Pairings: Axel x Namine
Parachute - Kiss Me Slowly:
"Oh, I'm not sure where this is gonna go,
But in this moment all I know
Is the skyline, through the window,
The moon above you and the streets below.
Hold my breath as you're moving in,
Taste your lips and feel your skin.
When the time comes, baby don't run, just kiss me slowly."
It was a small wedding with close friends, family and in Axel's opinion far too many children.
Sora looked uncomfortable in his pale blue tux. Twitchy and nervous
but all but that faded away when he saw Kairi walking down the isle. She was a vision of purity in silk and lace, glowing like a star. When they looked at each other you could see it in their eyes everything else in the world melted away.
The formal clothes, the blare of the organ, the stuffy ceremonies
it wasn't really Axel's style, but looking at the two of them he couldn't help but admit it they seemed happy. He tried to picture himself in Sora's shoes and felt his chest constrict. No. This wasn't for him. He was too erratic, too jaded, too damaged.
Besides, who would he ask?
Pushing away his dead-end thoughts, he wondered absently if the buffet would be any good.
When Axel saw Namine he almost didn't recognise her. She looked so out of place, sitting all alone in a pale pink dress. She'd always loved wearing white. Some long lost memory floated through his mind, quoting social taboos that usually went unheeded. Only the bride got to wear white, and today was Kairi's Big Day.
Axel sauntered towards Namine, noting the forced smile, the way it didn't quite reach her eyes. She wrung her hands together at her lap, the table hiding her anxieties from most of the guests.
A girl in a bright yellow dress reached her first, wrapping her arms over Namine's shoulders and resting her chin on her head. Namine stiffened, but her face never changed. Axel wondered how much practice she'd had at hiding things.
The girl hugged her close and pined, "Come on Nams, you can't stay here. Don't you want to have any fun?"
Shifting her head, Namine looked up at her friend and Axel heard her reply politely, quietly, that same smile wavering only slightly on her lips.
"I'm fine here for now, Selphie. I'll join you a bit later, ok?"
Selphie pouted, but withdrew. "If you say so Nams," She pranced off to the dance floor throwing a wave over her shoulder. "I'll be waiting!"
Axel watched as she waved back, and waited until her friend was lost in the mass of dancing guests before dropping her face into her hands.
"Tough night?" He asked, sinking into the seat next to her.
With a squeak, she shot bolt upright in her seat.
He grinned. "The one and only."
Namine placed her hands delicately on her lap and said "It's been a while."
They talked as the rest of the room whirled around them in a blur of music and festivities, lost in a private bubble of nostalgia and easy company.
She didn't ask about Roxas, and he didn't mention the growing pile of torn paper napkins littering the white tablecloth with blue confetti. And that was enough, for a while.
But as time drew on, Namine grew more and more quiet, slowly sinking in on herself and barely meeting his eyes. Taking this as his cue, Axel rose to his feet and readjusted his tie.
"Damn, didn't realise it had been so long
" He flashed her a smile, "Sorry Namine, seems I've been keeping you to myself." He turned to leave and felt her small hand pulling at the sleeve of his jacket.
Looking down he saw her as if for the first time. Her eyes were wide, panicked almost. They glistened with barely restrained tears. She let go of his arm and her hand moved to cover her mouth as tears spilled free.
" She wiped at her eyes, and tried to force that false smile. "Please stay, it's nothing, really. And it's been nice to take my mind off things."
Axel crouched on the floor next to her, so that his face was level with hers. Moving a strand of blond hair out of her eyes he looked at her and took it all in. He studied every detail; The slight crease of her eyebrows, the pale grey bags under her eyes, almost disguised by make-up, the way her eyes were already changing back to impassive, blank slates
and the heartbreaking lie of a smile caressing her soft pink lips.
He stared at her hard, and said "It's Sora, isn't it?"
Her cheeks flushed, and she tilted her head back, trying to keep her pain from overflowing again. "It's fine. I'm fine. He's
'Bullshit', Thought Axel. 'You're not fine at all'.
He frowned, propping his chin on his hand. He was no good at stuff like this. Demyx was the one for sympathy, and Zexion always had the right words.
Straightening abruptly, Axel said the only thing he could think of.
"Come on, we're leaving."
She shook her head, glancing towards the guests dancing in the centre of the room, oblivious to the broken flower hiding in the shadows.
"No, I couldn't do that."
Axel held out his hand. "Sure you can." It was simple really, when you cut it down. His face was open, honest. Everything Namine's wasn't. He had nothing to hide.
Namine looked from her first love - who had found happiness in the arms of another - to Axel and his easy, reassuring smile. Then, biting her lip, she took his hand and they slipped away into the cold night air.
The wind was cold. Much colder than she had expected. Namine wrapped her arms around herself as they made their way down the empty streets, leaving the music and people behind. She didn't want to complain, didn't know what to say. After so long apart, how had Axel seen through her so easily? Was she that obvious?
She didn't dare look up when a warm jacket was wrapped around her shoulders.
"Thank you." She mumbled, feeling tiny in the folds of the warm cloth. She felt like she should say something. He'd been so kind to her, and she knew he'd had his share of pain in the past. She couldn't fathom why he hadn't just left her at that table, alone and drowning in pointless regrets and impossible dreams.
Axel interrupted her thoughts. "Don't fret." He patted her on the head with a smirk. "It's just a jacket, after all." Namine pulled the fabric closer around herself and felt the knot in her heart ease ever so slightly.
As they rounded the corner, they came across a small stall that was just beginning to close. Axel darted towards it, shouting "Wait there a sec!" and left her standing, perplexed, in the glare of a streetlamp.
He returned, brandishing a thick white headband victoriously. Leaning towards her, he gently placed it on her head. She breathed in the faint scent of his aftershave and thought that maybe tonight wasn't all bad. Axel had seen through her, while the wounds of her lost love were still fresh and raw, the relief of not having to pretend was overwhelming. It washed over her like a warm embrace. She was open and vulnerable, but for the first time in a long time she didn't feel alone.
"There." He said, gently pushing her hair behind her ear. "Much better."
She gazed up at him, eyes crinkling at the edges as a real smile spread across her face. The first genuine sign of happiness Axel had seen all night. "What's this for?" she asked, as Axel decided that the dimples on her cheeks were adorable.
"You always liked white, right?" He asked, as though it was the most obvious thing in the world.
It seemed almost too perfect that at that moment snow began to fall.
They rushed along the street, laughing as their feet pounded on the pavement. The snow fell in soft, thick clumps, slowly coating the dirty world in a blanket of fairytale perfection.
Namine held Axels Jacket close to her body, small flecks of snow clinging to her hair, her clothes, her nose. She looked like a whole new person, with her big blue eyes full of wonder and joy. Axel resisted the sudden urge to kiss her nose, melt the snow and pull her close.
"Come on!" he said, "There's a hotel just ahead." He clasped her hand and pulled her on faster still.
"Wait, wait!" she laughed, slowing him to a stop and clutching his side, "I can't run in these."
Axel tapped his chin thoughtfully with a finger as mischievous glint shone in his eyes.
"Well then. There's only one thing for it!"
With no warning, he bundled her into his arms and lifted her off the ground. With a shocked yelp, she clasped her arms around his neck. Their faces only inches apart, all Namine could see was the green of his eyes.
Then Axel stuck his tongue out at her and the spell was broken. She giggled, and he strode towards the warmth and shelter of the hotel.
Axel nodded towards the doorman as they burst into the foyer.
"Evening" He said casually. Namine smothered another laugh, and pushed her face into the warmth of his neck. Her troubles somehow seemed a world away, suspended in some other life.
They entered the lift and Axel set her gently to her feet. They were both breathing quickly, lost in the childish excitement of the snow, of leaving the mundane and hurtful world behind and escaping to their own adventure. Spellbound in a crystal clear moment, they travelled to the top floor.
The hotel was posh, no doubt about it. Axel surveyed the plush red carpet and whistled.
"Not too shabby a place to wait out a storm, eh?" Struck by a sudden idea, Axel clasped her hand again and strode out of the lift. "Come on, I have an idea."
Namine shook her hand free, and noticed the way Axel looked away, abashed. She took off her sodden shoes and made a show of extending her hand towards him.
"It's ok." She said, embarrassed. "You know
if you want to."
Axel only smiled and lead her through the hotel's winding corridors.
He seemed to be searching for something. After a few wrong turns and backtracks, Namine asked "What are you looking for?"
As if on cue, they rounded the next corner and a massive window was revealed. Outside the snow fell more heavily than ever, magical and pure. And below, the streetlamps glittered like fairy lights. Namine pressed her hands against the glass, looking out at the street completely stunned by its beautiful transformation.
She shivered, and felt Axel move to stand next to her. She couldn't believe the peace she felt, standing barefoot in this strange, new place. Voice soft, she murmured "I was sorry you know
when I heard about Roxas."
Axel sighed, his breath fanning out over the cold glass.
"Hey, it's ok
You can't save everyone, right?" He sounded nonchalant, unaffected, but Namine could feel a deep well of emotion churning under the surface. She knew it was there because she felt it so often herself.
Squeezing his hand, she leaned against him. She pressed her lips together, tasting ice and freedom, and said "I think you saved me
He looked down at her, unable to convey how much he'd wanted, needed to hear those words so many times before. She turned towards him, face a picture of beauty and innocence. He was captivated. The pink lace at the hem of her dress, the stray drops of melted snow clinging to her eyelashes and dampened hair. In that moment she was so lovely that Axel couldn't imagine anyone not wanting her, wanting anyone else.
She sneezed, and he wrapped his arms around her small frame, hugging her tight.
She raised her head and stared into his eyes. "Will you stay with me?" she asked, in a voice so uncertain and small it broke his heart.
She shivered and without even thinking, Axel leaned towards her and closed the distance between their lips. It was effortless, untainted by doubt or fear, as so many things in their lives had been before.
The clouds parted and the moon glowed in the sky above them, as the city lights flared bright and beautiful beneath them. It was surreal, ethereal, a perfect unexpected moment shared by two broken, imperfect people.