A/n: Been awhile but here's my contribution to 8/13! I'm going to be putting up a new story in about a week, so keep an eye out for that. Based on the song 'Summer Skin' by Death Cab for Cutie. Very hastily edited, so there's probably a mistake or a million. Remember to read and review.
Summer time in Twilight Town means everybody flocks to the beach. Roxas is no exception. He grabs the train with his friends and they bring along their suits and bagged lunches and towels and goggles. The older Roxas gets the harder it is to find people to go down to the beach with him. Everybody has a summer job and they're too busy trying to save up money for a new video game or a new skate board or something. Roxas firmly told his mother he wasn't interested in getting a summer job. He did odd chores around the house for cash when needed and used it to buy his train ticket and spent most of his summer eating ice cream or swimming at the beach. Sure, he was fifteen and plenty old enough to have out grown the simple pleasures of summer but… still the beach had a magical allure and Roxas suspected that it had something to do with a previous life, like he hadn't spent enough time there.
The beach itself was beautiful. The coast seemed to stretch on forever, though Roxas knew from experience that it didn't. The sand wasn't white, more of a dirty beige color than anything else. There was beach grass growing in odd bit and pieces and jagged rocks that had tide pools when the land started to slope up into the hill that made Twilight Town. By the parking lot was a small playground that had a few swings and a jungle gym that looked like it was made out of drift wood. Roxas had outgrown the tide pools and the playground years ago. Now, all he cared about was the water and sun.
Lucky for Roxas, during the weekdays there wasn't a lot of traffic down by the sand. Most people went to the beach on weekends so when Roxas went he had almost an entire ocean to himself. If Roxas wasn't swimming then he lying out on the sand, soaking up the rays. Roxas loved the feeling of the sun warming his entire body. No humidity, just pure heat soaking into his bones. The beach would be quiet except for the waves and the occasional giggle or two. It was peaceful and if Roxas had been there with his friend it wouldn't have been peaceful at all. Hayner would've probably talked the gang into playing chicken or something. Roxas loved his friends, yeah, but he could only take so much of them sometimes and having this bit of alone time was perfect. Sometimes it was nice to just be by yourself.
One day when Roxas went down to the beach he noticed somebody there that he had never noticed before. Twilight Town was the sort of place where everybody knew everybody, even the vacationers. People just didn't go to Twilight Town to go to Twilight Town. People went to Twilight Town because they'd grown up there or they had family there or went to college with somebody from there. It was a word-of-mouth type of place. You didn't get tourists in Twilight Town, if they wanted to go to the beach they'd go to a nicer, better known one. But this guy screamed tourist.
He was tall, at least a head taller than Roxas. His hair was long, or at least, Roxas thought it was long. It was a bright red color, which had to be dyed, and tied up in a ponytail that reached his shoulders. There were tattoos under his eyes, or makeup or something. And what really pointed him out as an out-of-towner was his skin. He was pale. Pale enough for him to have put zinc-oxide on his nose, which was kind of big. There was something about him that drew Roxas in. Yeah, he was tall and skinny and pale and had weird hair and was an out-of-towner but… there was something about him. The way he held himself, like he knew something you didn't. The way he watched the ocean like he saw something more there. He oozed self-assurance and while Roxas had experience with people who were over-confident before – Seifer- it had never been anything like this.
The out-of-towner must have noticed because he stopped looking at the ocean and shifted his gaze onto to Roxas. Hurriedly, well aware that he was staring, Roxas flipped himself onto his stomach and hid his head in his arms. He should've flipped minutes ago but he'd been too caught up staring at the out-of-towner to remember. Roxas wasn't prone to burning, he didn't know anybody who was, and he hadn't bothered to put any sun screen on. He silently cursed himself, getting too caught up in some stranger and now he risked getting burned over something so stupid as…
The heat was gone. There was a patch on his back that was being blocked off or something. Roxas passed it off as cloud but when the feeling lingered for longer than ten seconds he rolled over onto his back to see what was going on only to be met by the long shadow of the out-of-towner looming over him as the creep stood next to him, blocking out the sun with his height, watching.
"What are you doing?" Roxas bit out, staring up at the man… guy? He couldn't be more than twenty, probably younger.
"Returning the favor." He drawled lazily, smiling in a way that was more of a smirk than anything else before straightening his face out into something more serious. His green eyes, really green Roxas noted, squinted as he focused on Roxas' face.
"I didn't mean to stare. We just don't get a lot of tourists around here. And you're blocking my sun."
"Whoops, sorry." The guy moved out of the way but continued to stare at Roxas.
"How long are you going to do that?"
"Until you give me your name." And there it was, that same smirking smile that made some part of Roxas' stomach completely flip out.
"Axel." And that's when he held his hand out and Roxas shook it. "Want to go swimming?"
"Sure." That was the end of it. Roxas stood up and brushed a bit of sand off of himself, adjusted his swim shorts slightly and took off to the water. Axel, that was his name after all, stripped out of his shirt and dropped his beach stuff down in the sand next to Roxas' and splashed out into the water with him.
"It's warm!" Axel yelled, surprised by the warmth of the water. "There's a bunch of lakes where I live and they're always cold but this…"
"It's nice, isn't it?" Roxas said, smiling. He knew he'd never see Axel again and that was probably okay. It'd be today's adventure. There was something about Axel that was so familiar, and besides, what harm was it? So Roxas splashed Axel and yelled when the older boy came after him with that smile-smirk.
Roxas was wrong though. He eventually ran into Axel every time he went down to the beach that week. Axel would always turn up at some point and start another water fight. He didn't like laying out in the sun, saying that he burned easily and completely ignored Roxas when he pointed out the fact that he'd probably burn easier in the water. Every time they met the water fights got more intense. Simple splashing turned into dunking and pulling each other under water which finally culminated in Axel one day hefting Roxas out of the water and throwing him through the air.
The days at the beach grew longer and longer. Normally Roxas would've been home in time for dinner but the longer he knew Axel the longer he stayed out at the beach. They'd swim and after the sun set they'd sit out on the swings of the playground. It was comfortable. It was like they had known each other for years. Axel could make Roxas laugh and Roxas could make Axel smile that smirk. Roxas felt comfortable around Axel. For his whole life Roxas had only ever had his few close friends, the ones who were now too busy with their summer jobs. Axel had found a way to fit into a comfortable nitch, one Roxas didn't even know he had. And… there was something more. Roxas wasn't really sure what it was. But he felt a little something extra for Axel.
It sounded silly to Roxas, even in his own head. How could he feel like this around Axel after knowing him for less than a week? It was like Axel was the best friend he never knew that he had. So when Axel kissed him at the end of the week, while they were sitting on the jungle gym, Roxas wasn't all that surprised. At least he now had a word for that weird extra feeling. He liked Axel. That hadn't happened before… so now he knew. He liked liked Axel, enough to totally melt when Axel kissed him and enough to wish it never stopped and enough to kiss him back.
And that's where they left it for the night. Axel went back to his hotel and Roxas took the train home and they didn't see each other again for three days. However, when they did see each other again they couldn't keep their hands off of each other. Roxas was always finding a way hold onto Axel's hand and Axel was always checking to see if people were looking. If nobody was then he'd kiss Roxas. Sometimes Roxas would kiss Axel, even if people were watching. He figured you only get tenth and thirtieth and sixty-eighth kisses once so… might as well enjoy them since they only happen once.
Throughout the week Roxas and Axel stayed out late at the playground, kissing and introducing tongues, hands and other body parts into the mix. It never got too serious. It was only ever kissing and fingers slipping under T-shirts. Axel was older than Roxas by three years, he was more experienced yet he seemed perfectly happy taking things "slow" though Roxas thought things were moving wonderfully fast.
"What'cha wanna do?" Roxas asked one day, Axel was playing with the tide and Roxas stood close enough that when the waves came in only his feet got wet. A minute or two passed by as Axel continued to dodge the swells and Roxas sucked on his popsicle. "Winner." He said, proudly holding up the stick.
"We should get more then!" Axel yelled back, grinning madly as he tripped and tumbled back to dry sand. "They give you a free one if you win, right?"
"Yeah. I'll buy you one too. You've never had sea-salt ice cream before; it's a Twilight Town specialty." They walked back to their pile of beach things so Roxas could pull his shirt back on and Axel could put on his sandals. Not even thinking, Roxas reached out and grabbed Axel's hand and wrapped their fingers together. Axel didn't even notice and the pair stumbled up a dune up to the parking lot and down the sidewalk to the ice cream parlor.
They walked the whole way holding hands, talking about nothing. The nothing, which was something, was about the sun and heat and Roxas' tan and Axel's growing sunburn and the new found appearance of freckles. Axel claimed he'd never gotten freckles before and Roxas said he liked them. There were plenty of laughs and smiles and embarrassed grins as they made their way down the street, entwined hands swinging between them.
Roxas does buy Axel his first sea-salt ice cream even though Axel protests through half the transaction. When they're handed their bars and paid they pair make off, still holding hands and still talking about nothing, back to the beach now licking and in Axel's case biting at the frozen treat. Axel's surprised by the taste and Roxas laughs and laughs as Axel spends most of the walk back trying to perfectly describe the combination of salty and sweet.
By the end of the second week, Roxas was spending every day for at least twelve hours down at the beach and in the presence of Axel. His mother wondered what had gotten into him and his father kept telling him it was unhealthy to spend that much time out in the sun and in the water. Roxas ignored them, caught up in the thrill of summer romance and first loves, because Roxas was sure at this point that Axel would be the only one for him. Now hands were slipping under waistbands and Roxas found himself in Axel's hotel room at nighttime until he had to run to catch the last train back home.
The more time they spent together the more Roxas was sure that he was in love. He couldn't imagine doing any of this with anybody else. He didn't think about girls or boys, he only ever thought about Axel. His dreams were filled with half formed thoughts and images of Axel in various states of undress, which was stupid because they spent most of their time in swim shorts anyway. The more he got to talk with Axel the more he loved him. The more he saw him the more he loved him. There'd be times when Axel would say something and Roxas' heart would do this flip-flopping things because only Axel would ever say that and it was just so perfect how could he not love him? Or there would be times when Axel would laugh a certain way, or his eyes would crinkles up, or he'd pull a funny face, or he'd reach for Roxas' hand, or he'd do that wonderful smile-smirk, or he'd touch Roxas in a way nobody ever had before and got a response out of Roxas that had never been responded before and everything was right. So it had to be love, didn't it?
Then Labor Day came and went. The day after Labor Day was the day that Axel told Roxas he had to go home. Axel had to go home to pack for college and then he'd go off to college to study some subject, Roxas wasn't paying attention because Axel's mouth wasn't syncing up with the words. It was like Roxas had forgotten that he too on Wednesday, tomorrow, was starting school. He had forgotten that summer was over.
"When are you leaving?"
"Tomorrow morning. Are you going to see me off?"
"I have school…"
"But I'll stay with you all of today and we'll do everything we haven't yet. I'll show you the clock tower and you can meet my parents. I'll take you to the old mansion and we'll get ice cream. Or we can swim. Who knows when you'll get to swim next, it might not be until next summer." Roxas was smiling though something was wrong inside. Like somebody took a hammer to his heart and gently tapped at it and it had started to crack like a hard-boiled egg. Not broken, not crushed, just… cracked. Lots of tiny little cracks all over.
"Let's just swim." They didn't kiss, and hands didn't find their way up shirts or down waistbands. They swam. And splashed around and raced the waves and dunked each other under the waves. It was like the past two weeks hadn't happened at all. They were simply strangers meeting on the beach.
That night Roxas helped Axel pack up all his things. Everything seemed to have found a way out of their proper places and into the weirdest places. Roxas laughed when he found three sets of underwear in the microwave. Axel had to climb under the bed to save a tube of sunscreen that had somehow managed to get kicked under there. When the sweep of the room had finished Axel shoved it all back into his suitcase and Roxas sat on top of it so he could zipper it shut.
As he sat there, Roxas noticed that the skin on Axel's shoulder, once so red, was starting to peel. Without thinking he peeled a bit of the dead skin off to reveal brand new angry pink skin. Axel froze where he was crouched, only moving to play with the zipper, and allowed Roxas to strip the dead skin away. When Roxas was done a large patch of new skin was now visible, though most of Axel's body was still in the state of angry red sunburn and flakey white peeling. Roxas couldn't help but smile as he looked at the little patch, it would probably be the only mark he'd leave on Axel and if it wasn't it would fade away in time with any other mark.
"One last time, for the road?" Roxas suggested and was delighted to see Axel's short little eyebrows perk up at the suggestion and that wonderful, awe-inspiring smile-smirk light up his face.
"If only for prosperity's sake."
"Oh yes, only for prosperity's sake." And that was the last kiss, for the sake of prosperity. Roxas tried to funnel every bit of feeling he had for Axel into that kiss. Every bit of love and adoration right back into Axel. He wanted to push it back so that maybe the next person Axel kissed would then feel exactly what Roxas had felt for him. Maybe the next person Axel kissed would fall in love with Axel just as quickly and deeply as he had, and hopefully it would be longer for two weeks. Hopefully.
With a smack of lips departing, Roxas untangled his fingers from Axel's hair and Axel removed his hands from Roxas' hips. A moment stretched between the two as if trying to do the math of their relationship and to see if it balanced out and was equal and… mathematically sound. With that, Roxas stood up, and wiped his lips off on the back of his hand and smiled down at Axel who was still crouched next to the suit case, still trying to do the math.
"Bye." And that was the last thing Roxas said to Axel. Now that summer wasn't a factor their relationship wasn't balanced anymore. Now time and space, things that didn't exist during the summer, came into play. Things go too complicated. It wouldn't work; Roxas wouldn't be able to solve the problem with so many extra factors. As he walked down to the train station Roxas picked the summer skin out from under his fingernails and wondered what lunch he'd have for the up-coming school year.