Christmas at the Castle, a Kingdom Hearts fanfic by Raberba girl
Chapter 13 - Also, a giant key.
Saïx woke up a little after midnight. He frowned, since he had the uncomfortable sense that something was wrong.
Sitting up in bed, he was greeted by an ecstatic Chi, who repeatedly jumped at his chest and licked his neck, since she was too small to reach his face.
"It's all right now, pretty girl," he crooned, stroking her fur a few times and then tucking her under his arm. He got up and studied his room. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary, except that Chi's water needed to be changed and her food dispenser, though by no means empty, was much less full than he was in the habit of leaving it. "What is the date?" he asked one of his Berserkers uncertainly.
"December 26th," was the answer.
"Hm..." Yes, something was wrong here. What had happened to Christmas afternoon? The last thing he remembered, he had been forced to watch that wretched movie, then he had tried to get some paperwork done before Larxene had ruined things, and he had gone to get a drink after the battle, but...things were sort of fuzzy after that. He had the very uncomfortable feeling that he might have made a fool of himself in public with either Xemnas or Axel, or maybe even both of them. And he had no idea how he had gotten back to his room.
"Let's go for a walk, sweetie," he suggested. "Did the Berserkers take you out?" She yipped at him. "Well, we'll try again, just in case. Be a good girl and don't make any noise." He put Chi into his backpack and then ventured out into the Proof of Existence, which was dead silent.
The castle halls were cold and empty, and his footsteps echoed eerily. The dining room, when he got a chance to check, looked the same as it had on Christmas Eve. "Hm..." Via the Dusks, he discovered that everyone was asleep in their rooms except Axel, who seemed to be missing. "See if he's still onworld," Saïx commanded, then went to the Grey Area.
The sight of the heart-shaped moon relaxed him as it always did, giving renewed focus and clarity to his thoughts. He took out Chi and showed her the present he had received from Number XIII.
She loved it. The little dog pounced happily on the chew toy, growling and snarling and trying to seize it in her teeth and yank it away from him as he dangled it invitingly before her face.
The playful snarls and violent squeaking were so loud that Saïx did not even detect the footsteps approaching behind him. He flinched at the unexpected sound of Axel's incredulous chuckle. "No wonder you didn't have a problem with the Christmas pets, you naughty rule-breaker."
"Where have you been?" Saïx grumped, picking up Chi and holding her protectively against his chest.
"Confiscating Marluxia and Larxene's pathetic takeover attempt."
Saïx looked over to find Axel proudly brandishing a couple of cameras.
"...What's on there?"
"Some really, really good stuff," Axel said with relish. "Hopefully no one will remember much, and I got the Dusks to clean up the dining room and put everyone to bed, but if anyone ever causes trouble in the future..."
"...Some of those recordings are of me, aren't they."
Axel smiled and twirled the cameras. Saïx knew that if he tried to grab them, they would be instantly out of his reach, dark corridored off to where he would never be able to find them again. "I hope you have not forgotten that we're partners," he said icily instead.
"If I were you, Sai," Axel said sweetly, "I'd be very nice to me."
Chi finally noticed Bomb's head sticking out of Axel's pocket, and began struggling to get to him. The kitten hissed, puffing up so that Axel had a hard time digging him out. "Oi, Bomb, calm down-" He paused. "Hey, what's your little friend's name?"
Axel blinked. "Chi?" A smile began to spread over his face. "Because she's a Chihuahua? Oh, Sai, that is so lame!"
"Says the idiot who named his cat 'Bomb,'" Saïx snapped back.
"Good strong name." Axel held the agitated little ball of fluff out to Chi, who sniffed it curiously. Then she gave the kitten an enthusiastic lick, causing Bomb to stop hissing in surprise.
"Ironic, huh," Axel murmured. "Me with my kitty and you with your little dog..."
"You're a sentimental fool, Axel."
"Funny, isn't it? Seeing as how I don't have a heart to be sentimental with." He set Bomb on the floor, and Saïx released Chi. She yipped happily and settled down with Bomb between her front paws to lick his head in a motherly fashion. The kitten submitted with only perfunctory resistance, his cute little glare belied by a purr rumbling in his throat.
Saïx, watching them, blinked in surprise when Axel suddenly waved a package under his nose. "What's this?"
"It's Christmas. What do you think it is?"
"...I didn't get anything extra for you."
"I know. I don't care. Open it anyway."
Saïx slowly took the package. It turned out to contain a pair of earrings shaped like pale blue ice cream bars. "You're insane if you think I would ever wear these."
"Heh, I dare you to."
"What are you, ten years old?"
"What are you, forty?"
Saïx shook his head. "We've got a job to do. We shouldn't be wasting time on such foolishness."
"Man, you're so boring."
Saïx looked at Axel.
"You act just like our old history teacher sometimes."
Axel's eyes widened. "You do remember! That old fuddy-duddy who was always going on about 'Earning your diploma is your mission,' and-"
"-and 'Never take your eyes off the prize for anything.'"
Axel grinned. "Maybe my old friend is still somewhere in there after all."
"Since when have we still been friends?" Saïx muttered.
"...Since you took care of Roxas the other day, at least," Axel said softly. "You didn't have to do that."
"I didn't have to leave him ill, either."
"Still. Not everyone in this miserable castle would've been willing to pull off a total Florence Nightingale act. In fact, I thought I was the only one."
Saïx looked down at his Christmas gift for a long time. Then he slowly took the studs out of his ears and put on the ice cream jewelry. "Don't get used to it. This is the only time you'll ever see me wearing these ridiculous things, I'm going to throw them away."
"Heh, they look good on you."
"Of course I am," Axel said affectionately. "You look silly. Best present you could have given me. Merry Christmas, Isa."
"...Merry Christmas, Lea."
Author's Notes: This was the first story I wrote where Axel gives Saïx earrings as a gift, though there's at least one fic including that idea which I happened to publish earlier. Christmas at the Castle was drafted back in late summer 2011.
With the exception of chapter 11, this fic was unbelievably fun to write. I'm happy with how Xion turned out, since I didn't get to do her justice in The Thirteenth Changeling. I loved writing the Roxas/Axel/Xion trio, though I think Axel's going to kill me for nannying him to death (and...for Axelbelle ^^;). Even though it was hard to do AkuSai bromance while keeping Saïx in character, and even though the "Zemyx" turned out pretty much the opposite of what I'd intended, those were fun, too.
I have both a platonic Lea/Isa multi-chapter prequel and a general multi-chapter sequel in the works, though it'll probably be a long time before I'm able to post them. I also have several much smaller stories set in this same universe, and many others which borrow elements from it. The main sequel will have a different tone - I'm not planning for it to be a humor fic like this one is, it's just that it takes place in the same universe. (For example, what happened to all the Org's pets when their owners died? I started writing one of the sequel's subplots solely to address that issue.)
Writing this fic finally made me realize how much I enjoy ship-teasing, regardless of whether I actually like the pairing or not (which would explain a lot about some of my previous fics, even as far back as The Same Shade of Yellow seven years ago o.O). It's far more fun than actual romance. I have NO idea why it took me so long to realize this about myself...