"You're doing it wrong. That's not right. You have to-"

"What!?" Roxas interrupted. "What do I have to do!? I'm pretty sure I'm a Criminal Justice major and as such, I'm pretty sure I would know how the law works. More so than some, some Thermo-Mechanical Engineer! That's not even a real major!" Roxas said rubbing his eyes. He had been staring at the computer screen for hours trying to finish his last minute five page paper.

"Well I have a major in Common Sense and Common Sense 101 says if you paraphrase you cite it." Axel said standing up and walking to the kitchen. He had been helping Roxas since he'd got back from his class an hour ago. So far, Roxas had made little progress, and the clock was ticking.

"Wait." Roxas said with sudden realization. "With paraphrasing you have to... UGH!" Roxas groaned loudly let himself limply slip slowly out of his chair and onto the floor. He laid next to the Christmas tree, unmoving.

"Hahaha! You're stupid!" Axel taunted taking a sip from his glass of fire water. He sat down on the couch near Roxas and sighed feeling relaxed.

"My life is over..." Roxas complained.

"Yup." Was all Axel said in response.
At this, the door-bell rang. Axel looked towards Roxas, patiently.

"You gonna get that?" He said nudging him with his foot.

"Why don't you ever get the door Axel?" Roxas asked. "It's always for you anyway. No one ever comes to see me." Roxas said sadly.

"Oh here we go." Axel said slightly irritated.

"You know it's true." Roxas said sitting up. "You have so many friends and I don't. Most of the people I know I met through you. Seriously dude I'm like a nobody or some-" Ding Dong!

The doorbell rang again cutting Roxas off from his rant. Axel took another sip and sat further down into the couch.

"You know I'm not movin' right?" Axel asked. His shorter friend nodded in response. Axel smiled and downed the rest if his drink. "You know, that could be Namine out there. " Roxas scowled at him. "Just sayin' hehe. I can talk to Larxene any time; she's my girlfriend. If she's at the door it's no big deal. Namine is not your girlfriend though. She doesn't even know you like her even though you've known her for so long. Man, you're really pathetic. And you won't even answer the door for her. Way to say, 'Man Namine we make really great acquaintances don't we?!' Look at that blush. You really do have a thing for her. " Axel busted out laughing and the little blonde boy buried his face in the chair behind him, trying to hide his red cheeks.
"Shut up Axel!" Roxas said loudly.

"Hey, is anyone in there?" A soft female voice came from the door.

Roxas hitched a breath and looked towards the door.

"You gonna go answer the door for your acquaintance?" Axel inquired. "Or should I just go tell her you're too busy wallowing in your own self-pity?" Roxas looked at him and raised a questioning eyebrow. "I'll do it. " Roxas stared at him unphased. Axel made a move to get up, but stopped half way and sat back down. "Yeah you called my bluff, but your girls getting away. You better go get her. And why don't you ask her out while you're at it? "

"I really don't think I should answer the door." Roxas said.

"I can always call her and tell her you like her." Axel suggested. "After all she is my friend too and I do have her number."

Roxas sighed and stood up to get the door. "I'm not asking her out by the way."

"Oh yeah you are." Axel said standing up an stretching. "Or I will for you." Roxas' heart quickened. He knew Axel was serious this time. No matter how nonchalantly Axel said things, when it came to relationships he was serious. He had let Roxas slide because he had asked him to. Now the Fiery Cupid was on the prowl and his target was Roxas.
Roxas hovered his hand over the door knob, debating whether not to open it. Axel waited. Then he became impatient and opened the door for him. Behind the door Namine was waiting. It was December, almost Christmas, and she was wearing her winter attire. Her cheeks were rosy from the cold.
"Hey Roxas!" She said smiling.
"Hey Namine. What's up?" Axel stood back and watched them talk. Roxas seemed nervous and kept fidgeting.
"I was wondering if you'd finished your part of the paper yet. You hadn't responded to my emails or calls so I wasn't sure what was going on. Is everything alright?"
Roxas melted at her kindness and concern and felt guilty for procrastinating. He didn't want to lie to her, but he didn't want to tell her the truth either.

"Honestly Namine, I'm really sorry but I procrastinated a bit on the assignment. I'm finishing it now. I know you need it as soon as possible but if you could just give me another hour or two..." Roxas looked down, guilt rubbed all over his face.

"You know the professor extended the due date right?" Namine chuckled. Roxas looked at her in disbelief.
"What!? Why!?" Roxas asked. He felt as though a large weight had been lifted off his shoulders.

"Because a lot of the students complained that they did not have enough time since he gave it us so suddenly. I didn't have a problem with it but he extended it till next Monday. So you have an extra 2 days to get it to me."
Roxas' head was spinning with joy. Every possible bad scenario had been going through his head all day in and out of class. Thoughts ranging from her never speaking to him again to the teacher expelling them from the university for having an incomplete paper. Life, once again, had meaning for Roxas.
"Awesome! Cool thanks for telling me. Yeah I'll get it to you tonight for sure so we can revise it Sunday. Sound good?"

"Yeah that sounds great!" Namine said enthusiastically. "Alright then, I think that was all. You've been doing fine?" Namine asked.

"We'll I've been doing ok." Roxas started.

"Hey Namine, why don't you come inside?" Axel said coming up behind Roxas. "We don't want you sitting in the cold now do we Roxas?" Roxas looked at her, a little embarrassed he hadn't thought of it earlier.

Namine shook her head. "I'd love to but I can't. I still have some work to do and Kairi wants me to go with her to do some last minute shopping. You know how she is." Namine said smiling.

"Yeah I know." Roxas said. "Well I'll see you Sunday then?"

"Yeah, see ya Roxas." Namine said turning away.

Roxas closed the door and laid down on the couch, relieved the paper wasn't due till Monday. As he closed his eyes and relaxed, disappointment began to settle in. All the sea-salt ice-creams he'd eaten, the energy drinks he'd pounded down, all of it was for nothing. He stayed up late the night before, even though he knew he had work to do the next day. Law and Order was brutal, especially since he'd fallen asleep during his quiz. The ever vigilant history teacher had given him an extra research paper to do the second his eyelids had fallen for more than 5 seconds. Then there was the 5 page paper he had yet to write. Axel walked over and stared at Roxas for a second or two, contemplating why this blonde-haired laggard was taking up the entire couch. As Roxas closed his eyes, Axel planted himself on his stomach, making him grunt.

"Woah! Get off!" Roxas said annoyed.

"Why should I?" Axel retorted. "You didn't even ask Namine out like I told you to."

"I forgot and she had to go. Besides, I have to do this project with her. What if she says no? Things would be really awkward between us." Roxas looked to Axel for an answer. In truth, he really wanted to date Namine. He'd liked her since he met her and wanted to get to know her on a more intimate level. Unfortunately, excuses like the ones above were what kept him from making a move. Axel smirked and stood up, fixing his black shirt. He slowly walked to the kitchen, the light from the bulb making his face glow. Roxas simply watched him as he opened one of the cabinets and pulled out a small brass box with a silver lock.

"Excuses like that won't get you anywhere Roxas. You like her and refuse to acknowledge any other girl because of that. You're gonna end up like Zexion, alone and pompous, claiming that the only reason you don't have a girlfriend is because no girl is good enough for you. I would highly suggest you ask her out Roxas." Axel walked upstairs with his box in hand knowing what he said had gotten to Roxas. After reaching his room, he walked to his mahogany desk and opened the top drawer. With a click and a small pop, he opened the secret compartment at its base and inside laid a wickedly shaped black key and a large cylinder made of white rubber. It was covered in tooth marks and looked very old and worn. He grabbed both and placed the three items on top of his chest of drawers. He opened the container, revealing darkness deeper than the night sky. Light from the room began to dim slowly the longer the box was left open.

"It was bound to happen sooner or later…" Axel said remorsefully. He took a deep breath and placed the rubber in his mouth, setting it between his teeth. He stuck his hand into the box and bit hard anticipating the pain.


Axel felt power surging through his body as dark strands began to seep from every orifice. Soon, plumes of thick dark mist were shooting from his eyes, blinding him to the world. He could see nothing, he could hear nothing and he felt as though his skin and muscles were being peeled off his bones. Darkness filled his lungs and he could no longer tell if he was even breathing or not. After a minute or two, he found what he needed, and began to retract his hand. At this, pain shot through his body like a shockwave, stretching his brain, twisting his skin, and pulling his eyes out from his skull. He opened his mouth wide in shock and roared in pain. The rubber stopper dropped to the ground with a thud and tears burst from his eyes in streams. He closed his other hand into a fist and calmed himself. He had done this before, he was not going to die, it was only pain; there was no reason to scream. His hand slowly retracted from the black box and clenched in his fist was a black burnoose, large enough to fit a very tall and hefty man. Axel threw the cloth on his bed and quickly closed the box and locked it. He placed it under his bed and placed the key and rubber back where they belonged. At this time, the room was almost pitch black but light was slowly returning. His heart hammered at his chest and blood was flowing from his left ear and nostril. With every breath, thick dark clouds were expelled from his lungs and he found it easier to breath. He leaned on his desk and placed his head in his arms.

"Hey Axel, you OK in there!?" Roxas yelled from the other side of the door. Axel jumped, and grabbed the hooded cape, throwing it under his bed. He opened another drawer and grabbed a spare napkin to wipe the blood from his ear.

"Yeah I'm fine Roxas just bumped my head is all." Axel said as he opened the door. He saw Roxas' face awash with relief.

"Oh that's all!? Lord I'd never heard you scream like that! Hey your nose is bleeding." He said taking a closer look. Axel leaned back and began wiping his nose as well.

"Yeah I said I bumped my head didn't I?" Axel said in a nasally voice.

"Yeah but, usually that means you bumped you head or something. You'd think Mr. Common Sense would know that." Roxas said mockingly. Axel squinted his eyes at this.

"Well your nose is a part of your head is it not?" Axel said plainly.

"Yes but-"

"Well then, bumping your nose is in fact the same as bumping your head is it not?" Axel said.

"Well, technically but-"

"Glad you agree. I'll be down in an hour and we can go get dinner. We need to talk about this whole 'not wanting to ask Namine out for fear of the consequences' business. I've got something that'll help you with that but for right now, I need to take a nap." Axel said closing his door. Roxas walked back downstairs, bewildered. Axel plopped down on his bed and closed his eyes, wondering if he was making the right decision. "It'll work out…" he thought to himself as he drifted off into a deep sleep, exhausted from his trip into Brass Box.