The Road To Recovery
Days passed and slowly Roxas started showing progress in healing, though admittedly only physically; he was doing brilliantly in physiotherapy and the majority of his wounds were well on their way to mending. Mentally though, the 22 year old was a mess. Every time his eyes closed he was taken back to it all; reliving every second of pain, every strike, every scream and every tear. He woke up in a cold sweat most mornings and panting for air. What made it worse was that he couldn't see anyone until their shift was over, not even Axel, so the blonde was left to suffer alone with his nightmares. Because of this, when he did have visitors, he never let on to the severity of his condition. Not once. As far as they were concerned, or at least he hoped so, he was healing fine mentally and physically and would be back to his old self in no time. The nurses had tried to help him, but he got scared any time they came near him with a sedative to help him sleep all he could focus on was the sharp object (a needle) being brought towards him. It had made him restless and Roxas started to try and stay awake in order to avoid the nightmares, causing bags to begin to form under his eyes.
Towards the end of the first week, Roxas found himself staring at the clock on his wall as he waited for Axel to come. Xemnas quietly walked in and took a seat next to him, reached over and rested his hand on the blonde's forearm which caused said boy to flinch and turn. "O-Oh... Sorry Captain, I-"
"Don't worry about it, Roxas. How are you doing?"
"Fine, they said I should be out in a few weeks."
"Good. And... How are you doing mentally?" He gave Roxas a concerned look. After all, he didn't really need to ask; from the blonde's ragged appearance and what he'd been told by the doctor before he walked in, it was easy to work out what was happening to the young officer, Xemnas just wanted to hear him say it.
"I... Fine, just fine..."
"I see... Well okay then. Look Roxas, I understand how hard this will be, but I need that statement now. I decided to put it off for the sake of your recovery but now I really do need to hear it." Roxas gave a slight nod and a shaky sigh then started talking. For the next hour or so, he recounted everything from leaving Axel at the park to losing consciousness in the tank. He'd started crying at one point, he wasn't sure when exactly, and had to stop a few times to pull himself together but eventually they got through it. "Thank you Roxas, I'm sorry I had to make you relive that..."
"I-It's okay..." The blonde shook his head and wiped the tears away, emotionally drained and physically exhausted. "Thanks for being patient."
"Ideed." Xemnas stood with a heavy heart, thugh his stoic features hid it well, and patted his employee's shoulder before and leaving to hand in the report. Left alone with his thoughts, Roxas looked down at his bandaged body and felt tears gathering in his eyes. He let them flow freely as he succumbed to his depression and squeezed his eyes shut as he fisted the sheets. Though admittedly that just made things worse and before he knew it, he'd broken down completely and was crying his heart out. He hated this. He hated the scars that would inevitably litter his body. He hated the apparent phobia of being touched and of sharp objects. He hated that he couldn't sleep without seeing it all again and worst of all, he hated that the one person he wanted with him wasn't here right now. Roxas had known for a while now what his feelings for Axel were; it wasn't hard to figure out. After that first date, when everything had seemed so right, he couldn't get the redhead off his mind. He called out for him the few times when he'd fallen asleep and he would always strive to be held when Axel came to visit, no matter how much his body recoiled from the idea. But what troubled him was that he doubted Axel could ever feel the same way. Sure, he may have done in the past, after all the date was the redhead's idea in the first place, but Roxas couldn't see how Axel could love someone as physically repulsive and broken as the blonde had become. No, Axel would want someone who didn't need fixing, someone without the drama. He would want someone like himself, so perfect and flawless and charming. Not some kid who cries every time he closed his eyes, even for a couple of seconds. These thoughts stayed with Roxas as his body succumbed to his exhaustion and he eventually fell into a restless sleep.
Axel arrived at the hospital an hour later than he'd expected; bloody traffic. Making his way to Roxas' room, the redhead could hear screaming. He ran in to see his blonde friend tossing and turning in his sleep, drenched in sweat and whimpering, occasionally yelling out Axel's name before going back to his incoherent mumblings. Rushing over to him, Axel tried to calm him down but it didn't seem to be working. "Roxy? Roxas, c'mon wake up! Roxas!" Admitting defeat, he slammed his hand down on the call button and watched as two nurses ran in and took the opportunity to sedate the blonde. Once he was sleeping peacefully, they left the room, giving Axel time alone with his thoughts. The redhead sank into one of the available chairs and sighed, running a hand through his friend's hair. "Oh Roxy... Why didn't you say anything?" He continued to stroke the blonde locks until his friend awoke again. He knew he was suffering; no one could go through that kind of hell without some scars. But the truth was, Axel didn't care he loved Roxas, even before that first date he'd loved him. He was scared though; if he admitted his feelings for Roxas, it might make the blonde act out even more. He probably didn't even feel more than a crush for him, given everything that happened to him after their night together. No, for now it was better to still call him a friend.
When the boy finally did come round, Axel let his hand drop to the other's and squeezed gently. "Hey soldier..."
"Hey..." Roxas' voice was hoarse from all the yelling and his eyes were red from unshed tears. "How long have you-"
"Long enough to know you're more damaged than you're letting on Roxy." He got a wince in response. "Why didn't you tell me...?"
"I... I didn't wanna worry you..." And you'd definitely think I was a freak if I told you...
"Oh Roxy... M'always gonna worry about you, okay? Cos... Well, I care a lot about you."
"Well I..." Axel sighed and ran a hand through his hair. "Aw hell I love you Roxas, okay? When you disappeared I nearly had a heart attack. I don't know what I'd do without you. I didn't wanna say anything but..." The blonde just smiled and silenced him with a bandaged hand on his cheek.
"I love you too Ax, so much. When he... When I thought I was gonna die, I was so scared I'd never see you again... I thought you... wouldn't want to be around someone like me; someone so broken and scarred." Roxas looked away and dropped his hand, but Axel pressed his hand against Roxas', keeping it on his cheek.
"Roxas don't talk like that. You've come so far in such a short time. I mean, you're recovering well..."
"Only physically..." He continued to look down at his bed sheets and gave a shaky sigh.
"Roxy look at me. Look at me." The blonde looked up again. "You are not broken, okay?"
"Ax, will you... will you stay with me tonight? I don't wanna be alone..." The redhead nodded and, after scooting the blonde over, he sat next to him and wrapped an arm around him. The two spent the rest of the night together and for once, Roxas dreamed of red hair instead of red blood.
Just as had been said, Roxas was released by the end of the month. Axel came to pick him up and drove him to the station to see everyone again. His left arm was in a sling and his torso was still wrapped up in bandages, as well as his right wrist and hand. There were cuts on his face, arms and legs, not to mention some very angry looking burn scars but the biggest marks were on his chest and back from the whip. Still, there wasn't really anything else the doctors could do so he'd been discharged with a prescription for some extra strength sleeping pills and a recommended psychiatrist's number. The car ride was silent the whole way, but as they turned the corner to the station, there was a low buzz of noise. As the car drew nearer, it became all too clear to Roxas that he was going to have trouble getting through; the front of the station was flooded with reporters and newscasters and cameras.
"Axel..." The redhead growled at the sight.
"Dammit, Saix said he'd take care of this!" With a sigh, he turned to his boyfriend and held his hand. "Wait here, I'll come round and help you through." The blonde nodded and waited, feeling a little bit like a pig for the slaughter right now. Still, he'd been through Hell the press couldn't be that bad, could they? Axel opened the door and the struggle began. With one hand protectively holding Roxas' slinged arm and the other on his right shoulder, Axel led his blonde through all the flashes, microphones and shouting. By the time they got to the door, the two couldn't see the path they'd walked. Opening and closing the doors, they leant against them and grinned at each other.
"Now that was torture."
After collecting themselves, the two made their way to Homicide department. One thing Roxas wasn't expecting was applause from everyone in there. He was pretty sure he heard a whoop from somewhere.
"Welcome back Rox! You had us worried little man." Xigbar grinned and ruffled his hair. Others smiled and nodded like Luxord and Demyx just turned into a blur and tackled his friend to the ground.
"Demyx, can't breathe!" Said blonde quickly stood up bashfully and helped Roxas back to his feet.
"Sorry man, got a little carried away I guess..." There was a throat clear in the room and everyone turned to see Cpt. Xemnas and the Lieutenant, the former with a small smile on his face.
"Welcome back Harvey."
"Thank you, sir." With a nudge Saix stepped forward and shook his hand, which Roxas figured was as much as he was going to get.
"I'm sorry officer." Or not. "If we'd followed your lead when you first brought it up, none of this would have happened. I'm glad you had a speedy recovery."
"Er... Thanks Lieutenant..." No one knew about Roxas' mental health but Axel and Xemnas and Roxas was incredibly grateful for that; he didn't want to be treated differently as a result of these events.
Unfortunately, the blonde still had to do a press conference. Axel stayed with him (much to Saix's annoyance) as did the Captain and Lieutenant. As they took their seats and the flashes of cameras started, Roxas reached under the table and held on tight to his boyfriend's hand.
"You okay?" The redhead whispered.
"Y-Yeah; should be..." Axel smiled and kept his grip on the blonde's hand. What followed was an hour of constant questions, all directed at Roxas mostly. It was difficult to answer some of the more blunt questions, but he felt he managed fairly well under the circumstances.
"Did you know her?" "We talked..." An awkward shift.
"How long were you there?" "Er... two weeks I think..." A nod in confirmation from Xemnas.
"How old was she?" "22." A cut in from Axel.
"What was it like being there?" "It was...I-It was..." Roxas squeezed his eyes shut, trying to block out the memories but at the same time trying to see them to answer the question. Axel felt the sudden increase in pressure on his hand and took the hint. He leant forwards and softly spoke into the microphone.
"Traumatic. No further comment."
"What will you do now Captain?" Xemnas looked at the two next to him; holding hands, comforting each other. Roxas's head on Axel's shoulder with his eyes still closed and Axel murmuring soothing words to him that no one else could hear. He frowned in concern, as well as irritation he'd have to talk to them about that later but for now he'd let it pass.
"Make the department bigger to deal with every case that comes in so we never have to face this problem again. Also, I want to formerly announce that officer Harvey will be given a promotion to Detective for brilliant intuition and providing vital information, even when his life and the life of another was at risk." Roxas' eyes shot open and went impossibly wide. He looked at his superior with disbelief while Axel's mouth hung open. Eventually, it turned into a grin and he gave Roxas a one-armed hug. The sea of reporters clapped and flashed their cameras even more. Feeling overwhelmed, Roxas leant back into Axel's hold and smiled. There was time for one more question and it came from the very back of the room.
"Is anything from the case about the Monthly Murderer going to be released?" Everyone looked to Xemnas at that point (including the other three behind the desk with him) and he sighed.
"Only his name and the names of his victims. The rest is better left forgotten." Seemingly satisfied, the reporters started to leave after a few more minutes while the four policemen got up and went back to their station.
Once there, Xemnas summoned Axel and Roxas into his office and sat behind the desk, watching them carefully. "You realise you two are breaking the rules here?"
"I don't understand Captain, what have we done wrong sir?" Roxas tilted his head in confusion while Axel just ran a hand through his hair.
"Us Roxas. He means us." The blonde just looked more confused by that.
"Because we're guys..?" Xemnas gave him a soft smile and shook his head.
"Not at all. Officers cannot work properly while in a relationship. Especially as partners; it could cloud their judgement, they might take unnecessary risks to protect another detective..." Both Axel and Roxas looked down and nodded, understanding now what this meant for their hope at a relationship. "However, seeing as Axel is in forensics... I suppose I could let this one slide." Both men looked up and smiled at their superior's happy face. "Just be careful. If anything happens because of your relationship, I won't think twice about reconsidering my decision." They nodded and got up to leave. Axel held the door open for Roxas but just as he was about to walk through, Xemnas called out to him once more. "I really am glad to have you back Roxas; you're a good cop, not to mention the youngest and probably bravest we've had for a while. It really would have been a shame to lose you."
"Thank you Captain, I'm just glad you found me in time..." Xemnas smiled, nodded and the two left the room. They sat back down at Axel's desk and within moments Axel had pulled Roxas into his lap. Nuzzling his hair, the redhead's long arms wrapped around the younger's middle and held him close.
"Roxas, I'm so proud of you... Just, promise me one thing?"
"Mm?" Roxas tilted his head slightly, resting it on Axel's shoulder.
"If you have bad dreams or... or need someone to talk to... come find me, okay? I don't want you to be alone in this."
"I know Ax, I will don't worry..." He reached over and kissed his cheek, then smiled and cuddled into him. Right now, these two didn't care if people were looking; they were together and that's all they cared about. "But you know what? I'm not alone, not anymore." Axel just grinned.
"I love you."
"Love you too, until death do us part."