A.N - Hey, I'm a new author, this is my very first fanfic! I would love any creative critisism. Let me know what you think. I reckon this could be a stand alone, however, there's a possibility that I have a few ideas to write a chapter for each developmental stage of the children's lives! You know...teenagers, adults...oldies perhaps.
I'm a big akuroku fan, I love their romantic relationship, but they're only little, so for now they're just 'bestest friends' xD
Ooops, almost forgot!
Disclaimer : - I do not, nor do I ever expect to own Kingdom Hearts, the characters contained within this story have merely been borrowed! :)
A space ship isn't the place for a child. Ask any of the children on board the Oblivion and they'd tell you they were happy, but that they'd like more space in which to play, to run, to be children. The on board kymnasi wasn't the same as running under the sky, dirt side, on a planet filled with smells and unfiltered air. Even though the children's kymnasi, unlike the one for the crew, was built in a holo-deck so that when they ran on the treadmills, they seemed to be dirt side, it just wasn't the same. Space wasn't the ideal place to grow up, but adults could not be expected to forgo their lives and that included having a family. So the Oblivion had been designed with children in mind and had plenty of space and resources to support a growing community on board. The first child to inhabit the ship was Xigbar who'd turned seven just before his parents had joined the exploration mission. It had been lonely for the dark haired, golden eyed child for almost a whole year before the Captain had sired a son. Xemnas was the first baby born on a space craft. The first human child to be bought up in an AGS (accelerated growth system) pod. The flower-like pods nurtured the child, accelerating their growth so that they reached the physical and greater mental capability of a five year old in as many months. This meant that the child's brain was able to create many more synapse paths than the average human. By the time Xemnas was released from the AGS, he could speak five languages fluently, understand formulas and had a firm grasp on molecular science, the pod nurtured the brain and was programmed to teach the child things needed every day in the life of a space explorer. Many people would have suggested this amazing child should be allowed to develop to maturity in the AGS, but those on board the Oblivion firmly believed in the benefits of having a childhood. So Xemnas joined Xigbar in the nursery section of the ship, learning the skills they'd need to become an integral part of whatever they decided they were going to be when they grew up, and since they were young, their decision changed weekly.
It wasn't long before the children on board numbered eleven. Many of the children began to show specific interest in various fields of study, Luxord excelled at mathematics; he especially liked learning about probability and showed an amazing adeptness at the complicated games of chance that many of the crew members played during their free time. Saix found planetary satellites fascinating, especially moons, he wanted to know how they were formed, investigated the gravitational pull that kept them in orbit and studied how terra-forming could be used to colonise moons. Lexaeus also showed interest in terra-forming, but he focussed on seismic movement, the way different kinds of rocks were formed and where different ores were likely to be mined. Larxene, currently the only girl among the children, and Xaldin showed a great interest in weather patterns, they watched as many vids as they could that showed storms on different colonised and explored planets. Larxene rapidly learnt how to forecast weather by mapping cloud masses and measuring the force of wind in relation to the temperature of the planet. Xaldin studied where wind originated and how it could be used to generate energy. Marluxia spent a lot of his free time in the hydroponics section of the ship. He learnt about how plants reacted to different soil types and spent a great deal of time talking to the plants, the ones he tended grew faster and bigger than all the others. Vexen eagerly awaited the time he'd be trusted enough to learn about cloning and genetic selection, Zexion similarly awaited being grown up enough to be a scientist, inventing new ways to do things in hopes of making life better for everyone.
As with all families, the ship had a trouble maker, by the name of Axel. He was the 'problem child' having managed to escape his AGS pod and find his way to the engine room when he was physically three years old. When he had been found (trying to access the warp core which glowed with fiery colours), Axel had been whisked back to his pod and administered extra nutrients and mental stimulation in the hopes of keeping him where he ought to be. The effect of this was that Axel was much taller than usual, his hair grew into long spikes and he demanded a great deal more attention than any of the other children. Axel thrived on attention, whether positive or negative. It took him only two days out of his pod, where the other ten children drew enough attention from the primary caregivers to make Axel feel left out, to figure out how to create fire from a variety of resources. When the adults removed all such resources from the boy (after he'd set fire to his bunk twice) and scolded him for endangering the whole ship, Axel managed to secrete himself away in a small storage room and later emerged with an upside down tear drop shaped blemish on each of his cheeks that refused to be removed. After that Axel was kept under close supervision. To prevent another 'problem child', the next baby born to the ship was played music in his AGS pod, calming music that was proven to aid learning. The result of this experiment was a cheerful child named Demyx. Demyx's whole world revolved around sound. He was particularly sensitive to loud noises and could hear things no one else could. Demyx, in comparison to Axel's fascination with fire, loved water. He could often be found watching vids of dolphins and reading old stories about mer-folk. When gifted with an old earth instrument called a sitar, Demyx swiftly taught himself to play it and filled the ship with music that reflected his current emotion.
There were rumours that the ship could not sustain another child, but since the couples on the ship all were content with their one child each, nothing was said to confirm the rumours. There was one couple who didn't have a child, and though they had tried many times, they had never conceived. It came as a shock when the head of hydroponics finally produced the child she'd wanted for so long, born so prematurely that it was thought he would not survive. His mother was incredibly ill and frail from the difficult birthing, but she had the strength to name her son as her husband took him away. Roxas fitted in his father's cupped hands as he carried the fragile child to the AGS pods and laid him carefully in the flower-like cocoon. Nobody thought the little scrap would survive, but as his mother recovered, he only got stronger. His father watched over his progress, playing him soothing music and carefully monitoring the rapidly diminishing resources that the AGS needed to continue working. The distraught father begged the captain to land on a planet that was likely to hold the needed resources, but they were currently flying through space devoid of planets likely to support any plant life. Roxas emerged from his AGS pod at the physical age of three; he was smaller than a typical three year old but he was the mental match of the other children on board, his brilliant blue eyes sparkling with intelligence. His parents kept him from the nursery for a month, monitoring his progress, but he needed much more mental stimulation than his two busy parents could provide, his lack of introduction to other people made him shy, and so he was allowed to join the other children in the hopes that he would flourish.
When Aerith (the woman in charge of the nursery) bought Roxas to meet his new playmates, they were sat in front of Merlin who had told them that they were going to be upholding an old earth tradition and was currently casting their roles in the Christian Nativity. Axel was in the process of flatly refusing to play Joseph to Larxene's Mary, "I wouldn't EVER marry Larxene!" he bellowed, eyebrows drawn together thunderously before tearing out of the room, brushing past Aerith and Roxas on his way. The lady smiled kindly down at the little blonde beside her as the other children turned and began muttering about the very small person.
"Don't worry about Axel, he's our little firecracker, but he's a very nice boy." She soothed the child who looked terrified. Taking the boy's hand, Aerith led Roxas across to the group. "Merlin, children, this is Roxas. Roxas, meet your classmates, Xigbar, Xemnas, Xaldin, Larxene, Luxord, Vexen, Zexion, Lexaeus, Saix, Demyx, Marluxia...and you saw Axel. This is Merlin, he and I are your teachers." She indicated each person in turn and they smiled and waved at the new kid, eyes shining in interest. No child (excepting Axel) ever left the AGS pod before they reached five months. Merlin smiled serenely at Roxas before turning to regard the group infront of him with a thoughtful expression.
"Well, since Axel doesn't want to play Joseph...Why don't you Demyx?" The boy in question pouted slightly. He'd been quite excited about being the Angel Gabriel. With a long suffering sigh he nodded, having noticed Larxene's hurt expression when Axel declared he didn't want to marry her.
"Ok, but...can I play a lullaby to the baby Jesus?" he asked, bottom lip trembling slightly. His face lit up when Merlin nodded.
"That means...Roxas, you'll play the Angel Gabriel, OK?" This was the perfect way to introduce the shy child to other people, by immersing him in the production of the play he'd hopefully come out of his shell and enjoy himself. Merlin winked encouragingly at the newest class member. All eyes turned to the little guy.
"U...um, okay." Roxas said quietly, blushing slightly at the scrutiny of others.
Soon the whole class were immersed in different activities. Marluxia, Demyx and Aerith were drawing up costume designs. Vexen, Saix, Lexaeus and Xaldin were focused on Set design. Larxene, Xemnas, Luxord and Zexion were considering lighting, any special effects and sound equipment. Xigbar, being the eldest, had taken Roxas under his wing and they were sat with Merlin discussing the script and deciding what (if any) songs should be included in the production. Under Merlin's gentle conversation and Xigbar's delight in a new friend, Roxas slowly relaxed and was soon contributing his own thoughts on how easily the children playing multiple roles would learn lines and change costume. Axel was gone for two hours. When the door to the nursery opened, no one reacted, however, Xemnas had stood to go and ask Merlin where they'd stage the production and the person standing in the doorway made the boy smile. "Father!" he said, eyes gleaming excitedly as he rushed over to the captain and stumbled to a stop before him, saluting sharply before throwing his arms around the man's waist. "Father, Merlin says I'm going to be one of the wise men!" Xemnas crowed, trembling slightly when the man patted his head. Being in charge of the ship left the captain little time to interact with his son.
"Well done Xem." The deep voice praised before slipping an arm around his son's shoulder and walking towards Merlin. A gasp filtered through the room when the figure trailing along behind the captain (led by one hand firmly on his ear) came into sight. "Merlin, I believe this is one of yours." The captain said, hiding his amusement. Axel stepped forward, head bowed. Marluxia's eyes widened as he took in his friend's appearance.
"Can you do that to mine? But pink." He asked, staring at Axel's hair in awe. Where the boy had possessed his mother's coppery coloured hair before, it could now only be described as red. The captain snorted.
"It won't come out." He said, shaking his head. "Don't forget to apologise Axel, and I expect to hear only good things in your reports."
"Yes sir." Came the meek reply from the red head.
"He's to apologise and return to his berth until lessons begin after rest day, his ration will be bought to him." The captain informed Aerith before crouching before his son and giving him a hug. "See you at dinner Xemnas, I'd like to hear about the play." He said, smiling before turning to walk out of the door. Once the captain left, everyone turned to look at Axel, who was still looking at his feet.
"I'm sorry for shouting at you Merlin. I'm sorry for disturbing the class. And Larxy, I'm sorry about what I said. I do l...lo...love you, but...you're like my sister." He said, clearly having been coached in what to say. His little shoulders scrunched up towards his ears and his cheeks nearly matched the new colour of his hair. Merlin looked down at the boy with a fond but slightly exasperated expression.
"I forgive you Axel, you'd better go to your quarters now." The boy nodded and slowly left the room.
The com link buzzed insistently and Axel's mother, rolling her eyes at her pouting son, moved and pressed the panel to let the doors slide open. Larxene was standing there, finger pressed insistently against the button that signalled a visitor. When she noticed the door had opened, she looked up, eyes gleaming. "Good morning Mrs. Tyson, Axel's meant to come back to school today. They've made prototype costumes for us!" Larxene was practically glowing as she twirled in her simple blue shift. "I'm Mary." She announced before craning in an attempt to see around the woman. "Can Axel come out now please?" Axel's mother glanced over her shoulder at her son who was crouched in the corner shaking his head.
"Of course dear, he's over there." She pointed and watched as the blonde girl stormed over and began dragging her friend towards the door. "Please tell Merlin and Aerith that I tried everything to remove the colour...and tried to remove his 'tattoos' again as well." Axel scowled but allowed Larxene to propel him from his home and down towards the nursery.
"Will do Mrs. T!" the girl chirped before disappearing down the corridor, talking animatedly to the silent Axel, filling him in on all the details he'd missed in the intervening three days since he's left the classroom. "And he is so cute!" she cooed, "He's the Angel Gabriel, I dunno if he's going to be any good, he's really shy but Aerith says that getting to know us will probably help him come out of his shell. Xigbar likes him, he says he's quiet but not all moody like Zexy. It's like he's thinking things through lots and making sure he means whatever he's going to say." Larxene glanced up at Axel who was still the tallest of the group barring Lexaeus who was certain to develop into a tall and muscular man where Axel was likely to remain tall and skinny despite the amount of food he put away at meal times. She thumped him on the arm, frowning fiercely. "Are you even listening Axel!" she growled. The boy looked at her with a disgruntled expression.
"What's the point in me even coming Larx? I don't have a part in the stupid play and I bet Merlin won't let me be what I wanna be anyway." The boy retreated into silence and Larxene let him, keeping one hand wrapped firmly around his arm in case he made a break for it. Even though she was a petite girl, she was able to beat all of the boys in a wrestling match, even Luxord who cheated.
The first thing Axel saw when he was dragged into the nursery was an angel. Not to be cliché, the boy was admittedly dressed in a stylised angel robe with a golden disk attached behind his head to represent a halo, but Axel had never seen anyone – not even on the vids – who looked so angelic. His breath hitched and his green eyes widened. The angel was surrounded by no less than five of the other boys and Merlin and Aerith. Axel's fists clenched in a sudden surge of jealousy as Marluxia hiked the angel's robe up slightly and held it just above knee height, talking animatedly with Aerith. Larxene, apparently oblivious to Axel's reaction, dragged the boy across the room and shoved and prodded the boys away from the diminutive angel. Coming to a halt before him, Larxene smiled widely and tugged Axel to her side. "Roxas, this is Axel. Axel, meet Roxas, he's Cloud's boy." Axel looked down at the tiny boy and felt a surge of protectiveness wash over him. And then he nearly stopped breathing as two liquid pools of ocean blue looked up and met his own strikingly green eyes. Everyone went silent as Roxas' face lit up in the first genuinely uninhibited smile they'd seen from him.
"You're the boy who shoved past me two days before rest day." Came the lilting, high pitched angelic voice of the tiny blonde. Axel blushed slightly and run a hand through the spikes of hair at the back of his head.
"Yeah, sorry about that." He grinned sheepishly. Roxas shrugged delicately and then glanced down at Marluxia.
"Axel, do you think the Angel Gabriel would wear a robe or a tunic?" the boy asked, oblivious to the stares that his longest, unprompted speech so far elicited. Not only was it the most that the boy had spoken since joining the nursery, if not since he was born, but it was also the first time he'd asked someone their opinion. Axel gazed down at him thoughtfully.
"Well..." Axel frowned. "I think, maybe a white tunic with pale...blue leggings and then a transparent over robe that floats and maybe glitters would be nice." The whole group gaped at him, causing Axel to scowl at his toes and blush darkly at their surprise. Axel had never shown interest in clothes before.
After planning for the production resumed, Merlin drew Axel to one side. "What do you think of your new class mate?" he asked, noticing that the redheaded boy's eyes frequently strayed to watch Roxas. Axel shrugged.
"He's really little. I guess the AGS pods really have run out." He offered and turned from his scrutiny of Roxas to look at the teacher. Merlin looked at Axel and indicated the boy's hair.
"Why?" he asked softly. Axel's face fell and he ran his fingers through his bright red spikes of hair. Looking up at Merlin thoughtfully, he replied honestly.
"I like red...and I really didn't want to be Joseph." Before Merlin could say anything the boy ploughed on. "You didn't even ask me who I wanted to play. Everyone else got to tell you their preference, even if you didn't agree, you let them say. Like Xiggy wanting to be one of the angels. You just told me I'd be Joseph. I don't wanna. I really wanted to be..." At this point the boy clammed up, face tingeing red again. After a few minutes of silence, Merlin prompted him to continue.
"Who did you want to play Axel?"
"Doesn't matter, does it?" Axel said sullenly. "You won't let me be a performer anyway; I'll be the curtain puller or...refreshment supervisor." The boy's voice rose in a soft wail at the last and Merlin smiled at him fondly.
"Don't be silly. If there's a part you want to play...that hasn't already be given, of course you can be a performer." He reassured the child.
"Really?" Axel asked, daring to look hopeful as Merlin nodded. "Well...is anyone going to be the donkey?" Merlin blinked a few times before answering.
"You want to play the non-speaking role of the donkey?" he asked, surprised when the boy nodded in earnest. "Well, we'd better go and talk to Aerith about making your costume then." Axel's whole face lit up and he scurried across to discuss costume design with the costume committee.
It didn't take long for Axel to usurp Xigbar's place as Roxas' friend. The eldest boy would have argued his case more strongly if it were not for the intense attraction the smallest child seemed to feel towards the red headed boy, his shyness melted away when in Axel's presence. Roxas' bright blue eyes followed Axel's movements for three days before the redhead took matters into his own hands and politely but firmly nudged Xigbar out of the picture. Larxene tended to baby the tiny child, making him even more eager to be taken under such a possessive personality's wing. Axel shared quite happily...but if he saw something as his, there was no arguing the case, he shared but that was all, he was not shy about reclaiming his possessions whenever he wanted. And Axel proudly declared before the whole ship at meal time that Roxas was his new best friend. So there. He'd then promptly ruffled the blushing blonde's hair and proceeded to fight amongst the children for a matching set of red crockery. Axel liked red things best. Roxas was momentarily overwhelmed but, seeing Axel eyeing his own plate of mashed potato and beans with sausages, the blonde boy smiled shyly and began to eat. It was his favourite meal after all, and Axel was one of those children with a bottomless pit for a stomach who was there in a flash the second someone said "I'm...", for they never got the chance to finish that sentence with 'full.' Axel's plate was swiftly cleared of his spicy chicken enchiladas all traces of sauce licked clean and he proceeded to assist the other children in finishing their meals, divesting Larxene of her last tiny square cut sandwich, Roxas of a sausage and some baked bean sauce, Xemnas of three carrot sticks and nearly lost his hand to Saix as he tried to divest the boy of his fries. Roxas watched all this with a tiny smile and only grumbled slightly as his 'best friend' stole from his plate. Xigbar leant over to the smallest child whilst Axel tried to cajole Saix into sharing his fries, "Meal time is always like this with Axel, you get used to it. He's quite capable of sneaking food off our plates without us noticing, but he thinks it's more fun if there's a chance we'll fight back." Roxas hummed thoughtfully and watched Axel vanish a handful of fries from Saix's plate, seemingly without moving. The blonde boy's mouth popped open in shock as Xigbar grinned. "See what I mean?" he said before clearing his place at the table and returning to the nursery.
Axel was delighted with his costume. The engineers had allowed him to be a part of designing and even creating his costume. Everything the boy suggested was taken into consideration and either put into the costume or otherwise an explaination was provided as to why that wouldn't work and generally a similar option was subsituted. He and Roxas had spent a great deal of time in the workshop, Roxas too small to help much but Axel liked to hear the blonde's creative criticism and missed the boy's presence when he was elsewhere. Axel spent a great deal of time forming the robotic body and rear legs of his donkey costume, figuring out nearly without aid how to co-ordinate the back legs with his own and forming the body to be able to support Larxene comfortably. He was taught in greater detail about programming computers and was even shown how to build a computer of his own. When rehearsals started, Axel spent more time alone with the engineers, this time creating angel wings for Roxas, unbeknownst to all involved with the performance. Since the rehearsals focussed on learning lines at first, Axel found that he was not needed and had swiftly become bored. A bored Axel was a grouchy and mischievous creature, so before long he was encouraged to go and learn something. The men working alongside the red haired boy watched with growing awe as he manipulated the lightweight metal to form the frame of the wings. Axel expertly applied the tools at his disposal to create a beautiful set of angel wings. They gleamed silver under the lighting and all who saw them admired them. However, Axel was not finished. When everyone left for their evening meal, Axel managed to go unseen and remained at his task. When his father appeared, dreading the damage his son may have caused without having been supervised, he was greeted by a tired but pleased boy holding onto his creation. The wings were glowing with a warm white light. The boy had managed to create the impression of feathers and had covered the frame with a soft white material. The light source was invisible and, as Axel demonstrated, could be turned on and off with a mental command programmed to be recognised into the tiny computer sheltered within the metal frame. The wings also moved, but Axel only showed off this ability briefly, indicating the tiny suction stuck device attached behind his right ear. "You see, the computer needs to learn Roxas' mental voice. If I imprint myself on it too much, it won't work properly for him. Just like my donkey costume won't work as well for anyone other than me. It's learnt my mind and I don't even have to consciously think about how I want it to move now." With that said, they covered the wings and Axel's costume with an old tarpaulin and returned to their quarters where Axel was given something to eat before he collapsed into his berth and slept for a full ten hours.
Roxas was the one to collect Axel for rehearsals the next day. He timidly rapped his knuckles against the sliding door, unable to reach the buzzer to signal a visitor. When the door opened, Axel's father nearly squashed the diminutive child but paused at the excited sounding squeak. Huge blue eyes looked up and up and up until they met with hazel green eyes and a mop of hair that demonstrated that Axel's spikes were not purely caused by the AGS pod. "M...m...mmissteer Axel's Dad?" Roxas trembled then squeaked again as the tall man knelt before the boy.
"You're the angel in the play right?" He asked, his voice warm and rumbling. "Cloud's boy?" Roxas nodded mutely and found himself gently guided into the family quarters by a warm hand. "Axel's mother is trying to wake him up. His berth is through the red door." Both males smiled at the mention of Axel's favourite colour. "Perhaps you could help wake him. I must be off, good luck with your rehearsal. It's a pleasure to meet you Roxas." The man didn't give the small blonde boy a chance to reciprocate the words, instead he strode off to take care of his duties for the day. Roxas watched the man's retreating back for a while before approaching the red door. Without thinking to knock, he entered and blinked in surprise at the sight that greeted him. A woman with long coppery red hair was furiously shaking a blanket bound figure in the bed. She heard the door and turned to say something to whom she believed to be her husband. Her lips parted in surprise at the sight of an adorable little blonde boy with wide blue eyes. Roxas tentatively waved his hand at Axel's mother and smiled in response to her grin and returned wave. He scampered across the room and leapt onto the bed, earning no response from the cocooned figure.
"I'll get him up." He chirped innocently and began tugging at the blankets which refused to budge. After a thoughtful few seconds, Roxas began to tickle Axel who snorted irritably and rolled over, almost tipping his best friend from the bed. Roxas grinned, recognising a challenge. Much to the red haired woman's surprise and amusement, the little boy stood on her son's mattress and crossly planted his hands on his hips. "Axel!" the smallest crew member boomed in a squeaky voice. "Get out of bed this instant young man!" With that, Roxas threw himself atop the body under the blankets and started pummelling it feebly with his tiny fists. Aiden, Axel's mother, blinked in shock and reached out a cautious hand to snatch Roxas away, Axel tended to be violent when he was awoken. To her amazement, the sound of her son's laughter began to permeate the small berth and soon Roxas was cradled in the redhead's lap, pouting up at the amused green eyes. "C'mon, we're going to be late!" Roxas scolded and before long he and his best friend were taking leave of a smiling Aiden and scuttling to the nursery as swiftly as possible.
It took weeks before costumes were even considered in passing, although each child wore a representation of their character during rehearsals. When Aerith even thought to question the children on the condition of their costumes, it was Axel's costume that caused most concern, much to the boy's disgust. "I don't need you to do it, I've finished it. I have ears and a tail, I just need you to paint my face brown." Axel sighed, disgruntled by the lack of faith in his abilities. Each time Aerith tried to say that Axel couldn't possibly crawl around on his hands and knees for the whole play, let alone carry Larxene on his back for a whole song, the boy glowered at her and changed the subject. Finally the woman decided to leave a very flushed and angry looking Axel alone and turned to Roxas, who had come over at the request of Xemnas to try to calm his best friend down. Everyone had noticed the red haired pyro was soothed by the blonde's presence.
"I'm sorry Roxas, but we haven't managed to decide upon what your wings should look like." She said, pleased to be speaking to a calmer child, Roxas' nose wrinkled as Axel's face turned from a glower to a grin.
"I don't think I really need wings. The halo will suffice to represent the character's angelic nature." Roxas said slowly, not noticing Axel's pout. The redhead tapped Aerith on the shoulder.
"I know what we could use for Roxas' wings...May I be excused to go and get them?" he asked, almost bouncing in excitement. The woman blinked at the boy's sudden switch in temper. He usually sulked for hours before begrudgingly returning to his usual amiable nature. As she nodded Axel turned and bounded out of the room with a wide smile on his face. Roxas' nose wrinkled with similar confusion and he shrugged at the curious glance his teacher spared him. Axel was not even gone for five minutes when he returned, carefully carrying the wings. The nursery went silent at the sight of the sweeping wings in the boy's hands and Axel blushed proudly as he handed them to Roxas. "I made them for you after I finished my costume." He explained briefly before helping the shocked boy place the wings on his back. "They've got a little computer in them so they move...here." Axel gently fitted the tiny communication device behind his friend's ear and informed him of the mental command for turning on the light and moving the wings. Soon Roxas had an audience of interested and, in some cases, envious onlookers. The blonde actually looked like an angel. His rehearsal costume was a plain white shift and his halo was a simple golden disc attached with no visible means behind his head. Axel's eyes gleamed as he looked over his best friend and felt pleased by the success of his costume designing. Everyone congratulated or praised him, although Marluxia looked a little peeved that he had not thought of such a prop himself. Roxas merely hugged the taller boy around his skinny waist and murmured a soft "Thank you."
The play was to be staged in the largest holo-deck. This would allow easy manipulation of set to represent location and could, with a little more effort, be used to create actual 'physical' dwellings for the inns and the barn. The audience would be able to see within the buildings but the actors would appear to be entering a solid manifestation rather than pretending to go into shelter. The children had full dress rehearsals once a day for the three days leading up to their performance. Either Marluxia or Aerith carefully painted Axel's face to resemble a brown donkey. The first time the cast saw the redhead in his costume, the holo-deck had gone silent. The slender boy's hair formed a magnificent mane with two long brown ears gracefully adorning his head. The brown of his face blended perfectly with the bodysuit he wore to resemble donkey hair and as he fully entered the room, a collective gasp resounded throughout followed by a smattering of mutters. Axel proudly strutted before his friends and teachers, imitating a donkey trot almost flawlessly with his costume body and rear legs flowing flawlessly behind him. Roxas gaped at his friend and stepped forward, grinning as Axel came to a halt before him, twitched an ear and stretched his neck out before huffing into the blonde's spiky hair. "A...Axel!" the smallest of the children stammered in absolute amazement, reaching out to caress the ear and marvelling at the fact it felt soft and warm. Roxas had helped in the making of the costume and was still amazed. "You look GREAT!" he screeched suddenly, causing everyone but Axel, who simply grinned, to jump. The donkey twitched an ear happily and swished his tail before shuffling around to present his back to the boy.
"Wanna ride?" he offered, excited by the idea of parading around the room like a proud stallion with his very best friend perched on his back. Roxas' eyes widened and he beckoned energetically at Lexeaus to place him on the donkey's back. Aerith spoke up hesitantly.
"Is it safe Axel?" but the redhead just snorted and took off around the room in answer, Roxas squealing in delight on his back and hugging him around the neck. The little boy had his wings firmly attached to his back and, smiling with a sudden joyous expression, focussed on making them fan open spectacularly behind him. The room cooed in jealousy as Demyx especially wished that he had a special costume. Larxene pouted up at the dirty blonde boy and was rewarded by a one armed hug and a smile.
"We got the baby." He whispered to her, half to reassure himself. The blonde girl nodded and went to coo down at the remarkably lifelike doll resting in the manger which reached up with pudgy hands and caught a tress of blonde hair dangling above it, earning a warm smile from the girl. The holo-deck was being manned by Xigbar who, after being informed that he wouldn't make a very convincing angel, had refused all other roles offered to him and requested being in charge of set changes. It was also his job to ensure Larxene showed the progression of Mary's pregnancy. He was actually thrilled by his task in the production, enjoying the opportunity to learn new skills and avoiding having to sing.
The performance went spectacularly. For the first time since the ship had left its place of origin it was left to run itself. The whole crew piled into the holo-deck and were treated to a fantastic display by the enthusiastic performers. Xigbar carefully created the illusion of passing days with lighting and vast distances travelled with the backdrops. Saix played a fantastic Herod and doubled as one of the angelic chorus. The Captain swelled with pride as Xemnas carried the gold to gift to the infant king, accompanied by Zexion and Marluxia. Demyx played a very caring Joseph, causing many of the female crew to sigh wistfully at his deference and adoration towards Larxene's glowing Mary. He got his wish and played a lullaby to the baby Jesus and sang a bit of solo before Roxas joined in with a heavenly harmony and finally the whole cast joined for the final chorus. There were many wet eyes in the audience. But it was quite clear that everyone was most taken by Axel's performance. The boy was immediately recognisable by his shock of red hair, but he behaved just like the miniature beast of burden he portrayed, his ears flicked periodically at voices or in irritation, his tail warding off flies and he carried Larxene carefully throughout the long journey to Bethlehem. The hologram provided the shepherds (Lexaeus, Vexen and Xaldin) with a flock of sheep and when they were not needed in their roles, most of the boys doubled as the heavenly host with only plain white robes and golden halos to represent their angelic status. Roxas truly looked like an angel, his mother burst into tears when she saw him (much to his humiliation) and the tiny boy delivered his lines in a clear, ringing voice plainly having come into his own after his previous shyness. The children were given a standing ovation as they bowed before the crew and were converged upon with smiles, congratulatory pats and high praises. In all, it was a good night.
A.N - Thanks for reading my drivle! I'd really like to know your thoughts on it. Tell me which bits were rubbish, which part you liked best...anything I should expand on...I really need your help!