Author's Note: So aside from me ending up leaving on an unexpected road trip for a few days, my laptop decided that it didn't want some of the keys to function properly and that it also didn't want to charge properly. Having said that: THAT IS WHY THIS FUCKING CHAPTER IS HERE SO LATE. raeg.

BUT YES. Sorry about that, guys. orz Technical difficulties, but now the third and final installment of this ficlet is up and running. I apologize for the delay!


Eyes || Part Three
"Optic"

Axel came to realize that having sex with Roxas became the time when they were most intimate with one another and the reason for this he could easily figure out: Roxas liked to take his time to feel and with that came built up tension and arousal. It might have been a strange topic to be thinking about over breakfast...or lunch...or even while switching out IV bags in a patient's room, but the redhead couldn't help but wonder about it. He'd learned something the first time they'd had sex and that was that he didn't necessarily need his eyes in order to enjoy what he wanted to enjoy.

...Of course Reno thought it was all a lie when Axel decided to fess up.

"Pff, what?" the older male sputtered, nearly slamming down his coffee mug on the glass table. "R-run that by me," cough, "again?"

Axel rubbed at his temples, feeling heat rising to the tips of his ears, and started again, this time making his voice sound much more serious.

"We had sex."

"No, no, after that. What'd you say?"

"It felt good."

"After that."

Flatly, since he wasn't very amused with Reno's tone, "It feels better with your eyes closed." And to that his brother ceased to rub at his throat so that he could look him straight in the eye, crimson bangs shielding one of his eyes when he tilted his head at an angle. Reno's apartment wasn't exactly what one would call home sweet home, but, regardless, Axel still felt comfortable enough in an environment in which the floor could barely be seen, so he'd learned to ignore it. Yes, even when his brother would look at him like that he still felt...normal here.

For a long while, actually, Axel felt like Reno was the only person in the world that could see him.

After some minutes of giving his brother a measured look, Reno released a sigh and traced the rim of his mug with an index finger. "No kidding," he commented, almost despondent, staring into the cup.

Axel leaned back in his chair and glanced out the window of Reno's living room. The glass was beginning to fog around the edges and outside the darkness was thick. No street lights were on, no traffic lights, no windows. The city really had become barren.

He rested his elbow on one of the armrests of the couch when he spoke up again, voice clearly tired. It had been another long day at work, and he really shouldn't have decided to clock out early—about twenty minutes or so—but thankfully it was easy to get out of the hospital when the weather called for snow. The world may have been insensitive and harsh, but that didn't mean all people had to follow its example.

"...You ever feel lonely, Reno?"

To that Reno laughed...and with a softness his brother hadn't heard in a long while, responded, "All the time, man."

xxXXxx

...Time was frozen. Just like the streets and naked trees weighed down by blankets of white, never trembling, never making a sound...time was unmoving.

He was sure that his heart was still beating and his lungs...still breathing. And yet with everything happening at once...Roxas couldn't concentrate on his body any longer. He felt elated and afraid; like he could fly but if he tried he would fall through millions of miles of endless sky. The coolness of snow touching his lashes stung the slightest bit but in reaction to his body the water came and slid down his cheeks like makeshift tears.

No, he wasn't crying. But...Roxas could have. Because the sight before him was too beautiful.

The sight of a deserted, untouched street, white, black and, grey smattered across it—a picture perfect winter scene—was actually sitting in front of him and with those infamously blue eyes the blonde unblinkingly watched...everything. The snow no longer whispered and the wind no longer made his hair brush against his face. No, everything had a face.

After so long everything had a face.

Illuminated by the glow of the freshly fallen snow Roxas stood in nothing but his pajama bottoms at the bottom steps of the apartment complex, his face directed upward at the falling flakes on their descent to earth. He didn't care that his bare feet were falling numb or that the pain was spiking up his legs; all he cared about was if this was real or not. All it took was a spot of red—fire engine red—to prove that he wasn't dreaming.

"...Roxas?" The voice called out, only this time it wasn't just a voice. The voice also had a face. And it was beautiful.

Roxas didn't say a thing. As if worried by that the footsteps carried on through the untouched snow, disturbing it, and leaving trails...all of which he could see. Within a few seconds the redhead was standing beside him, looking down at him, worried and breath making puffs of smoke escape into the air.

Axel took a second to catch his breath before speaking up again, hoping that Roxas would actually hear him this time. "Hey, what the hell d'you think you're doin' out here, man?" He quickly took hold of the blonde's arm and placed the other at his back in that all too familiar procedure. Roxas...smiled. "C'mon," Axel started, turning both of them toward the stairs, "let's go."

"Axel."

"What?"

"...You weren't lying."

"Huh?" The taller man continued walking. He still had to get the kid out of the damn snow. But. A step before they reached the stairs the blonde turned, facing him, slipping out of the hold, and suddenly placed both of his hands on either side of Axel's head. Then...he smiled. Wide.

"...Your hair is pretty damn red."

From there all Axel could do was stare. Speechless. Dumbfounded. ...Happy.

xxXXxx

They spent the next few days staring at each other and flipping through outdated magazines. Watching reruns of episodes of this and that, browsing through maps of states they'd never been to, looking out the window, browsing through Axel's closet of clothes he hadn't worn in months—

And every so often the boy would cry.

xxXXxx

Roxas wanted to see everything and it took a lot of strength to get the boy to stay still once in a while. Roxas wanted to see the world. He wanted to go to the beach on Alkai and see the sun rise and set every day. He wanted to go to the once crowded parking lot of the super mall down the street and lay down while the stars danced overhead. Even if there would be snow and even if they had to walk, the blonde was willing to expose his eyes to all he'd missed in the years he was blind. ...Axel wished more than anything that he could have granted that wish, but Roxas's health took precedence over all else. His immunity no doubt was still weak and Axel didn't know if Roxas would even keep his sight forever.

What if while watching the sunrise his vision would suddenly disappear just as his sister's had? Thinking it left a vile taste on the tip of Axel's tongue—as if he'd been sucking on a raw penny all day—but despite not wanting to think about it, he knew that he had to consider it still. Maybe that was why, while Roxas engaged himself in this and that, laughed and reacted to his heart's desire, all he could do was watch and smile...

But. Right now, Axel could do nothing but express his anger.

"I have to see her!" Roxas argued to which Axel once again scowled and pounded a fist against a nearby wall. They were standing in the hallway leading to the front door, Axel acting as a blockade between his companion and the door, preventing exit.

The redhead shook his head. "I told you that you can't. How many times do I have to tell you?"

Roxas gestured forward with his arms. "I'm fine! I can see, right? If I go, nothing's gonna happen to me!"

"Roxas, I don't care. I don't wanna risk that."

"Axel, I—!"

"No, Roxas! I'm not letting you go to the goddamn hospital!"

Towards that the blonde let out a short yell towards the ceiling and ended up directing a kick against the wall to his left. It numbed his foot, shooting a pain up to his waist, but he ignored it in favor of letting his anger flow. Axel didn't understand. He knew that the two siblings hadn't seen each other in three years, so why couldn't he grant Roxas this one favor? Fingers clenched into fists, the blonde shot a glare away from Axel and then turned on his heel to storm back into the living room, leaving the redhead with his arms crossed and feet planted firmly on the ground.

With a sigh he added, searching for some deal he could close this with, "I can still let you talk to her on the phone like always."

Immediately Roxas shot back. "That's not good enough!"

"Well, I don't exactly have a computer on me to make video chat possible either, y'know. Those things're hard to come by right now."

Roxas scoffed loudly. "Whatever."

Taking that as a sign of resignation, the redhead uncrossed his arms and then headed into the kitchen to stop by the fridge and pop it open to look for something to calm his nerves. With a quick glance around he could already tell that they were running low on soda and milk. He'd have to find time to make it to the store tomorrow before his shift, or he could have always stopped by Reno's apartment to borrow some from the stock in his second fridge. Contemplating all this as usual, Axel eventually decided to take out the last can of root beer—Roxas wasn't partial to it anyway—before shutting the door closed with his elbow and heading out to step into the living room.

He wasn't one to let his and the kid's arguments linger for longer than a couple hours, and even if that meant that he had to be the guy to settle the score, then so be it. There was just...a twinge in his stomach that would form each time he and Roxas would break into some petty fight, and at this time in his life the last thing he was sure both of them did not need was to be alone. Can in hand, the redhead walked into the room expecting to see the television set on, even the bookshelf being raided and put out of order like Roxas liked to do just to piss him off, but instead...Roxas was nowhere to be seen.

"...Fuck," he grated out, fingers squeezing the soda can minimally. Axel turned back toward the front door again and sure enough the locks were undone and footsteps could be heard pattering down the hallway. "Roxas, do not start this with me, man!" And with that he followed after the other, ditching the soda on the floor and not even bothering to shut the door behind him. By the time he was out in the hallway the sun was beginning to set and cast a lazy orange hue over the red carpet, in turn making their shadows elongated and distorted upon the building walls.

Axel watched his shadow run ahead of him and though it might have caught up with his companion countless times he knew that he was still behind and that Roxas was still not within his grasp. He watched while the blonde made it to the stairway and down, out into the streets and around the nearest corner to head in the direction of the hospital. Axel wasn't entirely sure on if Roxas was fully confident in his sense of direction since regaining his sight, and that alone was enough incentive for him to pick up the pace.

It wasn't like the staff would allow Roxas inside anyway, now that he thought about it. This was all tedious running, stupid running, and Axel was willing to bet that Roxas knew the same. But regardless...he ran. Faster and faster, further and further until surely his lungs were about to leap out of his chest. Puffs of air escaped from between his lips while he ran in the still freezing cold and although it hadn't snowed recently, the streets and sidewalks remained under icy conditions, leaving them completely susceptible to slipping in this chase.

...It didn't seem like Roxas cared.

Even as he crossed the street, even as he glanced back to see if he was still being followed, even as he fumbled and tripped and regained his balance...Roxas didn't seem to care. Getting away, getting anywhere...

...Nowhere.

Axel was on one end of the pedestrian crosswalk when suddenly, in the blink of an eye, Roxas stopped running directly in the center of the crosswalk. The walking man on the signal across the way was still lit—cheery and bright as ever by anyone's standards—and yet...something about him seemed insignificant today. Something about that color reflected in his eyes and blended with the retrograde sunlight...seemed very pale. Lost. Gone.

His breathe was coming in short gasps while he eyed Roxas's back amongst the dying colors. In the stillness their bodies were so alive...and yet with the way the younger stood there Axel was almost convinced he was dead. It was a familiar sight, and one that left his heart detached from his body.

"...Roxas?" he asked as he had always done time after time after time.

...What was he seeing? What was he thinking? Why was it that when a slowing car began to pass and the crosswalk signal tinted red, all the boy could do was stand and curiously hold a hand out before him so that nothing but the very tips of his fingers grazed against the cold metal of the car's windows and doors? Axel could see the driver behind the wheel sparing the blonde a glance, confused, possibly frightened, but figuring that nothing in this world was to be expected anymore, they just looked away and drove on, leaving nothing behind but the coldness and tingling on Roxas's fingertips.

...Roxas fell to the ground.

"Roxas!" Instantly Axel was beside him, kneeled with hands planted on either side of the boy's head. He stared and he waited, called out to the blonde and shook his shoulders, but all Roxas would do was stare straight above him, coldly and unblinking. ...Axel unfortunately recognized that stare. He knew it. He—

"Axel," Roxas started in a low, eerie voice which brought the redhead out of his momentary stupor.

"Yeah?"

"...Watch the stars with me."

"What?"

"Please."

...It then occurred to him that Roxas's sight was stolen.

Axel felt weights pressing down on his body at all angles and threatening to destroy him. He felt his eyes growing heavy with tears and his chest overflowing with a bitter cocktail of emotions—rage, sadness, animosity. But in the end...all he could do was bite the tip of his tongue and gradually, slowly, longingly, lower his head until his and Roxas's foreheads were pressed together. Like this they could share much more than just their presence.

Like this...they shared each other's being.

"We'll have to wait for them to come out," he said, eventually opening his eyes before settling on the cold asphalt beside Roxas. Their hands were flat against the pavement, palms turned upward and skin tingling with anticipation.

The blonde hummed. "They're already out."

Axel turned to look at him, perplexed, and this Roxas seemed to feel between the mere centimeters of distance their bodies shared.

"Close your eyes," he whispered.

...And Axel did, understanding.

So with their backs against the road, nerves numbing in the cold, colors vibrant against the glow of the sun...in their blindness they watched the stars.

Roxas didn't need to see everything. He just needed...to see things a little bit at a time.

"Roxas, can you see me?"

"I always will."


If you did not guess, this fanfic is ONE. BIG. METAPHOR. If it confuses you, that is the point, but I do hope you will be able to understand the message I was trying to pull through. Care to share your theories? I always find them interesting. :3

Well, thanks for sticking it out with me on another bouncy journey. I've got a few other fics that need to be updated as well as a few other oneshots that I need to edit and get up. Please be on the look out for them! Thank you so much for taking the time to read this and as always, thank you for continuing to be my number one inspiration.

I only have eyes for you,
kokoro77