*squeal* PRIDELANDS! It's my absolutely favorite world and I couldn't help but write a fanfic with Roxas and Axel!


Disclaimer: I don't own KH or anything to do with the Lion King…sadly

"Oh yes, this will be fun," Axel said gleefully, looking at the missions board. Even since Xemnas decided that they should be more organized, he had turned to using a bulletin board to post the missions for the day.

"Axel, move. I can't see," a shorter blonde grumbled from Axel's side, looking mildly ticked-off.

"Anything for you, Roxas," Axel said sweetly, stepping to the side. Roxas looked at him strangely, his blue eyes betraying his confusion. Skimming the list of all the Organization member's names, he rested his finger on XIII. Following his name to the right, he read aloud his mission for the day.

"XIII and VIII Pridelands- recon," he read slowly. Groaning, Roxas thumped his forehead on the board. "You have got to be kidding me," he muttered under his breath.

"Nope!" Axel said cheerfully by his side, throwing his arm around his shoulders. "It's just me and you, Roxy!"

Roxas looked up at him, his eyes icy. "Call me that again and I will run you through with my keyblade," he snapped. Axel retracted his arm, holding his hands out in a gesture of surrender.

"Fine," he said, a smirk on his lips. "But you're still going on the mission."

"Don't remind me," Roxas growled, summoning a dark portal. "Now c'mon, let's get this over with. He stepped through, Axel trailing behind him happily.

Axel sat back on his haunches, looking at the smaller lion club with unhidden amusement. The younger blonde was currently struggling to stand up, unused to having four legs. Looking up, Roxas noticed the redhead snickering at him.

"Shut up!" he snarled, baring his sharp teeth. "This is only the second time I've been in the Pridelands!"

Axel just continued to smirk. "Whatever, lionboy. C'mon, let's get going. There's no way we can complete recon just by sitting here," the larger lion said, standing up. Tired of waiting for Roxas, he promptly walked over and picked him up in his mouth. Letting out a yelp of surprise, Roxas desperately tried to escape.

"Axel!" he said furiously. "Put me down!"

"Fine," Axel mumbled around a mouthful of fur. He let go of Roxas's scruff and he fell to the ground in an ungraceful heap. Roxas let out a small 'oof', then shook the spiky blonde hair out of his eyes.

"Thank you," he said sarcastically, heaving himself up onto his legs. Axel just shrugged and shook his long, red mane out.

"Let's go already," the redhead whined. Roxas rolled his eyes and trotted after the larger lion, starting to get used to four legs. As they walked along the grassland, Axel couldn't help but laugh at Roxas's size. In human form he wasn't too much shorter than Axel, but in lion form, he was tiny standing next to him.

Roxas glared at him as he laughed loudly. "What are you laughing about now?"

Trying to stifle his laughs, Axel cleared his throat. "Nothing, nothing." Roxas's eyes narrowed and he bounded in front of Axel, making him stop short.

"Seriously Axel," he said, planting his small paws into the ground. "What are you laughing about?"

Axel rolled his eyes at his friend's seriousness. "If you really want to know, I was laughing at your size. I mean, really, you're a lion cub. A cub," the larger lion said, starting to snicker. Roxas looked at him incredulously, shaking his head.

"If I wasn't a lion right now, I would run you through with my keyblade. But I'm not quite sure how that works out as a lion," Roxas said, gazing thoughtfully into the sky. "So instead…" Roxas lunged at Axel, his paws outstretched. Axel let out a yelp, jumping backwards. But Roxas managed to jump on him before he was out of reach.

"Augh, Roxas, get off!" Axel yowled, pawing at the blonde. Roxas just laughed and dodged his paws easily. They scuffled for a while on the grass before Axel collapsed on the ground, exhausted. Roxas snickered, sitting on his back.

"Old man," he teased.

Axel twisted his head around, looking at Roxas with eyebrows raised. "What did you call me?"

Roxas grinned, showing off his sharp teeth. "I said you're an old-AHHH! AXEL!" Roxas yowled in surprise as Axel rolled over, successfully pining him to the ground. He struggled for a few moments, trying to escape unsuccessfully. Finally letting out a huff of frustration, Roxas went limp.

"C'mon Axel, get off. I want to get this mission over and done with," Roxas grumbled. Axel just grinned, his tail twitching back and forth on the ground.

"Not till you apologize," Axel said in a sing-song voice.

Roxas muttered something under his breath before sighing loudly. "Fine. Axel, I'm sorry for calling you an old man. Now can you please let me up?" Axel grinned.

"Apology accepted," the redhead said, leaning forward and licking Roxas on the head. He immediately leaped back; safe from Roxas's outstretched claws.

"AXEL!" Roxas yelled. "What the hell was that for?" Axel just chuckled and turned to run away, when he slammed into a wall of fur. Letting out an 'oof', he fell back onto his back. Scrambling to get up, he looked up sheepishly at a large lioness that was glaring at him.

"Sorry," Axel muttered, slinking away, all too aware that they were forbidden to interact with the natives in the worlds. The lioness continued to glare at him.

Roxas padded up to Axel's side, and nudged him with his paw. "C'mon Axel," he murmured, looking at the lioness warily. "Let's go." The pair turned to leave when the lioness let out a gasp.

"Raza?" she screeched, staring at Roxas. "Is that you?"

Roxas paused, confused. "No, I'm sorry," he said politely. "You must have the wrong cub-"

"Raza!" the lioness yowled, lunging towards Roxas. "It is you! I would recognize Talla's cub anywhere!" Roxas was immediately covered in licks, his spiky blonde hair flattened. He desperately tried to push her away, but the lioness trapped him between her large paws, licking his head tenderly.

"Look- whoever you are- I'm not this 'Raza'! My name is Roxas!" Roxas snarled, trying to break free of her grip.

The lioness paused, and looked at him sternly. "Raza, stop this game right now. It's me, Kiara, your aunt. I'm bringing you back to your mother; she's worried sick," she said, giving him one last lick. Roxas let out a snarl, trying to scramble away, but Kiara quickly picked him up by the scruff.

Axel stepped in front of Kiara, shaking his head. "Look," he said gently. "He's telling the truth. His name is Roxas and we're just passing through. I would appreciate it if you just let us be on our way." Kiara glared at him, Roxas limp in her jaws. "Let him go," Axel said, his tail twitching in nervousness. It was getting way too complicated.

"Please," Roxas said quietly. Kiara paused uncertainly, and then shook her head vigorously, earning a startled yelp from Roxas.

"No," she mumbled around a mouthful of fur. "There is no way I'm letting Raza get away again." And with that she marched off with Roxas dangling helplessly in her jaws. Axel groaned, and then trotted after her. He would have to resort to force to get Roxas back. She was holding Roxas in such a way that he couldn't scratch her or bite. Axel picked up the pace, and then halted in front of her.

"Put. Him. Down," he snarled, unsheathing his claws. Kiara's eyes narrowed, and in one swift motion she lashed out at Axel's face, causing a slash to appear on his nose. Letting out a yelp of pain, he jumped back in surprise. Roxas's eyes were wide, and he looked at Axel disbelievingly. Kiara's eyes glittered in triumph, and she turned away.

"AXEL!" Roxas yowled, thrashing in Kiara's jaws. "DAMN IT, HELP ME!" Kiara just padded away faster, leaving Axel behind, still in shock. Shaking his mane out, he trotted up behind Kiara. She seemed oblivious to his approach, while Roxas spotted him right away. Roxas raised his eyebrows, as if saying, What are you gonna do now? Axel paused, deep in thought, when an idea struck him.

"Distract her," he hissed quietly. Kiara was still blissfully ignorant to his presence. Axel nodded at Roxas. Taking a deep breath, the blonde let out an ear-splitting yowl. Kiara jumped in surprise, flattening her ears against her head. Damn, Axel thought to himself amusedly. That kid's got some lungs. Kiara, obviously distressed, placed him gently on the ground, making sure he was securely between her paws.

"Raza?" she asked questioningly. "Are you all right?" But Roxas continued yowling, picking his paw up as if he was in pain.

"My paw!" he cried, fake distress in his voice. "It hurts!" From behind Kiara, Axel couldn't help but smirk. Roxas could act.

"Oh, honey," Kiara said gently, her mother instincts coming in. "Sit down, let me look at it." Axel tensed, ready to spring into action. Roxas obediently sat down, holding his paw out. The lioness withdrew her paws from their hold on him, and Axel pounced. Twisting around Kiara, he snatched Roxas and dashed away as fast as he could. Kiara sat in the dust for a few seconds before she realized what happened.

"GET BACK HERE!" She screeched. Axel didn't answer, instead, he ran faster. From the grip of his jaws, Roxas let out a chuckle.

"Oh, Axel," he said amusedly. "You got pwned by a lioness." Axel felt a surge of irritation.

"Do you really want me to drop you?" he mumbled around his fur. Roxas opened his mouth to return a witty comeback, but shut his mouth. There was no way he was going to be left to face that lioness' wrath. The corner of Axel's mouth twitched up in a satisfied smirk. "I thought so." Roxas mumbled something unintelligible, and then said clearer,

"We better find somewhere to stake out. You need to take care of that cut on your face." Axel raised his eyebrows in fake astonishment.

"Is that concern I hear?" Roxas let out a half-hearted growl and tried to swat at him with his paw.

"Shut up. I would tell you to take us through a dark portal back to the castle, but we haven't completed any recon yet," Roxas said, looking around anxiously. "And I don't know if we're ever going to get any recon done, thanks to your performance. We now have a pissed off lioness after both of us. And I'm willing to bet she's gonna tell the whole pride to keep a lookout for us." Axel let out a snort and trotted towards a group of fallen trees. The trunks created a natural cave that looked safe, and next to it was a small pool of water.

"Oh, don't think so negatively. Look at the place I found!" Axel said excitedly, dropping Roxas with a flourish. Audibly voicing his protests about being dropped, the smaller lion eyed the cave warily.

"I dunno," he said, padding towards the entrance. "There might be someone or something living in there already.

"Nonsense!" Axel said, still relishing in his grand discovery. "It's all ours!"

"Oh yeah?" Roxas asked, sitting back on his haunches. "Go in there and check." Axel rolled his eyes and obediently walked into the dark cave.

"Whatcha so afraid of Roxy? There's nothing in here…wait. What's…OH DAMN IT, IT'S A SNAKE!" Axel let out a manly high-pitched yowl of fear and leaped out of the supposedly 'safe' cave. Roxas just burst into laughter, falling onto his side. He laughed even harder when Axel fell back into the pool of water, getting completely soaked. He sat up in the middle, a look of pure disgust on his face. Flicking his mane out of his eyes he glared at the blonde.

"Oh-h-h ma-a-n," Roxas stuttered, his voice shaky from laughter. "You should have se-e-en your fa-a-ace!" Axel let out a low growl, his tail flicking back and forth. Unaware of the oncoming danger, Roxas continued to laugh. Slinking as silently as he could through the water, Axel approached Roxas and…pounced. Letting out a startled yelp, Roxas was flipped over underneath his paws.

"Seriously?" Roxas complained. "We're supposed to be doing recon right now, not playing!"

Axel sat back, looking amused. "I thought you said that we came here to take care of my cut," he said, putting on a fake expression of hurt. Roxas let out a snort.

"Honestly, right now, I don't give a crap about your face. Now get off of me- we need to get something done," he said, squirming underneath the larger lion. Pouting, Axel hesitantly let Roxas go. Sitting up and cleaning the dirt off of his fur, the blonde glared at the redhead.

"Fine," Axel grumbled. "Let's get going." Nodding in agreement, Roxas walked beside Axel, out of the little sanctuary.

"So," the blonde began, looking around. "I think we should go check out Pride Rock- y'know, the pick tall rock where the pride hangs around?"

"Yeah," Axel muttered, scraping the ground with his paw. "Sounds good." Roxas raised an eyebrow, looking confused.

"Hey, what's wrong with you? You're all depressed all of a sudden," he said, prodding the larger lion's side with a paw. Axel shrugged him off, eyeing Pride Rock in the distance.

"You do know if we go into there, we're gonna be attacked by angry lions and lionesses, right?"

"Oh, don't worry Axy," Roxas said sweetly. "I'll protect you." Axel rolled his eyes and cuffed the blonde over his head. Wincing, Roxas shook his shorter mane out.

"Jeez Axel, it was just a joke."

"And I am not amused."

"I am."

Their journey continued in silence until Axel stopped, gazing at Pride Rock which was now only ¼ mile away.

"I don't know about this…" Axel said warily. "Don't you think there's going to be some lions or lionesses on lookout for us?"

"Sure," Roxas said cheerfully. "But we won't let them see us-"Roxas was suddenly cut off by a loud yowl off to their right.

"There they are!"

"Crap!" Axel cursed, whipping around where he could see a group of five lions quickly approaching them. "You were saying?" Roxas didn't answer- instead, his eyes widened in panic.

"Axel," he said hurriedly. "If they capture me there's no way in hell that I'm ever going to be let out of their sight."

"Then let's get going already!" Axel yelled, once again picking Roxas up. The younger lion wasn't as nearly as fast as the older lions, so if they were to escape, Axel was going to have to carry him.

"Get back here!" a high-pitched yowl said from behind them. Not daring to stop, Axel picked up his speed.

"Go to the left!" Roxas said breathlessly. "The elephant graveyard is that way- they'll never follow us into there." Trusting the blonde's info on the land, Axel switched course. Unfortunately, the group of lions realized exactly where they were heading.

"They're going to the graveyard! Cut them off!" a lion yowled from behind them. Cursing under his breath, Axel tightened his hold on Roxas, determined to get away.

Axel felt like he had been running for hours until he saw the huge elephant bones in the distance. He shot forward with a burst of speed, his muscles complaining loudly. He was exhausted- he had run for miles, non-stop, carrying a pre-teen lion in his mouth. Roxas let out words of encouragement, but the redhead felt like he was going to pass out.

"C'mon Axel," Roxas said gently. "Only a little farther. Then you can rest." Axel let out a grunt of agreement. The elephant graveyard was huge- bones were littered everywhere, and through the exhausted cloud in his mind, Axel tiredly wondered, how the heck do they get all the bones here? Or do all the elephants conveniently die in one place? Stumbling, Axel spotted a huge ribcage and made his way towards it. Maybe they could hide there. As he ungracefully made his way down a pile of bones, his paws slipped out from underneath him, causing both of them to tumble down.

"Oh, crap," Axel mumbled, trying to keep his hold on Roxas. The blonde yelped in pain as a sharp (thigh?) bone left a gash in his side. Both of them went skittering down the pile before landing in a heap in front of the ribcage. Panting, Axel let go of Roxas and looked at him anxiously. "Rox? You okay?" The blonde let out a pained moan.

"I think so," he said, heaving himself up. He twisted his head around to look at the gash in his side. "Ouch," he mumbled. With slow, gentle licks, he cleaned his wound.

"Oh, gross!" Axel exclaimed, looking on with an expression of disgust. Roxas looked up at him with a glare.

"Well, as of now, this is the only way to clean it!" Making a face, Axel shook his head.

"Whatever, vampireboy. Let's hide before we're discovered and all my running and effort is wasted," Axel said, heaving himself up. Despite having a few precious seconds of rest, his breaths were still coming in harsh gasps and he could barely stand. Roxas looked at him worriedly before shaking his head, gently pushing him back down.

"I think we'll be fine. Listen." Axel obeyed, his ear twitching to behind them where they lost the other group of lions. Sure enough, a few soft voices reached them.

"I saw them! They went down there!"

"No way. That's suicidal!"

"There's no way we can catch them now."

"Well, there's no use putting ourselves in danger. You know that the hyenas live there. I'm willing to bet they won't last the night, tired out like that." There were a few sounds of agreement, and the sound of fading paw steps signaled that they were leaving. Axel breathed out a large sigh of relief, resting his head on his paws and closing his eyes.

"Axel." Roxas's worried tone aroused him out of his half-asleep stupor, and he lifted his head up.

"Yeah?" he grunted. Roxas's tail was twitching back and forth in agitation, his cerulean eyes betraying his worry.

"As much as I'd like to let you rest, the hyenas do live here. And they won't hesitate to take advantage of us like this," the blonde said, looking slightly sympathetic. "We need to move somewhere else."

"As much as I'd like to get up and move, I am so exhausted I can't move," Axel shot back, imitating him perfectly. Glaring at him, Roxas stood up in all his small cub glory.

"Axel, seriously."

"Roxas, seriously."

"Augh!" Roxas cried out in frustration. Axel knew that if he was human, he would throw his hands up to the sky. "You. Are. Impossible."

"You. Are. Pushy," Axel returned with a smirk.

"When I figure out how to summon a keyblade in this form, I will bash your head in."


And for the next few minutes the two engaged in a heated glaring contest, ending up with both of them more irritated than the other. Finally groaning in boredom, Axel rolled over onto his side.

"I'm bored."

"Thank you Captain Obvious."

"You're welcome Sergeant Sarcasm."

"Would you stop with the comebacks?"

"Would you stop with the attitude?"

"Axel. Shut. Up."

"Roxas. Ge-" But Axel was cut off before he could finish.

"Oh, hell no. You are not going to use another comeback that is essentially going to end up with you getting seriously injured." Axel mumbled something under his breath before saying;

"So…we gonna move somewhere safer or not?" Roxas raised an eyebrow, surprised by the sudden seriousness.

"Yeah. I'm ready when you are." Axel heaved himself up, Roxas doing the same from beside him with a wince.

"You okay?" Axel asked, noticing the younger lion's pain.

"Yup," Roxas grunted, slowing stretching out. "Now we better get going before-"

"Oooh, looky what we got here!" A loud voice interrupted. Roxas let out a small whine of fear, recognizing the high-pitched laugh of a hyena.

"Axel," he hissed. "Come on." Roxas led the way through the graveyard around the larger bones and towards the light of the Pridelands. The graveyard was eerily dark compared to the bright sunshine of the grassy plains.

"Ah ah ah," the voice said again. "You're not leaving so soon?" Shadows slinked out of the darkness, approaching the pair. Roxas slinked back, his ears pressed against his skull.

"Get away," Axel said with a threatening snarl. But the laugh returned, echoing through the still air.

"But we're hungry. And you don't want to let some poor hyenas die of starvation, do you? We hunger for the darkness in your hearts," the voice said cheerfully. Roxas glanced at Axel in confusion.

"Hearts?" he hissed. "We have no hearts!"

"What kind of hyena eats the darkness in hearts?" Axel returned quizzically. Roxas's eyes widened.

"Crap!" he cursed, eyeing the shadows with unhidden fear. "These are heartless, not hyenas!"


"Xigbar told me about this- sometimes, in the Pridelands, animals are possessed by heartless. That's why we're sometimes sent into this world- to eliminate the heartless that have taken over an animal's body!"

"Oh…" Axel said stupidly. "So what? We fight them, right?"

"One problem," Roxas growled. "I have no idea how to summon my keyblade. And even if I could, how the hell would I fight with it?"

"Hold it in your mouth?" Axel suggested helpfully.

"Never say that again. That just sounded…wrong." Axel couldn't help but grin. But before he could reply a shadow leaped out and tackled Roxas head-on. Roxas was easily flipped over, his eyes wide in surprise. Startled, Axel could only stare.

And that was all it took.

Another shadow leaped out at the redhead, making him stagger, but not fall. He shot an anxious look over to where Roxas was fending off the shadow that was attacking him. He seemed to be doing well defensively, but his claws seemed to do no damage.

"Axel!" Roxas yelled. "Behind you!" Axel whipped around just in time to see another bigger shadow lunge at him. Time seemed to slow down, and Axel finally got a good look at what they were up against. The heartless was indeed the form of a hyena, except pure black with glowing yellow eyes. They also had sharp, dagger-like teeth and claws. All in all, a tough enemy to beat. Axel desperately tried to dodge the heartless, but the claws caught him on his shoulder, wrenching him off balance. With a yell he slid down another pile of bones, landing right next to Roxas.

"You okay?" Axel called out, looking over him anxiously. The blonde had no other fresh wounds, but his gash on his side was open and bleeding heavily.

"Just fine," Roxas replied dryly. The pair stood back-to-back, their claws unsheathed. But even Axel knew that they had no chance against them without their weapons.

"I'm going to try to summon my chakrams," the redhead said slowly, eyeing the other shadows approaching. "Distract them for a second. I'm going to have to really concentrate."

"Okay…" Roxas said hesitantly. "But hurry. I can't hold them off for long." Axel took a step back, taking a deep breath. He closed his eyes, imagining the comforting feeling of his chakrams. If he could at least summon one of them, he could hold it in his mouth…

But no matter how hard he tried, he couldn't summon his precious weapons. Not only was he stressed out, but he was exhausted, and had no experience handling weapons in this world. He had only come to the Pridelands for recon. A pained grunt snapped him out of his thoughts, and Axel opened his eyes to see a heartless slam its body into Roxas's injured side.

"I can't summon them!" Axel called out, jumping into the battle. "We're gonna have to run!"

"Fine by me!" Roxas called out, panting.

"When I say go, run. Okay?" Axel said, slashing out at an oncoming shadow. "Ready? GO!" And as if they were starting a race, the two lions leaped out of the battle and out of the graveyard. But before they could even go a few yards, a heartless lunged out at Roxas, stopping him in his tracks. He was immediately snatched up in his teeth and thrown up against a skull of an elephant. Letting out a groan, the blonde sunk to the ground, eyes closed. "ROXAS!" Axel yelled desperately, dodging another hyena that threw itself at him. He didn't answer.

"First kill in the first battle," a heartless hissed, looming over Roxas. Frustration surged inside Axel, frustration that he couldn't do a thing to help his friend. He knew they had to get out of there, and he knew he had to help Roxas.

But there was absolutely nothing he could do.

Letting out a roar of frustration, he lashed out at a hyena, and reeled back in surprise when it backed off, whimpering in pain. The 'unbeatable' heartless had a burn on its side. Axel's face slowly turned from frustrated to gleeful. He could still control fire!

Immediately he was lashing out at all the heartless he could reach, burning them, slashing them, and trying to get them as far away from Roxas as he could. In a matter of seconds, the heartless were backing off, some lying on the ground, injured, but not defeated. It would take a whole hell of a lot more to kill them. Axel, knowing this, wasted no time. He raced over to the still unconscious blonde and picked him up, for what seemed like the hundredth time that day.

"C'mon Roxy," the redhead murmured, gently picking the limp body in his mouth. "I'll getcha out of here." But after padding towards the exit of the graveyard for only a few steps, his stumbled, almost collapsing. Axel cursed colorfully, pleading with his body to get up, but his muscles screamed in protest, and it was all the redhead could do to stay sitting up. After running for miles with Roxas in his mouth, his body had taken the toll. Panting, he desperately tried to think of a plan.

Then it hit him.

Tempted to smack himself in the forehead, Axel placed Roxas on the ground and pictured a dark portal, figuring that because Roxas was injured, Superior would accept a little delay in the completion in their mission. "Why didn't I think of it before?" Axel muttered to himself, concentrating all his remaining energy into summoning the doorway.

But of course fate hated him.

No matter what he did, no portal would appear. Crying out in frustration, Axel slammed his paw into the ground. The number one reason he couldn't summon a dark portal was because of the condition of his body. If Roxas was conscious…

"Ugh," the blonde slurred, slowly returning to consciousness. "Wa…?"

"Roxas," Axel said urgently, crouching down to his eye level. "You need to summon a portal." The younger lion stared at him uncomprehendingly.

"Axel," he managed. "There is no freakin way I can summon one."

"Well, neither can I!" Axel snarled angrily. "We need to get out of here, and a portal is our only route out." Roxas nodded, looking equally as frustrated.

"We need to find a place to rest. After a night to relax maybe you'll be able to summon one."

Axel bared his teeth, furious with everything seeming so impossible. "That's a great plan and all, but where are we going to find a place to rest?" he spat out. Roxas however, seemed unfazed.

"Right here," he answered simply. Axel paused in his ranting, and looked at him with an expression that said, have you gone crazy?

"What?" he hissed. Roxas barely blinked, instead he sat up and curled his tail neatly around his paws.

"You heard me. We'll rest here. You go to sleep while I keep watch."

"You think that those heartless are just going to leave us alone?"

Roxas shrugged. "You proved we can still control our 'powers' or whatever. If any heartless come by, I can still control light and hold them off." Axel blinked, surprised he hadn't thought of that before.

"Fine," he agreed grudgingly. "But if you need any help, let me know." Roxas rolled his eyes, but let a small smile flicker over his face.

"Just get some rest Axel." The redhead curled up onto his side, his emerald eyes carefully watching the blonde for any signs of fatigue. Roxas had his back to Axel, his ears twitching in every direction, listening for any sign of the heartless. A clattering of unstable bones made both the lions tense, but Axel stayed in his curled-up position, knowing that he really needed the rest. Roxas turned to check on the supposedly 'sleeping' lion, and Axel immediately closed his eyes and steadied his breathing. Waiting a few moments, Axel opened one eye to see Roxas lying on his stomach, obviously trying to rest his injured side.

"Ow," the blonde hissed, gently twisting his head around to look at his wound. Axel winced in sympathy for his friend- he was in much more pain than he was letting on. But he knew if he got up and insisted on helping him, the younger lion would just snap at him to go to sleep. Hesitantly, Axel relaxed, letting his exhausted body fall into a deep sleep.

Roxas shifted for what felt like the hundredth time, trying to ease the pain in his side. It felt like a full-grown lion gnawing on him, but he wasn't about to admit it. He turned around, ignoring the flash of searing pain, and glanced at Axel. The older lion was sleeping peacefully, his mouth open. Roxas allowed himself a small smile; relieved his friend actually fell asleep. He felt a little betrayed that he left him to fend off the heartless for both of them, but he felt like he owed the redhead. After running for miles while also carrying him, he understood how tired he was.

"I knew this mission was a bad idea from the start," he muttered to himself. He felt his injured side cramp up, and he slowly stretched out. Gritting his teeth to keep from crying out, he collapsed in a heap, his whole body now screaming in pain. Heaving himself up into a sitting position, he peered around the dark graveyard, seeing no heartless in sight. "Axel must have scared them all off," he mumbled, still looking for any signs that they were watching them. Sniffing the air, he opened his mouth to let his scent glands help him keep watch for the possessed hyenas. "I wonder if heartless smell like anything," the blonde mused. Shaking his head, he let out a bark of laughter. "Now I'm talking to myself. How pathetic."

Roxas sat in silence for the next few hours, dutifully keeping watch. Once or twice he thought he saw a shadow slinking nearby, but when he hesitantly went to go check, it turned out to be nothing. Exhaustion was dulling the pain in his side, but he knew that it was only a matter of time before it came back full-force. He was tempted to wake Axel up to see if he could summon a portal, but decided against it. But as time went on, he could barely keep his eyes open.

"Axel…" he mumbled pathetically, trying to wake the older lion up. "C'mon, get up." But the redhead slept deeply, and Roxas was sure not even he could wake him up, injured or not. Breathing heavily, he deeply regretted letting Axel go to sleep. He, of all people, knew that once the redhead went to sleep, you'd need a full-force army to wake him back up. His vision was swimming in front of his eyes, and when he sat up painfully, nausea hit him and threatened to make him sick. Groaning, he sunk to the ground, praying that Axel would wake up soon and make sure that neither of them would be taken advantage of by the hyenas.

Axel shifted in his sleep, haunted by images of he and Roxas being killed by heartless that neither of them could fight. Mumbling something unintelligible, Roxas appeared in front of him in his dream, grinning widely.

"You're too weak Axel," he taunted, showing his sharp teeth. "You can't even put a scratch on them or summon a portal!" The blonde then laughed, a strange high-pitched cackling noise.

"Yes I can," Axel mumbled, his tail twitching. But the laugh continued, and Axel felt himself being dragged into a dark hole, the laughing following him as he continued on his way into the darkness where he could never escape…

Axel awoke with a start, panting heavily. Shaking his long mane out, he let out a breathless laugh.

"What a stupid dream," he said, slowly heaving himself up on his paws. As he slowly stretched out the kinks in his back, he let out a loud yawn, closing his eyes. "So Roxas, did we have any action last night?"

No answer.

"Roxas?" Axel asked, the worry obvious in his voice. He opened his eyes and turned to where he last saw Roxas the night before (was it that long ago?).

He was met by a frightening sight.

The small blonde was collapsed in a heap, his gash facing skyward. His whole side was stained red, and the only indication of life was the tiny rise and fall of his chest. But even that was labored, and it was easy to see that the tiny lion was in a bad condition.

"Shit!" Axel exclaimed, his eyes wide with fright. He dashed to the blonde's side, terror surging through his veins. "You can't die on me Rox, not now, please, c'mon Rox you have to get up," the redhead begged.

But Roxas remained unmoving.

Feeling as though his whole world was falling apart around him, Axel gently picked the blonde up.

"I'm going to get you some help," he assured, whether he was assuring him or Roxas, he wasn't sure. "I'm so sorry." Suddenly, determination set in, and Axel quickly headed out of the graveyard. If he had to, he was prepared to go to the lion pride for help.

In the end, Axel was so worried for his friend's life that he ended up going back towards Pride Rock, knowing that he would run into a group of lions at one time or another. Fate smiled upon him, and within minutes of leaving the graveyard he ran into none other than Kiara, the crazy aunt-lion. Despite a full night of rest, fear and guilt made Axel feel exhausted, and fell to a heap in front of the lioness's paws. A look of disgust and loathing crossed over her face, but turned to shock and horror when Axel deposited Roxas on the ground.

"Please," Axel began, aware that he was breaking the number one rule of recon missions. But he was willing to break that rule if he was going to save Roxas's life. "Do whatever you want to me, but please help Roxas. I'll never forgive myself if he dies." Kiara's gaze was still set on Roxas's limp body, but she met Axel's eyes, and nodded dumbly. Calling out to the other lions behind her who were frozen with confusion, she gently picked Roxas up.

"Don't worry," she said, addressing Axel. "We'll help both of you." Relief flooded over Axel, and he let his body go limp, not caring if he died then and there. He had let his best friend to die while he got a full night's sleep. He would never forgive himself.

Axel awoke the next morning, sleeping a full 24 hours. At first, he looked around him at the walls of a small cave, confused. But then the recent events of the last day hit him, and an overwhelming depression settled over him. I left my best friend to fend for himself while I was asleep, and now he's probably dead, Axel thought to himself miserably. How was he ever going to explain Roxas's death to Xemnas? There was movement at the entrance of the cave, and the redhead narrowed his eyes, blinking against the sunlight streaming in. A young lioness walked in, carrying a large piece of meat. She noticed that Axel was awake and hurriedly deposited the meal in front of him, slinking back to the safety of outside. Letting out a sigh, Axel let his head drop onto his paws, staring at the meat moodily. He was in no mood to eat.

"Y'know, it's bad to skip meals like that. You're so skinny- when's the last time you had a meal?" Axel jumped at the sound of a voice at the entrance, and backed off, not recognizing the voice. A soft laugh calmed him, and a large lioness stepped into the cave. It was Kiara. Axel relaxed slightly, and sunk back to the ground.

"I'm just not hungry," he mumbled, tracing a pattern in the dirt with his paw. Kiara sat down next to him, silently studying him.

"I'm very sorry about your friend…Noxas? Rosas?" Kiara said, having trouble remembering the name of the blonde lion cub. An overwhelming wave of horror washed over Axel.

"He's dead?" he whispered quietly. But Kiara didn't seem to hear him.

"He was in a lot of pain when he finally got here- our medicine lioness actually recognized that he's not Raza- Raza is her son, and she would recognize him anywhere. I'm terribly sorry for that misunderstanding before," Kiara said, looking embarrassed. A few moments of silence followed her statement. Clearing her throat awkwardly, Kiara said, "Well, if you're not going to eat that, why don't you come outside?" The lioness got up and headed towards the door, gesturing for Axel to follow. He got up obediently, his tail dragging in the dirt behind him. Nothing seemed like living for now.

As they reached the outside of the cave, the two lions were greeted by the loud sounds of lions and lionesses talking and tiny cubs playing with each other. A small blonde cub dashed across Axel's path, almost making him trip. Pain flashed through his heart as he recalled Roxas laughing and playing around with him only days before.

"Be careful Tinri," Kiara scolded affectionately. The tiny cub's tail twitched in acknowledgment, and he continued racing after a light brown cub. Kiara led him over to a group of lionesses where an older-looking lioness stood up, studying Axel.

"Feel better?" she asked kindly. Axel just nodded. "Good. I'm happy to see you up- my other patient was up quite a few hours ago." Axel froze.

"Wait," he said slowly. "What other patient?" The lioness blinked at him, looking confused.

"Why, you're traveling companion of course. You don't think I'd just let him die, do you?" Axel's heart leaped, and he felt immensely gleeful. Roxas was alive!

"Is he here?" he asked eagerly. "Can I see him?" The lioness noticed his look of happiness, and nodded with a smile.

"Of course. He's out playing with the other older cubs- he said he wants to keep his strength up. He's also quite popular with the girls," the lioness added with a wink. "You might have to fight for his attention." Axel grinned at the last statement. Blackmail heaven.

As they walked a little way away from the rest of the pride, they approached a fairly large area of flat rock where a group of cubs were play-fighting, and a couple of other female cubs looked on. Axel approached quietly, and spotted a blonde figure that stood out in the rest of the darker-colored cubs playing. He watched as Roxas playfully swung a paw at one of the dark brown cubs, successfully causing him to tackle the blonde, paws outstretched.

"Ow, Reyan, get off!" Roxas yowled, trying to shove the other cub off. But he just laughed, pinning him to the ground. The other few cubs joined in, until there was a heap of laughing cubs spread out on the ground. The female cubs looked on in admiration, laughing at their antics. One of them saw Axel, and turned to her companion. Axel heard her say,

"Hey, who is that?"

"I don't recognize him."

"Isn't he the one who came injured with Roxas?"

"Oh yeah!"

All of them chimed in, staring at the redhead, until a few of the other cubs noticed. Their curiosity spread, until Roxas too was straining to glimpse the newcomer. He shoved another cub out of the way, and saw the large lion sitting at the end of the clearing, amusement clear on his face.

"Axel?" he asked in surprise. A grin spread over his face, and he squirmed out from underneath the rest of the cubs. He bounded over in front of the older lion, radiating happiness. Axel could easily say he was just as gleeful as he was. The blonde stood in front of him awkwardly, trying to figure out how to embrace his friend. Axel suddenly leaned forward and buried his face into Roxas's short mane.

"I'm so sorry," he mumbled pathetically, feeling unbearably guilty. "I left you to fend for yourself when you were hurt-"

"Axel." Roxas interrupted. He stepped back, making the redhead meet his eyes. "It's not your fault. Stop beating yourself up about it. I was stupid- I didn't realize I was in that bad of a condition. I don't blame you at all." Axel smiled.

"Thanks Roxy. How ya feeling?" Roxas shrugged, not at all fazed by the sudden change of subject.

"Pretty good actually. Mella, the medicine lioness, fixed me up pretty good. I'm ready to head out of here when you are."

"You're leaving?" a voice chimed in from the group of cubs. A small female cub walked forward effortlessly, placing her paws delicately on the ground. She sat down expectantly in front of Roxas, tilting her head to the side. Her silver-colored fur sparkled in the gleaming sun.

"Yeah. Me and Axel have to head out of here soon. We have to get back to…our pride," Roxas finished awkwardly, shooting Axel a sideways look. "We'll come visit though." The silver cub pouted, and Axel saw a fleeting glimpse of Roxas in her attitude.

"Aw, you really have to go?" she asked innocently, batting her eyelashes. Axel snorted in amusement, but disguised it as a cough. Roxas shot him a glare, his icy blue eyes simply saying, shut up.

"Yes Lilya. I'm leaving." Lilya bowed her head, looking depressed.

"I'll miss you," she murmured affectionately.

"I'll miss all of you," Roxas said loudly, addressing all of the other cubs. Axel just smirked.

"C'mon lionboy, we gotta get going," the larger lion said, shoving him back towards the other lions and lionesses. Roxas nodded to the other cubs, all of them calling out goodbyes.

"Bye Roxas!"

"See ya!"

"Come visit soon!"

Roxas padded out of the clearing next to Axel, looking upset.

"Hey, what's up?" Axel asked worriedly. The blonde shook his head, his eyes moist.

"I don't know- I feel really sad for some reason. Like those other cubs reminded me of someone else I miss," Roxas said slowly, frowning thoughtfully. "I don't know who though…"

"Short term memory much?" Axel said playfully, poking the younger lion in the forehead. Roxas grinned, batting at him with a paw.

"Shut up. Come on, let's go already. I have a feeling the Superior isn't going to be happy with us for being two days late," Roxas said, heading towards the medicine lioness to say his thanks. "Why don't you go find Kiara? We should say goodbye to her."

"The crazy lioness? No thank you. And besides, we're already breaking the rules by hanging around here," Axel said wisely. Roxas snorted, raising his eyebrows.

"Since when do you care about the rules?" he asked questioningly.

"Touché," Axel muttered grudgingly. "Fine. I'll go find her." But it turned out that Axel's work was cut out for him. None other than Kiara herself approached them, looking curious.

"Are you leaving already?" she asked kindly. Axel nodded, shifting his feet. He was never usually nervous around others, but after she had assaulted him, he was a bit wary. Roxas snorted with amusement next to him, and discreetly drifted off to the side, leaving Axel alone. Shooting the blonde a death glare, Axel turned back to the lioness.

"Before we leave, I just wanted to say…well…thank you," Axel said quietly, quite unlike his usual cocky attitude. "If it weren't for you, Roxas probably would have died." Kiara smiled, shaking her head.

"The only reason I brought him to the pride was because you brought him to me. If I were you, I would have never brought him to a lion or lioness of the pride. I would be afraid they would take him away and never let him go," she said. "I am not responsible for saving his life. You are. You took action without a second thought." Axel let out a small laugh.

"Thanks, I guess. We'll never forget what you did," the pyro said, sounding truly grateful. Roxas suddenly came up next to Axel, finished in saying his goodbyes.

"Thank you Kiara. We really appreciate it," he said. Kiara just laughed.

"You're willing to forget about my stupid mistake with you and Raza?" she asked with a grin. Roxas chuckled, and beside him Axel mentally stored the memory of Kiara mothering him, thinking it was pure gold for blackmail.

"Of course. Now, we better get going before our family misses us," Roxas said, referring to the Organization's large, dysfunctional 'family'. Axel highly doubted they would care of they died a horrible death or never returned, but kept silent.

"Don't forget to come and visit," Kiara called out as the pair slowly made their way down Pride Rock. Roxas twitched his tail in acknowledgment, carefully picking his way through the steep path back down to the grassland.

Only moments later, the pair was on their away from Pride Rock, searching for a secluded place to summon a portal. Roxas didn't want to find out how they would react if the rest of the pride saw them summoning one. They finally made it back to the small cave and pool they had found days before. Axel wisely stayed out of the cave, but they went around to the side of the fallen tree trunks, where they were out of sight.

"Too bad we never completed any recon," Axel grumbled crossly. "Xemnas is really gonna have our asses when we come back two days later with nothing done."

"Oh, don't be so sure about that," Roxas said casually, pretending to be interesting in a bird perched in a tree next to them. Axel's ears perked up.

"What do you mean?" he asked warily.

"Well…" Roxas began, a small grin spreading over his face. "When Mella, the medicine lioness, was treating me, I asked her a few questions about the Pridelands, telling her our family and we might want to come and live here. She told me everything- the population of the pride, the amount of hyenas still living in the graveyard, and the various sightings of the heartless. I have as much recon as you can possibly get in two days. Axel stared at him in shock, then let out a gleeful yell, startling the blonde.

"YESSS! Thank you Roxy! Oh, I owe you! I totally thought we were going to be chewed out by Mansex!" the pyro exclaimed, prancing around in circles. Roxas smiled at Xemnas's nickname, shaking his head.

"C'mon Axel," he said, still smiling. He felt like he smiled enough for a whole year, never mind one day. Axel held a paw out, delighted to see a purple-black doorway appear.

"Next time I go out on a recon mission, I am so taking you with me," Axel announced, vanishing into the portal. Behind him, Roxas let out a snort.

"Oh no. I am never going on another mission with you, recon or not," he said, vanishing right behind him.

But fate hated him.

And the very next day, yet another recon mission was assigned to number XIII and VIII.


I have to say, I am VERY proud of this. I worked for months to get this finished, and then had to wait another week to post cause I was grounded. ;_;

AND GOOD LORD THIS IS 8,048 (or something like that) WORDS LONG. Not counting the bold part. *squeal* my longest fanfic yet!

Ok- a few little Author's Notes:

- Is it just me or is Axel really OOC? *gasp* And Roxas? I AM FAILING AS A WRITER!

- Yes, I understand there's a whole heck of a lot of emotions going on here, but just play along with it.

- I hated the hyena scene. ARGGG! I COULD NOT WRITE A GOOD FIGHTING SCENE! And yes, the whole 'we hunger for the darkness in your hearts' thing. STUPID. But it had to go in there.

- As I reviewed the hyena scene, I realized that Roxas kept getting attacked by the heartless, while Axel just kinda stood there. O.o….Oops.

- My favorite part in here was the comebacks. Heehee! I loved writing those!

- The lion names: I made them all up. Except for Kiara. She's actually in Lion King 2.

- The others that Roxas said he was missing? Yeah. It's pretty obvious. In his consciousness, he misses Hayner, Pence, and Olette.

- REVIEWS, REVIEWS, REVIEWS! I NEED THEM. Please review after reading this; I'd really like to know what you thought.

Also- when you review, let me know if I should do something else like this. Maybe another mission with Roxas and Axel in…Halloween Town? Twilight Town? Agrabah? LET ME KNOW! I really need to know because the end is definitely a cliff hanger for another mission, and I need to figure out what to write.

Luv you all!