Sanity is Overrated

Contemplation in pencil

Chapter Four

Contemplation in pencil

The doorbell went at exactly 12.00. Axel's voice clear over the apartment block intercom. How he got the address was probably a blatant disregard of the Data Protection Act. Reading private details from his vehicle forms.

Roxas opened the door to find the mechanic finishing a cigarette and putting it out against the wall.

A black beanie covered his eyes and most of his hair in shadow.

The grey vest he'd first seen him in was replaced by a white t-shirt and a dark green and blue horizontal zip-up hoodie. Black skinny leg jeans and army boots completed the ensemble that he expected was more for a quick getaway than for fashion.

His heart jumped.

"Sor, our ride's here"

He held the door open as Sora came rushing out, pulling on his favourite black jacket and slammed the door behind him.

Roxas followed Axel across the car park to the road, noticing that he had pulled his hair back into a short but neat ponytail. He looked perfectly normal, but then again they say that serial killers often do.

Halfway to the road, he crashed into Sora, who had just stopped, like a statue. His stare was fixed on a black mustang with red flames up the side and the top down.

Sat in the drivers' seat, looking like he was advertising the vehicle not planning to drive it, was Riku.

Roxas had seen him several times dropping his brother back at the DMV, but not this close up. Damn, Sora had good taste.

"Hey Sora" Riku was twisted around and leaning against the car door.

The youngest twin had gone completely pale and had lost the ability to move or form a sentence.

"Hi"

Roxas snorted noisily at the complete mental spasm.

"Nice car" Sora stuttered

"It belongs to Axel; he let me drive, so he could use the back seat."

He winked and Roxas immediately stopped laughing. Who the hell did this guy think he was?

Axel vaulted the back door and beckoned for Roxas to sit next to him. He obliged cautiously.

"Looks like you are in the front with me"

Sora looked as if he was about to be sick.

Better let me map read then" he said, finally finding his voice.

He made himself comfortable in the passenger seat and grabbed the map from Riku's outstretched fingers.

"Roxy can't do it for shit. Get's us lost all the time"

That was a Sora defence mechanism. When he felt scared he would make himself feel more confident by putting someone else down. He didn't do it all the time, just moments of extreme anxiety and that moment was one of them.

He was also trying to impress Riku, which went without saying.

Roxas spent most of the journey to the mall venting his wrath on the back of his brother's neck as revenge for using the nick name he hated, hoping that his head would explode.

The journey included three stops in lay-bys to look at the map and a detour in the countryside. Riku eventually screeched into the car park, performing a handbrake turn that would have been no good for the car and aggressively turned off the engine almost snapping the key in half.

"Axel is driving on the way back." He snapped in Sora's direction.

As soon as they hit the air conditioned haven of the cut glass mall, Sora and Riku- after a few words to Axel- vanished.

The last Roxas saw of Riku was his silver hair going into a bookstore. He knew exactly where Sora had gone. To the same comic shop he always went to when he was not having a good time.

Roxas and Axel were left on their own, walking through the mall.

"So" Said Roxas breaking the silence "How do you know Riku?'

"I've known him since we were 14. I live with him and his brother Sephiroth"

The only Sephiroth Roxas knew was his old history teacher who scared the shit out of him. He hoped to God that it wasn't the same guy.

They continued walking in silence to the coffee bar at the far end of the mall.

Axel claimed a table and beckoned Roxas to join him. A smile appeared on his face as soon as the blonde sat down. He got up again, returning minutes later with two cups of coffee, and placed them down on the table.

"Hi, the names Axel. I bought you a coffee, ok if I sit here?"

Roxas paused, confused, then smiled to himself.

He took the coffee and sipped it before raising his gaze at the redhead.

"Nice to meet you. I'm Roxas."

Axel reached over to grab the sugar packets he'd dumped on the table seconds earlier, brushing his hand across the blondes as he did so. Roxas' heart jumped for the second time that afternoon.

"Is that your real name?"

"Unfortunately, yes."

"I like it, it's interesting." Roxas blessed the redhead with a half smile "So, do you usually leave your number in stranger's cars?" he said, changing the subject

"You're an exception."

He watched as Axel tore the tops off the packets with his long fingers and lazily poured the sugar before stirring it with a wooden stick.

"How are Sora's driving lessons going?"

A nice unobtrusive question.

"I think your friend's made a few thousand out of Sora by now" Roxas answered absently.

Axel looked confused at the response, then grinned. Then he laughed, cue the tingling feeling that cascaded up his spine.

"That's why he went a weird colour, 'Ku never said"

Roxas stopped laughing. Axel hadn't quite got the gravity of the situation and the explanation for Sora's behaviour.

"You don't understand, Sora has been after this guy for a year. Booked lessons as soon as he knew he taught them. It's not often the guy of your dreams turns up on a blind date."

"I don't know about that."

Roxas brushed off the comment as a first date over share. Not that the date was particularly blind, but that was beside the point.

"You want to know what I think?"

Roxas leant forward, eager to tell his conspiracy to someone who hopefully wouldn't think he was being stupid or childish.

"Go on"

"I think Sora fails his tests on purpose"

The redhead started laughing again

"You know what the tragic thing is?" Axel said.

Roxas shook his head

"Riku, never dates his students?"

Roxas was halfway through explaining a film plot to a none too thrilled Axel when his phone vibrated like it was having a seizure.

He took it out of his pocket and looked at the little screen on the front.

"Sora" He mouthed as he flipped the phone open.

"Dude, are you on glue?" Screeched the voice on the other end.

"I didn't know"

"Like hell you didn't"

"Sorry" He mouthed to the redhead as he went back to the conversation.

"No point arguing with me, you're the one who made an ass out of himself" he said into the receiver.

"This is all your fault; he thinks I'm an idiot"

"I'm sure he doesn't. He went in to the bookstore by the front door half an hour ago, he might still be there. Go talk to him."

"Dude, he hates me. What am I going to talk to him about?"

"The finer points of tapestry." He said in his best sarcastic tone.

Noticing the annoyance on Roxas' face, Axel grabbed the phone and put it to his ear.

"Tell him I sent you to find him. We're at the café."

He handed the phone back to Roxas who flipped it shut.

"You could hear the whole conversation?"

"The whole mall could hear. Is he always like that?'

"Only when he's flustered. Anyway where were we?"

Axel raised an eyebrow.

"Oh yeah, the plot of Gone in 60 Seconds. I can't believe you've never seen it."

Sora and Riku emerged from the glass lift 30 minutes later carrying silver bags. Sora was waving his around, occasionally smacking Riku in the side with it. They were being followed by a group of very unsubtle girls who giggled every time they were spotted.

They dumped the bags at the table and Riku headed to the coffee bar.

"You found him then?" Roxas asked as his brother pulled up a stool to the table and sat down.

"Graphic novel section" He said happily. "I astounded him with my knowledge of the artistic merit of Resident Evil and the size of my Manga collection."

"Then what?"

"He wants to come over and play it some time." He pulled a piece of paper out of his pocket. "And I got his phone number."

"Now you have that, you might have to pass your driving test"

"No problem could have passed last year if I wanted" He said dismissively.

A packet of sugar sailed over the table in Sora's direction, landing in his hair; he retaliated by throwing two that scraped Roxas' face and dropped into his coffee. Soon it developed into an all out war with Axel as the unwilling referee who secretly took sides, sliding sugar packets to Roxas underneath the table.

"The lady behind the counter said to stop before she calls security."

Roxas looked up to see Riku who was holding two mugs and had an eyebrow raised.

"Sor, I got you a latte. Sorry, I got angry."

"That's ok" Sora replied, taking the drink from Riku's hand and bestowing everyone with a blinding megawatt smile.

The megawatt was patented and infamous, created to melt the heart of anyone with one. Not that Roxas was jealous, he could do a way better death glare which was useful if they were in trouble and the megawatt didn't work. Sora in his infinite wisdom and unfortunate knowledge of wrestling called it the 'double team' method.

Sitting in silence Roxas half listened to the conversation that was happening around him. He dug a pencil out of this pocket and grabbed an embossed paper napkin from the dispenser on the table.

No-one noticed, all engaged in watching Axel who was revelling in being centre of attention. From what Roxas could catch is was a story about one of his brothers friends who had no sense of humour. He started sketching, noting the light reflection and the intricate lines of the people in front of him.

"Then Cloud…"

Sora, who had spent the last few minutes staring in rapt attention, stood up. He pointed at Axel.

"Through careful deduction involving appearance and mannerisms and the fact that probably everyone in town only knows one person named Cloud, leads me to suspect that you are in fact Reno's brother."

It was one of the most intelligent things he had said ever, but it was still goddamn obvious.

"Way to go Phoenix Wright."

Axel reached over and gave Sora's hair a condescending ruffle, then leant gracelessly over Roxas' shoulder.

"That me?"

The grey portrait was detailed, showing him laughing.

"That's pretty good"

"It's just a sketch. You can have it if you like."

Roxas passed Axel the napkin, then scrunched up his face before snatching it back from Axel's still outstretched fingers. He looked mildly surprised.

"Hang on"

He scribbled something in the corner then handed it back. Axel looked at it then responded with a smile.

"You can have my number, legit this time."

The sun was low in the sky, pouring orange light through the mall's glass roof.

A voice over the tannoy –which Sora was sure when he was seven was God- concisely and politely stated that the mall would close in half an hour and that everyone should get the hell out.

"Lets get out of here, I have to teach tomorrow."

Riku nudged Sora, who was resting his head on his arms.

Axel threw the car keys to Riku.

"Put your stuff in the car. I have something to show Rox."

Roxas raised an eyebrow at the name, but followed Axel at double speed down the mall anyway. He finally stopped next to a photo booth.

"To commemorate this auspicious occasion, I think we should have a photo taken"

Roxas frowned.

"I want a photo."

Roxas had trouble working out whether the face Axel was pulling was goddamn sexy or downright evil.

"Ok"

The tone was wary. He was by himself without his brother or anyone to protect him from molestation if his date was inclined to do so.

They squeezed into the tight space and pulled the curtain. Axel sat down and beckoned for Roxas to join him.

The blonde gingerly sat on his knees, then felt himself pulled back onto the redheads lap.

"Smile for the camera"

Roxas felt an arm reach around his back and fingers dig into his side. He smiled and the camera flashed.

"Now you're in trouble

He put two fingers up behind Axel's head and waited for the flash.

"Hey Rox"

The movement happened in a spilt second; he was grinning then felt lips pressed against his own. The camera flashed before Roxas pushed back. His eyes open in shock, looking and feeling absolutely terrified. The camera flashed again before he got back his senses and finally moved.

"How dare you" He spat before pulling the curtain back and running towards the car park. Leaving Axel waiting for the pictures alone.

"It was a joke Rox." He called to blonde's retreating figure. The photos quietly processed unaware of the havoc that they'd just caused.

He looked at the photos as he sauntered to the car park, deciding that the short term pain of a pissed Roxas was worth it.

He started the car; Roxas sitting in silence in the passenger seat refusing to look at him or speak any words other than "Take me home"

Looking into the rear view mirror, he noticed Riku holding a CD. Its crystal case reflecting the car park lights.

"What's that 'Ku?"

"Lucifer's Angel."

Axel scrunched his face in distaste

"How can you listen to that?"

"I love those guys."

Roxas was finally speaking. Not to him, but in a conversation involving him, which was something.

"Me and Zex have seen them 15 times. They're playing at the stadium next week. Put them on."

Axel narrowed his eyes. They could be pretty expressive when he wanted them to be.

Who was this Zex? Was this a date?

"I'm driving, so I get first pick. Sora, that do you have?"

"Refrain of Denial." His voice was practically silent, not wanting his favourite band of all time to be ripped to pieces.

Axel perked up. At least someone in the car had good taste.

Refrain of Denial filled the car as they reversed at speed out of the car park, the guitar solo competing with the roar of the engine.

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