A/N: Yep, yet another story from me. As usual, I don't own Kingdom Hearts, but you knew that already. Or at least so I'm guessing.
This one takes place during Roxas's time with the Organization, though after Castle Oblivion.
It's also told in three parts - the prologue here which sets the scene, followed by Axel's shorter side of the following story, and that in turn leads on to hearing Roxas's side of it.
Roxas rubbed the sleep from his eyes, yawned and saw to his morning routine, pausing only to glance up at their Kingdom Hearts out the window. He was probably late getting up, but it couldn't be helped.
After a knock at the door, he opened it, stared blearily at Axel for a moment, then said, "Oh, it's you," and let Axel into his room.
"Well that's nice"
"I only just got up, alright?"
"It shows. That's why I'm here, too – you're up really late. Saïx was wondering about you."
"I didn't get to sleep until late last night," he yawned back. "Xion couldn't sleep, and asked me to stick around until she dropped off."
"Oh really? Is that all you two got up to?"
"Of course it is. Anyway, what did Saïx want?"
"Off to another new world today, you and I. Don't know anything about it at all, and we've gotta remedy that."
"Intel," Roxas grumbled. "I hate intel missions. They're boring."
"At least they're easy," Axel pointed out. "You ready to go?"
"Would be if it wasn't for breakfast."
"Tough luck. We'll pick something up while there if we can. Come on."
Still muttering complaints about breakfast, Roxas followed Axel into the corridor.
"You know, you and Xion have been spending a lot of time together lately," Axel remarked one the way through."
"We're friends. That's what friends do in their free time, right?"
"Well, yeah, but the way you two are going, anyone would think there's more than just a friendship there."
"Nonsense. We just don't pay attention to the time, that's all."
"If you say so. Here we are, one totally unknown world. After you," Axel added, gesturing to the exit portal. "You get to take the first steps there."
"Some honour," Roxas snorted, crossing the threshold.
The other side appeared to be an urban setting – or it had been once. Many of the buildings were burnt out, in disrepair or badly damaged. Wrecks of cars lines the edges of the roads, some in the roads on their sides or even on the roof. Above the ruined local skyline to one side, there were massive skyscrapers reaching upwards, some displaying logos for some business or another, some having sold a part of the outside for some advertising. The mass of lights in the area counteracted the slight darkness of a late evening sky, some time after sunset.
Periodic sounds of gunfire echoed from the other side of them, along with an occasional cry or shout. Sirens punctuated this as they drifted in and out of hearing range all around them.
"Nice place," Axel remarked, taking in the sights.
"Says you. What does Saïx see in this place that makes it worth our time?"
"Who knows? We'll have a look around and see what we can turn up."
"Guess so. Is it just me, or do you get the feeling we're being watched?"
They shared a look, then glanced around.
"Nope, just you. Come on already."
Most of the surrounding areas were not much better than where they had appeared. There were no people around, at least not anywhere in sight. Roxas couldn't shake the feeling there was someone watching him, and kept an eye out for any sign of anyone hiding.
Axel put out one arm to silently warn him to stay back when a collection of rapid footsteps began to echo nearby. Moments later, a young boy in blue ran through the intersection ahead, laughing to himself. As he ran past, he fished out two small bags, dropping one on either side of the road. They burst open when they hit, spilling some kind of milky liquid over the ground.
Now more people, adults this time, started to come into view. Each of them were dressed in the same uniform, after a few moments identified as a police uniform. Some of them avoided the newly created puddles, but others didn't seem to notice – at first. After a few steps, their feet stuck fast. Some few of them continued the pursuit, but most stopped to try and help the stuck ones out.
"Wonder what that was about?" Roxas murmured.
"I'm guessing they think the kid did something, and the kid doesn't want to get caught," Axel replied. "Not really any of our business."
"Guess again," someone said behind them. Five more officers had somehow come up behind them. "You saw it happen," the first officer went on, then turned to Roxas. "And you, juvie... who knows what you've done. You look suspicious, and that's good enough for me. You're both under arrest."
"We haven't done anything," Roxas protested.
"Sure. That's what they all say," the officer replied as the remaining officers ganged up on them, two on each of them. "You know something, kid? If I had a buck for every time I heard one of you kids say that, I'd have been living the good life years ago."
Roxas glanced to Axel, but he shook his head. This was not a good time to be pulling out weapons on them. In moments, they were both cuffed and roughly pushed around a corner and into the back of a waiting van, the back of which was more like a cell in itself. There was another boy in here, older than the one they'd seen run past. He had a grey jacket on, left open to show a red shirt underneath with a lion's head on it. He short black hair and green eyes that seemed to see everything. Like them, he too was cuffed, though he didn't seem overly concerned by this or by their appearance.
The van lurched into life with a roar from the engine, shaking the vehicle slightly before it pulled away.
"What'd they nab you for?" the boy asked Roxas.
"Just because we'd seen someone go running past being chased," he answered. "How about you?"
"Me?" he gave a short laugh. "They've been after me for ages. Ever since I pranked their chief. Stuck him to his own chair, locked all the doors on his floor, then jimmied the locks so they had to break down the doors to get anywhere. Some people just don't have a sense of humour."
"Does seem a little unkind, you know," Axel remarked. The boy gave Axel a harsh glare, the faint smile that had been there replaced by it, then it seemed to pass and was gone again when he turned back to Roxas.
"What're you doing with him?" he asked.
"You could just ask me," Axel said, but was ignored.
"We were sent here together," Roxas answered. "It wasn't my choice to come here."
"Or go with him, I'll bet," the boy replied.
"He's still my friend," he said defensively.
"Really?" the boy was sceptical. "An adult?"
"What's wrong with that?"
"You're not from around here, are you? I bet you don't even know where you are."
"Right on both counts," Axel agreed.
"Welcome to King City then," the boy said with an ironic smile. "The supposed city of the future... for those that can afford it, or don't mind selling their souls to get it. The rest of us just have to try to make a living however we can. You'll find kids like you or I – or just in general – aren't looked on kindly by anyone here."
"Enough talking back there!" a voice snapped to them from the front. The boy rolled his eyes, but said no more.
Not long after, they reached their destination. Once the engine was shut off, the doors at the back were opened. There were now at least a dozen officers waiting for them.
"Get them out," one said. "Stick them in separate cells, we'll handle the admin later."
"Problem with that. We've only got one free cell."
"Then stick the kids in with the other juvie. It's not like they're going to be an real trouble. They're just kids."
"He wishes," the boy murmured to Roxas in passing with a sly wink as they were bundled out and shoved along.
The cell block they were taken to appeared to be full already. Each cell seemed to have two inmates, all of them adults. Some of them fought with each other, but the officers did nothing about it as they passed. Axel was put into the only free cell in the entire building.
"Why not put me with him?" he suggested, gesturing to Roxas. "After all, you arrested us together. Why not keep us together?"
"So you can plan to get out again together?" the prison warden asked. "No thanks. No one escapes from my jail. You can stay separated." he turned then to the remaining officers, and handed one a key. "Right at the far end," he told them, then they were moving again.
When they reached the end of the block, they came to a single cell, slightly larger than the rest that held a tall young man in a sleeveless white shirt and matching pants, kept up with a black belt. He appeared to be sulking about having been caught, but brightened when he saw the boy Roxas was still with.
One officer held the bars of the cell, waiting to open them while another watched the occupant warily. Another uncuffed the boy he'd been brought in with, who was shoved quickly into the cell so he couldn't try anything, then the same was repeated for Roxas.
"Play nice now kids," one officer told them, leering at them before he left. "We wouldn't want to have to do anything else to you..."
"What does he think we are, criminals?" the original occupant muttered.
"Hush, Rue," the other murmured. "You know what they think of us, no need to aggravate them."
Rue grunted assent, then said, "What are you doing here anyway? And who's he?"
"Dunno him, he got brought in with me. As for me... well, the Oracle said you were in a bit of a fix, and asked me to bust you out of here."
"And how do you plan to do that if you're stuck in here too, huh Tommy?"
Tommy shrugged, "Nothing simpler. I have concealed on me a little bug that's letting my boys know exactly where I am. When the time comes, they'll be on hand to get us out." He looked to Roxas and added, "You as well, if you want to come."
"But what about Axel?" Roxas protested. "I can't leave without him."
"Forget him," Rue replied. "If you're seen with an adult here, things won't go well for you."
"But he's my friend."
"Tough luck," Tommy told him. "You'll have to hope he can find his own way out. In these parts you're better off surviving with one of us than trying to reach him. Trust me, you won't be the first I've helped out on a whim like this."
"He's right," Rue added. "That's how I got mixed up with him."
"Mixed up?" Tommy objected. "If I hadn't happened along they would have shipped you off to a read-you camp in no time."
"Read-you?" Roxas asked, trying to keep up with them.
"Re-edu, short for Re-education camp. Also known as how to brainwash a kid. You don't wanna go there." Tommy looked him over, then gave Rue a questioning glance.
"Take him to see the Oracle?" Rue suggested. "He'd be able to tell you."
"You know what happened last time someone did that."
"I can't take him, Tommy. The others would never let me, not without someone vouching for him, and a lot of them are pretty sceptical of that anyway. You'll have to find someone else."
"You see anyone else here?"
"Least if you take it on, you'll be in prime place to decide if it's worth taking him to the Oracle."
Tommy sighed, then turned back to him.
"OK, here's the deal. Don't tell us your name, 'cause it'll only lead to trouble. You got two choices – go it alone, or come with us. Go by yourself and we won't help you – ever. Your friend is an adult, and will no doubt find it easier to deal with them, that means you'll have to as well. We won't help with that. Or you can come with us, which means playing by our rules, but getting our help. Since your friend means so much to you, we'll see what can be done about getting him back – but your main goal should either be survival, or getting back to where you came from."
"Not without Axel," Roxas insisted.
"Then you've gotta decide. Either way, you've got until my boys get us out of here to decide, after that... depends on what you choose."