Challenge:  It’s Cold Outside
Title: But the Fire is so Delightful
Notes: Rated PG-13 for language. Takes place during CoM. Features Axel and Naminé, and mentions Marluxia. Mostly, this is just cuteness with the tiniest hint of angst. Don’t ask. *hides* Title is actually part of the lyrics to ‘Let it Snow!’, written by Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne, and has been sung by many people. *LOL*
“He let you go into the garden today.” She knows this voice well—doesn’t bother to turn around and see who is standing in her
She sets her newest drawing (snow covering a rose, Marluxia’s influence) aside and she nods. “The snow was pretty,” she answers quietly. “I’ve only ever seen it in books before.”
“Bet the pictures in the book didn’t make you shiver,” he comments, and she hears his footfalls (boots on the floor, black on white) as he approaches her. “I don’t understand the big deal about it—it’s just frozen water. Too fucking cold out there.”
“You don’t like it?” she queries. “The snow, I mean. Winter is nice.”
She can practically hear his eyes roll. “Says the girl who is currently sitting all prim and proper in her chair and freezing her little ass off. Damnit, you didn’t consider dressing warmly, I suppose.”
She shrugs her shoulders slightly, though her companion is correct: She is currently shivering, but she doesn’t mind it much. She wants to tell him that Marluxia’s touch is colder—that it seeps into her bones and stays there, but she swallows the words before they can work their way out of her throat. There’s no point in saying this out loud… not when she suspects that he already knows and understands, anyway.
“Marluxia… let me borrow his coat when I was outside,” she tells him instead, though the point is rather moot now, since she is back inside and is still cold. In retrospect, perhaps she should have at least wrapped herself in a blanket when she came back in.
He gives a slight scoff. “Lot of good that does you now.” There is a pause. “And in response to your question—no, I don’t like the cold. I don’t like water.” She hears a soft whoosh and she turns, watching the flame as it dances in his palm. “Fire and ice don’t mix.”
“Ice melts,” she says knowingly.
“And fire can be extinguished,” he retorts.
She can’t think of a good comeback, so she asks another question: “Were you always drawn to fire?”
His smile turns almost rueful. “My Other certainly wasn’t. No fun being trapped in a burning building, I guess. Irony will bite you in the ass.”
Sometimes, she is thankful that she cannot truly remember anything from her previous life. Perhaps it is a blessing wrapped in a curse.
Without speaking, she reaches towards the flame with both hands, stopping just shy of touching it. It’s warm. Color is returning to her fingertips already.
He gives her a half-smile. “Don’t you know that if you play with fire, you might get burned?”
So very him.
“Crossed my mind,” she replies, mimicking his not-quite-smile. “Then it left. I’m not afraid of the fire.”
“That so?” He gives her a once-over, and then the almost-smile is gone. “You’re still shivering.” The flame in his palm is gone in an instant, and between one eye-blink and the next, she finds his coat draped over her shoulders.
She blinks at Axel as he kneels, and there’s the fire again, cupped in his palms, burning brightly, held out to her as though it is an offering. “Don’t tell Marluxia I stole a page from his book, yeah?”
Naminé smiles, and it’s as real as it can be. “Got it memorized.” And then: “Not so cold anymore.”
“No,” he agrees. “Not so much.”
Later, she forgets the snow-covered rose and starts filling pages with hues of orange and yellow and red instead.
Challenge:  Apology
Title: As Difficult as Breathing
Notes: Saying “I’m sorry” should be as easy as breathing. What if breathing’s not so easy?
It starts with incomprehensible babbling, which turns into simple words such as Mama and Dada. Over time, one gets progressively better—stringing words together and rattling off sentences (and, later on, speeches) like there’s nothing to it… like it’s not a honed skill, but instead a natural ability. Easy as breathing, right?
So, what’s so difficult about saying “I’m sorry”?
What if breathing’s not so easy, sometimes?
For Riku, just breathing lately has been pretty tough—not because his nose is perpetually stuffy or because he’s inhaled too much dust or because he has asthma or anything like that, but because….
He feels guilty, he supposes. Guilt will do strange things to a person, and in his case, it makes him even more silent than usual and it gives him the sensation that there’s shards of glass in his chest, and each breath he takes only drives them deeper into his lungs—they cut, and it hurts, and the words that he should say (should have said already) are lost.
It’s even worse when he thinks about all of the times that he could have said it, but didn’t; he remembers that he always said other things instead:
“Take care of her.”
“C’mon, Sora. You’ve got to pull it together.”
“I’m not a total sap like you.”
And back home:
“Let’s go to our place.”
“Did you forget what the assignment was again?!”
He actually says it one day, entirely out of the blue, while the glass shards are digging in and digging in and he can’t breathe: “I’m sorry.”
Sora looks at him, clearly bewildered, and then he smiles in what Riku knows to be understanding. “You’re sorry? Well that’s good and all, Riku, but I don’t forgive you.”
And Riku’s world abruptly comes to a grinding halt. He’s certain the metaphorical shards are digging into another – though just as vital, if not more so – organ within his chest. “What?”
Sora’s smile is brilliant, unapologetic. He leans in so that their noses are nearly touching. “There’s nothing to forgive, Riku.”
He sounds so sure, and Riku can’t help but feel some sense of wonder at those words. Nothing to forgive?
“You’re over-thinking it,” Sora informs him. “Just believe me, okay?” He doesn’t move. Neither does Riku.
“… Okay,” Riku answers after a moment, and damn, that smile is really a hell of a lot more contagious than it ought to be.
The whole breathing thing’s not so difficult anymore.
Challenge:  Sweet things
Wordcount: 536 exactly.
Notes: No names are mentioned but it’s fairly easy to guess who they are. ^.^ No spoilers, really, though this is rated R for content. I swear, I cannot get enough of this pairing.
She is cotton-candy sweet: thin pink lips (which she licks a lot—it’s a wonder they’re not chapped), wide blue eyes (constantly questioning the things that her pretty lips wouldn’t dare), golden hair (she’s no Rapunzel, though, and he’s made sure there’s no window in her room so she can’t let down her hair [nevermind that it’s not long enough to begin with]), and soft skin (so very soft under his fingers).
She is cotton-candy sweet, and he thinks this does not suit her at all.
He gains her trust (or something like it)—she is so innocent to the world, after all, and has so much to learn.
He teaches her.
He brings her gifts: Paper, crayons, markers, colored pencils. He watches her draw, watches her color, watches her place her finished products on the wall. He takes her into his garden—shows her all of his flowers, tells her their names and their origins and when she accidentally pricks her finger on a thorn (his roses are full of them), he kisses it better and she looks up at him with those blue eyes that speak of a total lack of understanding.
He calls her ‘precious’ and ‘beautiful’ and ‘dearest’ and his (because she is), and those blue eyes are bright with wonder and her lips are slightly parted—he knows there is an unasked question poised on her tongue, but perhaps she does not know how to ask it. She still doesn’t understand, after all.
Doesn’t understand that she’s slowly drowning.
And then one night he drags her under (it’ll be so pretty to watch her struggle): He takes her in his room, in his bed, the uncompleted Kingdom Hearts lending him light, letting him see all that she does not want him to see.
(Yes, it is a pretty sight, her useless struggles—and then her body gives in after a while, but there’s still fight left in the hollow of her blue eyes).
He drinks in her whimpers and moans and cries, savors the heat and the tightness of her (and while it’s almost painful for him, he knows that it is painful for her, though this doesn’t even remotely slow him down).
And when he has had his pleasure (enough for now), he looks down at her and smiles. He does not whisper words of love, because he knows nothing of love, just as she knows nothing of hate (nevermind that her eyes are giving him what might be a good imitation).
“Why?” she asks.
“I like sweet things,” he answers, knowing that his reply will not satisfy her.
She is… She is breathing heavily beneath him, thighs trembling, wet and sticky with semen and (just a little) blood, and there are rose petals in her hair, on her skin (they compliment the bruises and bite marks and scratches wonderfully); her lips are kiss-swollen (and she’s still licking at them, though he knows now that she can taste him there), and her eyes are filled with tears; when they spill over, he tastes the salt of them and thinks of the ocean that he knows she has never seen.
She is bittersweet.
And he thinks that this suits her perfectly.
Challenge:  Anticipation
Title: Here I am Waiting
Notes: Kairi-centric. It was going to be longer, but I like it better as it is. Not entirely happy with this either, though… Hm.
It bothers her—the things that she can’t remember, and the things that she can remember. She remembers laughter and promises; she remembers warm hands holding her own. She remembers what it felt like to be protected; she remembers play-fights; she remembers plans to run away together—to go out and see the other worlds.
If she tries hard enough, she can almost remember his crooked smile. She can almost remember his throaty laugh.
These memories come to her in bits and pieces, and they are as fine as sand, running through her fingers before she can close her fist and keep them safe.
Most of all, she wishes she could remember their names.
She writes a letter (she does not begin it with ‘Dear’, because she does not know who to address it to) and places it in a bottle, watching as the waves carry it further and further away from her.
She doesn’t know if it will reach them, but she hopes it will.
She sits on the beach, just outside the tide’s reach, drawing silly, meaningless shapes in the sand.
And she waits for her boys – wherever they might be – to come home.
Challenge:  Cakewalk
Title: Have Your Cake and Eat it Too
Notes: Sometimes, you have to actually say what you mean. Features Axel, Roxas, and Xion. Fluff, mostly. Mild spoilers for 358/2 Days.
“Piece of cake,” Axel says with a crooked smile and turns to Roxas, who is looking up at him like he is mildly insane, and Axel feels the need to reiterate: “Well it was a piece of cake. Look—didn’t even break out in a sweat, either of us.”
It could possibly have something to do with the fact that Roxas is getting better and better with that Keyblade of his with each passing day, but it’s not like Axel is going to come out and just say that.
“It wasn’t cake,” Roxas replies, deadpan, though there is the slightest tinge of confusion coloring his voice. “It was a mission.”
Axel blinks at his companion and then sighs, running fingers through his hair. “I can’t believe I have to explain… For crying out loud, Roxas, it means that this mission was easy. That’s what people say a lot when something really isn’t a challenge.”
“But there’s no cake,” Roxas continues, as if he expects a piece to appear out of thin air. “That doesn’t make sense.”
Axel good-naturedly rolls his eyes. “It’s just a saying.”
Roxas shakes his head. “Then why not just say what you mean? Why don’t you say, ‘that was easy’ instead?”
Axel sighs long-sufferingly. “You’ll figure it out at some point. Come on—let’s head back.”
“Piece of cake,” he says (weeks and weeks later), while Roxas stares at him in what appears to be astounded disbelief.
“They said you were--” Roxas cuts himself off, approaching Axel and hesitantly touching his chest and then his face. Axel doesn’t quite get it, but he stays perfectly still. “But you’re not. You’re here.”
“And if you do something like that again,” Roxas continues, voice much less brittle, “I’m going to kill you! I thought you were….”
But he can’t finish, and Axel understands. “Didn’t enjoy your vacation away from me, hmm?”
“It… wasn’t a piece of cake,” Roxas replies, suddenly very interested in his feet.
Axel smiles. “That’s kinda… nice to hear.”
“What’s this about cake? I don’t understand.” Her voice is soft, meek.
“That’s Xion,” Roxas rushes to explain. “She’s… been keeping me company, I guess you could say.”
She looks a lot like Naminé, Axel realizes, but the eyes are different. The eyes are more like—
Axel smiles again and it’s welcoming. “Gotta explain it to you too, huh?”
They’re on break and they’re at the beach—Axel watches them as they search for seashells and as they laugh and tease and wave him over to join them (“because it’s only right when you’re with us, too,” Xion explains).
They fit right in here, the two of them, and Axel knows why, but can’t (doesn’t) say.
The sun is setting and they should head back soon (soon is not now), but Axel doesn’t want to go quite yet. He’s surrounded by the warmth of them: his gentle laugh and her shy smile, and he’s not ready to leave.
He’s content – for the time being – to forget about what will be and to focus on what is.
“Sometimes you can have your cake and eat it too,” he says (mostly to himself), and two sets of midnight-blue gaze up at him as he pulls them closer to himself, to each other. For a moment, he thinks another explanation is in order.
But they fool him: “Yeah,” they say in unison, and then fall silent, their heads pillowed against his shoulders.
Nothing else needs to be said.
Challenge:  Begin at the End
Title: The End (is the Beginning)
Notes: I have no clue why I wrote an introspective piece about Vexen. >_> I am very unfamiliar with writing his character, so I don’t know if this is halfway decent or not, *LOL*. I’ll let you wonderful people be the judge of that. Very mild spoilers for BBS, maybe.
When he wakes up, he feels dizzy. He feels… strange, like everything has been turned upside-down and then right-side-up again, far too quickly for his equilibrium to adjust. He sits still and the room spins; he moves and everything seems almost slanted.
He is rather not unlike a newborn fawn standing on unsteady legs for the very first time, but he supposes that it makes sense. He is no longer the same person, after all. No longer a person at all, really.
Nobody echoes through his mind and in the void of his chest (he knows—knows because he places his hand over the spot where there would have been a steady thump-thump before and now there is none), and for whatever reason, it makes him give the shadow of a smile.
Only a shadow—a parody of what was.
But he likes it (if that can even be said) much better this way. Now, he can continue his research and his experiments without ridiculous human emotions such as guilt and sorrow and regret and worry getting in his way. He doesn’t have to worry about feeling anything at all anymore, which gives his mind free reign, and that is exactly how it should be. He has always been more of the intellectual type anyway, and his heart has always been a burden.
He is no longer burdened, but light and free. Nothing is spinning anymore—nothing is slanted or as it shouldn’t be. It is all as it should be.
He doesn’t pretend to understand why the others have this ridiculous idea to create Kingdom Hearts and to be ‘whole’ again—doesn’t understand why they want to bother with such a petty task, but he listens (even though he is, in all honesty, simply imagining locking himself up in a laboratory of his very own and researching and experimenting
Xemnas (Xeanhort, Ansem) gives him a new name, and he (hollowly) laughs at the sound of it—at the rearrangement of the letters and the addition of an extra. It makes sense, though: he has been born anew.
Even’s story has come to an end.
Vexen’s, however, is only just beginning.
Challenge:  Once Upon a Time
Title: Only This and Nothing More
Notes: Anybody recognize The Raven in my title there? XD Features Axel and Saїx and things remembered (and also features Roxas and Xion). Mild spoilers for 358/2 Days, I suppose. And maybe eensy weensy ones for Birth by Sleep.
Once upon a time, there were two boys who used to joke and tease and laugh. Once upon a time, these two boys used to eat ice cream and watch the sun set together. Once upon a time, one of these boys used to take everything entirely too seriously whilst the other one didn’t take anything seriously enough (sometimes, it’s still kind of like that, to be fair—but he’s not as clueless as he leads some of them to believe; he is deadly, and that is why he is here).
Once upon a time, the older of these two boys taught the other about responsibility; once upon a time, the younger of the two taught the other about letting responsibility take a vacation.
Once upon a time, two souls touched and sang together in an imperfect harmony that was just perfect for them.
Then the darkness came and changed everything.
They aren’t kids anymore—aren’t even true beings, as such.
Two boys (Nobodies) and a girl (puppet) now joke and tease and laugh like it’s real even though it isn’t. Two Nobodies and a puppet eat ice cream and watch the sun set together. The younger two have questions that the older one never directly answers, but he makes them smile and they make him smile (brilliant and nearly-blinding, better than sunset and sunrise combined, maybe realer than it was when they were real).
They try to teach him about responsibility, perhaps, but old habits (and old personalities) die hard, because he obviously tries to be just as carefree as he ever was, with them.
It’s only when they aren’t around that he is different: quiet and contemplative and moody. More like the rest of them.
Things that were are no longer. There are no souls to touch, and now their perfect imperfect harmony is like a thousand nails scraping down a chalkboard.
Those kids (the light) who shouldn’t even exist (one more than the other) have changed everything.
The memories are getting fuzzy now, but Saїx hasn’t forgotten—hasn’t forgotten what was, though Axel seems quite content to banish those memories from his mind. The past belongs in the past, and all that.
He still answers to that name, though with a decent amount of hesitation.
“Isa.” It’s a greeting and an acknowledgement.
“You remember ‘the good old days’, as you would call them?”
This earns him a sort-of half smile—nothing like the one he shows Roxas or Xion, and nothing like the one he would have given when they were more than empty vessels wrapped in skin. “Yeah, I remember. Once upon a time, huh?”
“Do you ever miss it?” He doesn’t know why he bothers asking, because neither of them is capable of missing anything.
Axel shrugs and laughs it off. “Miss it? No way.”
Saїx’s lips quirk and he closes his eyes. “Neither do I.”
The sun is setting, but it doesn’t feel the same.
‘Once upon a time’ is clearly only that, and nothing more.
Challenge:  Letting Go
Title: Why Does the Caged Bird Sing?
Notes: I’ve been taking inspiration from poems as well lately, as is obvious. *LOL* No real spoilers, unless you haven’t finished CoM or KHII.
She hums sometimes while she’s hunched over her notebook with pencils and crayons scattered everywhere—hums because it gives her something else to do; hums because it helps fill the silence between one line on the paper and the next.
She senses suddenly that she isn’t alone: the humming stops and she pauses in her drawing as well, tense as a bowstring for a moment, until her visitor speaks and she realizes that said visitor is neither her nor him.
“You know why the caged bird sings, don’t you?” he queries, and even though the question is spoken casually (as is typical of him), she senses that there is some deeper meaning to it.
“I haven’t seen a bird since I’ve been here,” she replies before resuming work on her drawing, trying to capture the way the golden key reflects the light.
He half-chuckles. “Look in the mirror, Naminé. You’re his little bird, wings all clipped.” His hand on her shoulder is gentle. “The caged bird sings because it wants to be free.”
She doesn’t comment on his words, but she remembers them.
She reads about a thing called ‘happily ever after’ and ‘tragic love’ in the fairy-tale books he gives her—reads about how, sometimes, it’s best to let a loved one go.
She says this to Marluxia one day, completely out of the blue, obviously catching him off-guard.
But then he is smiling eerily again and running fingers through her hair and pulling her close. “This letting go and happily ever after business? It’s not for us, my little flower, but for those who have hearts.”
She doesn’t think Marluxia really understands, but as she closes her eyes and lets herself lean against him, she thinks that maybe she doesn’t understand, either.
The hero that has arrived at the castle isn’t her hero (never was and never will be), but he thinks he’s meant to save her, and it’s his misguided, kind, beautiful heart that lands her in the position she is currently in.
“You’re free to go, you know,” Axel tells her pointedly. “I… I’ve got to get back, myself. Without him, there’s nothing tying you to this place. Go and try out your wings, why don’t you?”
She shakes her head solemnly. “I made Sora a promise. I’ve… got to fix things.”
Axel snorts and shakes his head. “Stockholm syndrome, huh?”
She pretends that she doesn’t hear him.
She steps outside of the castle by herself for the very first time and wonders why freedom tastes so bitter.
“Something’s wrong.” Roxas can see right through her and Kairi can too, which isn't surprising at all, really.
Kairi can feel her pain, her loneliness, her loss. “You have to let all of that go, you know. You can’t hold onto it forever.”
Naminé supposes that she is right: she has a heart now, and therefore no longer has an excuse.
If only putting something into action were as easy as speaking it.
… Sometimes, she wonders if the caged bird ever sang because it was happy.
… If that made no sense whatsoever, I’m sorry. :/ *bows a thousand times in apology*
Challenge:  Sunshine
Title: Good Morning, Sunshine
Notes: I skipped a couple of weeks because I had no idea what to write. This idea kind of sprang out at me for this week’s challenge, but I’m not sure how I feel about it. OT3 power.
Perhaps he truly has spent too much time in the darkness, as Sora has told him—perhaps that is why he awakens so easily to the sun’s first rays as they stream through the window.
… Or perhaps it’s Sora’s snoring that has dragged him away from his pleasant slumber.
Personally, Riku is more inclined to believe the second option.
Muttering idle threats under his breath, he briefly considers pressing bare feet against equally-bare legs, but quickly dismisses the thought, because his feet are not cold and therefore wouldn’t have the desired effect.
Instead, he none-too-gently nudges the slumbering boy to wakefulness, not flinching away from the glare that Sora aims at him as soon as bright blue eyes are open and aware.
Eyes that are less than three inches away from his own blink slowly. “Well, good morning to you too, sunshine,” Sora replies, all sarcasm, before he yawns and ducks his head, nuzzling against Riku’s shoulder. “Too early to be awake. Go back to sleep.”
“You were snoring,” Riku says accusingly, though he does not try to deter Sora’s attempts at snuggling.
“Was not,” Sora mumbles, already sounding like he’s half-asleep again. “Was Kairi.”
Riku snorts. “Kairi doesn’t snore, you dolt.”
“Does too,” Sora retorts, and the bite he gives Riku’s neck (right above his clavicle) makes the silver-haired boy gasp softly. “She just… girly-snores.”
“Your argument is ridiculous,” Riku informs the younger boy. “You’re going to have to do better than that, Sora.”
“I might be able to if someone – not that I’m naming names or anything, Riku—”
“Nice,” Riku interjects, and is bitten again for his efforts (this time just below his ear, and he tries not to squirm).
“—would let me get some decent sleep,” Sora finishes, unperturbed. “Now shut up and go back to sleep before you wake Kairi up, and you know how grumpy she can be when she first wakes up.”
“I’m what?” Kairi asks as if on cue, voice a bit lower than usual (and incredibly sexy, Riku thinks). The covers rustle and Sora instantly freezes, hissing when Kairi pinches him in the side. “I’m only grumpy when I’m rudely woken up, thank you very much.”
“Riku was fussing at me,” Sora says quickly, as if to save himself from further pinching.
“Sora was snoring,” Riku swiftly explains in order to save himself from getting pinched, but it doesn’t work. “Ow!”
“I don’t care who was doing what—I only know that I was woken up, and not in a good way, and I want to go back to sleep.”
“Sorry,” Riku and Sora say in unison, and Kairi visibly relents, curling closer to Sora’s side, the fingers of one hand now playing along the arm that Riku has slung over Sora, and her gentle touch raises goosebumps on his skin.
“Go back to sleep,” Kairi breathes. “Too early.”
All three lapse into a comfortable silence, holding onto each other, and Riku notices the slight change in their breathing when Kairi and Sora slip back into sleep. Thankfully, Sora doesn’t snore this time.
The sun continues to rise and Riku smiles, closing his eyes. The warmth of the sunlight is welcoming, and he’d missed it during his time in the dark.
He knows now, though – and maybe he didn’t before – that some forms of light and warmth always stay with him, and had been with him back then, too.
Not that he’ll say anything about it or anything.
The last thing he needs is to be known as a sap.
Sora’s already filled that position, after all.
Yay for silly fluff?
Challenge:  Sublunar
Title: Everything You’ve Never Had
Notes: Naminé, Marluxia, Saïx, and things lost—but how can you lose what you’ve never had?
The fake moonlight that illuminates the evening sky casts a sickly glow over the grass and the flowers and her skin, too; it makes her shiver for some unknown reason, and she draws her knees up to her chest, resting her chin on them as she studies the source of the light—it’s fake, too, in a sense. It’s not what it should be.
“Do you find it to be beautiful?” His words drip from his lips like steel wrapped in velvet, and she shivers again for other reasons—reasons that she doesn’t understand.
(He never allows her to step foot outside the castle unless he is with her).
“This is what you’re trying so hard to obtain?” she asks, voice quiet. “That misshapen object that pretends to be a moon but isn’t? It’s not right.” She’s never seen the moon before—not the real one, but she has drawn it (in secret, and has hidden it, because she knows he would take it away, like he’s taken away so many other things).
He half-smirks down at her before kneeling so that he can whisper against her skin, and it’s poisoned honey: “That, my little flower, is the key to getting ourselves hearts.”
She can’t imagine Marluxia with a heart—can’t imagine him as any being other than what he is now, but she knows that he was different, once. Knows that she somehow was, too. “Do you miss it?”
She knows that he understands what she means, but his reply is not an answer; it is a question: “Do you miss freedom?”
But she does not remember freedom. She only remembers this castle and his rules and his blueblueblue eyes and his wicked twisting smile and his hands and his teeth and his tongue and his soft hair trailing along her skin.
“I have never had that,” she responds honestly, not looking at him. “How can I--”
“Miss what you’ve never had?” he interrupts, and his smile shows teeth. “You can’t.”
Somehow, she knows that he’ll make certain of that.
Much later, the same heart-shaped moon is in the same sky, but it is different now.
The one that holds her gaze now isn’t him, but there’s an empty look in his yellow irises, and it seems all too familiar.
“Why are you here again? Are you lost?”
“No,” she responds quickly. “I… like the flowers.” They’re still here, even though Marluxia is long-gone.
“What have you lost here?” he asks her, and she flinches—doesn’t answer that she’s lost everything she’s ever known (but has never had) here. Instead, she asks him the same.
“He’s not himself anymore—not since he returned from this place,” he tells her.
“Who?” she asks, but he doesn’t reply, and so she guesses, closes her eyes and sees orange and yellow and redredred and then green, and when she opens her eyes, she says: “Axel. You’ve… lost him?”
He laughs, and there is an edge of madness to it. “You can’t miss what you’ve never had, can you?”
It is her turn to be silent. She doesn’t know what to say.
“We aren’t so unalike, are we?” he asks her, so soft and predatory and just like but nothing like him. “He wasn’t ever yours.”
She touches one of the roses—pricks her fingers on the thorns so that she bleeds. “No.”
And she wonders why the pads of her fingers don’t hurt. Wonders why her empty chest does.
She wonders how she can miss what she never had to begin with.
I’m not sure this is how I originally intended for it to turn out, but… oh well. There you have it. XD;