Indelible Memories

By Lauryn (DXM JUNKIE)

A/N: Guess who crossed this fanfic over with the wonderful Junjou Romantica? Meeee~ But don't fret dearies. If you've never drooled over the manga or fan-girled over the anime you'll still be able to understand this chapter. And then you can go discover the magic that is Shungiku Nakamura-sensei. Oh, and this chapter will also have a bit of Japanese in it. Some of the words don't translate over. You might have to google them. Also, when there is Engrish, I feel obligated to write out the pronunciations. So ignore that if it bugs you.

Chapter Nine: The Marukawa Family

For whatever reason after Dem spilled his past out to Roxas he regained a completely normal disposition. It was as though saying the words aloud helped him in a way nothing else could. Zexion appeared immensely relieved and even Axel commented on how easy it was to placate the excitable man.

Demyx's birthday turned out to be a fun event despite the fact that he acted more uncaringly hyper than usual. Xion baked him his favorite angel food cake and they went scuba diving through a serious of elaborate caves to shoot some underwater footage. After nearly five hours of swimming, Axel bitched about being tired and passed out below deck early. Xion forgot to put sunscreen on so she became sunburned as the afternoon wore on, the color shocking against her milky white complexion.

Demyx's birthday was the first time Roxas ever saw Zexion and his boyfriend kiss.

Roxas was startled by the easy affection they shared and noted that neither held an inkling of embarrassment or shame. It was oddly comforting to see. Still a bit overwhelming though since Zexion appeared to be the sort who would loathe PDA.

Demyx must have informed the slate-haired man that he knew about their relationship since Zexion pointedly ignored Roxas' sharp gasp when their lips brushed. Xion squealed and snapped a photo of the pair, dressed in the smallest bikini she owned to avoid rubbing anything on her burned skin.

Watching them kiss sparked something inside Roxas. Almost like a switch being irreversibly flipped.

When he crawled into bed next to Axel that night his stomach was tight and his mind became restless. He didn't know what he was feeling per say- only that the unfathomable anxiety alleviated when Axel strung his arm around Roxas' shoulder and pulled him close under the comforter. Roxas buried his face into the material of Axel's shirt and sighed to himself before closing his eyes and falling asleep.

Two months swiftly passed but the seasons never seemed to change around them. It got cooler in Japan whenever they chanced to stop, however the tropical weather of various countries remained steady. As Roxas thought hundreds of times it was as if he'd never lived on the Islands. The N.N. was his home and his life. He was growing up, slowly but surely. He felt much more mature now and able to handle complex situations.

Being silent was improbable for the blond, foreign and unknowable.

How could he remain stoic with Xion pouting at him so adorably? Or Demyx pulling him towards the stern to fish or Zexion deftly teaching him more about math than he ever thought possible? How could he frown or feel unhappy when Axel smirked down at him, green eyes glinting so affectionately?

As September ended Zexion remained them that they'd need to head to Shanghai for repairs on the ship. Axel explained that this only happened once a year, before winter. A professional crew of mechanics would dismantle the entire engine to grease it and replace worn parts.

Roxas was going to meet Cid for the first time when they docked, and he'd been incredibly nervous. Xion tried to comfort him the best she could but Roxas remained anxious. He understood that Cid gave him the job without knowing him in person. And it was only off the recommendation of Axel. He hoped the man wouldn't regret allowing him aboard once they met.

The repairs took less than a week, the group staying in a fancy hotel room on the top floor of a skyscraper. They each paid for one night to rent the suite and enjoyed the giant bubble bath and fancy room service. At least Roxas was well-slept when he finally met his boss.

Cid was a lot different than Roxas imagined him to be, incredibly vulgar and gruff with the crew.

He seemed to get along best with Axel and when the pair bantered their accents became so prominent that Roxas could barely understand the words even if they were English. Cid had a phenomenal stomach for consuming whisky and could drink the group under the table a hundred times over. The crew was subsequently hung-over for a few of the mornings after docking.

Roxas eagerly watched the repairs to the engine with rapt fascination. One of the mechanics, a friendly British guy named Zack, started explaining what they were working on and how it helped the ship. He was a bit older than the blond but didn't treat him as such. He informed Roxas in both plain and technical terms, switching between the two effortlessly.

Roxas learned that the set of mechanics were a tight knit group. He figured they must have been through a lot together since they acted so intimately with one another.

Aloof Cloud looked so much like Roxas even Zexion was a little weirded out. The dark-haired guy named Leon barely spoke five words strung together during the entire venture. But Cloud and Leon had an easy way of interacting, passing tools to one another without even glancing back. Zack loved poking fun at them, and they pranked around just like his own crew. Only in a more subtle manner.

Shanghai was far too crowded for the blond, but he was swiftly learning enough basic Chinese to get by. His accent was funny and the words tripped over his tongue yet he very adamant about the endeavor.

Zexion went out one afternoon and bought Roxas a book of Kanji, explaining that it would help him both in China and Japan since they used the same basic characters. Xion helped him with pronunciation, and while the group went sightseeing Roxas holed himself in the room to study. Axel thought it was cute how dedicated the blond could be. Even if he wasn't forced to attend school he loved learning voraciously.

During the end of their break in China, a strange event occurred.

Xion received a letter, sent by her family apparently, addressed to the crew and sent to Cid's shop. They were saying their goodbyes to the mechanics when the gruff man pulled Xion aside and handed her the envelope with an apologetic grimace. Xion's face fell when she recognized the handwriting, her lip trembling.

Xion was silent for the rest of the night, her eyes glazed and distant before she disappeared into her room.

The next day during breakfast she informed the group that they would need to head to Japan for a pit stop. Needless to say they older members were floored.

Not once in the entire time they'd know Xion did she ever mention returning home. She explained that her father always knew where she was (well, that she was aboard a ship) and that she needed to go back for a fancy black tie party at the publishing company. They didn't understand why it was so important for her to attend, but didn't pry. The look on her face told them not to.

It would only be a one day event, but the trip would take a week to go around the side of Japan and up the harbor to Tokyo.

For some reason the whole situation sat like bile in the pit of Roxas' stomach. He disliked seeing Xion so forlorn. The group sat wordlessly for a long beat before the redhead animated.

Axel immediately insisted that they attend also, for moral support. Demyx seconded that and it was decided they would purchase new clothes to wear since Tokyo had premium shopping. Zexion slung his arm around Xion's shoulder and informed her that there was no way in hell they would leave her alone. A tear rolled down her cheek and she hugged him back, thanking them all for caring so much.

Roxas was struck by how much she reminded him of his old self and how grateful he was that he could be there to help her out. It never crossed his mind that this might be odd; how he would toss anything and everything aside to help this girl who was like his family.

When they arrived in the metropolis Roxas affected cheerfulness and joked around as they bought punk clothes from a Gothic-Lolita store called Sex Pot Revenge. Axel stated that it would scare the hell out of the people if they looked all punk and intimidating. The store sported items that were all handmade and expensive but they had money to blow.

Roxas felt that he looked a little abnormal in the tight black clothes, but deftly reminded himself that he was doing this for his friend. Axel had a ball trying on fish-net shirts. Demyx assisted Xion by picking out a sleek short dress with an open back and found comfortable studded heels for her tiny feet.

Zexion helped by buying makeup and hair products, complaining loudly about the strange looks he got from the clerk. Xion found this hilarious and finally seemed to revert back to her cheerful tendencies, but only for an hour. As the event drew closer and closer her lips pursed and her shoulders hunched and blue eyes misted over.

Roxas and Axel decided that they would go along with her inside. Demyx and Zexion would wait by the main gates to hail a getaway taxi if needed.

The publishing firm was called Marukawa Shoten and Xion's brother was apparently the senior managing director. Roxas wasn't sure what that term meant but he figured the man was some arrogant head honcho.

After taking the subway from the docks into the heart of the city they located the correct building with the help of Demyx's smart phone.

They stood outside together awkwardly, sets of arms wrapped tightly around Xion as people glanced at them before meandering in the hotel. They looked like a strange group. A neatly dressed Japanese girl and her crazy foreigners huddled close.

Xion took a deep breath of air and glanced around her crew, clutching Roxas and Axel's hands tightly with sweaty palms.

oOo

"This is a big crowd." Roxas mentioned as they handed someone their ticket badges and were hesitantly allowed to enter. Only when Xion glared sharply at the attendant did he finally open the wide doors for them, glancing with disapproval at their inappropriate attire.

Xion nodded impatiently before quietly adding, "This is a big event, the largest every year."

Axel sighed, "Let's just get this over with."

Xion slid her eyes over to Roxas, "You're not going to ask me about anything?"

Roxas blinked, brushing some of his gelled hair away from his face, "Like what?"

"Like why we have to be here." Xion hedged.

"That's your business." Axel stated blandly, "We are just here for moral support."

Xion grimaced before stretching her arms out in front of her, "I suppose you're right."

The hotel was the uber-fancy sort, all decked out with chandeliers and extravagant carpeting. Roxas felt distinctly out of place in their tight punk getups amongst all the suits and ties. Plus they were the only two in the room who weren't Japanese. People moved out of their way frantically as they went forward into the room. Murmurs followed them wherever they went, some weren't very subtle.

Axel stood to his full height, which was far taller than the average Asian person. He pooled his lanky arm around Xion protectively when fingers pointed at her and groups hide behind their hands to gossip. Xion ducked her head in embarrassment. She wasn't used to being the center of attention. She hated it.

"Don't worry," Roxas muttered under his breath, "Hold your head high and show them you don't give a damn what they think."

Xion inexplicably giggled as her face lifted back up, her blue gaze sparking with aggression. Roxas was right. This was no time to act like a timid coward. Xion lead them to the side of the room.

"Onii-sama, Konbanwa." Xion stated loudly as she walked up to an important looking guy crowded by businessmen. The people around him cleared away when she strode forward with an elegant bow.

The man's eyebrows shot onto his forehead at the sight of her, "Imouto-chan! Hisashiburi desu ne." 'Little sister, long time no see.'

Axel blinked as they conversed in Japanese together. He knew enough of the language to have a grasp on what she was saying yet the way she spoke was with such polite distance. Xion was using her most formal Nihongo while her older brother remained casual and overly-friendly. Axel frowned, he wasn't sure he liked this man or the sneer hiding just under his surface.

"Axel, Roxas, this is my older brother, Isaka Ryuichiro. Onii-sama, kore no hitobito wa atashi no tomodachi." 'Brother, these people are my friends.'

Isaka glanced up at Axel, lips straining into a forced smile. "And why are they here?"

"Because I invited them to be here."

"I see. Father will not be happy with your choice in clothing. You know he said that one going for an omiai ought to be wearing the finest furisode."

"I'm well aware." Xion huffed.

Axel's eyebrows shot up his forehead. Xion was here for an omiai? Oh, shit.

Isaka rolled his eyes when the man next to him bowed low, "Xion-tono it is good to know you are in good health. Your honorable father has been worried about you."

Xion bowed back, "Asahina-san. I see you still have not left my troublesome brother's side even after all these years. I hope he has not being giving you too much grief."

Asahina smirked when Isaka glared over at him, "It was my choice to become his personal secretary, Xion-tono."

Xion blithely turned to Axel and Roxas, "This is going to get boring for a bit. I need to speak with them about something urgent."

She caught Axel's stare and ignored it, "Why don't you head on over to the bar and get us a round of drinks?"

Axel sighed, "Drinks? Sure, what do you want?"

"Preferably something hard. And don't forget- the drinks here are complimentary. Do not tip the bartender because it's rude." This comment was more directed at Roxas.

Roxas smiled in what he hoped was a comforting manner, "Sure thing. If you need us…"

Xion leaned over and rested her hand on Roxas's bare arm, "I'm think I'll manage."

The pair wandered away to the other side of the large auditorium, not really needing to weave through the crowd because they parted immediately when they spotted Axel's venomous disposition and ostentatiously red hair. Roxas found it a bit hilarious by how terrified some of them thought Axel was. He'd never found the man scary at all. But Axel did look far tenser than before.

Sets of people lounged by the bar, wordlessly watching them with open awe. They were obviously wondering what the hell two underdressed foreigners thought they were doing at this prestigious event.

Roxas stiffened when he spotted one guy speaking with a taller man. He looked so shockingly like Sora. His hair was the exact shade of brown as his twin but he had green eyes instead of blue.

Axel waited patiently enough for the barkeep to reach them until it seemed like they were being pointedly ignored. Leaning over the slim bar he pulled up three shot glasses and a bottle of malt tequila. The bartender opened his mouth to complain but when he spotted the foreigner expertly spinning the liquor his teeth snapped together.

"We're going to get yelled at." Roxas stated dryly, not really caring.

Axel rolled his eyes as he spread salt on the corner of his hand, motioning for Roxas to do the same. Roxas grabbed two lemons and they swiftly licked the salt, threw back the shot, and puckered the fruit into each other's mouths with expert ease.

"Do I look like I care what these prudes think?" Axel intoned sarcastically, sounding remarkably Irish.

Roxas turned a bit and caught Xion speaking very swiftly with an angry looking old man. She was stiff as a board and appeared to be arguing with him.

"Do you think that's…?"

"Dunno." Axel responded, "He doesn't look much like her. Hard to tell."

Roxas sighed, "She doesn't appear too happy. Guess I can't blame her."

Axel tilted his head down to the brunette who was openly gaping up at him, "Sumimasen, ano hito wa dare desuka?" 'Excuse me, who is that person?'

The boy jolted in surprise, "Ano…?" 'Um…?'

"Asoko tanujijii." Axel grunted. 'That cunning old man.'

"Eto…" The man turned to a silver-haired guy in a pinstripe suit before finally answering, "Isaka Tomoharu-sama."

"Marukawa Xion chichi desu ka?" Roxas piped up in childish Japanese. 'Is that Xion Marukawa's father?'

If anything, the young guy appeared more aghast, "Marukawa? Nan-"

"Misaki." The silver haired man stated, trying to save him from speaking anymore.

The boy apparently named Misaki bit his lip nervously.

"Pardon the interruption," The older man said in clear English, "This boy wouldn't know, he just started working here. But yes, that is Marukawa-san's father. And who might you be?"

"Oh," Roxas was relieved to hear the English, "We are Xion's friends. We just weren't sure if it was her father or not."

Remembering the manners he'd learned from Xion, Roxas bowed a little bit. Realizing that Axel wasn't doing the same he deftly lifted his hand up to force Axel to bow.

"Hey!" Axel whined.

"My name is Kouda Roxas and this is McKenna Axel. Pleased to meet you."

"My name is Usami Akihiko. Pleasure to make your acquaintance." He replied formally.

Roxas felt his jaw drop. Misaki was watching him with an odd expression when Roxas implored, "No way! Are you serious?"

Axel snorted, "What now?"

"You're… Usami Akihiko? The author?" Roxas implored.

"The one and only, though I must say it is unusual for a foreigner to know my name. This party is for the staff of Marukawa Publishing after all." Usami explained, a faint British accent forming around his words.

"That's so cool, it's really nice to meet you. I enjoy your novels. Especially the more recent stuff, the tone of your characters is much more cheerful now." Roxas praised openly, smiling when Axel huffed. "Though sometimes it's hard to have to wait until it's translated."

Usami's nodded at the compliment before his light-blue eyes slid down to Misaki. The brunette was still standing next to him, appearing lost from all the English.

"Well, thank you. I do believe, however, you are being summoned…" Usami bowed one last time and wandered away, hand grasping Misaki's arm tightly.

Xion came up behind Axel's arm with a small flute of champagne, "Who was that? Roxas looked creepy happy."

"Hell if I know."

"Axel! Seriously? That was Usami Akihiko! He's like super famous worldwide. We had to read one of his books for a class in high school, he's brilliant."

"Oh, that was Akihiko-san? He's changed a bit. Looks less moody, I think."

Roxas turned to her with a baffled pout, "What? You know him? Why do you use his name so informally?"

"Oh, I just didn't recognize him right away. It's been a few years. His brother, Usami Haruhiko, used to hang out with my brother all the time. My brother was the person who made Akihiko-san start writing for Marukawa."

"That's so awesome!" Roxas cheered, "I wonder if it would be rude to ask him for his autograph."

"Xion." A deep voice rumbled over her shoulder.

"Oh." Xion wilted, backing up a pace to stand away from her father.

She side-glanced at her friends nervously, "I'll be right back you two. Don't cause any trouble."

Xion disappeared again out a set of doors, trailing behind the fierce man.

Roxas turned to Axel, "I know we shouldn't ask, but I really wonder why she had to come to this party out of all things."

Axel sighed, crossing his lanky arms over the bar, "Well it's probably because it will be her birthday soon."

"What does that have to do with anything?"

"She'll be turning twenty which is the age of adulthood in this country, the age for marriage."

Axel said that word like it was a foul curse, as if it was dirt on his tongue.

"I'm guessing her father wants her to come back home for good. Since being a crew member for a ship is rather heinous with their family as famous as it is. Fucking upper-class pricks."

Roxas stepped closer, voice hushed, "Will she do as he says?"

Axel shook his head, "No, I don't think so. See, her brother decided to take over the company though technically she was supposed to be the heir even if she's younger. I remember Cid saying something about a family grudge. He's only her half brother. They have different mothers."

"But Xion would hate moving back here permanently. No way…"

The idea of Xion leaving their crew had never struck his mind. It left him feeling bereft.

Axel noticed immediately, feeling guilty that he wasn't telling Roxas the full truth. But there was no reason to say anything yet, nothing was set in stone.

"Like I said, I don't think she will." Axel responded. "She doesn't want to inherit and was probably thankful when her brother took over. He gave her a way out. The only way she could take over the company is by marriage. A woman can't work without a man by her side or some bigoted shit like that."

Roxas glanced up, their eyes locking, "I hope she isn't forced into anything."

Axel paused, amazed by the perceptive comment. He let his hand sift through the top of blond gelled hair in a comforting gesture, "Don't worry about it, Rox."

Roxas gave a small smile, reaching over to pour them another set of drinks since the bartender obviously wasn't coming within ten feet of them.

Axel's cell chimed in his pocket; he pulled the red device out and flipped it open.

"Dem's wondering what's taking us so long."

"Tell him to be patient." Roxas recommended.

"Yeah, and the day that'll happen is-"

"Parodonu." Axel was abruptly interrupted.

Xion's half-brother stood behind them, his teeth gleaming white from the fake smile plastered across his face. His secretary flanked his left side, bowing slightly.

"Good evening." Roxas responded in mockingly perfect English.

"Enajoingu da patii?" Isaka asked, affecting cheerfulness.

Roxas heard, "En-ah-joe-ee-n-goo da pah-tii?" Until Axel translated, 'Enjoying the party?'

"Yes, thank you." Roxas quipped uneasily in Isaka's direction.

"So," the man continued in slow English, "Mai diru sisuta izu bizui kurorentorii. Mayubi jou shudo go? Jou donto berongu hera, I shinku."

For Roxas it sounded more like, "Mai dee-rue see-sue-tah ee-zoo bee-zoe-ee coo-roe-ren-toe-ree. May-you-bee joe shoe-doe go? Joe do-n-toe bee-wrong hee-rah, I shin-koo."

Axel again assisted, 'My dear sister is busy currently. Maybe you should go? You don't belong here, I think.'

Axel's eyes narrowed before taunting, "I didn't know Japanese could be this rude. I thought bluntness was frowned down upon."

The smile fell just a bit but Isaka continued, "Ooa no, dato wazu nato mai intenianu ataaru." 'Oh no, that was not my intention at all.'

"You are lying." Roxas growled. "Where is Xion? We're not leaving without her."

"Bizui. Andu jou ara nai duretsu fora da patii. Tsuringu biru wisu no paingu, ha." Isaka smirked. "Anata ga baka gaijin."

This sentiment Roxas completely understood, 'Busy. And you are not dressed for the party. Stealing beer without paying. Hah. You are stupid foreigners.'

"You're the idiot." Roxas threw back at him, the secretary Asahina stiffened.

"Parodonu-" Asahina started to say.

"You think just cause were foreigners that we can't read Kanji?" Roxas spat, pointing over at the sign above the bar proclaiming complimentary drinks.

Isaka's eyebrow twitched, "Ahhh. Kureba boizu." 'Clever boy.'

Roxas snatched Axel's cell from his hand, dialing Xion's number. Before they left the N.N. they forced her to wear a phone with a strap on her thigh, underneath her dress so it wouldn't be seen. Demyx had programmed the phone specially himself.

She picked up on the second ring, voice breathless and panicky, "Axel?"

"Xion, where are you?" Roxas demanded in quick Chinese, the language incomprehensible to Isaka or Asahina.

"I don't know, my father grabbed me and locked me in this room! I'm scared." Xion whispered frantically in English, he could hear the tremor in her voice.

Roxas felt his heart quicken as he looked desperately up at Axel while responding, in the Mandarin he was never so thankful Zexion taught him, "Keep your phone on. We'll be there in five seconds. Sit tight."

Roxas took a great breath before forcing his face into a tight sneer, "Have a good evening, gentlemen."

Isaka smirked right back with a high-and-mighty malevolence, "Gudo shingu jou." 'Good seeing you.'

"Apparently Xion got all the brains in the family." Roxas cheerfully exclaimed in slow careful words, "Because just like she ran away from you the first time she's already done so again."

Isaka blanched and could only silently gape as Roxas pulled Axel out of the room by his wrist.

Roxas spun as soon as they were out of sight, "We need to find Demyx right now."

Axel didn't like that tone, "Why?"

"Xion's been kidnapped."