Something was starting to bother Axel.

When he laughed, he could not feel it. His shoulders and stomach shook and water gathered at the corners of his eyes. But he couldn't feel it.

Not like Lea had.

He remembered what it was supposed to feel like. His memories had not been lost with his heart. They swirled in his mind, replaying behind his eyelids at night. He stayed up as late as he could, watching the moon crawl across the darkness, spreading its broken half-light across his face. He wished his dreams had been taken away with his heart.

He wasn't Lea anymore.

The memory of laughter was one of the clearest. The smile stretched across his face as he let all his happiness flow into the air. Lea should have left some of that happiness for himself. But instead, he poured it all out; let it flow over the people he walked by in the street.

Lea knew all of their names. Axel could see every face when he closed his eyes and every voice brushed against his ears when the world spun still and silent. The wind was always whispering "Lea" in a thousand different voices. Axel always listened, but never cared.

He remembered the way joy bubbled in his stomach and gathered at the corners of his eyes. Always flowing outward.

Axel liked to try it out. He would laugh, richly and loudly, trying his hardest to feel…something. He would fiddle with a popsicle stick, twisting it around in his fingers. He was always disappointed when he finished eating another ice cream. He couldn't feel that…that…joy.

There were only the shadows of longing and regret, gathering in his stomach.

He would sit, chewing thoughtfully on the popsicle stick, watching the world pass by under the ticking tower. He liked the way the rhythm filled his empty chest. Almost.

All his actions were like a comfortable mask. It almost felt right. It seemed like the only thing he could really do. He would shout, laugh, and try to cry. It was all drama. He was more of an actor than a person.

The way paper crowns made princesses and toy swords made heroes was the only way he felt…human.

He laughed because that's what he thought a real person would do. What Lea would have done.

But it meant nothing at all. He was starting to think it would always be like that.

He didn't think he wanted to try anymore.

Lea had always wanted to be remembered. He was afraid of falling into oblivion and being forgotten by everyone. A hundred years from now, he'd think to himself, no one will know my name.

Lea had wanted to leave his signature on the hearts of everyone who passed him in the streets. That was why he had always scrawled "Lea was here" in large, black, permanent marker. He left his mark on bathroom stalls and broken windows.

He called it immortality.

Axel never understood that. But that need to leave a mark somewhere, that need to prove that he existed, lingered like smoke trailing into the starry sky. It was just the fire that was missing. All that was left was the smoke and the lonely sky. The fire was gone, even if he was called the Flurry of Dancing Flames. He almost laughed when he thought about it.

There was nothing comforting about the sound of his own bitter laughter ringing in his ears.

You could call it immortality, but it still meant nothing.

So he talked to whoever listened. Sometimes he wondered if a wall would be better.

He found himself repeating words, running in circles, slowly but surely carving words into memories.

He was sure now that minds were made of sand rather than stone. And words written in sand are washed away by the waves, tossed into the sea by the wind.

His words sounded wrong when he heard Roxas and Xion repeat them with no expression in their glassy blue eyes. They would never understand.

What kind of immortality was that?

Writer's woes: I'm currently playing BBS! I love it so much, and I love Lea too. Once I saw the scene where he met Ven, I had to write something about his immortality fixation. I know this could have been better, but this was all that would come...I feel I should have made it more involved...