Title: Every Day Play

Pairings: Roxas/Axel (Kairi/Sora + some more)

Rating: T (Occasional cursing, alcohol abuse)

Genre: Geek-AU, humour/drama

Chapter 1/22 (total word-count 120K)

Disclaimer: Don't own, don't make money.

A/N: Welcome aboard. This is the result of Tupsu and Nepece working together and trying their hands at telling an AU story that is just as geeky as they are. The bestest (sic) beta in the world, whom we snatched from right here on ffnet, O. Forgetfull.O has done a miracle and gotten rid of all the typos and comma-harassing. (Any remaining mistakes are the writers – they did some final adjusting)

geek (gk) Slang

n.

1.

a. A person regarded as foolish, inept, or clumsy.

b. A person who is single-minded or accomplished in scientific or technical pursuits but is felt to be socially inept.

2. A carnival performer whose show consists of bizarre acts, such as biting the head off a live chicken.

tr.v. geeked, geek·ing, geeks

To excite emotionally: I'm geeked about that new video game.

Chapter 1: All bets are off this year

When the rain finally decided to give up tormenting the city, there was little to no traffic on the quiet suburban streets and just few pedestrians trying to make their way through the melting snow and newly formed puddles. The worst thing about spring was that muddy mixture of snow and street water, at least in Axel's opinion.

Not that the ones responsible for the weather seemed to care. It had rained the whole day, pouring at midday, snowing for half an hour after that and now it seemed like the clouds were pretending that nobody saw them resting and collecting water for the next shower. Axel kept his striding quick and determined, he did not want to be outside when the second wave of rain hit.

Even when taking into consideration all of the small and larger mishaps, spilt coffee and dead alarm clocks, Axel was still doing fairly okay and feeling just fine. He was on his way home after an exam at the university, he'd pass, and had still enough time change his clothes into something less yes-I-woke-up-too-late-like before getting to work. There was a pizza waiting for him in the freezer and the rest of evening should go like usually. After some hours working at the bar, chatting and flirting with customers, receiving some tips, he could enjoy the rest of his Wednesday without doing anything specific. He had time and he had money; the weekend was right around the corner, he liked his life.

Unfortunately, not everybody shared his high spirits; some kid was quickly scaling the fire escape to the roof of Axel's building. If the kid did jump – and that is what people usually do when they sit on the edge of a three storey building – Axel'd have to live in the 'suicide-building' until the local press got tired, and since the neighbourhood was pretty calm - idyllic as it could be, filled with two-child families - some stupid kid making a mess on the street would be big news. Not to mention the consequences of getting caught failing to save a life. He didn't want to be anywhere near when the kid tried to fly.

Instinctively Axel put his hand on his pocket and made sure that he had his keys where he could fish them out quickly. He was no hero, but he liked to make sure he didn't end up with more trouble than he deserved. He carefully scanned the area around him. Yes, he was the only one to see the kid. No, no other witnesses.

Axel sighed. He didn't want to deal with this today. Still, even he wasn't cold-hearted enough to just walk away.

He was no shrink, but how difficult could it be to pretend that he cared, get the kid down from the roof and call people to get him locked up?

"Er… Hey, kid! Would you mind moving away from there and maybe jump off from some other roof? I kind of like my home suicide-free," Axel said as loud as he dared, still not loudly enough to make the sound echo across the street.

The kid reacted to Axel's words, but not in the way Axel had anticipated. He did not move away from the edge, which would have been the ideal reaction, nor did he jump down straight away (which Axel didn't even bother placing on the scale of things-he-might-turn-to-his-advantage), instead he looked at Axel with what seemed to be the dumb stare saved for strangers yelling things from three floors below.

The boy too realised the problems the distance brought. "Okay, what is it?" he asked, yelled loud enough to attract attention. If somebody was home right now, they'd soon be looking out of the windows to see what was going on. That hypothetical someone would then see if Axel failed in his task of encouraging the kid to embrace life and all that crap. Yeah, this was getting way over his head and the best solution would be to get away, and do it quickly. Fuck any witnesses to his cowardice or lack of intelligence.

"I just wanted to mention that I would prefer if you went and offed yourself in your own bathtub, not in front of my door," Axel stated and slowly approached said door, hoping that he would somehow survive all the way to his own flat before the kid finally got tired of living.

It did seem that he still had some time, the kid didn't look like he was on the verge of suicide. Instead he seemed amused and muttered something that Axel couldn't catch, and then decided to be chatty once more. "Look, I know what this looks like. But you can take your... concern someplace else," the boy simply said, leaning dangerously close to the edge to deliver his message.

"I happen to have the imagination to know what it will look like after you jump and, oddly enough, I don't want to be here when that happens. Not fan of the gory stuff, you know?" Axel said without even trying sugar coating his words. "Besides, my concern is right here, right here at my door. It's the door that will suffer from your flying-attempts, not you. Since you'll be, you know, dead."

"I... Hey, listen up for a moment, will you?" the kid replied somewhat frustrated. "Falling down from here would hurt me a lot more than it would hurt your stupid door, thank you very much. But I'm not going to jump! I know how bad this looks, but I'm really not up here to jump down."

Axel listened, nodded a couple of times and moved a few steps closer to the door. The kid was crazy, completely loony, that was all that there was to the situation. There was no need to listen to a madman. Axel watched as the kid stared at him, then shook his head and then disappeared out of Axel's view. That was as far as Axel bothered to follow the actions of the idiot. Perhaps he'd performed a miracle, and stopped the delinquent from taking the plunge. On the other hand, maybe the kid had simply jumped off the other side of the roof, and that was just fine too. Either way he wasn't going to stick around to find out.

In one smooth motion, Axel turned, opened his door, and disappeared inside.

xXx

Roxas was starting to doubt his seemingly genius of a plan.

It was damn cold up here and the window showed no signs of opening up, even after the tenth time of trying to break in. The roof was slippery even though it was one of those flat, gravel-filled sandboxes. The snow made staying up there really uncomfortable and the chilling wind getting to his bones wasn't helping either. He hugged his knees to keep himself warm, but made no move to return back to the ground. He had climbed all the way up and giving up now was out of the question. If all of this had gone like he'd planned, he could've told this story and laughed with others – but now he had to sit up there and hope that somebody that could open the damn window would show up. The street had been quiet and the only one Roxas had seen since the redheaded idiot was some girl walking her dog.

He should've taken his gloves with him in the morning; his fingers were getting numb and were already tingling even though he kept rubbing his hands together. Taking the keys would've been a nice alternative too, but then again he'd missed this opportunity to admire the neighbourhood from an all new perspective if he'd checked his pockets. From high up here he could see the bus that he should've been in – He saw it disappear behind high buildings and then appear behind the mall and then be gone for good.

By the time any form of rescue arrived, he'd seen three buses leave him behind. Roxas saw Sora and Kairi approaching from far away, but neither of them noticed him even after approaching the door keys in hand. Anything could've happened outside their happy little adorable bubble. Roxas tried waving, he tried glaring, and he came to the conclusion that only yelling could somehow affect them. "Sora, Kairi, up here!" Roxas cried and smiled at the expected bewildered expression as the couple looked up.

"Roxas? What are you doing on the roof?" Sora asked.

"Trying to get in, idiot," Roxas replied swallowing the last word. He was getting inpatient, but arguing wouldn't take him anywhere.

Sora simply stared. It looked like he wouldn't be understanding Roxas' reasons for being on the roof anytime soon, leaving the situation in a deadlock. Sora couldn't exactly be called an idiot, but Roxas could admit, this was a situation that could make anyone confused.

Roxas sighed. "I know, the door is down there," he said slowly, "And there are several good reasons why I'm up here. One, I don't have keys. Two, my phone died. Three, could you please just let me in?" Roxas found himself struggling to be polite as gravel dug into his legs and the wind was getting stornger, however he knew his cousin wouldn't be letting this incident go anytime soon. If politeness got him out of a scolding, he was at least going to attempt it.

"He's trying to use the window to get in," Kairi explained and Sora looked like he understood it better immediately when she said it. Roxas flashed a thankful smile at her, knowing that she probably couldn't see it, and walked across the roof to wait behind their living room window.

"Just open the window!" Sora's voice could be heard loud and clear. "I didn't close it up this morning."

"It is locked! And did you hear me asking whether or not you locked the damn thing? Because I sure as hell didn't!" Roxas moved back to edge and snapped back with more bite than he intended.

"Well I didn't close it! You don't have to get all angry on me if you lock yourself out," Sora answered hurt evident in his voice.

"Look Sora, we don't have time for this. Could you just please hurry up and open the window?" Roxas tried to reconcile.

"You should be grateful, Roxas, we weren't meant to come back home until much later, " Sora bypassed the question without missing a beat.

"Oh for the love of..." Roxas was getting angrier and angrier. "Can't you just open the window and scold me later?"

"Stay up there then! You're lucky we hadn't booked the tickets beforehand. And that the film was sold out."

"It would have been a lousy film anyway," Kairi commented.

"That has nothing to do with anything, Kairi!" Roxas retorted. He turned back to Sora and pleaded: "Please, please let me in! I'm in a real hurry and I'm going to get decapitated if I don't show up in time."

"Roxas, take it easy," Kairi said, taking Sora's side, as usual. Roxas and Kairi got along just fine, but it was Sora she had a crush on.

"Taking it easy," Roxas replied, gritting his teeth hoping it didn't show all the way down. Yelling at Kairi would not do him any good, quite the opposite, considering Sora's protective streak. "Couldn't we just continue this argument someplace else, some other time? As much as I love to spend my time freezing my ass off, I really really need to go. Right now."

"Okay then. Let's not disturb the neighbours any more," Kairi stated in a voice that made Roxas sigh. He wouldn't get out of this without more yelling.

It took a while before Roxas saw the inappropriately happy face of Sora staring at him through the living room window. Cold and angry and not even near where he was supposed to be. Roxas jumped in immediately after Sora got the ventilation window open, uncaring for the mess he brought. The snow melted into a puddle on the floor before Kairi returned with some towels. Roxas didn't listen to Sora's nagging about the mess; he had no time, dashing around the house searching for his stuff. Looking at the clock made Roxas cry out as he picked the sneakers and stuffed them unceremonially into the bag.

"Okay, sorry. I need to go. Now," Roxas muttered quickly. "We can fight when I get back," he added and didn't stop for the response.

So what if he had been a bit desperate? Today just happened to be theday for the biggest struggle tournament of the year, And Roxas was apparently the only one capable enough to take down resident Struggle Champion Seifer. Well, at least according to Hayner. Taking him down in the tournament meant the world to Hayner, the very Hayner who had called Roxas multiple times through the day to remind him to be on time. Such an understatement to say he had been in a hurry. Well, had been. He had no chance of being on time now, the clock at the bus stop told him he was already thirty minutes too late and he was losing the race against time.

After the tediously long bus trip Roxas arrived to the hall, fully aware of the fact that he was too late and nothing could be done anymore. He was angry at himself for blowing everything up and scared of what his friends were going to say. He'd left school a little too late and therefore missed the bus he should've taken. It hadn't been the end of the world then, but arriving home and realising he didn't have his keys and Sora had already gone out – that was the apocalypse. He'd tried to overcome all of the misfortune, but his brilliant plan of getting to the tournament on time had backfired. The window had been locked safely and he'd been royally screwed.

Even after the tediously long bus ride, even after stopping at every single red light they could encounter on the way, he still couldn't think of how to explain it to his friends. Roxas took a tighter grip of his bag when he saw his friends standing near the entryway, looking like they were waiting for someone he hoped it wasn't him. Hayner was the first one to turn his head and see him.

"I guess I'm late?" Roxas muttered as a greeting and allowed his bag to drop down. He could hear some excited screams from behind the doors that lead to the hall, but the fact that Hayner was here and not there competing meant that it was over for him – and Roxas.

"Late," Hayner confirmed and nodded. He crossed his arms and flashed a weak smile. "You probably know who's going to win. Again."

"How did your matches go?" Roxas asked. He felt like idiot standing there asking questions that didn't really matter. Not now at least. They just reminded him that he should've been there to see how they went himself.

"Don't know. Okay. Didn't win against Seifer, but that's a given," Hayner told. Roxas was sure that was a mix of anger and disappointment in his voice.

"I'm really sorry, guys. You don't believe what happened on the way here," Roxas tried to sound as cheerful as he could, but it came out really fake. He didn't have Sora's ability to... to be cheerful when there was no reason.

"Nothing can be done today anyway," Hayner replied, ignoring Roxas' attempted explanation. "I just can't wait to see the smug smile on Seifer's face as he claims the belt. How many times has it been in a row now? Ten? Twenty?"

"Don't blame Roxas," Olette tapped Hayner's shoulder and gave him a stern look. "It's not like he came late on purpose. We don't even know if he could have won the tournament. Seifer has gotten awful lot better since the last time."

"I'm not blaming Roxas," Hayner said in a surprisingly harsh voice. Roxas hadn't realised how much winning Seifer had meant to his friend. Or rather, he didn't want to remember how much, but

he had known. Things could really end ugly if he didn't play his cards right.

"Really, it's okay to blame me. I'm late, it's entirely my fault," Roxas said looking away.

"But Olette's right, you didn't do it on purpose," Pence shook his head before Hayner got his mouth open.

"Yeah, but I know it's not enough. Really, we've all been waiting this for months! And I just happen to forget my keys-" Roxas tried to explain, but Hayner didn't give him a chance.

"You forgot your keys? That's the only reason?" he asked, his voice strained with anger. Roxas flinched back and looked at the looked at the floor, not wanting to see the look of disappointment on his friend's face. Hayner kept going, "And here I thought you had something urgent like an aunt getting a stroke or something."

Olette scowled at Hayner and cut him out. "We were worried, Roxas. It's not like you to come so late." Hayner glared back, but Olette silenced him with only one look. "We know you weren't doing it on purpose." She didn't show it all too clearly, but Roxas knew that the tension between the boys was getting on her nerves and she just wished to end the whole ordeal before they ended up fighting over an argument which couldn't be won.

"Next year then. And you promise to be there," Hayner said. It was clear that he was still angry, but he stretched out his hand as a sign of peace. "We'll show Seifer that he ain't the only one in the town who can hit people with struggle-bat. Promise?"

"Yeah," Roxas grabbed the offered hand and smiled. "I'm really sorry. I promise I'll definitely be there next year to beat Seifer up."

"And that settles it," Pence smiled. He was a boy who seldom let things like this bother him. Or maybe he had gotten too used to this sort of quarrelling already. "I guess there is no need to wait here any longer. Ice cream, anyone?"

xXx

Axel sat by the bar, swirling the straws around the ice cubes and rested his chin on the palm of his hand. Life could be so much worse, he thought and smiled. It was the wrong day for this kind of drink, but when it was on the house, Axel wasn't going to say no.

"So, what's the occasion?" he lifted his eyes from the liquid and asked. After all, it was not every day he got free booze.

"Nothing really," woman behind the counter smiled at him. "Look around. This place is deserted enough already, keeping one happy customer here is the least I can do."

"Wait a minute, Tifa," Axel left the drink alone for a moment. "Last time I checked I got paid for being here. I hope you're not thinking of making Cloudy-boy a bartender too, he doesn't have any, you know, talent for it."

"If you really want to, I can make you work for that drink too. Nobody has taken the trash out in a couple of hours," Tifa started the list things that needed to be done. There weren't too many, but he didn't volunteer.

"Why does the atmosphere feel so dead today?" Cloud finally opened his mouth after staring silently at the table long enough to get Axel all creeped out. He'd been listening to Tifa's rambling for an hour maybe, sitting still all the while and commenting only with short, one to three word answers when Tifa insisted he'd say something. Besides Cloud's odd pattern of appearing out of nowhere and taking one chair from the paying, all Axel knew only that he was a friend of Tifa's.

"You know Seventh Heaven well enough, Cloud", Tifa answered, making a drink for herself. "It's Wednesday, you know there's never too many people in here. And the weather, it's been awful lately. And this place is just far enough from the nightlife that it's no wonder people don't wander in. But there's no need to worry, I'll make my living and keep this one alive too," she laughed and nodded towards Axel.

"That's good," Cloud stated, but Axel couldn't help but feel the answer lacked all interest in the world around.

Axel wasn't exactly known for his tactfulness, and without thinking he asked flatly, "Why are you even here? What's the point of getting out of bed, dragging yourself into a bar and then sitting quietly and staring into nothingness? You haven't ordered a single drink and you aren't one of the talking kind. Couldn't you be somewhere more… entertaining or something?"

"Axel!" Tifa snapped. "It's none of your business."

"Oh, right. It's none of my business why he sits here, speaks to nobody and sulks all night. I know, I know. I just work here." Axel continued to play with the straws, never lowering his gaze from the quiet man.

"Sorry, Tifa. Axel. I know I'm boring company," Cloud apologized, but shrugged at the same time to show his disinterest. "It's not like you have to like me."

"Really, stop that, Cloud. We all like you. We really do. It'll just take some time to get used to Axel. He's as annoying as one can be, but as long as he does what I pay him for, I'm not kicking him out," Tifa hurried to comfort Cloud, smiled and leaned over the counter to poke him. It was every time she did that Axel couldn't help but to lower his gaze a bit and stare. The first time Tifa had caught him doing that, she had outright hit him.

"I've been here for six months, now. He won't get any more used to me," Axel muttered, rolling his eyes. "So now my job depends on Mister I-don't-need-you-to-like-me, here? Really makes me want to put more effort into my work."

Axel wasn't sure how long Tifa and Cloud had known each other, but but he could guess it was a good while. The length of time only made it more upsetting to watch her drool over him and him blank her without a care. Tifa was again completely absorbed with Clouds presence, ignoring the world around her, but Axel had already gotten used to this and didn't bother to complain about it. Tifa was nice company, but she had no time for him when Cloud was around. And Cloud was too disinterested in everything, not to mention too boring to hold Axel's attention for long. Most nights, Cloud just was there.

"You don't have to defend me," Cloud muttered, making Tifa smile again, and that was where the conversation died. Tifa returned to clean the glasses she collected from her company and the bar stood quiet.

"I'm going home. There's no point in sitting here, and you have to agree."

Tifa looked at Axel and she was amused. "It's not your decision! I'm the boss," Tifa reminded him, but glanced at the clock and Axel knew the answer before Tifa looked back.

"I know you agree," Axel smiled. "The bar has been empty, aside for us that is, for an hour now. And I'll bet my salary that isn't going to change before the closing time."

She nodded. "Okay. We can go home, but don't go thinking this is going to happen again."

"No, never. Now why would I ever think that?" Axel responded sounding overly innocent. Tifa put down the glass she was cleaning and started to close up the bar. Cloud stayed near the counter waiting for her to finish up, but Axel just went straight for his jacket. He disappeared in the blackness of it and flashed a thankful grin at Tifa before stepping outside.

It was cold and awful outside, even though it was the month of April. The sunlight had already faded for the day and as Axel looked around, he saw only the dark houses with occasional spots of light. There was one random lone wanderer walking down the street, otherwise the whole block looked eerily quiet and empty.

"You're going to work overtime tomorrow for this," Tifa stated as she stepped away from the locked door.

"And why would that be?" Axel questioned. "It's not like I'm leaving all alone."

Tifa was just about to continue the argument when Cloud stopped in his steps with a jerk and fixed his eyes on the only person out on the streets beside the three of them. Cloud looking seemingly interested in something alone was enough to make both Tifa and Axel drop their argument to follow the line of his gaze.

"Roxas?" Cloud uttered first quietly, but then raising his voice. "Roxas, what are you doing down here at this time?" He sounded worried. Axel stared closer to get a better look on what was enough to make Cloud show an emotion. There was only one person Cloud could've been talking to and he was walking towards them, now some twenty steps away

Axel wasn't sure the boy had heard Cloud's words, but when Cloud took a few steps past Axel he could hear loud and clear that he had been wrong.

"Going home," the boy answered sounding annoyed and stopped right in front of Cloud, crossed his arms and waited.

"At this time, Roxas?" Cloud asked. "It's past two o'clock." The boy just rolled his eyes.

That was when Axel got a good look at him and got immediately more curious. A blond kid, one Axel could swear he had seen somewhere else… It hit him quickly. It was the boy from the roof. Why he knew Cloud, Axel wasn't sure he wanted to know. Cloud was eccentric, yes, but friends with jumpers?

"What were you doing in a bar?" The boy, Roxas, asked Cloud avoiding the man's question with ease. "You shouldn't be drinking. Tifa, he shouldn't be drinking!"

Cloud cut in before Tifa could defend herself. "I never drink when I've taken the pills," he explained, equally annoyed. Axel had thought of interrupting and asking who the hell this kid was, but the whole conversation about pills made him keep his mouth shut.

"You didn't take your meds then? What if you get a seizure or something?" Roxas pointed out.

"You're not Mum, I only need one of those," Cloud replied quickly, hushing him up. "I take care of myself, you take care of yourself, clear?"

Axel wanted to continue listening silently, but the questions were piling up and couldn't stay quiet any longer. "This is your brother? What kind of medication did you take again? I mean, are all in your family like a little whacky up there-" Axel blurted out. Three heads turned to look at him, two giving him a similar scowl and the third decided to grin with sympathy.

"You," said Roxas, his voice dripping with... Axel decided that venom was too much of a cliché.

"Who?" asked Cloud.

Axel didn't want to end up the villain, and since his behaviour towards this kid before really didn't make him a hero, even though he had apparently saved his life, a distraction was needed. "Um... I know it's not my business to tell, but that one," Axel pointed at Roxas, "tried to jump down from a roof, my roof actually, today," He ignored the irate blond in favour of talking directly to Cloud.

Cloud turned to look at his brother this time. The boy sighed.

"I was not trying to jump down. I was trying to get in. And I know it was a bad idea and it didn't work. Let's leave it there, thank you," Roxas gave his answer slowly, emphasising every word. "This guy here," he nodded now towards Axel, "is a big jerk who is in desperate need of some of the stuff you take. How do you know him?"

"Axel? I think he's a friend of Tifa's. Works here. Not important. What were you thinking, climbing up to a roof?" Cloud answered and glared at the man in question for a moment. Axel was not going to get Christmas cards from this guy anytime soon. "And don't go speaking about the meds when I have my friends around."

"Apparently Axel is not your friend and Tifa knows already. Besides, why were you worried for my safety? You can't be sure what might happen to your friends if you suddenly lose it. Just 'cause you left your pills home and then go get yourself wasted-" Roxas continued.

"Boys, it breaks my heart to break this touching brotherly reunion, but can't you talk this through somewhere less cold?" Tifa interrupted. She moved to Cloud's side, smiled at Roxas who eventually he broke his glaring contest with Cloud to smile back.. "It's not like he got himself killed up there, Cloud. You can't be angry at him for too long," Tifa continued. Cloud nodded and gave up.

"Yeah, righty-o. I guess I'll be going now," Axel muttered. He didn't feel all that welcome there right at the moment. He tried to leave, but it seemed Cloud was intent on blocking his path.

"You live somewhere near Roxas, don't you? Tifa said you had your lodging somewhere near there."

Axel nodded slowly. He did not like the direction of this conversation. "Yeah, assuming the kid was trying to break into his own apartment. That would mean we live in the same building." He did not like where this was going, not at all.

"Okay then. You're better than nothing. Escort him home," Cloud decided. Roxas was about to protest, but Cloud cut him off. "I'm the big brother and that means I have the right to be worried about you. It's past two." The argument was cut short, there was nothing that could make Cloud change his mind. With surprisingly little protest Roxas muttered that he'd follow the orders, allowing Cloud and Tifa get on Cloud's motorbike and drive off into the night.

"Goodnight to you too," Axel muttered and took the first step on their way together back home.

xXx

Of all the things Cloud could've done this was, if not the worst, then in the top ten. Roxas was not a little kid and definitely not in the need of an escort, thankyouverymuch. Roxas was very well capable of… Who was he trying to convince anyway? Cloud would never believe him and there was no one else to rant to.

Only thing left to do was to ditch the idiot and then everything should be just fine. Roxas turned to the redhead. Cloud had called him Axel, so supposedly that was his name. "Look, Cloud is a moron and on drugs. And before you ask; no, not that kind. The legal ones. On top of that he thinks I'm still four and can't walk on the goddamned street by myself. So you can fuck off, I don't need you," Roxas talked fast and before Axel had any time to react he was taking steps twice as fast as normally down the street.

When after a few minutes the footsteps echoing behind him hadn't disappeared like he'd hoped, he turned back. Really, why wouldn't this guy just leave him alone?

"Weren't you listening to me? Go. Away."

Axel looked at him amused and not in a good way. "Look kid, there's only one way we can get home and I'm not waiting here in the cold so you can feel all grown up," he said. "There's only three blocks to go. You can stay on this side of the street and I'll go to the other one, is that enough of a distance?"

Roxas glared at the man. Axel was a friend of Cloud's, so he wasn't really a threat, but he wasn't someone Roxas wanted to follow him. It was just… annoying to walk next to someone you didn't know that well. There was nothing to talk about, and in the end the silence would only ring in his ears until he said anything just to make it stop. Yeah, that was the purpose of small talk, but talking about weather or something alike is pointless. And honestly, who wanted to even talk about the weather?

Axel's idea itself wasn't that bad, but Roxas was reluctant to admit it out loud. Axel seemed smug enough without any more fuel to the fire. Roxas himself didn't have any better ideas and it really was pretty darn cold outside, so he gave up,

"Fine. As long as I don't need to talk to you. And if anyone asks I don't have anything to do with you."

Total silence resumed and all was fine and well until Roxas had gotten his keys out and was ready to cross the last road. A familiar voice calling forced him to smile, and he turned his head to see Sora skipping down the street in his direction. Sora really was just the opposite of what Roxas needed right now. They hadn't even made up after the fight in the afternoon, and this late Roxas had hoped to get to bed without having to talk about any of it. Still, at least he'd distract him from the obnoxious redhead nearby.

"Hiya, Roxas!" Sora's cheerfulness could be heard and seen far away. "Have fun at Hayner's?"

Roxas was relieved that Sora seemed to have forgotten the incident on his own.

"Yeah, the usual. Needed to apologise for missing the tournament." Roxas answered. "Where are you coming from and when did we decide on a sleepover?" he asked. Roxas didn't approve of unannounced sleepovers, especially on Wednesday. Sora's usual gang was following their energetic friend, although significantly less hyped. Kairi smiled apologetically. Riku beside her shrugged, but reached for Sora.

"Sora, I know how exited you are about seeing your cousin, roommate, whatever who you see every single day, but there's no need to wake up every neighbour in a fifty foot radius," Riku said and tapped his friend's shoulder to calm him down. Roxas slashed a thankful smile.

Sora smiled remorsefully for a moment but then turned back to Roxas. "This time we saw the movie, Riku found out there was this night-time screening and he booked the tickets beforehand from the 'web. It was really good, there was this woman and she fell in love with the monster, who wasn't really a monster at all, 'cause…" Sora started to brief Roxas of the plot and Roxas could now guess from where they were coming. None explained why all three of them stood now at the front of Sora and Roxas' home door though.

"Why are you all here?" Roxas interrupted tartly.

"The theatre was the one behind the old church, you remember the one, Roxas?" Sora asked. Roxas nodded. "Buses don't travel too often this late and we thought it would be easiest if we'd head to our place afterwards." How Sora had managed to talk his friends into this, Roxas had no idea.

"You all have school tomorrow-"

"We went to pick everyone's stuff before the show," Sora said with pride. Roxas sighed, but before he had the time to forbid Sora from doing something like this ever again, he happened to look to see Kairi staring past his shoulder in a way that made him curious. As he was turning to look over his shoulder, she asked the dreaded question;

"Do you know that guy? He's been watching us for some time now…" She asked, hushed. Sora stopped smiling at Roxas and together with Riku turned to look at what was so interesting. Roxas was the only one not to stare at Axel when he answered, "Yeah. He's a friend of Cloud's. I think his name is Axel or something."

From the way Sora's eyes brightened and he hopped forward Roxas could guess Axel had started walking again. Why the hell had he stopped with Roxas like some kind of stalker?) It was like Cloud to have friends stupid enough to actually go through with his idiotic requests.

"We've never been able to to meet any of Cloud's friends!" Sora was beaming with happiness. "I'm Sora, these are Riku and Kairi. How do you know Cloud?"

Roxas allowed himself to glance at Axel who gave a smirk for his audience. "As Roxas here so nicely said, I'm Axel." Axel wasn't as stupid as Roxas gave him credit for – he played it wise and kept his answers short. "Cloud sometimes comes to a bar where I work. Nothing more. I know less of him than you do."

Sora was about to launch another set of questions; probably something along the lines of 'You work in a bar?' and 'Cloud in a bar?' but Roxas cut him off before he had time to open his mouth. "See Sora, he's not interesting at all. And I'm sure he's in a hurry." He glared at Axel to make his point clear. "Besides, it's cold and late and you have to get Riku a place to sleep." Roxas practically pushed Sora to get him moving, anything to stop Sora questioning Axel any further.

Roxas kept the door open for Riku, but Kairi stayed outside for a short moment. She turned to Axel and Roxas could hear her whisper, 'Sorry about Roxas, he's had a bad day,' before she gave Axel one last shy smile and then in past Roxas without a word to him.