AN: This is part of a trade I did with a friend on Tumblr. Neffnie on dA betaed this for me, and if I may, go read her writing because she's immense.

The Spanish sentences here and there are all translated within the speech they belong to, aside from a few that are translated at the end of the story. Thank you for your time, I hope you'll enjoy this. Leave me a few words if you want.


Dance is: music.

The man is music. The way he moves, every twitch of that lithe body on stage, every tap of boots on the wood of the floor. It's music. Every movement is perfectly tuned, tailored over the pitch of the guitars in the background. The very dance itself is part of the music, provides a perfect complement to the violins and the flutes singing away on the back of the stage. Roxas' mouth is agape, his blue eyes wide, hypnotically fixed on the perfect display of beauty in front of him. The rapid, incessant rhythm of heels on wood beats in Roxas' chest, triggers some kind of reaction inside him that has his cheeks heating up and his heart matching the pace of the music; every step, – every bang – has his breath catching. Roxas's skin had broken into goosebumps long ago, and he's not realized yet that he's leaning forward; he doesn't know his stance speaks of want, need and awe from far away. All he can see is that perfect blending of body and music, of notes and skin.
All Roxas can see is music.

Dance is: beauty.

The slamming of heels on the wood of the stage comes to a sudden halt, and the guitar goes quiet. The music changes in a long whining lullaby of violins and flutes, and the body on stage suddenly stops, stretches out with an arch that's almost feline. The dancer's face, hidden 'til now by the shadows cast by too low lights, drops to stare at the floor while a long, lean arm snaps to the side holding a black fedora; there's perspiration on the man's skin, and it glistens softly in the dimming orange of the spotlights. The arm moves slowly, quietly draws back to the dancer's body while a leg is moving to draw a sensual curve on the floor, and that's how a simple step forward is morphed into something that smells like promise and desire, smells forbidden. Roxas' throat is choked up, obstructed by a lump of something that's not exactly envy but something that is very close to it, but when the hand holding the fedora languidly draws up the dancer's chest and leans the hat on a mess of wet red hair, Roxas is holding his breath.

A moment later, a short series of bangs has him jolting, startled out of his skin: The dancer is moving. His wrists are drawing slow circles in the air while his feet hit the ground, and it has the sound of a burst of machine gun fire. The heel of a boot slams on the ground, the point of the other one following a moment later. The man freezes in a stance that's somewhat pushing him toward the public and yet seems to be holding him back: the music is tense again, like it's anticipating something big, the very core of the show.

Then the dancer's face snaps up, bathing in the deceiving light of a followspot, finally visible under the hem of the fedora. Roxas' breath breaks, and a few rows behind him he hears the squeaks of a few teenage girls.
Those eyes.

Beautiful.

Dance is: harmony.

From then on it's a long series of perfect dancing, flesh and skin blending into the music so flawlessly that Roxas doesn't know if the dancer is following the melody or is making it himself. Wrists rotate in smooth movements, arms arch and jerk to the sides in ways that remind him now of the grace of ballet, now of the tasteful sensuality of belly dancing. At the same time perfectly shaped legs, clad in plain black jazz pants, draw a pattern of frenetic energy on the old and worn wood of the stage.

Roxas is picky, he's always been. He's young, barely seventeen years of attitude, arrogance and self satisfaction, and he likes to play cool tearing apart other people's performance; it's a bit of a hobby of his. But now he's just a dance student, an awed teenager staring open mouthed at the work of a professional. Roxas knows, knows, that he'll be dreaming about this; he knows that those eyes will stay with him a while, and just how exactly can the man move like that?

The hat is sent flying to the public, and Roxas is more than mildly annoyed when it lands in Olette's hands instead than in his. The dancer is now completely in sight, red hair, green eyes and a skin that's almost sickly white in contrast with the black sleeveless outfit he's wearing. The man's glistening with perspiration, locks of red hair whipping around, the remainder of his ponytail following his every move. Whenever his head whips to the side, whenever he pirouettes, there are beads of something Roxas can't name - sweat or water, he doesn't know- sent flying. It's all perfect, sensual, male in a way that has him straining forward on his seat, throat choked up. He never imagined Flamenco would be so energetic, so incredibly sensual and erotic in a such a powerful yet tasteful way. He's always considered Flamenco and Tango little more than festival numbers. Latino dances, he used to hiss, all arrogance and ignorance, Just good to cop a feel and pick up drunk Mexican girls.

Jesus Christ, what a flaming idiot he's been.

The wonder on stage finishes his performance with a long, rapid, mind blowing series of heel slams in place, spreads his legs, throws himself on his knees. Lights suddenly shine upon him, the music stills abruptly.

While the public explodes into cheers and applause for a standing ovation, the man is smiling confidently, a shine of white on white that complements all too perfectly the red of his hair and the green of his eyes.

And Roxas for a moment is acutely, childishly furious that those eyes aren't looking at him.


The next morning, Roxas wakes up cranky. He has a lazy shower, tosses something random down his own throat as an attempt at breakfast, and heads to school. All of his friends are talking about the same thing, and everybody is keeping their eyes open for the dancing company. Normally, when a dancing tour touches the city, the companies use the Academy's rooms as a place to stay and practice; the company from the night before was at its last lap, and a rumor going around says that they will stay in town for an undetermined time.

Practice has been going on for a while when the door opens and a few dancers from the night before step in silently to sit in a corner. Roxas knew it could happen, so he's not surprised; only nervous, eyes glancing every now and then to the black clad figures in the corner. The bellydancer with decent tits and dark skin, the blonde with antennae, the two Capoeira dancers with dreadlocks and a guy with a faux mohawk that he doesn't recognize from the night before. No spot of red, and he's both confusedly disappointed and yet relieved by that.
He's never been so off tune.

Comes out that really, the company will settle in town for at least another year. Pretty much everybody in the Academy is talking about the news, and sounds like big stuff will happen. Roxas' heart jumps up in his throat while he listens: rumors, sure, nothing certain; but it's huge, huge news, and everybody's eyes are shining in excitement, in hope. Because somebody says that they heard that the company's manager, before the next year's tour, will have to replace a few of his dancers who got job offers from a few theaters and companies around the continent. They all know what this means. The company will settle at the Academy, and when time will come, a series of auditions will be held at the main theater in the city. Sure, it's cliché, sounds like the plotline of a stupid teen movie about dance from the late eighties, but it also means a chance. A chance at leaving, moving away for a better life, to make a living out of dance. Means real rehearsals, a real public sitting in a real theater, real tournées around the country. Maybe, later on, even along other continents.

It means fame. It means success. It means fucking money. And Roxas' been a poor street rat with a pair of ballet shoes for way too long to not be straining at the very idea.

And to think he's never danced worse than today.

He stays in even after lessons are over, practices the same moves over and over and over again. He does it all the time, people are used to it: he sneaks into an empty room and practices, tries harder, works until someone comes to kick him out. He's got to practice a lot more than others to keep up, but he's not scared of hard work.

One, two, three, four. Half step back, twitch to the side. Two, three four, jump to the other side and no, no, no, not like this you bloody fucker. In tune. In time. Again, back again. One, two, three, four and half step back. Two, three, four, twitch to the side. And.

"You're off-beat." says a female voice from the door, and Roxas freezes; when he turns he sees the blonde from the dance company standing in the threshold, hip cocked to the side and a bored expression on her face. "Painfully so. Did you start dancing yesterday? Please tell me you're a newbie."

Roxas shoots her a glare, turns scowling, and "Piss off." he mutters, hopping up at the stereo to back the song from the beginning again. He gets in position and takes a deep breath, purposefully ignoring the blond reflection in the threshold on the mirror. One, two, three, four; half step back, two, three, four.

"Off-beat." she calls again; his eyes dart hatefully to her reflection on the mirror and he bares his teeth on reflex, annoyed.

"Mind your own business there, will ya?" he snarls back.

The girl rolls her eyes. "Go ahead. I'll show you how it's done, after." she shrugs, and Roxas doesn't turn and punch her just 'cause she's a woman and looks like she'd weight about 88 pounds soaking wet. He shuts her out, fixes his eyes ahead of himself, his own blue holding his gaze, and goes on. His moves are flawless. From boneless to rigid, between violent twitches and smooth moves, the mirror gives back a perfect perception of how much, exactly, she's right. Oit of tune, like a damn newbie. Perfect movements that seem tailored over another music. Off beat.

When the music goes off there's a silent shuffle of black dance pants next to him, and the girl restarts the music. She's obviously not a hip hop dancer, but she does better than him, and the frustrating side of the deal is that she's seen the choreography just once, just a moment ago. Yet, she moves with the music, and for as imperfect as her movements are, she's able to school him about his own subject.
Good god, he's so far behind.

"Hey. Hey faggot. Quit daydreaming." she calls, and Roxas is glaring at her before she's even finished pronouncing the 'f' word. "How old are you? No, wait, I don't care about the history of your life, forget about it. Look. Try dancing without thinking of the steps."

Roxas tilts his head on a side, looks almost distrustfully at her. "What do you mean?"

"Kiddo, you oughta choose. Or stupid, or untalented, or ugly. You can't be all three. Pick one. All I meant is, dance. Quit practicing."

Roxas would snarl at her, but there's no snarky comeback for that, and he simply resumes his position. The girl restarts the music and folds her arms on her chest staring at him, the usual hip cocked to a side. It's not passed a whole minute when she speaks again. "For Little Ponies' sake, fairy. Quit practicing and just dance. Don't make me go Lady Gaga on your ass, and for fuck's sake quit thinking of your next step."

Roxas would snap at her to quit calling him names, but it'd sound like he's an elementary schooler complaining about some mean kid; he knows better than that, so he just settles on grumbling under his breath and dancing staring at his own reflection. Who the hell does she think she is, by the way? Just 'cause she was dancing already when he was being born and she's a professional, she thinks she can treat him like that? She wouldn't last one hour in his neighborhood, not even a second, with that blond hair and that skinny frame. Stupid fucking bitch. Damn snarky asshole. If she runs her mouth again he'll fucking show her.

Suddenly, the music is over. Roxas realizes, a little surprised, that he hasn't thought of his moves once.

The girl nods with a very small smirk. "Still sucks, but way better." she comments casually.

Before Roxas can tell her where she can shove that condescending attitude, a warm voice calls out from the door. "That is dancing." it says, and both the girl and Roxas look at the threshold at the same time. And, as confirmed by the sudden sinking sensation in the bottom of Roxas' stomach, there's six feet and a few inches of redhead sitting on the floor by the door. Roxas doesn't even have time to feel self conscious because he was dancing in front of him before the girl speaks again.

"If that is dancing to you, it doesn't surprise me that you're still stuck with the company while all the decent dancers have found better contracts." she spits spitefully. Yet, there's a smirk lighting her eyes up, and Roxas isn't sure why but Axel is laughing back at her. Bitches must be an acquired taste, because if she had spoken like that to him, Roxas sure as hell wouldn't have been laughing right now.

"Oi, princesa," Axel calls, and something in Roxas' stomach gives a happy twitch at the way the 'c' and the 's' in 'Princesa' whistle; oh god, an accent. "Our coach's here." The girl nods once and in a couple of jumps she's at the door, pulling Axel to his feet. Her sock-clad feet look ridiculously small against his, and the gesture itself is strangely endearing and tender; never mind that he does it with Olette and Xion all the time, but he's somehow irrationally jealous of that touch that isn't his against Axel's pale skin. "Did she misbehave?" Axel speaks again, and Roxas looks up, his face unconsciously scrunched up in a scowl. "Larxene has the tendency to be a little rough," he adds as if to explain better.
Roxas doesn't answer.

"I called him fairy and queer. Or maybe faggot, I don't remember," she agrees. "Doesn't matter, 'cause he is. You two should hang out together and have lots of sex. It'd do his attitude some good, and limp or not, he surely couldn't dance any worse than this." she laughs, and when she tugs Axel out of the door, Roxas' just done yelling a very inelegant 'Fuck you' after her.

He stares at the door in fury for a good thirty seconds before shaking his head and restarting the music.

He dances off beat for the rest of the evening.


The next time Roxas has a chance to exchange a few words with Axel is a few weeks later. The man is sitting in an empty ballet room, chilling on the floor with Larxene and drinking from a half finished bottle of water. Roxas isn't sure if he should be running along or stopping, but Larxene sees him first. "Hey, nit." she calls. Roxas half wishes he had a lesson to attend or a reason not to stop, but Axel's smiling up at him with that thin mouth and dear god, the green of those eyes should come with some kind of warning. "Come here."

"What?" he mutters unfriendly. It's stupid how hostile he is, really; it's basically just because of her that he's got ground to nod Axel hello in the hallways, so he should be a little more grateful. But well, 'nit' makes him regret 'fairy'.

"Will you apply for the company?" she asks. Roxas is confused for a second, then his eyes light up in realization. The auditions. Then it is true. "'Cause mister castanets, here, thinks you have a chance. Beats me why. If you ask me, you should probably buy a chastity belt."

Axel scowls fondly, shoves her on a side. "Portate bien, arpía," he snorts, sliding on his feet and stretching like a cat. Roxas' throat goes dry when a corner of his mind idly considers that the man could probably lean back til his hair tickles the back of his shins, and almost jolts when Axel speaks again. "Behave, hag. Tengo hambre," he yawns out, reaching a hand out for Larxene. "I meant 'I'm hungry'. Coming to breakfast with me?"

The girl shakes her head, and if Roxas had any doubts about her playing the matchmaker up to moments ago, they're blown away by the way she smirks. "Take the twink with you. He looks like he could use some food every now and then."

Roxas doesn't beam at her, but it takes him some effort.

xXx

Axel speaks a lot. Gesticulates, whistles all his c's and s's, sometimes does the spelling of the words he has just said as if Roxas didn't understand by himself the first time around. In the half hour they spend in the cafeteria together Roxas finds out that Axel's twenty three, was born and studied dance in Barcelona and has a cat called Monika; he even carelessly informs Roxas of his sexual orientation, – If it breathes and doesn't exceed a reasonable amount of body hair I'll hump it – and of Larxene's, – straight, in a relationship with her ballet partner. Roxas isn't sure he remembers well, but if he's not wrong it should be the dude with pink hair.

They even carelessly toss in a 'We should dance together, every now and then', but in the end they part without setting anything up. Not a date, not a time, and it's a pity because the man is sexy, badass and cool, and a very brief memory of black fedoras and wet red hair waving on the music of a flamenco guitar is enough to provoke the beginnings of quakes in Roxas' pants. Probably, mentioning that he had turned seventeen a couple months before hadn't been his smoothest move, especially considered the way Axel's eyes had widened in surprise in response.

There has been good feeling between them though, so in the next weeks they meet often to eat together at the cafeteria or out in the garden. It's May, the weather is still moderately cool. They hook up just fine together, characters strangely compatible, almost complementary. Becoming friends, in the next weeks, is pretty easy. Roxas has still a killer crush on Axel, but the man acts cool and friendly, keeping a kind of distance that smells wariness from afar. Roxas should know, Axel doesn't really feel like risking stuff getting too cozy with a minor. It's comprehensible, but annoying.

He surprises Axel alone one evening that the school is almost empty, while the man is making ready to slide into an empty room to practice his routine. "Ax!" he calls, running up to him with a grin. Axel's head whips back and he beams, grinning at him and slowing down until Roxas cathes up.
It doesn't take long before he's blabbering as usual - something about Larxene and Marluxia going on a date, and lonely evenings to spend alone - but Roxas isn't really listening. Axel's accent is crazy cute, and Roxas likes to listen to it like he would listen to background music. Normally, when he goes into those chattering sprees, Axel doesn't expect him to answer, or maybe even just to listen. He barely catches breath, mixes Spanish words, British and American English and a few other languages in a confused and chaotic melting pot of words and accents that makes Roxas a little dizzy and a lot amused, makes him laugh out loud. It's like listening to music; he doesn't need to listen to every word to love all the ensemble of it.

He snaps out of it when Axel's voice becomes quizzical, like he's just asked something. He frowns slightly, gives a sheepish smile. "Uh, sorry, I was a little distracted." he answers, "What were you saying again?"

"Audition. You. Trying." Axel spells. Roxas half expects him to spell it out by waving his hands like an idiot as usual, but Axel's looking down at him in a strangely serious way.

"No, I don't think so." Roxas shrugs. "It'd be nice and all, but the truth is that Larxene's right. I can't dance."

"Oh, por favor, never say Larxene's right again. If her ego inflates even just a little she's gonna blow up." Axel snickers waving his hands, and Roxas is again confused as to why he sounds so fond of her, why he sounds like he's talking about a friend despite how offensive what he just said was. "Yeah, anyway, it's obvious you need some help. Pero creo que tu puedes– Oh, dammit, sorry. I meant, I think you can do it."

Roxas shrugs, discouraged. "I don't know. I practice a lot, all the time, but I don't improve. And well, how do I put it? Teachers aren't crazy about me."
Axel gives a knowing hum, something between sarcastic and arrogant, and Roxas' eyes dart up, brows furrowed defensively. "What." he snorts. It was intended to be a question, but it came out a lot like a snarl.

"Well, with that attitude, it doesn't surprise me." Axel answers, paternalistic enough that Roxas feels both drawn in and repulsed by his arrogance. "See? You're scowling at me, and you like me. I don't dare to think what you would have yelled at me if I wasn't such a lovable... how do you guys say?Motherfucker?"

Roxas can't smother a chuckle and nods. "Lovable, yeah." he concedes magnanimously, a flirty edge in his voice. "And for your information, there's nothing wrong with my attitude."

"That must be why Odette practices after school with a teacher and you're alone, then, huh?"

Roxas' cheeks heat up a bit at that, but he doesn't speak. Bingo, Axel. "It'sOlette." he huffs after a while, "And the teacher's probably just trying to shag her."

At that, Axel sighs and rolls his eyes shaking his head . "Yeah, maybe you're right. After all, that Fair guy does look like a paedophile creeper. And to think he told me he was with the pretty girl that teaches ballet. Mentiroso."

Roxas looks down, shrugs mortified. Well, maybe Axel does have a point. Maybe. A little. Just a little. "No need to be a smartass, you know." he huffs, "I got it, I'm not the greatest around when it comes to handling criticism."

"That's an understandment." Axel snickers, and Roxas rolls his eyes.

"Understatement." he corrects; then he blinks, the dawning of a realization lighting his face with a beam. Oh, that is the perfect occasion. "Hey, wait." he grins, "Why don't you teach me?"

Axel looks taken aback for a few seconds, hums a little. "Well, I guess I could..." he mutters, unconvinced. "I'm not entirely sure it'd be a good idea."

Roxas laughs, sly and flirty and smug. "And why wouldn't you?" he half laughs, "I wouldn't mind getting to dance with you a little." he murmurs in a fake casual tone. Either way, he wins. If his court brings Axel in his bed, score; if it earns him free dance lessons that could really help him pass the auditions, score anyway. He just needs Axel to say yes.

But Axel doesn't . "Yeah, the fact is that I don't dance with kids." he answers almost apologetically, pushing on the word 'dance' a bit too much for it to be casual.

So Roxas was right, it's an age thing.

"Oh for god's sake, Mother Theresa." he huffs, frowning and sending Axel a small glare. After all, it's not like he hasn't ever dropped his pants for someone older than him. "Do you think I've never danced with anyone before?"

"It doesn't really concern me who you've danced with before." Axel shrugs, and his tone is kind, but firm. "The matter is another." he adds, "Kids like you aren't called 'jailbait' for nothing."

Roxas knows how these things go. Axel sees him like a kid, has that protective yet paternalistic attitude towards him that he would have with a little brother or something. He's surely not going to convince Axel here and now, so he decides to take what he can get, at least. "Hey, perv," he snorts, "I was talking about dancing. Help me. Get me in shape for the auditions. I'm not scared of working a lot, you know this. Half my elementary school classmates are in gangs, a few are dead and some are in jail. Fuck me if I wanna spend my whole life in that hell, Axel. But you can help me. Come on, man. We're friends."

Playing the ghetto card on Axel might not have been exactly playing fair, but it seems to work.

"Yeah," Axel starts awkwardly, "but... I mean, I'm not a teacher..."

"Axel, this is my chance!" Roxas half yaps, and feels almost bad at Axel's distressed look; almost. But if he has to play dirty to get Axel where he wants him, he will play dirty. And if Axel really can help him pass the damn audition, every means must be used: a day doesn't pass in which Roxas doesn't wish he was born somewhere else, and this audition may very well be his only ticket for a way out. "If you really believe I can do it, help me. Fucking help me, Axel."

Green eyes narrow in a way that make Roxas wonder whether he's pushed it too much, but after a deep breath, Axel huffs.

"Fucking manipulative bitch," he hisses, "Fine, fine. I'll help you. Esto no va a terminar bien...(1)" he mutters under his breath.


Dancing with Axel proves to be both a dream come true and a nightmare from the very first moment. Roxas has always practiced a lot, several hours a day every day, for years. Ever since he hit puberty he has been dancing 'til his head spun and his neck went numb, 'til his muscles ached, 'til his breath stuttered. Even when the teacher sent him and his fellows off, free to rest and relax, Roxas didn't leave the school: he found an empty room and practiced, danced, trained. Nothing better to do, right? Right.

He's taken the habit of practicing whatever he can, whenever he can. He practices ballet with Xion every now and then to keep the basics fresh, dances modern with some of the other peeps at the school, and hip hop out of Zack's class with the kids in the baggy pants in the streets. He even plays around a bit with the gang who hang around with the wool hats and the sweatpants from time to time, break dancing with them whenever the occasion strikes: break has never been his favorite, but it can pass. It is, however, hip hop where he gives his best, bendy and stretched like a cat as he is. The kids circle, watch him dance; some of them yowl appreciative and fond racial slurs at him while he's at it, because boy, he can move for a white guy.

Yet, he realizes as soon as Axel turns on the music, nothing he's ever done has come even close to being enough. Yes, it's easy to shine in the streets, where kids are fueled only by passion and dreams, no technique, no skill; but Axel is a professional, can see beyond the practiced ease of Roxas' steps, can pinpoint every flaw, every smudge around the edges. In class, Zack has to tend to the whole group, so lets a lot of smudges pass under silence; but Axel instead is stern, imperious, perfect in every movement and in every barked correction. Even if it is obvious he's another kind of dancer, he can still easily show Roxas what he's doing wrong, how, and why.

Half an hour of the first lesson hasn't passed yet, and Roxas has lost every hope: faced with talent and skill, he's just one of too many others. He's never been the star of the play, never will be. He's one of the side characters, stays in the background. For all Axel hisses and snaps, for all he commands and corrects, Roxas will never pass the audition. He's got such a long way to go, and who knows if he will ever get there; after all, it's not a matter of practice and good will, because Roxas seriously cannot imagine practicing more than what he already did before Axel came.

But at least the man is a beautiful thing to see, while he dances.

When Axel dances, whatever kind of dance he's trying himself on, he becomes a different person. The clumsy, adorably charming man who can ramble in a confused mess of five languages for half an hour about his cat – Roxas would be jealous, if he didn't know any better – vanishes when the music sets off. All the awkward mannerisms are forgotten, the wide grins and the bad jokes part of another life; Axel is part of the music when he dances, he is music himself. In a few weeks Axel has got a decent grasp of the basics and technique, and they can dance and practice along the same routines.

Axel's moods change three months into their evening sessions: at the beginning he was professional, stern, even too stiff. Now, instead, there are different days. Some days Axel is relaxed, acts like he's more of a friend than of a teacher. He acts natural, lets it all out until it's not really dance lessons anymore, until it's challenges they have, the kind friends do, or the kids in the streets. Roxas realizes soon that, somehow, those are the days he dances the better. They practice Roxas' choreography – Axel a poor copy of Olette – laugh; they tease each other fondly, shout insults back and forth as forms of endearment, and it feels just right. It's a level of intimacy Roxas has never had with anyone before, and it feels just right. Neither Xion's shy grace en pointe nor Olette's limberness can keep up with the fluidity of Axel's movements.

The way Axel, whose stance during flamenco is powerful, firm and controlled to the point of stiffness, can adapt to hip hop is something that never ceases to amaze Roxas. It's impressive that the same man who plays the floor of the stage like a drumset when a guitar and a lonely voice play in the background can hop and twitch that way. He's evidently just used to that kind of dance, but he's got a decent enough grasp of the subject to be a good teacher.

Sometimes, instead, Axel is as cold and professional as before. He snarls orders in a multitude of languages, until Roxas yells, frustrated, that he just doesn't speak Portuguese, for fuck's sake. Those sessions are just infuriating, infuriating to the point of exasperation; Axel stands in front of Roxas, shoulders to the stereo and green eyes squinted in a frown of concentration, and doesn't dance. He only circles Roxas while he practices, corrects his stance, shows him the moves he's messing up. He's stern and straight to the point, barely answers if Roxas tries on a joke. Neither of them smiles, on those days.

However Roxas' improvement, after only two months, is evident. His obsession with technicality has subsided, he's more in tune with the music and with himself, is more spontaneous. When criticized, he doesn't scowl and hiss anymore, and has stopped blaming other people - Olette, Xion, and even random classmates - whenever he messes up. His attitude is something he hasn't even noticed changing; it was either learning to accept criticism or wasting Axel's dance lessons in never-ending screaming matches; the man, despite coming from across the ocean, has an encyclopedic knowledge of curses, insults and profanities. It amused Roxas, normally, but when Axel played the mean teacher and shouted at him, the humorous side of the deal got lost.

It's a nice day in late October when the results of Axel's tutoring finally begin to show. Class has just finished, and while everybody else swarms out and Olette is packing her things for her extra lessons with Zack, a hand leans on Roxas' shoulder. "Hey, Roxas," Zack calls after him. "Why don't you stay with us? I have half an idea for a number for Olette for the Dance Month and you're her usual partner. What do you say, do you want to try?"

Roxas' beam is so wide his cheeks hurt, seconds later. He's hanging from Zack's neck before he realizes what he's doing, crushing his teacher in a bruising hug; when he retreats he's beet red in embarrassment, but the grin isn't gone. He stays, performs with Olette for the rest of the evening, dances better than he's ever done. It doesn't even occur to him that he's forgetting something important.

Axel waits in their empty room two hours before he leaves.
He looks kind of forlorn when he switches the lights off and walks out of the door.


The lesson is over. Roxas and Olette are lying on the mattresses in a corner, catching their breath and drinking their weight in Gatorade, when Roxas' brain gets past the joy overload and catches up with him.

"Holy shit, Axel!" he gasps jumping on his feet, eyes wide on the clock on the wall, "I was supposed to meet him three hours ago!"

He's storming out of the door a moment later, Olette's voice yelling a 'bye' after him while he runs down the hallway towards the ballet classroom.
It's dark inside, and Axel's forgotten his water bottle on a chair. Roxas frowns a little bit, guiltily, and just leaves. He's just forgotten about a date with Axel: it shouldn't make him feel that guilty, but it does.

xXx

"Ax!" Roxas calls out in the hallway the morning after, running after the mop of flaming red hair he can see navigating above the crowd. "Axel, wait up!" He does have a lesson now, a lesson he's late for, but he's impatient to apologize for yesterday and doesn't really care. At his call, Axel turns, gives Roxas a smile that doesn't look strained or even annoyed, and Roxas relaxes unconsciously. He runs up to him, bumps against him amicably with a sheepish grin. "Oi, sorry for yesterday. Professor Fair has proposed me a number for the Dance Month and I stayed to practice with him."

Axel stiffens just a tiny little bit at that, nods with a smile that doesn't really translate in his eyes; Roxas isn't looking at him anyway, so he doesn't notice. "Oh, sounds nice." Axel comments in an agreeable tone, "What exactly is Dance Month? A school play?"

"Oh, no," Roxas answers with half a jump, eyes shining, "The main theater in town organizes a month dedicated to dance; during the day there are dance workshops with dance schools and a few shows of the kids up to fifteen, among other things, while after dinner there's a different school every night, presenting their best dancers. It's kind of a big deal, you know? National stuff. I mean, I won't get a contract like yours by dancing at the Dance Month, but it's definitely a step in the right direction." Axel's silence doesn't really ring any bells to Roxas, too busy imagining himself under real spotlights for once. "And all of this is kind of your merit you know? I mean, yeah, you know. So… yeah. Thank you. I should buy you dinner or something, but I'm so broke it hurts. But I definitely owe you something."

"I'll hold you to your word, Roxas," Axel grins. He's thoughtful for a second, and Roxas follows him to the cafeteria without realizing it. "It's actually a pretty big thing, kiddo," Axel comments while waiting for his cappuccino. "You'll get seen by a lot of insiders, and if you play your cards right, you could actually get noticed. Despite what you think, tu lo tienes. You do have what it takes."

The tips of Roxas' ears feel a little hot and he shrugs, playing with a sachet without making eye contact. "Nah," he mutters, half flattered half sheepish, "I just practice a lot."

"No, you've got it," Axel insists, "And now that you'll practice with someone who actually knows what they're doing, you'll do great. It's all a matter of pulling you out of wherever you hide when people watch you dance."

Roxas' ears feel much hotter, as does his neck, and for a second he stays in silence thinking about what Axel said. It takes a bit longer than it should for such words to translate into concepts in his head, but then Roxas' raising a pair of wide blue eyes on Axel's face. "You... you mean you won't teach me anymore?" he stammers a bit when he speaks, and Axel smiles just a little at that.

"Well, I guess not." he answers with a small shrug. "You will be busy with Zack and Odette, after school, and the day has only so many hours. After all, you asked me for help because nobody else would give you any; you don't need me anymore."

"I do." Roxas' answering a second later, a lot before his mind has had time to catch up with his mouth. Axel's brows hike up quizzically at that, and Roxas hurries to correct his aim: "Dance Month is nice, but we were into this for the audition with your company. I still need your help. And you will give it to me, whether you like it or not. And it's 'Olette'."

It's not what Roxas meant, they both know it perfectly, and it'd be crystal clear to anyone else, but it's enough for Axel. He gives a sly grin, leans back into his chair crossing his arms over his chest and staring up through red lashes. "I will," he answers, "Although, if you're serious about the audition, you may have to aim a little higher than this."

"What do you mean?"

Axel smirks and chews on his lower lip in a gesture that may be seductive, may be just thoughtful, and spells out: "Quieres bailar conmigo, chico(2)?"

Roxas doesn't speak a word of Spanish, but he knows that the only right answer to anything spoken in that tone is, and can't be anything but:

"Oh god yes."


Every day, once Roxas' classes are over, come hell or high water, they meet in front of the school gates. It's always too late to practice at the Dance Academy, but not late enough to not be allowed into the old oratory ballet room back in Roxas' neighborhood. They head back to Roxas' streets together, Axel's eyes running back and forth between the relics abandoned at the sides of the street, – relics of people, of cars, of objects forgotten and forsaken – and his rambling purposefully gloss over the smell of poverty and dirt. It's like jumping from one world to another, between ivory and plastic, between the white lights of the ballet rooms and the flickering glowing of fading streetlamps, and Roxas is slightly, confusedly grateful to Axel for never showing disgust.

The streets show a neighborhood of the bad kind, where kids smoke pot at twelve, sell it at fifteen; some actually lie dead with a dribble of blood connecting nose and lips at seventeen, or sleep in a cell, or stand in the light of the streetlamps with too short skirts and plunging necklines that show a hint of navel before they're even legally adults. Roxas knows he must look out of place to Axel in those streets, because he's Roxas, baby faced and puffy cheeked Roxas, Roxas dancing, Roxas with ballet shoes in the backpack; he must look like a shock of color in the grey of that poor outskirt. Every gesture of camaraderie between him and the inhabitants of the streets must look surprising to Axel, considered the way his green gaze sometimes burns against Roxas' side. He guesses he is kind of complex, seen from the outside. After all, all Axel had known about him before they began to leave the academy together was that he was Roxas, the whitest hip hop dancer that ever walked stages, with a bad attitude and even worse dancing clothes; and now, he gets to see this, with no filters or preparation.

So Axel is forced to learn new things about him: Roxas that at seventeen years of age is stuck at the towering height of 5.5 and weighs the mighty amount of 125 pounds, has survived these streets. He must have learned a lot about survival, must have learned quickly to get what he wants through any means possible: he's too small, too angel faced to have had it easy. Axel doesn't ask for details, but Roxas isn't shy and shrugs, admits it, tells things exactly as they are. He's survived unharmed, despite his looks and his passion, thanks to a pair of fast legs and a switchblade that's half the size of his forearm. The sweet-faced Roxas who danced in thighs and ballet shoes when he was just nine is the same Roxas who cuts faces like a professional, is the same kid who, at thirteen, danced the whole Swan Lake with his mouth tightly closed because a kick to the face had blown away three of his incisors just two days before. He's the same kid who, at fifteen, just two years ago, pissed the wrong guy off and slept for six months in Cloud's garage, in another part of town, fearing for his kneecaps.

He speaks about his past a little amused, a little proud, a little unfazed, 'cause to him it's not such a big deal. It's how he's always lived, and he doesn't know any other way. He's not even trying to play cool, to come across as some kind of street badass. He's really not that high up in the street food chain, he's just good at being invisible and, when the situation requires it, cutting. No big deal. Everybody can cut, in the streets. Even kids. He wouldn't go far enough to say that even infants can, but he can testify he's seen a twelve year old play with a switchblade, once, in a disturbingly skilful way.

But Axel's eyes on Roxas, his gaze; they change. It's not a playful kind of paternalistic look anymore.

Now, Axel's gaze burns.


Heaven and hell have never felt so similar; the line between torture and bliss, never so thin and smudged at the edges. It's not the way his feet ache by the end of the day that constitutes torture; he's spent years of his childhood up en pointe, got into more than one knife fight in the streets in his earlier days: it's something subtler and way more insidious than physical pain. When Axel proposed to Roxas for them to 'dance together' he wasn't playing, and he wasn't talking about hip hop. He was talking about flamenco, about learning a brand new kind of dance in a matter of months, -at least the basics of it- during unauthorized lessons in a deserted oratory late at night.

The ballet room behind the old church still has the same smell as when Roxas was little: fried and greasy sauces from the soup kitchen, the charity refectory just a door away. The linoleum on the floor is definitely not good for that kind of dancing, either, but it doesn't matter. Roxas made his first plié there, had his toes bleeding in his ratty second hand ballet shoes when his mouth was empty of teeth that didn't seem to want to grow back. This place is part of him, and it's strangely heartwarming to be back again after so many years. He hadn't realized it before, but he's missed it. The exercise barre is still worn to the point of shining, the third window on the left of the room is still broken in a few points. The same few points. Almost ten years have passed, and it's all exactly the same. Something in his chest soars, every time they step inside.

Then there's Axel, all green eyes and awkward grins when the music's off, sweating sex appeal when the notes of a guitar urge him on in the background. Flamenco is hard, even with Roxas' more than extensive knowledge of the basics of dance. His legs ache and he can't keep Axel's rhythm, even if all they're doing in the first month are simple exercises to learn the elements of it; at the end of the lessons his heels feel like pincushions, he's drenched in sweat and so tired he's half hallucinating. He doesn't sleep enough and all that extra practice is taking its toll on his body, slimming him to the point of concern at first; but then he finds a balance between work, diet and rest, and everybody at school notices how fast he's improving in many different fields, how fast he's growing up.

His very body begins changing shape, muscles becoming more defined on the thighs and the lower abdomen, while the line of his back begins to resemble that of Axel's very own beauty. They dance in the flickering light of a cheap neon, in a room that's always too cold at the beginning, before they warm up by themselves. The air smells like cabbage and onions most of the time, but it doesn't matter. Axel waits until Roxas has assumed the correct stance, has him repeat the same routine over and over and over again, basics and basics and basics. Roxas practices until he doesn't feel the cold anymore, until there's sweat sliding down his back and face and his breath is shallow and frantic. Basics, it's all just basics, even when the day of the audition gets chosen, and Roxas panics because it's just seven months away. Axel shakes his head and sends him back from the beginning again: more basics, more exercises. Punteado, chico, he answers low in his throat, his tone as always lost between a murmur and a purr when he's speaking his own language. Roxas feels something at the base of his neck tighten, something else in the pit of his stomach answer to it, and gets to work. "Desplanteeeees, bueno. Bueno asì, continua. Bueeno, bueno, chico. You're almost there. Good, there you are, just like that."

Roxas would complain, would insist; but then he makes some small mistake and Axel walks to him, shakes his head. He tosses away his sweater and gets in position, to show him the correct way to do a zapateado without tripping all over himself. As soon as Axel begins moving, be it brief – a plain redoble – be it a longer exercise – an escobilla – Roxas' throat goes dry and everything fades out. Axel is again one with the music, and even if lasts only a second, it's long enough for that sensation of desire to rise again.

Sometimes Roxas is sore from classes, or his heels hurt from all the banging against the floor, and he dances terribly. Those times Axel cuts him some slack, has him doing exercises to have him familiarizing with the music with his upper body. Roxas is used to twitch and jolt, is used to a completely different kind of dance, so he's normally too curt, too quick. Flamenco, as Axel tells him often, is simply blending. Blending with the music, blending with the lights. A good flamenco dancer, at times, must be able to blend with the background itself. He stands behind Roxas, close enough to adhere flush to his back, and Roxas' breath catches up somewhere in his throat. Axel grabs his wrists and leads his movements, and it's slow, slow to the point that Axel's breath over Roxas' ear is not innocently ticklish anymore, and Roxas' eyes slide shut. There's Axel behind him, a warm and firm presence of muscles and flesh, and the music in the background is a cry of violins.

Roxas wants him so much it aches. It aches and tears him inside, but he's not allowed to touch.
And this just makes it ache more.

A lot of Axel's flamenco is left to improvisation. It's the gypsy way, more a matter of interaction between feelings and music than a research of technique, and as soon as Axel deems Roxas knows enough of the basics they begin working on a few choreographies. For a couple weeks this means mainly that Axel will dance in front of Roxas until the kid gets a grasp on the subject and begins to dance along, and those few weeks seem the longest of Roxas' whole life. Axel is there, muscles and skin and sweat and music waving under the flickering light of an old yellowing neon, and he can't touch him. He's close enough to touch, close enough that Roxas can smell the leather of his boots and the strong hint of sweat at the end of the lesson, but he's still too far. He's close enough that, if he leans forward, Roxas can feel the heat of his body wash over him; yet, it's like he's not even there.

Axel is close enough that if Roxas tugged on his wrist and pulled him in, he could taste his tongue in a matter of seconds, or maybe less. He's near, close enough that Roxas aches to touch, to run his palms on the pale planes of that ridiculously perfect body; it'd be slick with sweat, warm, alive. It'd be soft and firm, and he doesn't know his eyes go darker when he's like that. He doesn't know Axel can read the desire in his eyes, in the spasmodic way his hands fist uselessly the fabric of his own pants on the thighs. He doesn't know Axel is straining himself not to touch, doesn't know that all that sensuality Axel's dancing gives out is channeled there from his very own pent up desire. At times like those, when Axel dances and Roxas watches, or when he's behind Roxas, bodies lined together in the mockery of an embrace they cannot share, the air in the room is so tense they can almost hear it sizzle. Touch me, touch me. Let me touch you. Allow me. Forbidden. Mine. Touch me. Dangerdangerdanger. Mine.

Months and months they go on like this. They snap around the midnight of the tenth of April; Roxas has been distracted all day, and despite the improvement he's showed through the last month, Axel can't seem to have him concentrate enough to dance over an easy song, something upbeat but affordable from Paco de Lucìa. He shakes his head, moves to the center of the room while Roxas lazily shuffles to send the song back to the beginning again. He dances, and purposefully ignores Roxas' reflection on the mirrors. He's learned, through time, that if their eyes meet just once while he dances, the tension rises. He catches glimpses of blue out of the corner of his vision, keeps dancing to show Roxas how it's done, pretends he's alone. But. But he can't, his own deceit is spoiled. He can feel the burn of those eyes on his body, can almost follow their path all across him. Can feel Roxas' gaze stroke down his back, up to his forearms and over his chest. He can almost feel its caress across his skin, and despite the sweat that's beginning to bead his forehead, suddenly there's a chill running down his back and his skin breaks into goosebumps.

He stops. For the first time in months, Axel's control is on the verge of breaking.

Roxas doesn't know what's wrong, but assumes Axel's just finished his demonstration and walks up, tries to assume the right stance. It's kind of awkward, of a confusedly exciting kind of awkwardness, because Axel is just a breath on his left, stares at him in silence, green eyes so dark they go almost black. Roxas knows he's not straightened enough, knows he's too curved, but his feet ache and the weight of that gaze is oddly overwhelming. When Axel gives a noncommittal grunt and reaches a hand out to grab Roxas' wrist, taking the half step that separated him from his student's body, the tension is so high Roxas gasps, jolts away.

They look at each other for a couple seconds, Roxas' head whipped back to stare at Axel in some variation of shock and wariness, Axel's ducked down to give Roxas the same gaze, just a little more predatory. It's just a few moments, but it feels like hours. Their bodies are pressed together, their hearts beating frenetically against each other's, and the violins are screaming, screeching in the background.

Mine. Mìo. Touch me for god's sake. Peligro. No, no no.

Si.

It's Roxas the first to break the spell. He grabs the collar of Axel's top, yanks him in while turning around in his arms, and finally, after months spent craving it, he tastes.

Forbidden lips taste like salt and mint, like danger and the frenetic notes of a guitar.

He's not sure what is screaming inside him, but when he backs Axel into a corner and pushes him down onto a pile of practice mattresses, he's answering yes, yes, yes, yes.

The last song of Axel's cd plays out, but the music doesn't die. It continues for a while between sweat and skin, tongues and teeth, hands and breath.

Suddenly it is all happening, and reality is better than any fantasy.


When the Dance Month comes, spring has just bloomed into summer. The air's pleasant, moved by a warm wind that ruffles hair and plays with kites. Roxas' been shining for the last month, eyes lit by a secret he shares with one person only, and his performance is definitely up to the standards of the competition. He won't win, of course – nobody wins the first time around – but it's enough for him, it's enough for Zack and Cloud and Olette, it's enough for his mother. He dances like he was born onstage, his sharp edges smoothed down, his body gliding over the notes like it's nothing but an extension of the music. He surely outshines Olette, receiving a good number of compliments from a few insiders around. His mother stares at him with eyes shiny with emotion, and, for the first time, Roxas feels like he's compensated just a bit for all the sacrifices she's made to pay his dance studies. He is just a little disappointed that Axel couldn't make it, but when he called, the man said that he would be stuck at rehearsal with the company for the whole afternoon, and Roxas knows what it's like.

He's standing with Olette, smiling for the cameras, when he hears an all too well known voice chattering away on his left. He can grasp a few words, – French, Portuguese and a lot of Spanish – and his smile becomes a beam. He slinks away while the cameras are still flashing, flings himself at both his teachers necks, grinning. He's staring at Axel, because all he cares about is Axel, now, Axel and Axel only. "You made it!" he cheers, "I thought you said you had rehearsals today!"

"Yeah," his friend answers laughing, "I wasn't scheduled to dance for a another couple hours, so I sneaked out. Officially I'm still there. If they find out, I'm a dead man."

Roxas laughs, tugs Axel away by the wrist. He wants to talk, to hear his opinion. There's nothing but Axel, in the crowded room. About a thousand other people around, and it's just the two of them. Roxas is beaming and looking up like he saw the sun rising for the first time, and Axel is looking down like Roxas is some kind of miracle he's so very proud of. There's no Olette anymore, no Zack and Cloud talking to Roxas' mother just a few feet away. There's Axel and Axel only, and who cares, who could ever care for anything else. Axel, the pride in his eyes, that grin, and that obnoxious, endearing mess of languages Roxas has finally learned to understand his way through.

They lean against a window, half out of it and staring into the garden. The air smells like flowers, like honey, and Roxas reaches a hand over to grasp Axel's on the windowsill casually, now that no one can see. He glances on a side, studies Axel's profile for a bit. "How did I do?" he asks.

"You were a tad too stiff when you handled Odette," Axel teases with a smirk, "But all in all, you were decent."

Roxas would be a little outraged if he didn't know Axel is teasing him. "Name's Olette." he huffs with a little laughter, "And I was stunning and you know it."

Axel squeezes Roxas' hand back, smiles a bit. "You were. Stunning indeed." he agrees. There's so much unsaid, so much subtext in those words, that Roxas bites his lower lip. His mind goes back to that night of April, just mere weeks before, when he finally cracked Axel's resistance. He goes silent, because the memory is slightly overwhelming, and breathing through the smell of acacias becomes a little hard. He remembers Axel, stretched out on the practice mattress underneath him, his smell drowning out cabbage and grease, and the broken melody of his breath. Remembers the slick silk of his skin, remembers the mingling of sweat, the feeling of Axel's stubble under his lips, under his tongue.

There had been a lot of making out, - Axel panting and gasping in Spanish, groaning his love song to Roxas in words he couldn't comprehend just yet- and Roxas had found himself like drunk, inebriated to the point of stumbling over the edge after a little frenetic dry humping, while Axel held him in place as he ground up one, two, three times. There had been a short series of groans and grunts against the base of Axel's neck, Roxas shivering as he rode his orgasm out. He shut his eyes in horror, - good god, so soon - and nuzzled Axel's neck, humiliated, seeking for a place to hide his face where Axel couldn't see it.

There had been a confused grunt on Axel's side, kind of a quizzical hum played through the arousal, and Axel's hands had been stroking Roxas' hair and back soothingly while his panting took on a note of perplexity. Then evidently realization had dawned upon him, and he had muffled a chuckle in Roxas' sweaty hair. There had been comforting whispers spoken between kisses against Roxas' beet red cheeks, against the skin of his ear. Embarrassment slowly faded, the sticky feeling between his legs getting the best of him, and Roxas, with a last kiss, broke the embrace and pulled away.

They hadn't touched each other much, after that. The desire was still there, and so was the attraction, but at the beginning Roxas was still too embarrassed to make a move, and in the long run they lost the momentum and began acting like that night never even happened. Days practicing at school, nights spent in the company of Axel and a flamenco guitar, Roxas' desire began to build up again, pent up lust bottled up and released only when his feet were in a pair of boots. Axel was still there, exactly like before, close and yet far away, with all his beauty and with all his grace, with the powerful sensuality of every movement. But Roxas was back at square one, where he couldn't touch.

It was the same Axel even afterward, drenched in sweat and clad only in his dance pants, chattering and babbling joyously; about how Roxas was improving, about how he was close to a decent level, insultingly oblivious of – or just ignoring – his own beauty. Roxas stared, mouth shut closed, swallowing while his fingers hitched to touch, twitched at the mere flash of sweaty skin, at the very memory of breathy pants. Then had come the weeks before the Dance Month, and Roxas had had to skip most of his lessons with Axel to focus singly on his and Olette's choreography.

It had been easier, without seeing Axel. Easier to hold back, to keep his mind clear. They had talked over the phone, Roxas didn't really feel the distance. But it had taken just a moment, the hint of Axel's accent in the background as the camera shutters clicked away, and Roxas ran. Aching to touch, aching to talk, to speak, to breathe. To touch Axel, to talk to Axel, to breathe Axel. Dance Month wasn't so important anymore.

Now, shoulder to shoulder, staring into a too flowery garden suffocated in the smell of dying acacia flowers, Roxas' heart beats in his throat, the need so strong he wants to cry. His voice sounds choked when he speaks.

"Is it because I'm still jailbait?" he asks looking away, hand still over Axel's. "Because of last time? Or you just... don't like me?" This is not him. Not this insecure, confused, aching little thing leaning on a windowsill. He's never hesitated in front of anything, never been scared of anyone. He's seen more in his first few teenage years than Axel's ever seen in his whole life, probably more than he will ever see in the future either, but. But Axel seems larger than life sometimes, Axel with his talent, with his passion that burns a lot greater than Roxas'. Axel who shines when he dances, looks so beautiful and close and far and confusing. Axel who seems to want him, yes, but keeps insisting they keep the distance, they don't touch; like his touch is poisonous, like Roxas deserves better.

Does this mean Axel is really just not interested?

Roxas is terrified when he thinks this, because he can't imagine anything worse. If he broke both knees it would be better; he would rather give up dance, give up his only hope to leave the streets, than accept this possibility. It's a doubt that sleeps at the back of his mind, rarely comes out and play on his insecurities. Roxas ignores it most of the time, on some level knows it's not true. But sometimes the doubt strikes, and now there's no turning back, for he's asked. He's asked and Axel isn't answering, isn't even squeezing his hand anymore. He's just...

Laughing.

"Sometimes you can be dumb for being so brilliant, chico." he says as he shakes his head.

Behind their backs there's a crowd. A thousand of dancers, dance aficionados and insiders of some kind. In the next room there's the ballet group of a rival Academy from another town stretching and warming up, and Axel and Roxas are staring ahead of themselves into the garden. The smell of acacias is still too strong. It was nice at first, but now it's just nauseating.

Axel's lips against Roxas' forehead are soft and dry, warm to the touch of skin. Roxas rests his ear on Axel's chest and they concede themselves a brief embrace, before Axel has to leave. He goes back to rehearsals, Roxas heads for the locker rooms.

Every kind of music follows that night, as the show goes on, but all Roxas can hear is the thumping rhythm of Axel's heartbeat.


The lights are low, the stage is almost drowned in darkness. There is the low glowing of a few red and orange lights on the floor in the back of the stage, but Roxas' figure is almost invisible despite that. The song chosen is rather easy, something with guitar and voice only, Roxas' feet meant to be the only set of drums on stage. The committee is somewhere ahead of him, hidden in the dark, and Roxas takes a few steadying breaths as he assumes the right stance. He needs to give the first zapateado, a redoble, before the music starts, so he has the time to try to relax and stop shaking before he gives the signal to the sound technician. Flamenco is mainly a sole dancer art, so Axel is not going to dance with him. He's somewhere else, sitting in some chair in the darkness ahead of him.

Roxas sighs. He closes his eyes and begins.

His body moves in time with the music, his shoes beating the time as the lights grow. Music and light, body and notes. Roxas dances on instinct, moves like Axel taught him to. It's all in the legs, in the arms, slow movements breaking up the tension here and there. It's the languid way he can move, almost balletic moves, borrowed for the sound of a flamenco guitar, and then snap and beat the time with his heels. Sweat beads his forehead, runs down his bare chest, down his back. He's barely at half the performance and he's soaked already, arms and legs trembling just slightly. In the rare moments he's still, or moving slowly, he can feel himself strain against the panic, muscles shaking against the nervous fear, the anticipation of it all. Even as he dances, he has to tune his heart and his breathing over the music, to avoid running out of energy too soon. Somehow, it works.

It seems to last forever, even if Roxas knows the song is only five minutes and twenty seven seconds long. The number ends with a long series of heel bangs, a long, complicated escobilla all points and heels that leaves him breathless, even when he drops on one knee and wraps his arms around himself as the music dies. He's shaking even when the tension eases up, his breath still crazy and broken, and slowly pulls up on his legs. There's a small applause for him from the small crew that came to see the auditions, – mainly other auditionees – and he bows, staggers downstage. He heads for his bottle of water, but is caught midway and finds himself in an embrace that smells of henna and spice.

He's too drugged up on endorphins to realize what he's saying, and that "I love you," comes out in a dreamy whisper against the black fabric of Axel's shirt.


It's feverish. Months and months and months, almost one year of lonely nights spent wishing a for warm body to arch against, and it's all pouring out. Axel has dragged him away by the wrist, barely gave him the time to hear the judges say something about him, before dragging him away by the hair. As soon as the door to the dancers' locker room has slammed shut, Roxas finds himself pinned to it, Axel's hands fisting in his hair and tugging his head back. Neck arched, lips parted, eyes dark in desire and shining in anticipation, Roxas almost asks what has changed, why now and not earlier, but he doesn't. He'll be eighteen in half a month, and two weeks aren't such a big deal after all; Axel's leaned down to kiss him and it's overwhelming in every kind of way. Roxas arches against him, pulls him closer and kisses, kisses, kisses back until he's so hard he's ready to fall on his knees and beg.

But this time there's no need to beg.

Axel's hands are everywhere, over and under clothes, and it's all very needy, a scrambling of fingers on skin, of teeth on flesh and lips on lips. Roxas' whole body is burning; burning when Axel strips him, burning when he kisses him whole, from forehead to the ridge of hipbones, slightly visible under the stretches of muscles that draw his abdomen. Then there's a muffled cry, and Roxas shakes, hands fisting in red hair, legs buckling, stomach churning and abdomen twitching. It lasts forever but is over in a moment, and when it is over Axel licks his lips and lets him sag down slowly, pulls him in his arms; he turns his head on a side, kisses Roxas' sweaty temple while stroking soothing lines down the planes of his back. There's only silence now, the sound of their breathing the only kind of music they're listening to. Roxas rests against Axel, pants against the base of his neck. The afterglow makes his legs and arms that much heavier, so much that he couldn't move even if he wanted to. And he doesn't.

He nuzzles Axel's neck, smiles softly when Axel ducks his head down and covers his forehead in little kisses. He pushes himself up a bit, kisses Axel's lips before going down to lean his head against his shoulder again, kneeing between Axel's own knees, sagging against him like boneless.

Axel kisses softly the top of his head. "You were a minor, and I was your teacher," he begins to explain. Roxas blindly gropes around for his mouth, shuts him up, breath slow and deep. To hell if he cares now: he's on the verge of falling asleep, feels like he's floating over the clouds, and when he feels Axel smile against the palm of his hand, he lets go and murmurs a couple sleepy words against the base of his neck. Axel can't hear them, but that doesn't really matter. He fixes the kids' pants back in place, sits back and pulls Roxas to sleep against him, thoughtfully staring at some random point between blond spikes. There's a cowlick there, and why isn't he surprised.

Roxas doesn't know, nor could he, asleep against Axel's chest, but from the moment Axel's grabbed his wrist to when he's helped him crumble to his knees, to this very moment, Axel's been thinking about the three words he's heard Roxas murmur against his shirt. Just when he's sure Roxas is asleep and can't hear him, Axel leans down and kisses softly his forehead. It's still damp with perspiration, and Axel gives a small smile.

"Yo tambien, chico. No sabes cuanto." (3)


Translation of untranslated spanish sentences:

(1) This isn't going to end well

(2) Wanna dance with me, kiddo?

(3) Me too, kiddo. You have no idea how much.