Warnings: the internal ramblings of Axel, mild language, sexual content
Rating: Light R
Disclaimer: Standard disclaimer applies.
Summary: Maybe life before Roxas wasn’t really life for him at all.
Comments: I’ve had this written a while but I’m awful at posting sometimes. XD This is AkuRoku without all the angst. :) Enjoy~! Mild spoilers for KHII.
There are times when Axel almost remembers things – just little, insignificant things – about his former self, when he’d been a Somebody. For instance, sometimes he almost remembers what it had felt like to laugh and have it mean something. He almost remembers what it had felt like to have regrets and to sit alone and contemplate things long past. He thinks that maybe he was a bit of the brooding type, back when he’d had those things called emotions and that thing called a heart. He’d been a Somebody, back then.
Now he is without all of those things he used to have, and the almost-memories of what he once was slips through his fingers like sand, like water, and he can only hold on for so long before there’s nothing left to hold onto.
He likes it better this way—or he thinks he does, if it’s even possible for him to truly like anything at all. He likes to believe that it’s better this way, because this way, he isn’t weighed down by anything at all—no stupid Somebody emotions, nothing at all there to cloud his judgment. Mind over matter. Mind over heart (because he has the former and lacks the latter).
The Organization’s objective is to get all of that back, and sometimes he doesn’t understand why. In his opinion, they’re doing just fine without hearts.
He sticks around because he’s bored (he convinces himself that he’s still capable of feeling that much), and because there’s really not much else to do.
He’s not a puppet on strings like the others, and ‘loyalty’ doesn’t quite fit into his vocabulary.
And then Roxas comes into the picture, and Axel thinks that he almost remembers what it’s like to be intrigued by someone, and to genuinely like someone simply for the pure sake of liking someone.
Besides, Roxas is more entertaining than the others. He’s young and he’s all sarcasm and spitfire and glaring blue eyes that are almost as dark as a midnight sky. He tries to avoid Axel at first, but Axel is stubborn (perhaps it’s a trait that has lingered, or perhaps it’s one that he’s picked up as a Nobody) and will not be ignored when he doesn’t want to be.
Roxas tells him to go away, to leave him alone, but Axel doesn’t listen, and so they eventually wind up sitting together at the top of the clock tower in Twilight Town. It is a daily ritual; they come here to watch the sunset. Sometimes they talk. Sometimes they don’t. Always, they eat sea salt ice cream, and they watch and they wait and they listen (to nothing in particular, except the town itself as it quiets down and those below settle down for the night).
Sometimes they sit close together, with little space between them. Sometimes they sit several feet apart, but Axel is always hyperaware of the other’s presence.
“You know,” he says one evening after the sun has already set and he can see the little pinpoints of light – stars (and he wonders if he used to appreciate them back then) – and the moon, too, “I kinda like you.” He’s not sure what compels him to say it. Certainly not feelings or the hollow place in his chest. They’re just words, he tells himself, but they don’t feel as empty as they should.
Roxas snorts and glances at him, blue-beyond-blue eyes narrowing a moment as he scrutinizes him. There is silence as he turns to look back at the night sky, and then he says: “You don’t even know what that means. You can’t feel something that isn’t there. You can’t feel at all.” And quieter, he adds, “Just like I can’t.”
Axel smiles without humor and shrugs, as carefree as a Nobody should be. “Maybe. Maybe not.”
Roxas doesn’t argue with him, and Axel thinks that perhaps it almost means something, but Roxas stands and that’s gone, too, just before Axel can grasp it. Just like everything else.
But he has plenty of time, and he almost remembers what patience had felt like, even though he’s not sure what it is that he’s waiting for.
It’s still daylight, nowhere near sunset, but they’re here anyway, and they should be following orders and starting their mission, but they haven’t moved from this spot in a whole hour. Axel thinks that Roxas is just as reluctant as he is, because Roxas isn’t a puppet on strings, either. Keyblade wielder, yes. It’s this fact that makes everything so much more dangerous for him, because he is different and they seek to control what is different, and they think that he will be their savior—that he will somehow magically give them what it is that they’ve been searching for.
The sun is warm and Axel is comfortable and doesn’t want to move. It’s incorrect to say that he’s lazy, because he isn’t—he just gets tired of following orders that seem to have no purpose other than to make certain Roxas isn’t privy to all of the workings of the Organization. He’s their lucky number Thirteen, Xemnas sometimes says. Lucky only if he doesn’t know, and it’s Axel’s job to make sure Roxas stays distracted with missions that mean nothing.
When it comes to Roxas, Axel is okay with playing the part of the distracter, but he doesn’t like the secrets—not that he can explain that to Roxas. He wishes that he could, sometimes.
All of the time.
Another reason he doesn’t want to move is because Roxas is close—not quite touching him, but almost, and that is enough to make him want to stay put without rhyme or reason.
“Do you ever miss it?” Roxas suddenly asks, and he’s even closer, his back pressed against Axel’s chest, and Axel knows that if he still had a heart, it would be beating double-time right now. If he were a Somebody, this was something that he would probably be able to understand right away—something that he would instantly be able to wrap his head around.
But he is a Nobody and this is like water, too. Or sand. Or ashes, too difficult to hold onto and gone with the wind before he can blink.
There’s warmth though, and it doesn’t go away. It’s a warmth that seems more substantial than that of the sun, and he can’t even almost recall ever experiencing this before: it’s new and it’s foreign and Axel senses that it is possibly very fragile, so he’ll have to be careful with it, whatever it is.
Or whatever it isn’t.
“Miss what?” he eventually asks his blonde-haired companion, and Roxas makes a sound that almost seems like one of annoyance, like what he’s asking should be perfectly obvious. Maybe it should—Axel isn’t sure, just like he’s never sure of a whole lot of things, if he’s honest with himself.
“You know,” Roxas says, tipping his head back so that sapphire eyes are looking at him upside-down. “What it was like, before.”
Before. Axel knows that Roxas is either unlucky or lucky enough to not remember what before had been like for him. It is impossible for Roxas to even almost remember things, and maybe that’s a curse wrapped in a blessing, or a blessing wrapped in a curse.
Axel almost remembers enough for the both of them. He thinks of days far away and long past, when feelings had been more than just fleeting glances and half-hearted (or empty-hearted) attempts at holding on. He’d had more than almost-memories, once upon a time.
He thinks of his time as a Nobody before the Organization and after—thinks of how everything had just been an endless repeat, a CD with a scratch, playing the same broken thing over and over, until Roxas.
His time as a Somebody and part of his time as a Nobody had been devoid of Roxas—this boy that keeps him in place and bids him not to move all without breathing a word, and so he doesn’t. He stays.
“No,” he answers, and it’s as truthful as he can get—no twisting of words, no trying for deceit.
You weren’t here then, he thinks, but doesn’t say, because maybe sentiments such as that aren’t supposed to fall from the lips of those who cannot feel.
Roxas almost smiles, but he doesn’t reply. He goes back to leaning against Axel, sharing warmth, and he doesn’t move.
Axel doesn’t, either.
He’s the one with the power over fire but he feels like he’s the one burning when soft lips and clumsy, shaking fingers caress his skin. He remembers in bits and pieces what gentleness used to feel like even though he’s never felt it in this sense before, but that’s what he tries to be anyway: gentle, because Roxas is trembling and uncertain, barriers broken, and he is unguarded and Axel never ever wants either of them to remember what regret ever felt like. He doesn’t want that bitter taste on their tongues (he thinks it must be bitter, because regret was never anything pleasant, was it?).
And so he is gentle and takes his precious time, fingers and mouth making invisible paths on Roxas’ body, touching and tasting and making Roxas whimper and gasp and shiver. It’s hypnotic and it’s sensual, and Axel doesn’t almost remember it being like this before, at any point ever.
Roxas’ fingers tug at his hair and his kiss-swollen lips are hot against Axel’s neck, and the blonde is whispering broken pleas—begging quietly for things that Axel believes neither of them remembers nor entirely understands, but it doesn’t matter, because there’s an urgency to it now, and Roxas is moving against him, and Axel can’t say no. He doesn’t want to.
And when Axel sinks into him, gazing into those heavy-lidded blueblueblue eyes, he imagines he’s burning and drowning at the same time.
Later, when they’re a tangled mess of sheets and sweaty limbs and silly smiles that mean absolutely nothing (and everything), and they’re trying to teach themselves how to breathe all over again, Roxas curls impossibly closer and Axel thinks of how different this is. Before, he had been the one hovering close—moth to flame, and now he doesn’t have to struggle to keep Roxas within his orbit. Roxas stays on his own.
Axel thinks he almost likes this, too.
“Do you think,” Roxas begins in a voice that is groggy, near-sleep, and Axel interrupts him with, “Sometimes I think, but not very often,” grinning (though not moving away) when Roxas punches him lightly on his forearm.
“As I was saying,” Roxas continues, and his glare is perhaps not as stern as it would be if he were fully awake and not drifting towards sleep, “do you think that when we… when we get hearts again, like the Organization wants, we’ll be different? Do you think this will be different? Do you think we’ll forget?”
They’d mostly forgotten everything connected to being Somebodies once they became Nobodies, after all. Would it be the same for them after they had beating hearts in their chests again? Would they forget all that had happened to them when they’d been without hearts?
Axel thinks of Sora (who is not and yet is Roxas—is not, because he’s too naïve and too kind and not sarcastic at all and is, because he’s fierce and brave and he isn’t afraid to stand and fight even when the odds are stacked against him), and he acutely feels the something-nothing inside of his chest tighten. It’s an empty ache.
He finds Roxas’ hand in the darkness, entwining their fingers. He thinks, sometimes (right now), that maybe he almost remembers what love had felt like. “I sure as hell hope not.”
Roxas squeezes his fingers, and it’s comforting. “Me too.”
He opens his eyes in the morning (or maybe it’s afternoon—he doesn’t know or care) to find sapphire orbs watching him in a way that mimics curiosity and cautiousness. Mimics, because they can’t be genuine, of course.
He smiles and Roxas slowly smiles back.
There is no bitter aftertaste on his tongue—no almost-regret. There is only sunshine and the blue of the midnight sky and the taste of Roxas on his tongue, and there’s more of that when Roxas leans in to kiss him again.
“Hi,” Roxas breathes when he draws back.
“Hi,” Axel replies, reaching out to ruffle blonde hair.
After pulling away and scowling and trying to tame his hair (he is unsuccessful), Roxas asks, “So… uh, how do you feel?”
“Shouldn’t I be asking you that?”
Roxas shrugs and stretches, wriggling toes and fingers. “A couple of bruises on my hips and there’s a little soreness but nothing’s broken and I’m fine.”
Fine. Leave it up to Roxas to downplay almost everything.
Axel rolls his eyes. “Your pillowtalk is so sweet and so S-E-X-Y,” he says, all sarcasm, and he lightly pokes Roxas on the nose.
“Shut up,” Roxas replies and he blushes. “You didn’t answer my question.”
Again, Axel thinks of how things had probably been back then, as a Somebody, when he’d had a beating heart and tangled emotions and he hadn’t needed to almost remember anything because he’d been able to remember it all, before he’d been empty.
He believes that that was merely existing.
He thinks of the days and weeks and months after Roxas’ arrival, and it makes him smile at the irony. He is nothing more than an empty shell of his former self. He is a Nobody. A nothing.
And yet it’s only now that he understands what it means to live, and this is one concept that does not flee from him like so many other things and almost-things that he’s never been able to hold onto.
Axel pulls Roxas close, and gives him the only answer that feels right: “Like I’m alive.”
And maybe it means more than it ever should, but it doesn’t scare him.
It’s not like he’s capable of being afraid, anyway.
Sweet AkuRoku without lots of angst, it is possible! :D Tempting to veer off into angst, but I wanted this one to be different. I hope you all enjoyed the read. ^_^