"Xion, is that you?" Roxas asked. He thought he'd heard someone coming up the stairs to the clock tower, but he couldn't see anyone from where he was sitting.
He hoped it was Xion. He wanted to talk to her. Yesterday she'd asked Axel about Castle Oblivion, and Roxas had waited anxiously for Axel's answer, wondering what he'd say when put on the spot. Axel had disappointed him, only stating that it was a "research facility." He wanted to know why Xion had asked in the first place. Did she know something he didn't?
He couldn't deny that he'd become somewhat obsessed with Castle Oblivion lately. He was sick of avoiding the subject, especially around Axel. All Axel's comments about being a "bad person" were starting to bother Roxas. He was beginning to believe there might be some truth to his statements. It scared him. He didn't want it to be true. All the feelings of doubt he'd been pushing away for weeks were slowly and finally catching up with him.
Before Xion had left them yesterday, Axel suggested they take a trip to the beach together. It had been a long time since he and Axel had done anything with Xion, and Roxas had the feeling she needed friends right now. After Xion left, the words "Castle Oblivion" hung awkwardly in the air. As soon as Axel finished his ice cream, he left Roxas sitting on the clock tower alone without saying a word.
Roxas brought himself back to the present, concluding from all of this that Xion clearly wasn't in the best of shape. He saw her emerge from around the corner, a hand on her face as she brushed a tear away.
"What's up with you?" Roxas asked. He realized this probably wasn't the nicest thing to say, but he'd never had to comfort someone before. Usually when Axel or Demyx started to get emotional they'd laugh it off. Xion was not laughing.
"I'm-" She sobbed again.
"Uh...would you like to sit?" Roxas gestured to the spot next to him on the ledge. He realized how little he knew about what Xion was up to nowadays. They never talked anymore. She'd recently woken up from an almost three week long sleep. Roxas had visited her, but he never found out what had happened to her or why. He wondered if Axel knew. He hated how suspicious he was becoming, but he often couldn't stop himself.
Xion sat down next to him and continued sobbing. He wished he knew what to do.
After a few minutes of watching her cry and attempting to comfort her (which only seemed to make her burst into fresh tears), he awkwardly put his arm around her the way Axel sometimes did for him. She cried into his shoulder with renewed energy and then seemed to calm down. She looked up at him through her tears and smiled slightly.
"Thank you, Roxas. I really"-sob- "appreciate this. Things have been… so difficult lately." She looked at him with a pained expression, and said "I don't want anything to happen to you" before bursting into tears again.
The expression in her eyes concerned Roxas, but he didn't want her to worry about him right now. She clearly had enough to deal with. "Xion, nothing's going to happen. I'm fine," Roxas smiled at her.
"Do you know what's happening at Castle Oblivion, Roxas?" She asked, clearly exhausted. Roxas wasn't sure if she wanted a reply, but when she looked up at him, he decided he should say something.
"No, Xion, I don't. I'm sorry. I wish I knew."
"I have to find out, Roxas. I have to go. I'm sorry," she said as she gently moved out from under his arm, waved lightly, and walked around the corner and down the steps.
Roxas sighed as he watched her go. He felt extremely uneasy. Why was she afraid for him? And what did Castle Oblivion have to do with it? How was she going to find the answers? Roxas wanted to go with her.
"Roxas, what's wrong with Xion?" Axel was here. He had asked with genuine concern, but Roxas couldn't stop himself from wondering if he knew the answer already. The feeling of unease wasn't going away. Axel was making it worse.
Roxas stood up and looked into Axel's eyes. "Axel, what aren't you telling me?" He said cautiously. He didn't want to get into an argument or make Axel upset. He didn't really know what he wanted. Axel stared back at him in silence.
Roxas could feel himself tensing up. The feeling of disquiet was building. He tried to keep his tone calm. "I think you know something about what's wrong with her," he said, trying not to sound accusatory.
Axel was looking at him intently, examining him. Roxas really didn't like it. It was making him uncomfortable. Why wasn't Axel answering him? "I have to go," he mumbled, as he walked down the steps of the clock tower.
"Shit Roxas, I'm sorry," Axel said. He was holding on to Roxas's arm, effectively stopping him from leaving. "Please stay?" he asked calmly.
"Okay," Roxas said apprehensively as he moved his arm out of Axel's grip, a little more sharply than he'd intended. Axel looked hurt and slightly perplexed by this, but Roxas didn't have the strength to apologize. There was too much going on in his head.
"What's wrong Roxas?"
"I feel like you're hiding something from me, and it's been bothering me for weeks. And now I feel like I'm ruining everything. Axel," he sighed, "I just wish you would tell why you think you're a bad person and what's going on at Castle Oblivion so I could just forgive you, and we could forget about it. The fact that you're not telling me just makes everything worse." Axel's beautiful eyes were still making him feel intensely vulnerable, especially after this confession.
Axel smiled at him. "Roxas, if I am keeping secrets, it's only to protect you. You know I wouldn't let anything happen to you-"
"Then why do you keep telling me what a bad person you are and that I shouldn't be with you? I thought we were best friends! You're not supposed to hide things from me, especially when Xion is an emotional wreck! You know what's wrong with her, don't you?" The volume of his voice was rising. He could feel his face getting warm. He didn't like this. It felt too dangerous.
"I-Roxas, it's beside the point. I'm doing what I can. I can't tell you everything. I'm protecting you, I promise" He took Roxas's hand in his own. He was still as composed as ever. "Please believe me Roxas." Axel's eyes were pleading with him. Roxas could sense the same disquiet in them that was plaguing both him and Xion and seemed to be destroying his entire world.
Roxas was on the verge of sleep, but his worries about what had happened today kept him awake. He was afraid that things wouldn't be the same between him and Axel ever again. He didn't even know what was happening to Xion. He felt completely helpless.
Axel had tried to make light of it all. He'd tried to ignore the uneasiness that was building walls all around them, but Roxas could feel it when Axel kissed him and told him not to worry and let him walk back from the clock tower alone.
A sliver of light came from the hallway leading into his room. Roxas sat up in bed and saw the door to his room slowly open.
"Roxas? Are you awake?"
It was Axel's voice. Roxas felt his heart start to pound. The presence of Axel always made him nervous, even now. Actually, especially now. Axel had never been in his room at night before. Oh god. He'd walked into the door. Roxas could see that he was wearing a pair of boxers and a wife beater. Axel was so thin and pale and tall and beautiful. Why was he thinking this now? He was supposed to be mad at him, but he was having trouble thinking.
"What are you doing here?" Roxas whispered, as he watched Axel close the door behind him leaving them both in almost complete darkness.
"I wanted to see you. I didn't want you to be mad at me," he said in his cocky, matter-of-fact tone. The insecure Axel from earlier was clearly gone. "Besides, I thought this might be fun." Even though it was dark and he couldn't see much, he could tell that Axel was wearing one of his mischievous and suggestive smiles. Roxas could feel his defenses weakening, and he wasn't sure if he wanted them to or not.
"Axel..." Roxas sighed out of frustration, and then smiled when he realized he wouldn't be able to stay mad at Axel now. "I wish I could still be mad at you."
Axel laughed quietly, "I've always been good at winning people over." He tripped on something on his way to Roxas's bed and laughed when he got there. He stood by Roxas's nightstand, looking at Roxas but not moving.
"Well aren't you going to invite me in?" Roxas could see the smug look on Axel's face in the blue light from his alarm clock.
"You're terrible Axel," he said, trying to be upset, but he was smiling. Why did Axel have to be so charming?
"You're making me feel cheap Roxas," Axel said, feigning a serious tone. "Do you want me to go all the wayback to my room dressed like this?"
"Fine Axel. You're ridiculous. Just, here-" Roxas said as he pulled back the covers and scooted over to make room.
"Why Roxas!" Axel said in artificial shock "You're not wearing a shirt? Are you trying to seduce me?"
Roxas couldn't help it. He was smiling and giggling and forgetting everything that had bothered him only minutes ago. Axel was too good at distracting him. Why couldn't their whole relationship be like this – fun without any secrets?
"You are such an awful flirt…" Roxas said, throwing a pillow at him even as he was smiling.
"I am not an awful flirt. In fact, flirting is the only thing I'm good at," Axel said as he pulled the covers over both of them and snuggled up next to Roxas, laying his head on Roxas's shoulder and putting an arm across his bare chest, causing Roxas to inhale a sharp breath out of surprise.
"Oh Roxas," Axel said whimsically, "You're so innocent," and he moved his head to kiss Roxas on the cheek. "Goodnight," he said as he moved himself back into his previous position. "As much as I would like to continue this, I think you need your sleep, especially since you're completely useless without it," Axel said.
Roxas didn't really feel like going to sleep at all, especially now, but Axel was asleep within minutes. Roxas moved the hair back from his peaceful face and noticed for the first time just how long his eyelashes were and how the small dark tattoos beneath his eyes contrasted with his pale skin. Ironically, he felt more comfortable in his bed than he had in weeks now that he was sleeping next to the same person who usually kept him up at night.
It was the first thing Roxas heard when he woke up. Was that Axel's voice? He felt extremely disoriented.
"What are you doing in here? For Christ's sake Axel! You're supposed to be protecting the kid. What the fuck!"
"Oh come on Demyx!" Axel replied light-heartedly to counteract Demyx's yelling "Nothing happened. I barely touched the kid," he said putting his hands up in the air. He was standing next to the bed, and his usually spiky hair looked like a tangled mess, but Roxas thought it was kind of cute.
"I know you too well to believe that," Demyx said shrewdly. "It wasn't so long ago you were sneaking into my room…"
"Jesus Demyx," Axel said, looking over at Roxas. Roxas got the feeling Axel wished he hadn't heard that. "I don't want to hurt your feelings, but we've talked about this before. Roxas is different, I promise you, okay?"
Demyx still looked frustrated, but he eventually sighed. "Fine…fine."
"Soo… breakfast anyone?" Axel asked, putting on a winning smile and looking back and forth at the two of them.
Demyx rolled his eyes and started leaving the room. "I'll meet you guys there…"
Axel stretched his arms and yawned. "You know, that's the best I've slept all week," he said as he leaned towards Roxas and kissed him on the lips. "I might have to make this a habit," he said as he stood back up again. "I'm gonna go find something more appropriate to wear. I'll meet you there, okay?"
Roxas nodded. Axel closed the door behind him. A million thoughts entered Roxas's head at once. He didn't know what to do with the future. He decided to take it one step at a time. For now he would get dressed, and then he would go to breakfast.