Part II – July/August
11:34 pm and 11:41 pm
"Alright kiddies, so I came home with a little surprise for my brother last night…let's call it a new way to tell us apart in the form of a tattoo. It's the first of a two-part plan, and Sora's being a prissy little bitch about me getting the second half. He says tattoos are unappealing and that a guy with tats all over his skin isn't particularly attractive, and that I'm not doing myself any favors by inking up both arms, especially since I already have two on my ribs. Here's what I want to know. What do you think of guys, or girls, if that's your thing, with tattoos? Are they hot, or not? And what do you think of me and mine. I found these two really intricate old fashioned keys in my parents' attic, so I was going to get one on each wrist. I got the first arm done today and was planning on getting the second next week. Thoughts? Do you agree with Sora, or do you think I should go for it? Think on it and hit me up…in the mean time, here's The Pretender's 'Tattooed Love Boys' for you."
The crowd was pretty evenly split between Roxas and Sora in their opinions, but the half that agreed that a well placed, well done tattoo was sexier than sin on an attractive man was eagerly pushing Roxas to keep going with the second half of his plan.
"Tattoos are sex, Rox. A carefully placed, artfully painted tat on the right body is the sexiest thing ever." Demyx gushed, words spilling out of his lips so fast they were stumbling into each other.
"Demyx, for example, has this tattoo down the side of his torso, some quote in Hindi, which is possibly the most aesthetically pleasing language I've ever seen written. Not a damned hint in hell what it says, but god does it look good on him." Zexion giggled. Giggled.
"Are you guys drunk?"
Zexion gasped, sounding scandalized. Demyx snickered, though whether it was at Roxas' question or Zexion's reaction wasn't really clear.
"I," Zexion sniffed, sounding highly affronted, "do not drink, Roxie."
"Yeah, Rox, he chugs," Demyx cackled, "you should see him, man. Tiny little thing like that, you'd think he'd be a total lightweight, but nooooo not my Zexy. Damn kid can even drink Axel under the table, it's embarrassing."
Roxas spent so long trying to determine what the difference in Zexion's and Axel's sizes might be…height? Weight? Dear God, if Axel's some 300 pound giant…Demyx was saying something else.
"Speaking of Axel, Roxy, you should totally ask him about his tats. They're…how do I say this…"
"Hotter than Hades in a handbasket."
"Shut up, Dem, you were thinking it too."
"Hades in a handbasket? That doesn't even make sense. You're lucky you're so cute, Zex, cause you sure are a damn dumb drunk. Dude…say that five times fast. Damn dumb drunk, Damndumbdrunk, Dan dub druck…fuck…"
Roxas muffled his chuckles behind his fingers as he listened to the drunk couple bicker on the other end of the line, apparently forgetting that they were live on the air. The radio host didn't have any other callers waiting for the line, so he let them go on, unwittingly providing something of a slapstick improv entertainment for both the blond and his audience.
"Hey guys, I have another caller on the line so I'm going to have to…guys?" Zexion and Demyx ignored him, their voices getting progressively softer, further away, as though one or both had dropped their phones. Ah.
"Well then, you boys have a nice night. Lovely talking with you, glad you could stop by, behave, don't do anything that I wouldn't do. Sorry about the wait, you're on the air at W104."
"My roommates are such charmers, aren't they Rox?" Axel sounded deeply amused, laughter laced through his rough voice. It was a personal favorite of Roxas'.
"And flatterers…don't forget flatterers. Tell me about these tattoos, Axe. I want proof that they're hotter than Hades in a handbasket."
"Well, you see Roxas, what you don't know is that I am hotter than Hades in a handbasket, so it would only be natural for my ink to be equally as stunning as me. Tell me, do you fall into the camp of boys who love boys with tattoos, or the camp of boys who think tattoos are ickier than cooties?"
"A tasteful, well done tat is God's gift to man, my friend. So stop stalling and own up to these claims your good friends made."
"I have five, six if you count the ones of my face as two separate ones, but I don't."
"On your…remember what I said about them being tasteful, Axel?" He had tattoos on his face? Really? What? Where? Why?
"Trust me, Roxy, they're hot. Anyway, I have two small teardrops on each cheek, a roman numeral VIII on my right wrist and a XIII on my left, the logo of the first band Dem and I ever started in high school curving over my right shoulder…and a fifth one."
To date no conversation with any of his callers, Axel included, had made Roxas as desperate to see the caller with his own eyes as these two sentences had. Axel's descriptions were barely teasing glimpses of skin. What did the band logo look like? Why did he get an eight and a thirteen? Did the eight and the thirteen, by any chance, match the ones Roxas himself had tucked neatly into the sides of his ribs? In what world did ink look good on anyone's face, and why were they teardrops? Didn't teardrops on your face mean something?
"What's the fifth one?" Roxas realized Axel had trailed off without describing the last one, leaving a momentarily awkward silence as Roxas tried to process.
"Well, Roxy, not a lot of people have seen that one, so I don't know how I feel about broadcasting it all over the airwaves. It starts on my hip and ends at the top of my thigh…so you really have to earn your right to see it. Can't just go showing and telling to any old broad, you know?"
Roxas didn't know. Roxas didn't know how to speak at the moment, his brain too overwhelmed trying to make sense of the eighteen different responses he'd developed to that statement. Axel damn well better not be showing just any old broad that tattoo. If Roxas had his way, Axel wouldn't be showing anyone else that tattoo. No one else had a right to see it…no one but him. Roxas wanted to see it. Badly.
"I'll tell you what, Rox, you ask real nice and maybe, just maybe, I'll show it to you one day." Axel's voice was light, teasing, but somewhere between his lips and Roxas' ear they developed just an underlying hint of seriousness. Roxas wanted to see the tattoo…and Axel wanted to show him.
"Hey guys, I'm sure you haven't really been keeping track, but I have, and today is my 47th show. Normally fifty would be the big one, right? Well my friends and I had this inside joke about 47 in high school, something about 47 being the world's most commonly occurring random number, so we're going to celebrate the 47th show instead of the 50th. We're going to celebrate by giving you, my loyal listeners, because you have to be loyal to be listening on a Sunday night, the chance to run the show. Call me with whatever you want…ask me a question, request a song, pose a question to a frequent caller that you've always wanted to ask…whatever you want. My show is your show, yeah? Here's my newest obsession, 'Love Like Woe' by The Ready Set."
If Roxas had to guess, he'd say that Axel was stalling. No less than eight callers had posed questions to either Roxas or Axel about the weight of their seemingly notorious on-air flirting, and Axel had been suspiciously absent in calling in on an opportunity that Roxas secretly thought the redhead would rather like to capitalize on. He knew that, personally, given the opportunity, he would have a ton of questions to ask the other man, so the fact that Axel hadn't taken the opportunity when offered it was somewhat…disheartening.
"Hey, you're live on –"
"Promise me right now that we won't answer any of the scary questions other people asked or I will hang this phone up right now."
"You asshole, where the hell have you been? Talk about throwing me under the bus there, Axe. God, no, let's not even go there. Anything else you wanted to talk about?" Roxas worked extra hard to keep the relief out of his voice. He wasn't ready to answer the questions people had been asking, nor was he ready to hear Axel's thoughts on the subject. Roxas wasn't sure if Axel would brush it off as simply hamming it up for fun or acknowledge it for the intense flirtation it was, and he wasn't sure which of the two possibilities scared him more.
"I have two questions, and in exchange I will answer two questions you have. Anything you want. Fair game?"
"Totally. Bring it on, babe. Question one."
"What color is your hair?"
Roxas blinked. He'd been prepared for a perverted question, something invasive or intrusive, something teasing, maybe something a little provoking, but nothing as simple as his hair color. He briefly wondered how long Axel had been curious, or why the redhead, because Roxas had known he was a redhead for weeks already, hadn't just asked him sooner.
"Blond. Blond blond. None of that stupid dirty blond, not really brown but not really blond either. Sunshine yellow blond that people pay good money to buy in dye form."
"Did you? And this totally doesn't count as the second question."
"Did I what?"
"Pay good money for that color in a bottle."
"Well, there's really only one way for you to find out, isn't there?"
"Is that an invitation, Rox?"
It must have been the ease with which they fell into this playful banter that had so many people calling Roxas tonight, teasingly asking the blond if he'd met the redhead in person yet, or if the show's regular listeners were going to be invited to the wedding. Roxas slipped into an easy conversation with Axel more comfortably than he did with some of the people he'd known since his freshman year of college, and that was apparently something other people noticed. Even Sora'd called him out on it multiple times, teasing his twin about the blush staining his cheeks whenever a redhead walked past them on the street.
"Is that your second question? You only get two."
"No!" Axel said quickly, laughing. "No. I'd rather know how tall you are."
"Really? Out of all the questions you could ask, that's what you want to know?" Roxas wasn't as surprised as he had been the first time, but he was still surprised.
"Yup. You mentioned something one day about being on the shorter side, and I want to know how short short is."
"Short, Axel. Trust me."
"Come on Roxy, don't be embarrassed. I'll show you mine if you show me yours."
Axel laughed so loudly in Roxas' ear that the blond almost jumped out of his seat, feedback echoing through the radio as he knocked his head into the mic hanging in front of his face.
"Holy shit, Rox, you weren't kidding. Even Zexion's taller than you. Shit, man, my thirteen year old cousin is taller than you!"
Roxas' face burned brighter than any fire engine could have, one hand shielding his face from the audience that couldn't see him anyway. Axel continued to cackle in his ear, oblivious to the blond's face growing redder by the second until the radio host was finally able to squeak out a barely audible noise of protest.
"Aw, Rox, don't be embarrassed. I'm sorry, that was totally douchey of me. Besides, I have a thing for short guys, so I kind of like it. If it makes you feel any better, I was fondly known as the Jolly Green Giant back in high school."
Roxas snorted. It did make him feel a little bit better, actually.
"The Jolly Green Giant?"
"I'm 6'5" and have eyes approximately the exact same color as a green traffic light."
And this time it was Roxas' turn to burst into uncontrollable laughter, though the hysteria of his giggles only slightly matched the plethora of hysterical, half formed thoughts battling for dominance in the forefront of his mind. 6'5"? That was almost a foot taller than him. Was that even doable? Literally doable? He'd have to climb up on a step stool to kiss the damn kid. And green eyes? Roxas was a sucker for a beautiful pair of eyes, and green eyes, provided he could get up high enough to see them, were almost always stunning. The secret, increasingly ever-present corner of Roxas' mind that was building their flirtatious relationship into something potentially substantial cooed over the possibility of Axel's cat green eyes, framed by two small teardrops on his cheeks. Mmmmm.
"Yeah, I know. I'm even more gorgeous in person, promise."
"Cocky bastard. What makes you so sure I'm not sitting here thinking about how to politely dissuade you from ever calling again because I'm so horrifyingly turned off by the appearance of such a freak?"
"Does that mean you're not going to cash in on your questions?"
"Shut up, I'm trying to think!"
"Well now, don't hurt yourself, dear."
"I hate you. I'm hanging up on you."
Axel laughed. Loud, unrestrained, soul-deep guffaws, the uncontrollable kind that escapes your lips without you meaning to let it because it's just impossible to contain the bubbling of sheer amusement building from the depths of your toes. Roxas grinned, the sound of Axel's laughter infectious, contagious, slowly spreading through Roxas like liquid gold warmth. Dear God, he wanted to know this boy. Man? Kid?
"How old are you?"
"I thought you were hanging up on me."
"Do you want me to, cause I can if you –"
"Almost 22. I'm going into my senior year of college. Don't you dare, you little brat, or I swear I'll keep calling you back until no one else can get through on the line and you have to answer me." The laughter was still there, laced through Axel's teasing voice, and Roxas' cheeks were starting to burn red. 22 was totally doable, two years older than him wasn't that bad, especially if he was only a year above Roxas in school. He wondered, for a second, where Axel went to school, what he wanted to do with his life, but had a more burning question for his second choice.
"Why do you have an eight and a thirteen tattooed on you, and what do they look like?"
"That's two questions, Rox. I'll answer them both, but only if I get to ask one more."
"Fine. Now tell me."
"They're both tall, thin, somewhat distressed looking roman numerals in solid black ink, right above my pulse points on both wrists. I got the eight because eight has unofficially, accidentally, always been my number. There's an eight in my student ID number, my social security number, the address I grew up at, all four dorms and apartments I've lived in at school, my randomly assigned jersey number in little league, my class rank in high school, my SAT scores, my GPA. My birthday's August 8, 1988. Eight just follows me around, so I figured I could either go ape shit insane Jim Carrey style, or I could own it. I got the thirteen because they go together."
"What do you mean, they go together?"
"I don't know. I've always associated the two numbers with each other. Peanut butter and jelly, cookies and milk, black and white, eight and thirteen. They're a pair. Satisfactory answer?"
"Yes," Roxas breathed. He noticed his right hand had, of its own accord, apparently, because he certainly didn't remember moving it, curled itself around his ribs, palm pressed over the thirteen he himself had inked into his side.
"Why, out of all the questions you could have asked, was this one so important?"
"I have a tall, thin, slightly distressed looking roman numeral thirteen on the left side of my rib cage, and a matching eight on the right side. Same reasons apply, except thirteen is my number and eight is it's other half."
Axel was silent for a solid fifteen seconds, barely even breathing on the other end of the phone. Roxas waited with his lower lip caught between his teeth, fingers dancing nervously over his rib cage.
"So, we have matching tattoos, because we both have grown up with the numbers eight and thirteen, and both believe that one is the other half of the other?"
Roxas could hear the grin in Axel's voice, genuine, stretching across his face, as the redhead responded.
"Well, Roxas, if that isn't a sign then I don't know what is."
Favorite Line from a Song
"Absolute favorite quote from any song ever? That's impossible to answer, and entirely too vague. Are we talking witty and humorous? Deep and emo? The words that changed my life? There are way too many different kinds of songs for me to single out one particular favorite above all else."
"If you don't have an answer, Axel, then why did you sneak into the bathroom at work to call me?"
"I was worried you missed the sound of my voice. It's been almost 24 hours since you last heard it, I didn't want you to feel deprived. Besides, of course I have an answer. I have decided to share with you a random sampling of a few of my most beloved song lyrics. Lovey dovey love song quote would be "you shine so bright it's insane, you put the sun to shame" from the song "Lullaby," by the Spill Canvas. Nick Thomas is particularly gifted at delivering super emo, heartbreaking lines, so many of my favorite quotes are from Spill Canvas songs. Best fuck you quote would be a tie between "Chicago is so Two Years Ago" by Fall Out Boy and "Seventy Times 7" by Brand New. Beautifully weird imagery, "love is watching someone die, so who's gonna watch you die?" from Death Cab's "What Sarah Said." Wittiest lyricist…"
Guilty Pleasure Music
"My favorite guilty pleasure album? Like the one I hide in a different jewel case and labeled "Beatles' Greatest Hits, Volume VIII" on my iPod? "No Pads, No Helmets, Just Balls" by Simple Plan. What's yours, Roxy? I bet it's Gaga, isn't it? You're totally hot for Gaga, aren't you?"
Favorite Love Song
"Unconventional or in general? My favorite unconventional love song is totally 'Alive With the Glory of Love' by Say Anything, but it's also my favorite song in general."
"I played that –"
"Your first show, I know. I was flipping through channels and I was so shocked to hear it on the radio that I stopped and listened to the rest of your show. For the rest of our lives, Roxas, that will be our song; the song about two lovers in the Holocaust. Most romantic shit ever, yeah baby?"
"I'll dedicate it to you every time I play it. What's your favorite lovey dovey love song?"
"Straight up tie between 'You Had Me at Hello' by A Day To Remember and 'If You're Not the One' by Daniel Bedingfield."
Best Concert Experience Ever
"I'm noticing a theme here, Roxas. You wouldn't have, perhaps, been using this week of music-themed episodes as a countdown for Warped Tour being in town today, were you?"
"Of course I was. I haven't missed Warped since I was 15. I'm so sunburned right now that my clothes hurt my skin, but dude, it was fucking worth it. All-American Rejects sang "Swing, Swing," which has been like, one of my top ten favorite emo songs since the seventh grade, and I crowd surfed in this mad chaos crowd during Four Year Strong, and We The Kings did a cover of –"
"Jimmy Eat World, I know. I was so close I was practically kissing the stage."
"YOU WERE THERE?"
"Yeah. Me, Dem, and Zex go every year."
"What do I do when I have a bad case of insomnia? Dream about you, of course."
"It's not insomnia if you're dreaming, Axe, but nice try. A for effort."
"Fine, I fantasize about you, Roxy. And when that doesn't work I sketch new ideas for tattoos. Sketched one for you the other day, actually. What's your favorite color? I hope it's green.
Boring Sunday Night
"Guys...I'm bored. It's a Sunday night, no one calls on Sundays, I worked open to close this morning, and I'm totally out of ideas. I'm just gonna play some music for you, feel free to call in and chat if you're as painfully bored as I am. Here's Jack's Mannequin with 'Into the Airwaves.'"
He had hoped, but hadn't expected, that Axel would call anyway. The redhead was probably at work, or hanging out with his roommates, and Roxas didn't have anything to entice him with today except a grumpy sort of apathy. Still, he glared at the blinking red light, willing it to...oh.
"Hey, you're not-quite-live on W104, but if you wait for the song to end you will be."
"You really are bored, aren't you?"
"Hey Axel, what's up."
"A big fat lot of nothing. I'm not working tonight, Zex and Dem are out celebrating their one month or something hideously cheesy and romantic like that, there's nothing on TV, and I've already spent the last six hours replaying Keyblade Master I. Entertain me."
Roxas snorted, well beyond the point of hiding his amusement from his audience. Axel made him laugh; Axel made everyone laugh. Besides, it wasn't like he had a whole slew of listeners right now anyway. He leaned back in his chair, twisting the headphone cord around his finger as he checked the time left on the last song. It was only a minute in, right now it was just them on the line.
"How, exactly, would you like me to entertain you, Axe? I don't even have the mental capacity to entertain myself right now."
"I don't know, let's play a game."
"Yes, silly, a game. Like…a getting to know you game. Or twenty questions. Or never have I ever."
"I am morally opposed to playing never have I ever without drinks. And really, Axel, a getting to know you game? Don't you know absolutely everything about me by now?" Roxas was only half kidding. He spent so much time talking to the other boy, and so much time talking to other people when he knew Axel was listening, that he found it hard to imagine he had anything left to share with the redhead.
"I don't know nearly as much as I would like, Roxy." And there was the purring again. Roxas ignored the little shiver sliding down his spine; he was used to it at this point. "Come on, what the hell else are you doing right now?"
"Fine, weirdo. What do you want to play?"
"Two Truths and a Lie. Know it?"
"Sure. Make three statements, two of them true, one a lie, and the other person has to guess which is the lie. You start."
"I am a natural ginger, I only have one piercing, I pointedly refuse to wear the color orange."
"You are the strangest person I have ever had the pleasure of speaking to." Roxas laughed, only half listening to Axel's teasing response as he considered the redhead's statements. He'd never seen his hair, so even though he knew it was red, Roxas had no idea if it was that orangey ginger color that you can't buy in stores or fire engine red that screams 'Hello, I shop at Hot Topic.' Still, it just sounded like a trick question, and Demyx made fun of Axel for being a ginger so often that Roxas felt it had to be true. And any self respecting redhead would avoid the color orange like a plague, right? Besides, the guy had five tattoos. Roxas found it kind of hard to believe that he only had a single piercing.
"I think you're lying about the piercings. You have five tattoos and only one piercing? Bull."
"Wrong, love. Sorry. The tattoos mean something, piercings are for masochists. I lied about wearing orange. I am a rare ginger with the charming ability to look good in just about anything."
"You only have one piercing? What is it?" Tell me it's your tongue, Roxas' inner voice begged, tell me it's your tongue and I swear to God I'll do anything you want.
"Wouldn't you like to know," Axel teased, voice smug, "don't worry babe, you'll find out one day. Promise. Isn't it your turn now?"
They went back and forth for an hour, nearly the entirety of Roxas' show, trading facts and lies as they entertained not only themselves, but anyone else who happened to be tuning into the show. Roxas thought he knew the other boy before, but with two facts per turn Axel was dropping random pieces of his personality like they were candy, Roxas eagerly collecting each and every tidbit. Axel had never broken a bone, but was irrationally terrified of being confined to a cast, his favorite color was red and he owned no less than fourteen pairs of Chuck Taylors, three of which were red. He hadn't missed a Warped Tour since he was thirteen, once passed out in the audience and woke up backstage at a Green Day concert, and considered his autographed Say Anything tour shirt his most prized possession. It was, though Roxas would never admit it, the most fun he'd had just talking to someone in a while. Axel's responses were engaging, thought-provoking, amusing, and endearing. He learned more about his favorite caller than he'd ever expected to, and shared more about himself than he'd ever planned. It was the fastest any of his shows had ever gone by; Roxas barely even remembered he was on the air.
"It's almost 1:00, Axe. Last turn?" Roxas could hear the reluctance in his own voice, was certain Axel could hear it too. He didn't particularly care.
"I guess. This one's mine, right? Okay. I'm really glad I called, this is the most fun I've ever had while home alone on a previously boring Sunday night, I don't ever want to meet you in person."
Roxas grinned, scratching the back of his neck as he fought down the blush threatening his cheeks.
"Yeah. Me too."
"Callers, today is a very, very important day. Today is the day that my brother Sora is finally, finally, after nearly eighteen years of circling and circling and pretending to be just friends, going on a date with his best friend Riku. Hopefully right now they're somewhere where they can hear this show, blushing and stuttering and 'oh that Roxas, he's so silly,' so just in case they are: Dear Sora and Riku, you dumb fucks, you've been in love with each other since you were both in middle school. Please consider the last seven years as the world's longest bout of foreplay and DO IT ALREADY. I'm not coming home tonight. Love, Roxas. Now that that's out of the way, I want to hear about your first dates. What was the best first date you've ever been on? The worst? What is your idea of the perfect date? Love me, people, I'm feeling all gushy and gooey tonight. To kick it off, here's 'First Date' by Blink-182."
"The best first date I ever went on was with Zexion," Demyx was gushing in Roxas' ear, his voice swoony and dramatic.
"Demyx, we haven't really –"
"Of course we have, Zex. Loads of them. We just didn't know it at the time. The best first date I ever went on was with Zexion. We'd known each other for about three weeks already and he and I ran into each other, literally, outside the library. Zex was in a rush cause he was super excited to start translating his new copy of Harry Potter in latin –"
"I hate you, I can't believe you just said that on the radio, I'm not having sex with you for a week."
"– so he totally wasn't watching where he was going and ran right into me and spilled my brand new, absolutely delicious cup of perfectly blended hot chocolate with a shot of french vanilla milk all over me. Cute little puppy that he is, he immediately scolded the shit out of me for not watching where I was going, until I casually mentioned to him that he was the one speed walking and reading at the same time. Kid turned bright red, kinda like he is right now, actually, and immediately started apologizing and insisting that he was going to buy me a new hot chocolate. So we started talking and wound up getting drinks together and we stayed in the café in the library until it closed."
"And that was your perfect first date?"
"Of course, Rox. It was with Zexion. He could have dumped his coffee on my head and stormed out and it still would have been perfect if it got us here eventually." There was a muffled thud, the sound Roxas had come to recognize, particularly with such…rambunctious callers as Axel and Demyx, as the sound of the phone receiver hitting the carpet. Roxas couldn't hear much of anything, which, he reasoned, was probably a good thing.
"Hey Axel. Not working tonight?"
"Nah, had to drive up to school last night, sort out some paperwork with my new landlord. Anyway, came home and found Dem and Zex going at it on the couch, phone on the floor next to them. Aren't you lucky I came home just in time to save you from listening to them whisper sweet nothings to each other?"
"You are my hero and I am eternally grateful to you."
"Fantastic, you can thank me by distracting me as I burn that mental image out of my eyes with bleach. What was your best first date, Roxy?"
Roxas' blushed so hard he could feel his face burning. He was 95% positive that his face was going to be permanently red by the end of this conversation.
"I've never actually…been on a date."
"Never? A hot little thing like you?"
"You don't –"
"You're hot, blondie. I can tell. How is it possible that you've never been on a date? Girls probably want to cuddle you, and boys probably think you're the cutest thing since blitzball was invented."
"I would hardly call blitzball cute."
"You're right," Axel chuckled, something soft and dreaming lilting his tone, "all that tight, wet spandex…mmm it's definitely hotter than it is cute. But you're distracting me. Tell me how it's possible that you've never been on a date. Even my hideous cousin Larxene's been asked out a time or two."
It was no small favor, really, that there wasn't a single reflective surface in the entirety of the sound booth, because Roxas was pretty sure that were he able to see the color of his face right now it would send him straight into a panic attack. Some hideously awful color between fire engine red, dirty forest green, and sickly white, probably.
"I…I don't know I mean…high school was small, really small, 75 kids you'd known since you were crawling around in diapers, you know? And college, well…just haven't found the right person yet. College kids don't really do much of the dating scene these days, right? Most people I know are much more interested in playing the one night stand game."
"They're missing out. Seriously, they don't know what they're missing by letting a guy like you get away."
And somewhere, under the blush, under the stammer, under the fluttering eyelashes (god, when did he turn into a fucking girl?), Roxas secretly wondered if Axel himself wasn't 'letting a guy like him get away,' if Axel even wanted a guy like him in the first place. Sure, he sounded like he did, but that didn't mean anything without the intention behind the infliction.
"Well then," and Roxas could hear the cocky, teasing grin plastered across Axel's face, could draw its image on the mental sketch his mind had been slowly creating of Axel. It didn't matter that he'd never seen the redhead, only knew vague generalities about his appearance; he knew every single one of Axel's smiles. "Well. If that's the case then, I think you should tell us all what your ideal first date would be; that way when that lucky guy or girl out there takes your first date v-card they'll have a chance of being adequately prepared for what you expect."
"It…I mean, I guess it depends on what you're feeling, right? How you feel that day, how you feel about the other person, how you feel about different things you like or dislike?" Some days all I want to do is order take out from the Land of Dragons, my favorite Chinese food place, and watch a movie and cuddle on the couch. Other days all I want to do is squeeze my ass into my favorite skinny jeans and grind all over the nearest dance floor."
"Frankly, dear, both options sound pretty fucking fantastic. Neither, however, are remotely first date material. That's the kind of shit you do when you've been dating for months and you know each other so well that you can pick the right movie just by gauging the other's mood, order the drinks without having to ask what he wants. I want to know about your perfect first date."
Roxas opened his mouth, wet his lips with his tongue, and paused. He'd never really given much thought to how he was going to get to this magical land of perfect dates, never considered what kind of first date would be the one that made him say "yeah, this guy/girl is the one." Axel, apparently, read his silence all too easily.
"Never gave it much thought, huh? That's okay, I'll just have to tell you what I would do on my first date with...a guy I really liked."
And even though he hadn't actually said it, Roxas heard the unspoken "you" in Axel's hesitant pause, and Axel, he was sure, knew Roxas understood the implication. This was the redhead's answer to all those questions they'd avoid last week, the questions about whether or not the boys were flirting in earnest.
"Where would you start?"
"First I'd pick him up at his place, do the whole show up at the door, meet the family, swoon over how gorgeous he looks when he makes his grand entrance, so that there's no doubt in his mind that this is definitely a date."
"What, no flowers?"
"Not until I figure out if he's a flowers and chocolate kinda guy. Besides, it's really hard to bring flowers on a bike."
"You're picking your date up on a BICYCLE?" Roxas struggled to bite back the giggles at the mental image of a tall, lanky redhead riding a kid sized bike, Roxas riding on pegs on the back wheels.
"Dear god Rox, what kind of crazy do you think I am? No, a motorcycle."
The mental image changed as quickly as it was conjured, a black leather jacket, Roxas' arms tight around a narrow waist, hands sliding under the jacket, palms flat against a thin t-shirt and firm abs. He was liking the sound of this date already.
"Great for getting physical, not much for conversation, so we wouldn't stay on the road for very long, just long enough to get to dinner."
"And where are we going for dinner?" Oops. If Axel noticed Roxas' slip he didn't mention it, but there was a hint of a smile in his voice that hadn't been there a second ago.
"Nothing too fancy, cause we're not dressed for it, but a step up from your everyday fast food joint. Maybe Beast's for wraps or something like that. Nothing too filling, we need to save room for dessert, which we would grab from McDucks as we're wandering around downtown. I've never been there, but I hear they have the best sea salt ice cream in town."
"They do," Roxas agreed. I work there. You should have come in the second you heard it was good...I would have given you a free sample, on the condition that you licked it off me...
"Well we'll have to check it out then. We'll have to be downtown anyway, cause that's where all the best shows are, and if the night's looking good then we're definitely going to go see a band or two."
"Why?" not that Roxas was opposed...
"Well for starters, if he's not into the show scene then it's just not going to work out. And secondly because there's no better place to determine chemistry than in a crowded mosh pit. And it's great for unavoidable touching."
"Top three choices for shows, if it was your lucky night:"
"Say Anything, Green Day, Where's Fluffy."
All excellent choices, all bands Roxas would love to see while out on a date with someone he had good chemistry with.
"How we felt after the show would determine where we went next. If we still have that post concert adrenaline buzz we'd probably go to a club and dance it off. If we were coming down to that mellow, post-buzz haze we'd go for a walk wherever our feet take us. If it was a great night, I'd take him back to his apartment and hope for a goodnight kiss, if it was an okay night I'd take him back to mine."
"You wouldn't take him home if it were a great date? Why the hell not?"
"Because if it really was great then I'd want to go out with him again, and I wouldn't want to rush into anything, but if it was just okay and I probably wasn't interested in seeing him again, then there's no harm in taking him home."
That was a considerably cuter response than Roxas had anticipated. He smiled despite himself, scratching at the back of his neck.
"Well, how was that? Any ideas now what your ideal first date might be?"
Yeah, Roxas thought, biting back the words threatening to roll off his tongue, any date with you.
Tell Me A Story
"Guys, I'm bored. Like really, really bored. I've reached that point in the summer where the novelty of being home has worn off and I just can't wait to get my ass back to school already. I'm tired of home, I'm tired of working at that freaking ice cream parlor, and I'm tired of doing the same thing every day. Callers, I need you to wake me the fuck up. Tell me a story, give me new ideas for something to do, entertain me, goddammit. Here's a wake up call for you in the form of 'Maintain Consciousness' by Relient K."
It was a slow night. Roxas' callers were apparently just as jaded as he was, their voices whiny and desperate as they bemoaned the lack of anything reasonably exciting to do in Twilight Town. Demyx had half-heartedly suggested that Roxas go clubbing with them, and Zexion invited him to the bar they were going to on Friday, but Roxas wasn't 21 yet, and he didn't get out of work until 1am anyway. Even Sora and Riku called, inviting him to meet up with them after their movie let out, but it was the theater on the opposite side of town and Roxas just wasn't into walking that far too go hang out with the newlyweds.
"Dude, I got nothing on how you should entertain yourself, you under-21-year-old, but I do have a funny story for you."
"Please, god, tell me. I'm. So. Bored."
"No need to call me god, Rox, Axel will do just fine."
"You are decidedly not funny," Roxas snorted, fist pressed to his mouth to keep from snickering aloud. Axel probably heard him anyway.
"You adore me, boo. Do you want to hear my funny story or not?" Axel purred, smirk evident in his voice.
"Only if you promise never to call me boo ever again."
"Fine then, schnookums, so I'm at work tonight, right, and my shift is supposed to be over at midnight, so I'm going to put my cleaning shit away in the supply closet and I hear this noise. I was on the lower level tonight so I'm in the creepy ass basement where there are only two theaters, and it's like midnight on a Wednesday night, so there's like no one there, ya know? So I'm kind of wigging out, here I am hearing this moaning and I'm pretty sure I'm about to pee my pants because there's some fucking ghost haunting the multiplex basement."
"A ghost, pumpkin?"
"A fucking ghost, pudding pie. There's supposedly a ghost in the abandoned subway station right across from the theater, maybe he wanted to go catch a film or something, you never know."
"The ghost wanted to watch a movie?"
"You're ruining the suspense of my story, Rox. Anyway, I'm hearing this noise and totally freaking out like the pansy-ass little wuss I am, but it's getting louder as I'm getting closer to the supply closet and I just want to dump my shit and get the hell outta dodge. So I decide I'm just going to throw my mop in the closet and run for it, and I open the door andwell, Roxy, I'd rather not scar you with the mental image but let's just say it's a damn small closet, and I'm very impressed at the flexibility of my two new friends."
"Oh jesus, Axel. Did you seriously walk in on two assholes having sex in the supply closet?" Roxas couldn't contain his snickers this time, shaking his head as he tried to picture the scene. "Wait. New friends? What did you do, strike up conversation with them while they casually got dressed?"
"Well, dearest, as I got closer I started to make out the moaning sounds a little better. Turns out it was a name, not a weepy ghost. Funny how similar they sound yeah?
"Well, I mean, I guess...but if you heard names then you totally knew what was going down, you didn't have to walk in on them."
"But I DID, Rox, I had to open the door, I had to."
"Okay, fine. I'll bite. Why did you have to open the door, Axel?"
"Because, my lovely Roxas, as I got closer and closer all I could hear was 'Sora...Sora...' and 'unghh Riku.' And I thought to myself, I thought, 'hey, self, isn't Roxas always talking about his brother Sora? And isn't Sora dating some guy named Riku?' So I just had to investigate."
"YOU WALKED IN ON SORA AND RIKU HAVING SEX IN THE JANITOR'S CLOSET?"
"Really, honey, if you bust my eardrum I'm going to be really upset, I can't play as well when I can't hear my guitar."
"Sora. My twin brother. Spiky brown hair, stupid ass grin?" Roxas head spun, frantically trying to sort through an assortment of simultaneous reactions and responses. Ew. What? Ewewewewew. Wow, Sora, really? The janitor's closet at the multiplex? Axel walked in on them? Of all people? His brother got to meet Axel? Axel met Sora? Sora, who looks just him? And Riku, the most overprotective bastard of a pseudo-big-brother ever?
Axel was saying something, something about a cheese and belts, but Roxas' already frantically shifting attention had caught something else, a faint glow illuminating the interior of his sweatshirt pocket. He pulled it out slowly, sliding his finger across the screen unlock the text printed across the surface of his phone.
AXEL = FCKING HOT. GET IT GET IT GETIT
Worst and Best Summer Moments
"My best summer moment? I don't think it's happened yet. Summer's not over til Demyx sings, yeah? And that won't happen until our celebratory karaoke night the first day we're back on campus."
"You have a celebratory karaoke night?"
"You're just jealous you won't be there. Anyway, I have a temporary best moment, just as a stand in until that defining moment has its chance at glory."
"Well, the moment I opened the door of the janitor's closet and realized it was Sora in there."
"You are not funny."
"No I'm serious. Best moment of the summer."
"Because for one awful, horrible, gut wrenching second standing outside that door, Sora's voice sounded a hell of a lot like yours."
Life Lessons You Never Learned in High School
"How to ask your best friend out. I agonized over it for years. YEARS. That should be a basic class, lumped right in there with Freshman Biology and Precalc: Interactions of the Romantic Kind, a Study in Human Behavior. Sociology 120."
"Demyx would know, Roxy, he took that class sophomore year."
"Fuck you, Axel, stop trying to hog Roxas all the time. Give me back the call or I swear to god I'll tell him what I caught you doing the other night..."
"Life lessons they DO teach you in high school, Rox? How to beat the ever-loving shit out of your best friend. Gotta go babe."
The phone hit the floor with a thud.
"So I've been digging up some of my old favorite tunes and I came across the music video for All-American Reject's 'Dirty Little Secret,' the one with all the Post Secret cards. I love that website, still check it every Sunday like it's my religion, so I thought I'd give it a try with you guys. Here's your opportunity to say anything you ever or never wanted to tell anyone, totally anonymously, just to get it off your chest. If you're interested, give me a call. In the mean time, here's the song that inspired it all."
Roxas expected a caller or two, had a playlist ready in the event of a slow night. His response was overwhelming. It was his most popular episode to date, callers on hold on all five lines, patiently waiting for each person to share a sentence, maybe two, a response to previous confessions, encouragement, support, empathy. It was the kind of episode that restored Roxas' faith in humanity, the kind that made him smile despite himself as a man's voice that sounded suspiciously like Zexion's informed him that he'd "never expected that he'd ever have the capacity to feel this way about another person."
He really didn't expect Axel to call. Roxas knew Axel's voice well enough, knew that Axel was aware that Roxas would recognize his voice, and that many of Roxas' callers would recognize the redhead's voice as well.
"A few weeks ago I told you my idea of the perfect first date to take a guy on. I just want you to know, Roxas, that there's only one guy I ever want to have that perfect first date with."
"I have a final confession to make, dear callers. I've been holding out on you guys, mostly because I've been avoiding the fact myself, but today is my last show. I'm leaving to head back to school tomorrow, and I can't very well host a radio show in Twilight Town all the way from Radiant Gardens, yeah? I have absolutely loved every second of hosting this show; it's been the greatest experience I could possibly have asked for, and it couldn't have been that if it weren't for my amazing callers. I'd love to hear from you all one last time; no topic, no direction, just give me a call, say goodbye, say whatever. Here to send you off is one of my favorite Kings of Leon songs, "On Call." You guys are the greatest; call me."
He was starting to get nervous. Axel hadn't missed a show in weeks, how could he possibly miss this, his last show? Roxas refused to consider the possibility that Axel had intentionally ignored the show. Could the other boy actually be angry that the radio host hadn't told him sooner? Was he really going to give up what was probably their last opportunity to talk?
Maybe he could find him, check the theater Sora and Riku went to last week, ask the manager if Axel was in, maybe get a number, at least a last name…but the multiplex closed before Roxas got off work, and he was leaving first thing in the – shit, there was a caller on the line.
"W104, you've reached Roxas. What's up?"
"Oh thank god. For a second there I thought you weren't going to answer."
"Axel." Roxas didn't even attempt to keep the relief out of his voice; he knew he wouldn't have been able to disguise it anyway. "I was starting to think…"
"That I wasn't going to call, Rox? You're an idiot if you did. There was no way I was missing your last show. I just spent the last half hour begging my boss to let me leave early. I'm sorry I cut it so close." The blond had never heard the other boy's voice this serious. There was no trace of a teasing tone laced through his husky voice, just quiet certainty.
"I'm just glad you called," Roxas admitted softly, "I would have killed you if you didn't say goodbye."
"I'm not calling to say goodbye, Roxas. I am calling to say something, but it's not goodbye."
"Wait. Just…hear me out, okay? Let me just get this out before I completely lose it."
Roxas nodded, throat tight, before remembering that the redhead couldn't see him. He stifled the somewhat hysterical urge to laugh at himself, instead forcing a barely audible noise of consent from between his lips. Axel seemed to hear it anyway.
"I love you."
Roxas blinked. He stared at the microphone hanging in front of his face, lips parted as his mouth hung open in vague disbelief.
"I love you. Maybe I'm crazy but…god, Roxas, you drive me crazy. Most people probably would call this insanity; I mean here I am, live on one of the most popular radio shows in the city, announcing to the entire radio audience that I'm in love with the show's host, whom I've never actually met. You don't know me, and I've never met you. I don't know if you're 400 pounds or even skinnier than me, which, by the way, would make you really fucking skinny. I don't know if you wear polos with your Topsiders or guyliner and chains, or if you'd even be interested in a guy like me. But I know that you will only watch scary movies with the lights on and that you secretly love top 40s pop hits. I know that you live with your twin brother, and that you have a younger sister, and that you love your siblings more than just about anyone else. I know that you and I have the same shoes, and the same favorite song, and the same favorite video game. I know that you have a radio DJ voice and a regular Roxas voice, and I think they're both hot as hell. I know that you're witty and intelligent and that you have a great sense of humor, and that there's no better feeling than making you laugh –"
"Axel…" Roxas breathed.
"Fuck…just, hold on a sec, Rox…" Axel's voice changed entirely, something sharp and assertive laced through it as he spoke to someone on his end of the line. Roxas could barely make out what was being said, something about restricted access. He didn't think he'd be able to process anything even if he had been able to hear it; his mind was still reeling from Axel's most recent confession.
"Sorry," Axel's voice sounded breathless, rushed, as though he'd just been arguing. "I just…anyway, Roxas…I couldn't let you leave without telling you first. I'd never forgive myself if I didn't tell you, if there was even a chance that this could have been something real and I wasted the opportunity."
"I don't…I don't know what to…" Roxas flailed, rendered utterly speechless for the first time in a very long time. He'd be lying if he said he hadn't thought about this, hadn't dreamed about it, hadn't sat at the register at the ice cream parlor and dragged himself through the day by fantasizing about finding Axel somewhere in this damn city and telling him everything. But still, to have it here, to have it all laid out before him like this…he didn't know what to do with it.
"You can start," Axel said; his voice had regained its sly, teasing quality, and the tone sent a thrill down Roxas' spine, "by looking up."
Instinctively, not even pausing long enough for the disbelief to set in, Roxas wrenched his eyes away from the mic at his nose and stared out the glass window separating the sound booth from the outer studio.
The tall, thin boy pressed against the other side of the glass, one hand clutching a cell phone to his ear, the other palm flat against the window pane, had to be one of the most amazing creatures Roxas had ever seen. His hair was red, like Roxas had known it would be, but auburn, not ginger, and long, pulled back in a spiky ponytail. Blue eyes followed the short strands of hair that had fallen from the elastic band, framing a thin, angular face and high cheekbones, accented with two small, purple tattoos pressed into the flesh under each of the most stunning malachite green eyes Roxas had ever seen. Both were locked firmly on Roxas' own blue pair, glowing with something that sent another shiver down the blond's spine.
Axel chuckled, the sound echoing through Roxas' headphones as he watched the redhead's lips move, a flash of something silver between his teeth, and that was all Roxas needed. The blond shot from his chair as though it had suddenly burst into flames, yanking the headphones from his ears and throwing them somewhere in the direction of the soundboard table. He clambered over the various cables and wires tangled between himself and the door, wrenching open the offending piece of wood the second his upper body had reached it, legs still slightly behind as he climbed over the last piece of equipment.
They were, finally, face to face, eyes still locked firmly together as they stood in stunned silence, separated by a few mere feet of shag rug and empty air. Slowly, as though he was barely conscious of doing so, Axel dropped the hand holding his phone to his ear, the sleek black device sliding silently down to land on the carpeted floor.
Neither was sure who moved first, or if maybe they'd moved at the same time. Roxas was flying forward and Axel's long legs crossed the floor effortlessly and Roxas had to stand on his toes and grab the collar of the redhead's uniform shirt, but the second Axel's lips touched the blond's none of that mattered. All that mattered was that Axel's arms were around his waist and Axel's skin was soft under his fingertips and Axel's lips meshed perfectly against his and that this was better than anything he'd ever imagined.
They broke apart only when Roxas was certain that he would pass out if his lungs didn't get some kind of oxygen, lips still so close that they were sharing the air between them, breath ghosting across wet lips. Axel leaned down, hunched over to press his forehead against the smaller blond's, fingers curled around the bare skin of Roxas' hips.
"You're even hotter than I thought you'd be," the redhead breathed, his voice soft and teasing as his lips brushed against Roxas'. The blond grinned, shaking his head slightly as the taller boy chuckled again.
"I've wanted to do this for so long," Roxas confessed quietly. He threaded his fingers through the soft red hair at the nape of the other boy's neck, feeling, rather than seeing, the grin that spread across the pale features. "I think…I love you, too."
"You said you're going back to Radiant Gardens for school, right?"
Roxas blinked at the apparent non sequitur, pulling back only far enough to look Axel in the eye. They really were stunningly beautiful eyes, sharp and vibrant and, looking at them this closely, flecked with warm golden tones that sparkled in the fluorescent lights…
Roxas flushed. Axel had asked him a question; he'd forgotten about it for a moment there. He'd also forgotten that minor detail; as amazing as this was, he was leaving tomorrow for a city that was a six hour drive from Twilight Town.
"Yeah," he admitted quietly, "I go to HBU. I don't…I mean, it's so far awa –"
Axel's mouth pressed against his, effectively cutting the blond off mid-word as the lanky redhead sealed Roxas' lips closed with his own. He pulled back only a few seconds later, smiling contentedly at Roxas.
"I'm a graphic design major at HBU," Axel confessed, gentle smile quickly morphing into a somewhat contagious grin, "Dem, Zex, and I are all moving back to campus tomorrow. You should come to karaoke night tomorrow night, they're dying to meet you…and I have a whole summer's worth of awkward sexiling to make up for."
And even as he leaned forward to press his mouth against the redhead's smirking lips, Roxas couldn't help but contain the bubbling laughter Axel always managed to coax from him. He wrapped his arms tighter around the thin, pale neck and pressed his chest against the scratchy purple cotton of Axel's movie theater polo, and kissed him with a promise of many, many nights of revenge sexiling in the immediate future.
That night Marluxia's show had the most listeners it had ever had. Dozens and dozens of callers from all over the city called to congratulate Roxas and Axel on finally getting together, beg details of what had happened after Axel dropped the phone, and generally gush over the blossoming relationship they'd all born witness to over the course of the summer.
Somewhere halfway across the city, tucked away in a small apartment shared by a pair of twin brothers, Roxas, distracted by the feel of Axel's skin under his fingertips and the sound of the redhead's moans in his ear, was entirely obvious to the cheers and well-wishes from what seemed to be a vast majority of Twilight Town.
Axel, when questioned at a later point in time, would claim that he could hear the cheers, catcalls, and applause from clear across the city.
Thanks for reading, guys =) I hope you enjoyed it. And Happy Akuroku Day!
PS. Offer still stands: answer your favorite of Roxas' questions! What do you think of tattoos? Favorite line from a song? Favorite love song? Best concert moment? Did you hit up Warped this year? What's the best date you've ever been on? Hit me up =)