~Friday December 10th~
To be honest I'm not quite sure what Axel is thinking. That man is a series of locked books; all I'm allowed to see are the covers. Thinking about him, I realize that I don't know a damned thing about him and his “Guardian Angel” past. Then again, I must admit I don't expect him to tell me anything about his time in Heaven – or – wherever. But now that he's become so distant in such a short time... I'm not quite sure what to do about it. He didn't say so much as a word the other night when he walked me home and now not being there this morning.
I just don't know anymore – but I refuse to be left in the dark.
Sighing, I stand from my desk. I straighten my black, button-down shirt and tuck pieces of it back into my light gray jeans. I pluck up the long, jet-black jacket from the back of my chair and hurry into it. Fear crawls up my spine but I shove it away; I have a plan now and I'll be following through with it no matter what that demon has in store for me. I stride out of my office and give a small nod to Sora, who waves back, before striding to the front door where I glance to Squall to let him know I'm leaving. He rolls his eyes and shoos me away with the flip of a hand.
Those two... more than what I asked for when I expected to have to hire help. I'll have to remember to thank them.
The taxi I had called for prior to leaving idles by the curb, waiting for one Zexion Shiki to slip inside. Once in the backseat I give the older man the address and he pulls off into traffic immediately. During the drive I occupy my thoughts with Marluxia. Very rarely will he not be around in some form or fashion, but recently I haven't felt so much as a hair of his presence. All the more reason to have the prick of paranoia that's been aggravating me so. I've been expecting him to appear behind me every time I turn a corner.
Slowed to a stop I reach forward and hand the man the money, rushing to get out of the car. I can barely shut the door before he drives away, leaving me standing before the stairs leading up to the apartment Axel lives in. As I take my time in climbing up the stairway I find myself remembering that he lives with others as well. It'll make thing difficult if someone other than Axel answers the door.
A sigh brushed over my lips and I tug my jacket closer around my frame. In front of the door, that I clearly remember running from, I give a solid knock against it with chilled hands. The wait between the knock and the door possibly opening is agonizing. Disappointed remains high when the door opens and blue boxers meet my view. A pale hand reaches up from the thin waist and scratches the back of his head.
“Right, Zexion. Want to come in?”
“Actually, I'm just here to see Axel.” My hands choke each other as I wait for him to break the silence – to tell me there's no one by the name of Axel that lives here.
His raised eyebrow relaxes as he yawns. “Figured you would know more about his location than I would. I haven't seen him for a few days.”
“Thank you anyways.”
I turn to leave when his voice picks back up. “If he stops by, want me to let him know you're looking for him?”
A wave of my hand is all I give him, “Whatever suits you.”
He didn't ask who I was. He knew. Marluxia wasn't anywhere around, practically nonexistent. Something is wrong – very wrong. It's like the calm before the storm.
~ Squall Leonhart~
Sitting in the passenger seat to Zack's car I can't help but feel a little anxious to get to work for some odd reason. These past few days have been a slice of happiness I didn't know I could have in my life. From going to being stuck with that evil man to living with someone – well – to living with Zack... a good week so far. Even as he pulls up along the curb outside of my workplace he leans over the console. Still trapped by the seat belt, I can't go anywhere as he kisses my cheek. “I'll pick you up okay?”
A nod is all he gets followed by the shutting of the car door as I hurry to get out. As he drives away I can still see his grin. Wanting to get out of the cold I hurry inside to see Sora and Zexion standing by the front register. “What's going on?”
Sora splits away from the conversation and begins back to his section. “Just be careful Zexion.”
“Be careful about what?”
Zexion cuts his eyes over at me and I can see the irritation in them, although I'm sure it has nothing to do with me. “I have an appointment to be at this afternoon and I won't be back. Also, Demyx has a 'gig' and won't be in today.”
Leaving me to hang my jacket up on the rack, Zexion retreats to his office like I to my stool. The hours seem to pass without any hitches save for the few costumers that venture in until noon finally arrives. I lean back against the wall and debate whether or not I'll go out for lunch, but my thoughts vanish as Zexion rushes out the door with a glance my way. I shoo him along and return to my thoughts until Sora appears in front of me. His smile bright and eyes even brighter. “Are you going out for lunch today?
“No, go ahead and go Sora.”
“Want me to bring you anything back?”
“If you don't hurry, the break will be over before you can get back.”
That seems to propel his mindset straight to food – sending the young brunet straight for his jacket and out the door with the jingle of the bell above it. Shaking my head with a small smile I realize that I'm rather happy with my job.
Until now that is.
Cloud stands before me in all his golden glory. Dressed in his usual attire of black corduroy pants and a heavy jacket, over what has to be a white long-sleeved shirt, he's as handsome as always. Pale as always, he's clearly unaffected by the cold since no color dares to touch his face. The blond angel walks around the counter as I find my back to the window, not daring to lose sight of him. “What?”
“I...wanted to apologize.”
His voice drops to a mumble. “I've disobeyed my orders by staying away from you. But my being near you I'm disobeying who and what I am.”
I raise an eyebrow at his riddle. “You're crazy.”
“Because I care.”
Taken aback by the bluntness of his words, I don't see him coming as he tugs me forward by cupping my face in his hands. Leaning forward, but not so much as to tip the stool, Cloud keeps his lips pressed against mine. I push at Cloud and he backs away almost instantly, not pushing the matter further. “What are you doing?”
“Trust can be a funny thing, can't it?” Cloud moves away and back toward the door, no sound coming from him until the bell above the door rings. “I'll be there if you need me.”
Just as Cloud leaves and the door shuts, I turn back around on my seat – frustrated. However, his words leave my thoughts at the sight of a certain dark-haired man walking past the store. His crimson eyes glance inside but they seem to avoid me, looking only for the one person I know him to visit – Sora. Seeing as he's not here, the man puts his hands back into the pockets of his navy jacket and continues walking. I take a deep breath and slip off the stool, grabbing my jacket along the way as I head out the door. I fish my keys out of my pocket and lock the door before hurrying to catch up to him.
With hardly anyone out on the street at lunch time, the man glances over his shoulder. As he does I almost mistake him for the one woman that meant more to me than anyone. The way his short, deep brown bangs fall to the sides of his face resemble her so much that I find myself lost for what I was going to say. He turns around completely with what I can almost call reluctance. “You want to talk.” He knows exactly what I want – how I don't know, I can only nod. “Follow me.”
His deep voice acts like a collar, tugging me along behind him as he leads me to a small restaurant. I barely take notice of it as we get inside and retreating to a table in the far corner with no one around. Sitting down I turn my eyes up to lock onto his, the warm air thawing me out of my frozen state. “Do you want anything to eat?”
“Right, you want to talk.”
“Who are you and-”
He holds up a hand to stop me. “I already know your questions. My name is Vincent Valentine and I'm an acquaintance of Sora's. Yes, I know all about you Squall although my father would like to meet you when you have the chance.”
“What makes you think I want to meet him?”
“He's our father and our mother was Lucrecia. Unless I happen to have found the wrong Squall.”
“Who are you?”
Vincent leans back in his chair, clearly patient. “Lucrecia vanished five years into my life, leaving our father, Grimoire, without any indication to where she was. I do know that she was pregnant with you at the time and she married Hojo since she was never officially married to our father. Although neither of us know of why she went. I doubt you know why.” Reaching inside of his jacket, he pulls out a business card. “Think about it. Call me when you have free time and I'll let Father know.”
Plucking the card up from the round wooden table, I watch as he stands up. His red gaze lowers down on me as he walks by. “You're not living with Hojo anymore are you?”
“Glad to hear it. I expect a call soon.” Vincent leaves without another word – leaves me with all of the thoughts surrounding my mother, especially now that I apparently have not only a real father but a brother.
Walking out of the store I give a glance back at Squall, looking a little more zoned out than usual. Sometimes I wonder what goes on in his head, but I know I won't get much out of him if I ask. He's a little stand offish. Which is why instead of worrying about it I head straight to the place where I usually get my lunch, Land of the Dragon. I don't get far when a chill runs up my spine. All of my attention shifts to the alleyway to my right, glancing down it to see a flash of blond.
My body locks into auto-pilot as I round the corner, lunch and work forgotten. My feet slap against the pavement as I run to the end of the alley, fighting to see my brother again. Yet as I get to the end where it splits to the right and left – there's no one but me. Everything seems to be still around me as I stand in that intersection. The buildings cast shadows down upon me and I find myself struggling to breathe.
I'm just grieving... I want to see him so I did... my mind is trying to comfort me, but it's only playing tricks.
Biting back the pain and tears I turn back around, ignoring the feeling of the familiar presence of my brother behind me. I begin to walk away and only stop once I'm back at the front doors to the store. I didn't even realize I had been gone that long, even though the walk is a little ways down the street. Reaching for the knob I realize soon enough that it's locked tight and stuff my pockets. My hands retract from their places inside the pockets of my rather thin black jacket, reminding myself to buy a new one, and fuss with the keys to find the one that opens the store. I barley feel the keys as I slip the right one into the lock and hurry to open the door, to get out of the cold. In doing so I drop the keys to the ground, stepping over them and turning around to pick them up. Just as I do, long fingers lift them up to me.
“Is everything okay, Sora?”
I choke back any sort of weakness and fumble for some words, any words, to say to Squall as he stands before me. Dropping the keys in my hand, I let him in and shut the door. “Ah... yeah, fine.” The older man shrugs and heads back to the register, only stopping when my voice slowly finds itself. “Hey...”
Squall glances back at me. “What is it?”
“Do you... believe in all the paranormal or supernatural things?”
He seems to think for a moment before moving to settle down on his seat. Leaning one arm on the counter with his head on his palm he sighs. “Anything is possible Sora.”
“I'll remember that.”
Looking at him I notice something different, like this lunch break just changed something important about him. Suddenly, he appears tired and concerned – not like the young man he really is. All I can do is head back to my own counter and count the minutes till I can go home, maybe even see if Riku will be there. But Roxas still weighs heavily on my mind, just not enough to wipe the slight smile from my lips.