So…it happened. I never thought I'd be the person to write AkuRoku…ever…but here it is, and wow, look at this mess.
This is a dramatic shift in writing style for me, as it's written in a very, very close-to-character third person. It's intentionally a bit choppy and disjointed, and many liberties were taken with grammar. I'm trying something new. Yay for experiments. If you have a moment after reading, I would very much appreciate feedback. Thanks in advance!
Warnings for the story overall: Violence, sexual references/themes with implied dubious consent. Nothing too graphic, but probably slightly beyond T, hence the M rating.
Disclaimer: The characters used in this story are the property of Square Enix, The Walt Disney Company and their affiliates.
Chapter 1: Love is The "Eye" thing
Axel was doing that thing with his eyes again.
And it was starting to piss Roxas off.
Roxas noted it—the eye thing—but continued talking anyway, because Axel could not know that he had gotten distracted, and he had worked extra-super-hard on this lie in particular (kind of).
"Anyway, it was starting to get late so I just stayed home. One thing led to another, and I'm sure you can guess what happened after that…"
Roxas paused dramatically, stretching his features into a thoughtful pose that was perfect.
A pensive gaze.
An unamused snort.
Axel's eyes were still doing it, and Roxas was starting to feel desperate, and a tiny bit itchy, and cold, and mad. He wished that Axel would quit it already, because it was becoming unbearably distracting, and Roxas needed to concentrate on this very, very important explanation. Standing there in Axel's living room that evening made him feel panicky, and uncomfortable, like giving a speech in front of an auditorium full of people, cold, possibly naked. It wasn't easy getting things past Axel, least of all things Roxas felt kind of guilty about, and his eyes, and that thing, and his facial expression, and the tilt of his hip, and everything, was just bent on making success about as impossible as building ocean liner out of popsicle sticks and melted crayons.
"Right," Roxas continued anyway. "I fell asleep. You remember how I told you I haven't been sleeping lately? Well, I guess my body figured itself out, because I crashed before the sun even set. I face planted right there on the couch. You should have seen it…"
Axel lifted his eyebrow, and all of Roxas's words started to crash together behind his teeth, a traffic accident of letters and syllables and excuses. The back of his neck started to get warm, as it always did when he was lying, and to make matters worse, he could feel his ears heat up, and they were probably turning red; he'd be caught in a matter of minutes, because that eye thing was just so telling, and now he was starting to perspire, and oh yeah, this was Axel he was talking to.
Roxas babbled away, tripping over words, and backing up, and he decided if Axel did the eye thing one more time, he was absolutely, positively going to snap.
"Anyway," Roxas continued nervously. "Long story short, that's why I didn't make it here last night. I was going to call you, but I figured you'd be—will you cut that out? It's really distracting!" The fire that exploded from his mouth wasn't intentional, but Axel's eye thing was really grating on his nerves, and he couldn't keep it in anymore.
He didn't want to keep many things in anymore, but being stingy with information took precedence over any girly, sappy whims he needed in the realm of self disclosure.
Axel did it again anyway; a slow, condescending blink every time Roxas said something that could quite possibly be construed as a lie—which, truth be told, probably was—and tilted his head in such a way that made Roxas's palms sweat. It wasn't the blink that got Roxas so frazzled. It was what it stood for. It meant Axel wasn't buying his carefully crafted story, that he could tell that Roxas was obviously trying to cover up something, and that the admittedly nascent hope of somehow getting a break today was being snuffed out like a candle.
"Ugh, I hate it when you do that!" Roxas challenged, deciding that if he couldn't beat him with a lie, then at the very least he could find a distraction. "It's so annoying."
Axel's face didn't move. "You hate it when I do what?"
"I hate it when you do that thing…that thing with your eyes. I'm trying to talk to you!"
Axel blinked slowly, and Roxas truly, truly wanted to punch him. "I'm not doing anything."
"Yes you are. That thing…yeah, that. Cut it out."
"Pft, you don't want me to blink?"
"No, blink all you want, but stop looking at me like you think I'm lying. If you already think you know the truth, then why did you even ask me?"
Axel rolled his eyes, a gesture Roxas thought was arguably more annoying than the blinking. "To be fair, I didn't ask you anything. You were the one who came over and started giving me an explanation. I really don't care what you do in your spare time."
"I'm doing it as a courtesy."
"Let's all be realistic here. It's guilt."
Roxas folded his arms. "Fine, if you don't want me to explain when I miss out on our hang out times, I'll just make plans with you, skip them, and not tell you why. How does that sound?"
"It's better than lying about it. If you had something to do last night, just say 'Hey Axel, how ya doin'? It's me, Roxas. I thought I'd try something different today and be upfront about things, and just tell you I can't hang out today instead of making up a pretty sad excuse for a lie. Why am I doing this? Because I value you as a friend, and you have an amazing personality. Thanks for putting up with all my bull.' I don't need a grand explanation. I don't keep tabs on your whereabouts like some kind of parole officer."
"It's a courtesy, Axel."
"That's right, right."
Axel shook his head. "Nevermind. Look, if you fell asleep, or were spending time with what's-his-face, or going bowling on the moon, it really doesn't matter. I'd tell you that you don't have to feel obligated to lie to me about it, but we've had this conversation before, now haven't we?"
Roxas sheepishly rubbed the back of his head. It was true, he had been in the practice of being less-than-truthful about his habits these days, but in the grand scheme of things, it was really Axel's fault that he felt he had to be this way. If he weren't so good at reading right through Roxas like transparency paper, then he could just do what he wanted, and not have to think about how everything was going so wrong.
Roxas snorted. "Whatever. Are we going to hang out today, or what?"
"Up to you, unless of course you want to go home and fall asleep and forget to call…or wait…maybe you ran into an old friend at the store and ended up getting lost in conversation. Wait, wait, my favorite is when you broke your arm falling down the stairs and couldn't come out of the house for weeks from the embarrassment. That was a good one."
Roxas looked slightly hurt by the last comment, but Axel wasn't looking all that remorseful. Roxas really couldn't blame him though. Stacked together like that, it really did sound like he was trying to avoid Axel. And he wasn't. He really, truly wasn't.
"Shut up," Roxas breathed, throwing himself onto Axel's couch, closing his eyes as he tried to will away an oncoming wave of anxiety. "All of that was one hundred percent true. Your questioning of my integrity wounds me in a way you can't possibly imagine."
Axel snorted and sat down next to him, unable to resist grabbing a handful of Roxas's hair and giving it a good-natured shake. "The only thing I've wounded is your pride."
"You're a terrible friend."
"And you're a liar."
Roxas grumbled and shoved Axel's hand away, leaning sideways slowly until he tipped over into Axel's lap. He could feel the pout grow over his own face, and chose not to look above him at the crown of red spiky hair, and green eyes staring down at him. As much as he hated that Axel knew him so well, he was comforted in the knowledge that maybe, if his carefully crafted veil of perfection suddenly fell, at least someone might not be on the long list of people kicking him in the proverbial ribs.
Axel poked him, and Roxas wriggled against his legs, staring up at him and pushing out his lower lip. "Cook for me."
"Are you serious?"
"And what am I? A chef?"
"No, you're a terrible friend and need to make it up to me. Whatever you cook, make sure it doesn't include celery." He snapped his fingers. "Let's go."
Axel snorted, but shoved Roxas off of his lap anyway. "You're unbelievable. Scratch that, I'm unbelievable for agreeing to do this for you."
"I appreciate you."
Axel made a face at him, and slumped off to the kitchenette, rummaging around in the refrigerator for food potential. Roxas in turn sprawled out on the couch and closed his eyes, exhausted. If only he really had fallen asleep at his house last night.
Then maybe his eyes wouldn't be so heavy.
And his chest wouldn't hurt.
Suddenly the apartment felt impossibly small, and hot, and Roxas entertained the idea of just up and leaving—dinner be darned—to go back home and wallow in something amazingly similar to self pity.
But the thought of doing that was even worse than being hot and tired, and under the impossible scrutiny of Axel, his shifty-eyed-bastard-best-friend. He was a caged animal for sure, and no amount of wishing and hoping (and finger crossing, as he had tried last night) was going to change that. At least Axel's cage, as strange as it felt, had a comfortable couch and he sometimes cooked him dinner if he whined enough.
It wasn't like home.
It wasn't like home at all.
He tried to push away the image of his own front door, and that miserable end table (which was ugly anyway), the broken glass on the floor, and the swirl of messy stuff that ruined the carpet and slid down the drain, but the biting cold feeling that welled up in the pit of his stomach would always be there to keep it on the fringe of his thoughts, and every passing moment that it remained made Roxas die a little bit on the inside.
He listened as the handle of a skillet twirled against the pads of Axel's hands before it was set onto the stove, and he would have been kind of comforted by the thought of being so well cared for like a beloved family pet (or some other cutesy equivalent), but then he had the distinct feeling that he was being watched, and the warm, kind of nice feeling was blasted to smithereens.
He rolled his eyes through closed lids, and waited, because as much of a loose cannon that Axel was, he was confoundingly predictable.
"So what were you doing last night, anyway?"
There it was. And Roxas resisted the urge to clap his hands slowly at Axel's ability to hold it in so long. He wilted on the inside, but kept his face neutral. The beauty of him lying on the couch, and Axel being all the way over there was that he wasn't obligated to make eye contact. Instead, he snorted and pretended to settle in for a nap. "I thought you didn't care what I did."
"I lied. Sounds familiar, right?"
"I hate you."
"I accept that."
Roxas snorted and mulled over a few lies that he had in his repertoire, lies that he had prepared in advance and had the least potential to rev up their previous argument…again. The list was small (because hey, Roxas didn't make any false claims of being creative. Sora, his animated and lovingly psychotic twin brother had selfishly absorbed that gene), but it would do in a pinch.
He was silently mulling over how well Axel would accept a story of him spending the evening watching Soap Operas and folding laundry, when he heard Axel snort.
"You were with what's-his-name again, right?"
Well, there went that. "Whatever."
Axel snorted again. "Are you serious?"
Roxas pretended he didn't hear him over the sizzling sounds of food in the pan, he realized much too late that Axel took his silence as permission to keep talking. So many things were against him today.
"Please, Roxas. That's not even something worth lying about. You live with him."
"And you're dating," Axel pointed out, waving a pat of butter around on the tip of a knife, before swirling it around in another pan. "In what world isn't it normal to spend time with your significant other, unless of course…something's wrong…?"
Roxas barked out a humorless laugh. He had gone through extreme measures to lead Axel around some of the more complex nuances of his relationship with what's-his-fa….Hayner, because really, their relationship was special, and also none of Axel's business. He didn't expect anyone to understand. Their relationship was fine (perfect, magical, sparkling rainbows, daisies and unicorn pee or whatever) and Axel was being an idiot. If Axel didn't choose to share his opinions on Hayner so often, he wouldn't need to make up anything, now would he?
He sat up on the couch and told him as much.
But when he finally forced himself to look into Axel's eyes—the hideous green ones that always twinkled like he had stolen something, or killed somebody, or both—he was met with another slow blink, a smirk, and the indescribable horror of realizing that he had just been baited.
"Ugh, shut up and cook my dinner," Roxas muttered, flopping down on the couch, cheeks red, and body cold. "We are not going to talk about this."
"Talk about what?"
Roxas didn't look up. Axel was grinning, and probably doing that eye thing all over the place, and he did not want any part of it, thank-you-very-much. "You know exactly what. Stop talking about him like that."
Axel made some noise in the back of his throat, and Roxas gripped a nearby pillow in case he needed to throw it at him in a hurry (and if he missed, and hit the stove and the whole apartment caught on fire, it would serve Axel right).
"What, you think I'm mean to what's-his-fa—"
"Hayner," Roxas tried to say evenly. "And yes, I think you're mean to Hayner. If you'd knock it off, maybe I wouldn't feel so inclined to lie about being with him."
"That's not what this is about, and you know it."
Roxas felt his breath catch , but he refused to let it show. "You're walking on some thin egg shells…or…ice, or…whatever, Axel. I mean it."
Axel shrugged. "You and I both know what's going on here, but I'm the only one willing to say it."
Roxas balled a fist, but shoved it between the cushions of the couch so that Axel wouldn't be able to see.
Axel knew nothing. He could only know nothing. "You just think you know things. In reality, you're paranoid, and like drama. Go watch a movie or something."
"I am watching a movie. It's a horror movie, and the star is being an idiot. His handsome and witty co-star is even more of an idiot, because he's standing here cooking dinner like a servant instead of heading down to your house and pounding what's-his-face's teeth in with every possible weapon and non-weapon within reach."
"That's not funny."
"You're right. It's not."
Roxas peered up at Axel through a nest of blond bangs that had gotten about as mussed up as the current state of his life, and drew his eyebrows downward. Axel was giving him a stare from his repertoire of infuriating facial expressions, and he chose to be the bigger person (or something) and ignore him by stuffing his face behind the pillow he was gripping. "Wake me up when the food's done."
Axel muttered something in reply, but Roxas found comfort in the sound of the spatula sliding against the bottom of the pan, and the dull hiss of fat and oil against the heat. He had these conversations frequently with Axel. These spats were not new. Part of him wondered why Axel even tried anymore, because in Roxas's humble (and very correct) opinion, he had done more than what should be considered reasonable to demonstrate his stubbornness. He liked…er…loved Hayner a lot, and whatever little complex Axel had was just going to have to fall by the wayside.
That was that.
More or less.
he just crammed his face in between the pillows of Axel's couch, breathed in the smell of stale popcorn poorly masked by some kind of odor spray, and hoped with all his might that Axel would just leave him alone and cook his dinner, and stop asking questions, and stop knowing so much, and stop doing that thing with his eyes, and being there for him, and being a jerk, and, and, and…
"Food's done," Axel muttered, and the clank of the pan rang through Roxas's ears, even through the dense couch cushions, and the mental choir of mocking voices and clattering dishes, and not-so-nice feelings sang in his head. He pulled himself off of the couch and waddled his way over to the counter, seating himself at the bar counter just above the stove, pouting as he waited impatiently for Axel's service.
"Don't burn yourself," Axel said, sliding an omelet stuffed with chunks of something, and bits of something else onto a plate and handing it over. Roxas wondered briefly what the contents could be, but he figured that since Axel hadn't disappointed him before, it probably wouldn't kill him. Shrugging, he pushed the fork in his mouth and nearly spit it out as a jiggling mound of scorching hot eggs nearly burned clear through his tongue.
"I told you so. I swear, you listen about as well as you lie."
"Blow on it first, idiot."
Roxas narrowed his eyes. "I'll give you something to blow on."
Axel rolled his eyes and slid an omelet onto his own plate. "You can work on making witty innuendos after you learn how to eat."
Roxas muttered a pretty handsome collection of curse words—some newly invented—and ate, outwardly bitter, but internally thankful that he didn't have to cook. His own version of preparing food involved a fire extinguisher and lots and lots of worrying. Hayner plus a smoking, sputtering oven usually meant more of those bad feelings.
"Despite you being a first class jerk, this is actually pretty good."
Axel watched him thoughtfully, fork hanging from his mouth, and eyes dangerously close to doing that thing that Roxas hated. "You know, it's weird. You only come over here to eat up my food, sleep on my couch, and make up stuff. It's a wonder why I still hang out with you."
"My face and brilliant personality are the stuff of legends. You must feel honored."
"Yeah. That's it."
Roxas narrowed his eyes. "And what about you? All you do is complain about how I eat up your food, sleep on your couch, and make up stuff. You're either a closet masochist, or in denial about some hidden affection you have for me." He waggled his eyebrows seductively, and licked his lips, catching a piece of egg in the process.
Axel snorted. "Hayner must really be pumping you full of drugs, among other things, I'm sure."
Roxas nearly spit out his food. This was uncharted territory on a deserted island in the middle of an undiscovered body of water that Axel was absolutely forbidden to travel on. This was his relationship, not Axel's, and the fact that Axel knew talking about it made him frustrated beyond belief made Roxas kind of want to kill him. "Stop."
"What, I'm not allowed to talk about him? Bother you?"
"No, you're not. Stop talking about Hayner. It's none of your business what we do, or what we're like. Quit acting like a jealous ex girlfriend."
Axel tilted his head to the side thoughtfully, and Roxas's made the full and complete realization that everything he had just said bounced right off of his thick head and into the drain.
"I mean it." Roxas muttered, stabbing his eggs and pretending they were Axel's face. "You don't even know what you're talking about. If I were making the same fuss about that Demyx guy that was pining over you last year, you'd be saying the same thing."
Axel didn't say anything, so Roxas looked up from murdering his eggs to find that Axel wasn't even paying attention anymore, and instead had his eyes fixated on Roxas's neck.
He twitched involuntarily and pulled up his collar. He had forgotten about that. "Mind your own business."
Axel was silent for a few precious, painful seconds, before pushing himself off the counter and throwing his empty plate in the sink. "There's celery in your eggs."