Even today, she arrived with a black portal on the roof of the Clock Tower, that was situated in the quiet and peaceful-looking Twilight Town. Roxas was the one who had showed her this place some time ago. Here, she had begun to trust Axel and consider him as a real friend, after it had been Roxas's idea to introduce Axel to her, a few weeks ago. Fortunately, it had been a smart move of her.
She saw that the beautiful place was deserted. She concluded that she was the first one of the three who had arrived there. She would wait for them. Her mission, which had been with Saïx today – much to her dismay – had been a pretty easy one.
She had been able to capture many hearts, as was her job, as well as Roxas's. It was the Superior's order to do so. Saïx had RTC'd quickly, without paying further attention to Xion, and she had gone to Twilight Town when he left. Roxas and Axel had their mission together today. It would probably take a while before they would come here and join her.
Her thoughts were roughly disturbed when she suddenly felt a certain darkness near her. Her eyes scanned the area to her right intensely, as if something dangerous could appear there at any moment. Not far from her, a black portal had appeared.
She heard a faint click-clack of shoes against the ground. Someone wearing a dark cloak slowly walked out of the black portal. An Organization outfit. The person was taller than Roxas and Xion, so it had to be Axel. When the figure took off his hood and revealed his face, Xion saw that her suspicions had been right.
"Axel," Xion stated, giving him a small smile.
"Good evening, Xion. Did you have to wait long?"
Xion briefly shook her head.
"No, not really. I arrived here just a few minutes ago."
"That's good, because it would be downright rude to have a young lady wait for so long. At least, that's what they say."
Xion he did not ask who exactly he meant by "they." Axel had quite a habit to say remarkable things at times. She was pretty much used to it now, but there still were times when she didn't get him at all. She guessed that would never change, for old habits die hard...or something like that.
Axel extended his hand towards her and handed her a frozen, light blue object. She recognized it immediately. Sea-salt ice cream, her favorite flavor. It actually was the only flavor she had ever tried, but she wanted to stay that way. This was something special, which she only shared with her two best friends. She did not want to ruin its special taste by eating something else. Nothing could be tastier than this, anyway.
Axel had once told her that there were certain substances in the ice cream which made you addicted to it. Just like drugs. Or cigarettes. Or even sugar, for there were some substances in it so you could get addicted to sugar. It was the same principle. Even Demyx, number IX of the Organization, had that problem. He was, after Axel, the most cheerful member of the Organization. Axel had even suggested that the inventor of the sea salt ice cream, a Mr. Scrooge McDuck, had done that on purpose so he could make extra profits. And Xion just knew he did make enormous profits. Perhaps the sweet taste of the delicious ice cream could be explained by those substances.
Xion took the ice cream and looked confusedly up at him. Axel looked back at her unashamedly. "Uh, Axel?"
"What's wrong?" he asked curiously, when he saw that puzzled look appearing on her face.
"Shouldn't we be waiting for Roxas?"
Normally, Axel always waited until their little group would be complete and then he would give everyone the delicious and addicting ice cream. Why was he in such a hurry today?
"Roxas had to go see Xemnas. He said I should go to the Clock Tower without him, so you wouldn't wait that long. The ice creams will melt if we wait too long, anyway. I don't know when exactly he'll come over here, you see, so I figured out it was better to start eating it without him. I just hope he'll be back before his ice cream melts, it'd be a waste otherwise, right?"
Xion's face fell as she wondered what Xemnas wanted from Roxas. Had he done something wrong on the mission today?
Axel noticed it and reassured, "It's nothing to worry about, really. I'm pretty sure it's the same reason why you had to visit him yesterday. This is about your second mission, conquering hearts."
"Oh, okay," she sighed, relieved. Axel came closer to her and sat beside her. He let his legs dangle over the edge, just like Xion, while his bright green eyes focused on the fascinating sunset. Xion always had found his eyes to be the most impressive part of his face. They were even more remarkable than his fire-red hair. His eyes looked like shimmering green emeralds...or maybe green marbles. It depended on the lighting.
She turned her attention back to the beautiful vista that surrounded her. From here she had a good view of the town. If she looked close enough, she could even see a small tram in the Tram Common. It looked like a tiny snake that slowly moved away from her.
"Hey Xion, how about making a little bet to kill some time before Roxas comes?"
Xion slowly tore her gaze away from the sharp orange-colored tram and looked at Axel. He had a small, almost invisible smile on his lips. Or was it a smirk? Xion didn't know for sure.
"A bet?" she repeated, confused. What did he mean by that?
"Yes, a bet," Axel started to explain, "Both people say a statement, or something else. One says that it's true, and one disagrees. If one person wins, then the other one has to give the winner a gift, munny for example. Got it memorized?" Every time he said his catch phrase, his eyes would shine brighter than ever. Xion nodded sheepishly.
"It's actually a fun way to get rich. So what do you think, shall we make a bet or do you have objections?"
Xion thought about it for a short while and weighed the pros and cons against each other. It seemed to do no harm to her. But one thing was still bothering her. If it couldn't harm her, then why was Axel grinning as if he was planning something pure evil? And why did he have that special twinkle in his striking green eyes? She finally decided to trust him, something that she assumed real friends did.
"Okay. What's the bet, anyway?"
"I bet that the word 'WINNER' is written on my stick and that yours will be empty. Are you okay with that?" he asked calmly.
That was quite a remarkable - not to mention peculiar - bet, but Xion decided to play along. He couldn't be cheating with this one, right?
"Yes, let's do it. And what do we bet for? I don't have so much munny anymore, I just bought something from the Moogle in the castle."
Axel's grin, smile, whatever it was, grew a little wider, so his shining white teeth became visible to Xion.
"Hmm, that doesn't matter. If you win, then...you get 150 Munny from me," he decided.
Whoa, 150 Munny? That idea surely sounded very attractive to her. She could use that money very well, especially now that an economic crisis was going on in all worlds for some unknown, but probably dark reason.
"That doesn't sound bad," Xion agreed, "And uh...what if you win?"
"Then... I get a kiss from you."
She had sincerely hoped that this wouldn't happen. His words rang in her head several times; Xion's dark blue eyes widened with pure shock almost immediately, and her stomach leaped. Was he being serious?
"A - a kiss?" she stammered, caught off-guard.
Axel could see the surprise on her face, but there was something else, something he had no name for. He couldn't quite put his finger on it. It was odd in many ways. Maybe he had just imagined it. "Yes," he said, "I guess I don't need to explain what that is?"
Xion could tell that he really was enjoying himself, just by the melodious tone of his voice. She blushed slightly and shook her head slowly again. Axel looked at her with an amused expression on his face. She realized that she couldn't go back, because Axel would tease her for the rest of her life...or afterlife (for she had no heart anymore)...whatever.
However, she had agreed to have that bet. It would be cowardly to back out now, right? She certainly wasn't a coward! And it really was not true that a small part of her actually wanted to kiss him... right?
Besides, who said she would lose to him? Luck would be on her side today, it was clearly revealed in the mission this morning. Everything had gone very well. She had never gathered that many hearts before. And if she lost the bet...well, then she could always throw the stick away, right off the edge of the tower…Though it may be possible that Axel then would just teleport himself down to retrieve the "proof," since he really was that strange sometimes. Well, actually all the time, but you got the idea. She took a few shaky deep breaths.
"And what if we both have a WINNER stick?" she asked, "Or what if there's nothing written on both sticks?"
Axel thought about it with a small frown. Within seconds, the huge grin appeared on his face again.
"Well, if we both win, then we should both give each other a present, and if we both lose, then we won't give each other anything. Simple as that."
Simple as that? She truly wished it could be as "simple as that," but it certainly wasn't. She gulped. "Very well, then," she said, "I guess we'll find out soon enough." Although she'd rather not.
They continued eating in silence, both absorbed in their own thoughts. Xion didn't know what to hope for. She tried to eat her ice cream as slowly as she could, but soon - far too soon – it started melting. She had to hurry up, much to her annoyance.
She looked at Axel from out of the corner of her eyes. He was almost finished with his ice cream. He had a content look on his features. It almost looked as if he actually wanted her to kiss him, but she had no idea why on earth he would want that.
Somehow, something felt terribly wrong, though. Why did Xion have the strange feeling that Axel knew who had the WINNER stick? Was that why he had started this stupid bet, because he knew he would win anyway? It would explain a lot of things, such as why he wanted to give away 150 Munny just like that, for example...
Xion jumped at his sudden cry and almost fell off the Clock Tower. She glared up at him.
"What? I see no WINNER written on your stick," he stated, pointing at Xion's now-clean popsicle stick. "I guess I really am the big winner today. No Munny for you."
Xion's eyes became as wide as saucers. She started to look pale, the color disappearing from her face. This could not be true. She looked at her stick. It was blank.
"First show me your stick," she demanded.
He did what she ordered, and surely enough, the word WINNER was clearly written down it, in large black capital letters. No! Xion thought. No, no, no! He started grinning, hearing her defeated sigh, while leaning closer to her.
"Well? What are you waiting for?" he asked. "You still haven't given me the gift. I thought that was our arrangement?"
She blushed even more when she heard his whispered last word. Why was she feeling this confusing...feeling? As if she was very nervous, but it also felt... good, in a very strange way. Had it something to do with Axel's antics?
"What? I uh..." She couldn't come up with some good excuse, so she really had no choice. She quickly leaned closer to his face and pecked him on the cheek – before he could even blink, let alone say something. She then sat upright again. Axel was just about to comment on her flushed cheeks when another black portal appeared. This time it was Roxas – He had finally arrived.
"Hey there," he said, stepping out from the portal. "Sorry I'm so late, but Xemnas kept on nagging me about...nothing, saying that I should hurry up and what-not. He's pretty good at that."
Axel just nodded and silently handed him the ice cream he had saved for him. Roxas took it, sitting between his two friends. Xion looked away quickly, too scared of what her eyes could be telling him.
"Did I miss anything?" he asked, looking from the blushing Xion to a still smirking Axel, who suddenly lightly touched his left cheek with two gloved fingers. A small frown appeared on Roxas' face, wondering what had happened in his absence.
"Not much. We just finished our ice cream and I had the WINNER's stick. That's all," Axel explained very matter-of-factly.
"Oh," he said. Roxas couldn't read anything from his friend's face, or his eyes. Xion looked at Axel again, clearly wondering why he hadn't bothered to tell Roxas everything. Axel winked at her when their eyes met. Roxas didn't notice the gesture, because he was looking at Xion too. "Xion, are you alright?" Roxas asked, concerned.
Xion gasped softly and looked at Roxas. He looked a little worried, a frown on his face. Xion managed - with some difficulty - to smile at him.
"Yeah, never felt better."
She punched herself inwardly. Why did she have to say that? Why couldn't she keep some things to herself, like normal people did? She didn't dare to look at Axel now, because she just knew that his smirk had grown even wider. That was, if it was even possible.
"So how was your day?" Xion asked hastily, changing the subject.
Roxas started to tell her about his day. Xion just couldn't help but glance up at Axel a few times, who had put on a neutral expression again. She always looked away quickly when their eyes met. The corners of Axel's mouth would twitch upwards, as if he smiled a little. Roxas seemed to be remarkably oblivious to this fact, though.
In the meantime, Xion had become sure of one thing. She would never again have a bet with Axel...ever, no matter what the prize was.