Title: The Bells, They Toll
Rating PG-13... ish?
Extra Stuffs: HBoND is in it. Um. Axel and Roxas star, but not really a pairing fic. Sorries! :D
Summary: Being the favorite is always envied. Too bad he's the favorite for all the wrong reasons.
They arrive in the night, all the way from the World that Never Was. They both wear hoods, and the people are too afraid to do anything, fearing they might be angels from God. The taller one laughs and scares the children, and the shorter one stands motionless.
They both have their hoods up, so no one can see their faces. But they can see the faint traces of blonde hair from the shorter one.
They walk through the small village, their eyes seemingly set on Paris. The simple villagers run, too frightened and ignorant to raise a pitchfork just yet. They fear breaking the law, and that the two may be there to search for gypsies. Little do they know how smart their decision really is.
Even the horses are frightened of the two hooded figures; each dressed completely in black and silent as death now, the taller one has stopped laughing. Murmurs ripple of the grim reaper and mothers clutch their children close to their bosoms. “Hush, child.”
They march together, a two man funeral procession. They reach the outermost stretches of the village. The tall one reaches suddenly, grabbing an unsuspecting farm hand. The boy struggles and begs for mercy. “Please, mon ami,” he breathes.
The hooded figure shrugs, his companion folds his arms quietly. “Who is in charge of the vicinity?” the man demands of the boy.
“F-Frollo,” the boy states and finds himself thrown into the ground.
“Let’s go, Roxas.”
And with that, they both vanish from the eyes of the villagers. They leave behind traces of black mist, and the old grandmothers sob. “It’s an omen,” they moan.
The taller one guides his shorter companion, Roxas. They appear in the towers of the cathedral and remove their hoods. The area around them is dusty and only just kept. Traces of bird droppings, old leaves, and the tattered remains of table cloths can be seen everywhere.
The bells don’t shine, wear and tear apparent. His companion’s red hair is merely a smudge of a reflection on the surfaces of the bell.
“What’s the plan, Axel?” Roxas demands. His voice is rough with the impatience of being young and easily excited, or as excited as a nobody can be.
Axel glances around the fancy attic of the cathedral, with its arched wood and the bits of hay strewn around on the ground. The leaves from who knows how many autumns cover the statues. Roxas frowns at Axel’s uncharacteristic silence. Axel is planning, and Roxas wants to know what.
This is his first time away from The World That Never Was. He doesn’t know what to expect, and Axel knows this. Axel looks at him and studies, though Roxas doesn’t know what he’s studying. Axel isn’t quite sure what he’s studying either. He just knows he needs somewhere for Roxas to stay.
Somewhere safe and out of the way. Technically, no such place existed, but for now this would do.
“The plan,” he begins, “is to find a good… mode of transportation.”
Roxas knows he isn’t talking about a car or a train, or even a horse. “There are a lot of people.” His voice is flat. Axel can hear a rise, just barely, in pitch.
Roxas doubts him.
“I know. That’s why you need to stay here.”
Roxas’s eyebrows raise, and his eyes are decidedly sharper than they were five seconds ago. “What?” He doesn’t understand Axel’s goal. Wouldn’t it be better if they both were working together, even if he didn’t know what the hell he was doing?
Axel doesn’t care. “You’ll get in the way. Stay here.” Roxas frowns and Axel turns away, just the slightest bit unnerved by the blond’s intense stare. “I’ll get you when I need you.”
“And when will that be?” Roxas demands, his voice raises in volume. He’s pissed, and he thinks Axel is shifting him out of the mission. For a nobody, Roxas is easy to read. He hasn’t been corrupted by the talk of no hearts, not quite yet. He wears his thoughts on his sleeves.
“When it’s time to kill heartless,” Axel says and vanishes.
The silent watcher sees the blonde destroy a statue. Roxas swings a key, the largest this watcher has ever seen, and takes off a statue’s head. But he’s only a boy and the key clatters to the floor, and he clutches his hand protectively. Swinging around sticks, the watcher thinks with a chuckle.
Swinging around sticks, one has to remember they’re going to get hurt at some point in time.
Roxas is bored, and maybe he’s angry. He can’t be one hundred percent sure, though he’d be willing to bet on it. He’s part of the mission too, even if Axel seems to think he should sit back until the fighting broke out.
He’s been looking forward to the mission for awhile, though he doesn’t realize such until that moment. He’s been looking forward to the chance to prove himself, to prove to himself that he was better than anyone in the Organization. They say it all the time, he wants to prove it.
And Axel isn’t letting him.
Roxas wants, more than anything, to destroy the world right then, and he holds up his hand, keyblade in its grasp. He points at the horizon, blue eyes harsh. He could end this now, he knows he could, could force the darkness out of hiding and into the streets.
Something clatters behind him and he turns, eyes falling on the most hideous man he’s ever seen.
Axel watches the people, watches them try to ignore his presence. Or, not his presence, but the guard beside him. They guide in and out of the streets, the armored men, flowing like an intrusion, parting the people like knives upon fresh baked bread. Their emotions run high, their actions guided by these men.
Axel knows it’s the same in every world, for every race. People fear those that can hurt them. That’s why he knows that should he reveal himself, the plan could be ruined. It’s a precarious balance, and Roxas doesn’t notice the subtleties. He probably never will, and Axel knows he isn’t going to give him the chance.
The guard beside him moves, and Axel stands just a bit straighter. He’s wasted enough time, observing the people and their habits, in their provincial life.
He chuckles. He’s heard that one before, too.
It’s time to go, time to search out this Frollo, this judge of the land, with an apparent vendetta against the dancers and tambourines, and anything done to earn a coin. Very upright gentleman, Axel knows, can tell. And he has to laugh, knowing that this man was only a judge.
What a hypocritical existence. Axel is starting to like him already. What is there not to like about a man who has power, and knew it? Those are the best kinds of dictators, the easiest to carry on a conversation with, and luckily for Axel, the conversation never lasts long enough to do any real damage.
As the crowd swarms and presses against the walls, where water of varying degrees of absolutely disgusting flies down upon the populace. Axel walks beside, behind, somewhere in the general vicinity of the guard. It’s a lovely day for a walk, and he really was in no hurry.
The area has a certain charm to it. It’s nice to imagine what everything would look like dressed up in flames. Especially the large cathedral. He can’t imagine how lovely the stained glass would look with flames behind it.
A veritable orgy of colors, no doubt.
Roxas isn’t sure what to make of the hermit. The man limps towards him, eyes wide and smile bright. Roxas looks away and tugs his hood up. He didn’t like the look of hunger on this man’s face, on this monster’s face. Hunger for what, Roxas isn’t sure. The man hasn’t said anything yet, but the silence doesn’t last long.
“Who-who are you?”
His stutter is only slight, and Roxas turns away. “I’m a Nobody,” he admits. It doesn’t hurt to admit, and he sees nothing wrong with it. The man ambles past him, to a little table, with a tiny town on it.
Roxas can’t find it in himself to even laugh in scorn at the figurine town.
“That’s a shame, no one’s a nobody,” the man, the hunchback says. Roxas, ironically, has to agree. “My name is Quasimodo.”
Roxas lowers his hood, and the man reaches out. A jar of paint, then a brush and a figurine in the man’s hands. Quasimodo smiles and motions, eagerly, “I made them all myself.”
Roxas approaches the man, because he really has nowhere else he can go. He looks over the town, and shrugs, unimpressed because he doesn’t really understand Art, or artisanship. He understands warriors, and magic, and fighting a losing war, and perhaps a thing or two about heart-shaped moons. But these things don’t equal art, not in his mind.
After who knows how long of silence, “Roxas. My name is Roxas.”
Finding Frollo isn’t necessarily hard. It takes a bit of thinking, since all the villagers are convinced that he’s looking over their shoulder all the time. Axel loves the smell of paranoia, and so he follows the dancers, with their coins and tambourines, and their lovely rhythms and large chests. Well, the women dancers have large chests. Large breasts, whatever.
He follows them, and sure enough, when they break apart, he knows he’s found the prize at the bottom of the box. And when he sees Frollo, he’s even more impressed than he had been before. The man looks perfect. Just sickly enough to not be a threat, but a face so evil that Axel almost applauds him for it. Looks like that, he’s sure Frollo has been working at them for awhile.
The crowd parts, even further than they had for the guards, and Axel’s in the middle of the street, where he’s all alone. His hood is down, and Frollo looks at him, disapproving, but at the same time wearing a benevolence so fake, Axel’s sure the people around him still fall for it, even though they run away.
Frollo approaches him, demands, “And who might you be?”
“I was sent on a mission, to help the city.” Axel smiles. He views his work as helping someone. Might as well put these miserable people out of their misery.
“And who would send you to my city? God?” Frollo demands with a laugh.
With a gesture, a flame, and a laugh, Axel has him in the palm of his hands. “Yes, God.”