Axel from KH with fire

Day 8: Promise

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Implied/Referenced Sex Below

Created as part of the 8 Days of Axel Challenge
Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6Day 7

“Hey, Ax,” Demyx started, bright-eyed and energized from the moment he woke up. It was still kinda weird, seeing his hair unstyled in the mornings, but… Well, whose fault was that? Not like his mullet thing was going to stay overnight anyway, but Axel definitely wasn’t helping matters. “You got hair gel ‘round here?”

“Yeah.” His stretch turned into a point as he sat up, giving up on getting any more rest. “Second drawer in the bathroom,” Axel explained and swung his legs out from the bed as Demyx trotted to the bathroom.

“Gotcha,” the musician chimed, disappearing into the bathroom. How he got up and dressed, even half dressed, so quickly was beyond Axel. Took him a good few minutes to find his pants to put into the hamper, never mind get a new pair.

Then he followed Demyx to the bathroom, leaning in the doorway and crossing his arms to watch the lean, slightly younger man style his hair. There weren’t a ton of Organization members Axel could trust not to kill him overnight, and even fewer in that group who Axel would climb in bed with. More than once.

“You know I’m using you, right?” Piercing green eyes met wide, aqua ones and a beat of silence passed between them.

“Huh?” Such a way with words… Geez. Luckily, he was better with his sitar. Axel sighed, standing up out of his lean and gesturing with one hand in the other man’s direction. He didn’t want to think of him as more than that right now.

“We don’t have hearts, Demyx. Any feeling we get outta this, it’s a memory.” Axel let his mind wander just a little, a chuckle breaking up the heavy thoughts. “A damn good one! But just a memory.”

And right away, there was that sad smile as Demyx took a break to look his way. His face was always so sincere, so expressive, even around Saïx and the rest. How did he do that?

“Not for me.” Demyx sighed, looking back to the mirror and running his fingers through his hair to style it just the way he wanted. “But hey, whatever you say. Doesn’t change a thing for me.”

“You serious?” Had to say it, he was surprised. Axel figured that would be the end of talking, smiling, and… The rest of the stuff he did with Demyx. “I told you, I’m using you.”

“Yeah, I heard you,” he came back with a laugh like Axel told a joke instead of a hard truth. Man, oh, man. Where did this guy come from? Demyx kept it up as he washed the gel off his hands.

“A memory of a feeling becomes a heart, Axel. I’m telling you, we do too have hearts. We just gotta remember,” he explained, and that brat tapped his temple, giving Axel a sunny smile. “And I’m okay being used to help you remember.”

“Demyx, that’s…” He shook his head, laughing drily and trying not to grin. Axel brushed it off with a wave of his hand. “That’s stupid.”

“But awesome!” Demyx beamed, nodding for emphasis and standing tall. More accurately, he at least stood up straight for once. “You’ll get your heart back, Axel. I promise! And if you love me with it, great. If you don’t, I get it.”

He shrugged, eyes shining with a really unfair level of hope. He really was helping Axel to remember what it was like before. Being a person. “What’s to lose?”

“Come here, you idiot,” Axel said, putting his arm out and Demyx did just what he was told. Even with just memories to go on, Axel knew how to kiss with sinful skill– and that was the bare minimum he could do for Demyx after a vow like that.

Sure, they might fail spectacularly. Hell, it was almost guaranteed to backfire one way or another. But it’d been a long time since Axel felt anything but a queasy twist in his stomach or an empty, hollow void that scared him.

Whatever came of this, Axel would pay the price twice to hear Demyx promise him a heart again.

Lea in KH3

Day 7: Reunions



Created as part of the 8 Days of Axel Challenge
Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 8

“Ienzo,” Lea called as he went into the computer and science lab or whatever they were calling it. “Dilan! Aeleus?” Not a peep from anyone, not even a disgruntled sigh from Dilan. Figured he at least earned that from making a nuisance of himself for years and years. He took a few steps into the place and the door whisked shut behind him. Lea spared a passing glance to computer screens with charts and graphs plus lit-up floors that he was pretty sure had lights for dramatic effect instead of any real purpose. “Anybody?”

“Pretty sure you can’t go past three guesses.” That voice — Lea turned around and ended up eye-to-eye with someone he’d… Almost forgotten. Gold eyes, typical mullet-style hair, those ridiculous shoulder pads that made Demyx feel just a bit better about his smaller frame, and a warm smirk even now. Half himself, and it was still enough to cut right through to Lea’s heart.

With everything else going on at the Org, Lea got caught up in it all. His heart squeezed at all the memories he’d tossed aside and his stomach churned in guilt. Like he needed more of that. Demyx, he changed everything back at the castle. Before Roxas, Xion, betrayal, and schemes were all he had.

The two of them spent their scarce free time together. Walking some beach, hands clasped and cloaks forgotten. Sand in his shoes but Lea didn’t care when he could always boost his spirits with a surprise kiss. They didn’t have hearts, but they had each other. Should’ve been enough. Man, was he ever going to stop leaving people behind?

“Hey, easy now! What’s with the look?” Demyx put his hands up, uncertainty flickering in his gold eyes. “Don’t go all ‘Flurry of Dancing Flames’ on me.”

“Demyx, I—” Have no excuse. When Saïx poured himself into his work with the Org, you came around and became my friend. Soon, you were more than that. Couldn’t have been fast friends with Roxas and Xion if not for you. And I just left you. Lea wiped the heel of his hand across his eyes.

“Wait, wait.” Demyx carefully came towards him, hands reaching out. What was he even doing down here? Lea couldn’t totally bring himself to do more than guess. Maybe he’d just been sitting in a corner and waiting for someone bossy to catch on, just like back at the castle. “You crying?”

“No,” Lea lied, clearly. He sniffed, fighting back more tears. “Just didn’t expect you, you know?”

“So you started crying, uh huh,” Demyx teased and sauntered over, dropping a hand on Lea’s shoulder. Their eyes met again, but staring into that gold wasn’t doing him any favors. It didn’t have to come to this. If Lea’d done things differently, if he’d stopped to think, then maybe… Demyx just smiled and made a rolling gesture with his free hand. “You don’t gotta lie anymore, right? Not to anyone these days. So why bother?”

Demyx wiped away another tear as it fell, the smooth glove gliding over his cheek. Just like that, his smile turned sad and Lea closed the gap between them. Held him tight and felt the surprised gasp on his neck. Slowly, at least for him, Demyx put his arms around Lea too.

“I’m sorry, Dem,” he choked out, his voice thick. “Never meant to leave you hanging like that.”

“Coulda gone with you too,” Demyx answered, squeezing him close like this was his last chance. “But I chickened out. Look where that got me, right?” His laugh reverberated through his chest into Lea’s, pulling him back into memories of lounging side-by-side on shorelines and grassy fields of worlds no one was assigned to. That was all it took to jog his memory and still, he forgot when it wasn’t right in front of him. “We all screwed up. Just gotta figure it out together this time.”

Lea on clocktower KH3

Day 6: New Friendships


Created as part of the 8 Days of Axel Challenge
Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 7 | Day 8

He laid down on the edge of the clocktower, the sun having set ages ago and his ice cream long gone. Lea had the popsicle stick in-hand — not a winner — and stared up at the moon overhead. It was really late. Kairi and the others were going to start worrying if they weren’t up to their eyes in worry already.

“Speakin’ of,” Lea said, smiling at the moon and gesturing at it with the popsicle stick. “You’d really like my new friends, Isa. And don’t give me your attitude, either, y’know it’s true.”

He gave a light laugh at the imaginary exchange. Nice as they all were, none of his new friends were really gonna get this. They were putting their groups of friends together again, bit by bit, and they probably weren’t gonna face ‘em down at the endgame. Alright, Aqua and Ventus might. But he wasn’t sure their take on Isa and he wasn’t about to go around opening old wounds.

“I get the feeling you ‘n Aqua would talk for ages. Philosophy and strategy and whatnot,” he kept up with his train of thought. “Betcha she’d kick you into next week too.” Lea gave another laugh, watching a thin cloud trail in front of the moon. “I wonder if Ventus ever told her about you and me. I almost won that match, remember? ‘Course I did.”

From where I stood, the only thing you drew was a big L on your forehead for loser, lame, laughable…

“Yeah, yeah. You and I, we just remember it differently.” Where did these one-sided conversations and bittersweet trots down memory lane ever get him, anyway… Better than nothing? Better than just — sitting around and missing him? Lea sighed, sitting up and tapping his boot absently with the stick. Not like he was gonna keep it anyway, since it was a loser too.

Which would you rather suffer the loss of — some make-believe friendship, or a real one?

“Geez, you weren’t kidding,” he answered. “I’m really suffering here without you, Is’. The new friends are great, don’t get me wrong. Never once tried to up and kill me,” Lea joked, shaking his head. “But it just makes me notice the spot you left even more.”

Axel KH358/2 on the clocktower

Day 5: Outfits


Created as part of the 8 Days of Axel Challenge
Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 6 | Day 7 | Day 8

The air was a little cold on his face, and Lea groaned. How long was he asleep? Why were these lights so bright, even with his eyes shut? He lifted an arm that felt like lead and dropped it over his eyes… And a leather bell sleeve flopped over his face.

Just like that, he was awake. The room was insanely white, and all the other beds lined against the wall were empty. It was just him in here, but why? Where was here anyway? It looked a little like Ansem’s place in Radiant Garden, but it wasn’t. Not a chance.

Lea threw the sheets back, stumbling out of the bed on shaky legs to the door. He twisted the handle and pulled, but it was locked. “Damn it!” Lea kicked the door, a dull ache running up his leg.

He rested his forehead against the door, thinking. Which wasn’t really his usual go-to. Lea figured he’d feel something first or at least at the same time. Angry or scared to be trapped and worse, he was alone. Where was Isa? That should’ve worried him. He knew that, and he felt nothing.

He turned around, tugging at the black cloak that he definitely didn’t remember putting on.

“Creeps!” Who knew if anyone even heard him. He looked around the room again, trying to pick out something, anything. Not a window in sight, and the machines by the beds in here were way out of his league. …Looked pretty important too.

Lea sighed theatrically, shoving his hands in his pockets as he sauntered over to the nearest machine. “Not gonna let me out? Fine. See where that gets ya.”

He shoved the device over, the wheeled stand rolling a bit before tipping and crashing to the ground. Lea’s laugh blended with the noise and pieces of it spun off across the tiled floor. Normally his heart would pick up the pace a bit just from the risk of doing that, but once again… Nothing.

“Oops,” he deadpanned. Then the door swung open by one of the Radiant Garden guards dressed in that weird cloak too. “Aeleus?! What the hell? ‘S this because we kept breaking in before? Not funny, man, not funny at all.”

He crossed his arms, shaking his head at Aeleus and just got a steady gaze back. Figures. Never was one to talk much.

The bear of a man looked over his shoulder, maybe checking for backup. That would get messy fast, so Lea was glad when he looked back to him. “I’m Lexaeus. You’re Axel.”

“What? I’m Lea, L-e-a.” He never got tired of this gesture, tapping his temple and leaning forward. “Got it memorized?”

“You’re not anymore.” Didn’t even miss a beat. If this was a joke, he was really committed to it. Betcha Braig put him up to it.

“I already said it wasn’t funny,” Lea mumbled, glaring at Aeleus now. Lexaeus, apparently. He worked with Even watching over that kid, Ienzo, so he had to have a spot spot for kids and all the guilt-inducing tactics that came with. “Where are my clothes?”

Lex entered the room and stood up close, so he pretty much had to stare Lea down. No way he was going to back down from that, though.

“Gone. Everything is gone.” His deep voice almost echoed in this tiny room, and the way he said it, Lea— almost kind of believed him. “We are in Organization XIII. And I’m Lexaeus, Number V. You’re Axel, Number VIII.”


“You already know something is off. You have no pulse. None of us do.” He put one of his massive hands on Lea’s shoulder, but his expression was just the same. “Lea and Aeleus are dead. Radiant Garden is gone. We are all that remains and we should not exist.”

“Who would believe that?!” He smacked Lex’s hand away, stepping back and waiting for the panic to kick in. To feel his blood rushing in his veins and the anger to rise up. But when he snapped again, he didn’t feel anything. He talked with his hands, he scowled at the brute, and he hit all the right notes. Not a bit of it was real. “I’m right here! Now gimme my stuff back, take me to Isa, and get outta my way!”

He went to push his way out, and Lex held him in place. If Lea’d really been mad, he might have missed him slipping something into the cloak’s pocket.

“It’s the truth, Axel.” He nodded once, curt and stern. They weren’t close or anything, but it felt like a hint to cool it. “Once you accept it, you can join Saïx, Number VII.”

Lea put his hands in his pockets angrily, huffing for dramatic effect. His hand brushed against the tatters of his old scarf. So that was it. Aeleus was Lexaeus now and clearly wasn’t supposed to hang onto this at all. Something Organization XIII told him he couldn’t do, probably. Past was the past, names and world and all. And if he was Axel now, then Isa was— “Fine. Whatever. Take me to Saïx.”

Lexaeus nodded again, turning without a word and leading the way out. Axel followed, shoving the scarf deeper into his pocket.

Thanks, Aeleus.

Lea in KH3 Endgame

Day 4: Flame Liberator


Created as part of the 8 Days of Axel Challenge
Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7 | Day 8

The Keybearer Tower wasn’t the most welcoming place ever, but at least it had some color to it. And people who weren’t in various stages of trying to kill him. Lea sat in one of the usually empty rooms in the tower, getting some R&R, when a familiar face walked in.

“Well, well,” Lea greeted him, smirking, “If it isn’t Riku. Come to check on my progress to Keyblade Master?”

“Something like that,” Riku said through a laugh. Gotta say, it was good to see him happy for a change. They met at kind of rocky times in both of their lives… And they both had to learn to put the past behind them, he figured. “How are you doing?”

“Huh?” This wasn’t a casual ‘what’s up’, if Riku could even ask a question lightly. Lea shrugged. “I’m fine.”

“Lea,” Riku scolded him warmly, like a friend. Guess they were friends, huh. “Kairi told me you started crying out of nowhere.” Crap. Lea scratched the back of his head, self-conscious and caught red-handed. Didn’t even slow Riku down. “She says you want her to call you Axel.”

No way outta this, was there? Kairi meant well, just like Riku did… So this is what it’s like to have friends with hearts. Almost forgot. “Ah, right. You’re here about that.”

“So.” Riku crossed his arms with a friendly smile. “I’ll ask again. How are you doing?”

Lea looked at his hands, sighing. Couldn’t this just a regular social call instead of all this heavy talk? “You ever think about how Keyblades get their names?” Riku watched, patiently waiting for the rest of what he had to say. A kid this young had no business being so smart, really, but here they were. “Flame Liberator. Got one thing right, I have a lot of people to save. Most of ’em, I put in an icky situation personally.”

“That’s right, you did.” Lea snapped his head up, surprised. He didn’t have to say it like that, not with that calm smile still on his face. ” And you’re here now to help them out.”

Oh, so that’s where this was headed. Lea sighed, leaning back and propping his feet up on the chair across from him. Yen Sid wouldn’t like that, probably, but hey. What the old man didn’t know, right? “Yeah, we’ll see how well I hold up. Haven’t exactly been lucky with that, if you haven’t noticed.”

“Which brings me to my next point.” Riku sat down next to Lea, leaning forward to rest his elbows on the table. He looked like he was passing off somber news, the bad day-wrecking kind, and Lea wasn’t sure he wanted to hear it. “This isn’t just about saving them, Lea.”

Lea drew back, frowning at Riku. What did he take him for, anyway? “I know that! Look, if you think I’m gonna put myself first—”

“I know you won’t.” Riku spoke over him to be heard, not quite yelling, but it got Lea to shut up. For now. “That’s what worries me.” He rested back in the chair, crossing his arms again. With tells like that, he’d be terrible in a game against Luxord. “Mine was ‘Way to Dawn.’ I had to find my way back so I could help those I’d hurt.”

Lea was starting to figure out where he was going with this, but Riku was on a roll already. “Punishing yourself for the past isn’t the way to liberation, Lea. This is about penance.” Riku stood, resting his hand on Lea’s shoulder. A little awkwardly, had to admit, but hey— he still meant well. “Accept your mistakes. They brought you here, to a place where you have the strength to protect what matters.”

Lea’s heart sank. Strength to protect what matters? He wanted to think he had that now and Lea thought he’d been putting up a pretty good front so far. His gut twisted in a nasty little knot at how much he’d botched this already and everything on the line now. If he screwed this one up… He clenched his hands into fists to get himself out of his head. Nope, he didn’t need those upside-down tears anymore. No way. “It’s more than just that, I— I wasn’t just not there. I did a number on them, Riku. All of ‘em.”

“But you’re here to help now. You’ve learned from what you’ve done.” Riku took his hand away, stepping back. “If you don’t forgive yourself, Lea, they’ll never get the chance to.”

That… That made a lotta sense. Maybe there was something behind the names of the Keyblades after all. Lea smirked again, waving Riku off. “Alright, alright, I hear ya. I’ll free everyone, then.”

“Even yourself.” Riku tilted his head, a glint of a bad idea lighting up in his eyes. Didn’t take long to recognize that look and know they were all in for it when he saw it on Sora’s face at the same time. Riku breathed a laugh. “Got it memorized, Lea?”

“Hey, hey,” he sat up straight, jabbing at Riku playfully. “Get your own line!”

Axel with chakram from Kingdom Hearts

Day 3: Training



Created as part of the 8 Days of Axel Challenge
Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7 | Day 8

Axel fell back, breathing deeply, swinging one chakram in his hand and staring Xaldin down. Out of all the top-ranking members, you’d barely see this guy at all. He was a one-size-fits-all sort of Organization member — intel, combat, magic, recon, you name it and Xaldin took care of it. And he usually did, if he wasn’t here trying to catch up on sleep. He was a busy mother hen and the fact that he was training Axel one-on-one in combat was probably somethin’ special. As much of a heartfelt gesture as any Nobody could muster, anyway.

“Focus, Axel!” Xaldin’s voice boomed across the white-and-grey (and now a little red) training room, a lance whipping across the room with the full force of his wind magic. “There are no breaks in battle.”

Axel pushed himself out of the way, smirking and launching a chakram at Xaldin as he dodged. A lance blocked it, Axel called it back, and another two lances came at him — it was all a blur, a real whirlwind. Xaldin sure knew how to live up to his title.

And his promise. An enemy will not hold back on you. Neither will I. Training with me will be outright combat that will only cease when you land a hit. Knowing this, are you certain you want to proceed?

Axel didn’t have much of a choice. If this scheme of Saïx’s was gonna work, he’d need a capable extra hand. Had to be someone who knew about that girl in Radiant Garden, someone he could trust. And who could that be but his old best friend? If Axel was useful to the Org, he’d be useful to Saïx. And it’s not like he had anything better to do, right?

He had more than his share of scrapes and bruises from this ‘training’, but he was kind of having fun. Or something like it. He and Xaldin never did much together in Radiant Garden outside of constantly kicking him out of the castle and less confrontational chats during his painfully short apprenticeship under Ansem. But he’d always been a what-you-see-is-what-you-get guy. None of the cloak and dagger act he found at every corner in this place, just a simple, honest fight. And Axel couldn’t help but notice that Xaldin wasn’t hovering as high off the ground as he’d been when this all started.

“Just me, or are you starting to flag, Xaldin?”

Xaldin chuckled, barely audible with all this wind, and three lances tailed Axel that time. He only just knocked two away, dodging the last in a close call that left another scrape behind. Crap, Lexaeus was not gonna like sewing all this up. “What’s the matter? Hit a nerve?”

“Enough!” Xaldin rushed on the wind to bring the fight to Axel, which was just what he wanted. Axel guarded himself with the chakrams and set off a bunch of small bursts of fire nearby to wreak havoc in the air near them. Totally a blind guess, but hey, he wasn’t exactly winning this match as much as holding Xaldin off. Worth a try.

Lances clattered to the floor, no way to tell how many, but Axel took his chances. He jumped forward and slashed at Xaldin, narrowly grazing him as the beast of a man pulled himself out of the way with wind. A less impressive attack than Axel wanted — and probably a deeper cut than Xaldin really would’ve preferred.

Then it all stopped, just like he promised. Axel’s breath came with a lot of work but Xaldin looked like he could keep this up for at least another 30 minutes. Man, oh, man he was a tank. Axel couldn’t lie, it was pretty rewarding to know he’d managed to land a blow on their first training match.

“Well done, Lea—”

Axel recoiled just a little, eyes wide. Did he really just say that? Xaldin sighed irritably, shaking his head. A dark corridor opened up behind him and without another word, he stepped back into it.

BioQuest: Future

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He waited patiently for her answer, but first came a soft smile she couldn’t resist– this was right from the stories she’d read again and again in the tower. Maybe he wasn’t a knight and this wasn’t a paradise by any stretch, but… Her heart swelled with joy, her face was warm, and she nodded. “I’d love to, Jack.”

He smiled back and wrapped in her a gentle hug that she returned instinctively. Whatever happened in Rapture, Elizabeth could never regret the choice to date Jack. No matter what.


Booker cleared his throat behind them, smirking from the clinic doorway. “You’ve got a strange sense of timing. Sullivan will be here any minute.”

She turned around, breaking off the hug to hold Jack’s hand instead. “We’d better get inside, then.”

Jack squeezed her hand gently, his smile taking on a distantly sad air. “How’s Diane handling it? Ryan being here, I mean.”

Booker sighed and shrugged. “Not well. Better than Ryan, who’s trying to turn it all around on her as a traitor to him and Rapture.” He scoffed, shaking his head. “That’s when Tenenbaum and I had to drag her off him before she knocked his head off.”

Looking at Jack, searching, Booker ventured a question of his own. “How’s Jolene?”


“Rattled, but she’s alright. We’ll keep in touch,” Jack wrapped up quickly, stepping towards the clinic door with Elizabeth at his side. To his credit, Booker followed after them without prying… But Elizabeth could tell already that discussion wasn’t over.

What do you want to do, Elizabeth?

Read the next chapter.

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Lea in KH3 on clocktower

Day 2: Emotions

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Created as part of the 8 Days of Axel Challenge
Day 1 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6| Day 7 | Day 8

Lea spent a ton of his time lost in thought once he was back to being — whole. Recompleted, they called it, but that didn’t feel quite right. There were these gaps in his memories where he knew something was missing. It’d be real nice to know what it was, but ‘course it was never that easy.

Not like he just had to that to think about. There was this icky storm of feelings he’d been without for years and years, and every day brought something new to think about. Kairi talked to him about how they might be able to bring Roxas back, which meant they could do the same for Naminé if any of it even worked. All he could say to her was “I guess so.” Hope was a lot to, well, hope for.

He’d died twice already, and Lea just wanted to set things right this time around. There was some guilt and regret from everything he’d done in the past. Then there was that bit of hope and right on its heels was the fear of being hopeful. All of it worried him on top of the whole mess!

But things had finally turned around once Ventus was back. Lea really started to believe he was actually up to the task this time. Late, sure, but still. Having hope wasn’t as scary for Lea as it’d been in training with Kairi — after all, things were going his way now. Seemed like as good a reason as any to go celebrate another chance.

So that’s how he ended up on the clocktower, three popsicles in hand, watching the sunset and apologizing again. And to someone who wasn’t even there, but whose fault was that? “Well, Roxas. I should’ve been there for you by now. But here we are.”

“Shouldn’t you say goodbye to your real home?” He knew that voice anywhere, but he looked anyway. Saïx. Isa? Lea couldn’t fight the surprised, even hopeful gasp. ‘Course, that kicked up a whole hive of emotions all over again. Dammit, Isa.

“Why…?” There is was again, just when he was starting to get a handle on all these emotions. The hurt that he would come here, now, to do whatever he was scheming — it hurt more than Lea wanted to come to terms with.

But Isa just had a seat, calmly and naturally like this was his living room and not his old spot. He crossed one leg over the other, locking eyes with Lea. “I’m not here to fight. Relax.” Deftly, he snagged an ice cream from Lea, who grumbled as it slipped out of his hand.

“Hey!” He swiped after it, but no luck.

Isa tilted his head one way and the ice cream in the other, studying him with gold eyes Lea wanted to recognize. Or maybe he didn’t. Ugh, this was impossible! “You can’t eat all this. Why did you buy three of them?” Lea sighed, looking down at the ice cream in his hands as Isa continued. “One for Roxas… and two for good luck?”

Lea turned away, hearing the soft, crisp sound of Isa taking a bite into the sea salt ice cream. “I don’t know. Because I felt like it, okay?” More things he just didn’t have answers to. The empty spots in his memories that made him feel like he had to do things that didn’t make a lick of sense. Lea scoffed, turning that frustration on Isa with a frown. And he’s just eating Lea’s ice cream like it’s nothing. “Why are you here?”

“Got it memorized?” He even mimicked the lilt of it a bit. And that made it all worse. “Back when we were still friends, we used to sneak into the castle.”

“Yeah,” he responded, regret bleeding into his voice. ‘Back when we were still friends’, like it was all over now. If this was to answer Lea’s question, this was gonna be a big one. Not something he was sure he’d like.

“And we made a friend there, a girl. We apprenticed to Ansem the Wise to rescue her.” Isa told it like a documentary instead of something he knew already. And Lea wasn’t having any of that either.

“Yeah, and we failed!” He jabbed at Isa with one of the ice creams, snapping, “One day, she was just gone!”

Saix turned to him with a bit of something in his eyes, a feeling Lea couldn’t place. Not yet, anyway, and it was gone just as quick as it came. “You gave up.”

His voice was level, like he had nothing more pressing than a passing comment to share. Lea knew that was all for show, right then and there. Isa was telling him about how he was hurting. Because of Lea. After all this time too… why’d he wait so long to say something? Lea couldn’t look Isa in the eye, so he turned away.

“I did not give up.” A shaky breath escaped him, but he cut that short fast as he could. Had to get a grip on this whole ‘heart’ business somehow. “One day, we’re apprentices. The next, Ansem the Wise has up and vanished. The day after, we’re Nobodies. Day after that, we’re doing icky jobs for Xemnas.” The helplessness of those days rushed back to him, and Lea ended up gesturing emphatically with the ice cream at that point, admitting more than he meant to. “I couldn’t keep up with you!”

Might as well’ve just said what he felt from the start. Knowing what that was, exactly, would really help with that. Isa listened studiously, evenly, unreadable as ever through it all. When he replied, it was calm enough that Lea could actually look at him. Isa’s face was distant, his ice cream half-finished. Looked like Lea wasn’t the only one preoccupied.

“Following Xehanort’s Nobody was the only way to discover what happened to her. She was his lab rat.” Isa didn’t look or sound any different, but something was off. Lea didn’t even have to think about it. That was a nice perk to the new feelings, anyway. Time to change the tone of the conversation.

“So? You found her? I helped you rise up the ranks, so I hope it paid off.” He gestured to Isa with the ice creams, casually and almost playfully this time. Sitting here, talking like this was — kind of comfortable. Familiar. His heart warmed up, the indignant anger swapping out for nostalgia. Man, hearts were a lot. It was like they’d never stopped being friends even if Isa just said it in the past tense. He was here, and not to fight. Could it be…? Nah. Had to be wishful thinking. Probably.

From that look on Isa’s face, a faint glare out at nothing, Lea already had the answer about her. “I’m afraid not. Nary a trace.” Isa looked to Lea and for a moment, he really felt — something. “I started to wonder if we’d imagined her. Maybe she never existed.” His voice took on more emotion, layers where it was usually dry and monotone. Even as a vessel, he just more and more Isa as he sat here and talked. ‘Course he’d force his way through that, just like everything else they went up against. “And then, in time, I awakened to a new purpose.” His face steeled over, serious and driven. “I realized I could be stronger.”

Lea scoffed again. All this for that in the end? He couldn’t keep from talking with his hands, ice cream or not. “Well, then, you blew it! Wise up already and just quit.” He really was grasping at straws here, Lea knew it, but his heart was screaming for Isa to come back home. He was here, not for a fight but for ice cream and a chat, and they were talking in truths for the first time in years. It had to mean something. Just had to.

“Face it,” he started, turning to face Lea. “Roxas is just like our other friend. Gone forever.” Even if his expression showed he didn’t really mean it — he was pushing Lea’s buttons to get a reaction, and of course he knew it — it stung. He was gonna get that reaction, alright. Lea squeezed his eyes shut, turning away, pushing the hurt down. “Gone forever. You need to accept that.”

“You wish!” He lashed out, scowling at Saix. “I’m getting her back. All of ‘em!” Lea pointed with the ice cream at Isa again, who just took another bite casually. “Especially Roxas! I’m even dragging you home!” He hadn’t even thought that part out, no second guesses, just said it and meant it. That finally felt right to him. “Complete.” Isa had finished off his ice cream, leveling that watchful gaze at Lea again as he held the popsicle stick out over the town below.

“The marks under your eyes.” He looked at Lea, almost fondly if his gaze wasn’t so distant. “They’re gone.” He sounded — impressed? Surprised? Concerned? Ah, how the hell was he supposed to know what Isa felt when Lea just figured out what he felt?

His eyes widened and wandered, and Lea felt lost for just a second. He scoffed, trying to keep up the spirit of what he just said. “Yeah. Don’t need ‘em.” Lea put on his best determined look and still somehow felt like he was a child again — this time with his childhood friend just within reach.

Speaking through the small effort of standing up, Isa kept on talking. “Always told you they’d stop you from crying. The upside-down tears.”

The memories of that phrase, raw and packed with baggage, pushed Lea over the edge. How he could cut right to his core like that, dredge up all these feelings when he had his heart locked away, Lea couldn’t even guess. “Would you get lost?” He waved Isa away with the ice cream again, shaking melted drops of blue at their feet. He put on a frown, pointing at Isa with an ice cream one last time. “I’ll clobber ya tomorrow!”

And would you believe it, Isa smiled. Even chuckled. Opening a dark corridor beneath him, he held to that smile and look straight at Lea. “I expect no less.” He closed his eyes, almost content, and was swallowed up in the darkness. Gone like he’d never been there, and yet it felt like he’d never left at all. Lea’s heart was heavy — with hope, with remorse, with longing. Lea let out the breath he hadn’t realized he was holding, looking away from where Isa was just standing.

There it was. Sadness. The hollow spot of a friend you missed like crazy. He sighed again, turning his attention back to the sunset. He couldn’t bring himself to eat the rest of these, not anymore. Isa was right again. He couldn’t eat these all on his own. He needed people to share it with and he knew exactly who his heart wanted.

Axel talking with Sora in KH2

Day 1: Traitor

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Created as part of the 8 Days of Axel Challenge

Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7 | Day 8

Man, dusks were such a pain. Axel loosely swung one of the chakrams in his hand, trying to find an out of this. It wasn’t looking pretty for any of ‘em, and someone still had to go and get Kairi from Saïx. “I think I liked it better when they were on my side,” he joked, trying to put a dent in that negativity. Not to much effect.

“Feeling a little regret?” As bright as ever, Sora teased him right back. Axel smirked over his shoulder to that dorky grin that looked so familiar, tugging at his heart.

“Nah, I can handle these punks.” He shook his head and laughed to himself. What a way to wrap this all up. Seemed about right for him, considering everything. “Watch this!”

He leapt right into the thick of them, drawing on the fire always on hand and pushing it through every last inch of himself. Axel strained to keep himself together as long as he could, the roar of the flames mixing with his wordless shout as it all went white-hot for a second. A minute. Who even knew?

It was all quiet for a second. No more dusks, no more fire, no nothing. Then he felt it. Pieces of him, slipping away. And Axel couldn’t even bring himself to sit up.

“Whoa!” Sora’s voice reached him somehow, his footsteps muffled as he ran over. He knelt down and Axel turned to face him. Wasn’t doing much of anything else. All these years, taking in traitors to the Organization — and he was the biggest traitor of ‘em all.

“You’re… fading away.” Real concern in his voice, on his face. Axel felt a twinge of a smile come to his face against his will. He’d forgotten what it was like to be cared about. Or to care about someone else. Roxas reminded him of that, and he chased that down like a shred of light in a dark world. He didn’t realize just how dark until Roxas. And he was willing to throw anything and everything away to have that back.

“Well, that’s what happens when you put your whole being into an attack. You know what I mean?” He scoffed. What an idiot. Why’d it have to come to this? “Not that Nobodies actually have beings, right?” Axel steeled his expression, his voice following suit. Just like the old days taking out Vexen and the others. “Anyway, I digress. Go. Find Kairi.” But it couldn’t last, could it? Never did. “Oh, almost forgot,” his voice softened just a tad. What a mess he’d made of everything. “Sorry for what I did to her.”

To be a traitor was to betray your friends, your country, or your principles. That was the by-the-book definition of it. What were you when the “or” became an “and”? Was there anyone Axel hadn’t turned out to get what he wanted? He wanted to do right by Saïx, so he killed just about everyone at Castle Oblivion. He wanted Roxas back, so he put Kairi in danger — and so many others. And when he did that, he turned his back on Isa — Saïx.

“When we find her, you can tell her that yourself.” So certain everything would turn out alright. Silly. Just because you have a next life.

He looked away, not quite up to facing him for the moment. “Think I’ll pass. My heart just wouldn’t be in it, you know? Haven’t got one.” The dark laughter wasn’t helping the whole fading bit, but there wasn’t any helping that now. Anything that made him feel better now, however terrible, was worth it.

“Axel,” he said, a question lingering in that one word. “What were you trying to do?” Searching for answers like always. Axel wasn’t about to deny him that now.

“I wanted to see Roxas.” Sora moved a bit, but Axel wasn’t about to check his expression. He was getting sentimental as his life left this form that never should’ve been. Frankly, Axel wasn’t sure he could take much more of it. “He… was the only one I liked. He made me feel… Like I had a heart. It’s kind of funny.” But here, he couldn’t fight it anymore. Axel had to look at Sora, regret and nostalgia and longing all mixing into one. “You make me feel… the same.”

No, he was being selfish again. This is what Saïx wanted so badly from him too. To remember what it was like to have a heart, to have a friend, and he betrayed him when he needed him the most. His oldest friend.

The Roxas I know is gone. Fine. I see how it is.

He and Saïx really hadn’t felt much different in the end. But Axel was so caught up in what he felt, what he wanted, he didn’t pay attention to Roxas or Saïx. Some friend he was.

Axel looked down. He’d left everyone behind him worse off than they’d been before, and he had to set it right in the few seconds he had left. Axel’s smile disappeared. “Kairi’s in the castle dungeon. Now go.” With the last of his strength, he lifted his arm and forced open a dark corridor. He just hoped it would stay up — after.

“Axel.” It was the last thing he heard before it all went away. Almost peaceful, really. Maybe there would be a next life. Maybe he wouldn’t mess it up quite so bad.

Braig from Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep

End of the Road, Buddy



Braig knew Dilan’s haunts almost better than his own in the years they guarded that castle from– who even cared at that point? The black spaces in Braig’s memories were getting pretty damn big these days, and he had a bad feeling about what that meant.

Exit Braig, enter Luxu, and who would ever believe him if he tried to warn them? As if he’d be that lucky.

“Dilan,” he called out to his old friend while Dilan stepped through the castle gates towards the city itself. They had shifts and time off, but it meant nothing to that overachiever. Braig knew he was out on one of his self-determined patrols that no one assigned or needed. Show off. Braig smirked, making his offer. “Looking for a little company?”

Even at a distance, it was clear how much of a difference there was between the two of ’em. They ate the same stuff at the orphanage and the barracks, but you wouldn’t know it. Looked like they fed the weak ones to Dilan.

He glanced to Braig, not exactly smiling so much as accepting his presence, but that was Dilan for ya. “Not quite, but I’ll make an exception.”

“Oh, I’m moved by your generosity,” Braig teased, hopping down from his perch on one of the taller stone walls by the castle. One of his haunts, as it turned out. He fell in beside Dilan, just another day on one of the patrols they didn’t have to do.

Usually, Braig did just about all the talking, but he wasn’t up to it. You’d think with his presence in his own body being a limited-time offer, he’d be all over that shit, but nah. Apparently not. For a good stretch, it was only them walking side by side in silence with the stupidly picturesque sunset that Radiant Garden always delivered.

“What’s wrong?” Dilan broke the silence and Braig looked his way, getting a one-sided skeptically raised eyebrow that wasn’t doing anything to cover the concern written on his face. If these cobbled streets were anything but perfectly level and empty, they’d both fall flat on their faces since they couldn’t be bothered to watch where they were going.

“Huh?” Braig paired that up with his best ‘what’s wrong with you’ look. He could probably blow this off and make Dilan drop it that way, and that was definitely the plan here. The one plan.

“We passed at least three things you could make fun of, and you said nothing.” Well, that plan flopped. Dilan had his smug, shit-eating grin on that Braig could sense in the air if he had to. Braig rolled his eyes at him, but that didn’t stop his friend for a second. “Must be serious.”

“Nah, it’s nothing.” He brushed it off with a vague sweeping gesture. Just Braig’s soul in the balance and he was losing “Just thinking.”

“That’s new.” There it was again, that attitude and arrogant smile. What the hell had gotten into Dilan anyway? Seemed like he was determined to take up the mantle if Braig was gonna slack off. Hell, who was he kidding? He brought out the worst in Dilan and they both loved it.

“Go fuck yourself,” Braig snapped back, laughing. They were quiet again and this time, Dilan just waited. He kept up the patrol gig as usual, violet eyes scanning the safe streets for any danger. Maybe a stray leaf or pebble that erred onto the path, who knew? He busied himself while he waited for Braig to come around, and that bastard was always this patient. Had to be to deal with Braig. He sighed, shrugging, and finally answered. Sort of. “Just feeling lucky. Not like that, you pervert.”

Dilan chuckled, and that was enough of a reply for Braig, at least.

“We came into this world with nothing, and I’m a huge asshole.” That was more of an observation than anything, setting the scene for what he was working up to. It wasn’t much of a goodbye, but it was better than nothing. “You didn’t have to stick with me, dragging me along in a lotta cases. But you did, and I’d probably still have jack shit if not for you.”

That was their first awkward silence in years. Dilan wasn’t a man of a many words, but he sure as shit didn’t hold back. Braig shoved both hands in his pockets and kept a vigilant eye on the other side of the street in a last ditch effort to pretend none of that just happened.

“Are you drunk?” Dilan wasn’t even kidding that time, he really just thought⁠— well, of course he did, Braig was a lovey, two-faced drunk that would hug someone to pick their damn pocket.

“No! You know what, I’m taking it back.” Braig shook his head, kicking himself for even trying this dumb ‘goodbye forever, nice knowing you’ thing. No one was even gonna notice he was gone.

Dilan dropped it there, noticeably less attentive to his route than normal. They were halfway back to the castle now anyway, so Braig just stuck with him. It’d be exactly the same distance no matter what. He wasn’t counting how long it was before Dilan spoke up, but it was a hell of a relief when he broke the silence again. “Thanks.”

“Don’t get used to it.” Braig answered flatly, the closest either of them would get to something heartfelt. Probably for the best. Never could trust your heart. It’d steer you wrong every time.