Don’t keep me waiting any longer
This mystery around you, I want it gone.
Starving for everything you deprive
The words you don’t say make me your pawn.
My skin is on fire, I swear you’ll be my death
I wanna hear your voice
When I steal your one last breath.
When Saix hangs up with an aloof farewell that afternoon, Axel feels his blood bubbling beneath his skin, and he hurls his cellphone straight into the hotel wall. The device shatters and leaves a large dent in the abused surface, but neither Demyx nor Xigbar dares to speak up about it—not when Axel is in one of his fits of anger. Axel storms out of the room without another word, leaving his bassist stuttering, attempting to calm the frightened housekeeper who was waiting by the door for someone to receive the freshly washed towels held in her clenched hands. Axel doesn’t return to the hotel that night.
It doesn’t take more than three hours for Saix’s departure to reach the hands of tabloids and paparazzi, stirring up stories and rumors about the possible disbandment of the rock band, All The Things Forgotten. Two cancelled concerts, four dry months, and a new cellphone later, Axel keeps his temper subdued enough again to open up auditions in hopes of finding a guitarist to fill the void in his band. A hotel venue is booked, and by the early morning hours of audition day, the entire hotel lobby is jammed shoulder to shoulder with hopefuls.
The hours trickle by, and one by one each musician performs before the red-haired star and his crew. Some come with real talent, earning enough of Axel’s approval for those select few to jam alongside the band for a minute or two. Most, however, disappoint, and even a handful infuriate. One person admitted the only reason she was there was to get Demyx’s autograph. Another even dared to admit he didn’t know any of the band’s songs, but swore his original composition would make up for it. It didn’t.
By the time evening rolls around, Axel finds his patience waning. He throws more than a dozen musicians out of the hall just five seconds into their performance. After another mediocre performance, he moans for the next one to come in. The assistant opens the door and Axel watches tiredly as a young male enters, a guitar slung across his shoulders. The kid doesn’t even utter a greeting when he steps into the spotlight. Axel takes a quick one-over, and sucks in an exasperated breath. The boy hardly gives off the attitude of a star, and even less so in his way of dress. A mundane sweatshirt and a washed out pair of jeans—nothing extraordinary at all. However, Axel notices the striking blue hue of his eyes and how excited they looked, despite the newcomer’s seemingly half-hearted stance. His attention falls on the white surgical mask strapped to his face, and frowns in anticipation of how much talent this kid has. He gives a side-long glance to his band, and they offer him nothing more than a shrug of their shoulders.
Before the blond can utter a sound, Axel interrupts him, asking, “What’s with the mask, kid?”
The boy clears his throat, croaking “My name is Roxas,” and Axel is surprised to learn the boy is completely sick with a cough and fever, yet still made the trip down to the hotel to wait his turn. He looks up from the mask and their eyes lock momentarily. The light above the boy makes his eyes shine, but the glisten is lost when Roxas looks away, shifting uncomfortably as he waits for Axel’s permission. Axel bites his lip, and gives the boy a chance.
Roxas starts off slow, matching the rhythm of one of Axel’s songs, before changing into a commanding tempo. His body rocks to the beat, eyes falling closed as his fingers move flawlessly across the taut strings of his guitar. Axel uncrosses his arms, unaware he has leaned forward on his seat as the sound of the boy’s playing infects his entire body. The guitar is a part of Roxas, and without saying much at all, the blond reveals to the band the amount of ambition he holds.
Axel waits until Roxas finishes the chorus before interrupting him. He gets up from his seat, looping into his guitar strap and takes a stand next to the boy, waiting for Demyx and Xigbar to take their place at their instruments. To Axel’s surprise, Roxas flawlessly plays into the solo passage Saix once had, completely transforming it into his own with a few added riffs and improvisations. Axel swears he could feel every strum of Roxas’ guitar in his chest. His skin prickles in goosebumps.
When the song ends, Roxas stands quietly, waiting for judgment. Axel, on the other hand, has other ideas. He tells the blond to take off his mask. Demyx smiles eagerly, and Xigbar leans over his drums, smirking.
Roxas looks up at them, hesitating, but eventually relents and pulls down the mask. Axel’s eyes light up, and Demyx can’t hold back his glee. The boy is beautiful, even with his mouth pulled into a confused frown. The lead singer suddenly be becomes aware to the tattoos on Roxas’ arms now with his sleeves hiked up, and the hidden glistens of silver running up the curve of his ears beneath strands of his blond hair. Roxas has more to him than he lets on, Axel realizes, and it’s more intriguing than anything else.
Before he lets Roxas leave the hall, Axel asks about the message inked into his arm. Roxas looks down at his forearm, and Axel sees Roxas smiling with his eyes.
“It means, if you have a dream, don’t wait. Act.”
It’s almost a month before Roxas receives a word from Axel, and his acceptance into the band comes with mixed reactions from their fans. Some declared Roxas too young for them, that his boyishness would only pull down the band, believing he’d never be able to fill in Saix’s shoes. Others thought his youthful attractiveness was an amazing bonus, and a delightful addition on stage next to the other talents. Regardless of what he was to anyone, his incredible ability on the guitar said everything that needed to be said. No one could deny his talent. He quickly becomes a fan favorite, Saix’s abrupt departure fading into the backs of everyone’s mind. He gains the reputation as the band’s sweetheart, and is shocked when his first pile of fan mail gets dumped in front of him, with Demyx and Xigbar both keen to tease him about the more personal letters. Axel doesn’t try to hide his admiration for the boy either, often treating him to his favorite ice cream desserts after practices. More often than not, Roxas accepts the band’s affections with quiet, shy smiles, and by volunteering to pay for another round of drinks.
After a year passes, the new member becomes noticeably more comfortable in the group, but Axel wants more. He wants to delve into him, to find out who this boy really was. Everything he had managed to get out of him was shallow, and worldly known thanks to the tabloids—Roxas had dropped out of college, played for garage bands that couldn’t stay together, and worked at a photo center to live off the penny—but that wasn’t good enough for Axel. Now, he wants to know him like no one else does.
It’s exactly his talent and enigmatic background that frustrates Axel more than anything. How can someone be this talented and go unnoticed for so long? How can someone so passionate and enthusiastic during a concert be so reserved offstage? It isn’t long before Axel finds himself obsessed with his new guitarist, taking every opportunity to try to figure out the secrets behind the pair of stunning eyes. Roxas plays off Axel’s curiosity as jokes, laughing and offering to buy him another beer in lieu of his life story, which he frequently liked to call “unimportant details.”
On a sunny afternoon, as Demyx and Roxas are off trying to drown one another in the ocean, Xigbar interrupts Axel’s beach lazing with a hard throw of his volleyball onto the lead singer’s flat stomach. He needles him about his fascination, warning him that he might just scare the boy off if he tries to dig any deeper. Axel just huffs, denying that he has been as intrusive as Xigbar is accusing him of being. His drummer doesn’t believe him, but Axel ignores his persistence and promptly abandons Xigbar for the water, tackling the two youngest members into a frothy wave.
Of course, Axel knows Xigbar is right. Talking with Roxas has proven futile, but Axel hasn’t found find a means to sate his curiosity. He eventually finds his conversations with Roxas repetitive, as if they were still on the acquaintance level of a relationship even after over a year. His restlessness starts to bother everyone in the vicinity, even making Demyx raise his voice at the singer and take Roxas right from the middle of practice to watch movie, just to get away from the agitated redhead. After a few apologies, Axel thinks of a new tactic; so in two sleepless nights Axel composes a song directed at Roxas himself.
The rest of the band approves of the composition, and Axel is especially pleased with the solo he allows Roxas. Demyx questions Axel’s decision to leave Roxas as the only lead guitar in the piece, but Axel waves him off, saying it is exactly the type of song they need to bring Roxas’s talent even further into the spotlight. At practice, the blond completely owns the part, fingers flying up and down the neck of the guitar. His eyes fall closed as he plays, body completely given in to the music. He strums hard, ripping into every note as if the song has already become second nature, and improvising his solo passage with an unmatchable ensemble.
The single soon becomes a hit, taking over the hearts of music lovers across the globe and dominating the charts. At their concerts, their fans are more excited for them to sing Last Breath more than anything else, and All The Things Forgotten are more than happy to play it—Axel especially. But eventually, Axel realizes Roxas isn’t catching on, that the young musician still hasn’t discovered the message in the song he’s played over and over. The more perceptive fans, however, seemed to get the idea, and Axel doesn’t know whether to be amused by the fan mail asking if he had a thing for his newest recruit, or irritated that Roxas still acts as if he doesn’t have a clue. So the night before their next concert, Axel devises something else.
The fans go wild when the first few bars of their popular hit fill the hot, humid air of the concert hall. Axel’s voice, smooth and powerful, sings the words; his green eyes are locked on the guitarist for a majority of the piece. The audience doesn’t notice, but every word he sings this time, he sings for Roxas. Everything goes accordingly, and Axel feels his skin prickle with anticipation. The time comes for the blond to take over the stage with his solo, and Axel takes his chance. He stalks towards Roxas, microphone and wire in hand. In a fluid motion, he loops the wire around the guitarist’s neck, and he feels a flutter in his stomach when he sees Roxas’ eyes blink open, looking up over his shoulder at him in confusion. Their eyes meet, this time with a heightened tension in their contact.
The redhead knows what Roxas is thinking; this was never rehearsed, and never discussed between them, and Axel’s walking precariously across the fine line. Regardless, Roxas’ fingers continue to play without distraction, body still immersed in the toxic environment of music. When Axel reaches the end of the wire, he pulls the petit musician against him, their body heat colliding and escalating. As the song continues, Axel sings his part, voice melding seamlessly with Roxas’ playing. The blond’s blue eyes, however, tell a different story. They look surprised, anxious, and Axel swears a there’s a wisp of lust in those eyes. His left hand, still gripping the wire, begins to pull, and he watches intensely at Roxas’ reactions as the cord begins to constrict his throat.
Axel hardly registers the crowd’s loud, approving reactions to this unusual, intimate interaction between band members, believing it’s a new act to please the women in the audience, what with Roxas continuing to play immaculately, as if nothing was wrong. Axel, reaching the end of his verse, pulls the wire taut, and feels his spine grow hot when Roxas slams down on the final note harder than ever before, head falling back against Axel’s shoulders, back arching, and eyes rolling back in ecstasy.
It ends as sudden as it started, and Axel unwinds from his band mate and takes center stage again before Roxas can catch a proper breath. Axel feels Roxas’ eyes on him as he does his routine concert thank-yous, and he feels a swell of victory in his chest. He damn well knows Roxas won’t be opening up to him any more than what he’s used to, but Axel is sure he has broken down part of the wall barricading Roxas in his secretive bastion.
All he wants to do now is tear it down completely.