EDIT: I was overwhelmed by the lovely reviews I recieved from people. I returned here to do a quick spell check and clean up, since I was a tad ashamed to find so many in my draft, and I am also pleased to say that I have decided on a small follow up chapter, as I think it would be good to have a few more fluffy AkuRoku moments. I doubt this will be another smut story, as there are a lot of them, but if it ends up that way, well... *shrug* It's whatever fits the story. I can't promise anything. However, this will now be changed to Incomplete, until the follow up chapter is completed and posted on here. I will also continue to write other Kingdom Hearts yaoi fanfics; AkuRoku among them. Thank you all for reading! I still appreciate reviews! Please stay tuned! *bows*

Well, I wasn't going to put this up tonight, but I couldn't resist. This story is AkuRoku, and a one shot. I might follow this up with an after story, developing their relationship further, but for now this is all there is~ I hope you enjoy! Reviews are appreciated!

Few stories were as tragic as the story of Roxas Galloway.

Tentatively diagnosed with schizophrenia at the tender age of fifteen, Roxas was quickly institutionalized for his erratic behavior and somewhat non-comprehension of human interaction. He suffered from random and violent emotional outbursts, during which he became a danger to others and himself. His parents, devastated by his condition, did their very best to support their son during his illness, including spending vast amounts of money on all the drugs and promises that were required in order to repair their damaged son.

For the first part of his institutionalization, Roxas was kept at the Twilight Institute for Troubled Children, one of the best institutions in the country. Things seemingly began to get steadily worse for the young man, and every passing week brought a new distance between Roxas and the rest of the world. He withdrew further and further away from human contact, until eventually the problem was investigated. Through a series of fortunate - or unfortunate, depending on your point of view - events, a man was exposed as abusing Roxas and several of the other patients.

With the removal of the man suspected of causing Roxas' decline, Roxas began to get better. With gentle pushing and prodding, he could even be coaxed into conversation.

But things were not to remain in good light for long.

Roxas' parents visited every two weeks. It was a happy time for the young man, who would sit between his mother and father and lean against them. Whilst he found it difficult to communicate verbally, it was obvious that he enjoyed the gentle caress of his mother's fingers on his cheek and the strong, silent presence of his father. He would look at them with wide and often wet eyes, studying their faces in attentive detail. The end of visiting time always brought silent tears and he would sit and stare at the door long after they were gone. There had been a lot of talk about sending him home, for it would almost certainly hasten the healing process, but his seemingly random emotional changes kept him behind closed doors.

It was on one frosty winter morning that Roxas' parents were involved in a seven-car pile up on the freeway. Nine people were killed, Roxas' parents among them.

Roxas had screamed for days. He tore his room apart, injured himself on the pencils in his room and howled uncontrollably until the nurses were forced to tackle him down and drug him into a stupor.

Now heavily medicated, Roxas was pushed in a wheelchair from place to place. Sometimes the nurses would place him by a window, and sometimes by the TX. Sometimes, they would place him at the arts and crafts table, where Roxas was allowed soft crayons and paper. His drawings were always incredibly detailed and exceptionally good for his age, but they were always laced with heavy violence. When his drawings began to disturb the other patients, he was taken away from the arts and crafts table.

Roxas always had too many drugs pumped into his system to protest beyond a small, tilted frown.

Roxas spent his sixteenth birthday sitting at a window, vacantly watching the raindrops slip down the glass. Soft tears slid down his round cheeks in a similar manner, dripping off his jaw onto his weakly curled fingers.

It was obvious that Roxas' treatment was not helping. He was unresponsive in therapy. He refused to speak to anyone. Te only thing that seemed to register in those blank, passive eyes was a piece of paper and something to draw with. It could be a crayon, a soft marker; anything that wasn't pointed and could be used to harm himself. After an extensive evaluation, Dr. Vexen and Dr. Lexaeus decided to try something a little different.

There was a new program at the hospital, where some of the more stable patients would be allowed to visit a beautiful, reclusive ranch once a month. Of course, all patients would have a volunteer to stay with them and make sure they didn't wander off into the words. It was a way to get a change of scenery; something besides the four cement walls of the clinic.

Roxas was loaded into the small bus with seven other patients. Only the quietest and best behaved were taken. Most were given something to relax them for the forty-five minute drive out to the ranch. Roxas sat huddled in the corner of his seat, leaning against the window with the same vapid gaze that he always carried.

The ranch was a sprawling, beautiful estate. There were vibrant green, fenced pastures dotted with cows or horses. Thick fir trees huddled around the back of the farmhouse, as if cradling it. The farmhouse itself was a massive log cabin decorated in full rustic style, including a saddle by the varnished doorway. A few dogs were present around the house, barking and running around with tongues lolling and excitement plain in their step.

Roxas was walked over to a chair swing close to the house, so he could sit down and take in the scenery. It was there that he met Axel.

Axel's father was the owner of the Lazy Flame ranch. When he was asked if he could help with some volunteer work for the weekend, Axel had been a little reluctant. He didn't know anything about volunteering and even less about mental illness, but his father had been insistent and eventually Axel relented and made himself available for the day.

Roxas was a sorry set of slim limbs, an oversized white jacket, and blue hospital scrubs. His blond hair was wispy and messy, sticking in spikes that naturally seemed to curve only one way. His eyes were a bright blue, like the ocean, but they held a distant, glazed quality that was as heartbreaking as it was unsettling. He was such a small and sorry sight, it was hard to believe that he was sixteen. His slim hands were settled on his lap, palms up, fingers curled and relaxed. He seemed completely unaffected by the change in his surroundings.

Axel, once he had received Roxas' name from the nurse, standing at a safe distance away from the boy, stepped up to the swinging chair on the front porch. He was wearing faded, slim-fitting jeans and a half open white button-up shirt, which were relatively old and faded compared to the brightness of Roxas' clothing. His boots thumped on the wood, and the swing creaked as he sat down beside Roxas. His immediate impression brought a sad, concerned frown to his face.

"Hey, Roxas," he said, his voice light. "The name's Axel. Got it memorized? I'm gonna be showing you around the ranch today. What d'ya think of that?"

No reply. Roxas just stared off into space, as though Axel didn't exist. The red-head felt his heart stretch tight, like the skin over a drum as he watched the expressionless boy stare into the distance blankly.

Axel struggled to think of something to say. Maybe if he just kept talking, the other would hear him and understand, even if he didn't respond. Wasn't that what they said about people in comas? This was sort of like a coma, wasn't it?

"Well, we don't have to do anything, if you don't want to," Axel said, leaning back and rocking the swing seat they were perched on just slightly. Roxas' feet, dressed in pure white shoes that looked like they'd never touched the dirty floor before, drifted along the varnished wood of the porch as they swung. "Since you're all the way out here, though, you should come and see the horses with me. A new one was born last Autumn, and she's gorgeous. My dad named her Kairi, because he says she's free and beautiful, like the sea."

Nothing. A heartbeat; a moment of silence.

"She's young, though, so she's still getting used to the saddle and having someone ride her," he said. "I take her out as much as I can so that she gets used to having someone around. I go out and brush her down every morning and every night, just so she knows she's cared for." Axel was looking at his boots. "Sometimes it's good to talk to someone, even if they don't talk back. I think the horses just like the sound of a voice talking to them, even if they don't know what they're saying."

When Axel turned to check on Roxas, he expected the youth to still be staring off towards the far end of the porch. Instead, Roxas had turned his head and was watching him intently. His eyes were wide and searching, almost as if he didn't understand what Axel was still doing there, talking to him.

Axel swallowed under the other's intense gaze and continued his little story. "I mean, if you're good with horses, you can tell when they're listening to you. Their ears follow you around as you walk around them, brushing them down. Sometimes, Kairi will turn to watch me while I brush her down."

Roxas' eyes dropped from Axel's, breaking his gaze. He looked at the fingers in his lap. "Kairi," he said.

"Yeah," Axel replied, pleased he had been listening. "That's her name."

"And she was... born in autumn?"

Axel nodded. "That's right."

"Me too. My birthday's... in autumn," Roxas whispered.

"Really? When's your birthday?" Axel asked.

Roxas bit his lip, thinking hard. His fingers twitched in his lap. "October." He paused, his brow wrinkling in concentrating. "Fourteenth, I... think."

Axel smiled a little in what he hoped was an encouraging way. He thought about asking Roxas what he did for his birthday, but that question seemed pretty insensitive. Roxas had probably sat in a chair, vacantly staring at a wall or something. Perhaps people around him sand an abbreviated version of 'Happy Birthday.' Perhaps he got a small cupcake with an unlit candle as his birthday cake.

Instead, Axel asked, "would you like to see her?"

Roxas looked over at him once more, his eyes full of questions. "Who?" he asked, sounding confused.


Roxas twisted his fingers in his lap for a moment, and nodded. Axel was thankful that he'd said yes; that would give him something to do instead of just rambling along like an idiot. He stood and extended his hand to the frail-looking youth. Roxas looked at it for a long moment before sliding his fingers across the other's roughened palm.

Axel was surprised that the boy could walk as well as he did. Granted, Roxas didn't move quickly, but the capacity was probably there. His shrunken frame was as light as a feather, and Axel barely noticed that Roxas was supporting most of his weight on his arm.

The barn smelled of sweet hay and musky animals. There were four horses currently stabled. One of the farm hands was brushing down a small brown horse by the name of Sora. Axel waved to him as he escorted the small boy down to the last stall.

The horse's ears perked when Axel called her name. She lifted her head over the gate and seemed to appraise them both in a quiet, wide-eyed manner. She was a beautiful horse. She had a dark name and tail, matching her deep chestnut red coloring. There was a calm, free sort of aura around her and she was indeed very beautiful, just like the sea. Roxas wouldn't know. He'd never seen it. His grip on Axel's arm tightened.

"It's alright, Roxas," Axel soothed in a gentle tone. "She won't hurt you. Will you, girl?" Axel reached out and scratched his fingers along the horse's chin, sliding his fingers along so he could gently rub her nose. She bumped it against his hand and Axel chuckled lightly. "See? She likes that."

Roxas seemed utterly fascinated. Once his initial trepidation drifted away, he managed to stand easily at Axel's side. He still clung loosely to his arm, but it was more for the comfort and affection it brought than the support.

"Do you want to pet her?" Axel asked, still rubbing her nose. "Here, just like this."

Roxas looked at Axel for a moment before carefully extending his hand out to the horse's warm head. Axel's free hand caught Roxas' and for a moment, the only thought running through his mind was how soft and warm it was in his fingers. The moment passed, and he guided it to the final resting place against the horse's head. The fur was short and coarse. Roxas' mouth opened a little, as if he was going to say something, but he stopped himself. Instead, he let his hand drift down to the soft, velvety nose.

The horse snorted and abruptly, Roxas pulled his hand away and grasped onto the front of Axel's waist, startled by the sudden movement. Axel was a little surprised by the motion, but also by how tightly Roxas was gripping the material. He placed his hands gently on Roxas' shoulders, awkwardly trying to comfort him. "It's okay," he uttered quietly against the blond spikes.

Eventually, Roxas loosened his grip and pulled away unsteadily from his chest. He looked up at Axel with red-rimmed, wide eyes. He sniffed once. The red-head looked down at him, smiling reassuringly.

Roxas reached up with one slender, frail hand. He paused in midair, as though wondering if he should continue, but it settled steadily on Axel's cheek and drew him down, as though to tell him a secret. Axel turned his head a little, so the blond could tell him the secret. He could feel Roxas' warm, sweet breath on his skin. Roxas' fingers curled into his shirt.

Instead of words, Roxas pressed his lips lightly to his cheek. Soft and shaking, the boy kissed him in an awkward, unsure soft of way. Axel was surprised, and a flush crawled over the skin when he realized what Roxas was doing. He tried to laugh or say something, but his tongue was suddenly unresponsive.

"Thank you," Roxas mumbled quietly when he drew back a little, his lips brushing his cheek as he spoke. "You're... you're so kind."

Axel wasn't sure what to say, so he settled with a simple, "You're welcome."

Still holding onto Roxas' arm, he took him back from the stable. They spend the rest of the day slowly wandering around the ranch, and Axel took great delight in the excited expressions that passed over Roxas' face. The coordinator watched them in utter shock, unable to believe that Roxas was up and walking around, let alone speaking to his new friend, without prodding or cajoling.

The hours slipped by, and it was only after the nurses promised several times that he could come back in two weeks that he allowed himself to be ushered into the bus with the others. He watched Axel out the window, pressing his fingers against the glass and waving as the bus pulled away.

Roxas touched his cheeks when Axel was finally out of sight, finding his face in an unfamiliar and strange expression. When he realized he was smiling, tears welled in his eyes.

Maybe things weren't as hopeless as they had first seemed.

Well, that's it. It's over. Thank you very much for reading~! I hope you enjoyed!