Warnings: angst, angst, and more angst.
Characters/Pairings: Axel, Roxas, Xion
Disclaimer: Standard disclaimer applies.
Summary: Nothing is permanent—not for them. That doesn’t stop them from hoping (or trying).
Comments: I love these three together so much that it’s not funny. This fic focuses on their canon friendship. I hope you enjoy it. Serious spoilers for KH 358/2 Days. Also, I have been listening to this song entirely too much, and it inspired this. I don’t know how, exactly, but there you have it.
.Xion and Axel.
It would seem that it’s just the two of them today—Saïx has apparently sent Roxas off on some mission that’s taking longer than usual. It’s not that she doesn’t like being alone with Axel (he is her best friend too, after all), but the absence of their third definitely doesn’t go unnoticed.
“He’ll be back soon,” Axel tells her, as if reading her mind, and she nods. She knows Roxas is fine. It’s not the present that worries her, but the future.
There’s a sort of comfortable-awkward silence for a little while, and then she quietly admits, “I wish things could just… stay like they are. The three of us.”
He tears his eyes away from the sunset and gives her a smile that is entirely different from the smiles she’s used to seeing. Some mixture of pain and defiance is found there, at the very corners. It’s a brittle sort of smile. “I know.”
“I love both of you,” she continues, eyes downcast, and she means it even though her lack of a heart dictates that she cannot feel such things (but she does anyway). “Saïx would laugh—would say that a useless puppet like me isn’t capable of such things.”
“Yeah, he would,” Axel agrees as he edges closer to her, one arm sliding around her; he pulls her against himself. “But I’m not Saïx, and you aren’t a ‘useless puppet’. Me and Roxas… we see you, Xion, and that’s what matters.”
Her eyes sting suddenly, and it’s strange. She tries to blink the sensation away, but she doesn’t quite succeed. Instead, she murmurs, “Thanks,” and she leans into the comfort and the warmth of him while she can.
Time is going by entirely too fast, she thinks, and wishes that everything could just stand still. Just for a little while.
But it won’t, and so she treasures what she has now—treasures every moment they give her, every moment that’s stolen and fragile and real.
.Axel and Roxas.
“Xion’s been quiet lately,” Roxas says, and Axel glances at him over his shoulder. Typical Roxas—they’re supposed to be focusing on their mission, but his mind is obviously preoccupied.
Axel makes a sort-of grunting sound and rolls his eyes. “Good to know that you’re focusing on our objective.”
Roxas narrows his eyes so that his nose crinkles a little (and Axel would say that it makes Roxas look adorable, except only he doesn’t want to wind up with Roxas’ Keyblade aimed in his general direction), and Axel thinks that the kid might actually stamp his foot for a moment, but he refrains from doing so (though just barely, Axel suspects). “There are more important things to me than these missions, you know. How she’s feeling. How you’re feeling.”
“I’m feeling like we should get this over and go home,” Axel replies. He doesn’t bother with the whole ‘we’re Nobodies and therefore feel nothing and will continue to be this way until Kingdom Hearts is complete’ speech again. It tends to go in one ear and out the other, and it doesn’t really suit him, anyway. It’s more Saïx’s style, or Xemnas’. Axel himself is a different card entirely—or so he likes to think.
“Axel,” Roxas says, and then sighs. “Be serious for a minute, okay? I’m worried about how she’s acting. Don’t you think it’s weird?”
Now it’s Axel’s turn to sigh. He thinks it’s a good thing that there are no Heartless in this area at the moment—with all of their talking, they’d be toast by now. He turns, and he moves to stand close to Roxas, placing a hand on his shoulder.
“I’m sure nothing’s wrong, Roxas,” he tells the blonde in his best attempt at reassurance. “She’s a girl, you know—her mind works differently from ours. She’s probably just going through one of those weird… girl moments, or something. Everything will be fine.”
Axel always figured that the more you do something, the easier it gets. Practice makes perfect and whatnot. That’s how it’s supposed to go, right?
Funny thing is, the more lies he feeds to Roxas, the harder it gets. And it hurts, too—in ways he doesn’t understand, though he knows he once did. Perhaps it’s just a memory of what this sort of pain used to feel like, though he can’t recall feeling this way before in his old life.
The worst part is when Roxas looks up at him and beams—all trusting and relaxed, placated by Axel’s deceit. “Yeah; I suppose you’re right. I’m just being stupid, huh?”
“What else is new?” Axel asks and then chuckles, ruffling blonde hair until Roxas ducks away from him. “Can we get back to the mission now? The sooner this is over, the sooner we can leave.”
Roxas’ smile is still plastered to his face, and Axel feels some invisible fissure between them widening (we’re running out of time). “All right.”
Axel uses fire and metal to dispose of the Heartless—the obstacles that are in their way. There are none of them left standing when he and Roxas are finished. Lots of damage has been done here.
And the greatest amount has not been done to his enemies, but to one of the people that Axel values most. Roxas doesn’t even know it yet—the damage that Axel has done, and will continue to do.
Enemies are cut open and left to bleed and die, but the deepest cuts are reserved for those we cherish above all else.
Axel supposes there’s some truth to that.
.Roxas and Xion.
There’s a sort of… slowness to her movements. A hint of sadness in her words. There are circles under her eyes—evidence that she hasn’t been sleeping well lately. Roxas is starting to believe that this isn’t just some ‘girl thing’, and that there’s something more going on. He suspects that Saïx has something to do with it. Or rather, his words do. He’s constantly calling her useless. Constantly calling her a puppet.
He doesn’t see what Roxas and Axel see. He doesn’t see her for who she is. To him, she’s just a tool, and a poorly-functioning one at that. Roxas sees her differently. He sees Xion.
“You aren’t acting like yourself lately,” he tells her one morning when the castle is quiet and it’s just the two of them for the moment, sitting on the couch together.
“I’m not?” she asks, and tilts her head just slightly. “Who am I acting like?”
Roxas shakes his head. “I don’t mean it like that—I mean… You don’t laugh as much anymore. You don’t smile as much. You seem so weighed-down and disconnected sometimes. Your voice is different sometimes, too. Kind of… I don’t know. Empty?”
She laughs, and it rings hollow. “Only fitting, I guess.”
He gently nudges her. “C’mon, don’t be that way. That’s not what I meant, either. It’s like there’s something bothering you. You know you don’t have to try to deal with it all by yourself. There’s Axel. There’s me. We’ll help. You can always come to us. We just… we want you to be happy, you know? That’s all.”
She turns to face him and she smiles—it would seem easy and untroubled if not for the shadows lurking in her eyes. “I know,” she replies, touching his cheek. Her hand is warm against his skin. “And I am happy with the two of you. Or… the closest thing to happy for a Nobody. Whatever that’s called.”
“Maybe there’s not a word for it,” Roxas says. Maybe a word isn’t necessary, or maybe happiness really is possible for her, for them. Roxas would like to think so, but perhaps that is a subject for another day.
“Perhaps not,” she agrees smoothly, and her hand is still pressed against his cheek, fingers gently fluttering against his skin in light caresses. The shadows are still there. Roxas wants to make them go away, permanently.
The silence is almost deafening for a second or two, and then she tells him, “Do me a favor, Roxas—don’t ever try to be anybody but Roxas, okay?”
Roxas gives her a puzzled look but he agrees willingly enough.
It’s not like he knows how to be anybody else, anyway.
.Axel and Roxas and Xion.
Things feel wrong and right at the same time. They continue their usual pattern: They sit atop the clock tower, eat ice cream, and watch the sunset. They talk about nothing and everything. They tease one another, and they smile and laugh (and their laughter shouldn’t sound as carefree as it does) like they’re Somebodies instead of Nobodies. Perhaps it’s only fitting, because they tend to abide only by the rules that they have made for themselves: rules that can apparently be bent and broken and then made whole again.
Like, don’t lie to your best friend.
Maybe they get to have do-overs, but they aren’t permanent. Nothing is.
Axel’s tired of this lying business. In truth, he’d rather be a traitor to the Organization than to Roxas and Xion. But when faced with the possibility of elimination, he supposes that self-preservation takes the wheel and things like loyalty and friendship take the backseat. It’s not right, but that’s how it is.
He also wishes it didn’t have to be one or the other. Why can’t it be Roxas and Xion? To him, that’s how it should be.
Not everything is supposed to come true….
Xion is exhausted. She’s gone over would-be scenarios a thousand times, but she knows none of her ideas will actually be set into motion. She knows she won’t suggest that the three of them run away together, even though she wants to. She shoves that suggestion down every time it wants to bubble up in her throat. It’s not like the Organization wouldn’t find them, anyway.
No point in all of them being eliminated. The Organization only needs one sacrificial lamb.
Roxas is confused. He doesn’t understand why Axel glances away when he talks to him sometimes—why the look in his eyes seems almost… pained. He wishes that he knew. The shadows never seem to completely leave Xion’s eyes now—it’s almost like the darkness is permanently etched onto her irises, and Roxas wishes that it would just go away.
“Roxas,” Xion and Axel begin together, and Roxas turns to look into emerald and then into sapphire. “Yeah?”
And maybe Axel will admit to all of the lies. Maybe he’ll apologize for them—beg Roxas to forgive him. Tell him that he never meant for it to go this far, and that Roxas and Xion mean more to him than anything.
And maybe Xion will actually suggest that they run away together anyway. Maybe she will tell Roxas what she’s learned about him, about herself, and about Sora. Maybe she will say that Axel never set out to hurt Roxas, and maybe she’ll tell him that things will be as they should be once they’re out of here and someplace special—someplace just for the three of them.
Some words are best unsaid…
But he doesn’t, and she doesn’t, and there is a tense silence for a moment as Roxas waits, as Xion’s and Axel’s eyes meet above his head (silent communication), and then—
“We were thinking that we should go to the beach again,” Axel says jovially, patting Roxas on the back. “It did us some good last time.”
“Yeah,” Xion rushes to agree. “We should go again soon. The ocean looked so pretty.” She’s smiling too, but….
Roxas shakes his head as if to clear it, and then smiles as well. “We should go soon. On our next day off?”
“Sounds like a plan.” Axel takes a bite of his ice cream.
They’re going to the beach on their next day off.
They’re pretending now, all of them.
Axel pretends that he’s not lying to Roxas—pretends that every fabrication he utters doesn’t twist the knife in deeper. He pretends that it’s always going to be the three of them together.
Xion pretends that they aren’t trying to outrun the future, even though they can’t run away from what hasn’t happened yet. She pretends that their destiny isn’t set in stone—pretends that trying to take a different path might alter it. She pretends that she and Axel aren’t sheltering Roxas from the truth whilst trying to prepare him for it at the same time.
Roxas pretends that all is right in his world—pretends that neither Xion nor Axel is troubled by anything. He pretends that he doesn’t suspect that they know something they aren’t telling him. He takes their hands and pretends that there’s us and that’s enough.
Ignorance is bliss after all, right?
Geez, talk about angst. I need to write something happy for these three, but given what happens in the game, being all cheerful and whatnot is a little bit difficult. *headdesk* Oh well—I hope you all enjoyed anyway. It was fun writing the three of them together. ^_^