A Minor Incident
anobscureflaw

Chapter 2
I hadn't built up my defenses

The days following my birthday were pretty uneventful, much like the rest of my life. Once the weekend was over, I slipped back into my regular schedule: school, homework, food, and occasionally, sleep. Somewhere in between would fall my few hours dedicated to social activities, namely spending a bit of time with Namine or my other friends.

On Thursdays I only have one class, and it's at nine in the morning. After that one class, I'm free for the day to do whatever I want. Thursdays are usually pretty boring. I finish my homework by eleven then have nothing else to do for the rest of the day, seeing as most other people have classes to attend.

Noon rolled around, and I realized that if I didn't make an attempt to cure my boredom, I'd likely go crazy. So, against my instincts, I shut my laptop and pulled my phone out of my back pocket.

Rrrringgg. Rrrringggg.

"Hello?"

"Hey, Sora, it's Roxas."

"Oh hey! What's up?"

"Just wondering if you're doing anything. I'm kinda bored..."

"Say no more! Me and Riku are at the beach, along with some more of the guys. Kairi's here as well. Wanna come?"

I hesitated but went against my instincts. "Sure. I'll be there in an hour."

"Okay, see you then."

We both hung up. I don't know why I decided to call Sora, of all people. Probably because I haven't really seen him all week, at least since ditching him at the club on my birthday.

He didn't even ask where I went. Honestly, I don't think he even noticed.

Nevertheless, I slipped some jeans over my boxers - nothing like watching TV in just your underwear - and I changed into a t-shirt. Then I grabbed my cell phone off of the bed where I put it after talking to Sora, and picked my wallet off of my desk.

Strolling out of the dorm, I walked down the street where the bus stop was. I left my car at my parents' house, as everything on campus is within walking distance and it seems like a waste to buy a parking space if you're never really going to use your car all that much. Still, there were times like these where a car would be useful. Oh well.

I scanned the schedule and noticed that the next bus wasn't due till twelve fifteen, and it was eleven thirty. No way in hell was I going to wait for forty-five minutes just to catch a bus. I zipped open my wallet, hoping that I had enough cash to catch a cab. One dollar, two dollars- ah, there it is. A crisp twenty dollar bill, ready to be spent.

I walked back to the front of my dorm, since for some reason taxis tend to congregate there. They probably wait for the college kids, most of whom don't have cars, to hail them for a ride. It's kind of creepy, actually. You'll look out the window and there'll be two or three cabs just sitting there, waiting, like a lion hunting prey. No, really.

Except just my luck, there's none there today. Probably because it's not even noon on a Thursday, but whatever. I was still pretty miffed because I really didn't want to walk there.

I was tempted to just call Sora and tell him I couldn't make it, but instead resigned to my fate and began the trek, following the sidewalk on the side of the road. I couldn't have been walking more than a couple of minutes when sure enough, I turned my head and there was a highlighter yellow car making its way down the road. I waved my arm frantically, idiotically, and it pulled over albeit a bit reluctantly.

Because really, who wants to be stuck in a car with a complete lunatic?
That's right. Nobody. Except pedophiles.

I opened the door and jumped in there without really looking.

"Where are you- Hey... don't I know you?"

I finally turn my head and it takes a second to place him, but then I recognize him as the guy at the art museum that I met on my birthday. Same deep green eyes, same red hair. Still the glasses, but he's just wearing jeans and a black t-shirt instead of the hippie gear I saw him in last time.

"Axel, right?"

"Yeah. Roxas."

"Yeah."

A bit of an awkward silence followed, but isn't that expected when you're in an enclosed space with someone you know but don't really know?

"That was quite a wave you gave me... I can't say I've ever seen someone hail a cab like that."

He was grinning a sadistic little smirk, with his teeth barely showing and his mouth pulled up higher on one side than the other. I can't say I had ever seen one like it before, or one that I really noticed. Namine was never one to smirk, whenever she teased she just smiled big and bright. They were two completely different smiles.

I'm pretty sure my cheeks tinged pink a bit, though I can't say for sure.

"Er... I really wanted a ride. I didn't want to walk all the way to the beach..."

"So you're headed to the beach, then? Northside or Southside?"

"South." He did a quick u-turn as he was going North instead, since I hadn't told him where I was headed till just now. There was some more silence, and I felt the need to fill it up. "I just got out of class, and I'm meeting up with some friends there."

"Ah, college kid lounging about, doing as he pleases. That's the life, isn't it?"

"I suppose so."

"I wouldn't know." He said, but without a trace of self pity. It was more like a fact than a cry for sympathy.

"Really? So you're not in college...?"

"Couldn't afford it. I never was one for academics, and my family just couldn't pay full tuition without scholarships. I probably could have done the community college route, but that just wasn't for me." Axel said, as I fidgeted with a growing hole in the knee of my jeans.

"Oh... I'm s-"

"Don't say it. I'm not asking for pity or anything, I've just always wondered what it'd be like to be a typical college student." We passed a few apartment buildings in the downtown, more artsy part of town. 'Love Freely' was spray-painted on one of the brick walls. I stared at it till it passed.

"So... what do you do, then?" I asked, genuinely curious.

He snorted slightly. "I drive taxis to pay for my shitty apartment." His face softened a bit though. "It's not so bad I guess. I get to meet some interesting people, and I like driving... I have some kickass CD's that I play, but I have to turn them off when I pick someone up. But as soon as they're gone I pop it right back in."

"So put one back in, then."

"Er, alright. Hey, hold the wheel real quick." I extended my left arm while he grabbed under the seat for a CD sleeve. "What kind of music? I've got lots."

"Whatever says the most about you." I decided without hesitation.

He mulled over it for a second before pulling out a blank one and inserting it into the player. He skipped forward to song number thirteen, and a soft piano began to play.

I listened for about a minute, waiting for the words to start, but they never did.

Honestly, this wasn't what I had expected at all. I was anticipating some rock or indie music, since that seems like the type he'd be into.

"Not what you expected, right?" He asked with that smirk yet again, as if reading my mind.

"No... but it's nice, actually. What is it?" It really was nice; I wasn't lying. It was solely a piano, and the piece seemed to have a lot of emotion in it, like the pianist was just letting go completely. I can't say I know much about music or pianos for that matter, but it also seemed like a higher level of skill as well.

"It's me." I looked at him questioningly, and he continued. "Last year for my birthday my brother decided to get me a session in his friend's home recording studio-type thing. I've been playing for a few years, and I compose my own stuff sometimes too. I recorded this entire thing... it's sixteen tracks. Mostly improved, too."

I was really impressed. "I would have pegged you more for a guitar type of guy."

He grinned. "That's what they all say. I guess I'm just full of surprises."

I smiled back. "So is this track your favorite, then?"

He nodded. "Yeah... I recorded the CD in two separate sessions. Tracks thirteen to sixteen were recorded after... something happened." He seemed to zone out for just a second, but regained focus right away. "So thirteen was the first one that day, and I just completely... let go. Played as it came. It's my best piece."

"It's amazing."

"Thanks." He said, appearing genuinely pleased with the compliment.

We drove for the next couple of minutes in silence, both of us letting the music sink in and enjoying the scenery. Destiny Islands was beautiful, there was no denying it. You could tell the beach was getting closer by the seagulls flying over the buildings. The scent of salt in the air. Parking signs for the boardwalk. People walking down the sidewalks, skateboarding, biking, walking their dogs. A completely picturesque sight.

I noticed that the tension was pretty much gone. Conversation with Axel was easy, it just... flowed. I didn't even realize that we would be approaching the beach in just a few minutes, until my phone rang.

Rrrringggg. Rrri-

I looked at caller ID and noticed it was Kairi.

"Hello?"

"Hey, Roxas, it's Kairi."

"Hey, Kairi. What's up?"

"Sora told me to call. Change of plans. The guys got tired of playing volleyball, they're headed to Tommy's for lunch. But after that, we're going to head back to the beach to swim. So depending on where you are..."

"Actually I'm almost there. So should I just meet you at the diner, then?"

"Sounds good. See you in a few."

"Okay, bye."

I looked over at Axel, looking him in the face fully. His eyebrows were raised questioningly.

"Er, actually, can you drop me off at Tommy's Diner, instead? It's at-"

"Fifth street and Destiny Drive. That's one of my favorite places to eat." Instead of going straight, which was the way to the beach, he took a left onto a side street I've never been down. It must be a shortcut, or something.

"Yeah, it's pretty good." I looked out the window again for lack of anything better to do. Axel remained focused on driving, though I noticed that he occasionally glanced over at me every now and then. A thought occurred to me when I caught his eye during the last of those glances.

"Hey, I thought you said those glasses were part of your indie gear for when you go to art galleries?"

He grinned again, something I noticed he did quite a bit. "The clothes, yeah those were specially for galleries. The glasses, though, I have to wear when I'm driving. I've got pretty shitty vision. If I get pulled over without wearing them, I can get a ticket. It says 'must wear corrective lenses' on my license, and I really can't afford a ticket right now." He seemed to notice he was rambling a bit. "So, in short, I only wear them when I drive."

"Oh, alright then... and what about those tattoos?"

"What is this, twenty questions?" He seemed a bit irked, and I realized it must be a bit of a sensitive subject.

"Sorry..." I said meekly, shrinking in my seat a bit. I didn't do too well with people getting upset with me.

"It's alright, kiddo." Axel said, getting back into his normal mood again.

"Kiddo?" "Yeah. You're what, fourteen?" He smirked.

Indignant, I cried out, "Eighteen, actually!"

"Could have fooled me." He raised an eyebrow, then let it drop. "Nah, just kidding. You don't look that young. I think it's your naivety."

"Who said I was naive?"

"You can just tell. You haven't lived."

"What do you mean by that?" I asked, a bit offended. But at the same time I was curious by what he meant.

"You'll learn soon enough" He said mysteriously, as if he knew everything the world had to offer. I narrowed my eyes. Honestly, this might be a bit arrogant of me, but I had never before been told I didn't know anything. I was used to being praised on being smart, on being well informed.

"Oh, so then you know everything, Oh Enlightened One?"

He snorted. "Oh Enlightened One. I like that."

"You didn't answer the question."

He glanced in his rear view window before answering. "No, I don't. But one thing's for sure, I've lived a hell of a lot more than you."

I still didn't really know what he meant at all, but I decided to just let it go, as Tommy's was approaching.

I remained silent as he pulled into the rather small parking lot and began looking for a space. Finally finding one, he pulled in swiftly. We faced right towards the front of the small, brightly colored diner with the light flickering in the second 'm' of 'Tommy's Diner.'

"Well... here we are." He said, stating the obvious.

I glanced at the meter and saw that it read fourteen dollars and fifty three cents. I grabbed the twenty out of my wallet and handed it to him. "Keep the change." I said.

"Nah, it's on me."

"No, you wasted a lot of gas running me all over town. It's pretty expensive now a days, too. Just take it."

"Really, keep it." "If you don't take it I'm going to throw it in the street."

He raised an eyebrow, accepting the challenge. "Be my guest."

I rolled my eyes and said, "Fine, whatever."

He seemed proud of his success. "So, I'll see you later, then?" "Yeah, I suppose... hey, you don't want to come, do you? It'll be on me."

I asked as the idea hit me. I don't know why I didn't offer before.

He sighed. "Can't. Got an apartment to pay for."

"Oh, right. Well-"

"But I do get off later tonight, if you want to do something..." Axel interrupted, looking hopeful. I smiled.

"Yeah, that'd be nice."

"Okay, I'll pick you up at nine... where do you live?"

"Blade Hall. Do you know where it is?" He combed a hand through his hair.

"Yeah, I do. It's pretty close to my apartment, actually."

"Okay, well, see you then." I made to get out of the car, but swivelled back in my seat so I was facing him yet again. "And Axel?"

"Yeah?"

"Can you make me a copy of this CD?"

He smiled, not a smirk but an actual smile. "Yeah, sure. Actually, you know what- I'll give you this copy, I've got more at home." He pushed the eject button and reached under his seat again to find the case, his head almost touching the steering wheel. While he was distracted, I decided to take advantage of the moment, and I quickly shoved the dollar bill into his wallet which was resting in a cup holder. When he came back up, CD case in hand, I still had a clever smile on my face.

"What'd you do?" Axel asked, narrowing his eyebrows.

"Nothing." I said immaturely. He rolled his eyes playfully. "Here you go, kiddo."

I just smiled, not taking offense, and took the CD. "Thanks." I said genuinely.

"No problem."

This time I fully got out of the car, but once I was out I put my hand on the door and leaned back in the car. "So see you at nine?"

"Yeah. I won't be in the taxi though, so don't bother looking for it. You'll know it's me though."

"Er, alright. See you then."

He nodded and I shut the door. I walked the few steps into Tommy's and didn't look back until I was completely in the restaurant; knowing he wouldn't be able to see me but I could see him. He was already beginning to pull out of the parking space.

"Hey, Roxas, over here!"

I looked over towards the direction of the voice and found Riku motioning towards me. Him and the rest of the gang were piled together in a corner booth, and I walked over and slid on the end next to Kairi.

"Finally, man. What took so long?" Tidus asked.

"Er, it took a while to catch a cab."

"We ordered for you. The usual, right?" Kairi asked sweetly, as usual.

I nodded.

Just then, my phone vibrated and I pulled it out of my back pocket. I checked the screen and it lit up, saying "1 New Voicemail."

I didn't remember getting any calls. Instead of checking the voicemail I just went to my missed calls list and found that it was Namine.

I didn't notice Kairi was watching me until I was already putting away my phone. "Aren't you going to call her back?" she asked.

"Yeah, I will later." I said nonchalantly.

She knitted her eyebrows together slightly, looking confused. "Is something wrong, Roxas?"

I was actually a bit surprised at this comment. "No, not at all. Why?"

"You seem a bit out of it... Normally, you'd-" She seemed to change her mind in the middle of the sentence. "Never mind."

"Alright, then..." I was pretty confused as well. I didn't think I was acting strange at all.

"Hey, Roxas, where'd you disappear that night?"

I looked up to find Sora talking to me. I didn't expect him to even notice I was gone, but I guess I underestimate him sometimes.

"Oh, I had to go. Something came up."

"Well you missed a good time." Riku added.

"Yeah, I wish I could have stayed." I said with a bit of sarcasm, though only Kairi seemed to notice if her slight laugh was any indication. She knew I wasn't one for clubbing.

Our food arrived and we ate uneventfully, unless you include Tidus spilling his drink as he seemed to do quite often, or Sora squeezing the ketchup bottle too hard and it flying everywhere. Throughout the meal, Kairi kept glancing at me but I pretended not to notice.

I didn't really concentrate on my food or even really think about Namine. My thoughts were elsewhere, on someone else.

Sorry this took so long! I got really busy with AP tests and just life in general. I'm pretty much done now though, so that means updates more often. And if any of you are reading Soft Revolution, my apologies. I'm still figuring out where I want to go with it, and therefore the chapter is taking longer than expected. It's being written, though, and should be out within a few days.

Many thanks to my beta, Riku Of Twilight!

Reviews make me quite happy! Not to mention they make me want to write faster :)

Until next time...
anobscureflaw