preta, dodging the flaming chakrams that came his way and swiping at them with his scythe to knock them off course. Axel could see right through Marluxia's attempts to mock him. The vines that whipped around them were easily disposed of with his fire.

"Why don't you stop running away and fight me with some dignity, coward!" Axel hissed back, then tried launching a few balls of fire in hopes of bypassing the vines and making a hit before Marluxia could swing his scythe and dodge them, but the vines just kept coming, taking the fiery blows for their rather flamboyant looking master. This wasn't fair at all. It was more like fifty against one with all these stupid plants flailing around. It was apparent that Marluxia was more the type to get others to do his dirty work.

Out of the corner of his eye, Axel caught a glimpse of blonde. Roxas made it out here somehow. Axel learned from his previous encounter with Saix that he shouldn't get distracted just because Roxas was there. This was a fight he couldn't afford to lose.

"Stay out of this, Roxas!" Axel growled after he heard the boy call his name, his green gaze not leaving Marluxia's form even for a second. At the very least, he had to keep Marluxia occupied from doing anything that would hurt Roxas. But Marluxia seemed to have other ideas.

The pinkette finally lunged towards him with his scythe poised to strike, but Axel was ready. He brought his chakrams up in a defensive position to block the attack and leave both demons at a deadlock, forcing themselves upon the other and glaring with hatred seething between them.

"You're a mockery of our breed." Marluxia hissed at him, throwing his shoulder into it to try to knock Axel off balance, but Axel promptly pushed back against him.

"Fitting in with other losers like myself has never been a part of my agenda." Axel retorted as flames lurched out from the surface of his chakrams to lace itself around Marluxia's scythe.

"Of course, because you would rather rub elbows with the living, and we both know that is unacceptable behavior. It's made you soft."

"Who are you to judge what path I take in life? You aren't my mother. Though you could easily pass off as one, I'm sure."

"Allow me to show you what I mean." With Axel bearing all of his weight upon Marluxia, when the pinkette jumped back he found himself stumbling forward. It was a clear opening for an attack, but Marluxia surprisingly didn't take advantage of that. Roxas' scream would provide the explanation for why.

One of the thicker vines had breached the open window and had dragged a screaming Roxas out by his ankle, lifting him high into the air and forcing the blonde to dangle upside down. When Roxas locked eyes with Axel, he opened his mouth to try and cry out for him but he was promptly gagged by a smaller vine wrapping around his mouth while the other end of it bound his arms behind him.

"Roxas!" Axel couldn't ignore the dangerous predicament the blonde was in. He jumped up with chakrams in hand, ready to slice through the vine easily and retrieve him. His attempt was intercepted by Marluxia, who cut him off and sent him flying to the ground with a fierce slice of his scythe. The amount of force that Axel hit the ground would have broken a mortal's back in an instant. Luckily, Axel was not a mortal. Unfortunately, that meant it just really, really hurt like a bitch. The Preta groaned, his eyes squeezing shut as he clenched his teeth to keep from yelling out in pain. Only when he heard Marluxia's voice did he open them.

"Our little game just became more interesting." Marluxia mused from where he was standing upon a second vine like a platform, right next to the one that was holding Roxas in the air. The blonde was struggling, kicking with his free leg and trying to break free from the vines that bound him. It became apparent that Roxas could see him now, because his wide blue eyes were glued to the pinkette. A growl slipped out of Axel's throat as he picked himself up off the ground, ignoring the searing pain through his body and trying to focus his now fuzzy gaze on Marluxia.

"Let him go, Marluxia." Axel hissed breathlessly. "He has nothing to do with this."

"Oh, but he has everything to do with this." Marluxia replied, placing his hands upon his hips. "And unless you come with me, the blood of another boy that you have come to adore will stain your hands once more."

"I swear, if you so much as touchhim-"

"Oh, I don't have to touch him." The Preta shrugged, and the vine that held Roxas up by the ankle suddenly let go of him. Roxas' muffled scream could easily be heard behind the vine coiled around his mouth as he fell.

"NO!" Axel cried out in desperation, forgetting about his injuries for a split second and attempted to dash out and catch him, but his knees buckled beneath the pressure and momentum and sent him falling to his knees. The redhead could only watch in horror as Roxas tumbled towards the ground. What had he done? How could he have let this happen again? The past few weeks flashed through Axel's mind. Was this really how it was all going to end? Roxas had plenty of life left to live…all ended by a demon's selfish mistake. No. It couldn't end this way.

Just as Axel was pulling what strength he had left to try to save Roxas from certain death, the blonde was grabbed once again by the thick vine just a few feet before he hit the ground to pull him back up once more. From having faced death that had been only seconds away and being held upside down for so long, he didn't have the strength to struggle against the vine that kept him prisoner this time. Marluxia, on the other hand, chuckled darkly at Axel's pathetic desperation to save him.

"Either you come with me to join the Organization, or the boy dies. And I wouldn't wait too long for an answer if I were you. He'll be unconscious in a matter of minutes from the blood rushing to his head." Having made his proposal, his platform began to descend to the ground. He stepped right off of it as it hovered inches from the ground, his blue eyes leering down at Axel where he was sitting with one knee on the ground, trying to pull himself up. That fall had done quite a number on him.

He tore his gaze away from Marluxia to look at Roxas, watching as he dangled helplessly by his ankle. He could see that Roxas was struggling to keep his eyes open, fighting against unconsciousness but progressively losing. Axel didn't have time to think about this. He had to make a choice, and he had to make it now.

One of Axel's chakrams was already lying on the ground, having been thrown out of reach when Axel had fallen. He still had a grip on the second, however, but it slowly began to dissolve into puffs of smoke in his palm. Emerald eyes closed, and a heavy sigh left his lips.

"I'll go with you." Axel said as he slowly rose to his feet. He didn't dare look at Roxas as he voiced his choice. "But only under the condition that he won't be bothered by you or anyone else in the Organization."

"We have no need for weak humans in our agenda." Marluxia shook his head, but he seemed amused by Axel's request. "I'm glad you could and I could come to an agreement. The wrath of Xemnas is one that I would like to avoid."

"Yadda yadda, just put Roxas down already." The perturbed redhead groaned as he made a gesture for Marluxia to hurry along. Sure enough, the thick vine began to lower itself until it had safely placed Roxas on the ground. The biggest vine began to slither back into the crack from which it had erupted from, and the two smaller ones that kept Roxas restrained rapidly lost their vitality and became brittle as their vibrant green changed into a dead brown. The other plants and vines that had been crawling around and nearly swallowed Roxas' house began to slide back into the ground or wither and break off as well.

It sounded like Marluxia was saying something to him, but Axel wasn't paying attention. The redhead dragged himself past the pinkette and made his way over to the boy that now lay on the ground, still and unconscious despite his efforts. Axel was immediately concerned, but he had to reassure himself. He'll be fine, Axel thought. He'll come to eventually…On the bright side, if there was absolutely any way there could be one right now, at least this made goodbye just a tiny bit easier. He didn't have to watch Roxas cry, or hear his pleas to stay. But it was still a mountain of a task nonetheless.

Axel knelt down and carefully broke away the dead foliage from Roxas' mouth, tracing the boy's face with a gloved index finger. It looked just as beautiful as it did that morning when Roxas was sleeping in the car, if not more so. As odd as it may seem, Roxas looked sort of peaceful. The Preta sighed once more as he leaned down to press his lips upon his forehead tenderly.

"I will never forget you, Roxas Grimm." He whispered against the blonde's flesh, closing his eyes for just a moment to inhale his scent for one last time. "…Ich liebe dich." Even if Roxas couldn't hear it, just being able to say 'I love you' made Axel's heart flutter. If only he could hear it being said back to him. But somewhere deep down, he had a feeling that Roxas might feel the same. He could feel Marluxia's glare drilling into his back, but he still had one last thing to do before he left.

He reached into his pocket to pull out Aerith's old rag doll, his most prized possession. Axel had died in the fire with the doll on his person, so when he was reborn it stayed with him. And in the same way Ventus had passed it down to him and then to Aerith, Axel took Roxas' hand and placed it in his palm, carefully closing his fingers around it and laid the closed palm upon Roxas' chest. With Roxas' help, Axel had finally been able to come to terms with Aerith's tragic death. Gretel was no longer needed. This would be his way of thanking Roxas for all he had done for him, and leaving him something to remember him by.

"Maybe we will see each other again in the next life, yeah?" He chuckled bitterly as he forced himself to take his hands away and rise to his feet. A connection like this transcended time and space as the world knew it. He would see Roxas again… even if they didn't remember each other. He could just feel it.

*: Lazily translated through Google as 'stupid fucking toy.' :U Hey, I put a lot of research into this fiction. I can at least get some slack in terms of translation.

I do hope you all don't believe that this is over.

Because, my lovely and devoted readers that rock my world, it is far from over.

Expect a new chapter in the next few days. HUZZAH.