I think, somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew it wasn't necessary to take my frustration, and lack of sleep, for that matter, out on the alarm clock. When you have a giant key ready and willing in your hand, though, the temptation is hard to resist.

I groaned, lazily and literally rolling out of bed, my legs dragging the sheets and covers with me. They rolled up around me, effectively crippling me until I managed to unravel them. "Unravel" was a stretch, though, seeing as most of what I did was kick and flop around until they were in a pile in the corner of my room instead of on me. I lay sprawled on the floor for a moment, not really finding comfort in the plush carpet but simply too tired to move. I hardly slept at all last night. My stomach kept squirming with that same uncomfortable feeling from Twilight Town. And, Xion...

No. Don't think about that. Focus, Roxas - focus.

I got to my feet, popping my spine with a loud crack! Axel always got onto me about doing that - he says it isn't good for me - but I always feel so much better afterwards. I've never figured out why; if its not good forme, then why does it feel so good? Now that I start thinking, maybe its like sugar or candy. It tastes amazing, but its really not great for your health. They sounded similar, at least.

A shiver crawled over my skin, raising goosebumps on my arms. I dragged myself across the room, pulling out a clean shirt and pants from the drawer, along with a pair of socks, all of which dyed the deepest shade of black. I'm still not sure how you can get more black than black, but someone managed to do it when designing these uniforms. I brushed the thought away, not particularly caring anymore, getting dressed in silence. Finally, I pulled the cloak overtop it all, leaving my room without a thought.

"G'morning, kiddo!" a voice cheered, excited and loud. I shot it with a glare.

Demyx pouted, drawing back. "Not so good, then," he muttered, sounding almost hurt. I shook my head, trying to hide my rolling eyes from him. "What's got you playing pessimist?" he joked, coming up behind me to reach the cereal box that I couldn't. He handed it to me and I took it from him without saying thank you. I turned away, grabbing a bowl from the cabinet. Demyx meant well, I knew. I just didn't want to chat it up with him right now. Especially about...

Stop it. I accidentally set down my bowl too hard. It sounded more like a slam. Demyx flinched at the sound.

"Oh-o-kay," he breathed, stepping back one or two (or five) strides, "someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed." He wobbled his weight from foot to foot, as if he were impatient or anxious. Did I actually just scare him? I frowned. My face relaxed - apparently I'd been holding an expression that read "doom and gloom" - and I turned to face him, realizing how rude I must've come off as. It wasn't his fault my whole chest was tight and twisted. I shouldn't take it out on him. "Sorry," I started, pulling the milk from the fridge. "... I didn't mean to snap like that."

The ropes strangling my chest loosened a little when Demyx smiled, putting a hand on my shoulder. "Heh. Its okay, little buddy! We all have bad days, right?" I shrugged. Bad day seemed about right. That's what it was looking like. … Yeah, "bad" fit the description of this feeling. There was still so much pressure building. On top of it all, I had another dream last night. I wonder, did the boy in red ever get this sensation? Kind of... flustered?

I can't believe she saw me watching.

Worse yet, she saw it, too. What if I saw her today? What if she asked about it? What if Saix assigns us on a mission together? God, Kingdom Hearts, murder me. I still like Xion. She's my friend! I just don't know what would happen... I think the ropes would get tighter. That would be so rude if I tried to ignore her...!

"...oxas?"

I snapped out of my daze, noting the overflowing milk and cereal in my bowl. I cursed under my breath, inwardly flinching when I realized it wasn't exactly under my breath but straight out loud. "Would you like a paper towel?" Demyx asked, his voice unusually light. He handed me a napkin with outstretched, slender fingers. "Thanks," I uttered, kind of confused. Nonetheless, I accepted it from... him? My eyes went from the dainty hand to the person it belonged to, and it wasn't Demyx.

"X-Xion!?"

She giggled a little, pulling another paper towel off of the rack. My jaw was hung open. I knew because Demyx kept motioning from behind her for me to close it. Another knot tied in my stomach.

"It goes in the bowl, Roxas," she teased, still quietly laughing as she swept up the contents of my almost-breakfast that was pooling on the floor. And I just stood there like an idiot, words touching the tip of my tongue even though I couldn't actually make myself say them. I stared at Demyx with wide eyes. His expression mirrored mine, looking just as surprised when he shrugged in response. I don't think he was anywhere near as terrifiedas I was, though.

Xion straightened, throwing away the now soaked paper towel. Her face fell blank, but I could've sworn I felt her eyes tearing into me. "See you later, then," she said simply, her heels clicking against the kitchen tile as she walked away. The smell of vanilla was left in her wake, lingering in the air, tickling my nose. Demyx strolled closer, eyeing the place that Xion took off to. "Well gee, Rox," he started, looking back at me, "I didn't know you liked Xion!"

Now, "looked" would be a terribly inaccurate word for this next expression - I was pretty sure I was staring daggers into his skin. My gaze switched to the carton, half full in my hand.

Demyx was about to smell like milk for the rest of the day.

« ○ »

"... then she came back for me, and then she... she saw me watching..."

I swallowed hard, feeling my throat start to close in on itself. As much as I didn't like reliving the experience, my chest had finally started to release all of this pressure and quite frankly, it was worth it. Axel sighed beside me, taking it all in, I guess. He twirled the popsicle stick between his fingers, watching the sunlight glint off the melted remnants of ice cream. My own attention averted to the sunset, warmth spreading throughout my chest. Yeah, ice cream at the Clock Tower was much better than being a "worry wart" in the cold Castle That Never Was.

Suddenly, Axel patted my back, leaning his arm on my shoulder. "It'll be fine, Roxas," he started, dropping the popsicle stick beside him. "Just pretend it never happened. Eventually, it'll go away."

"W-what!? B-but, how do I-!?" The warm feeling went away, replaced by an electric panic. How do I pretend it never happened!? Axel chuckled, dropping his head. "What's so funny?" I demanded, a little offended. I don't know what kind of comedic kick he got out of this, but I didn't think it was funny. At all. He only shook his head, patting (more like pounding) my shoulder. "Nothing," he said. "Nothing at all."

I frowned. Ultimately, though, I chose to stay confused than to fight with Axel. He always won. Always. I wish I had his words, his sly attitude. Life would be so much easier if I knew what to do and when to do it like he did. He could smooth talk his way out of anything, be it work or taking the blame - I just wished I knew what I was supposed to say. He always knew.

I licked the remaining droplets of ice cream off my popsicle stick, already wanting another. I had a habit of going through them fast. Too fast, actually. So did Axel. Xion was always the last one with ice cream left.

Xion.

I went to a different castle today for my mission. I met someone named Beast. He was apparently a prince before, but he was cursed by a witch when he told her she couldn't come inside his castle. told me that he had until the last petal of his rose falls to find someone to love, and to have her love him too. I didn't understand, though, I didn't even know what love was. Beast told me that love was important. Like you needed it to be whole.

"Axel, what is love?"

Silence followed. I don't think he was expecting that question. It was pretty sudden, after all. He thought about it for a moment, green eyes following the horizon. "You'll understand it when you have a heart," he answered, his voice strangely gentle. Did he know what love was? Maybe he just didn't know how to explain it, how to put it into words. That was rare for Axel. I sighed, wishing I knew more, wishing I was whole. Wondering if the boy in red ever felt this way too, wondering if Xion would come have ice cream with us before we left, wondering why I was wondering so much. I accidentally dropped my popsicle stick, watching it plummet to the ground thousands of feet below.

I noticed a girl, with black hair and a black coat, walking towards the entrance to the Clock Tower.

I didn't know whether to smile or grimace, and neither did the nervous knots in my stomach. Axel peered down too, seeing the girl step through the doors below. He smirked. "I believe Number XIV is joining us today."

"You sound like Saix," I joked, laughing even when he responded by elbowing me in the stomach. That's right, this pressure would soon fade. Just pretend it never happened, right? Xion never saw me watching them, never saw it for herself. Yesterday's events never happened. Just another day in the Organization. Maybe one day we'll be whole. Then I'll understand this feeling. I'll understand what love is. Heck, maybe I'll even know what a kiss is for. (That's what Axel called it, the mouth-dance thing Xion didn't see me watching.)

Moments later, I heard footsteps behind us. Xion sat to my left, three Sea-Salt Ice Creams in her hands. She smiled, apparently unknowing that Axel and I already had our own. I accepted it gratefully, though - I wanted another one, anyway.

"Hey," she started, settling down after passing out the popsicles. "Anyone know why Demyx smelled like sour milk today?"

My face felt kind of... hot?


a/n: Sorry it took me so long to update. ._. I had homework, like, all week, and then I had a sleepover last night. I dedicated myself to finishing this tonight, so I hope it's a lot better than what I thought it was. xD

Did I keep everyone in character? Leave a review? c: