Theme 74: Are you challenging me?

As Roxas was trying to pay attention to a damn awful lecture on memory, his mind began to wander. His annoyance with the teacher's horrible English was fading to the background as he thought back to the strange encounter he'd had the day before. The flaming red hair, the bright green eyes, the soft yet strong hands that pulled him back to his feet... Who was this guy? What right did he have to walk into Roxas' mess he called life and confuse him like this?

Roxas had been lost in thought, not paying attention to where he was going and had managed to bump into said redhead. Of course, he fell none too gracefully on his butt, winced and looked up to find the reason for his sudden failure in balance. His blue eyes met sparkling green ones, full of life, happiness and pretty much everything else Roxas' eyes missed.

The stranger told the person he had been talking to on the phone he had to go and held out his hand. Roxas had taken the offer and with a grunt managed to get back to his feet. The stranger had picked up his books and noticed the spilled coffee. He then offered to buy Roxas a new one and, grabbing his hand, had dragged him off to the nearest coffee shop, being a Starbucks.

Roxas hated Starbucks. Too much extras for too much money. He always went to a local cafe to get his much needed and appreciated daily cup of cappuccino. Once inside Starbucks and looking at all the different types of coffee they offered, Roxas remembered another reason he didn't like Starbucks: too much choice. Trying to locate a normal cappuccino was like trying to find a needle in a haystack. He watched the redhead order a simple triple espresso. No sugar, no milk, no nothing. Slightly astonished Roxas murmured his cappuccino and after saying no to a lot of extras their orders were ready.

The redhead dragged Roxas off to a table at a window, overlooking the street that was slowly filling with people. As he put his cappuccino on the table, he took a good look at the stranger. Tall. Handsome. Red. Green. Big hands. More red. He couldn't believe how bright that hair was... and how... gravity defying? Yeah, that about summed it up. When he realized the stranger was staring at him with a cocked eyebrow, Roxas quickly sat down and put his messenger bag next to the chair. He watched the stranger take a sip of his caffeine-in-a-cup, make a face and put the cup back on the table. Now it was Roxas' turn to lift an eyebrow.

"I don't like it, but it's the only thing that keeps me going," the stranger gave as an explanation. Roxas took a sip of his cappuccino and made a face himself.

"Gods... and Starbucks is supposed to be good coffee?" the stranger nodded, and gave a sheepish grin.

"I know, right... So what's your name?" the stranger asked.

"I'm Roxas, who wants to know?" the blonde replied.

"Roxas, it's nice to meet you, the name's Axel, got it memorized?" the redhead answered. Roxas shook his head, this stranger -no, Axel- was a strange one, that much was for sure.

"So, seeing as we both don't like Starbucks coffee, how about we find a place that does nice coffee?" Axel suggested. Roxas didn't hesitate with his answer, he couldn't resist meeting this figure again.

"Sure thing. I know just the place!" he said, with a small smile. When he realized what he was doing, his smile faltered. It had been a genuine smile, a very rare thing.

Axel noticed the confusion, though he didn't really know whether it was confusion or something else. Something was definitely going on inside that blonde's head though, and it didn't seem to be a pretty thing. Deciding this was the ideal moment to go back to the subject.

"What place might that be?" the redhead asked, but Roxas seemed to be lost in thought completely. Axel carefully reached out very carefully and lightly placed his hand on top of Roxas', "Are you alright?".

Roxas resisted the urge to pull his hand back and looked up, into those green eyes. "Yeah, I'm okay. The place's called Rosie's, they do all day breakfast and amazing coffee."

Roxas' thoughts were pulled back to the present when someone tried to pass him. The college desks were small and he had to stand up to let the people pass him. Today was the day they agreed to meet up again. In fact, the redhead would meet him outside his class in about an hour, to see about Rosie's coffee. He'd been a committed customer ever since he found her small pub near his house. Every morning he'd pop in for his cappuccino, always leaving a small tip for this or that charity. He'd sit down at his table, enjoy the little piece of mind he'd get there and always ask how everything was going for her.

After the class, he found the redhead leaning against the outside wall, patiently waiting for him to come to him and lead the way. Seeing as Roxas had been walking for the majority of the day, he decided that they'd take the bus, something Axel didn't seem to mind.

Once they arrived at Rosie's, she gave him a surprised look, he never stopped by in the afternoon. "What are you of all people doing here, Roxas?" she asked, giving voice to her surprise. He nodded towards the redhead.

"He offered me Starbucks coffee, and I told him yours is way better. So I'm here to prove that to him." She gave him one of her famous smiles, the one that made little girls giggle, and grown men blush. It had that effect on Axel as well, he noticed.

"So, for you the usual, I think?" Roxas nodded his approval. "And for you, mister?" Rosie said, shifting her attention to the stranger at last.

"Triple espresso, please." Axel expected the reaction from the curly brunette, her jaw dropped a little and after she composed herself she hit some buttons on the register and told Roxas the price, which he quickly counted out.

"You two take a seat, and I'll be with you with your drinks shortly," Rosie said with another breathtaking smile. Roxas dragged Axel off to his usual spot, looking out the back, into the garden with the small pond. By then it was late afternoon, he'd have to go home soon, Clooney would be hungry and acting like he'd been away three weeks instead of mere hours. Weeks was an understatement, really, years was more fitting.

Soon, Rosie appeared with Roxas' cappuccino, with two sugars on the side, and a bowl with sugar and a small jug of milk. Roxas emptied both sugars in his coffee, stirred and took a sip. After the deep and satisfied sigh Rosie's coffee always provoked he looked at Axel, who was about to take his first sip.

After pulling the same face he had in Starbucks, Axel sighed deep and shook his head. "I'm afraid I'll have to disappoint you, Roxas, but to me, this is no good coffee either." Roxas gave him a look of sheer horror, how could he not like Rosie's coffee! Axel gave a grin. "What do you suggest we do about this, then? Make it a challenge, to find a coffee shop we both like?"

Roxas gave another genuine smile at this, he'd like that. He'd like someone to come into his life and give him a challenge, to give him a distraction from all the other things going on. Clooney did a pretty good job at that, seeing as how much attention the American stafford demanded.

"Yes, let's do that."


AN: I don't know how long this is going to take me, but as many have before me, I decided to take up the 100 theme challenge. Part of this story was written quite some time ago, during an incredibly boring class and I decided to finish it with this theme today.

The usual disclaimers, Roxas and Axel belong to Square Enix, storyline belongs to me.

I hope you enjoy and I'm curious for your thoughts :).
~DSL