Disclaimer: Characters aren't mine, and I don't intend any copyright infringement. Disney and Square Enix can keep what belongs to them. But the plot? That's all mine, baby.

Summary: Roxas, a junior in college, is tormented by emotional baggage and unrequited love. On a campus populated by burnouts and bored intellectuals, Roxas is just another proverbial drop in the bucket of teenage apathy. When he meets Axel, an older transfer student troubled by a dark past, Roxas' purposefully small and safe existence is catapulted into the enormity and unflinching reality of a world he tried so hard to forget. Through a haze of sex, drugs, and indifference, can Axel and Roxas find a way to put the pieces together? Roxas-centric. AkuRoku.

Rating: M for adult language and content, sexual content and abuse, and flagrant drug use. I guess I could start off at a T and eventually bump it up to an M, but I suck at this rating thing anyway. SEX, DRUGS, DRINKING, AND HOT DUDES WHO WANT TO BONE EACH OTHER. If that sentence offends you, either grammatically or thematically, then you won't like this story.

A/N: I know, I know. Another high-school/college fic? It's played out, I get it. I wanted to try it anyway. It's the story sitting in my brain, and if I don't write it, I'll go batshit. I mean, I'm already crazy, but I'll go batshit crazy. That's epic crazy right there, people. The outline is set for 24 chapters, roughly 150,000 words. I'm a little torn on what categories to stick this under, so I'm going with my gut. I guess some of the supporting cast might seem OOC, but I like to think I'm giving them lives and histories outside of the safe KH canon. Okay? No hard feelings? Good!

That said, the first chapter is actually quite tame. Let's all give it up for actual exposition!

Chapter One: Empires

There is something in the quality of air, perhaps a trace of some lethality affecting those who haven't lived long enough to build up an immunity to it, some light haze that settles past the skin and into the blood where, with determined efficiency, the exuberance of youth fades into the reluctance of adolescence. Where there once was a boundless joy and aptitude, a ready-for-anything and chomping-at-the-bit excitement, there is now a marked disinterest. After all, it's not that Roxas couldn't finish the last three pages of A Winter's Tale. It's that he wouldn't. He didn't care to. First week of junior year, and he was already fed up. So, staring out at the perpetual motion of the beach, Roxas fished another cigarette from his pack of Parliaments and lifted it to the one already in his mouth. The oddly-fashioned cement bench outside one of three strictly upperclassmen dorms on the outskirts of campus sent chills up his back when he tried to recline, so the he sat hunched sideways, one palm pressed against the abnormally cool seat. The weather was strange for the beginning of September; two years of temperate weather even in the dead of winter suggested as much. Roxas closed his eyes and tried to visualize the inside of his luggage, trying to remember if the jackets were already unpacked. He shouldn't have needed them for at least another two months. The weather gods are angered, he thought faintly, a little cloud of smoke drifting out of his mouth and across the quad where two girls were locking their bikes to a rack. One of them turned and glared at Roxas, coughed loudly, and gave him the finger. Roxas raised a hand and waved briefly in response. He cleared his throat.

"Free country, sweetheart," he called out across the quad, smiling brightly and taking another long drag. The girl who flipped him off stared blankly for a few seconds, shrugged, and pulled her friend inside their dorm. Ah, Roxas thought. Sluts of Math and Science. Nice. The three upperclassmen dorms were grouped under satisfyingly vague titles: Women of Science and Technology, Global Community, and Sober Living. Or, alternately: Sluts of Math and Science (how "Technology" became "Math" is anyone's guess), Hippies, Foreigners, and Vegans, and the Crack House. When Roxas transitioned over from the underclassmen dorms, his first choice had been Sober Living. If he'd known the alternate name, he'd have gone off campus. Whatever tweaker genius decided it'd be hilarious to get spun in the Sober Living dorm passed on his legacy to even more tweaker geniuses who decided to get their e-tard friends and stoner acquaintances in on the scheme. By the time the kids in Roxas' year moved in, it felt more or less like an actual crack house. The often-rotated single graduate RA at the very corner on the first floor seemed either unbelievably oblivious or understandably baked. Roxas thought he'd have to move out at first—he'd gotten a contact high just from walking down the hall to the bathroom on the first night—but he'd gotten used to the idea over the course of the first week. It reminded him of home.

Chain-smoking, he thought. That's what I'm reduced to. It's the only thing I learned how to do in college. Chain-smoke. Replacing the new cigarette for the now smoking filter of the other, he lifted his right foot and squashed the stub into the plastic sole of his Vans, idly wondering if one day it might melt through.

"One day that's gunna melt though," an amused voice said over his shoulder. Roxas's eyebrows shot up and he turned his head to tell the guy he was a mind reader, but he only caught a flash of red disappearing around the corner, followed by the soft clunking of footsteps on the dorm stairs headed toward the left: Hippies, Foreigners, and Vegans. Or, conveniently, HPV (read: genital warts), since "ph" might phonetically form the "f" sound. Roxas' brain started churning; a series of faces flipping quickly in his mind's eye. With such a diminutive student population, Roxas felt like he knew nearly every other kid in his year, and that was a shade of red impossible to forget. Huh, fresh meat, he acknowledged, pulling slowly at the cigarette and letting the smoke curl out past his lips. It wasn't often that students transferred in to Kingdom.

Situated at the end of a peninsula jutting out arrogantly into the Pacific, Kingdom University was the crowning achievement of some nauseatingly wealthy long-dead recluse committed to cardiology. Sure the brochure pictures looked nice, the way the sky was always the same shade of royal blue and perfectly formed waves crashed with only moderate abandon on the stretching shore, but it was not what Roxas had expected. He'd thought he could deal with the relative isolation, the nearest town being thirty miles North. He'd certainly thought that the aesthetic beauty of the place would at least inspire him to finally start that novel he'd been planning. After all, perpetual summer was nice in theory, especially coming from a sleepy town where an overcast sky was cause for half the girls in his tiny high school to skip class and sunbathe at the local community pool. But real perpetual summer, where nine out of the twelve months were the exact same kind of sunny and the other three boasted torrential rains followed schizophrenically by heat waves and bone-numbing cold snaps, had the alarming effect of feeling like… well, like hell. Each incoming class of freshmen hit the beach in droves the first three days after moving in before realizing, as if struck by divine thunder, "Holy shit, how are we actually going to get anything done?" The answer, of course, being that they aren't. The pajama generation meets the surfer generation meets the stoner generation at Kingdom, and the number of dropouts and pitiful post graduation job placement rates were just one reason a smart transfer would stay far far away from Kingdom. Unless

Exhaling the last of his smoke, Roxas tossed the stub on the floor, toeing it quickly and kicking it to the side. The new kid was probably a fuck up, then. Join the club, he thought wryly, dusting the cigarette ashes off his jeans. He stood from the bench and stretched his arms high overhead, feeling the stretch up the sides of his body like easy warmth. The ghost of something ran its fingers up his ribs and he shivered, lowering his arms immediately. Already? he questioned, the beginning of a grimace settling over his alarmingly childlike features. It's still the first week. Too fucking early. Roxas shook his head and made his way to the set of outdoor stairs. He'd cursed his luck when he arrived a week ago because, despite having a ground floor room for the first two years of college, junior year landed him on the third. It had been a bitch moving in with only his mom's help, and he'd shot death glares at any student fortunate enough to have a large family. It had taken twenty-seven trips to the car to get everything into his dorm.

Standing just outside his room, Roxas leaned in to examine the dry erase board affixed to the door, courtesy of the RA and, apparently, Coca-Cola. "YOUR HOT, ROX-ASS!" it exclaimed in laughable squiggly caps. Your? he smirked. Shaking his head, he opened the door. His roommate was in, reading on his top bunk. Roxas rolled his eyes.

"I got your message, Zex," he said, flipping open the lid of his laptop. "I thought English majors knew the difference between 'your' as in 'my' and 'you're' as in 'you are retarded.'"

"Ah, but they do, Roxas," Zexion said, eyes focused on the book he was reading. "So you see, it couldn't have been me." A smile quirked at Zexion's mouth and Roxas rolled his eyes again. Zexion had a weird sense of humor.

Sitting at his university-issued 3/4-inch birch desk, Roxas stared blankly at his laptop. He crossed his fingers. He opened his e-mail client and closed his eyes. Nothing, please, thanks. Please, just nothing. Cracking his lids, Roxas saw that "nothing" came in the form of two new e-mails from Sora; a grand total of seventeen since he'd seen him a week ago. "Fuck," he mumbled. At this, Zexion raised his eyes from his novel and stared at the back of Roxas' head with interest.

"Problem?" Zexion asked, politely curious.

"…It's nothing." Nothing. Just Sora. It's nothing. Roxas checked all seventeen of the messages and hovered his mouse over the "delete" button. He could do it, he figured. He could do it and then when Sora called, he'd say the Internet was down. He could do it. Fuck. No, he couldn't. Sighing, Roxas shut the lid of the laptop.

"Come out with me," Zexion said suddenly, closing the novel and tossing it to the side. "There's a couple new kids hanging out at Little V." Zexion said this like it was meant to sound enticing, but Roxas cringed at the idea. "Little Vista," alternately "Little V" or just "Vista," was a small rundown shack in the neighboring mile of non-campus housing. Populated by what Roxas called "arty fucks," Little Vista was where Zexion spent most of his time either drunk or baked out of his mind. It was rare that he was in the dorm at all, content to get fucked up at Vista and while the hours away talking about art or books or whatever it is that arty fucks talk about through the delirium of good pot and cheap liquor.

"Uh,' Roxas stalled, "I have to, uh, study." Roxas gestured to the open Social Psych book on his university-issued 3/4-inch birch desk, the sides sticky noted with half a neon rainbow. Zexion all but threw his castoff novel straight at Roxas' head.

"Study that, Rox-ass," he smirked, leaning back on his elbows, legs hanging off the top bunk. "It's a personal favorite."

"I don't speak Japanese," Roxas said, glaring at the author's name. "I can't even pronounce this shit."

"Murakami? Roxas, you slay me," Zexion said without inflection, lifting a hand to his chest. Chuckling lowly, he hopped off the top bunk and plucked the book from Roxas' hands. "Besides. It's translated, retard." He tossed the novel back on the top bunk and started rifling through his closet. Roxas wondered why the boy even bothered with a closet when he wore some variation of the same black on black ensemble everyday.

"You're a real sweetheart, Zex. You know that, right?" Roxas sat on his bottom bunk and gathered his legs up to his chest. He needed to think anyway; the number "seventeen" repeating at increasingly louder decibels in his brain. Vista would make him feel miserable. Zexion took in the sight of Roxas, moping and clutching at himself in a modified fetal position, and exhaled loudly.

"Listen to me, Roxas. You look droopy. Your hair is drooping, and your hair never droops." Roxas frowned and touched his hair experimentally. "You're thinking about that Sora kid, right?" Roxas's eyes shot up and narrowed at Zexion. "Don't look at me like that, Rox. I've been your roommate for two years. I know what you're like the first few weeks of school."

"Just butt the fuck out, Zex. You don't know anything about it," Roxas said quietly, his fists instinctually tightening as he drew his knees hard into his chest.

"Yeah," Zexion laughed, effectively defusing the situation and brushing his hair out of his eyes. "I know. So let's get your mind off of it, for fuck's sake. Come out with me. Don't think about it, just do it." Zexion opened the door and stood in the threshold, expectant.

"UGH, I totally hate you," Roxas groaned, heaving himself out of his bunk and grabbing at the hooded sweatshirt on the back of his university-issued 3/4-inch birch chair.

"Yes, you totally do," Zexion smirked, holding the door open and sweeping his hand to allow Roxas passage. "After you, sweetie."

Roxas shook his head, gave his roommate the finger, and walked out.

Right before 6541 Late Sunday Drive hit the main drag, three addresses down from the condo with a couch and a lawn chair on its roof, a deceptively small house with ocean-battered chipping blue paint sat partially obscured by an equally tortured fence, a cardboard replica of the Bolivian flag hanging crookedly beside the mailbox on the fence. Since the noise ordinance instated during Roxas' freshman year had passed, 6541 Late Sunday Drive, also known as Little Vista, had been cited for "excessive merriment" no less than three hundred times, with seven fines of 3,000 dollars for providing alcohol to minors. While only four students could truly call Little Vista "home," an ever-revolving group of hangers-on used the term with just as much frequency. "Home" to music snobs, book nerds, indie fucks, art studio kids, and smart potheads, Little Vista was a safe haven to many. Roxas, on the other hand…

When Zexion first started hanging out at Little Vista during sophomore year, he'd invited Roxas over right at the start of first quarter midterms. The week passed in a haze of smoke, and when his exams came back, he'd punched Zexion in the face and marched straight over to Vista and smoked three bowls. He'd felt higher than the moon, his handful of "D"s little more than funny shapes on pointless pieces of paper. When he came down he'd started nursing a bottle of SKYY and a liter of Ocean Spray until Zexion came and hauled him back to the dorm where he sat fully clothed in a shower, throwing up intermittently. Needless to say, Roxas had done his best to keep his time at Little Vista to a minimum.

The ragtag bunch of kids that actually lived at Little Vista were surprisingly diverse. You had Pence, a chubby people person kind of guy who smoked a lot of pot, dubbed "King of the Town" because he seemed to know everybody. There was Olette, a smart Literature major with a penchant for puns and indie rock. Kairi, Olette's best friend, who was always mysteriously upbeat and, coincidentally, from Roxas' hometown. They'd never hung out much, but she was always more of Sora's friend than Roxas'. Then there was Hayner, second son of some hotshot movie director, who was friendly as fuck when high, but reclusive when sober. Hayner paid to have the entire garage renovated with hardwood floors and freakishly complex looking turntables that Roxas had been warned never to touch. The first time he'd seen them was when Zexion had dragged him by the arm into Hayner's little studio where the kid was spinning beats, frying balls on some acid he'd copped from an ex-boyfriend. Hayner had bobbed to the music, fingers manipulating keys, his eyes on Roxas', licking his lips suggestively.

Roxas had only found himself alone with Hayner on two occasions. Once was at the start of a party at Little Vista, Hayner working on his first screwdriver. Roxas, standing in the kitchen and observing Kairi attempt a batch of hash brownies, remarked that he didn't like reggae, and Hayner had taken some sort of personal offense. He'd marched out of the kitchen in exaggerated incredulous shock and quickly marched back in, determined to find out why.

"Do you like soul?" Hayner had asked, eyes staring unnervingly at Roxas.

"Umm, I guess." Roxas had muttered, wondering what the fuck might be classified as soul, and embarrassed to show his lack of "arty fuck" credibility.

"Listen to reggae like you listen to soul." Hayner had said it like it was the most obvious thing in the world to do, like everyone in the world already did it. Roxas played it cool and no one knew he felt humiliated. The second time he'd been alone with Hayner was when Zexion stumbled to the bathroom through a pot-induced haze and Hayner slid close to Roxas, eyes dilated to the size of marbles. He'd placed his hand over Roxas' crotch and started rubbing without hesitation. He'd stopped when the bathroom door opened, but Hayner's eyes stayed on Roxas the rest of the night, silent, the famished smile never leaving his face.

This is probably why, among a universe of variables, Hayner jumped up enthusiastically when Roxas walked—well, was pushed by Zexion—in the front door of Little Vista that first week of junior year, the September air surprisingly bitter in the fading light of the afternoon.

"Roxas!" It was a collective cheer punctuated by Hayner's hasty rise and stumble to give Roxas a hug.

"Where the fuck you been, Rox?" Hayner slurred against his ear. He was clearly drunk and probably high.

"Uh, summer break?" Roxas offered, patting Hayner's back lightly. The room burst into raucous laughter and Roxas smelled the stench of weed in the air.

"No shit, man," Hayner said, arms still sloppily around Roxas' shoulders, Zexion smirking his ass off to the right, sidestepping an Xbox console and reaching for the bong sitting on a foldaway table littered with baggies and lighters. "I mean before that, dude."

"Just studying and stuff. Just stuff, y'know," Roxas said vaguely, lightly pushing Hayner away at the hips. Laughing lightly in his ear, Hayner pulled him at the wrist and they fell onto an empty couch, Roxas almost in the other blonde's lap.

"Gimme," Hayner said, twitching his finger at Zexion who was taking his second massive rip.

"Whose idea was the ice?" Zexion asked through an exhale, smoke pouring from his mouth like a furnace. A column of ice cubes sat in the neck of the bong, filtering the smoke before it reached the mouth. "It's fucking genius."

"That'd be me," Pence said, pointing one finger in the air. Roxas noticed the T.V. was on, everyone more or less glued to a re-run of Lost. "Resident genius, right here."

Roxas, already feeling slightly out of it, felt Hayner tap his shoulder. He turned to face him and he noticed how Hayner's wide brown eyes were glazed, lowered and awash with red. He tapped his mouth and then tapped Roxas'. Roxas squinted at him uncertainly. He wants to make out? What the fuck? Then Hayner ran the pad of his thumb over Roxas' lips. They parted almost involuntarily and Hayner leaned forward, exhaling a cloud of smoke into Roxas' mouth. He hadn't planned on smoking, there were those last three pages of A Winter's Tale, after all, but he pushed everything out of his mind and inhaled deeply. As the last of the smoke trailed out of Hayner's mouth, he felt the touch of the other boy's tongue run along the roof of his mouth. Don't think, he told himself. Hayner slid a hand to his neck and began tracing designs there, fingers drawing a sigh Roxas felt originate in the pit of his stomach. He closed his eyes and leaned in to the other boy. Don't think.

Roxas came to on the beach, the moon high over head and lighting up the dark expanse of water crashing in front of him. Rubbing at his eyes, he had the impression that Hayner suggested they all go down to the beach. He remembered walking down the beach access steps with Hayner guiding him, hand on his ass. He remembered drinking, remembered Hayner asking him to unzip his jeans. Fuck, Roxas sighed. His memories sharpened as he remembered shoving Hayner away, and Hayner calling him a cocktease before making out with that kid, Tidus. Tidus from home, Roxas recalled. Fuck. His eyes focused on a group of people to his right, light conversation tugging his brain back into consciousness. He registered that Zexion hadn't ditched him, that he was talking animatedly with some other kid from the dorms, Demyx, and drinking. Other people Roxas couldn't distinguish talked in low tones, a light warble punctuated here and there by laughter. Hayner and Tidus were nowhere in sight. Why the fuck am I sitting over here alone? Roxas wondered, his thoughts spiraling away as he fell back into the deep trench he'd momentarily crawled from. Laying back on the sand he began to blink, each blink feeling like waking up from the depths of a drugged void. How many hits did I take? Waking up again. Each new strain of conversation was like waking up. Fuck. Waking up again. He heard Demyx laugh loudly, bright reckless laughter, and Roxas was slammed by the force of Sora's memory. Sora, who laughed with the same uncaring abandon. Sora. Waking up again. Fuck.

His hands swirled in the sand, the grains of it dragging something up from the recesses of his memory. Eyes closed, he ground the sand between his thumb and forefinger, the sensation pulling at the lost memory more insistently, urging it from somewhere just out of sight. A flood of silver rushed into him, a half-articulated image dancing across the backs of his eyes, and he moaned lightly.

"You're nothing like him." A feathery kiss against his neck, tongue tracing a jugular. Hands stroking up his sides, feeling out his ribs with calloused fingers.

Roxas ground the sand hard, the grit scraping audibly against his skin, and a moan tore itself from his chest. Don't think. He was semi-erect in his jeans, hips twitching in the sand as little scoops of it dipped in behind the small of his back and sifted down into his briefs.

"You smell so good." Hot breath in his ear, chills erupting over the skin of his neck where the warmth of his voice floated. Sand against his back, the scent of dust laying over a fusion of cigarettes and coffee. And those hands…

"Rox." The voice sounded as concerned as much as any drunken roommate's voice could sound concerned. Roxas settled against the ground, the sand between his fingers dropping away.

"Mmm," he managed, shifting his hips slightly. This, it turned out, was an honest mistake. Still semi-erect, still horrifically stoned, a breathy moan escaped him as he brushed the fly of his jeans. The voice burst out into what should have been impossibly loud laughter.

"HOLY SHIT, ROXAS!" Hands grabbed him at the shoulders and his eyes fluttered open. "You're horny! You're horny, you little bastard! And you're having sex with," Zexion's eyes shot down to the front of Roxas' jeans, "YOURSELF! AND THE AIR!"

"You're… drunk," he said, and he found the effort required to speak funny. He giggled.

"Yes! Yes I am! And you, my friend, are fucked up!" Zexion hauled him to his feet and they wobbled unsteadily, Zexion's arm slung around his ribcage and gripping at his side. He was always touchy feely when he was drunk, as if alcohol imparted, instead of liquid courage, a sort of liquid compassion otherwise lacking in the other boy. "Demyx got this new roommate, man. Xiggy totally transferred out to go to State or some shit." He half-supported and half-dragged Roxas to the group of other kids, and Roxas wondered at the liquid compassion, wondered what parts it dissolved or what parts it heightened.

"I love you, man," he said suddenly. He anticipated some sort of stiffening, some sort of embarrassing regret, but instead the dull blade of clarity jabbed at him. Zexion only laughed.

"Yeah, Roxas. I love you, too." Zexion pressed his lips against Roxas' cheek, cheap beer drifting off him and on to Roxas' skin. "When'd you get so gay, huh?" he asked, playfully yanking Roxas up against him as they stumbled closer to the group of other kids. Roxas decided the liquid compassion dissolved things in Zexion. It dissolved walls: ornate marble behemoths rising like Grecian protectors over a past broken or a heart wounded. It dissolved a hasty intellect fashioned out of barbs and rapiers, cutting to keep things at bay. Two years and they never told stories, never told secrets. There'd been some sort of unspoken agreement between them, some understanding the first day they met as freshmen when Zexion stalked in and found Roxas sitting in the middle of the room, cross-legged on the floor, crying. They'd understood then that there were things that tied them together; little knots of painful ribbon that they shared and never prodded at for fear of tightening.

"Just wanted to say it," Roxas mumbled, thoughts tugged away by tendrils of tetrahydrocannabinol like visible darkness tugging children out of a sandbox, luring them away with a promise of something sweet. A can was pressed to Roxas' mouth.

"Drink." His eyes, closed again for some reason, rose to the face attached to the hand attached to the can attached to his mouth. He had red hair.

"You—" he began.

"Drink up, kid," the redhead said, eyes tilting up at the corners in a smile that didn't reach his mouth. Roxas noted the strange markings under the redhead's unsettling green eyes and obediently took the can and tipped it into his mouth. He kept his eyes on the redhead's as he drained the can of slightly warm salty piss also known as "natty light." Shaking the upended can above his mouth, eyes still locked with the now grinning redhead, Roxas faintly wondered what the fuck he was doing. There was light applause as he tossed the emptied can on the ground, its crushed carcass joining a steadily growing pile inside, randomly, a brown shipping box. "I'm almost impressed," the redhead said. Roxas was aware they were the only two standing.

"You—you're a mind reader," Roxas said stupidly. Somewhere to his left Zexion burst into obscene laughter.

"Right, right. A mind reader," the redhead said, something feral in his grin. "I guess some people might call it that." Roxas watched at the redhead's teeth pulled his bottom lip almost imperceptibly into his mouth, slicking it with spit. Holy shit. "The name's Axel." Axel didn't offer a hand, and Roxas fought off the inane desire to bow his head in greeting. What the fuck. He stared stupidly as Demyx and others joined in Zexion's laughter. "And you're Roxas, right?" Amusement colored Axel's features, and Roxas debated swearing off pot forever.

"Yeah, he's Roxas," Zexion said, voice still light with laughter. "Please forgive his hilarious manners. He's a little high."

"A little?" Axel asked, grin widening. "The kid is completely fucked."

"Mmm notta kid," Roxas managed, reaching for two cans of proffered natty light in Zexion's hands. He passed one to Axel and sat heavily on the ground, the forgotten sand in his briefs digging into his ass. Fuck. Axel shrugged and took a seat next to him, the group's attention shifting away from Roxas and breaking off into conversations. Someone had started a small bonfire, and Roxas drank his beer slowly while staring across the circle at Zexion, the fire coloring him and Demyx as they laughed. Roxas had the impression that he'd realized some truth about Zexion, something important. Smokey threads wove into his thoughts and he was tugged away again, eyes watching the dancing flames. He'd forgotten Axel was beside him until he snapped his fingers before Roxas' face.

"Hey. Stare like that and your eyes are gunna dry up." His hand moved to Roxas' eyes and pressed the lids down lightly. His eyes stung. Axel pulled his hand away and Roxas looked up at him. He was leaned back on one hand, legs stretched out and crossed, a hand coaxing the dregs out of a can and into his mouth. His body was inclined, slight but obvious, toward Roxas. Tossing his can with the pile, Axel turned his head and stared. Roxas thought he should look away, or should at least blink again, but he was being tugged away by something insistent, a little puppy tugging him at the wrist toward a small rattle in a rose bush. "Man, I gotta get the number of your dealer, kid," Axel said, his eyes tilting up in that smile that didn't reach his mouth.

Roxas wanted to ask what his major was, ask what the Global Community dorm was like. He wanted to ask if he was a hippie or a vegan because he knew his accent wasn't foreign. He wanted to ask, really badly as if someone sitting inside his brain asked specifically, if he liked chocolate chip cookies. He wanted to ask what the marks, clearly tattoos, were under his cheeks, wanted to ask if they hurt. He felt the unspeakable need to know whether or not Axel used mouthwash and what brand, and he was going to ask it, mouth already open, when the redhead stood and walked over to Demyx who was still talking with Zexion, picked him up by the shoulder, and began dragging him wordlessly to the beach access stairs. Oh, he registered. Demyx's new roommate. He dragged himself across the sand to Zexion, his roommate's gaze ruminative on the quickly fading fire.

"That guy's a douchebag," Zexion said thoughtfully, swirling a nearly empty can of beer. "He just grabbed Dem, who I was clearly engaged in conversation with, and dragged him off into the night." He downed the last of his beer, tossing his can over to the kids who were packing up stragglers in the shipping box. "He's probably a rapist. He's, like, twenty fucking three, Rox. What's he even doing here?" So he's 23. A 23 year-old junior. Nothing wrong with that. Zex is 20. Three years, big deal. 23 minus 19 is like… cross out the two and borrow, and that makes thirteen. Ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen… fourteen years! No. Four years! That's only one college education between us!

"That's not a rape!" he shouted stupidly, as if all his brain cells were collectively led off a short pier by a pied piper reeking of marijuana.

"Wow, Rox. You're really pushing the boundaries of human comprehension with that one." Zexion stood and kicked sand into the embers of the bonfire, the rest of the kids slowly drifting off to their respective residences. "Let's get you home."

The first strains of his CD player going off, the alarm set at 8:00am, sent bright surges of panic into his veins, and he jolted awake. Jeans half on, Roxas realized it was Saturday. He groaned loudly and rubbed his head. He hadn't drunken enough to get a hangover, but he felt like shit anyway. His mind conjured up the image of tasteless rubbery dining common eggs and his stomach heaved in revolt. Maybe they'd have waffles. The waffles were always good.

So that's when, amid his breakfast swoon, Zexion walked in, fresh from a shower, and observed Roxas standing slightly hunched, jeans half-up his legs, eyes screwed up in Belgian waffley bliss. Zexion regarded his roommate silently, rubbing a towel through his damp hair. When Roxas showed no sign of emerging from his frozen… well, erotic stance—it's not like thought bubbles with waffles and hearts floated out of Roxas' head—Zexion spoke up.

"So you're still baked, huh? I hate when that happens." Roxas jerked and stumbled forward, tripping over his jeans.

"Sorry. I was… thinking," Roxas fumbled. About waffles. Fluffy, delicious. Unnnf.

"I do most of my thinking with pants on," Zexion offered, draping his towel off the top of his bunk. "Are you hungover? Because I'm hungover. I need a phat bowl, and I need one now."


"Not this again, Roxas. Hair of the dog, my dear roommate. You're not studying on a Saturday morning."

"But… waffles." Zexion was impressed at Roxas' pouty face.

"You know the student workers jizz in the batter, right? It's why they're so scrumptious." Zexion smiled pleasantly at Roxas' rapidly draining color. The blonde tugged his jeans up and over his hips.

"I totally fucking hate you," Roxas growled, forgoing a shirt in favor of a black hoodie.

"Roxas, I'm touched." Zexion walked to the door and held it open. "I can see your dick, by the way," he deadpanned. Roxas let out a strangled yelp and clutched at the front of his ridiculously tight jeans. "I don't know why you wear those things."

"Why the fuck are you scoping my dick, Zex?" Roxas asked, adjusting himself and pulling his hoodie low over his waist.

"You parade your assets so willingly, Rox-ass, that I can't resist. I'm admirer of aesthetics. And you have a cute butt."

"FAG!" Roxas cried indignantly, storming past Zexion.

"Only for you, sweetheart."

They walked down the outdoor stairs and headed toward Little Vista in comfortable silence. Roxas was pleased the temperature had picked up a couple degrees, a sun-warmed breeze blowing lightly against his hood shrouded face.

"What do you remember about last night?" Zexion asked, voice light. He sounded cautious.

"I was fucked up," Roxas said, rubbing his thumb and forefinger together for some forgotten reason. Fuck.

"You know it's weird, right?" Zexion began, casting a long look at Roxas out of the corner of his eyes. "That you block out what you do when you're really high? You're the psych major, Rox. You tell me the term. 'Repression,' isn't it?"

"Uhhh, I guess. It's complicated." Roxas frowned at the floor, a hand reaching into his pocket for his pack of Parliaments. "I could remember if I wanted." He flipped open the top, eyeing the lucky warily. He needed a new pack. He'd hit the liquor store later if he worked up the motivation to walk the two miles to where his car was parked. Sighing, he pulled the lucky and tossed the empty pack into someone's open trashcan. He was vaguely aware that Zexion was still talking to him as he lit the cigarette, pulling hard at the nicotine. Already images of sand and silver, fire and red, were flooding his mind.

"But you'd rather not," Zexion said, finishing whatever concerned roommate spiel he thought was needed.

"Yeah. I'd rather not." The breeze blew Zexion's hair into his face and Roxas reached out and brushed it back behind the other boy's ear.

"What are you doing?" Zexion asked, his pace slowing to a halt, his eyes searching. Little Vista was another block away.

"Distracting you," Roxas admitted, something squirming tightly in his stomach. "Want a hit?"

Zexion stared at him for a long minute, eyes inscrutable and mouth drawn in a small quirk as he bit the inside of his bottom lip. Roxas thought of liquid compassion, but he had no idea where the thought came from. Zexion shrugged and plucked the cigarette from his fingers, not waiting for Roxas to catch up before he walked in through the front door of Little Vista. Roxas smelled the haze of pot before he even reached the porch.