I'd better be getting home.
Axel's car is parked way out on the highway, and Roxas can see the lights of the little town twinkling against the desert darkness. Cigarette smoke drifting back in the window.
I think I could keep moving forever and still never find it Axel says.
Roxas feels all the nerves in his body wake back up.
What do you mean, find it?
I don't know. Just - find a place I fit.
Something runs across the freeway, just beyond the splash of headlights.
You know. Satisfied.
Roxas sits in silence, thinking hard. Fires twisting through him.
Is there a way for people to know each other that isn't sex?
Roxas is fifteen.
If there is I haven't found it.
Do you think about it every day?
I think about you every day.
So do you know me?
Axel fires the ignition, drives Roxas back to town. Drops him a block away from where his girlfriend lives.
See you tomorrow?
There is a party. Kids too young to drink and Roxas is making out with this girl. His girlfriend. Her hand is stuck in his pants. His hand is up her blouse. Not really doing much of anything.
Is it me?
What is it, then?
Out on the desert highway, the stars had been spattered across the top of the sky.
Sticks his tongue in her mouth. Thinks about how Axel tastes.
In school, Roxas sits staring out of the window as the first snows of winter fall down like eyes closing and cover the branches of the bare trees and silence all trace of the world.
Roxas' girlfriend wants him to take her to the movies to the mall to the beach so that they can hold hands and people can see her with her cute little boyfriend and her cute little outfit talking to her friends on her cellphone. Roxas holds her hand and buys her cinnamon mocha with the money he's taken from his mom's purse and smiles and nods and kisses her and thinks about Axel.
In school, the assignment is to write an autobiography of the rest of your life. Roxas' girlfriend stands up at the front of the class reading from her book about coming back from the beauty parlour to the neat white house and the neat mown lawn and Roxas loosening his tie. Kissing his wife on the cheek their two girls and a boy on their thistledown heads. Eating supper. Growing old.
In Roxas's book there is a blank page.
Roxas' mom has to visit her sister in the hospital. Roxas and his girlfriend make out on the couch until it's time for her to go home then he walks her home. They hold hands by her gate and she kisses him on the cheek and says I love you into his ear before running into the house and Roxas walks home through the snow.
Axel rattles pebbles off the window until Roxas opens it.
I want to give you something.
By the railroad tracks the black wind cuts Roxas but Axel takes his freezing hands and puts them under his shirt against his skin. Roxas can feel him burning burning and stretches up on his tiptoes to kiss him and the burning is in his mouth and in his veins and Axel's fingers are pulling at him and they drive back out into the desert.
Come away with me.
Axel pushes him back against the worn red leather of the back seat of his car and Roxas arches his back as the fire speeds up his spine and blooms in his brain, hips twitching as he comes and they lie together kissing for a long time before even Axel is too cold and they drive to the all nite diner in the next town where the waitress calls them newlyweds and they drink coffee until they're warm.
Roxas feels Axel like the drag of magnetism; like a drug. In school, Roxas sits staring out of the window, wondering what Axel is doing.
So who is this new kid you've been spending so much time with?
His mom knocks the ash on the end of her cigarette into her coffee mug. Roxas stares at the little ring of orange, smouldering.
I hear he's older. Does he go to your school?
Roxas licks his lips, shakes his head.
He lives in a trailer park? Is that true? Is that where you go?
Roxas shakes his head.
Are you taking drugs?
Is obsession a drug? Does that count?
Roxas doesn't say it.
Roxas' girlfriend wants him to take her Christmas shopping so he takes her. She picks out a basque and a camisole and can't choose so Roxas pays for them both.
Someone is going to get an early Christmas present she murmurs.
Roxas' girlfriend likes holding hands and cuddling and long fumbles that don't really lead to anything. Discussions about the future. Plans with every and then snapped into place.
Axel presses him into the brickwork behind the dumpsters, hot and hurried and urgent, footsteps passing by the end of the alley. Roxas feels like the rain before it falls.
I have to go to Florida for Christmas.
Her dad invited me.
You should go.
I don't want to.
I don't want you to either.
Roxas feels Axel's rough fingers against his bruiseless flesh, consuming him.
On Christmas Day Roxas calls his mom and then locks himself in the bathroom and calls Axel, jerks off to the sound of his voice, goes back down the stairs.
Later, his girlfriend's father takes a photograph, camera balanced on the porch rail, runs back into the frame, arm around his wife, one hand heavy on Roxas' shoulder, imagining grandchildren.
When he was small, Roxas wrote stories about Roxas being brave and heroic and dying from brave heroic deaths, and everyone being very sad. Now when he imagines not existing he hopes that no-one will notice, or care. Except for maybe Axel.
Roxas writes a note to his mom and sticks it on the fridge door.
Where are we going?
I don't know.
How will we know when we're there?
We just will.
Axel accelerates up the on ramp to the freeway, climbing closer to the sky.