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Mafia XIII

Chapter Text

The ornate giant keys knocked against my leg as I walked down the street, away from Destiny High. Cheesy name for a school, I know, but it was still a good place. My latest project testified to the fact.

My tech teacher had obviously taken to me, because I know for a fact that he would never let another student near the metalworking equipment for a personal project, ever.

“Thanks, Prof. I owe you one.” I looked down at the two keys – each 3 feet in length, they were fashioned after old skeleton keys. I had held onto their designs for ages, only deciding I had the skills to attempt making them now. And after a week of late nights of staying after school in the shops , I was finally finished.

At one of my friends’ insistence I had named them – Oathkeeper, the white Keyblade, as I called them, had a delicate-looking design, but was surprisingly sturdy. To be honest, it looked more decorative than anything, but the edges of the key were sharpened to a point, distinguishing it as a weapon. Oblivion, the other Keyblade, was designed to look a little more menacing, while still possessing an ethereal beauty. It was a deep black, seeming to suck all the light into it. There was a decorative silver chain welded down the shaft of the Keyblade for decoration.

‘I want to see them as soon as they’re done. Care to stop by with them?’

I recalled Zexion’s words, spoken earlier that day, when I had mentioned how close to finishing the Keyblades I was. Smiling, I took a turn at the next street, heading to Zexion’s apartment. The 19 year-old lived in an apartment on his own, ever since his parents had abandoned him back in 9th grade. Forced to fend for himself, with no income, Zexion had dropped out of school for a full-time job for two years. He started attending school back in my grade 9 year, and had helped me with a major science project, sparking our friendship. Really, we were all the other had – no one wanted to be friends with the smart emo kid who had missed three years of schooling, and I was a shy boy who wasn’t fond of crowds of any sort.

“Roxas! How are you?” Miss Greenwin’s sweet voice carried over from across the street, where she was standing in front of her flower shop, watering her goods.

“Good, Miss Greenwin. What about you? Busy day?” I looked down the street before crossing, then went up to the young woman.

The woman chuckled as she pulled me into a hug. “How many times must I tell you to call me Mary? And I’ve been quite good – a slow day, no stress. Anyway, I see you’ve stayed late again. Have you finished this project of yours?”

I backed up from the hug, then unhooked the Keyblades from my belt, holding them out. “All finished, Miss.”

I smiled at the look of awe on her face. “Roxas, the craftsmanship... it’s amazing! The details are beautiful. You really poured your heart and soul into these, didn’t you?
I ducked my head, cheeks heating up. I had never taken compliments well, and apparently, I wasn’t about to change now.

“Aw, you’re such a sweetie, all embarrassed... Anyways, you should get going before it gets too dark. You’ve still got a ways to go.”

I shook my head, hooking the keys onto my belt again. “Actually, I’m headed over to Zexion’s.”

Mary smiled. “Well, all the more reason to get going. Don't want to make him wait any longer to see those keys of yours.”

Smiling, I turned to leave, waving. “Thanks. Goodbye, Miss Mary. It was nice seeing you.”

“Anytime, Roxas. You’ll always be welcome at my shop. And say hi to your brother for me when you see him next!”

I nodded at her, smiling, then made my way down the street.

I was only a few blocks from Zexion’s when I was grabbed. The man – much taller than me, and quite strong – grabbed me by my hair and threw me into the alleyway he had been hiding in. I cried out as I hit the ground, landing on top of the Keyblades. Why did I have to make them so spiky?

Before I could fully comprehend what was going on, the man was kicking me incessantly in the side. I curled up into a fetal position, but that failed to help, so I decided I had to fight back. I mean, I knew I was smaller than average, but I could still pack a punch.

Just as the man’s foot connected with my stomach, I curled around the limb, holding tight. Then, rolling away, I pulled him off balance. In the meantime, I unhooked the Keyblades and tossed them a few feet away, so I wasn’t lying on them anymore.

Of course, my quick thinking wasn’t as smart as I originally thought, as I found out when the man landed on top of me. However, luck was on my side, and I was able to reach his groin and give it a good squeeze, causing the guy to cry out in pain. I pushed him off me and scrambled to my feet, grabbing Oblivion. By the time I was on my feet, blade in hand, the man was also up, and diving for me with a knife. Letting instincts take over, I leapt to the side and brought the back of Oblivion down across his neck, knocking him to the ground. As I backed away, he managed to get back to his feet, spitting a glob of blood onto the pavement. “You little brat!” He exclaimed, and ran at me again, slashing with his knife. I managed to jump out of the way, but he kept coming, fury dancing in his eyes. I barely managed to stay ahead of the blade, until my back slammed into the wall, and the man scored a deep hit, right into my shoulder. I cried out from the pain, dropping Oblivion and clutching my injured shoulder. Looking up, I barely had the chance to register the man’s wicked grin before the blade slammed into me again, this time slicing across my chest, causing my eyes to momentarily black out from the pain, as I slid down the wall to collapse to my knees. I cried out again as the man’s knife came for me again, but the blow never came. I opened my eyes to see the man being thrown against the opposite wall of the alley by another person, this guy in a long leather coat with the hood up. The newcomer, while holding the mugger against the wall, brought his fist back and punched the man with enough force to knock him unconscious.

As the mugger slumped to the ground, the man in the coat turned to me, and kneeled in from of me, putting his hand to my wounded shoulder. I whimpered from the contact, but I had lost too much blood to be embarrassed, and I could feel myself passing out.

“Who are you?” My voice was low, almost a whisper, but the man heard me. He pulled his hood off to reveal a spiky mess of red hair, and a pair of emerald eyes, a small upside-down tear tattoo under each.

The last thing I remember before passing out were his words.

“The name’s Axel, kid. Got it memorized?”

Chapter Text

I opened my eyes to a very simplistic-looking room. A bed, chair, and dresser were the only furniture, and a single window decorated the wall to the right of the bed, its curtains drawn closed. I started to get up, to check where exactly I was, but the moment I got into a sitting position, I started feeling dizzy.

Bracing myself against the wall, I noticed I was missing my shirt. Shaking my head, I slowly made my way to the door, but it was locked from the outside. I tried the window next, but it was locked too. And the only view I had was a dark alley like the one I had been attacked in. I could see the sky was dark, so I knew it was night-time, and judging by the moon’s position, it was around midnight. But other than that, I had no clue where I was. I placed my palm against the cool glass, wondering if anyone had noticed me gone. Zexion probably thought I had messed up and had a setback on the Keyblades, while Sora would assume I had decided to spend the night at Zexion’s without telling him again.

Crap. And no one else would even notice my absence until Monday morning at school. I bowed my head at my own stupidity. Why didn’t I have a huge circle of friends that kept tabs on me constantly, like other teens my age? Dammit.

“Hey, kid, what’re you doing out of bed? You should be resting!”

I turned to see the redhead that had saved me in the alley. “Where am I?”

The man – Axel, I remember him introducing himself as – tsked. “I’m not gonna repeat myself: Get back in bed before you pass out again – you lost too much blood earlier.”

Grudgingly, I obeyed, but only because I could recognise the truth in his words. I did feel a bit light-headed, and my shoulder and chest were throbbing like mad where the man had cut me.

As I sat down on the edge of the bed, I opened my mouth to speak again, only to be interrupted by a strong hand pushing me down onto my back. “I might have sealed your wounds, but that doesn’t mean they won’t still hurt – and don’t tell me you don’t feel it, I can see it in your face. So shut up and take the painkillers, alright?” He handed me a couple of pills, along with a cup of water.

“So, you save me from being murdered in an alley, and you think that gives you the right to boss me around?” But I downed the pills gratefully, regardless. Anything to dull the pain.

“I think it gives me enough right,” Axel said with a mocking grin. He pulled the chair up to the side of the bed and straddled it, arms resting on the back. “So, any questions?”

I glared at him. “Yeah. Where am I, and who are you?”

The man ran his fingers through his gravity-defying hair, the front slicked back to join with the array of spikes at the back. “Oh. I guess you already passed out when I told you. My name’s –”

“– Axel, I know. I didn’t ask for your name, I asked you who you were. And why did I wake up without a shirt, locked in some room? Where am i?”

Axel held his hands up, as if to surrender to my barrage of questions. “Okay, okay! I get it! I’ll try to answer what I can, but some of those answers are gonna get mighty complicated, and I don’t want you all worked up when you’re still recovering.” He sighed. “Okay, starting with the most simple, you don’t have a shirt at the moment because it’s in the wash, and plus, I had to remove it so I could tend to your wounds.”

“Wait a second, why not just take me to the hospital like any normal person would do?” My words were accusing, and rightfully so. If he wasn’t a certified doctor, I didn’t want him doing the stitches I know the wound had needed.

He shook his head. “You were bleeding too much to wait. I had to sear the wound as soon as you lost consciousness.”

I blinked, his words registering in my mind. “Sear!?” I grabbed at the bandage on my shoulder and peeked underneath, revealing skin red and puckered from a burn – however, there was no bleeding in the slightest. I grimaced at the sight. Putting the bandage back in place, I looked back at Axel. “What’d you use to sear it closed?” I was curious. From what I could see, he hadn’t used any conventional means.

Axel was back to ruffling the back of his hair again. “Um... you’re getting to the complicated part now...”

“How is that complicated?!”

“Trust me.”

Grumbling, I covered my eyes with the back of my hand. “Fine. And since you still haven’t answered me, after countless times of asking, I take it where I am is confidential, too?”

“Eh... heheh..”

I groaned. Leave it to me to be saved by a guy with more secrets than a mob boss... wait. “You’re not in a gang, or anything, are you? Is that why you won’t tell me anything important? ‘Cuz I’m in your headquarters, or something?”

I saw a flash of something in his eyes – surprise, maybe a bit of fear, but why? Unless...

I groaned again, this time slamming my head against the pillow for good measure. “Aw, come on, really? Are you serious?”

Axel looked away, confirming it for me. “What gang?” I knew of a few, and I wanted to know what I was dealing with.

“It’s not a gang.” Axel didn’t turn his face when he spoke, and I could hear the hesitation in his voice. I stayed silent. “I’m with the Organization.”

“The Organization?” I hadn’t heard of it. Not really that surprising, since I only knew of three gangs, tops.

He looked back at me, hesitantly. “Organization XIII. We’re a mafia.”

Chapter Text

I snorted in surprise. “A mafia? Hollow Bastion has a mafia?” I was slightly dumbstruck. I knew the city had countless gangs, but I never would have guessed that we had something as serious as a mafia.

Axel just looked at me. “You’re taking this rather well, considering your situation.”

I raised an eyebrow. “I’m either gonna have to join you or die, right? You can’t exactly let me go now that I know about you guys; I’ve read enough books to know that. Relax. The freak-out will come later.”

There was a second of complete silence before Axel burst out laughing, to which I just looked at him, overwhelmed. Within a minute, he had calmed down, and he spoke. “Kid, if I hadn’t wanted you to join, you’d already be dead. In an alley. I wouldn’t have saved your sorry butt in the first place if I hadn’t noticed your potential.”

I gulped. So I was right. Join or die. Those were my options. “What do you mean, potential.”

He grinned at me. “I saw your key-things –“


“– Keyblades in action. You have an innate ability, despite getting your butt kicked earlier. Speaking of which…” He reached down under the bed, and pulled out my Keyblades. “I grabbed them for you. Figured you’d want them.”

Pushing myself into a sitting position, I grabbed the Keyblades, placing them on my lap. “Thanks. I worked hard on these, and I’d hate to see them get lost so soon.”

Axel gawked at me, then at the Keyblades. “Wait, you made those?!” I nodded, earning an appreciative whistle from the man.

“Cool. The detail’s amazing. How long’d it take you?”

“A little less than a week.”

“I can se why. Wow, you put your soul into these, didn’t you? Never would have thought they’d be considered weapons, though.” He grinned, and I mirrored the gesture.

“I designed them to look deceiving. They might not look that strong, but they’re pretty tough.”

“You know what, kid –”

“Would you stop calling me ‘kid’? It’s starting to get on my nerves.” I glowered at him. And now that I had my Keyblades back, I felt a little safer, even though I probably wouldn’t stand a minute against Axel in a fight, if he was in a mafia.

The man grinned. “I would, if you’d just tell me your name.” Oops. Going back on our conversation, I realized I hadn’t actually introduced myself yet. “Um… sorry. I’m Roxas.”

Axel’s grin didn’t waver in the slightest. “So, as I was saying, you know what, kid –” I glared, but he merely laughed and continued on, undeterred. “You might actually fit in here.”

I was taken aback. Me? A scholarship student, with only his brother and one friend, in a mafia? And fitting in, too?

I blinked as Axel tossed something fabric at me, covering my face, and I pulled it off, to notice it was my shirt.

“Come on. I want you to meet someone.” Axel stood up and walked towards the door with no signs of waiting for me, so I hopped of the bed and followed him down the hall, pulling my shirt on as I did so.


“You told him about us without clearing it with me first? And you took him in? You’re lucky you’re still useful to me, VIII or I’d have blown your head off by now, and given the boy to IV.” Axel flinched before the man speaking, giving me the impression that the threat was not an idle one.

The man, Xemnas, as Axel had told him, was tall and powerfully built, with browned skinn and white-blonde hair. In addition to his intimidating presence, he simply oozed power, causing chills to ripple down my spine.

Turning to me, Xemnas spoke again, his deep voice making me tremble slightly. “What do you know, boy?”

I gulped before speaking. “That you’re called Organization XIII, and…” I glanced at Axel, who was looking at me fearfully. I wasn’t sure how much I was allowed to know, and I hoped that hiding the fact that I knew their leader’s name would help me some. “And his name. Axel,” I said, nodding towards the redhead. “I don’t even know where I am, except for the fact that it’s your headquarters.”

Xemnas turned back to Axel, and I found I could breathe easy now that the man’s attention was no longer on me. Why Axel had wanted me to see Xemnas, I had no idea, unless he wanted to scare me into joining – if the “Superior”, as they called him, let me live, that is.

“It seems as if you're not completely stupid. However, he won’t be allowed to leave. He already knows too much.”

Axel nodded. “Uh… Superior, if I may make a suggestion?”

Xemnas only grunted in response, heading over to the mahogany desk situated in the center of the cavernous room.

“Um... What if… what if the boy was to join? He has the potential, I saw him fight.”

This caught Xemnas’ attention, attention which swiftly switched to me. “Let me be the judge of that, Number VIII.” Without moving his golden eyes from mine, he reached down to press the button on a comm. “Number XII, get to the training room. Now. You have an opponent.”

Axel’s eyes went wide, and he stepped forward. “Sir! Roxas – he’s still injured, he can’t fight right now!”

“You’ll do your best to lower your voice when speaking to me, VIII.” The coldness in his tone gave me chills, and I was glad it wasn’t me he was pissed at. He pressed the comm again, this time on a different line. “IV, I need a painkiller. We’ve got a new body, and he needs testing, but he’s injured.”

“Sir. What are his injuries?”

Xemnas looked at me, but Axel answered before I could get my mouth open. “Deep stab wound to the left shoulder, and a gash across his chest.” I glared at him, trying to silently tell him I could speak for myself, but he ignored me.

Xemnas relayed the information into the comm, and within five minutes, a thin man with ashy-blonde long hair and muted green eyes walked in, carrying two small blue pills and a bottle of water.

The man stopped when he saw me standing next to Axel, his lip curling in disgust. “Superior, this is the new body? He’s dead weight, puny! How can he even be worth the consideration?”

“Silence.” Xemnas didn’t even look up from the papers on his desk. “Just give him the medication, then escort him and Number VIII to the training room.”

The newcomer blanched, his face turning a pasty white colour that looked horrible next to his white lab coat. He then stepped towards me. “Hand out, brat.” I glared at the name, but obeyed nonetheless and he dropped the pills into my hand, and gave me the bottle of water, of which I unscrewed the cap and used to down the pills. Within seconds, the pain began to subside, amazing me. What were those pills? I would have to find out – I’d never heard of such a fast-acting medication.

But that would have to wait. Without a word, the man in the lab coat, Number IV, turned and began walking down the hall, and Axel and I had to jog to catch up.

We walked for a minute before Axel grabbed my arm, slowing me slightly, before bending over to speak in my ear. “Roxas, there’s something else you should know about us.”

I looked at him inquisitively, and he continued. “You wanted to know how I seared your wounds closed? I used magic.” Before I could pull away or laugh, he held up his free hand and snapped his fingers, and I noticed a spark, then a small flame slowly creeping across his fingers.

He looked me in the eye. “My magic is fire. And Larxene? The one you’ll be fighting? Hers is lightning.”

The colour drained out of my face. Oh God, what had I gotten myself into?

Chapter Text

“Here we are, brat. Do your best to get killed, okay?” The older man sneered at me, the turned and left.

I looked at Axel. “Any tips?” He shook his head. “Just watch out for her daggers. They’re her conductors.” He placed his hand on my shoulder. “I’ll be up in the viewing platform, okay? Superior’s sure to make everyone watch from up there, so don’t mess up, and don’t get killed. Trust your instincts.”

With those words, along with a reassuring squeeze on my shoulder – the uninjured one – he turned and followed after Number IV.

I turned to face the large double doors. What would be inside? I didn’t even know how big the room would be – while the room I had woken up in was above ground, everything else was in an underground compound, as I found out when Axel opened a trap door in the basement floor and jumped down. And going by the side of the superior’s room… this “training room” of theirs could very well be the size of a gym.

Hands shaking from nerves, I reached out, pushing the doors open and revealing a room that made my jaw drop. ‘This shouldn’t be possible… How can a room this big be a secret, even hidden underground?

The room was enormous, about the size of a football field, the floor and walls made out of stone. Off to the right and what seemed to be 3 stories higher than the ground was a mezzanine, enclosed by thick layer of glass. I could see the Superior in there, watching me, and Axel standing next to him, hand on the glass. There were more people standing around in there too, though not all of them seemed to be watching.

“This is the brat you want me to fight?! He’s so… He’s a freaking kid! He won’t even last a second! C’mon, Superior, give me someone actually worth fighting!” The woman’s voice brought my attention away from the mezzanine, down to the center of the room, where she stood.

Tall, thin, and blonde, she had short hair that was slicked back, save two thin tendrils that stood up slightly, looking for all the world like antennae. I might have actually called her beautiful, if it weren’t for the bloodthirsty smirk on her face and the crazed look in her eyes, sending a chill down my spine. This woman… she wasn’t sane now, if she ever was.

“Well, brat? Are you gonna stand there, or are you actually going to put up a fight when I rip you to shreds” The woman, Larxene, wasn’t kidding when she said “Rip to shreds,” I could hear it in her voice, and the thought almost made me freeze. But I heeded her words and unhooked Oathkeeper and Oblivion from my belt, holding them at the ready.

I was planning on waiting for her to make the first move, but a thought occurred to me. She probably expected me to wait, if she thought I could fight even a little bit. So I might be able to catch her off guard if…

I suddenly crouched low and ran at her, my Keyblades dragging across the stone floor. Out of the corner of my eyes, I saw sparks flying from the friction, and I smirked. I could use that.

I dragged Oathkeeper harder against the stone, sending more sparks into the air, before I flicked it up into Larxene’s face, sparks still coming off of the blade. Her eyes went wide and she raised her hands as she leapt back. I could see six throwing daggers between her fingers, and I noticed small blue sparks flying between them.

Crap. Axel hadn’t been kidding. Kinda wished he had been, though. Would have been a much easier fight.

Acting like I hadn’t noticed the sparks, I kept going at her, making sure to stay on the offensive.

But she was just playing with me, waiting til I tired out. I formed a plan. Probably was no good, but it was worth a shot, seeing as I’d most likely get killed anyway. I started making my blows sloppy, acting like I was wearing out, but she didn’t go for it, and I jumped back, out of arms’ reach. This time, she took the bait and attacked.

I dove to the side, rolling to avoid the three daggers that had landed in a triangle surrounding the area I where had been standing. The moment the last dagger pierced the floor, large arcs of blue electricity crackled between the three weapons, and I looked over at Larxene. “Interesting weapon you got there? How’d you manage the lightning?” She glared at my teasing tone and threw another dagger at me, the air around her beginning to crackle with pent-up electricity. I dodged, but almost into the path of another dagger I hadn’t noticed she’d thrown. The first dagger landed beside me, and immediately, lightning crackled between it and the second dagger, catching me in between. I cried out in pain from the shock and rolled away, skin tingling. I scrambled to my feet, only to be hit with more of the blue sparks, this time between the first set of daggers thrown and the second.

“Hmm. You stand up to the shock well. But how long can you last before I fry you, pipsqueak?” She curled her lip as she walked towards me. I leaped away again, this time careful of where I landed, as she threw another two daggers at me, then another.

After the third set, I froze, realizing something. She had only started with six daggers. She had also already passed the 10 mark in number of daggers she had thrown. Looking around, I saw that they were all still there, each with their tip still buried in the ground. So how had she…?

Magic. It was the only explanation.

Larxene grinned at me evilly, as if sensing my confusion, and threw another barrage of daggers. Crap. If I kept leaping around, I was bound to get caught sooner or later –

Suddenly, the portion of the room we were in lit up with a blue light, and I screamed as multiple arcs of electricity hit me. Dammit, she had been throwing all those daggers, and I had become so preoccupied with avoiding the ones in the air that I had forgotten she used the ones on the ground as well.

The flow of electricity began to ebb, and I collapsed, my body still sparking as Oathkeeper and Oblivion fell from my hands. Larxene walked up to me slowly, languidly, and clearly gloating, then kicked my Keyblades away from me, out of reach. She then grabbed one of her daggers, stuck in the ground beside my head, and stood over me. I tried to move, to get away, but my brain was still partially fried, and my body would not obey. So I had no choice but to lie there, hands out to my sides, palms up, as she contemplated how to kill me. She looked upwards, presumably at the mezzanine, and she must have liked what she saw, for she grinned, a manic look in her eye as she held up the dagger, fingering the edge and causing a form of blood to form on her fingertip. Damn, they were sharp.

She stood over me, poised to sink the dagger in my throat, when the thought went through my head.

I don’t want to die. Not here. Not now. Not without saying goodbye. And definitely not at the hands of this psycho bitch.

Before I realized what I was doing, I had lifted my hand, palm out, and a white light exploded, Oathkeeper materializing in it. I pushed myself up with one arm, and slashed out with Oathkeeper, catching Larxene just as she was about to deal the death-blow, the Keyblade cutting across her stomach. She stumbled back, blood pouring from the wound, as I stood, suddenly full of energy.

I glared at her as she dropped to her knees, but didn’t attack. I wasn’t about to kill her. As much as she deserved it.

Glancing up at the mezzanine, I noticed Xemnas was now missing, along with Axel. Had they grown tired of the fight? A weight settled in my stomach.

Bringing my gaze back down to Larxene, I saw Xemnas standing over her, and blinked. How…? Again, I figured it must be magic. There was no other way he could have gotten down here so quickly.

“XII,” Xemnas said, his voice booming in the cavernous room. “Looks like he put up a good fight after all.” He scowled at her injuries. “Now go see IV and get fixed up.” Xemnas turned to me then, expression now blank. But before he could say anything, the doors to the room slammed open and Axel ran through, bumping into Larxene as he made his way to me. “Roxas! You beat Larxene! And you used Magic…” He pulled me into a hug, which I promptly fought off.

Axel turned to Xemnas. “You better let him join. He beat Larxene and he can use magic? You’d have to be stupid not to let him join!” Xemnas raised an eyebrow, but I could tell he was too intrigued by my show of promise to be too put off by Axel’s words. His attention went back to me, and his golden eyes drilled into me for a minute before he spoke.

“You start in the morning. Axel will show you the ropes.” With that, he walked away. The redhead beside me whooped. “Yes! I told you you’d get in!”

Chapter Text

“Why do I have to share a room with you?” I was sitting on Axel’s bed, beside his discarded coat, while the man dug in his closet for something I could wear to bed that would actually fit me.

“Because I’m the one who brought you in, and your room won’t be ready for a while. Relax, it’s not like I'm gonna do anything to you.” He turned to me, smirking. “Unless you want me to do something…”

My cheeks burned. “Just get me something to wear already,” I said, looking over at the clock on Axel’s bedside table. 02:06. I was completely wiped out and the fight with Larxene had not helped, because now, in addition to feeling tired, I was also sore all over. Plus I kept shocking everything I touched. It was a major pain in the arse, but at least I was alive.

Axel caught me off guard by tossing a pair of pajama pants and tshirt at me, both black. “Here. These are the smallest I’ve got.”

I stood up, looking around the room. “Is there a bathroom I could change in or something?”

The redhead laughed. “Bathroom? Yeah, down the hall. If you don’t mind changing with other guys in the same room, having a soak in the bath.” I chocked on air. What? Was there no such thing as privacy here, or something?

“Relax, kid. You can change here. I won’t look.” Axel turned away, and as if setting an example, took his own shirt off and tossed it to the floor of his closet. My eyes rounded at the well-toned back displayed – and the multitude of scars criss-crossing the skin, accompanying a large burn covering his entire left shoulder and a large portion of his back. I sucked in air through my teeth. “How’d it happen?”

Axel didn’t turn to face me. “multiple different missions. Job hazard. You can expect some of your own, in time.”

I shook my head. “Not those. The burn.” Axel stiffened, so I figured it was a tough topic. “Never mind. Forget I asked.”

We were both silent for a minute, me standing by the bed, him in front of his closet, back to me. Then he spoke.

“It was a fight. With a friend – ex-friend – of mine. He turned my magic against me, and I got burned. I still don’t know how he did it, ‘cause my skins impervious to fire, but he did.” Axel turned, and I could see a flash of pain in his acid-green eyes. I wondered just how close him and this ‘friend’ of his had been. And how they felt about each other now. But I knew to leave it alone at that. It obviously hurt for him to think about it, and I didn’t want to open up old wounds any more than I had already done.

I walked up to him and put my hand on his shoulder, over the mark. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to dredge up bad memories.” Axel smiled at me sadly, and placed his hand over mine. “It was bound to come up eventually.” He removed my hand. “You should get changed.”

He walked around me and collapsed onto the bed on his back, one of his legs hanging over the edge to the floor, his hands folded behind his head. Realizing he had closed his eyes so not to make me uncomfortable, I started to change.

I unzipped my sweater, pulled it off along with my shirt, quickly folded them, and put them on the floor beside the closet. Then I started to undo my belt buckle.

“I don’t know why you’re so embarrassed. You’re not exactly out of shape.” My face heated up as I spun to see Axel watching me with one eye still closed.

“I thought you weren’t gonna watched!” I quickly picked up the shirt Axel had given me and pulled it over my head. “And just because I’m in shape doesn’t mean I like to strut the fact around.”

The redhead nodded, closing his eyes. “True enough.” With that, he turned over onto his side, facing the wall. Taking advantage of him being faced away, I finished changing, dropping the rest of my clothes in a pile on top of my shirt and sweater, and pulling on the pajama pants. They were still too long, and I had to roll up the legs so I could avoid stepping on the hem, but they otherwise fit well.

I walked over to the bed. “So, am I sleeping on the floor?”

Axel rolled over. “Nope. Guest gets the bed. I’ll take the floor.” He got up and moved to the wall beside the door. “Get some sleep. It’ll be an early morning tomorrow, and you’ll be meeting the rest of the Organization.” Sitting with his back against the wall, he propped his arms over his knees, bowing his head between them and closing his eyes.

I watched him for a moment before I got in the bed. I could tell he was still upset about his friend, and I definitely hadn’t helped by bringing it up. Lying on my back, I gave Axel one last look before closing my eyes, allowing myself to drift slowly into a dreamless sleep.

Chapter Text

I tried in vain to get my hair to lie flat the next morning. Although I had barely gotten any sleep in, I still managed to look like I had been sleeping for days, with my massive case of bed-head. Of course, my eyes were still drooping majorly so it was quite obvious I didn’t sleep much.

Too much stuff for me to mull over. Still too much stuff, I thought as I followed Axel down the winding hallways, yawning. He said I was going to meet the rest of the Organization today, but honestly, I just wanted to go back to bed. Axel had to threaten setting my hair on fire to get me out from under the covers.

But a part of me was only using the tiredness as an excuse. After meeting Xemnas and Larxene, along with the other man they called IV, I had a bad feeling about everyone else, like I would have to work extra hard to be accepted.

“Here we are! The common room.” Axel stopped at a set of double doors, these ones smaller and far more plain than the ones to the training room. “You ready?” He was smiling, grinning almost. If I didn’t know better, I’d say he was giddy.

“As I’ll ever be. Let’s get this over with.” Axel pushed open one of the doors and stepped through, me following.

The room was large, but not outright huge. There was a sitting area, or lounge of sorts, am array of couches to one side of the room and a small kitchen on the other. A large flatscreen TV also sat on the wall by the couches. There was also a medium-sized round table between the two sections of the room.

And then there were the people. I recognized Larxene immediately, sitting at the table with a close shaven blonde man with a trimmed goatee, and another man with – strangely – pink hair. I couldn’t see number IV, the man in the labcoat, and I relaxed slightly.

The next thing I knew, Axel was dragging me towards the lounge area. “Hey, Slacker!” At his words, a young man around 18 or 19 turned, and I noticed his odd hairstyle. It seemed to be some sort of Mohawk/mullet hybrid, or something along those lines. The man turned, and a look of absolute glee erupted across his boyish face. “Hey, it’s the new kid!” He leaped over the back of the couch, a large blue guitar-like instrument in hand. He set the instrument down and ran forward to pull me into a bear hug, which I promptly fought off.

Axel laughed. “In case you didn’t notice, Dem, the kid isn’t exactly fond of hugs.” He turned his green eyes to me. “Roxas, this is the Organization’s designated slacker and musician, Number IX, Demyx.”

I smiled hesitantly at the energetic young man. “Uh… hey.”

Demyx beamed. “Axel, he’s so adorable! Can I keep him?” I was slightly taken aback, but the redhead just laughed. “Nice try, Dem. But no.” He leaned towards me to whisper something in my ear. “Although he’s technically not the youngest, he still acts like a child.” Raising his voice, he continued. “Which means he can be a pain in the butt during missions.”

“Ain’t that the truth. Almost got me shot on our last round.” I turned to the newcomer in the conversation. He looked to be one of the older members, with multiple silver-white streaks running through his black hair, drawn back into a low ponytail. The man also had an eye patch over his right eye, and a large scar stretching up over the side of his jaw on the left side, ending above his cheekbones and below his golden eye. He grinned mischievously as he talked, and although his words were accusing, he was still very relaxed. If you counted fighting off laughter as relaxed.

He stood up from the couch he was sitting on and moved over to us. “The name’s Xigbar, kid. Also known as Number II.” He held out his hand, and I took it, introducing myself. “I’m Roxas.”

Xigbar nodded. “Roxas. Lucky number XIII. Congrats, newbie.”

I looked over at Axel. “Lucky number 13?”

“You’re our 13th number. And since our name is Organization XIII…” I nodded at the explanation. Made sense.

“Come on. Let’s get you meeting the rest.” Xigbar looked over the rest of the room, hollering “Oi! Newbie’s here! Come on and introduce yourselves.” At the words, every eye in the room focused on me. Larxene’s were glaring with hatred, and the pink-haired man looked almost disdainful at my presence. But everyone else just seemed mildly curious.

The blonde from the table stood up first, placing a hand of playing cards on the table. “Luxord. You?” He said when he got to me, shaking my hand. His voice had a hint of a British accent.

“Roxas.” The man was brief, to the point when he spoke, his words clipped. “You met Larxene, and you have probably figured out that she hates you. And the man with pink hair is Marluxia. He’s… with larxene, so don’t take his dislike personally. You did beat up his girl, after all.” With that, he walked back to the table, sliding into his chair and picking up his cards, nodding at the other two players to continue.

I purposely ignored the mental daggers Larxene was thowing at me via her eyes, and noticed a few others coming over to Axel and I.

The tall, burly man with brown hair, who was in the kitchen at the time of my arrival to the room, introduced himself as Lexaeus. I got the impression from him that he was a man of very few words. Another man, Xaldin, as he introduced himself as, had a mass of long dreadlocks pulled back into a ponytail. He seemed nice enough, although he was a little quiet as well.

Finally, only one person in the room had yet to introduce themselves – a man looking to be the same age as Axel, if not a little older, with long blue hair. He was standing off to the side, leaning against the far wall of the room. I walked over to him and put out my hand. “Roxas.”

His yellow-orange eyes blinked, and he shook my hand once, his grip firm. I could feel the raw, animalistic power radiating from him, and my instincts told me to stay as far away from this quiet man as possible.

“Saix.” The voice had come from behind me, so I turned around to see Axel standing right behind me, his green eyes trained on Saix’s golden orange ones. I saw something pass between them, but the feelings I was picking up on were so mixed, I gave up trying to figure out whether they liked each other and were just having a fight, or if they just merely tolerated each other.

Then Saix spoke, his words directed at me, although he was still looking at Axel. “Numbers IV and VI have arrived. Why don’t you go introduce yourself.” Spoken with the wording of a suggestion, his tone betrayed the fact that it was, in fact, an order. Looking back at Axel, I started to walk away from the two of them. As soon as I was out of earshot, I saw them begin to talk. Saix kept his cool, but Axel was clearly bristling at the blue-haired man’s words.

I walked over to the door, not really paying attention. So when the door opened to reveal the man in the lab coat, I jumped, making him sneer.

“Oh, it’s the newbie. Fine, my name is Vexen, but you will call me Number IV, as I am your superior.” I looked at him, and decided that the dislike was mutual. “Roxas,” I stated shortly, turning my attention to the other new arrival behind the man.

I froze. The person was slightly taller than me, with slate-coloured hair falling in a sheet over one eye. The other eye was trained on the floor, lashes covering the iris that I knew was a beautiful shade of grayish indigo.


Chapter Text

“I – I’m sorry I didn’t tell you – it wasn't that I didn’t want to, but rather I would get in a lot of trouble if I did.”

Zexion’s words fell on deaf ears. I was too busy going through all our time together, searching for when the betrayal had first begun.

My chest tightened. Betrayal. It seemed like a strong word, and I would probably regret thinking it later, but at the moment, it felt like an apt description. We had promised each other at the beginning to never keep anything from one another. No matter how big, no matter how small. We were brothers – no, we were closer than brothers. I was closer to Zexion than I had ever been to Sora.

Or so I had thought.

I stormed out into the hallway, grabbing the collar of Zexion’s lab coat on the way, pulling him with me. I shut the door behind us – I might not be happy with him, but I didn’t want to embarrass either of us by yelling at him with an audience.

“What happened to telling each other everything?” I was pissed, and now that we were away from everyone else, I let my voice rise.

“I already told you, I would have been in a lot of trouble – and pain – if I had even done so much as hinted at anything.”

I glared at him. “How long? How long have you been lying to me?”

Zexion still hadn't met my eyes this whole time, continuing to stare at the floor as if it offered an escape from my anger. “Almost a year now. I had to give my word that I wouldn't tell anyone, so I could continue to live outside of the compound.”

A feeling of confusion welled up in me. “Why not just disappear? Why hang on to your life before the organization?” My tone was still accusing, but I couldn't help it – I was still mad, and I hadn't finished venting.

“I wanted to actually finish my schooling this time around. And I didn’t want to abandon our friendship.” Zexion finally looked at me. “Look, I know you’re not happy with me, but I chose what I thought was best at the time. What I still think was best.”

I opened my mouth to respond, but the door to the common room opened a crack, and Axel poked his head out. “Roxas? Where’d you – oh!” He came out into the hall. “There you are. You disappeared on me.”

Turning away from Zexion, I walked down the hallway Axel had led me down to get to the common room. The redhead looked at Zexion inquisitively, then jogged after me, catching up quickly with his long legs. “What was that all about?” He asked, his voice a mixture of curious and concerned.

I shook my head. “I’ll tell you later. Right now I just need to vent off some anger.”

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Axel grin. “Well, I did want to see what other tricks you've got up your sleeves… c’mon, let’s go to the training room.” With that, he walked ahead of me, his long legs forcing me to jog just to keep up.

When we reached the large double doors, he pushed them open, striding into the large room. After he got a fair ways towards the center, he turned to face me.

I was a few feet away from him when he held up his hand, motioning for me to stop, and I did so.

“Do you remember how you beat Larxene?”

I nodded, remembering how I had been on the ground, about to get a dagger in my throat, when Oathkeeper had appeared in my hand.

“That was magic.” Axel’s eyes were trained on me, watching my reaction.

“I can do magic?” I was surprised, although in the back of my mind, I felt like I had already known this. “So you’re saying I summoned Oathkeeper, or something?”

Axel nodded. “That’s exactly what I’m saying. How about you try it again?”

I stared at him. “I don’t even know how I did it the first time! And even if I did, it was a few feet away, not in a completely different room!”

Axel chuckled. “Relax. Distance doesn't matter. Think of it this way: instead of calling the weapon to you, imagine you’re reaching through a… rip in the dimension and simply grabbing it from its current location.” To demonstrate, he held his own hand out to his side, and I noticed the air around it begin to shimmer. “Focus. Clear your mind, the picture where the weapon is, grab it, and…” There was a sudden burst of flame, and a large red and white metal wheel lined with spikes materialized in his hand.

“See? Not that hard.” He paused, seeing me eyeing his weapon cautiously. “It’s a chakram. I've got two of them, but I only needed one to show you.” He lowered the chakram, and I brought my hand up in front of me, copying what he had said. I pictured Oathkeeper lying on the floor of Axel’s room, at the foot of the bed where I had left it this morning. In my mind’s eye, I grabbed it, pulling it from there to here, and the next thing I knew, there was a flash of pure white light and Oathkeeper was settled in my outstretched hand. My eyes widened. Magic…

Without moving my other hand, I pictured oblivion, and even faster than Oathkeeper had done, it was in my other hand, this time darkness swirling around it, dripping off the blade in streams of blackness.

Even Axel looked impressed. “I think I might have figured out what your magic is,” he started, but I cut him off before I could finish.

“You mean that wasn't it?”

Axel shook his head. “No, everyone who as any amount of magic can summon a weapon. Or anything else, really. I've seen Zexion and Vexen summon books from the library when they were in their labs. The public library. No, I have a feeling your magic might be associated with the light and dark forces. You noticed the darkness dripping off the second Keyblade when you summoned it?”

I looked down at Oblivion, seeing the last tendrils of black vaporizing as they fell away, and nodded. I made sense. Axel’s magic was fire, and his chakram had materialized in a ball of fire. When I summoned Oathkeeper, it had appeared in a burst of pure white light, as opposed to Oblivion’s darkness.

“How do I know for sure?” I was intrigued. I could do magic. I felt like a little child all over again as a giddy feeling went through me.

Axel shrugged. “I don’t know. It’s different for everyone. I found mine while I was playing with an old lighter of mine, and I realized I could make the flames dance along my fingers without burning myself.” He ruffled his hair, chuckling. “I actually set my bed on fire once. I was sick, and I sneezed… not fun.” He paused, regaining his composure. “Demyx found out when he almost drowned, Larxene got pissed and shocked everyone within a 10 foot radius, putting Demyx in the medical bay for a week, despite Vexen’s concoctions.”

Axel began chuckling again, and I looked around, looking for something to attack as practice that wasn't Axel. I saw a wooden dummy, riddled with holes and slash marks, missing part of its head, among other chunks, that made me wonder just how old the thing was.

I put Axel, Zexion, and everything else that had happened to me over the last few days out of my head, and looked deep in my soul, searching for the light that was connected through Oathkeeper. It didn't take long to find it, and when I did, I just… channeled it, through the Keyblade. I felt the metal warming up, vibrating in my grip, as if it was building up it’s power. I held it back until the pressure in my head and the vibrations of the weapon were almost to strong to bear, then aimed the blast at the dummy.

Pure white light shot out of the end of the Keyblade and enveloped the wood, then seemed to almost implode, like a secondary attack in itself. The dummy still stood when the light dissipated, although it looked a lot more damaged than before.

I glanced over at Axel, who was watching me, eyebrows raised. “I guess you were right. Now how much you wanna bet Oblivion’s darkness?”

Axel chuckled. “Go ahead and see if you can destroy the dummy. It’s been with us since the beginning, and no one’s been able to destroy it completely. Sure, part of the head is gone, and there are a good number of chunks gone, plus all the pieces of ash and splinters hanging loose, but the bulk of it? Obviously still there. Even Xemnas can’t destroy the bugger. The thing’s been through hell and back alive. Mostly.”

I nodded, turning back to the dummy. I noticed Axel was right. The dummy did look old, the wood worn not just by attacks, but age as well.

Looking inside myself like I had done with Oathkeeper, I searched for the darkness. This was harder, and it fought me, but I drew on the emotions of anger, fear, and betrayal, among others that I had felt over the last few hours.

All of a sudden, I felt the darkness build up in the Keyblade, and I had to switch gears, pulling the power back instead of drawing it out. I held it back for as long as I could, trying, but the pressure was too great, and the power exploded from the tip.

The tendrils of darkness snaked out, most aiming for the wooden dummy, but a few separated from the main body and headed towards Axel. He summoned his second chakram to defend himself against the unexpected attack.

The blast was much more powerful that the white light of Oathkeeper, and it ravaged the dummy, blowing it to smithereens. Thankfully, Axel only caught a small fraction of the attack, and was merely knocked off his feet.

I stood there, my eyes wide at the show of power I had just performed. The dummy was almost gone, only a few pieces bigger than a baseball, and those were dripping with excess darkness, pooling around the remains. Axel was staggering to his feet, his chakrams also dripping with darkness. He shook one of them, and the darkness fell away, turning into wisps of smoke. Then he made his way towards me, stopping right in front of me.

“That was...” He trailed off, eyes flicking up to check if anyone was watching from the mezzanine. “Holy. Wow. Uh, you might not want to let too many people know about the true power of that attack of yours. Xemnas doesn't often appreciate people being stronger than him, and you could be in some serious danger if he finds out you could beat the crap out of him.”

I nodded, taking it all in. “Well then. I take it that wasn't exactly normal?”

Axel shook his head vigorously. “Hell no. Definitely not. Most people don’t reach even near that level of attack until years of practice. Face it, Roxas. You’re the Organization’s strongest – and most dangerous – member. But you’re also in the most danger.

Chapter Text

"Wait, I haven't even finished my first day, and I'm already being sent out on a mission? I don't even know how to fight properly yet, and I literally just figured out my magic - I can't even control it yet!"

Axel laughed, and Demyx made his way over to us. "You guys ready for the mission?"

I shook my head. "Not really. Are you coming too?"

I swear, Demyx practically started bouncing up and down at the question. "Yup!" I shook my head, slightly overwhelmed by the young man's reaction. "I thought you were the 'slacker' of the Organization, not the over enthusiastic one."

Axel collapsed onto the couch, chuckling. "He's both. Now come on, let's go get your coat."

I followed Axel out of the common room where we had migrated to after our little practice session in the training room.

'Don't tell anyone about that little power display, got that memorized? If anyone asks, you merely figured out you had power over light and dark.'

I sighed. It was hard, suddenly having that kind of ability, then being told to hide it. I forced my mind off the subject. "So, where are we going?"

Axel looked over his shoulder at me. "To get your Organization coat. Everyone has one - It's what we wear on missions."

A memory flashed in my mind of when I had first seen Axel. "Like the one you wore when you saved me in that alleyway?"

He nodded. "You remember what I was wearing? I didn't realize you were conscious enough to pick up on something like that." We walked down a few more hallways, and I had a vague sense of recognition. I stayed silent for a second before it clicked, at which time, I stopped dead. "Xemnas? We're seeing Xemnas?"

Axel nodded. "He should have your coat ready by now, so come on, before we hold everyone up."

I followed silently. I decided I really wasn't fond of the Organization's leader, but I would have to deal - and just stay out of his way, off his radar.

We arrived at the door to Xemnas' office, and Axel knocked quickly on the wood. Almost immediately, Xemnas' low voice reverberated through the wood, telling us to enter the room. Axel opened the door, motioning for me to enter before him. I did so, albeit reluctantly, keeping my eyes on the floor.

I'll be the first to admit it - I was scared of him.

I felt Axel walk in behind me, tense. Apparently, I wasn't the only one uncomfortable around Xemnas. "Is his coat ready?" Xemnas didn't say a word at the question, but merely nodded in the direction of a chair near the door. Axel walked over to the piece of furniture and grabbed the coat, which had been hanging over one of the armrests. He then turned and put a hand on my shoulder, steering me out of the room before he closed the door with something akin to haste. Not that I needed encouraging to leave. I had had to hold myself from bolting since I stepped in. I had a feeling my newfound power would still be considered insignificant beside our leader's.

"Come on - let's go to my room so you can strip down a few layers." I chocked on air at Axel's words.


Axel looked at me oddly, then the confusion fled his face, understanding taking hold. And I could have been seeing things, but I swore I saw a light tinge of pink spread across his cheeks, accentuating his cheek bones for a split second before he looked away, a laugh bursting out of him. "Not like that! Jeez, I'm not always the pervert you make me out to be, Roxas."

I raised an eyebrow. "Not always?" Axel looked embarrassed by the slip, but he covered it well with another one of his typical comments. "Well, I gotta be a perv some of the time. I am a guy, after all."

"And so am I, but I don't seem to have those moments."

Axel grinned. "Ah, but your mind still went there, didn't it?" I fell silent. He did have a point.

"Fine. But why do I have to she'd some layers?"

Axel held up my new coat. "These things are infused with magic - they regulate your temperature. And they're not exactly designed to have more than a thin layer underneath. It's too bulky, it limits maneuverability." I nodded. Made enough sense. And it explained what they did in the winter - I had been having a pretty hard time imagining the members all swaddled up in coats and scarves while fighting. I laughed at the picture my mind was producing, and Axel looked at me, bemused by my seemingly random burst of laughter. I shook my head to dismiss the question I could see him wanting to ask.

We got to his room, and he unlocked it, then walked in, me following. He tossed the oat on the bed and turned to me. "Okay, the sweater's got to go, at the very least."

Grumbling at his straightforward approach, I unzipped my hoodie, setting it on the bed beside the coat, revealing my tight grey v-neck T-shirt underneath. I felt his eyes on me as I did so, and I looked up to meet Axel's vibrant green eyes. My face flushed as I realized he had been watching me, and judging by the light dusting of pink colouring his cheeks, it hadn't exactly been innocently. He broke eye contact, looking at the floor, and I grabbed my coat and shrugged it on. I zipped it up, then started fiddling with the chains - there was one that went across the front, attached to either side of the zipper. I was having a little bit of trouble getting the one side to clip on, and I was focused on it, so when Axel grabbed the chain from my hands and connected it effortlessly, I was more than a bit startled.

I looked up at his face when he didn't remove his hand from the clasp, and his eyes jerked up to meet mine, emerald gems swimming in an ocean of blue.

"Um… thanks." My voice was quiet, barely above a whisper, and Axel all but leaped away from me. He went over to his closet and pulled out his own coat, identical in design to mine, and tugged off his T-shirt. I felt my eyes roam over his muscles, then land once again on the large burn scar. Then my view was obstructed when Axel pulled on the coat, turning to leave as he zipped it and connected the chain.

I followed him quickly, closing the door behind me, staying silent the whole way above ground.

What had that been? Residual feelings were still swirling around in me, most of which I had no clue as to what they were. Shaking my head, I sped up so I was walking beside Axel, taking two steps every one of his to keep up with his long legs.

We reached the end of the hallway, and Axel opened the trapdoor before ascending the ladder to the room above. I followed, right behind him, and I began to feel a bit of apprehension about the mission. What were we going to be doing? Was I going to joining in, or merely tagging along? The questions swirled in my head as we made out way through the house.

It was sunny when we got outside - a change from the almost daily rain we usual got in April. I looked up at the clear sky appreciatively, almost forgetting what I was about to do, but Axel walked over to a black service van and knocked on the metal loudly, bringing me back to the moment. I moved down the steps and got to the van the same moment the side door slid open, revealing a bunch of computer equipment, weapons, and sitting In the middle of it all, Zexion.

Axel climbed in, careful not to step on anything, and I followed suite, settling down beside a box of what looked like grenades of some sort. Axel popped his head between the front seats, and I heard Demyx's voice. "Axel! Took you long enough!"

Axel replied quickly. "Had to grab Roxas' coat. So, what's the mission?"

Chapter Text

“It's the same as usual.” Zexion was the one who answered Axel's question, and the redhead retreated from the front of the vehicle, settling down beside me. “More Hearts?” Zexion nodded, and I both felt and heard the van start up. Zexion spoke again once again the vehicle had started moving.
“The Heart is in the possession of a woman named Selena Faerine. She lives in the outskirts of the city, in her manor, with her husband, Xander, and their child, Naminé. They are all of strong Wiccan blood, and their magic is very strong, associated with death. And be wary - there are also tales of a small, dark-haired girl haunting the woods on their property. She completely destroys her victims, usually in the most bloody way possible, and has a tendency to leave them in pieces. Many pieces.” He paused, letting the fact sink in, and the driver chuckled.
“You really do you research well, don't you, Zex?” I recognized Luxord's voice. So, it was Axel, Demyx, Zexion, Luxord, and me. I didn't see anyone else in the van, so I assumed that that was our team.
Zexion glared in Luxord's direction. “It's my job, so of course I do it well. Besides, if I didn't, all you'd do is get yourselves killed. How many times must I tell you, knowledge is power.”
Luxord outright laughed at this. “Yeah, whatever, bookie. I got my magic, so I'll be fine.” Zexion grumbled, then went back to prepping us for the mission.
“Your job is to get in, find the heart, grab it, and get out, hopefully without casualties. There shouldn't be any need to engage them in combat, so avoid it if you can.” With that, Zexion turned his attention away from us. I looked over at Axel. “What did Zexion mean by ‘heart’?”
Axel looked over at me. “Not actual hearts. They're called ‘Hearts of Magic’ but people call them Hearts for short. Hearts are basically... a large concentration of extremely powerful magic, contained in a small stone. They enhance the magic of the person in possession of them, so people tend to attach them to weapons, or make them into jewelry.” I nodded, understanding.
“So we have to break into a manor, find a tiny stone that could be anywhere, then escape, and do so without drawing attention to ourselves? Do we even know what these hearts look like? I mean, are they shaped like hearts or something?”
Axel ruffled his hair. “Eh... That's the thing. Each heart is different in appearance. The last one I saw was an ocean blue colour - kinda like your eyes, now that I think about it.” He seemed to realize what he was saying a second too late, and stuttered the rest of what he was saying quickly, face reddening. “I-it was a teardrop shape, and the one before that, I heard it was a yellow five-pointed star.” I nodded, and he continued. “So yeah, basically all you've got to go on is that it's a small crystalline stone. But you'll fell your magic react to it, growing stronger the nearer you are to it. So if you feel that, start searching hard in that spot, cuz you're close.”
I took a deep breath, then blew it out, exasperated. “Lovely.”
“Okay, we're gonna have to walk from here,” Luxord said from the front. “Zexion, you connected?” I looked over at Zexion, who nodded. “Yes. Line 3. I'm also tapping into their security system, so I can watch everything.” He dug I a box beside him and took four small headsets out, passing them to each of us, then took out another for himself.
Luxord turned the van off and hopped out, Axel, Demyx and I following suit.
Luxord's turned to us. “Okay. It's still a ways to the manor, but as soon as we get there, we'll get inside and split up in pairs. He turned to Zexion. “Can you tell where our best entry point is?” Zexion consulted one of the screens on the inside wall of the van.
“There are cellar doors on the left side of the manor. They look to be locked with a padlock, but that shouldn't be a problem. The door out of the cellar comes into the kitchen.”
Luxord nodded. “Keep us informed, got it, my little bookworm?” Zexion grumbled and closed the van door, shutting himself inside.
Luxord chuckled. “That little guy... It can be so fun to piss him off.”
“You realize I can hear you, right?”
Zexion's voice came through my earpiece, along with a burst of static. I jumped slightly, making Axel raise a questioning brow at me. Luxord laughed. “That's the point, my dear Zexy.”
“Luxord... Don't push your luck. And Don't call me Zexy.” I chuckled at the nickname Zexion truly despised with every fibre of his being. The last guy that had called him that had ended up being bitch-slapped with a giant dictionary. I smiled at the memory as Luxord gestured for us to get going. “Whatever you say... Zexy.”
It took up a few minutes to walk through the forest, and my shoes, along with the hem of my pants, were soaked from the water still seeping into the ground. It was April, after all, and the ground here obviously hadn't absorbed all the water from the latest rainfall yet.
Silently, Luxord made his way from the tree-line and crept to the cellar doors, right where Zexion had said they would be. He knelt down and inspected the lock. After a moment, his voice came over the headsets. “Axel. Get over here.”
Axel grinned over at me, flipping his hood over his flaming hair. He moved low to the ground, then crouched next to Luxord. I moved as close as I could without leaving the cover of the tree-line, and was just able to make out Axel taking the padlock into his palm. He held it there, and after a minute, it began to glow. A minute after that, it turned white with heat. At that point, Axel yanked on the lock, and the metal snapped like a twig.
Luxord motioned for me and Demyx to come, and the two of us made our way quietly across the grass. By the time we got to the cellar doors, Luxord had pulled them open, revealing a staircase descending into darkness.
“After you,” Axel whispered in my ear, and since I didn't hear his voice through my earpiece as well, I figured he had removed his own earpiece. I looked up, and jumped a little when I realized his face was right by mine, his mouth literally right next to my ear. I could feel his warm breath hitting the shell of my ear as he chuckled. “Well? Surely you aren't afraid of the dark - after all it is one of your powers.”
I shook my head, as a shiver went down my spine. I looked around, trying to see if Luxord and Demyx were still aboveground. They weren't. Then, as if on cue, Demyx's voice sounded in my other ear - the one with the headset. “Hey Axel, where are you? We need some light!” I turned towards the said redhead, momentarily forgetting just how close he was standing. I was suddenly faced with the sight of his eyes, blazing green and staring wide into mine - very close; too close.
My face flushed, and I took a step back, tapping my headset as I did so. Axel, getting the hint, put his back on just in time to hear Luxord's voice.
“Where are you?”
Axel looked over at me. “Just heading in now. Roxy was feeling a bit nervous.” I glowered at him, and stalked down the cellar stairs.
“Don't call me that, flamsilocks.”
I heard both Luxord and Demyx snort with laughter, and I could also hear Zexion laughing, although with his voice came a bit of static.
Suddenly, Axel gripped my shoulders from behind, and was whispering in my ear again - and thanks to the headset, he was in both ears. “Flamsilocks? I'm hurt. Why resort to such childish name-calling?”
I raised an eyebrow, and reached over my shoulder to flick Axel between the eyes.
“Ack! Roxas!?” He let go of my shoulders and stumbled back slightly. I laughed as Demyx started bugging me to tell him what just happened.
"He got what he deserved" was all I said.
I blinked as a light flared up beside me, illuminating the darkness. “Hey, Luxord, Dem, can you see the light?”
Within seconds, the other two Organization members entered the small circle of light cast by Axel’s conjured flame. “So, you think the Heart could be down here?” Luxord asked.
“Probably not, but it really wouldn’t hurt to check anyways.” Zexion’s voice came over the headsets, and I shook my head. “How are we going to check if we can barely see in front of us?”
Axel looked over at me. “Hey, Rox, can you use that Keyblade of yours? See if you can light up the space.”
I realized that he was right – the light from Oathkeeper would be a lot stronger than Axel’s flame, and a lot less dangerous. I raised my hand in front of my face and shut my eyes, summoning the Keyblade in a flash of light.
“Gah! Could’ve warned us, couldn’t you?” Luxord exclaimed. “Even if the light will help us, I think you may have just blinded me.”
I opened my eyes. “Sorry.” But I was preoccupied, trying to figure out how to make light without actually releasing it, since the light had died off when Oathkeeper had fully materialized in my hand. Then, as if tuned into my thoughts, Oathkeeper began glowing until it was a pure white light nestled in my palm, illuminating the whole room when I lifted it above my head. “Will this do?” I couldn’t help the small amount of pride in my tone.
“Awesome! C’mon guys, we don’t want Roxas standing there forever – let’s look!” Demyx’s reaction made me laugh, and I looked over at Axel, smiling. I could see a flash of pride in his own eyes as he watched me, before he turned to search for the Heart with the others.
I stood there for only about five minutes, testifying to the fact that they did this often and knew how to search the large cellar efficiently without taking too much time.
“C’mon. It’s not down here, so let’s head up and split.” Luxord’s voice came over the line, and I saw Axel and Demyx head towards the stairs Zexion had said led to the kitchen. I started walking as well, still holding Oathkeeper high. I lowered the Keyblade only when I reached the stairs and started climbing up them. Oathkeeper’s light diminished as I ascended, going out all together when I reached the last step.
I looked around as I let Oathkeeper fade away. There were windows, and the moonlight streamed through the sheer curtains drawn over them. I could see dirty dishes, pots and pans, and various utensils scattered over the various counters.
“Don’t these people ever do dishes?” Luxord was leaning over the sink, a look of disgust on his face. “This place is dirty enough that I’d say the owners have been gone for a week at least, if I didn’t know any better.”
Axel glanced through one of the windows. “Whatever. C’mon, lets get this over with – this place is giving me the creeps. Feels like I’m being watched.”
“You are, remember? I tapped into their security system.” Zexion’s words didn’t seem to make Axel relax in the slightest. “Not you, Zexion. Something… inhuman. Malevolent.”
Demyx laughed. “Aw, come on, Axel! Don’t tell me you’ve suddenly become afraid of the dark!”
I shook my head. “I'm with Axel on this one. Something's not right with this place.” Luxord looked at me, and I could almost see his train of thought. One person was a misread feeling. Two people, however…
“Let’s split, then, and get this done quickly. Demyx and I will take this floor, and you two take care of the second. Everyone will rendezvous up on the third floor when they’re done their own floor.” Axel and I nodded, then exited the kitchen, stepping into the dimly lit hallway. “Where’s the staircase?” I asked.
“To your right, near the end of the hallway, before it turns right.” Zexion’s voice paused over the line. “Wow. You guys get the labyrinth floor. The hallways are so maze-like – lots of dead ends. Good luck.”
Axel nodded, even though Zexion couldn’t see him. “Thanks for the heads-up, Zex.” We started down the hallway, slowing down when we neared the end. “Now, where’s that bloody staircase…?” Axel looked around before finding it. The staircase was small, narrow, and very rickety. I found myself ascending them carefully, fearful they would collapse under me. “Are you sure people actually live here?”
Axel chuckled. “II sure hope so, or this mission would be a worthless waste of my time.”
I smiled as we reached the top of the stairs. “So, how do you guys do this?” I asked.
Axel shrugged his black-clad shoulders. “Just look anywhere someone might hide a small stone about the size of a dollar. Check any weapons, too, remember?” I nodded, and we worked our way down the hallway, checking any rooms we came across.
A ways down, I noticed something liquid had seeped out from underneath one of the doors and had dried. I eased the door open, my heart pounding. And what I saw made me stumble back into the hall and start dry heaving.
Axel came running over to me, putting his hand on my back. “Hey kid, what’s wrong? You okay?” I shook my head. I felt very not okay.
“Axel… don’t – don’t go in there…”
He ignored my pleading, and moved to the door I had left slightly ajar.
“Oh shit. Good god…” He backed up like I had done, and I looked up at him, then immediately wished I hadn’t. he hadn’t closed the door behind him, and it had swung wide, giving me a clear view of the room – and the massacre in it.
I couldn’t look away. The scene was horrendous, blood covering everything, including the walls and ceiling; body parts torn into pieces scattered all around the room. I could see the remnants of a person’s head – it’s skull was cracked open, and pieces of now-dried braid had leaked out. Everything was dried, and the identifiable parts of the bodies were shriveled up, so I guessed that they had been like this for a while, weeks at least. But what was weird was that there were no traces of any bugs or any other lifeforms feasting on the dead flesh. By all means, the pieces should be swarming with maggots and other bugs, but there wasn’t even a fly to be seen. Something was wrong. Very wrong.
“Hey Zexion, why didn’t you say anything?” Axel’s voice brought me back, and I tore my eyes from the gruesome sight of the room.
“I can’t see in that room, that’s why. What's in there, anyways? I don’t think I've ever seen you this freaked out before.”
“Do you want us to come up?” Luxord’s voice came over the line, and Axel glanced at the room, all but shouting “no!” into his headset. “You deal with your floor.” He paused, then addressed Zexion. “It’s a massacre. Two people, I’m guessing. Ripped to shreds. There isn’t an inch of the room not drenched in blood and or guts.”
The line went silent, then there was a burst of static crackling through the headsets. “Hey, Axel? Wh–t h––nd? Th– –meras ar– –ut!” I looked at Axel. Why was the line breaking up so badly? “What?” I asked. “You're breaking up. We can’t hear you.”
“– cam–as –– out. I c–n’t see any–ng. I ca– –rly he– –ou!”
“Zexion, what’s going on?” Axel growled into his headset. There was a large burst of static, then the headsets went dead. Axel cursed. “Roxas, stay on guard. Someone’s interfering with the signal.” I nodded, then noticed I wasn’t hearing his voice through my headset as well. “Uh, Axel? The headsets aren’t working. At all.” Axel furrowed his brow, then removed his earpiece.
“You might as well take it off, then. They’re useless.”
I shook my head. “What if they start working again?” Axel grunted.
“Fine. Keep yours on and keep an ear out. Tell me if they say anything, then repeat what’s said to me.” With that, he tossed his to the ground and summoned his twin chakrams. I followed suit, Oblivion appearing in my hands in a burst of seeping darkness.
Suddenly, I felt the hair on the back of my neck rise, and a chill ran down my spine. Axel must have felt something similar, because he whipped around, facing behind me. I turned as well.
There in the darkness stood the form of a girl, around 13 years old, dressed in a ebony black dress. It had thin straps and a sweetheart neckline, and I could see a small red pendant at her neck, glowing slightly. The Heart? I contemplated the chances. Maybe. But what would such a young girl be doing with it? I looked at her closely. Her hair was long and stringy, black as space, and it fell just past her shoulders. Her face was mostly in shadow, so I couldn't see her eyes, but her lips seemed to be stained a dark red that stood out against her porcelain skin that was streaked with visible veins, creating a spiderweb-like effect. In her hand, I thought I saw what looked like a small doll, no bigger than an adult's hand.
Then she brought the doll to her mouth, and my stomach churned as she bit into it - and blood began to flow out, dripping down her chin.

Chapter Text

I felt bile rise in my throat as I realized that the doll she was hold wasn’t a doll at all, but instead was a chunk of flesh. Human flesh. Axel made a noise beside me, and I guessed he had realized this fact as well.
The girl stepped forward, stepping into the light of a large window, and she grinned at us, teeth stained red as she swallowed. Dropping the hunk of flesh, she moved forwards with a slow, stalking gait, and Axel and I backed up, ready for the attack.
But neither of us anticipated for what happened next.
A small voice emanated from the girl, gravelly and thick.
“Help... me….”
I shivered at the torn quality of the voice, the words in complete contrast with the appearance and actions of the girl. My thoughts spun. What was wrong with her? Or was she perfectly fine and just trying to get our guard down?
Her eyes locked with mine, a pleading look in the glowing red irises. I frowned, glancing over at Axel. “What’s with her eyes?” Axel shook his head.
“Dunno. Probably possessed or something. I’ve never seen this before.” He crouched down, battle ready, and the girl screeched as his chakrams burst into flames. They rushed at each other, and I could help but stand to the side, enthralled by their fast-paced duel. Sparks flew as her bare hand caught one of the blades of a chakram, and I realized something was affecting her body, making it as hard as steel, maybe harder. She yanked on the weapon, and he stumbled off balance, right in to the path of her claw-like nails. He narrowly avoided them, rolling to the floor and coming up a few feet away.
“Roxas!” he called, and I snapped to attention. “A little help here?”
I nodded, and warily stepped towards the girl, who was now snarling in my direction. I decided to make the first move and surged forward, Oblivion swinging along a trajectory to her neck.
She stopped the blade just shy of her skin, and pushed it back. I spun with the momentum, coming around with another attack, which she also blocked in the nick of time. She started to go on the offensive now, and her hand raked towards my face. I ducked, and as I rolled to the side, I felt a heat surge above me. Knowing if I stood up at that moment, I would get my head taken off by a flaming chakram, I stayed low until the second spiked wheel spun over me. She had caught the first, but as she moved to grab the second out of the air before it hit her, I rose, surging towards her, Keyblade once again poised to strike. She hesitated in her choice of which to defend against, and she staggered away a second later with a long cut along her cheekbone. I stood my ground, not following her retreat. I felt Axel’s presence behind me as he spoke.
“Use your magic now that she’s weakened a bit.”
I nodded, and focused all my energy into Oblivion’s blade. It stared to vibrate, glowing a deep black, and black crawled along the metal. I stayed still, eyes straight ahead at the girl until I felt like I couldn’t hold it back any longer. Pointing the Keyblade’s tip towards my opponent, I released the dark magic, pure blackness exploding out from around the blade and honing in on the girl, who disappeared in a mass of blackness.
When it cleared, she was on one knee, breathing heavily. I looked over at Axel, grinning in triumph. I had done it. I had used magic in a real battle and had severely injured the enemy. He grinned back, and was reaching out a hand to ruffle my hair when I saw movement out of the corner of my eye.
A pain exploded in my chest as I turned towards to girl, who was no longer on her knees. Instead, she was now colliding into me with the weight of a freight train, and I was slammed into the wall, the plaster cracking from the impact. She looked into my eyes and grinned, and suddenly the burning in my chest got worse. Something imploded, and my vision blacked out for a second. I could feel Oblivion slip from my grasp, and then I was filled with the sensation of being lifted up and being tossed through the air, before the impact of slamming into the ground like deadweight registered in my brain. I could feel a wetness seeping out from my chest, and inched my head down to look at my chest.
I didn’t even have the strength to retch at the sight. There were five large punctured in my upper torso, each the size of a swollen finger. I could feel my heart struggling to keep a beat, and I was sure at least one of my lungs had collapsed. My vision dimmed, and I heard Axel shouting my name through the fog, before his cry being cut short.
I could see his limp body collapsing to the ground and a pool of blood expanding from his chest.
Suddenly, a new pain surfaced, and I felt a large pair of claw-like hands clamp around my throat. My airway was crushed, and what little breath I had been able to draw before suddenly vanished. My vision continued to dim, blackening around the edges. Then something strange happened.
“Call me! Call me now, Roxas!”
A woman’s voice echoed through my head, rising above the incessant ringing of my ears.
“Roxas! Call me to you!”
Who was that? The only girl I remember being in the Organization was Larxene, and she wasn’t on this mission – and besides, it wasn’t her voice, it sounded too pure and sweet, if not a little urgent.
I opened my eyes, not really seeing anything, and willed my eyes to focus on the splash of white behind the figure of the little girl, still with her hand around my throat. As I concentrated, my vision cleared slightly, and I was able to make out the silhouette of a woman, glowing a transparent white, bright as the sun. She was stretching an arm out towards me, and in my confused semi-conscious state, I reached out to meet her halfway.
As soon as the tip of my finger touched hers, I felt a warmth flow into my body, and all the pain disappeared, as well as the weight of the girl on my neck. Somewhere, in the back of my mind, I knew that my eyes were no longer their sea blue, but rather a light blue, so light it was almost a glowing white. I don’t know how I knew this, I just did.
I stood up, legs not the least bit shaky, despite my wounds and the blood loss. I looked towards the girl, who was now cowering by the wall, snarling, her lips and teeth still dripping blood. I turned away from her, focusing my attention on Axel’s limp body in the middle of the hall. I felt a faint twinge of anger towards the girl for what she had done, but it quickly melted away, and I returned my attention to the girl.
I my hand, and my body began glowing, much like my eyes, and I materialized Oathkeeper subconsciously, then pointed it at the cowering girl. The light flowed out in a continuous stream, an instinctive attack – my mind was void of almost every thought.
The Light flowed towards the girl swathed in black and blood, the glowing tendrils engulfing her tiny body. The light tightened around her frame, hiding her from sight, then exploded outwards. As the last of the light died away, her small body sank to the ground unconscious. I noticed that her black dress was now white, and the blackened veins that had been spreading out along her skin were gone. Her hair fell to one side, flowing over her shoulder in small blonde waves. Her hands were no longer were encased with the large talon-like black substance, and were once again petite, with perfectly sculpted nails.
I walked over to her, curious about her transformation, and I could feel the light fading from me. Strangely, my wounds had healed, so I found myself still able to breathe as I knelt next to her unconscious form. I moved her hair slightly, revealing the res necklace, which I undid the clasp to before palming the gem. I could feel the power surging through me, just like Axel said it would.
Axel. I whipped around, and my eyes closed on Axel’s still form, the pool of blood beneath him still growing. There were five large punctures in his chest, just like I had received. My heart leapt to my throat as I rushed to his side.
“Axel! Axel, wake up!” My coat was getting soaked from his blood, but I didn’t care. My voice caught, and I fought back a sob as I touched his chest, gently laying my hand over the injuries.
An idea formed in my head as I became aware of the Heart still clenched in my fist. I placed the small red stone on top of Axel’s chest, next to the worst of his wounds, and I called upon Oathkeeper’s power. It had kept me alive somehow, so it should work the same for Axel, I thought.
At first, nothing happened, and I felt tears sting my eyes, threatening to spill over. Then, I felt a heat form over my hands, and they started glowing, a white light mixing with the stone’s red. Seconds later, although it felt like ages, Axel’s breathing started up again, although it was rough, and his eyes opened. They widened in shock as they took in my face, and he reached a hand up to my cheek. “Your eyes…”
I looked away, the light dying down. Pulling my hands away, I put the Heart in my pocket. I could feel my eyes change, the normal blue returning.
Axel struggled into a sitting position, and grabbed my chin, forcing me to look at him. “Huh… they’re normal again. What was that? What happened?” I shook my head. To be honest, I had no clue.
“I have the heart. Should we find the others now, or help the girl first?”
Axel looked over at the girl, surprised. “What happened when I was out? And why does she look… human... again?” I realized he didn’t know just how close to death he had come, and decided not to tell him that bit. “Something with Oathkeeper’s attack… it was like it cleansed her or something. Like she was possessed, and it exorcised her.” Axel nodded, then got up, making his way to the girl. He picked her up, cradling her small body bridal-style, then walked down the hall to the stairs. I followed, glad to leave the blood-stained hallway behind.
As we got to the bottom of the stairs, Luxord and Demyx appeared around the corner, Demyx crying out in surprise.
“Oh my god, what happened to you? And who’s the girl?” He gestured to out bloodsoaked and slightly ripped cloaks, then to the girl in Axel’s arms.
Axel explained to them everything that had happened, except for how I had defeated her, at which point he looked at me for explanation. I just shrugged. I didn’t really know anything more that he did, everything that had happened still made no sense.
I handed Luxord the Heart, and we made our way out the front door – since there was no need to sneak around anymore, considering the owners of the house were probably the bloody chunks of human upstairs.Which made us figure that the young girl was in fact Naminé, the owner’s daughter.
When we reached the van, Zexion practically flew out of the vehicle. “What happened? I lost all contact, all visuals!”
Luxord looked grim. “Demon interference, I’m guessing.” He walked over to the driver’s side and hopped in, and Demyx followed suit, getting into the passenger seat. Axel hopped in back, still holding the girl, and I was right behind him – until I was pulled into a tight hug by Zexion.
“Please… try not to get into so much trouble next time…” He trailed off, then continued quietly, “I know you’re still angry with me, but I really don’t want to lose my only friend.” I could feel the young man trembling slightly, and I reached up to put my hand on his upper back, returning the embrace. Immediately, he backed up, a light in his eyes that I hadn’t seen in a while, and I knew he was happy I had forgiven him.
Our friendship now fixed, we jumped into the van, shutting the door behind us. As I settled down, Axel spoke, a hint of laughter in his voice.
“So, how was your first mission, Roxy?”

Chapter Text

The girl – Naminé – woke up minutes before we pulled into the driveway. She was confused and scared, but Demyx helped cheer her up a bit.
Luxord turned the van off while everyone climbed out. I stumbled slightly, a little lightheaded from exhaustion, and Axel grabbed my shoulders to study me. I thanked him quietly, my voice barely above a whisper. A second later, there was a quiet “oof” from behind me. Axel and I turned to see Naminé picking herself up off the ground – she had collapsed when she had tried to climb out of the back of the van.
“I – I feel sick…” My eyes widened at her words, and I rushed forwards, Axel by my side, and helped her to the line of bushes along the edge of the driveway just in time for her to hurl. I caught a quick glimpse, and had to fight back getting sick myself as I noticed the contents of her stomach. Blood, and what appeared to be flesh. I looked away from the sight, and I saw Axel grimace and begin to look a little green out of the corner of my eye.
When she was done, she wiped her mouth, turning to me and Axel. “You didn’t have to help me, but thank you.”
Axel, who was still looking a little green, shook his head. “Come on – decide whether you’re grateful or not, kid.” Although I knew he was trying to be humorous, I could hear a bit of an edge to his voice – though it was probably because he had just watched someone puke up another person’s guts rather than annoyance. Of course, Naminé had just met Axel, and didn’t seem able to discern this, as her eyes widened in fear. “S-sorry!” She squeaked.
I placed my hand on her shoulder. “It’s fine. He’s not angry, just a bit… queasy,” I explained, and she visibly relaxed.
“Come on. She needs to meet Xemnas,” Luxord said, walking up behind us. I helped Naminé stand, and we all made our way to the door. When we got inside, she seemed confused. “Your boss lives here?”
I chuckled, and indulged her since she was going down with us anyways. “The compound’s underneath the house.” I said as we made our way to the trapdoor in the basement. “And yeah, I understand,” I continued, smiling at her. “I was confused at first too. To be honest, I still am.”
Naminé smiled faintly, clutching at my arm. By the time we got to the basement, Luxord had already opened the trapdoor, and he, Demyx and Zexion had disappeared into the darkness below. Only Axel stood waiting for us. A frown settled on his face when he saw how Naminé clung to me. Quickly turning his back to us, he jumped down, ignoring the ladder. My eyebrows drew together at the thought of what could have made him so distant to just leave me behind like that.
Shaking my head, I led Naminé to the edge of the trapdoor, then started down, making sure she followed me.
A few rungs down, now in complete darkness, one of Naminé’s sandals slipped on the bar, and I reached a hand up to steady her. “Are you all right?” I asked. She was shaking.
I nodded, then hastily removed my hand when I realized it had settled on her hip in my rush to make sure she didn’t fall. Quickly climbing down the rest of the way, I stepped back to allow Naminé some room.
Demyx bounded up to her the moment her second foot hit the ground. “Come on, Nami!” He grabbed her arm lightly, and pulled her down the hall. I shook my head, chuckling as I followed behind.
Clack, clack, clack..
I turned my head towards the noise, recognising the sound of shoes hitting the concrete floor. Axel stopped hehind me, and I looked up at him. “What’s wrong?” I asked.
He looked at me oddly, like he wanted to say something, then a guarded look settled over his featured. Without answering my question, he moved around me and followed after Demyx and Naminé. Confused, I followed behind. What was that all about?
I still hadn’t figured out what the silent treatment was all about by the time I reached Xemnas’ office, so I gave up for the time being. I would deal with it later.
I entered the room to Luxord explaining Naminé’s story to Xemnas, with the girl filling in the blanks.
“My parents were trying to do a protection circle, but something went wrong – a demon showed up, and… I can’t remember anything but bits and pieces, but I think it possessed me and killed Mom and Dad. Any every time someone came onto our property that I know of, it massacred them. I remember becoming conscious during a fight, but then everything blacked out again, and I woke up in the van.” She had started shaking when she mentioned her parent’s deaths, and I wanted to go and comfort her, but I stayed put out of fear of attracting Xemnas’ attention.
“You’re a witch, like your parents, I presume?” Xemnas’ voice still had that heavy quality, one that made my stomach shrink in fear. Naminé nodded “Then I’ll put you under Marluxia’s keep.” He paused. “Luxord, take the girl to Marluxia and get them aquainted.”
Luxord nodded, and everyone filed out of the room. Naminé grabbed my arm as she passed me, and pressed up against me, still shivering in fright. “That man… that’s your boss?” I nodded.
“He’s scary.” I nodded again.
“Yeah, I know.”
She paused. “Do you know this ‘Marluxia’?” I hesitated before speaking. I didn’t really know what Marluxia was like, due to the fact that he pretty much hated me for beating up his girlfriend. “Um… I don’t really… He doesn’t really like me all that much, but that’s just circumstantial. I don’t think he’ll dislike you.” Naminé looked up at me with wide blue eyes and I regretted my words to the scared blonde. “Relax,” I said hurriedly. “You’ll be fine.”
Luxord came up to us. “Seems like the girl’s taken a liking to you, eh, Roxas?”
I looked down at the girl pressed up against me, her small delicate hands on my chest. “I guess.” At my words, Naminé looked up at me, a light pink dusting her cheeks.
I felt my own cheeks heat up. Please don’t tell me the girl’s got a crush on me…
I heard Axel clear his throat from off to the side, and Naminé backed away from me reluctantly, moving to follow Luxord to Marluxia’s room.
“Let’s go.” Axel’s words were clipped, and something was obviously bothering him as he walked away from me, towards his room. I followed silent, my shoes barely making a sound on the floor.
Axel still didn’t make any move to open up to me when we had reached his room, and just walked straight to the closed, taking off his coat as he went. I stepped into the room and followed suit, sliding my own coat off, folding it and placing it by the foot of the bed where my hoodie sat. I switched my ripped t-shirt for a new one before I climbed into the bed, muscles aching. I heard Axel settle down in the same spot he had slept last night, sitting with his back against the wall. I laid there for almost an hour trying to sleep, but couldn’t, despite how tired I was.
Something was off. I was freezing. I had multiple blankets over me, and was curled up in a ball, but I was still cold. Which really didn’t make sense. I mean, how could I be cold in the room of someone who controlled fire? If anything, I should be overheating. After another half-hour, I was shivering, and my teeth had started to chatter. I curled in on myself tighter, but that didn’t make any difference. I was sure my chattering teeth could be heard down the hall, I was shivering so violently. What the hell?
Then I felt a weight on the bed, as if someone had climbed onto the mattress. I started to roll over, but a long arm draped itself across me, pulling me close to the warm body lying behind me. The scent of leather and burnt wood permeated my nostrils. I stiffened at the contact, not really relaxing then I realized Axel had climbed into bed with me. “What are you doing?” I asked, grinding my teeth together, only partially to stop my teeth from chattering.
Axel’s voice was low in my ear. “You were shivering. And the noise from your chattering teeth was keeping me awake, so I decided to keep you warm.” For some reason, the back of my mind was telling me he was the reason I was cold to begin with, but I ignored it in favour of the heat emanating from Axel.
“Thanks… I guess.” My lack of sleep was catching up to me now that I wasn’t freezing cold – Axel’s body pressed up against my back and his arms wrapped around me were like a furnace, and honestly, I was melting. Not in a bad way, either. One by one, my sore muscle relaxed, and soon, I was asleep in a cocoon of warmth, Axel’s breath stirring my hair in a steady rhythm.

Chapter Text

Over the next month, I had settled into a routine. Wake up, check for missions, complete the mission with whoever I was assigned it with, then I would head over to the Twilight Town clock tower where Axel more often than not waited for me with a sea-salt ice-cream for both of us. We would hang around on the top of the tower until dark, then head back to HQ, where I either went off to hang with Zexion in his lab, with Naminé in the lounge, or stayed with Axel to train. Usually, we were up most of the night fighting each other, honing our skills, before we finally retired to his room. Axel had also taken to sleeping in the bed beside me, although he hadn’t held me in his arms since that first night.
And a part of me missed that feeling of enveloping warmth.
Sadly, that basic routine was about to be altered. My room – which had been under construction since I had been initiated – was only a few days from completion, meaning I would be moving out of Axel’s room.
Or at least I had thought it was still a few days.
“Hey XIII! You hear? Your room should be done by tomorrow night – no more sharing quarters with Flamsilocks after tonight.” Xigbar chuckled, slapping my back humourously. I smirked. My nickname for Axel had swept like a hurricane through the Organization, much to Axel’s dismay.
Then Xigbar’s words sank in. “Tomorrow? I thought it was going to take a few days still.”
Xigbar shook his head. “Nah, they made some unexpected progress, so you’ll be on your own a bit sooner than anticipated.”
I nodded, and saw Saix walk up behind the scarred man.
“Roxas, you have a solo mission today.”
I perked up, full of apprehension at the thought, mixed with a certain amount of excitement. This would be my first solo mission, and I didn’t know what to expect.
Saix motioned for Xigbar to leave before he spoke again. “You are to do intelligence gathering on a Keyblade bearer running around these parts. He has been destroying every Heart he comes across, Hearts the Organization wants.” I nodded, and he continued. “There’s a lead, saying he was spotted somewhere around Twilight Town.” With that, the man turned and walked away, probably to bark at Demyx for shirking his duties again.
I headed out of the lounge, through the familiar halls to Axel’s room, to grab my coat.
When I got there, Axel was putting his own coat on. “You got a mission?” He asked.
I nodded. “Solo. Intelligence gathering.”
The redhead whistled. “Solo, already? I know you’ve built up a reputation, but wow. It took me months before they sent me out solo. Looks like you’re on the fast track up the ranks.” He paused. “Oh, and if it’s Intel, then don’t wear your coat – people tend to open up more if you don’t look like you belong to the Organization. Unless you plan on torturing them. Then it would be best to keep the coat.” It made sense, and I nodded. It was true that I’d built up a reputation. Now, more often than not, people would run when they saw a small boy in a long black coat carrying Keyblades. Not that I was scary or anything. I had just developed the habit of finishing my jobs quickly, not wasting any time toying with my opponents. Made me seem pretty badass and untouchable, I guess. People didn’t tend to pay attention to the fact that most of my opponents didn’t end up dying, like they did when they went up against the other Organization members.
So instead of donning my coat, I placed it on the bed, placing my Keyblades on top of it. I had developed the ability to summon my Organization coat not too long ago, and if everything was in the same area, I could summon my Keyblades and coat in one shot. I had definitely caught more than one enemy off guard with that ability.
“You want to meet up for ice cream after you’re all finished?”
I smiled as I got dressed in my casual clothes – complete with the short sleeved jacket, despite the warmth outside. “I’m in Twilight Town today, so I guess I’ll wait for you?”
Axel chuckled. “Nah, I’ll be the one waiting. I got an easy one today.” I looked at him curiously, and he shook his head, anticipating my question. “You know the rules. No talking about each other’s missions, so why bother asking?” I opened my mouth to tell him I hadn’t actually verbalized my question, but he continued, lowering is voice.
“But I’ll indulge you. I gotta take out some kid who’s been running around with the group that’s been destroying Hearts.” He grinned. “I’m gonna teach him a fiery lesson!”
I laughed at his giddiness. The man was a pyromaniac, that was for sure. He had the habit of summoning a handful of fire just to play around with it. “Well then. Good luck and have fun,” I said, exiting into the hallway, then heading on my way.
I was just about to start climbing the ladder to the trapdoor when Naminé came running up behind me. I turned to face the blonde, and she hugged me and planted a shy kiss on my cheek. “I heard it’s your first solo mission. Good luck, Roxas.”
Smiling, I hugged her back, just as Axel rounded the corner. The redhead stopped short, and a range of emotions flew across his face, too fast for me to identify, before his face went blank. I thanked Naminé, turning to the ladder – but not before I saw Axel shoot a glare at Naminé. I started to wonder what that was all about, but I shoved that train of thought off its rails, stopping it before it started. There was no need being distracted, especially with my first solo.
I walked towards the ice cream shop in Twilight Town, hoping to get some information from the shop owner. Or at least, that was the plan. I didn’t really get that far.
“Hey, blondie! You knew here? I ain’t seen you around before.” I turned around to see the owner of the voice, and was greeted with the sight of a tall blonde in a beanie holding a Struggle Bat – a blue bat that I had learned was used in the Struggle Battles held by the town.
“I’m just visiting. Trying to find someone actually, actually.”
The boy grinned, and his entourage – a tall, dark-haired boy, average height silver-haired girl, and a short person in too many layers and wide-brimmed hat to tell whether it was a boy or girl – backed up. “The name’s Seifer. And I’ll answer any questions you got – if you can beat me, that is.”
The next thing I knew, the other boy behind him tossed another Struggle Bat at me, and I fumbled the catch slightly, startled at this turn of events. I was trying to get information, not fight, dammit.
The boy, Seifer, laughed, and something about his demeanor grated against me. I had a strong urge to just kick his ass in record time and force him to answer my questions, but something in me made me decide to toy with him a bit.
I relaxed my muscles, dropping my guard completely as I looked over my shoulder as if checking the time on the clock tower. As soon as my eyes were off him, Seifer lunged forwards, and I could hear the telltale sound of something swinging through the air towards my head. I ducked, and without even really even looking at him, I jabbed the end of my Struggle Bat inti his solar plexus, dropping him to the ground. I stepped back and started examining the Bat’s grip as he scrambled to his feet, shock evident on his face. He came for me again, and this time I stepped around him, swinging and hitting the back of his neck, sending him stumbling. The larger blonde recovered quickly, and started attacking me, raining blow after blow at me – all of which I blocked without trying. I had fought much tougher opponents than him, and I wasn’t even having to pay full attention.
We went on like this for a few minutes, and with each blow deflected, I could feel his irritation growing. After I decided I was getting a little bored, I met his attack instead of merely deflecting it like I had been.
He struck down with an overhead attack, and I lifted my bat to absorb the blow before pushing back, the strength behind my attack sending him flying. He landed on his back, head cracking against the gravel, and his friends rushed forwards. One of them – the girl – stepped up to me, her own Struggle Bat raised, ready to defend Seifer. I shook my head at her. “I just want information.”
She glowered at me. “Who are you? No one’s ever just beaten Seifer like that.”
“Oh, leave him alone, Fuu, you stupid bitch.”
I turned to see the newcomer, a boy my age with blonde hair that stood on end wearing head to toe camo, followed by a sweet-looking brunette girl and a slightly overweight boy with spiky black hair.
Fuu snarled at the newcomer. “He just beat up Seifer! I can’t just let him get away with that, so stay out of it, Hayner.”
Hayner laughed. “It looks like he was getting what he asked for, if you ask me.” I chuckled. I liked this kid already. Fuu sputtered, then stormed back to Seifer, who had gotten back to his feet and was pointing a finger at me. “I ain’t telling you nothing, you fucking cheat.” I looked at him, indignant.
“Oh, shove it where the sun don’t shine. I didn’t cheat, you just suck.” At my words, Seifer turned an unsightly red, while Hayner and his friends laughed. Clearly embarrassed and pissed beyond words, he stormed off, defeated. I turned to Hayner. “My name’s Roxas. Hayner, right?” I put my hand out, and he took it. “Yup. And this is Olette,” he nodded to the girl, “and Pence.” He gestured to the other boy.
“Nice to meet you.”
Hayner grinned at me. “So what kind of information did you want?”
I sighed, putting up the act of faint annoyance. “I’m looking for a friend of mine. He ran away, and has been causing a bit of trouble. Have you heard of anyone going around destroying little stones wherever he goes?”
The trio looked at me weird. Olette spoke up. “What’s his name?”
Crap. I thought of a lie on the spot, hoping it would be convincing. “Uh, his family doesn’t really want everyone to know he’s been missing, so I’d rather not say. The three teenagers looked at each other, consulting.
“Wasn’t there a boy…?”
“… Yeah, about his age, maybe a few years older…”
“He was lugging around some giant key-thing…”
I cut in. “A Keyblade?” They nodded, and my hoped soared. Maybe I could finally get some information. “That’s him!” I said.
Hayner looked at me. “Are you sure? Cause he wasn’t exactly secretive about his name…”
I nodded. “Just to be sure, who did he say he was?” Saix had said Intel…
Hayner looked at Pence, then at Olette. The brunette spoke up.
“He said his name was Sora.”

Chapter Text

My blood ran cold as the name passed through Olette’s lips. Sora… my brother. What was he doing, running around with a Keyblade of all things, destroying Hearts and painting a target on his head like that? And how did he know about the Hearts? I had only found out about them through the Organization. If not for them, I would still be in the dark.
“Sora…” I recovered, blinking. “Y-yeah, that’s him. Do you know any details about what he’s doing, about where he is now?”
Olette and Hayner shook their heads, but Pence spoke up. “He said he was trying to get rid of all the evil or powerful magic that could help his enemies win… and he said he was trying to find his brother, too… That someone had taken him, and that was what got him started in all this.”
My eyes grew wide at the boy’s words. For his brother… That meant I was the reason the Organization was looking into him… and since he was destroying the same Hearts they wanted, I had a feeling their attention on him wasn’t exactly friendly.
“Did… did he say where he was going?” Maybe if I could find him, I could warn him…
Pence looked thoughtful for a second, then answered me. “He didn’t say where he was going next, but he did say he was working with a Reconstructive Committee, or something like that, in Hollow Bastion.” Hayner and Olette both looked over at the boy, surprised.
“When did he say that? I don’t remember him saying anything of what you just said…” Hayner looked slightly lost.
Olette just smiled at the blonde. “Hayner… he did say that, remember? Pence asked what he was doing, and that’s what he said.” Hayner’s shoulders drooped.
“S’not my fault I didn’t remember…” I chuckled at the trio’s antics. It reminded me of what Sora and I had been like. Except Sora was always the one in Hayner’s position.
“Hey Roxas?”
I looked over at Olette, and she continued.
“Do you happen to be Sora’s brother?”
The question caught me off-guard, and I took a step back, surprised. “W-what makes you say that?”
Olette smiled, almost sadly. “He said his brother’s name was Roxas. And then there’s your eyes – theyre the exact same as Sora’s.”
I ran my fingers through my hair. “Yeah… I am, I guess. I didn’t know he was looking for me.”
The girl cocked her head to the side. “Of course he is – He’s your brother, and he loves you.”


I sat on the edge of the clock tower, waiting for Axel to show up. I had spent a few more minutes with the Twilight Town trio after Olette had figured out my identity, but they didn’t know anything else about my brother, and neither had anyone else when I asked them.
I was debating on how much to tell Xemnas about the whole thing, when Axel plopped down beside me, two ice creams in hand. He handed one to me, looking peeved.
“What’s up?” I asked.
Axel glowered. “The bastard wouldn’t let me touch him. He kept jumping around, teleporting with the shadows. Freaking ass didn’t have the nerve to attack me to the face, kept hitting me from behind. I only got a few good hits in before he booked it….”
I was only paying half of my attention to his rant, my mind still on Sora.
“He- Hey, Roxas, you planning on eating that? Your ice cream’s melting.” I looked down to see that the light blue icy goodness [A/N: What the fuck was I thinking when I wrote this line…] was indeed melting, dripping down my hand.
I licked the melted ice cream off my hand, the worked on finishing the rest quickly.
“Something’s on your mind.” It wasn’t a question, but more of a statement. I nodded.
“You know how I was supposed to do some intelligence gathering? I was supposed to find some Intel on some kid running around with a Keyblade, destroying Hearts that the Organization is after.”
Axel nodded to show that he was following, and I licked ate another bite of my ice cream, flinching at the cold. “Well, I found out his name. Sora.”
“What’s so special about his name?” Axel was confused, I could see it in his eyes. I took a deep breath, then let it out.
“That name… means he’s my brother.”
Axel reeled back, almost losing his balance. “Your brother? You have a brother? And he’s destroying Hearts?”
I nodded. “Yes, I have a brother. Two, actually, but I haven’t seen Cloud in years. Mom pissed him off and he left – I’m not even sure he knows she died.”
The redhead stared dumbfounded, obviously trying to compute everything I was saying. “S-sorry about your mom,” he said, finally finding his words. “It must have been hard.”
“The only hard part was accepting the fact that she died before I could work up the guts to kill her.”
That caught Axel’s attention. “You – what?” He choked out. Probably more than surprised at my suddenly livid tone.
“Relax,” I said, calmer this time. “It was a mutual hate. The bitch treated me and Cloud like we were the spawn of the Devil just because we’re spitting images of dad. Sora got lucky – he looks more like Mom. Sort of. He’s got brown hair instead of Dad’s blonde. And it’s spikey.” Axel reached over and fingered the tips of my own spikey hair, and I chuckled.
“Much spikier. It makes mine look tame.”
Axel raised his eyebrows. “Must be pretty spikey then,” he said, giving my hair a tousle before pulling his hand back. Then he sobered. “You might not want to tell Xemnas that specific tidbit of information, if you value your freedom. Or life, for that matter.”
I gave him a look practically screaming duh. “You think I would be stupid enough to cut my life short like that by telling him? Of course I’m keeping it a secret. And you better too,” I added on.
Axel let out a breath he had been holding. “Good. Come on then, let’s go report.” He bit off the last of his ice cream, and I quickly finished my own, noting the WINNER printed on the stick, before putting it in my pocket and standing up.

Chapter Text

“Well, that went well. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone pull one over Xemnas like that before.” Axel flopped face-first down on the bed, then rolled over, grinning. “You’re more special than I thought.”
I shook my head, grinning myself. “And then there’s you, a different kind of special, Incompetent Flamsilocks, as Xemnas said. Nice to know even the Superior’s caught on to you nickname.” I sat down beside Axel, who started mumbling profanities under his breath – hopefully at Xemnas, not me.
I took a breath, letting it out slowly. “So. Tonight’s my last night.” Axel looked at me, propping himself up of his elbows.
“Last night?”
“Sharing a room. Xigbar said it would be done by tomorrow.” I chuckled, a grin rising on my face. “And just as I’d gotten used to sharing a room with a pyro like you, too. Too bad.”
“Yeah.” Looking over, I saw that Axel was now staring off into space, lost in his thoughts.
“Axel? What’s up? Something bothering you?” His eyes snapped to meet mine.
“Sort of. It’s nothing, though.” His face was blank, no emotion, and my curiosity piqued. What was he hiding?
“If it’s nothing, then it wouldn’t hurt to tell me.”
Axel was silent as he laid back onto his back, closing his eyes. He didn’t answer me, didn’t even acknowledge that I had spoken. Frustrated, I climbed onto my hands and knees on the bed and crawled over to him. I placed a hand on both sides of his head, my face hovering over his. He still didn’t open his eyes, so I kneed him in the side. He grunted, acid green eyes opening, then widening at my close proximity. The thought quickly crossed my mind that the position I was in might be considered provocative to some, and my stomach twisted with butterflies before I pushed the thought from my mind, focusing on the task at hand. “Tell me.”
Axel just looked at me, still startled. “Axel…” I said warningly, and he spoke, although barely above a whisper.
“So anxious to put our friendship at risk, aren’t you?”
I blinked at his words. What did he mean by that? Had he done something he was afraid I would hate him for? I pulled back so I was sitting beside him and not hovering over him. “What are you talking about?”
“Fine.” Before I could blink, Axel had sat up, pushed me down by my shoulders onto my back, and had positioned himself above me, face inches away from mine.
“Axel?” I squeaked, staring into his eyes, ablaze with a heat that set my body on fire immediately. Oh. Oh. His gaze was hooded as he shifted, bringing his knee to connect with the most sensitive part of my body, and heat pooled in my abdomen, white-hot. I bit back a groan, and Axel leaned down, brushing his lips against mine, butterfly soft.
I was having a revelation as I reached up, running my hands up his chest to end at his neck. This explained everything. Why he was always around when he wasn’t on a mission, why he was always glaring at Naminé whenever she crushed on me. All of it. I pulled down on his neck, bringing his lips back to mine. And while the first kiss was sweet and soft, a declaration of feelings, this one was lustful and sensual. Needy. The taste of him filled my mouth when he slipped his tongue past my lips, running over my own, our saliva mixing.
His hands roamed my body expertly, and I let myself become lost in the caresses.
The heat in my abdomen was starting to get uncomfortable, and I shifted my hips, grinding myself against his leg in hoped of relieving the pressure. Of course, that did nothing but make it more unbearable.
Axel began to attack my mouth with his own with added vigor, and his hands slowly made their way lower on my body until he was cupping me through the fabric of my jeans. I shuddered with desire, and felt his hands undoing and sliding my jeans and underwear off. I lifted my hips to help him, and he stopped kissing me so he could slide them down past my ankles and toss them onto the floor.
I stared at him, chest heaving and eyes blown wide as he ran a thin finger down the underside of my erection, then grabbed the base. I shuddered as he brought his head down, not breaking eye contact even when he teased the tip with his tongue. My erection twitched in his hand, and he grinned, a second before he took my entire length into his mouth. I gasped at the feeling of the wet warmth that enveloped me, and my hips buckled. Eyes fluttering closed and head falling back, I let out a long moan of pleasure as he deep throated me.
“Axel… unh...” I reached down, hand finding his hair and fisting the red strands. I was coming undone so fast, much faster than when I did it alone.
Axel started moaning as his head bobbed, and the sensation almost sent me over the edge. “Nn… A- Axel, I … I’m close…” I gripped his hair tighter and cried out as he chucked around my dick. A bone-deep shudder went through me as I came in a blinding wave of ecstasy, and I cried out. Axel sucked harder, draining every drop of cum as I orgasmed. Only was I completely dry did he pull away, swallowing as he did so. He crawled up the bed, lying down beside me and pulling me into his arms before draping the thin blanket over us. I rolled onto my side, facing him. “What about you? I asked. He still had a raging hard-on, I could feel it pressing up against my leg.
He gently pressed his lips to my forehead. “I can wait. You’re probably pretty worn out right now.” I nodded, lethargy already taking over as I snuggled closer.
“So that’s what you were so scared to tell me?”
Axel chuckled. “Seems kinda silly now, I know, but I had no way of knowing if you were even gay. And I wasn’t about to ask out of the blue. Besides, Naminé has been crushing on you since she got here, and you hadn’t exactly been pushing her away – which you better start doing now. But I thought you liked her, or something.”
I smiled. “I do like her.” Axel stiffened, but I kept talking quickly, afraid he would kick me out of the bed. “I do like her, but not like you think. She’s cute, sure, but there’s the small fact that she’s a girl. Makes things a bit problematic, you know?” Axel relaxed at my words, once again holding my closer.
“Good. I don’t want anyone stealing you away from me, Roxy.”
I almost told him off for calling me that, but I figured he’d earned the right. And besides, I was already drifting off to sleep.

Chapter Text

I stood outside the house that Sora was staying at, my gut twisting in anticipation. It had been two weeks since I had first heard of my brother’s actions through Hayner, Pence, and Olette; two weeks of using all of my spare time to gather more information on Sora.

When I wasn’t using up my spare time with Axel, that was.

The redhead had told me the dangers of seeking out Sora on my own, against the Organization’s wishes - especially to talk and not to fight. But he also knew I couldn’t just let my brother get himself into any more dangerous situations, and that I had to try to talk him out of what he was doing.

Of course, this still didn’t mean he was happy about the whole thing. But here I was, about to meet with my brother for the first time in over a month and a half.

I reached up and knocked on the door, lightly, but still loud enough to be heard.

I could hear footsteps coming to the door, and pause – the person was probably checking the peephole to make sure I wasn’t any threat. Not that a threat would be dumb enough to knock. Still, I raised my hands to show that they were empty – not that that meant I was unarmed, since I didn’t need to carry my weapons on me anyway. Not that they needed to know that particular detail yet.

The door opened and an older man stepped out, with light blond close-cropped hair, chewing some stick of some sort. “Whadd’ya want, kid?” He asked, his voice gruff.

I took a breath. “I need to speak with Sora.”

The man glared at me. “Who are you, and what do you want with that boy?” Obviously, the man was a little protective of my brother.

“I’m someone who needs to talk to Sora.” I raised my voice, yelling into the interior of the house. “Hey Sora! Tell this old coot to let me in!” I bit back a chuckle as a vein visibly pulsed in the man’s temple.

Then I heard a load “Whoa!” from inside, followed by a dull thud of a body hitting the floor, and a scrambling sound. The next thing I knew, my brother had pushed the older man aside and had literally leapt forwards, tackling me to the ground in a hug.

“Ow!” I cried out as my head cracked against the concrete. “Is that how you greet your brother after all this time? You tackle him to the ground and bash his head in?” Sora sat up, laughing and wiping tears from his eyes. I pushed myself into a sitting position and then ruffled my brother’s overly spikey brown hair.

“Brother?” The grumpy man was pushed to the side again, this time by an energetic-looking girl carrying a large ninja star. “I thought Roxas was missing?” She bounded down the steps and stopped short when she saw us fully, her dark eyes flicking between our faces. “Wow. Okay, are you sure you guys aren’t twins? ‘Cuz apart from your hair, you guys look… pretty much identical.”

Sora laughed at the notion. “Nah, Yuffie – he’s my younger brother.”

I snorted. “Not like I act like the younger one. You still act like a grade schooler!” Sora laughed. That’s the thing about my brother; you could make fun of him all you want, but he won’t care. Chances are, he’ll probably join in.

“Come on, I want you to meet everyone!” Sora stood up, pulling me with him. He almost tripped going up the stairs, but I pulled him back on balance, amused by his excitement. Yuffie followed us in, practically bouncing with a big grin plastered on her face.

Sora led me through a small entryway, opening up into a larger area which had probably been a living room at some point. Now, although it still had couches, it also had multiple chairs, computers and weapons scattered about the space. I looked down at a box beside the doorway, and picked up what appeared to be a flash-bomb before setting it down again, shaking my head in amusement.

“Ooh, who’s this? Sora, why didn’t you tell me we were having a guest?” A young woman stepped into the room from another doorway and immediately walked up to Sora, Yuffie and I.

“Aerith, this is Roxas. He’s my younger brother.” As Sora spoke, Aerith’s eyes went to me, widening as my relation to Sora was mentioned.

“You’re the brother… that went missing?” I nodded, and the next thing I knew, she was pulling me into a hug. “Welcome, Roxas, dear. We’re glad you found us.”

I smiled as she pulled back, tears burning at the back of my eyes. I had just met her, and she was already acting like the loving mother I had never had.

“Everybody,” she called out. “We have a guest! Come meet him.” People started trickling into the room, curious, and Sora introduced them one by one.

“Leon, this is my younger brother, Roxas.” I shook hands with the tall brunette with a scar across his face.

Next to be introduced was Cid, the man from the door, and a very old man with a grey beard reaching down towards the floor, going by the name Merlin.

A boy with silver hair came in next, stopping when he saw me. “Roxas,” he whispered, surprise evident in his tone. I felt my guard go up. How had he known who I was on sight, when I had never set eyes on him before in my life? I looked over at Sora, who was blushing, gazing at the silverette with a look of pure joy in his eyes.

“Riku!” Sora shouted, lunging to hug the other boy, who stepped forwards to meet my brother halfway. “You’re awake! When did you wake up, Riku?” He froze, probably just now registering what the other had said. “Oh, um… yeah, Roxas.” He turned to me without extracting himself from Riku’s arms. “Roxas, this is Riku. He’s… um, he’s my boyfriend.” Sora was gay? What were the chances?

I smiled. “I hope you’ve been treating him like a king, Riku. Or else I’d have to hurt you.” I was only partly kidding, and I think the silverette noticed, judging by the flicker his eyes gave before he grinned.

“I do. Even when he definitely does not deserve it,” he said, pecking Sora on the cheek. The brunet grinned at both of us, visibly overjoyed that I had accepted Riku, and his sexual orientation.

“What’s all the *yawn* commotion?”

I froze as the familiar voice filtered through the room, and Sora looked sheepish. Um… I guess I should have warned you, but…” The brunet trailed off as he realized I was not paying attention to him anymore. All my focus was on the tall, spikey-haired blond man that had just entered the room and froze mid-yawn, staring at me.

“Cloud… you came back,” I whispered.

Chapter Text

Cloud chuckled. ”You’re one to talk, little brother. You – ngh!”

My eldest brother stumbled back as my fist connected with his face. “You left us! Why come back now? You left us alone with mom, who hated us, and now you come back, acting like nothing happened?! Why? Why not take us with you, you selfish bastard?!” Tears from all my pet-up frustration and anger welled up. “Why?!”

Cloud held his hands up in surrender. “Roxas, I –” I shook my head. I didn’t want to hear his excuses, not when I was seeing this much red. So instead, to shut him up, I socked him in the stomach then jabbed at his solar plexus, turning as he dropped to the ground. I stormed out of the house and sat down on the steps, wiping at my eyes. Damn tears, I thought. They make me seem so weak, so childish.

I sat there for a few minutes, memories of my two brothers surging through my mind, when I heard the door open. It closed, and I looked over to see Cloud sitting down beside me.

I opened my mouth, the words “Shove off” on the tip of my tongue, but he held up his hand.

“Wait, let me speak before telling me to shove it and leave.” The corner of my mouth twitched. Even after all these years, he still knew me well enough to predict what I was going to say. I stayed silent, although a part of me wanted to beat him into a pulp, especially since I had a feeling he would probably wouldn’t fight back, accepting my anger.

Cloud took a deep breath. “I’m sorry I left you with mom –” I snorted, and without looking over, I could tell he was pinning me with a glare telling me to shut up and give him a chance.

“I want you to know that if I could have brought you with me, I would have, in a heartbeat. But I had no idea where I was going, how I was going to live, to get a next meal. All I knew was that I had to get out of that house before I committed homicide. And I’m honestly glad I didn’t take you with me – I was living on the streets for the first month until I found work and someone who was willing to take me in.” I blinked in surprise. I had always assumed he had left with a plan, not just on a whim.

Cloud continued. “After the first three years, I had settled down, gotten an apartment, and a steady job. Then I heard from dad. Or rather, from one of his coworkers.” I perked up at this. He had been in contact with dad? I knew that both he and Sora had seen the man before, though Sora hadn’t even been a year old – our dad had left a few months before I had been born.

“She – the co-worker – told me that dad had terminal cancer, and that she’d been trying to get in touch with his family members, but I was the only one she was able to track down.” He paused, and I looked over to see Cloud staring at the ground, tears glistening on his cheeks. “I stayed in a motel so I could stay closer to him, but he died a month after that. And he was on life support for most of that time, unconscious. I only had a few days to speak to him. I’m sorry, Roxas. You would have loved the man.”

We sat there in silence, him regaining his composure, me trying to imagine what dad had been like. Finally, Cloud cleared his throat before speaking again. “Anyways… After that, I moved back to my old place, and started to get involved with a bad crowd. Both mundane and magical. You know about magic, right?” I nodded. “Well, I started a relationship with someone. A man named Sephiroth. At that point, I was far too gone to care about how badly he treated me, and I put up with his shit for two years. Then I heard about Sora, running around and destroying the very things Sephiroth was looking for – and he heard too. So when he went to… dispose… of Sora, I tagged along. Then I stabbed him in the back. Not literally, of course, it was more like the side, but you get the point. I’ve been helping these guys out since.”

Cloud fell silent once more, and I let his story sink in. if what he had said was true…

Then I was glad he hadn’t taken us with him. At barely 9 years old, I wouldn’t have lasted the month of homelessness, and with Sora also in tow, there would have been no way Cloud could have provided for all three of us. And even if he had managed… after dad’s death, what would have happened to us?

I sighed. Either way, everything worked out on its own, and it wasn’t like we could change anything anyways. I turned to Cloud, who was waiting patiently for me to decide whether or not to forgive him, and I hugged him. “Sorry for hitting you.”

Cloud chuckled. “Nah, I deserved it. I should have come home after dad died, at the very least.”

I shook my head. “Forget about it,” I said, standing. Then we went back inside, side by side.

Sora looked up from where he was sitting – Riku’s lap – as we came in, face anxious. “Are you…?”

I nodded. “We’re fine. Everything’s sorted out.”

Riku nodded, and Sora visibly relaxed, as did everyone else in the room.

“So… I’m gonna go ahead and ask what everyone else is thinking,” the silverette said, his blue eyes staring into my own. “Where did you disappear to for a month and a half?”

I stiffened at the question, and Cloud put a comforting hand on my shoulder, sensing my guard going up. I had known this question would come up, and quickly, but I still found myself caught unawares. I considered lying, but I knew I had to tell the truth.

“You heard of Organization XIII?”

At the words, a tension erupted, and the entire room burst with sudden conversation.

“The Mafia…”

“… collecting those damned Hearts…”

“They kidnapped you?”

I bristled. “No! They didn’t kidnap me! Well, I guess they did at first, or at least, Axel did, but…” I took a breath, calming myself down. “I joined. I wasn’t forced to do anything.” I decided to leave out the fact that my only other choice at the time was death.

The occupants of the room stared at me in shock, and I looked around, eyes finally meeting Sora’s, which were swirling with confusion and hurt.

“You’ve been with the Organization this whole time… helping them?”

I scowled. “They’re not all bad. Sure, our leader is absolutely terrifying and evil and everyone would probably better off with him dead, and there’s two or three members that I hate with a passion, but I’ve got some good friends in that group. Actually, I’ve been in a relationship with one of them for about two weeks now.” Sora looked confused, and Riku was downright pissed.

“Good members? One of them tried to burn me to a crisp two weeks ago! How can you be friends with anyone in a group like that?” The silverette was fuming, his lip curling. “I’ve still got burn scars from that fucking fire mage!”

I froze at his words, everything clicking into place. Two weeks ago… attacked… flame-user… the colour drained from my face. “You… you’re the one Axel was sent after?”

“That’s what that bastard’s name is? Maybe it’ll help me find him so I can kick his ass again.” I felt a wave of protectiveness well up in me.

“He’s not a bastard! Axel is my best friend! No, he’s more than that, he’s…” I trailed off. They didn’t really need to know the nature of my relationship with Axel. At least, not yet. So I switched my train of thought, bringing up something I had promised not to tell anyone. “He’s not the ass you think he is. When he came back from his mission –“

“To kill me.”

I nodded, reluctantly. “Yes, those wore Xemnas’ orders. But Axel never planned on killing you. He hates killing, even though he’s known as the Organization’s assassin. And when he reported back to Xemnas, he told him that he’d killed you.”

Riku cut in again. “Yeah, so he could keep his pride intact.”
Again, I shook my head, fighting annoyance at Riku’s lack of understanding. “No, he did it because he didn’t want them to send him, or anyone else, after you again. He figured he could say that he left you for dead, assuming you wouldn’t survive.”

Riku still didn’t relax, although he didn’t seem to have anything else to say. So I turned to Sora.

“Zexion’s with the Organization too, and I know you approved of him being my friend. It’s not like he’s changed any since you last saw him. The only thing that’s different is that he’s got more room and equipment for his experiments.” Sora’s eyes widened.


I nodded, and the brunet turned to Riku. “If Zexion’s with them… they can’t be all bad. Maybe he’s telling the truth about this Axel…”

Leon spoke up then, bringing the conversation back a bit. “So… how’d you get them to let you in? Don’t you have to be really powerful?”

I sighed, then told them everything from the beginning, starting with Axel saving my life in the alleyway, beating Larxene and finding my magic, and my first mission. By the time I reached the end of my fight with the demon that had possessed Naminé, I had enraptured everyone’s attention. The entire room was silent when I had finished speaking about my history until now – with the parts about my relationship with Axel left out.

“Roxy, you got Keyblades too?” Sora was looking at me with excitement in his eyes. I nodded, despite his use of the nickname I only allowed Axel to get away with, and summoned Oathkeeper and Oblivion. Almost everyone in the room jumped at the sudden presence of my two Keyblades, except for Sora, who merely grinned and held out his hand – in which a simple silver-bladed Keyblade formed, with a gold hilt. The design of the blade was an inverted crown, and was also very dull, not looking weapon-like at all.

“And how do you fight with that? Smack people with is? There’s no proper blade!”

Sora laughed. “I usually bash people over the head. Or use magic. Mostly magic. Besides, it can change forms.” With that, he reached into his pocket and pulled out a charm on the end of a chain, and proceeded to switch it with the charm that was currently attached to the hilt of the Keyblade. As soon as it was clipped on, the Keyblade transformed into a spikey silver-black blade that honestly looked to spindly to be a proper weapon. But I knew from my own weapons that looks could be deceiving. I nodded in appreciation of my brother’s weapon, and he switched the chains again, reverting the Keyblade to its original form. “See? And I’ve got so many charms, I can’t even keep them all on me at once!”

“And each form has its own magic or something?” Sora nodded, confirming the guess.

“Yup! Each form either had its own type of magic, or heightens my own. Gets really helpful sometimes.” My mouth twitched into a smile as I imagined the situations Sora must have gone through.

Suddenly a loud knock sounded on the front door, and Cid left to answer it.

Aerith looked flustered. “Two visitors in one day? That’s odd. I wonder who it could be.” Everyone’s attention turned to the direction of the front door, and I could hear the mumbles of words spoken through walls. Then a tall form swathed in black with a flash of red burst into the room, colliding with e and gathering me into a hug.

“Axel?! What are you doing here?”

Before the redheat could respond, I heard a quiet “you…” from behind me, the words laced with a thinly-veiled threat of a fight.

I turned to Riku, Axel’s arms still draped over my shoulders. “Riku…” I warned. Axel’s attention went to the silverette as I spoke, and he tensed around me. There was a silence that stretched out into almost a full minute, during which, the tension in the air was thick enough that I’d need a hacksaw to cut through it.

Then I heard quiet footsteps entering the room, and everyone’s attention went back to the doorway again, save Riku and Axel’s, who were still shooting daggers at each other through their eyes.

As I turned my head, I caught a flash of slate-grey hair and a long black coat.

“Zexion!” Sora and I cried out at the same time, our voices perfectly in sync, and the corner of Zexion’s mouth turned up.

“It’s good to see you alive and well, Sora.”

My brunette brother’s stretched wide in a smile. “You too, Zexy!”

Zexion paused, contemplating something. “Judging by your positive reaction to me, despite my attire, I’ll make an educated guess by saying Roxas told you everything?”

Sora nodded. “But I don’t understand how you are in the Organization – you can’t even fight, not really. Not from what I've seen.”

Zexion sighed. “It’s true, I don’t fight hand to hand. Although I have whacked Demyx upside the head with a dictionary a few times.” He sent a slightly sadistic grin my and Axel’s way before continuing. “But mostly, I use magic. Regardless, I’m not the best fighter, so I’m not usually sent out on field work.”

I grinned as Axel spoke up, his attention finally on Zexion and not Riku. “There’s also Demyx. He’s a total pacifist, but they let him in because he’s insanely powerful despite his, um… lacking… intelligence sometimes.”

Zexion spoke again, turning his attention to me. “But that doesn’t matter. I came here to ask you something: What are you doing here? Superior will kill you brutally if he finds out your fraternizing with his enemy.”

I sucked in a breath, then let it out in a rush. “He’ll also kill me, or at the very least use me, if he finds out Sora is my brother. I came here to try and get Sora to keep a low profile.”

I saw Sora’s eyes widen at the exchange out of the corner of my eye. Zexion scowled at me. “He already suspects something. Your behavior change was too sudden – he sent you out to investigate Sora and since then you’ve been spending all your free time with Axel or out of the compound on your own.” He turned his attention to Axel, whose chin was resting on my head. “Superior also suspects you’re planning on defecting. Axel too, because of your relationship.”

A swell of panic flooded through me, and Axel pulled me close, folding his arms around me in a protective grip. “I won’t let that bastard hurt Roxas,” he growled.

“And neither will I!” Sora shouted, reminding me of our audience. Soon after, murmurings of support were flying about the room, and even Riku had agreed with Sora. Happiness shot through me. These people loved and trusted Sora enough to fight for someone they had just met who happened to be working for their enemy.

Axel kissed the crown of my head tenderly. “See? You’ll be fine, Roxas. We’ll all be fighting for you.” He looked over at Zexion. “And if Roxas does, then I’ll defect as well, no matter the consequences. I won’t stand for being sent after him.”

Zexion nodded. “I’ll stay. An insider might be useful, and I doubt they’ll send me after you.”

Riku cleared his throat from behind me, and I turned, still enveloped by Axel’s strong arms. “Roxas… you mentioned being in a relationship with an Organization member. You wouldn’t happen to be gay as well, would you?”

Axel answered before I could even open my mouth. “Oh, my Roxy is completely gay!” I facepalmed. Axel knew no subtlety.

“Yes, I’m gay, and I’m with flamsilocks, here.”

Axel pouted. “Hey! It’s bad enough the entire Organization calls me that – I don’t need everyone else jumping on the bandwagon!”

I grinned up at him. “Deal with it, sucker. You get to call me Roxy, so I get to choose my own nickname for you. And that’s what I chose.”

“Aww no fair, at least choose something better…”

Pretty much everyone in the room chuckled at his childish display, even Riku. Then Zexion spoke up, catching everyone’s attention.

“Roxas, Axel, we need to get back – but before we do, I suggest we devise a plan to get you out free.”

Chapter Text

Two weeks later, I stood at the back door to a run-down house, the place we had agreed on for me to hide for a few days, completely under the radar. It was an old Victorian-style house, painted a dark indigo colour that was flaking off to reveal a pale brown, and the porch seemed to be rotting in certain places. Vines crawled up the sides of the building, burrowing cracks in the wood.

This was going to be fun.

I reached for the door, half expecting it to fall off its hinges, but it swung open cleanly, not a squeak to be heard. I smiled. Zexion had probably gotten someone to fix it up secretly without making it look fixed. To add to the illusion of abandonment, I guess. After all, the windows were all boarded up in case I had to venture up from the basement. Stepping through the doorway, I saw that I was in the kitchen. I walked over to the sink and turned the tap on. Clean water, sparkling clear, poured out. Good, I thought to myself.

I started to explore the house, ignoring the second floor, not quite trusting the rickety-looking staircase. It was habitable enough on the ground floor, anyways. The furniture in the living room was covered with thin plastic sheets to keep the dust off, but those could be removed. There was a bathroom, fitted with one of those claw-footed bathtubs, and a closet full of clean, non-dusty towels. There was also what appeared to be a spare room, what looked to have been used as a library, shelves lining three of the four walls. I felt a slight disappointment at the fact that the tomes had been removed, but I knew they had probably been removed when the person last living here had moved out.

Satisfied with my findings, I headed to check out the basement. The stairs were silent as I went down them, and I felt along the wall for a switch, but found none. Then, straining my eyes in the darkness, I spotted a thin chain catching the light from upstairs. I walked towards it, hoping there was nothing in the way for me to trip over in the darkness, and tugged lightly on it. I was rewarded with a bright fluorescent light bulb glaring into my face, and I was blinded for a moment as my eyes adjusted.

The basement wasn’t special. There were shelves on one wall, stocked with canned food. A mini-fridge sat beside a small cot piled with blankets, and when I checked it, I saw that it was stocked with a variety of pops and a few water bottles. Also beside the mattress, on the other side, was a pile of clothes – probably spares of Sora’s since someone might catch on if my own stuff went missing from my room in the Organization. And since Sora and I were the same size, it wasn’t that far of a stretch to wear his clothes.

Pleased, I collapsed on the cot and almost cried when Axel’s scent wafted up from the pile of blankets – he must have stuck one of his own in the pile. I pinpointed which one it was, threw the rest on the floor and curled up, the soft, slightly worn blanket wrapped around me like a fabric cocoon. I sighed in content, quickly drifting off to sleep.

Faking my own death had been harder than I had expected, and I was wiped out.


The next few days were pure torture. To make sure there were no suspicions of my apparent ‘death’; I was completely cut off from any outside contact. I wasn’t even allowed to so much as take a peek outside.

And all I had for amusement was my mind; which was more of another torture device at the moment that a form of entertainment.

As far as I knew, my part of the plan had gone well, and Xemnas didn’t expect a thing. I had gone up to him a little less than a week ago and asked if I could get another solo mission since I had done so well on my last. I had suggested sighting a target, so I could prove my strength.

Xemnas had said he would consider it, so I sent word via an anonymous messenger that the plan was in motion. A few days later, Could had been sighted, and I did recon, bringing the information to Xemnas along with the rumor that he was fighting for Sora. After some convincing that I could handle myself, Xemnas had agreed to send me out the next day on a solo mission to dispose of Cloud. I had acted eager, and some of it hadn’t been an act. Sure, I had been nervous, but I was anxious to get it all over with and rid myself of the Organization.

When I confronted Cloud, I hadn’t had to fake my nerves – just what they were about. I knew my brother would never seriously hurt me, although he still had to injure me to make our fight look realistic. After all, Cloud had chosen an area with an audience – witnesses, if you will.

We fought for almost an hour straight, and I still wonder where Cloud had gotten that kind of stamina – I had started tiring out after half an hour. But when he decided we had fought enough, he had tossed a bomb at me, a fire and shrapnel mix. It had exploded at my feet, as planned. Since the shrapnel was on a bit of a delay, I had let the edge of the flame engulf me before shielding myself with Oathkeeper’s protective light. I was sure to let myself burn a little first, and I weakened the protective shell around me so the shrapnel could do some minor damage, before dropping it just before the fire completely dissipated, leaving singed and bloody body visible. I had collapsed, making every muscle in my body go limp, and had heard Cloud walk over to me, sword still at the ready as he ‘checked’ for signs of life. After muttering “Good, he’s dead,” under his breath, he had grabbed ahold of my ankle and dragged me to the river a side-street over. Before he had tossed me in, he had discretely placed a snorkel-like device that would allow me to breathe underwater in my mouth.

I hit the water hard, and it had taken all my strength to not tense up, and to just let myself float like a dead body down the river.

After what had felt like forever, I had felt three stones hit my back, a signal we had devised to let me know I was far enough from the main city to get out of the water. When I got out, Riku had given me a change of dry clothes and a brown cloak, along with the directions to my current hideout.

Everything had gone according to plan so far. The rest was up to Axel.

My gut twisted as I thought of his role in the plan. Certain parts shouldn’t be too hard, but still…

He had to wait a few days after my “death”, pretending to grieve, then storm into Xemnas’ office, demanding to be sent after Cloud so he could extract his revenge.

Everything hinged on Xemnas granting him that privilege. If he didn’t, then Zexion would have to come up with something else to get Axel out. But if it did work, Axel would have to face Cloud – and unlike with me, they would actually fight, not just fake it. If Axel followed the plan, then he would pretend to get overly worked up during the fight, losing control of his supposed anger. Under truthful circumstances, Axel’s magic would go insane without his mental barrier keeping it under control, so that was what they planned on simulating.

“Using magic is tricky. Your amount of power is constantly fluxuating, and it is possible to drain your magic, at which point, your body starts to use your life force to continue manipulating your magic. Most people pass out before this starts happening, their bodies having a built-in safety switch that prevents from killing themselves accidently. However, since I’m pretty sure Axel is not one of those unlucky few born without a failsafe, he will still have to be dealt a finishing blow for him to die. Or appear to die, in our case."

Since it was virtually impossible to drain your magic, Axel had to actually push himself to the edge – putting his life in danger by doing so. It would take him a few days for him to fully recover, and since he would be injured as well…

I shivered at the thought of what Cloud had to do. I imagined that oversized sword of his piercing Axel’s side, missing the vital organs by a few millimeters. If my brother slipped even half a centimeter, I would never be able to see Axel again.

“Please, Ax, don’t die…”

Chapter Text

I unlocked the door to the basement, easing it open, and slipped through into the half-light of the morning streaming through the windows. It was my third day in hiding, and I was out of water bottles and almost out of food, so I decided to raid the kitchen for anything I could use.

I felt myself automatically put my guard up as I strained my eyes in the gray lighting. And rightfully so, I realized as I heard footsteps near the back entrance of the old house. I almost summoned Oblivion to defend myself, but Zexion’s words came to mind, telling me that Xemnas could sense when someone used their magic – and summoning either of my Keyblades would alert him to the fact that I was still alive.

So, grabbing a heavy cast-iron frying pan from the counter, I crept back into the shadows, lying in wait for the unfortunate intruders.

I jumped out at the two intruders as they stepped into the room, swinging the pan at the figures.

“Sora?!” I yelled as I realized who the ‘intruder’ was, and I pulled the pan back, barely missing my brother’s face.

The momentum caused the heavy pan to slip from my grip, the heavy cast iron flying into a cupboard and bouncing, skidding across the floor.

I surged forward at my brother, pulling him into a crushing hug. “Sora, make some noise, talk next time – I almost took off your head! I didn’t know if the Organization had found me somehow, and I thought you were one of them…” I trailed off, my eyes still wide with the fear of what I had almost done.

Aerith, who had come in behind Sora, put a hand on my shoulder, her face still a little pale. “Roxas, dear, we made sure that would never happen. You should have realized this.” She breathed deeply for a second, then a small smile settled on her face. “But now that that scare is over, it’s time to reintroduce you to the outside world.” She held up a bag. “Everything you need is in here.” Sora snickered as he eyed the bag, and dread pooled in my stomach. ‘Oh no…’


An hour and a half later, after much brushing, scrubbing, and makeup-applying, I stood in front of a full-length mirror in the hallway, staring at my new reflection.

Aerith did really have a magic touch. I mean, I had always known I had a girly figure, but…

I was wearing a long, floor-length ocean blue skirt, the flowing fabric swirling around my feet. I had a loose sleeveless shirt, a brilliant white, with a chestnut cord around the waist for decoration. The fabric sat in such a way that it created the illusion of a female chest, wide hips, and a skinny waist. On my feet was a pair of simple brown flats, the same colour as the cord belt.

My gaze went to my face. I didn’t have any acne, so Aerith hadn’t wanted to use any heavy makeup. A mixture of dark browns and blues covered my eyelids, and I had a sheer gloss on my lips. My blonde hair was hidden, covered by a wig – a deep chestnut colour, almost black, it fell past my shoulders to the middle of my back. There were bangs, cut straight and low enough to cover my still-blonde eyebrows.

I didn’t even recognise myself – I looked like a complete stranger. And apparently Sora thought so too. “Wow. Are you sure you’re my brother? Scratch that, are you sure we’re related?”

I chuckled at his reaction, suddenly grateful for the fact that my voice wasn’t really low – it made it easier to pretend to be a girl. Pitching my voice high, I cocked a hip to the side and smirked at my brother. “So, Sora. How do you feel about having a younger sister?” The brunet looked me over, exaggerating the movements, then pulled me into a hug, giggling.

“Does this mean I can pull off crossdressing? We look almost identical except for our hair.” I giggled at his comment, the two of our voices filling the quiet house until Aerith spoke up.

“I’m sure I can do that for you at some point. After this is all over, that is.”

We all smiled at each other, and Aerith ushered me to the door, my brother following behind.

“So Roxas, do you know where to go?” I shook my head. “Head down the road until you reach the edge of town, then turn left at the first cross street. About a block down is a small Café. You’ll recognize him when you see him.”

I started to question, but she turned me around and gently pushed me towards the door.

I stood there for a couple of seconds after she shut the door, still confused. I tried to get back in, but either Aerith was holding the knob or she had locked it, because it wouldn’t open.

Giving up, I started walking down the road, the loose gravel getting into my shoes. I had no idea how girls could stand wearing flats; I could feel every piece of gravel under the soles, they were so thin.

After somewhere around ten minutes, I reached the edge of town, like Aerith had said, and I kept going after ridding my shoes of all the accumulated stones. I followed her directions, turning left at the first intersection and stopping about a block in, at the entrance to a small café.

“Radiant Gardens”, the sign read, and there were flowers lining the outside of the front, their scents filling the air.

This must be the place she was talking about, I thought as I made my way to the door. It swung open as I reached my hand toward it, revealing an old man with a white beard nearly reaching the floor. Merlin. The corner of my mouth lifted up in a small smile, and I walked in.

Merlin ushered me through the café to a back room, empty except for a single person sitting at a small table, his face hidden by a hood. The sweater was black, and the person was wearing black skinny jeans with red converse.

When I walked into the room, the figure stood up, revealing his height. The person rushed forward and pulled me into a hug, and I almost fought it off, except a familiar scent permeated my senses. I returned the hug, pulling Axel closer to me, burying my face against his chest. “Axel,” I said, my voice breaking.

I had spent the last few days going over the many “what-if’s” of the plan, images of Axel hurt, or worse, actually dead, spinning in my head. I felt tears prick the corners of my eyes, and I fought back a sob. “I – I kept thinking everything would go awry, and that you’d be dead by the time I came out of hiding…”

Axel chuckled and pulled back, holding me at arms-length. “You honestly think I’d die that easily? And leave you to live without me?” Although the top half of his face was in shadow, I could feel him looking at me. He lowered his hood, proving me right when I saw his green eyes burning into mine, a mixture of humour, happiness, and longing in them.

I blinked a few times, noting Axel’s change in appearance. His fiery red hair was slicked back into a low ponytail – seriously slicked back, not just a little bit. The strands shone in the low light of the room.

I could tell by how he was standing that he was favouring his left side, presumably where Cloud had stabbed him. There was a faint sheen of sweat covering his visible skin, testifying to the pain he was in, an I felt a wave of sympathy go through me.

It also took me a bit, but I finally figured out what was so different – his purple tattoos, reminiscent of teardrops, were gone. Well, not necessarily gone, merely covered in a thick layer of makeup. I had a feeling Aerith had done it, since I could barely make out the evidence of any cover-up. I smiled as I reached up and touched his face right below where I knew the tattoos still resided.

“you look so odd without them.” I said, my voice hushed. In the back of my mind, I noticed that Merlin had left us, closing the door behind him.

Axel kissed me lightly, a butterfly’s kiss, before responding. “Those tattoos had become a symbol of Number VIII. Makes my identity a dead giveaway. Aerith’s researching a more permanent method of hiding them, rather than makeup.” He paused, kissing me again. “I’ve missed you, Roxas.”

I returned the kiss, this time with more passion. Axel seemed the slightest bit surprised, but soon claimed dominance, picking me up and setting me down on the edge of the small table. I wrapped my legs around his waist, drawing him closer, grinding myself against him. We moaned in unison, without breaking our heated kiss. I felt Axel’s hands move from my waist down my thighs, and then he was moving my skirt up – I’d temporarily forgotten about my disguise – running his hands towards the centre of my desire.

It didn’t take long before I came in a wave of white ecstasy, crying out. I quickly returned the favor to Axel, and within minutes, Axel was leaning against the wall, with me in his arms. He was still breathing heavily, just slightly, and I reached up to brush my hand across his cheek over his hidden tattoos.

“I missed you.”

He nodded. “I know. Me too. And I’m going to kill Zexion for this, but he wants us both to lie low for almost another week. Apart.”

I pulled back. “I’m not allowed to stay? And you can’t be moved to where I’m staying?” I frowned. I agreed with Axel on that point – I was seriously going to hurt the slate-haired schemer.

“You are allowed to leave because you have an effective disguise.” He kissed my forehead, over he bangs of my wig. “I wont be allowed outside again for a while, since my disguise isn’t nearly good enough. It will do if someone sees me in passing, but I couldn’t pull off walking the streets until winter, or at least until colder weather arrives.”< />
I frowned at the logic, but stayed silent, burying my face in his chest. I wouldn’t enjoy being apart from Axel any longer than I absolutely had to, but I turned the thought away, instead focusing on the fact that we were here, together, at this moment. We would face the rest as it came.

Chapter Text

Over the next week, I made daily trips uptown, sometimes to visit Axel, but others just to wander and get acquainted with that section of the city.

Radiant Gardens was a beautiful subsection of Hollow Bastion, the main city. Also, being the French quarter, there was a high concentration of French accents. I found that even after a few days, I was already adopting the accent as my own, my words becoming slightly slurred in certain areas and clipped in other.

I had also made friends with one of the French residents, a young girl by the name of Aureole. She was petite, smaller than me, and had waist-length wavy hair, a light silver colour tipped with a rosy pink. Her green eyes were light, the colour of spring grass, and while still beautiful, they were nothing compared to Axel’s striking emerald.

Aureole was soft-spoken, her lilting words quiet, but she had decided to teach me the basics of her language. Soon I could speak simple sentences, perfecting my accent while doing so.

Axel also noticed the change in my speech, and I had responded in a slew of French words. It was then that I found out he had a big weakness for French. Really, I had only spoken random words, talking about a green cat, or something along those lines, but Axel didn’t understand a word of it and just focused on how I sounded. Which ended up with him giving me a blowjob, saying it was my reward for being so adorable.

It was almost noon, and at the moment, I was headed uptown to meet with Aureole again. Aerith had supplied me with a few clothes like the first set I had worn as a “girl”, and I was currently walking down the slightly crowded street in a pale pink dress gathered at the waist, its skirts flowing around my feet.

I nodded at the people passing by, recognising most of them from my times wandering the streets. For the most part, the people said hello in response, and a few tried to strike up a quick conversation.

Then one person caught my eye.

Tall, dressed in a pale pink t-shirt and black jeans, his long pink hair fluffed out around his shoulders, Marluxia walked down the busy street of Radiant Gardens. I quickly looked away, my heart racing. It was time to test just how good my disguise really was.

The flamboyant man didn’t seem to see me at first, but he did a little double-take as he passed by me, turning and setting his hand on my shoulder.

“Roxas? I thought you were dead! Why are you dressed as a girl?” my stomach sank with his words, and I quickly stammered out my cover.

“Roxas? Y-you know Roxas?” The man’s eyes narrowed, and I could see the confused light in his eyes. “Is he well? Where is he? Why did he just leave me? Mon dieu! That boy will be the death of me.” I couldn’t help but slip a little touch of dramatics into my questions.

Marluxia grabbed my shoulders and bent down to my level so he could look me into my eyes. “Who are you?”

I huffed, playing the part. “Ça suffit avec les questions!” I gently removed his hands from my shoulders and took a step back, breathing deeply to regain my composure. “My name is Annette, and I am la soeur de Roxas.”

Marluxia started at the ‘information’ I had just given him. “Roxas has a sister?” I nodded. “Well, I hate to be the one to tell you this, but…” He looked around anxiously, quite obvious in his attempts to avoid eye contact. “Um… he was in a gang. That’s where he disappeared to.”

I feigned surprise. “Mon dieu! But Roxas… He does not like violence… he is a quiet boy… how has he survived this long?”

Marluxia fell silent, and he quickly looked around. Apparently finding what he was looking for, he grabbed my hand in his and led me over to a small café and bakeshop. He ignored my question until we had settled in at a table near the back, out of earshot of the majority of the customers.

“You see… I’m not supposed to talk to anyone about this, but you’re his sister, so you deserve to know.” He leaned forwards, elbows resting on the table. “Roxas was mugged in the street and one of our members saved his life. Our leader gave him the choice of joining or dying, and your brother passed his initiation. He was a good member, strong despite his size. I respected him, although I didn’t try to get to know him.

I blinked in surprise. What was he saying? I thought he hated me – he had had such disdain for me when I first joined, and I hadn’t noticed anything change, but now he was saying he had respected me? I tried to tell if he was lying just because he thought I was my sister, but all I saw was sincerity.

Marluxia continued, oblivious to my reaction to his words. “To be honest, I hated him at first. He hurt the person I sacrificed everything for, just so he could get in, and I let it blind me. I only recently realized that I had come to respect him as my comrade, not long after he –” He stopped himself before he said anything more, and I knew he was steeling himself for having to deal with a crying girl. Which he would get.

“Annette… Roxas died over a week and a half ago, on a solo mission. His body was thrown into a river, so it was never recovered.”

My breath caught at the words. Hearing from them someone else’s mouth as fact caught me off guard, and I felt a slight bit of panic well up in me, though I didn’t know why.

I was suddenly thankful for being a fairly emotional person, as tears welled up in my eyes, spilling over my cheeks. “Died…? Roxas… Mon petit frère… why?” I collapsed on the table, shaking with sobs, and I felt Marluxia’s large hand settle on my shoulder, trying to comfort me.

I felt the tears dry up, and I stood, my face hard. “Who?” I asked, my voice dripping with venom. “Who killed my brother?”

Marluxia shook his head. “I wasn’t entitled to that information. All I know is what I’ve heard on the streets – that a man with spikey blonde hair carrying an oversized sword killed him.” He stood and stared at me for a second, as if waiting for not knowing anything useful. I let the rigidness drain out of my body, legs almost collapsing, and Marluxia rushed forwards to catch me, steering me towards my chair.

“I – I can’t do anything… if Roxas couldn’t, I definitely cannot.” Marluxia frowned at my defeated words.

“Because you are a girl? Just because you are a girl does not mean you can’t fight!” He seemed to be quite passionate about this, and I chuckled sadly.

“it’s not that. I’m a pacifist. I hate to see anyone hurt, despite my occasional temper.” That wasn’t exactly a lie. After leaving the Organization, I wanted nothing to do with violence, and it definitely had killed me a bit every time I had been forced to hurt someone – even if they were dead-set on disposing of me as a corpse.

“oh, crap!” I looked up at surprise at Marluxia’s exclamation.

“What is it?” I asked, my voice still quiet.

He looked at me, his voice sheepish. “I was supposed to meet my cousin a while ago – it’s not your fault, I just get sidetracked so easily.” He blushed lightly, and I was mesmerized by this side of him. He was so warm and open, such a change from his cold indifference an almost anger he had shown me while I was still in the Organization.

“Do you want to meet her? If you don’t have anything already planned, that is.” I met Marluxia’s shy smile with one of my own, and stood up. “I’d love to.” I figured that going over to visit Aureole could wait, since she wasn’t exactly expecting me today.

We exited the café and made out way down the streets. The entire way, Marluxia kept up a steady stream of commentary on his favourite cousin, obviously very excited to see her – something he only got to do a few times a year if he was lucky, he informed me.

We turned down multiple side streets, then finally stopped at a simple, single-floor brick home, identical to the others on the street except the pink curtains hanging in the windows. Marluxia walked up the steps and knocked three consecutive times, waited a second, then knocked again, this time twice.

Almost immediately after lowering his hand, the door swung open, and a petite form flew across the threshold into Marluxia’s arms. The large man took a half-step back, narrowly missing the edge of the top stair.

“Marly! Tu et arrive!” I am so happy; It surely has been too long.”

My eyes widened at Aureole’s voice, and I jumped slightly as she poked her head from around Marluxia, a grin stretching across her face. “Annette! A pleasant surprise! I was not expecting to see you today.”

I smiled at her, still shocked at her relation, and Marluxia turned to me, eyebrows raised. “You know Aureole already?” He asked, and I nodded. “She’s been teaching me French.”

Apparently, it was possible for Marluxia’s eyebrows to raise further, because they did. “Aureole taught you French? I thought you were French. You have the accent of a French-born.”

Aureole spoke before I could. “oh, non, non. She is not French. When I first met her, she was as English as she could possibly be. Not an accent in sight.”

“Then how –”

I cut him off. “I picked up on the accent.”

“Oui – and not even a week later, here she is, with an accent almost as pronounced as mine.” Which was saying something, as I had trouble figuring out what she was saying at times, her accent had come on so strongly.

The petite silver-pinkette gestured for us to come inside, and we did so. I noticed Marluxia give me a funny look as I passed him, following Aureole through the house to her living room. She told us to have a seat, then left to put some tea on.

I sat down on a chair by the window, and Marluxia followed suit, taking a place on the couch.

“So you moved here recently?” I could hear just a touch of suspicion in his tone, and my stomach fluttered in anxiousness. I cleared my throat. “yes. I moved here two weeks ago, just after my mother died.” As much as I hated bringing the woman into the conversation, I decided it was one of the better options for a cover story. In truth, she had been dead for years, but I decided to twist the story. “my father died 2 years before, so I’m on my own now.”

“Mon dieu! Aureole set her tea tray down on a side table and rushed forwards to pull me into a crushing hug. “Ma chère, why didn’t you tell me?”

I smiled at her concern. “I didn’t want you to worry about me.”

She moved over to the couch, setting down beside, who’s suspicious expression had softened exponentially. He shook his head sadly. “there has been too much death lately.”

Aureole and I looked at him. “what do you mean, Marly? Has something else happened?” Aureole’s voice was sad, and Marluxia nodded.

“Larxene was killed on a mission two days ago.”

The information cane as a shock to me. As much as I’d disliked her, I couldn’t see the Savage Nymph of the Organization just dying.

Aureole closed her eyes, a grave expression on her innocent face. “I am truly sorry for your loss, Marluxia. But you know that I have hated that bitch from the moment I met her, and a small part of me rejoices that she is no longer with us.” I was shocked by her words, more so than by the news of Larxene’s death itself.

Marluxia’s eyes looked to the window. “The flamboyant flame-user has kicked the bucket, too, so that’s a plus, I guess.”

I felt a surge of indignance at Marluxia’s words, and I opened my mouth to defend Axel, a stormy expression on my face, but then stopped – Annette was not supposed to know about Axel, and if I was to suddenly come to his defence…

“Marluxia! Don’t be so flippant! You are speaking of someone’s death, a comrades and not an enemy’s! You can’t just say things in that way.” Aureole was very passionate in her telling off the large pink-haired man, and I smiled sadly as she turned to me. “At least your brother is still alive, dear. I don’t know what you would do if he wasn’t. He’s all you have left.”

Marluxia stiffened, and put a hand to his cousin’s shoulder. “Aureole… Roxas is dead. And I just told her earlier, so please, do not rub salt on the wound.”

The silver-pinkette looked between Marluxia and I, confusion flickering in her eyes. “Roxas? Who is Roxas? I was speaking of Sora.”

I stiffened at her words. I should have not trusted her with that information.

“Sora? The one who has been destroying all of the Hearts of Magic he can get his hands on?” Marluxia’s voice was once again suspicious. I nodded, knowing there was no way out of this one.

“Yes, Sora is my brother.”

“So Roxas, the same Roxas who was fighting Sora alongside the rest of the Organization, is Sora’s brother.”


I could see the pieces clicking together in the man’s head, and he narrowed his eyes at me. “You’ve been lying to me, haven’t you, Annette.” This was definitely not a question, but rather aa statement made in all certainty. I swallowed, my gaze to the floor.

“Or should I call you Roxas?”

Aureole gasped. “What? What is going on here?”

Sighing, I braced myself for a fight. “Fine. Yes, I am Roxas. Now, what are you going to do? Report to Xemnas? I’m sorry, but I can’t let you do that. I have too much at risk.”

Marluxia just stared at me from his spot on the couch as I stood up. Then he started chuckling, and my eyed bugged, taken aback by the unexpected response. “What?!”

The pink-haired man doubled over, breaking into full-on laughter. “To think… you’ve been living under the Organization’s nose this whole time – and as a French girl, no less. Brilliant!” He calmed down, finished with his outburst. “And no, I will not report you. Unless you secretly want me to. I’ve been wanting out for a long time now, but Larxene wanted me to stay. And on top of that, the Organization knows where Aureole lives – they will use her if I show even a sign of defecting.”

I relaxed as he paused, then groaned. “Does this mean Flame-boy’s alive and kicking as well?” I nodded, a smile seeping onto my face. “Lovely.” But despite his sarcasm, I could hear the humour in his tone. He might not like Axel, but they weren’t mortal enemies, either.

We spent the next few hours talking, getting to know each other better, and I found out that Marluxia had not, in fact, been dating Larxene – he had actually found the proposition disgusting, but put up with it for Larxene’s sake.

He told me that his parents had adopted Larxene, and before they died, had made Marluxia promise not to abandon her. Marluxia had stayed true to his word; even going against his conscience by joining the Organization after she got in. He had known that if Xemnas had found out about their true relationship, he might have used it against them, so Marluxia and Larxene had pretended to be lovers to cover for them spending so much time together.

Now that Larxene was gone, he just wanted out of the Organization so he could live his live in peace.

When it started to darken outside, I decided it was time for me to leave. I told Marluxia to speak with Zexion. I couldn’t guarantee his escape, but he should at least know who else was on our side.

As I was about to walk out the door, he offered to bring Naminé to see me tomorrow, and I smiled, looking forward to seeing another friend from the organization.

Chapter Text

I sat in the back room of Merlin’s café with Axel, the two of us waiting for our visitors. Zexion had used another random person off the street as a messenger, sending us the message that he would be visiting with a few others at noon.

I looked up at the clock. 11:59. Knowing Zexion…

The second hand ticked into position, pointing at 12, and the door opened to reveal Zexion.

“Exactly 12, to the second. Nice, Zexion.” Axel grinned and slid his arm ever my shoulders as he leant back in his chair, balancing it on two legs.

Zexion stepped into the small room and sat down after pulling a chair up to the table. As soon as he settled down, Marluxia strode in, Naminé close behind. I smiled at the blonde, and she smiled back shyly. “Hello”, she said quietly.

“Hello, Naminé.” At my voice, her eyes widened.

“Roxas? You’re a girl?” I chuckled. Apparently, neither Zexion nor Marluxia had mentioned that my disguise included cross-dressing.

“It’s my disguise.”

She giggled. “It’s good.”

Then someone bounded into the room and draped himself over Zexion, who immediately grunted from the weight. “Dem… get off.”

Demyx whined, then went and grabbed a chair, placing it beside Zexion’s before sitting. “But I want a hug!”

I felt Axel sit up straight, surprised by Demyx’s appearance. “Dem! What are you doing here?” He turned slightly, speaking to Zexion. “Zexion, what is he doing here?” I giggled at Axel’s reaction to his old friend.

Zexion looked at his lap, blushing. “I – we –” Demyx cut him off by planting a chaste kiss on his lips, and the slate-haired teen flushed a deep red – much like Axel’s hair. Both Axel and I gasped in surprise. Zexion and… Demyx? When had that started? I shook my head, overwhelmed. They were so different, I had definitely not seen that one coming.

Zexion smiled shyly at the blonde, then his face flushed an even deeper red as he remembered he was not alone.

“Whoa, Dem…” Axel paused as the scene in front of him registered fully. A grin slowly split his face. “Nice catch,” he said, his tone impressed.

Demyx grinned, eyes shining. “I know, right? I’m so proud I finally got him to notice his feelings for me!”

Zexion gave him a dry look. “more like you finally realised what you felt and decided to make me fall for you – all the science in the world, and I have absolutely no clue how you managed it.”

Laughter filled the room at the comment. We all knew Demyx had a habit of growing on you without you noticing. Whether you initially liked him or not.

Face still burning, Zexion cleared his throat, gathering everyone’s attention. “People. We are here for a reason, and it’s not discussing my love life.”

Marluxia, now standing against the closed door, nodded and set his hand on Naminé’s shoulder, who was beside him. “I agree. We must move, leave here. So we can stop living in secret under Xemnas’ radar.” Zexion opened his mouth to add something, but was cut off by Demyx’s excited cry.

“Yeah! And we’re gonna get out of here, right under moo-moo’s nose!”

Confusion rippled through me at the man’s words. “Moo-moo?” I whispered to Axel. He chuckled. “Xemnas has a special coat. It turns a black and white pattern whenever he uses a specific power. We called it his moo-moo suit, although he would kill us if he ever found out.”

I laughed. They had guts, calling the Superior that, even if only behind his back.

“Anyway. I have a contact that can make your fake identities official. You will need to go back to Hollow Bastion, however.”

My blood ran cold. Hollow Bastion? Organization XIII’s home city? Demyx hadn’t been kidding when he had said right under Xemnas’ nose. “What if we run into someone?” I asked, nervousness setting in.

“You must either hope they don’t recognise you, or fight.” Zexion’s words were flat, blunt. He wasn’t joking around. Running wouldn’t do anything, and we all knew that. “You will leave as soon as we are done here. Speaking of which,” he turned to Marluxia, “you should go now. Make sure Naminé gets out safely at least.”

Marluxia nodded, then turned to leave, guiding Naminé in front of him. Demyx frowned at Zexion. “do we have to go now as well, or can we wait a bit?”

Zexion shook his head, and Demyx relaxed, a grin settling on his face once again. “Yay!” He turned to Axel. “Hey, Ax, guess how I finally won over Zexy for good?”

Axel and I burst out in laughter at the look of panicked embarrassment on the bookworm’s face at the words. “Sure,” Axel wheezed out through his laughter.

“Don’t you dare.” Zexion’s voice was icy, despite the slight quiver. He covered his face, which was once again rivalling Axel’s hair in colour. “Demyx, we will leave right now if you don’t shut up about this.” Axel and Demyx grinned at each other.

“Let’s just say no one really wants to use the baths after what we did.”

I flushed almost as red as Zexion at the implication, and Axel high-fived the water-mage. Which of course led to Demyx being dragged out of the room unceremoniously as Zexion called a hasty goodbye over his shoulder. The door clicked shut to leave me and Axel in silence and the redhead looked down at me, an impish grin on his face. I groaned in exasperation before walking over to lock the door. I really didn’t want anyone to walk in on whatever was coming next.