Hey guys! Thank you for everyone who's reading this fic and an extra-special thank you for the once who reviewed! I don't mean to play favorites, but I totally love you more. Don't tell the others ;P Anyways, here is chapter 2 of this fics! I hope you guys enjoy!
~ 10 years later ~
The sun was hot, warm, as the last vestiges of summer fought against the chillier fall breeze. The trees were still green, but their leaves were rustled more than they had in the warmer months, as if anticipating their change. Their fall. And in the middle of this transition, the two boys sat on the front steps, licking their quickly-melting ice cream cones.
"So", Roxas said finally, from the lower step, leaning his head back to look at Axel. "I got your text."
"Yeah, I noticed."
"...I came over..."
"So I see."
Roxas frowned, his brow knitting together over impossibly blue eyes. Despite the fact that they were upside down, they were no less enchanting. Many a girl had fallen prey to those eyes over the years, drawn into their spell, only to wind up broken hearted. Axel may have been a flirt, but Roxas had a trail of hearts in his wake.
And like those girls, Axel was no different, his stomach flipping at the familiar sight. Unlike the girls, however, he stamped it down, suffocated the unwelcome feeling away, refusing to dwell on it or what it might mean.
Roxas's upside-down frown deepened, and Axel couldn't help but notice that he looked like he was smiling...Sort of. On half of his face.
"So what did you want?" His voice was laced with irritation, his expression disapproving. Axel just shrugged.
"I thought I already told you." He replied, wiping sweat from the back of his neck with his palm- The one that wasn't holding the ice-cream. "God it's hot" he muttered. "You have a -?"
Before he could finish his sentence, Roxas was already pulling an elastic band from his wrist, holding it up to the redhead. A grin slid across Axel's face as he slipped the band from his friend's wrist, holding out the ice-cream. "Hold this a sec?"
Roxas accepted the treat, leaving Axel free to pull his hair back. The years had done nothing to tame it, the color still as wild as ever. The only thing time had done at all was add a foot or so to the length. He'd taken to wearing it in spikes, but they were wilted with the heat. "Finish your story." He said simply, watching Axel tighten the band before accepting his frozen treat back.
"Okay, so last night I'm just watching TV and then Mom walks in and asks if I remember Zexion. You know, that weird kid from elementary school. My sort-of cousin?"
Roxas nodded. It'd been years since Axel had first told him that in his confused, childish, rambling. Since then, they had come to understand that while Axel and Zexion weren't actually related, their mothers had been best friends for years, and since Axel's mom -Ariel- was an only child, she'd introduced her friend as "Auntie Paine."
"Remember how he just kinda disappeared? Well I dunno what's going on exactly, but apparently he's been having some issues or something and mom offered to take him." Axel paused, giving his ice cream another lick. "Or something like that. I don't really know anything. Just that skittle-boy is moving in."
"Yep." He turned the Popsicle, catching another drop as it raced down the stick. "That's where everyone is now, at the airport."
Roxas's eyebrows raised in surprise. "He's coming today?"
"Damn. Way to spring it on you."
"Heh. No kidding."
Roxas's previously raised eyebrows narrowed ."Does Demyx know?"
"What? Do you wanna tell him?" When Roxas just frowned deeper, Axel sighed. "Oh come on, do you really think he'd be okay with this?"
Axel blinked at the question, asked in what he'd come to know as typical Roxas fashion. Had he not had years of practice, he could have gotten whiplash as Roxas's glare changed to wide-eyed concern in an instant, his blue eyes as big as ever. His head was tilted to the side in this way that always reminded Axel of a curious puppy, or maybe a kitten.
"Sure Rox. Why wouldn't I be?"
"If memory serves", he replied, gaze skeptical, "You weren't exactly Zexion's biggest fan."
Axel's grin turned sheepish, as he brought a hand- the one not holding ice-cream- to scratch at his cheek. A nervous gesture of his, though he'd never admit it. Axel Sinclair simply did not get nervous. Roxas knew better than that though.
"Yeah, well...No one ever said I was a brilliant kid, alright?"
"Did anyone ever say you were brilliant at all?"
"Smart ass", he grumbled before sighing. "Back then I was just...it was...Well, I was jealous I guess."
"Well yeah. He'd come over with his freaky ass mother and everyone would sing his praises while I sat there with a C on my math test and mom wondered where she went wrong. Of course I was jealous of the little weirdo."
"You know, you can't call him that when he gets here." Roxas pointed out. "When's that gonna be anyways? You know, just guesstimating."
"Hell if I know. An hour maybe. Two?"
"Well what airport did he fly into?"
"...We have more than one?"
Roxas just sighed, planting his face in his palm before shoving the rest of his ice-cream in his mouth. After a few moments he pulled the stick out clean and turned to chewing the fake-wood.
"Your hopeless, you know that?"
"So I've been told."
The two sat in companionable silence for a little while, watching the sun start it's trek behind the trees. When the silence was finally broken, it was by Roxas.
"So...what kind of problems were they?"
Axel frowned in confusion.
"What do you mean?"
"Zexion." He clarified. "You said he'd been having issues or something, that's why he was coming here. What's going on?"
Axel had noticed- as had everyone- how Roxas had never really hated the boy. He'd watched him work with him, talk occasionally, and though Axel had teased him about it, he'd never been mean. Sure, he hadn't liked the boy, but he had liked Roxas. It hadn't taken long at all for him to become a natural addition to their group. Their third Musketeer. His strange affinity for Zexion had ticked him off though, frustrated him to no end. Because not everyone is Axel's world had to like that little freak- Demyx and classmates excluded.
Now, years older and with newly developed perspective, Axel couldn't help but yet again wonder why that was, this time with more curiosity than malice.
"I dunno." He shrugged. Locking his elbows, he leaned back on his arms, looking upwards toward the sky, and moved the Popsicle stick from one side of his mouth the other. "But if they're sending him here, away from his parents and stuff...If probably can't be too good."
"How come bad things always happen to him?"
Axel leaned forward, elbows resting on his knees, and this time it was he who frowned.
"I don't get it Rox- I never did. What's up with you and this guy?"
"What do you mean?" To his credit, Roxas looked truly baffled.
"Zexion. It's like you're always on his team or something. I mean, come on, you haven't even seen this kid in...what...ten years? What if he grew up to be a total asshole."
"It's not like that..." Roxas muttered, shuffling his foot a bit. Axel wouldn't get it, at least, probably not. Roxas felt...guilty. He'd actually liked Zexion, though admittedly not at first. He'd tried to be nice to him...but there was only so much he could do without getting teased himself. Looking back on it though, he couldn't help but wonder what would have happened if he'd stood up for him. Instead of being nice, what if he'd tried stopping the people that were being mean?
"Why does it piss you off so much?"
Axel was interrupted mid-sentence by the sounds of tires crunching over gravel. Looking up, they watched as Axel's parents pulled into the driveway, eyes instantly drawn to the pale gray head of hair sitting very still in the backseat.
Zexion sat, uncomfortably still in the plush seat, completely silent but for the occasional sniffle- The result of a pesky cold that had yet to fully disappear. His face was impassive and to the untrained eye he seemed completely apathetic about the entire situation. If one were to look closer however, they'd notice the shuffling of his feet beneath the seat, the way his eyes darted warily between the two figures seated up front, or the way his hand kept discreetly disappearing into his pocket, removing tiny candies to slip unnoticed into his mouth.
There was chatter in the car, though Zexion contributed to none of it. Some of it, however, was directed at him, or held for his benefit. Mostly though it was conversation between the woman driving and the man in the passenger seat.
Auntie Ariel and Reno he reminded himself. He knew these people, had met them before. Had seen them often- Ariel more than Reno- but sitting there they might as well have been strangers. Hell, they were practically. After all, he hadn't seen these people in ten years. When he'd been told that they'd be retrieving him from the airport, he'd tried to draw up their images in his mind to find that their memories had gone fuzzy. He could remember their red hair- as ridiculous a color as ever that they always seemed to pull off- and that Ariel's was far longer than her son's. That she had kind eyes and a nice smile. But beyond that he had nothing but snatches of memories as fleeting as a dream.
Reno...Reno he just remembered as a child, as the smart-alek ten year old he'd been at last sight. That description was completely inaccurate now. He was taller, filled out. An adult. Not an old one, only twenty, but a man nonetheless.
But probably the strangest moment or him was finding that Ariel was small. She was thin and short, smaller than her son, and it just didn't seem to fit with the image of her that he had, that he'd maintained over the years. She'd always been so tall to him like a goddess or something, and seeing her look so innately...human...was disarming to say the least.
It wasn't, however, the cause of his anxiety. It was a contributing factor to be sure, the situation being what it was, but in his memories Ariel had always been nice to him, Reno not around often enough to even have an opinion formed about him. No, his worry was due to the other member of the family- The one not currently in the vehicle- and his friends. The people who had imprinted themselves rather harshly onto his mind, the memories burned there, occasionally in painstaking detail.
Naturally, this anxiety was only worsened as the car turned into the driveway, pulling to a stop directly in view of the two boys on the porch. Two boys which Zexion automatically recognized.
They looked older, as was expected, but even with their different shapes and sizes, different clothing styles having been developed over the years, they were still recognizable. Axel's hair, though longer now, was still unruly, despite his attempt at taming it into a ponytail. He was in some sort of black T-shirt with what he supposed was a band logo of some sort across the front and in rather form-fitting black pants, a rainbow colored belt slung haphazardly across his unnaturally thin hips. He gave Zexion the impression of someone both fiercely intimidating and ridiculously playful, the oddest combination really. He could imagine, however, which side he was most likely to get and he steeled himself in advance to take it.
What scared him more though, more than sharing a house with one of his childhood tormentors, was encountering said tormentors friend. An encounter more frightening because he honestly had no clue where he stood. Would Roxas be the same as before? Would he give in and be against him as well? He couldn't blame him, he supposed. He'd had ten years to bond with these friends of his, why on Earth should he maintain that same strange loyalty he'd seemed to have towards Zexion back then?
They certainly looked closer, he observed, popping another skittle in his mouth. There was just something about the way people interacted with each other, their instinctive body language,they way they'd settle without even thinking about it, that told how close people were. Axel and Roxas were sitting close to each other, but he doubted either noticed it. It just seemed natural.
His heartbeat quickening, he scanned the lawn for Demyx, breathing a slight sigh of relief when he didn't spot him. In the olden days, it had been odd to see any two without the third member of their group, but perhaps that had changed. Maybe, he hoped, he'd be lucky and Demyx would have moved. Or they'd had a fight and he'd been excommunicated. Maybe it was just the two of them now- That would be far easier to deal with.
Because as little as sharing a house with Axel appealed to him, Demyx had always been far worse. Had always hated him more passionately. Axel was childish and easily distracted from his dislike, but Demyx had single-mindedly focused on that hatred like he did nothing else. Was he any less ADD now? Less flighty, Zexion wondered, before quickly dismissing the thought. It didn't matter. He was here now, about to venture into his new life. One he could only hope was better then the last.
Not that that would take much...
"He has emo hair"
"Well no duh."
Roxas glared across the room at Axel. "What's that supposed to mean?"
Pinching the bridge of his nose, Axel just sighed, shaking his head. "I'm not saying it's some serious character flaw Rox, I swear." He replied, exasperated. "I'm just saying it's not exactly a surprise."
Roxas seemed to nod his agreement, but he was still frowning as he turned his gaze back to his book. Rolling his eyes, Axel just groaned and spun his chair around, facing the computer once more, but his typing was borderline violent, each click of the mouse bearing a symbolic resemblance to the stab of a knife.
It had been a strange feeling to look at this person, to know it was Zexion, and yet to feel no ill will towards him, and yet he hadn't. He'd gotten over his jealousy issue, hadn't expected to still resent him for something that happened so long ago, but it had still been weird to feel amicable towards someone he'd once hated so deeply. Someone who he'd been sure was very different. After all, he wasn't the same as he'd been in second grade, had grown and matured. It was an inevitability, and it was with these thoughts in mind that he'd approached the boy, Roxas at his side and greeted him. Roxas had smiled, though he was sure that he was facing something like his own emotions, and welcomed him back to the town. It may not have been an over-emotional, 50's house wife kind of greeting, the smile had been small and somewhat hesitant, but they had been friendly.
Zexion, however, had just stood there, looking as stunned as he had many times before- Usually whenever Roxas would talk to him. He had one suitcase, and was holding it in front of him almost protectively, his hands curled around the handle in a white-knuckled grip. His expression was calm, and for one moment reminded Axel of some sort of robot. Zexion had been a strange child, and it didn't appear that anything had changed.
That thought was reinforced when he finally just nodded, staring at his shoes. His slate-gray hair was falling in his face, one emo piece falling across his left eye. Dressed in a long-sleeved black duster, the white toes of black Converse peeking out from the bottom, he certainly looked odd. He wouldn't look at them. He wouldn't speak to them, and Axel felt his ire spark at the thought that he was still being held responsible for his behavior as a child. It had been a decade ago, he couldn't still be holding a grudge...could he?
Quickly he'd glanced towards Roxas, but the smaller boy hadn't seemed to share his irritation. Rather, there was some other emotion there that he couldn't entirely place. But he didn't like it there, he'd decided, as he watched it cloud the usually bright, blue, eyes.
They'd stood there awkwardly for a while before Ariel intervened, sending Zexion away into the house to follow Reno to his new room. Once he'd disappeared Ariel had turned her attention to the two of them, instructing them to leave him alone for a little while, give him time to adjust, and adding that she;d find them in a little while because she had something to talk to them about. And then in a flash she'd returned to the kitchen, eagerly setting about making some elaborate dish as a form of welcome, leaving Axel and Roxas to slink up to Axel's room and wait for some sort of explanation.
Currently, sitting at his computer however, Axel was suddenly having no problems accepting his feelings for Zexion. Understanding them, on the other hand, was a different matter. They were horribly similar to his previous ones, his chest hot, tight, his stomach churning unpleasantly. It felt very much like the jealousy from before...but that made no sense. He was no longer being compared to the boy, coming up short. Sure his attitude earlier had been frustrating, but there was nothing to be jealous of...Was there?
Axel opened his mouth to add something else, but was cut off as his door creaked open, his mother peering in for a moment before entering and closing the door behind her. Her eyes drifted over to Roxas, relaxing against her son's headboard with a book, and smiled. She'd always liked Roxas, since the first time he'd been dragged over after school one day to make exploding S'mores in the microwave. She'd asked Reno to watch them until she got off work- It was only a half hour after all and he was 10 by that time- but he'd apparently disregarded her instructions in favor of playing video games in his room. Her first impression of the blonde had been him running into her legs and falling on his butt, looking up at her like a deer in the headlights, with wide blue, eyes that seemed to encompass his entire face. There was a smear of chocolate around his mouth and marshmallow smeared all over in his hair.
She'd liked him immediately. Especially after he'd offered to clean up her kitchen, not whining like Demyx- Who she also loved anyways, or her own son. Or Reno, who couldn't understand why he was being forced to clean up a mess he hadn't even made.
"Heh, a book", she chuckled. "In this room? Board up the windows, for the apocalypse is upon us."
"Ha. Ha." Axel replied, rolling his eyes, moving his chair around to face her. "What's up?"
"We need to talk."
"About mime-boy in there."
Roxas sent him a dry glare, but it was his mother who chastised him.
"Axel be nice, but yes actually it is about him. That specifically. I know I forgot to tell you beforehand, it was all so...overwhelming. All of this.." She shook her head, composing herself, unaware of the glance shared between the two boys, their curiosity peaked. "But...well...I'm sure you both know that there were obviously some...issues...Reasons why he couldn't stay there...where he was. It's not my story to tell, but, things were... less than ideal." She ran her hand through her hair roughly. "He's a little...I don't want to say messed up...affected.." She chose. "By it all. He doesn't talk."
The boys blinked. Roxas was the first to speak.
"Zexion. He doesn't speak, at all. He's been to the doctor, it's not a physical thing."
"So he's crazy?"
The redhead could only shrink back slightly as the reprimand came from both Roxas and Ariel.
"What? This kid just keeps getting weirder!"
"He's allowed to be a little weird, considering." Ariel commented. "And you're to be nice to him."
Axel slumped in his seat, huffing out a breath, his opinion of the boy dropping by the minute. Things were falling back into their old patterns, he could see it. His mother, Roxas... eying his phone on the dresser he felt the strong urge to call Demyx. He'd be on his side, he was sure of it.
But somehow, that didn't quite help the fact that Roxas wasn't.
Roxas frowned, watching Axel sulk in his computer chair and wondering for the millionth time what was wrong with him. He'd been off since this morning, and though he could figure out it had something to do with Zexion, what exactly was just beyond him. Sure Zexion was...well, abnormal...to be sure... but being with him for those few minutes that he had, he'd gotten the same feeling that he'd had before. That he was trying his hardest to disappear, and the atmosphere just wasn't letting him.
But what were those issues that Ariel was talking about?
Just what had happened to him?
Zexion lay back against the bed, staring at the plain white ceiling, his hands placed over his stomach to stop it's tossing. His heart was in his throat, thumping out a rapid beat. His palms were clammy, nose stuffy and his back hurt, and he wasn't sure how many of these symptoms could be attributed to his cold. How many were due to nerves.
Closing his eyes, he sighed, listening to the muffled sounds through the wall. The T.V maybe. Maybe voices, the other members of this house talking. The people he'd be living with, at least for the next year. Unbidden, the image of Axel and Roxas rose before his eyes. They'd been curious, talking to him, asking him questions. They hadn't been hostile, but that was perhaps more frightening than if they had been.
He'd had a chance. That had totally thrown him for a loop. They'd looked at him like he was...well, maybe not normal...but they weren't glaring in disgust. And he'd just stood there, thinking answers in his mind. Wishing he could say them. Wishing he wasn't such a freak But he was, so he couldn't, and as he felt the panic building in his stomach, pushing up bile instead of words, watched Axel's expression turned annoyed, he knew that he'd blown it. And as he'd followed Reno away, feeling their eyes on his back, he'd felt his heart sink.
How could he do this, he wondered, one hand diving into his pocket, desperately seeking out the candies that he'd become somewhat dependent upon.
How on Earth was he going to survive?
HEY! CHECK IT OUT! Chapter 2! I've just realized that there is an awful lot of Axel and Roxas in this fic. And that's good, because they're main characters...just not THE main characters. And so, rest assured, DEMYX WILL TOTALLY MAKE AN APPEARANCE IN CHAPTER 3!
So, that being said, what do you guys think? Still like it?