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W is for Whim (But M is also for Memory)

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Roxas is his partner in all things. He's the person that Axel goes to when he's been dumped, the person he gets trashed with on the major holidays, the friend who puts up with him when Axel's kind of being an asshole. Roxas is his partner. They've been killing people together since Roxas was sixteen and Axel was twenty, since The Organization first recruited him and pressed him into Axel's care, saying, "You take care of the duckling, Axel. We know you're wonderful with children."

It had been an ill advised jab towards the Neverland job, where they'd assigned him a task force of unkempt heathens who had the gall to call themselves assassins and given him the orders to take out everyone in the building. What they hadn't told him was that the place was an orphanage. What they hadn't told him was that the targets were a group of boys ranging from as young as five to the age of their "leader," a fifteen year old boy named Peter who had hair like burnished copper and dark clever eyes that tracked them like an animal.

What they hadn't mentioned had cost Axel, and he hadn't even given it a second thought- head too full of images of his little sister's brains blown all over the paisley wallpaper of the stairs, of his older brother Zack crouched before him, protective and worried even as the murderer behind him lined up a shot- of his brother Reno's hand clenching too tight to his, his voice breathless and harsh in Axel's ear as he hissed, "Run, get as far from here as possible- don't look back"-- and of that last final gunshot, echoing in Axel's ears even as he launched himself further and further down the block.

He didn't think of it as defying orders, not really, because it was the right thing to do- so he hadn't given it a thought before whirling on his own men and giving the boys enough time to get to safety. He'd been punished -severely- but he was good at his job, too priceless for The Organization to lose, so they'd kept him with a couple hissed warnings. They'd never sent him on another mission with children, but this jab- the little boy with the golden hair and baby blue eyes, slim fingers wrapped awkwardly around his gun- it was designed to hurt. To test him- corrupting the youth was almost as bad as killing them.

But Roxas was pleasantly bitter. Sixteen and baby-cheeked, yes, but he spoke like a combination between a sailor and a professor and killed like he'd been in the business for years.

So yes, Roxas is his partner- has been for years. He's Axel's best friend, the one he goes to when the nightmares have torn into his skull, the one who knows him enough that when they're assigned certain jobs- jobs where there are nurseries and parents sleeping in their beds, he's the one who tucks his hand up along Axel's spine and says, "Hey, I got this." He's the one who fires off two rounds into their target's skulls and tugs a slowly waking infant from it's crib. Roxas, who once upon a time was easy to slot right into the setting of that orphanage, is the one person who knows him enough to break orders like this. Knows him enough to tuck the infant close as he stuffs his gun down his jeans, hissing "come on" as he fades into the night.

They're supposed to get rid of all the houses occupants- they know this. But Roxas is the one who smiles at him as he sets the baby outside an orphanages door -a good one, this time, one he's researched himself-

They're partners in all ways except for one, though the possibility is always there- a tension that peaks when they're leaning close together, breathless with drunken laughter or when they catch each other's eyes during meetings and Roxas' brows alone tell a story of how much he wants to stick his pen up Marluxia's nose. Sometimes, it's right there, in the air- like the time Axel had gotten baked out of his mind when a bag of cocaine had blown open in his face- how he'd been so out of it that he'd licked highways out over the curve of Roxas' neck, giggling as he unbuttoned Roxas' shirt and mapped out roads along sharp clavicles and the planes of his partner's stomach. How Roxas hadn't said much, just waited for Axel to exhaust himself- breath hitching with each dip and twirl of Axel's tongue. And when he had exhausted himself, Roxas had simply slipped Axel's boots off and unknotted his tie- pushing him back onto his sofa with a murmured, "hush. sleep."

Axel had woken up the next morning with a hangover so huge he'd spent the rest of the day puking up his guts, and the entire time Roxas had sat by him on the cold bathroom tile, a chiding smirk on his face and a hand in Axel's hair- holding it back.

There are other times, of course, when that thing between them is the last thing on their minds. Like that time in Berlin they'd spent arguing over -of all things- where to dump the bodies. Roxas' lip curled when he snarled- feral, one hand twitching for his gun before he seemingly remembered that not all arguments can be resolved with a bullet to the face. But Axel had seen the movement- he'd seen it, and it hurt, gnawing at the space between his ribs like a dog with a bone. So he'd snarled back and dropped the body of the late Mr. Bauer, pulling his own gun and surging forward- pressing Roxas' scrawny shoulders back against the grimy alley wall and his glock up beneath Roxas' pretty little chin and snarling, "So, you're gonna shoot me now?" Roxas' eyes had glittered- snow catching in his eyelashes, and hissed, "I'm not the one who drew my fucking gun."

But it is there- always there, saturating the space between them.

They're partners in all ways except for one- at least, until the morning that Axel wakes up with a tiara nestled in his hair, tattered veil tugged halfway off the cool metal and Roxas pressed hot against his side, naked except for a battered tie hanging loosely around his neck. The hotel room is trashed. There's cake and red wine smeared into the floor, flutes of champagne (mostly empty) scattered around the room. What looks like a very expensive wedding dress is lying next to the remnants of an equally expensive tux. Both are irreparably damaged.

There are also, more worryingly, gemstones of all sizes all over the floor. Rubies embedded in golden bracelets, emeralds dotted along what looks like an actual crown, pearls and sapphires and diamonds. There are a lot of diamonds.

Somewhere, Axel thinks he might hear sirens.

Roxas is stirring against him, whining in the back of his throat like he does when he really doesn't want to wake up. He's warm, moving, absolutely covered in bruises that match the shape of Axel's mouth and wearing a wedding ring. They both are. And they probably robbed a jewelry store, though whether that came before or after the wedding, he has no idea.

When his eyes slide open, a little crusty from sleep, he looks utterly horrified. But five seconds later he takes in Axel's nervous look and sighs, reaching out to slide his hand against Axel's, slotting their fingers together. Their wedding bands gleam together and oddly, it's not the weirdest thing they've ever done. Axel's still looking at their linked hands when Roxas laughs and curls his other hand into messy red hair, yanking him down for a kiss.

In five minutes, they'll realize that the cops are in the lobby and that there's millions of dollars worth of jewels in their room. In five minutes, they'll remember that they'd been in Ontario on a job and that the likelihood that the job got accomplished is extremely unlikely. In five minutes, they'll realize that the only clothes in the hotel room are the ruined clothes strewn across the floor. In five minutes, things will go to shit. But for four minutes and fifty nine seconds, the only thing that will matter are Roxas' lips on his.