A New Memory
The next morning, Roxas woke up feeling groggy and disoriented. As he sat up in bed, he began to remember the events of the night before, and a smile spread across his face.
After Roxas had kissed him, Axel had gently drawn himself away and laid down on the platform, looking up at the moon. Still hundreds of feet in the air, Roxas lay down next to him.
Roxas searched his memory, trying to hold on to every detail of what had happened then. They had talked a lot. Well, the more he thought about it, the more he realized that Axel had talked a lot. Roxas had just listened as Axel revealed things about his own past, Reno's past, and the history of the city that surrounded them. Roxas loved every second of it.
The only thing that disrupted this illusion of perfection was Axel's strict determination to avoid the subject of Castle Oblivion. Roxas tried (not too hard, he admitted) to bring it up, but Axel always quickly redirected the conversation. It scared Roxas to think of what could be so bad that Axel felt he had to hide it. However, deep down, Roxas was almost grateful that he didn't know. He didn't want anything to ruin their new relationship, but he couldn't stop himself from feeling slightly uneasy even as he hoped that what Axel said about doing bad things there wasn't true.
Roxas, realizing that his joy was beginning to fade, redirected his thoughts to something more pleasant. He remembered that they had stayed on the top of The Stratosphere until the sun rose. Roxas must have fallen asleep at some point after this, because he didn't remember what happened next. Axel must have brought him back here, he thought, and the grin returned to his face.
Roxas got out of bed and sleepily put on his uniform. Today would be an interesting day. He could tell. He walked into the main room to find out what his mission was for the day – he hoped it'd be easy. He didn't realize until he saw Axel walking toward him with a strange expression on his face that he must look like a total wreck. In his sleepy stupor he hadn't bothered to shower or comb his hair or even look in a mirror. He'd walked here out of mindless habit. He must look ridiculous.
"Rough night, eh?" Axel asked, winking at him. "Come on. You're my partner for today – lucky for you," he added.
"What're we doing?" Roxas asked hazily. He was glad to have an excuse to spend another day with Axel. It was the best possible scenario given how he was feeling. He just hoped he could stay awake.
"Fighting heartless in Beast's Castle. Should be fun. You'll be doing all the work. I'm just there to babysit," Axel smirked. He knew how much Roxas hated it when organization members called going on missions with him "babysitting," which they did all the time.
Roxas groaned and rolled his eyes. He was feeling slightly irritable, but he figured it was better Axel than someone else. At least he wouldn't have to explain why he was so tired.
He followed Axel through a black portal and into the familiar courtyard outside the castle.
Axel looked him up and down. "Are you sure you're up for this? You look so sleepy and helpless…It's almost cute," he said, making Roxas blush, "But we've still got a mission to do. So you're gonna have to wake up a bit," he said as he turned toward the castle, clearly preparing to fight.
Roxas felt like he wasn't functioning properly, and it was rather perplexing to him. He realized that he had never been this sleep-deprived before. Sure, thinking about Axel had kept him up at night, but he'd always managed to fall asleep eventually. This was much worse.
"After you," Axel said, motioning for Roxas to follow him to the castle.
Roxas felt useless. He couldn't fight well because he couldn't concentrate. He knew he was moving miserably slow. After a while Axel seemed to take pity on him and motioned for him to rest in a familiar room. There was a beautiful rose in a glass case inside. It was the only pretty thing in the rather dilapidated surroundings.
"You should sit," Axel said, gesturing for Roxas to take a seat on a couch that faced the rose. Axel sat beside him.
"I feel awful," Roxas said, yawning yet again. He thought it might be a bad idea, but he felt too exhausted to stop himself. He curled up next to Axel, putting his head on the other boy's shoulder. He was happy to feel Axel respond by putting an arm around him. Axel kissed his forehead. It was such a gentle and comforting gesture. Roxas felt like falling asleep, but he wanted to keep on enjoying the moment.
"How are you so awake?" Roxas asked.
"I'm a lot more used to not sleeping than you. That's what happens when you have a guilty conscience."
"You don't sleep?" Roxas asked into Axel's shoulder.
"Nope. Or, not often," Axel said, and Roxas felt him shrug.
Roxas was surprised that he'd managed to get Axel to hold him like this. Something about being so sleepy had put his guard down, and he was willing to do things he normally wouldn't. He couldn't explain it, but it felt really good to be sitting here so close to Axel.
He felt so good that he wasn't even afraid to ask the question that had been bothering him since yesterday. "What did you mean when you talked about Castle Oblivion yesterday? " he asked, "You never answered me." Now that he said it, he realized how afraid he was for the answer. He held his breath, waiting.
"Roxas," Axel said, sighing, "Can we just not talk about it for now?" He sounded tired, as tired as Roxas felt. "I just… please? Let's just sit here together."
Roxas didn't feel like putting up a fight. Maybe Roxas didn't want to talk about it right now either. Maybe what he wanted to do was pretend, just like Axel was, that nothing was wrong – that they were just two people who felt comfortable enough to sit here in silence. Roxas felt Axel lift up his chin and put his lips on Roxas's for a few sweet moments before laying his head back on his shoulder. He never spoke, but Roxas could tell that something was a little wrong. He didn't say this to Axel though. He just stayed in his arms, enjoying the only slightly fractured bliss of being together.
It was dark outside when Roxas woke up again. He was laying on his side, facing away from the couch, his head in Axel's lap. It was dark outside. As he moved to sit up he felt Axel stir and yawn, so he lay back down.
"Roxas, are you awake?" he whispered.
"Yep," Roxas whispered back.
"Can I ask you something serious?"
Roxas paused before replying. "Sure..." Axel's tone made him nervous. It helped that he couldn't see his eyes. He stared at the glowing rose on the table in front of him – it was even more lovely in the dark.
"What happened that night at the bar?"
Roxas's initial instinct was to pretend like he didn't know anything. He wished he didn't now. He didn't want to have to explain it, but Axel's body seemed tense, and his voice was somewhat urgent. Maybe he was scared. Roxas couldn't tell without looking at his eyes.
Axel didn't say anything to help him out so he began as best he could. "You - we - you took me to your somebody's house." Why were they talking about this? It was supposed to be like it never happened.
"I guessed that much already. Demyx can't keep secrets."
Axel didn't offer anything else, so Roxas continued. He wondered how much Axel already knew. "We also…kissed..." This was embarrassing. They'd never talked about the things they'd done before. It was weird to put it into words.
"Did you kiss me or did I kiss you?"
"You kissed me." He wondered where this was going. Why did it matter?
"I thought so," he said. "Then what happened?"
"Well, you took me to his bedroom."
"Christ… Roxas, I know this might be difficult to explain, but what happened next?"
Roxas was so confused. The way Axel was speaking so tensely made this seem crucially important, but Roxas really wasn't sure why. "You pushed me on the bed and -" This was so embarrassing to say. "You were kissing my neck, and…you put your hand up my shirt… and then we heard your somebody come home… so we left," Roxas concluded, glad it was over. He was also glad that Axel couldn't see his face.
He felt Axel sigh. "Roxas, I'm so sorry for that."
"Well, it wasn't that bad," Roxas said, , and he couldn't help but grin a little. He knew he should probably be a little angrier considering the fact that Axel had forgotten about the whole night and said their kiss didn't mean anything the next day, but he'd gotten over it the second Axel had asked him out again. It didn't say much for Roxas's memory or his sense of self-preservation. Was it bad that he had forgotten and forgiven this hurt so easily? The thought worried him, but it was interrupted by Axel speaking again.
"Oh Roxas," he said, in a tone that was both playful and somewhat reprimanding. "Don't you remember what I told you last night? I'm a bad person, and I shouldn't be with you. Got it memorized? You're too good for me."
"Then why did you let me fall asleep on you?" Roxas asked, but he realized that this question was supposed to represent a number of others as well: why did you kiss me? Why did you take me out last night? Why are you making me like you when you think I shouldn't' be with you? He wished he could ask these questions, but he was afraid.
"I don't know Roxas…. Probably because I'm selfish… Plus, you look really cute when you're drowsy," he added, making Roxas blush for the umpteenth time.
"Do you want to go to the clock tower?" Axel asked.
"But we never finished our mission," Roxas protested. Even though he didn't feel like fighting heartless at the moment, he'd never failed to complete a mission before.
"Who cares?" Axel said, using his tone of persuasive nonchalance. Axel could convince him of anything.
"Okay then… let's go."
It was already dark outside when they arrived. Neither of them had spoken much. It was weird to be back in a familiar setting after all that had happened.
"Can I ask you something now?" Roxas asked.
"Depends on what it is," Axel responded.
"I answered your question earlier," Roxas reminded him.
"Well, okay, maybe. Ask me first."
"Do you know anything about my somebody?" It was a risky question, but Roxas felt so comfortable and safe right now. He didn't care.
Axel fidgeted, clearly bothered by the question. "That's the kind of thing I was afraid you'd ask," he said, looking down at the few lights in the quiet town below.
"Can't you tell me anything? " He'd been thinking about it a lot lately. The more Axel told him about Reno, the more curious Roxas got about his own somebody.
"I will tell you one thing, and that's all. Got it memorized?"
"Fine," Roxas said. It was better than nothing.
"You can't tell anyone. Not even Xion, okay?"
"Pinky swear," he said. Roxas looked at him, confused.
"Oh, I forget you don't remember your past. Here," and he demonstrated how to make a pinky promise. "Okay, that's a stupid way of saying that you promise not to tell anyone, alright?" he said, smiling. Even though it was childish, Roxas thought his playfulness was one of the cutest things about him.
"His name is Sora."
"That's all you're going to tell me?"
"Mmhmm," Axel nodded. He could be annoying sometimes. Still, Roxas was glad to know.
"Okay, then. So his name is Sora... It is a he right?"
"Yes, it's a he. Do you know how organization members get their names?"
"Nope," Roxas responded. He'd honestly never thought about it before.
"You take the letters in your somebody's name, and then you add a letter, "x" – wait, do you know what letters are?"
Roxas nodded, he knew what they were, even if he didn't know how he knew.
"So S-O-R-A becomes R-O-X-A-S."
Roxas thought for a second. "Why not… Saxor or… Arsox or… something? Why Roxas?"
Axel raised an eyebrow at him. "Do you really want to be named Saxor?" he asked, sarcastically, but Roxas could see him smiling.
"Okay fine," Roxas said, smiling too, "but if you're somebody's name is Reno… then how did you get the name Axel?"
"Because Reno's real name is Lea…"
"Then how did he get the name Reno?"
"He changed his name when he moved away from home. He shrugged his past off, along with his name, and started over... I only have his memories up to a certain point after that. Now he's making his own, without me," Axel looked thoughtful. "But anyway, we should probably go. It's really dark, and I would hate to keep you up again. Children need their rest…"
"Oh, shut up," Roxas said, both angry and amused as they made their way back to the organization headquarters.
"Seriously though, do you want me to tuck you in?" Axel asked, putting on a mock serious tone as they neared his room. "I think I know a few bedtime stories…"
Roxas rolled his eyes. "Oh, come on! I'm not even that much younger than you!"
"You're young enough, Roxas," Axel said, switching to a mildly serious tone. He paused and stopped to face Roxas, looking into his eyes. "We've got to stop doing this," he said, his mischievous smile seeming to indicate the opposite.
Roxas felt the familiar sensation of Axel-induced nervousness as they stood facing one another, completely silent.
Axel moved closer to Roxas and unexpectedly drew him into a hug. Roxas had decided he really liked hugs when Axel pulled away from him and put a hand on his face. "Night Roxas," he said and kissed him on the nose.
It was such a silly thing, but it made Roxas smile.
Axel smiled back. Roxas felt drunk on happiness. They were both acting a little unlike themselves, but Roxas couldn't say he didn't like it. It was kind of new, kind of fun for a change. Not like some of the depressing conversations they'd had lately.
"I'll see you tomorrow, k?" Axel said, preserving the huge smile on his face.
"Okay," Roxas said, as he left the dark hallway and turned on the light in his room. It wasn't until he was in his pajamas and laying under the covers of his bed that his smile faded slightly as he remembered the thing Axel still hadn't told him. The thought of Castle Oblivion lurked stealthily in the back of his mind, and even as he tried to crush it with the memories of today, he couldn't shake the feeling that because of it, these moments of carefree bliss couldn't last forever.