Title: Paper Hearts and Promises
Fandom: Kingdom Hearts
Rating: M
Pairings: Mainly Axel/Roxas, but some Roxas/Namine, Sora/Riku, Larxene/Marluxia, and numerous others.
Warnings: Some foul language, sexual content, and boy love.
Summary: Roxas had everything before the death of his parents. Now, without any family or home left to his name, he is sent to stay with the best friends of his parents, the von Fusen family. Lost in a sea of unfamiliar places, faces, and emotions, Roxas seems to have only himself to depend on… or will the von Fusens' son Axel step up and give him a reason to keep going through these dark times?
Disclaimer: Kingdom Hearts © Disney and Square Enix, Final Fantasy © Square Enix, all other references do not belong to me.

Author's Note: Well, I'm new to this whole fanfiction business. Paper Hearts and Promises is my first-ever fanfiction longer than three pages. Any and all feedback, as long as it's constructive criticism, is greatly appreciated. Well, I don't wanna talk (write?) your ears (eyes?) off, so enjoy!


My parents are dead.

A boy with spiky blonde hair stared out the car window at the raindrops streaking down from the gray sky. The black clouds in the sky obscured the sun, mimicking the boy's dark mood. No matter how hard he tried to focus on something else, those four words continued to echo in his mind.

My parents are dead. My parents

"…Roxas?" The boy was jolted back to reality. He looked up to see the woman in the driver's seat gazing at him with worried green eyes. "We're here. Do you need help carrying any of your bags?"

Roxas shook his head and grabbed the three suitcases he had brought from his old house. "Nah, I've got it, Mrs. von Fusen." Unless you can get my life back, I don't want your help.

"Call me Peggy, please," She opened her car door and slid out. "You're so polite… My son could learn a thing or two from you."

Roxas smirked to himself as he dragged his bags out of the car and then kicked the door shut. You think I'm polite? Ha. Just you wait. "Just set those down somewhere. You can unpack after you acquaint yourself with the house." The blonde lugged his luggage to a corner of the cluttered garage and then hurried after the green-eyed woman, who had disappeared into the main house. He heard her announce their arrival, and a man who he took to be Mrs. von Fusen's husband appeared out of a door to his left.

"Hello, Roxas," The man shook his hand. "I'm Peggy's husband Arthur."

Before Roxas could respond, a voice called, "So this is my new roommate, huh?" Everyone turned to see a gangly, redheaded boy sauntering down the staircase. A smirk curled the corners of his lips. He stopped in front of Roxas and stared down at him. "Damn, you're puny."

Roxas bristled as Mrs. von Fusen scolded the redhead. "Young man, what did I told you about cursing on Sundays?"

"Sorry, Mom. I forgot," The tall boy never took his eyes from Roxas. "Well, shorty, better get your stuff. We're sharing a room, so I've got some ground rules to lay out."

Roxas glared at the redhead. "Fine, Flamesilocks." Who the hell does he think he is?

The other boy's green eyes glinted. "My name is not Flamesilocks. It's Axel. Commit it to memory."

Roxas sneered at him and then went to retrieve his luggage from the garage. When he returned, he came in on the tail end of a good scolding of Axel by Mrs. von Fusen. "…he is a guest in our home, and he's just gone through a traumatic experience. At least try to treat him okay. Be a supportive older brother. Got it?"

Axel's emerald eyes flicked to Roxas, not touched by the smile plastered on his face. "Hello again, little brother. Time to get you settled," Roxas could almost taste the sarcasm that dripped off the redhead's words. "My- I mean, our- room is upstairs." Mr. and Mrs. von Fusen motioned for Roxas to follow their son, but he was reluctant to go. There was something disconcerting about those bright green eyes, the teardrop tattoos on his cheeks, the ease with which he condemned a boy who he had just met. Roxas's parents had told him not to talk to strangers, and this Axel was no exception.

Despite his unease, Roxas nonetheless followed the redhead up the steep staircase. There was a door at the top of the staircase. Axel stopped in front of it and turned around to face Roxas. Standing two steps above him, the redhead seemed even more intimidating. "Alright, pipsqueak," Axel's tone was low and dangerous. "Rule number one: My room is my room. You're just living here."

They entered, and Roxas was surprised to see that Axel's room was much cleaner than he expected. The windows on the wall opposite the door were open, and he was glad to see that it had stopped raining. A breeze that smelled of damp earth and water blew in through them, ruffling the black sheets on the bottom rung of the bunk beds against the right wall. Roxas walked past Axel and headed for a chest of drawers on his left. He reached out a hand to pick up a small phoenix figurine, but another hand grabbed his wrist.

"Rule number two: Don't touch my shit."

Roxas glared up at Axel and yanked his hand out of the other boy's grasp. "Don't curse on Sundays."

The dangerous green eyes narrowed. "I'll do whatever the hell I want, shorty. I'm practicing for when I graduate. No one will be telling me what to do then."

"I pity the rest of us when that happens," Roxas didn't know where all of this venom was stemming from. He'd only met Axel… what, fifteen minutes ago? Less?

Wary of Axel's possessions, Roxas wandered over to one of the open windows. The breeze caressed his face, and he leaned on the window sill. He stared out over the vast expanse of land below. The von Fusens' house was on the side of a mountain, overlooking the valley and its contents. The windows in Axel's room were on the back of the house, facing the steep drop. He looked down, and the sheer drop just a few feet away sent his head reeling.

"Don't fall out, dumbass. If you die, Mom'll blame me, and I'll have to kill you again as revenge."

Roxas ignored Axel, though he wondered how in the world you could kill someone twice. Now bored with the view out the window, he retrieved his suitcases and glanced at Axel, who was sprawled out on the bottom bunk bed. "Where does my stuff go?"

"Closet," Axel pointed to a door on the right wall. "All my stuff's in the dresser. I don't like closets. They're… small."

Roxas opened the door of the empty closet and dragged his heavy bags inside. He unzipped one and began making piles on the floor, shirts here, jeans over there, and everything else in a pile unto itself.

Axel's voice split the silence. "Can you reach the shelves in there, Mr. Vertically Challenged?"

Roxas stuck his head out of the door and glared at the redhead. "You're a dick."

"Who's cussing now, blondie?" Rather than reply to the obnoxious redhead, Roxas withdrew back into the closet and finished unpacking. It must have taken him an hour or two, because when he finally emerged from the closet, sun was pouring in through the windows.

Axel, now sitting with his laptop propped on one knee and a notebook on the other, looked up and smirked when he saw Roxas. "Finally coming out of the closet, are we?"

"Shut up," Roxas growled. "I'm not gay." He walked past the bunk beds, heading back to the windows to see if the view had improved.

Axel made a small sound of disapproval. "Such a shame. You've got a nice ass."

Did he really just say that? The blonde boy's cheeks burned and he struggled not to slug Axel. "Too bad for you, Flamesilocks, because you're not getting any from me."

Mrs. von Fusen's voice drifted up the stairs and through the door, forestalling any further reply from the redhead. "Time for dinner, boys!"

Roxas turned towards the door, avoiding Axel's piercing green gaze. Right as he passed the bed, Axel stood up in one fluid movement, his arm barely brushing the blonde's.

"Remember who's room you're sleeping in, Prince Charming. Don't anger your roommate."

Feeling queasy all of a sudden, Roxas followed the redhead down the stairs and into the kitchen.


Dinner was, to say the least, awkward. Axel and Roxas were seated across the table from each other, and they took great measures to avoid looking at one another. The blonde stared down at the spaghetti on his plate, poking at it half-heartedly with his fork. The local news was turned on, and Roxas could hear the reporter saying something about the skyrocketing gas prices over Mr. and Mrs. von Fusen's conversation about all the rainy weather that had been hanging around. He looked up to find Axel staring at him with an angry glint in his eyes. When the redhead met his eyes, he became very interested in the TV all of a sudden.

Roxas muttered under his breath, "Freaking douchebag."

"What was that, dear?" The blonde winced as Mrs. von Fusen spoke.

"Um… I said the spaghetti is really good," Nice save, idiot. "That's all."

Axel's mother smiled. "Oh, thank you. Do you like Italian food?"

Roxas shrugged. "It's pretty good, I guess. I really like Chinese food, actually. Italian is my second favorite."

Mr. von Fusen chuckled. "Chinese is not something my wife can cook, unfortunately. The last time she tried, the stove almost caught on fire." Mrs. von Fusen gave him a playful slap and they both laughed. Roxas couldn't help but laugh a little himself. He glanced at Axel to find him staring off into space with a morose expression on his face. The redhead's parents also glanced at their son with concern in their eyes.

"Axel?" He turned his gaze to his mother. "Are you done?"

"Yeah. Dinner was good," The legs of his chair scraped the floor as he stood. He planted a small kiss on his mother's cheek, nodded to his father, and disappeared through the doorway.

"He doesn't seem to like me very much," Roxas mused in a quiet voice.

Mrs. von Fusen sighed. "Axel… he likes his privacy. He's just really annoyed that he has to share his room with a complete stranger. Maybe if he had met you when your parents and we got together, things would be different. Just give him time. He'll warm up to you."

If my parents hadn't died, I wouldn't be here. "Maybe. I sure hope he will, if I'm going to sleep in the same room as him," Roxas replied. "And I think I'm done, too. I will agree with Axel on one thing- dinner was good." He picked up his plate, intending to put it in the sink, but Mrs. von Fusen stopped him.

"I'll clean up later, honey. Just leave it on the table." Roxas nodded and set his plate back down. He took his leave of the kitchen and headed upstairs.

When he entered the bed room, Axel was nowhere to be seen. A door he had not noticed before stood open on the left wall. Curiosity overcame the blonde boy, and he walked over and peeked inside. Just a bathroom? That's disappointing. He stepped in and realized a breeze was blowing in from the crack under another door to his right. He opened it and stepped through.

"Hey, nosy. I was wondering how long it would take you to find me," Axel was leaning against the wooden railing of the balcony they were standing on, a lit cigarette in one hand and a book in the other. He hadn't even looked up when Roxas had appeared. "Welcome to my escape from the world."

"Um… Thanks?" The blonde peered over the railing. If this thing falls, I'm gonna die. "Since when was this out here?"

The redhead grinned. "I dunno. Since the house was built, I guess," He paused and his smile faded. "Mom and Dad don't know about it, though, so if you tell them, you're gonna get acquainted with the ground down below."

Angry Axel is scarier than a falling balcony. And more likely to hurt me. "I promise I won't tell. I value my life."

Axel took a long drag on his cigarette and exhaled a cloud of smoke. He waited a good two minutes before he graced Roxas with a reply. "A promise is like a glass vase, beautiful to look at and worth less than what was paid for it. It takes up space in the house of the mind and just sits there, useless, a trophy bride forged of broken smiles and empty words."

Roxas stared at Axel, lost for words. Poetry was the last thing he had expected from such a cold person. Nor did he expect an analysis of that depth of something he had said out of sheer habit.

The silence stretched on for several minutes. The two boys stared at each other, neither daring to look away, as if it would be some sort of defeat in a game to which neither new the rules. Only when the setting sun came out from behind a cloud bank did Roxas look down, spots dancing before his eyes. When he looked back up, Axel was scribbling something in the book he was holding with a pen that had appeared from thin air. The redhead held the cigarette between his lips. Roxas realized the book was not a book at all, but a small journal.

"Sorry if I fried your brain, munchkin. That was probably a little too deep for five-thirty in the afternoon."

Roxas sat down and leaned against the wall of the house behind him, a dry chuckle forced from his throat. "My brain was fried well before I got here." My parents are dead.

Axel sat facing him, green eyes twinkling. "Are your delicate little synapses too scorched to answer questions? If I'm gonna share a room with a stranger, I'd like to know if he's a mass murderer or not."

Roxas raised an eyebrow. "Do I look like a mass murderer?"

"I wouldn't know. Never met one."

The blonde rolled his eyes. "Fine. Ask your questions." What a weirdo.

Axel grinned. "Alright. Well, first off, I don't know how old you are."

"Seventeen this October."

"So you're a… junior, right?"

Roxas coughed as Axel blew out another cloud of smoke. "Nah, I'm a senior. I was home schooled when I was little and I skipped second grade."

"Lucky bastard. You only have to endure eleven years of hell," Axel paused before asking his first real question. "What's your favorite color?"


"Favorite genre of music?"

"Classical, probably. But I like rock, too."

"…you're weird. How about your favorite… vegetable?"

Roxas gave Axel a strange look. "What kind of question is that? Um… Cucumber."

The two boys went on asking and answering silly, generic questions until the sun was almost swallowed up by the horizon. Axel's cigarette was long burnt to a stub, and he chewed the end of his pen in its place.

"Well, that's all of the relatively non-invasive questions I can come up with," The redhead sighed, staring out over the darkened valley below. A thought seemed to strike him and began scribbling something in his journal. He looked up at Roxas all of a sudden. "Do you mind if I ask some more personal questions? I still haven't figured out if you're a mass murderer yet."

Roxas shook his head. "Go ahead. They can't be that bad."

"Alright, but don't tell me I didn't warn you," Axel's eyes glinted in the dying rays of the sun. "Have you ever done drugs?"

"No, and I don't plan on it."

"Ever killed someone?"

"I…" Roxas paused. "No."

Axel smirked. "So you're not a mass murderer, then. Good."

The blonde rolled his eyes. "No duh, dumbass. If I was, you'd be dead already. Are you done? I promised my friends back home I'd call them."

"One last question. What's your sexuality?"

Roxas, who has been in the process of standing up, stumbled and sat back down with a thud. "Okay, that one's pretty personal. But honestly, I'm not really sure. Right now I'm leaning towards asexual."

Axel raised an eyebrow. "And why is that?"

"Never had a girlfriend. Or boyfriend. Whatever."

"Well, we'll have to fix that," Axel stood and glanced at the place where the sun had just disappeared. "You're free to go."

Roxas got to his feet and walked back inside, head spinning, leaving Axel to stare into the darkness.


"…shit, man, you're out of it."

Roxas admitted to himself that he was, in fact, very out of it. The chatter on the packed school bus did little to help his headache. The phone call he had shared with his three best friends back home had left him a bit of a daze. He could still hear the crackle of static as Hayner, the ever-energetic troublemaker, tried to steal Olette's cell phone while Pence laughed in the background, the excitement in their voices, and their insistences that he come and visit as soon as possible. Roxas wished he was with them instead of on his way to an unfamiliar high school with even more unfamiliar people.

"Yo, Sir Space-a-Lot, did you hear a word I just said?" Roxas stared at Axel with a blank look on his face. "I take that as a no."

The bus hit a bump and Roxas grabbed his black and white checkered backpack before it hit the floor. "Was it important?"

The redhead glanced at the dishwater blonde boy sitting across the aisle from him, a smile curling his lips. "Looks like there's hope for out little zombie after all, Demyx."

Demyx brushed a few strands of hair that had come lose from his mullet-like hairdo out of his face. "Ah, so he does speak. I was beginning to think he was mute or something."

Roxas looked past Axel at the other boy. "Were you guys talking about me when I was in LaLaLand?"

Axel and Demyx exchanged another glance. "Not the whole time," Axel responded. "Most of it was actually advice on-…shit, we're here. Welcome to Hell, more commonly known as Traverse High."

Roxas stared out the window at the impressive red brick building that was his new school. It had at least three floors, a gymnasium, a large cafeteria, and an auditorium, as far as he could see. The blonde decided at least three of his old high school could fit in it, if not more. I want my old school back. I want my friends back. I want my whole damn life back. Mom and Dad, why did you have to go and die on me?

"Come on, idiot," Axel grabbed Roxas and dragged him off the bus. "Snap out of it. We don't want you to look like a dumbass on your first day, now do we?"

Roxas pulled his arm out of the redhead's grasp and slipped the straps of his backpack over his arms. He was about to say something when Axel started calling to someone.

"Hey, Larxene! Over here!"

Demyx went a little pale as a blonde girl with electric blue eyes walked up. "Hey, Ax. Demyx, you look like you just saw a ghost," She looked over at Roxas and smiled. "Well, aren't you a little looker. I betcha at least half the girls and even some of the boys are gonna be just drooling over you."

Roxas turned scarlet and Axel said, "Larxene, this is Roxas, my new roommate. Today is his first day at a really big high school like this, so take it easy on him."

"Oh, sorry," Her grin shifted to a winning smile. "I didn't know. Oh, crap, I gotta go. Marluxia just got here. Bye, Axel. Lighten up, Demyx. Hope you like it here, Roxas." She waved and then hurried off towards a boy with what seemed to be pink hair.

"She seems nice," Roxas mused. "Who's Marluxia?"

Axel laughed. "Larxene, nice? She's about as nice as a rabid tyrannosaurus rex with a stomachache. She's a hell of a lot prettier than one, though," He paused, eyes narrowing. "That pink-haired asshole talking to Larxene is Marluxia. He also happens to be her boyfriend."

Demyx wrinkled his nose. "Marly's a douchebag."

"Tell me how you really feel! What's he ever done to you?" Roxas was taken aback by this open show of hostility.

Axel's eyes blazed with anger. "He stole Larxene from me because he thought I wasn't good enough for her. He's a selfish, conceited, girl-snatching son of a bitch. Come on, let's go." The redhead stalked off, shoulders jutting back due to his aggressive stance. Demyx sighed and followed him. By the time Roxas recovered from his shock, he had to run to catch up with the two boys.

"A-Axel, I'm sorry if I-" The blonde began, but Axel waved a hand to forestall any apologies.

"Just leave it. I shouldn't have blown up like that. If Larxene is happy with Marluxia, than good for her. All that matters is that she's happy…"

Demyx punched his shoulder, grinning. "C'mon, Ax, cheer up. You'll find someone else." The look the redhead shot him begged to differ.

The three boys went into the main building and stopped in the lobby, full of students milling around before class started.

"Alright. Where're you headed, blondie?" Axel crossed his arms over his chest.

Roxas pulled a folded piece of paper out of his pocket and opened it. He scanned his schedule for a moment before he looked back up. "AP Chemistry with Dr. Steele."

Axel grinned as if he knew something the blonde boy did not and said, "This is where we part ways, for now at least. Demyx, you're on the second floor now, right? Show Mr. Vertically Challenged where the Iceman's room is, will you?" Demyx nodded, and Roxas stuffed the paper back into his pocket. Axel turned to go, and then turned back for a moment, adding, almost as an afterthought, "And Roxas? Relax. Just because this school is big doesn't mean it's gonna eat you alive. Got it memorized?" He gave him a strange, two-fingered gesture reminiscent of a salute, and then he disappeared into the crowd.

Demyx poked Roxas's arm. "Let's go. Don't wanna be late." When Roxas didn't respond or move, Demyx grabbed him and dragged him upstairs.

"This is it," The two blonde boys stopped in front of a door with a nameplate on it reading "Dr. Steele." Demyx motioned for Roxas to enter. "Come on, I gotta get to class."

"Why did you call him 'the Iceman' earlier?" Roxas asked.

Demyx grimaced. "You'll see." Before Roxas could inquire further, he vanished.

Though he wasn't a very religious person, Roxas said a silent prayer. Please, let things go okay. More chaos is the absolute last thing I need right now.

To his great dismay, he realized all of the seats but one next to a sullen boy with steel blue hair were taken as he walked into the classroom. The two-person desk also happened to be the one closest to the teacher's desk. Left with no other choice, Roxas picked his way through the maze of desks and backpacks and stopped by the unoccupied seat. "Mind if I sit here?"

The boy seated at the desk looked up. His long bangs obscured the majority of the right side of his face. The one visible pale blue eye seemed to be appraising Roxas. After a few moments of silence, he responded, "Go ahead."

Just as Roxas was sitting down, a man with long blonde hair swept into the room. He went to the front of the room and said, "Be quiet while I take role." The students instantly fell silent, and Roxas now understood why Axel and Demyx had called Dr. Steele "the Iceman." The room temperature seemed to have dropped several degrees when he entered. He began to read names off a piece of paper in his hands, and as each student's name was called, they raised their hand in acknowledgement.

"Zexion Glass," called Dr. Steele. The boy sitting next to Roxas raised his hand for a moment, and then he went back to reading the book in his other hand.

Roxas surveyed the rest of the room as the teacher continued to call role. Two boys in the back of the room, one with spiky brown hair and the other with long silver hair, were holding hands under their table. Sora and Riku were their names, right?

"Roxas Sinclair," The blonde boy looked up and raised his hand. Dr. Steele narrowed his acid green eyes. "So you're the new one. Alright. Namine Swift."

Roxas turned his gaze to the girl who raised her hand in response to the name. She wore a crisp white blouse and dark blue jeans, faded with age. As she lowered her hand, she brushed a few stray locks of her blonde hair out of her eyes. Before he could look away, Namine turned and locked eyes with him. Blue eyes stared into blue. Roxas was entranced. They're like the ocean… And then she smiled, the corners of her pale lips ascending to form a graceful arc that made the blonde boy's heart skip a beat. Time froze for that fleeting instant, and then Namine looked away and the spell was broken.

That smile lingered in the back of Roxas's mind until the bell signaled the end of first period.


Roxas scoured the name plates on the doors as he hurried down the hall. He had under a minute to find his class, or he would be late for English. He saw a flash of red out of the corner of his eye, and someone grabbed him and pulled him into a classroom milliseconds before the bell rang.

"In here, dumbass. Demyx and I saved you a seat," Axel led Roxas to a group of desks in the back corner of the room. After the blonde boy sat down, he realized Zexion was also seated there.

"Hi," Roxas said to him. "I know you."

"You do?" Demyx raised an eyebrow.

Zexion nodded. "We sat together last period. He seemed to be enamored with that blonde girl… Namine, I believe?"

Axel's eyes narrowed. "Namine Swift?"

Roxas blushed. "Um… Maybe." He doesn't look happy.

"If I recall correctly, she gave him that innocent little angelic smile of doom. I think this boy is a goner, Axel."

The redhead locked eyes with Roxas, and the blonde winced, so intense was the fiery green gaze. "Looks like Little Miss Perfection's got her eyes on you. You better run for the hills, because she's a heartbreaking bitch."

Roxas jumped to her defense, though he didn't know the exact reason for his flaring temper. "She just smiled at me! Can't someone smile without an asshole like you jumping down their throat?"

Axel, Demyx, and Zexion all looked at each other, and Axel made a slashing motion across his throat. "The Roxas we knew is no longer with us."

"What do you mean, the Roxas you knew? None of you have known me for more than a day!"

Axel smirked for an instant before adopting an air of innocence. "Did you hear something?" he said to Demyx and Zexion. "Did one of you say something, or am I imagining things?"

"Very funny, Flamesilocks," Roxas sneered at the redhead and then directed his attention to the teacher, who had just entered the room. He was surprised to see that Mr. Knightley was not an older man like he had expected, but in his mid-twenties. His white-blonde hair was cut very short, revealing the multiple piercings on his ears. His mouth was surrounded by a small goatee and mustache. Roxas heard a few of the girls giggle and, judging by the half-smile on Mr. Knightley's face, surmised that this teacher was a flirt.

Roxas looked back at the three boys seated around him to find Axel copying the look on Mr. Knightley's face, Demyx swooning theatrically, and Zexion looking unsure whether to laugh or roll his eyes. Shaking his head, he directed his gaze to Mr. Knightley once more. He was hard put not to burst out laughing when he realized that the teacher had a British accent. My English teacher is actually English. The irony was delicious.

"Take out your textbooks and turn to page three hundred and ninety-four," Mr. Knightley was saying. "Today we'll be reading passages from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet and analyzing their meanings." Roxas glanced at Axel when he made a small sound in the back of his throat. A spark of interest flashed across his green eyes. The rest of the class, excluding Axel and Zexion, groaned amongst the slam of heavy books on desks and the rustling of pages.

Mr. Knightley continued his instructions. "Read the prologue, the introduction to Act II, the whole balcony scene, and Act III Scene Two. This is a group assignment, so you can read it out loud if you wish." He went to sit down, and the class erupted into lines of the play and arguments over who would read which parts.

"Let's start with the balcony scene. That'll take the longest," Axel smirked as he directed his gaze at Roxas. "I vote we give our handsome little zombie the part of Juliet."

"Why me? You'd make the better girl," the blonde hissed. Demyx burst out laughing at this. Zexion bit his lip to stop from doing the same.

Axel bristled. His red hair, pulled back into a ponytail, seemed to fluff up like a cat's fur when it was angry or scared. "Says you! At least I'm taller than five-foot-five," His eyes flicked to the door behind Roxas. A smirk curled his lips. "What light through yonder doorway breaks? It is the East, and Namine is the sun!"

Roxas whipped his head around and, sure enough, the pretty blonde girl had just walked in. She caught sight of Roxas and smiled before walking over to Mr. Knightley's desk. Roxas turned bright red as Axel wolf-whistled and Demyx elbowed him in the ribs. He looked down at his desk to hide his blush.

"Don't look now, blondie. Here she comes."

Roxas felt a gentle tap on his shoulder. "You're Roxas, right?"

He looked up and their eyes met. Those eyes… They're beautiful… It took Roxas several tries to find his voice. "Yeah. I'm Roxas."

"Dr. Steele told me to give you these," She handed him a few sheets of paper. "They're the notes and a couple of worksheets from the beginning of the section we're on."

"Okay. Thanks," Roxas gave her a small smile and his heart skipped a beat when she smiled back.

"See you later, Roxas," With one last smile, Namine walked out the door, leaving the scent of vanilla and oranges behind her.

"Parting is such sweet sorrow that I shall say goodnight till it be morrow!" Axel's dramatic deliverance of the line and Demyx and Zexion's laughter jarred the blonde boy back to reality.

"Man, you shoulda seen your face when she walked in," Demyx grinned. "I don't think I've ever seen anyone look that shocked or embarrassed in my life!"

"Shut up!" Roxas turned red again.

"Oh, the little lover boy's blushing," Axel's tone dripped sarcasm. "You and Namine are so cute it makes me want to puke my guts out."

Roxas didn't bother to reply. Axel was pissed off, and further aggravating the redhead wouldn't do him any good. He did have to sleep in the same room as him. Axel is a first-class douchebag. He opened his text book and began reading, ignoring the others. He registered that they were talking about him, but Roxas just continued reading, never saying a word in his defense. Left to do all the work himself, he let his anger smolder into glowing coals.

Before he knew it, the bell rang, and there was a flurry of activity as the students scrambled to gather their books and papers. Roxas stuffed his things into his backpack, slung it over his shoulder, and followed Axel, Demyx, and Zexion out into the hallway.

Out of nowhere, Axel and Demyx burst into song. "How do you solve a problem like Roxas?" they warbled in high falsetto voices. "How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?"

A tall, muscular boy with blonde hair spikier than Roxas's looked over at them from his locker, eyes wide with surprise. Demyx waved his hands frantically. "Sorry Cloud! Not you! It's a song!"

Zexion sighed, a half-smile flitting across his face. "You two are silly. I'll see you later," He disappeared into a classroom nearby. Soon after, Demyx also said goodbye and headed into another classroom.

Aw, shit. Roxas was left alone with Axel. I bet he's still pissed at me. I hope we don't have any more classes together.

"What've you got next?" the redhead asked.

Roxas consulted his schedule. "P.E."

Axel smirked. "Me too."

Somebody kill me now.


Roxas's first day at Traverse High was, almost literally, hell. After P.E., he got a short break from Axel, but lunch and the last two periods of the day were shared with the redhead. It was made even more awkward because of the fact that Namine was also in his last two classes. In AP History, he had only Axel to talk to, though not much conversing went on. Namine sat three desks away next to a red-haired girl- Kairi- and the two glanced at Roxas and giggled. In choir, Demyx rejoined them, but Namine, a soprano, sat far away. Axel sat next to Roxas, on the dividing line between the baritones and the tenors, and Demyx sat on Axel's other side. Little talking went on due to the singing. Axel, however, gave Roxas several looks that made up for any unspoken words, the most venomous of which came towards the end of class.

After the teacher told the class that they could put their music folders away, Namine walked up to Roxas, blushing, handed him a small piece of paper, and then ran back to Kairi, giggling. He stared at the neat handwriting, stunned speechless. She wants me to text her. She wants to talk. She thinks… I'm cute?

Roxas looked up to see Axel staring at him. Accompanied by hands jammed in his pockets and narrowed eyes, the look the redhead gave him sent shivers down his spine. Averting his gave, Roxas exited the room when the bell rang and walked to the bus as fast as possible, Axel's eyes burning holes in the back of his head.

The bus ride itself was only tolerable because Demyx created a barrier between the redhead and the blonde, and Roxas remembered that his iPod was stowed in the front pocket of his backpack. Not in the mood for classical, he let louder rock music drown out his anger and the sound of Axel's voice. Roxas avoided looking anywhere but out the window for fear of catching Axel's eye. Even when the bus stopped and several passengers filed out the door, he kept his head down and his eyes on the ground.

"We're home, Mom," Axel called as they entered the von Fusen house through the garage. Mrs. von Fusen stuck her head out of the living room door and smiled. "We're gonna put our stuff upstairs, and then you can give Roxas the talk."

Roxas hurried after the redhead as he walked upstairs to their room. "What do you mean, 'the talk'? You don't mean the talk, do you? Should I be scared?" Axel only smirked in response.

The two boys dumped their backpacks on their respective bunk beds and then made their way back to the living room. Roxas sat down across from Mrs. von Fusen and Axel, unsure what the smirk lingering on the redhead's lips meant.

"Alright, Roxas," The blonde winced at Mrs. von Fusen's serious tone. "I've got some rules I'd like to inform you of." Axel and his mother glanced at each other. For a few moments, neither of them said anything. Then, with completely straight faces, mother and son said in unison, "The third floor corridor is off limits, if you value your life." The two proceeded to burst out laughing, leaving Roxas in utter confusion. It took several minutes for them to stop laughing and regain their composure.

"No, really. There are a few rules I expect my child- or in your case, Roxas, my best friends' child- to live by. No drugs, keep your grades up, no staying out past eleven o' clock, and most of all, no inappropriate behavior. Hopefully you know what I mean," Mrs. von Fusen then turned to Axel. "Anything you'd like to add?"

"Yeah. No cussing on Sundays. We're a good Christian family," Roxas couldn't help but catch the note of sarcasm in Axel's voice. "And speaking of keeping grades up, Roxas and I have homework to do."

"But why-" Roxas began to protest. Axel grabbed him and dragged him up to their room.

"If we don't do our homework, we'll fail school. If we fail school, we're breaking the rules. Broken rules equal one very pissed mother, and that is never good. Got it memorized?"

"Yeah, I got it. My mom is just as bad."

Axel, who had let go of the blonde once they entered the bedroom, froze mid-step. Roxas realized what he had said a split second later and tears sprung to his eyes. He swallowed hard, fighting to keep them from overwhelming him. He'd cried enough for a lifetime at the funeral and he didn't plan on looking like a crybaby in front of Axel. The redhead already made fun of him enough without him crying like a little girl. A single tear slid down his cheek. Shit.

Axel jammed his fists in his pockets and looked down at his feet. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to make you…" His voice trailed off. The redhead looked up, opened his mouth to speak, and then stared at his feet once more. "There's one of my personal rules I forgot to tell you."

Without warning, he stepped forwards and gave Roxas a rough hug. He whispered something in his ear and then hurried out of the room, leaving his words echoing in Roxas's mind.

"Rule number three: Once family, always family. If you need me, I'll be here. Got it memorized?"