Disclaimer: I don't own anything related to this series.

Hi! Zephyr here. And here's my yearly update for 8-13. I think it could have been a little better, but I'm still happy with how it turned out. And now the plot bunnies aren't bugging me. At any rate, let the deadly tale begin!

"Axel, I have a question for you."

Axel tore his eyes away from the TV and looked at Roxas, who had been reading a copy of Full-Metal Panic on the couch. Now the blonde was looking at Axel with a curious expression on his face, though Axel didn't know what Roxas was curious about.

"What is it?" Axel frowned. "You know nothing's off limits with me."

"Well, I just wanted to know why you never go to church anymore." Roxas asked, his finger marking his place in his book.

"What brought that on?" Axel raised an eyebrow.

"I was talking to Cloud and Tifa when we went to the mall today and Tifa told me that she remembers when you went to the same church as her." Roxas explained. "I don't think you've been to church since we started dating."

"Neither have you." Axel retorted.

"But I never went to church as a kid." Roxas pointed out. "You did."

"Is it really that big of a deal?" Axel turned to Roxas, the episode of The Big Bang Theory all but forgotten.

"I'm just curious, Axel." Roxas said. "Most people who go to church as a kid usually continue to go when they're adults."

"Yeah, well, I'm not one of those people, Roxas." Axel responded.

Roxas noticed the strangeness in Axel's voice. There was something that Axel wasn't telling him. Roxas could always tell when something was bothering him.

"You aren't telling me something." Roxas said. "Something important, isn't it?"

"Who says I'm hiding something from you?" Roxas could tell that Axel was getting agitated.

"It just seemed like-" Roxas began.

"Well, I'm not." Axel snapped. "And let's not talk about religion anymore, okay?"

"Okay, whatever you say." Roxas said.

"Kadaj, I need to talk to you about something."

Roxas and Kadaj were sitting in the break room at work, trying to kill some time before they actually had to start their shift. Kadaj was playing a game of Solitaire on the floor, while Roxas had been drawing random scribbles in his notebook.

"What's up, dude?" Kadaj asked, his green eyes on Roxas.

"Well, you were Axel's boyfriend once, so I'm wondering if he ever told you something." Roxas queried.

"Told me what?" Kadaj asked hesitantly.

"I asked him a few days ago why he doesn't go to church anymore, but he didn't say anything." Roxas explained.

"And you want to know if he told me why." Kadaj assumed.

"Exactly." Roxas nodded.

"Roxas, religion is a very sensitive thing for him." Kadaj brushed a strand of silver hair from his eyes. "He used to go to church for a little while when we started going out, but I never asked why he stopped going."

"Why?" Roxas asked.

"I could tell that he got upset when he had to go to church, even before we officially started dating. I went with him a few times and I could see that it was kind of hard for him."

"But why did he keep going if it was difficult?" Roxas wondered.

"That's something you'll have to ask him." Kadaj said. "Though I don't recommend suggesting that you actually do it."

"And why not?" Roxas asked.

"The last time I brought it up, Axel wouldn't speak to me for three days. I don't want something similar happening to you." Kadaj responded. "Everyone has things they don't like to talk about, Roxas. I guess Axel just doesn't like talking about it."

"But there must be a reason why he doesn't want to." Roxas mused. "I wonder what it is."

"He never said anything to me." Kadaj shrugged. "Your guess is as good as mine."

Roxas sat alone on the couch as he watched an episode of Red Vs Blue on the TV while he waited for Axel to come home from work. Axel had called and told him that he might be a little late, since his replacement had called in sick and they needed to find a replacement to take his place. He had missed dinner, but Roxas made sure to save some of the pasta that he had made.

A little after seven, Roxas heard the familiar sound of the key in the door and Axel walked into the apartment. His peridot eyes showed how tired he was, but he didn't seem like he was in a bad mood like he usually was when he was placed in a similar situation.

"That was fast." Roxas said. "Any bad patients today?"

"Just the usual gunshot wounds and stabbing victims." Axel said as he walked into the bedroom to change into more comfortable clothes.

"What a lovely part of the city we live in." Roxas said.

"Don't I know it." Axel said from the other room. He came out a few minutes later wearing a pair of cargo pants and a T-shirt that he bought at a Muse concert. "Any dinner left over?"

"It's in the fridge." Roxas nodded.

"Sounds good." Axel said. "I'm starving."

"Did you get lunch today or did you have to work through it again?" Roxas asked.

"Take a guess." Axel asked as he placed a bowl of pasta in the microwave.

"Went right through it, huh?" Roxas said. "Sometimes I'm glad I work in retail."

"Just wait until you get accepted to that job in the pharmacy." Axel said. "You'll be working a lot, too."

"Oh, I'm just looking forward to it." Roxas said as Axel walked back into living room.

"So what are we watching tonight?" Axel asked as he flopped down on the couch.

"Season six of Red Vs Blue." Roxas responded.

"You always watch this season." Axel said through a mouthful of pasta.

"It's my favourite season." Roxas retorted,

"Yeah, but season three was pretty good, too." Axel pointed out.

The next few minutes passed in silence as Roxas watched TV and Axel ate his dinner. After about ten minutes, Roxas broke the silence.

"Axel, I have to talk to you about something."

"You aren't breaking up with me, are you?" Axel asked hesitantly.

"No, of course not." Roxas shook his head. "Why would you think that?"

"That's what people usually talk about when they phrase something in that manner." Axel breathed a sigh of relief. "So what do you want to talk about?"

"It's about your not going to church thing." Roxas said.

Axel's peridot eyes rested cautiously on Roxas, but the blonde continued with the conversation.

"I know you said that you didn't want to talk about it, but I'm genuinely curious about why you don't go." Roxas began.

"Roxas…" Axel said slowly.

"Did something happen?" Roxas asked.

"Yes." Axel nodded. "Something did happen."

Roxas stopped and stared at Axel. He didn't expect that something had actually happened that would stop Axel from going to church.

"Can I ask about it?" Roxas asked. "You don't have to tell me if you're not comfortable with telling me."

"No, you deserve to know." Axel shook his head. "We can't be together if we're going to keep secrets from each other."

"So what happened?" Roxas asked, the episodes of Red Vs Blue all but forgotten.

Axel took a few seconds to compose himself before he said, "When I was thirteen, my family died in a car crash."

Roxas didn't say anything. He knew there was a reason why Axel never talked about his family, but he never thought that it would be because they died.

"My parents and Reno and I were coming home from my grandparent's house one night when our car was hit by a drunk driver. The force of the impact forced the car off the road and it got wrapped around a tree." Axel said, his voice hollow. "Mom and Dad and Reno, my older brother, all died. I tried to call for help, but Dad and Reno's cell phones were smashed by the impact and I couldn't go walk for help because I was trapped in the car. I had to wait for almost four hours for someone to drive by and to call for an ambulance."

Roxas nodded once so that Axel would know that he was still listening.

"After that, I had to go through therapy for a while because I couldn't handle the nightmares that I kept having. I still have them, but I've learned how to deal with them. That's why it's still hard for me to drive sometimes. I'm still afraid that something like that is going to happen again." Axel took a deep breath and continued. "I kept wondering what kind of God would allow all of my family to die and leave me behind. How could someone force that on a kid?"

"So that's why you don't go to church anymore?" Roxas asked. "Because you don't think that God should have allowed your family to die?"

"That's only part of the reason." Axel said. "That's most of it, but there's something else that forced me to stop going."

"What's that?" Roxas wondered.

"I started going out with Kadaj." Axel said.

Roxas remembered that Kadaj had told him that Axel had gone to church a few times after they had started dating, but he had never put the two things together.

"Once I figured out that I was gay, it felt really weird and awkward to be in church. I told a few of my close friends and they stopped talking to me and kind of turned everyone at church against me." Axel said. "That was enough in and of itself. It got worse when Kadaj wanted to go to church with me."

"But he went, right?" Roxas asked.

"Oh yeah, he went and he said he had a good time. But I knew that everyone else kept looking at me like I was the devil incarnate or something like that. I didn't want Kadaj to have to deal with something like that." Axel said. "After some time, the pastor from my church told me that the congregation didn't feel comfortable having me attend services. So he basically kicked me out because I'm gay."

"That's terrible." Roxas said.

"It is what it is. I didn't feel like dealing with other churches after that, so I just stopped going altogether. I just couldn't understand how people who believe in loving everyone as their neighbour could treat me like that just because I like boys instead of girls. Just because I'm different from what is normal." Axel said. "So do you understand why I'm not so keen on religion? At least Christianity, anyway?"

"Yeah, I do." Roxas nodded. "And I'm really sorry that all of that had to happen."

"I'm over it now." Axel shook his head. "The hardest part is dealing with the fact that my family died, but I'm growing accustomed to that."

"It takes time, Axel." Roxas told him.

"I know that. And I've been getting better over the years, but it's still hard knowing that I'm never going to see my parents or Reno ever again." Axel said. "Just be glad that you have Sora. I know that he's technically your cousin, but you two are practically siblings."

"Yeah, I know." Roxas nodded. "And Axel?"

"Hmm?" Axel raised an eyebrow.

"Thanks for telling me." Roxas said. "I know it must be difficult to talk about."

"It is, but I guess you needed to know." Axel said. "We can't exactly keep secrets from each other, can we? Especially about something like this."

I never like the endings for my stories. Ah well. Hope it was a good read. Reviews equal love. Thanks for reading!