Series: Post KH II
Word Count: 3,300
Characters/Pairings: OT5 (with mentions of past Axel/Roxas and probable Axel/Roxas/Xion). Hint of past Marluxia/Naminé
Summary: He sees all of them, and it’s enough.
Warnings: complicated-ness, some sexual content, some language, angst, sap.
Notes: If this is confusing as hell, I apologize. Roxas-muse would not leave me alone until I did this. I hope it’s as meaningful as I intended for it to be. I hope somebody likes it.
There are moments when all is quiet: when the world around them hasn’t woken up yet even though they themselves have begun to stir—when the darkness of night is beginning to give way to the light of morning, and when their breathing is steady and their heartbeats are calm and their touches are gentle and languid.
Three (four, five) sets of limbs are intertwined, bodies slowly and sweetly moving in a now-familiar rhythm.
Breath hitches and pulses speed, and the first rays of sunlight peek through the bedroom, casting shadows on the walls, on the ceiling. It is a darkness that they do not fear.
There are moments (just like this one) when all Sora can do is forget…
… And all Roxas can do is remember.
He feels alone sometimes even when he isn’t—he feels alone sometimes, in spite of the fact that alone is something that he never truly is, anymore. He is part of a whole and he should be grateful (he is grateful, most of the time), but there are times when he simply can’t be happy.
Forgetting… is difficult. Remembering is easy enough, it just hurts like hell on bad days.
This is starting out to be a bad day for him. Not even his calloused touch or her tender smile or her quiet (now breathless) laugh can pull him away from the place that he’s currently lost within.
It’s dark, he thinks, and wonders if this is anything like how Riku felt when he’d been lost in the darkness.
It’s Sora’s voice that finds him—Sora’s voice that reaches him, amidst all of this blackness and desolation. “You’re hiding, aren’t you? They miss you. We miss you.”
Roxas swallows hard and then answers: “Too many memories this morning. Too much to think about.”
And Sora knows, without having to be told—of course he does, why wouldn’t he? “It’s understandable, Roxas. I know. I almost lost them, too.”
Roxas immediately feels anger boiling inside – but it’s all him, not Sora – and he tries to hold the words back (because it isn’t fair; it isn’t fair to drag all of that warmth and sunshine into this cold blackness) but he finds that he cannot: “Yes, but almost isn’t quite there, is it? You got them back.” It’s a biting accusation and it’s not right at all, but the words have been spit out now and Roxas can’t take them back even though he instantly wishes that he could.
All of that warmth and happiness retreats, and Sora falls silent, tucked between Riku and Kairi.
The brown-haired youth is hurting now, and Roxas hates himself for being the cause of his pain.
Of course, since Sora is upset, Roxas feels it, and it puts him in an even worse mood.
When it’s just the two of them alone in Sora’s (their) bed, Roxas dares to whisper: “I’m sorry.”
Sora is quick to relent (and Roxas knows – without knowing – that it has always been this way): “You don’t have to be.”
If there were dirt beneath his feet, Roxas would kick awkwardly at it. “Yeah, but I am.”
He feels just a hint of Sora’s smirk: “Yeah, but you don’t have to be. Got it memorized?”
It doesn’t sound quite right coming from Sora (that stupid line only ever sounded right when it came from him), but Roxas understands the significance and something within his part of their shared heart swells because of it. He thinks, maybe Sora misses him, too, and chokes words past the sudden lump in his throat: “Yeah, I got it memorized.”
The light seeps back in, dispelling the gloom, and this warmth… all of it is Sora’s.
It feels nice.
“Why can’t I remember her?” he asks, and he is on the cusp of sleep—the words come out all slurred and drowsy.
They are all together again on this night (all but two, Roxas thinks desperately, knowing that two are missing, and have been for some time), and he hates to interrupt the stillness, but he can’t help it. The question has come unbidden, and the bodies beside him stir.
“Roxas?” Riku asks, and his eyes are little more than slits of green in the moonlight. “Remember who?”
Roxas rolls over so that his back is to Riku, but is careful not to pull away from the arm that is slung over his hip (yes, it is Riku’s; he likes the contact). “That’s just it… I don’t… I don’t know. I have this feeling that it wasn’t always just me and Axel. There was someone else.” His eyes are on Kairi now, fingers combing through the softness of her hair. “You remind me of her somehow, in some ways. Why?”
Kairi smiles and leans in to press a kiss to the corner of his lips. When she draws back, her eyes are slightly different, and her hair is blonde.
“Naminé,” Roxas whispers. “Why?”
Her touch is gentle, soothing. Her voice is almost hypnotic: “You haven’t forgotten her—not entirely, even though you were supposed to. You don’t remember everything, but there are scattered fragments, missing pieces; they’re buried deep but not entirely lost.”
She speaks in riddles sometimes, and he wonders where she learned to do so. “We have to find--”
She interrupts him, placing a finger to his lips and gently shushing him. “Not everything can be done in one night, Roxas. But you aren’t alone. For now, rest easy knowing that, and sleep.”
“Goodnight,” Riku mumbles against the back of his neck, and Roxas shivers while Sora smiles.
He doesn’t put up a fight; instead, he lets sleep claim him.
While Roxas tends to be plagued with doubts when darkness finds them, Riku tends to suffer in broad daylight.
He becomes fascinated with his reflection from time to time, as if he can’t quite believe that the person he sees in the mirror is the person he truly is.
This morning, the fingers of his right hand are splayed against the glass and the fingers of his left hand are gripping the edge of the bathroom counter so tightly that his knuckles are white. Sora and Kairi are visibly concerned, and Naminé is as silent and breathless as Roxas, waiting for the inevitable momentary slip of sanity.
“Who do you see?” Riku asks, voice small and on the edge of breaking—so unlike how he typically sounds.
Kairi and Sora are at his side in a moment, hands steadying him, mouths whispering soft reassurances against his cheeks, his lips, his neck, his shoulders. “Riku,” they whisper again and again. “Riku.”
Roxas sees Riku too, but sometimes… just sometimes… it’s different. True, Roxas never sees Ansem when he gazes at Riku, even though he’s seen Riku in that form before. There are moments when the mix of warmth and mischievousness in Riku’s eyes reminds Roxas of Axel, and those are the moments when he has to look away, when he has to bite his tongue to keep from saying something entirely stupid.
This morning, he doesn’t bite his tongue in time. His words are choked-sounding, and softer than Riku’s: “When I look at you, sometimes I see Axel.”
Suddenly, all eyes are on him and he feels very small and weak and stupid. “I’m sorry,” he says, but their arms are around him in the next moment, holding onto him, keeping him upright and maybe just a little saner.
He grasps at Riku, blinking back tears, and he gently traces the contours of his face. “I’m sorry,” he says again. “This wasn’t supposed to be about me, was it? It was--”
But Riku shakes his head. “Don’t. Don’t apologize. It’s all right, Roxas.”
He can hear Sora’s voice, and Kairi’s, and Naminé’s too. Can feel their gentle touches all along his skin. They are all clearly in agreement with Riku, even though Roxas believes that they shouldn’t be.
But he calms his breathing (because he thinks he’s probably this close to hyperventilating) and he refuses to let himself cry; instead, he resorts to quietly hiccupping and nodding, and his hands are on Riku’s face again, carefully tracing the features.
“Right now,” he begins, glad when his voice doesn’t tremble or catch, “I see Riku.”
Riku’s smile is something bright and wonderful (as is his voice), and it makes Roxas think of his Other: “I’m glad, Roxas. I’m glad.”
“He loved you, you know.”
Sora’s voice tugs at him, pulling him away from the depths of near-sleep.
“What?” Roxas asks, and doesn’t know why he’s asking. He knows exactly who his Other is referring to.
“Axel. He loved you.”
“He didn’t have a heart,” Roxas mumbles. “He couldn’t have been capable of it.” Even as he says the words, the heart that he shares with Sora constricts painfully, and he knows that Sora feels it, too. This is confirmed when Sora raises a hand, placing it over his chest.
“Heart or no,” Sora begins, with strength, “I believe he was capable of it.”
Roxas doesn’t bother with arguing any further; he simply closes his eyes and sighs softly, hoping to drift to sleep quickly.
He doesn’t, and he can’t help the thought that comes to him, unbidden: Maybe he’s right.
She’s drawn a picture of the sunset, and there isn’t even a hint of an uncolored space on the paper: it’s filled with brilliant shades of gold and orange and yellow and red, and it sends all sorts of memories flooding back to him.
He pulls her into a tight embrace, and she responds immediately, nuzzling at his neck and clutching at him.
“You remember this,” Naminé says, and it isn’t a question.
Roxas nods and closes his eyes. “There were the three of us, I know. I just… still can’t remember who she was, really. You said that you’d--”
But she interrupts by shaking her head and pressing a chaste kiss to the column of his throat. “Not today, Roxas. Not yet.”
He sighs, but cannot find it in himself to be angry at her.
“I didn’t get to go outside to see the sunset for a long time,” she abruptly confesses. “Both of them… they kept me in a sort of prison, you know? But at least he wasn’t so terrible… not all the time. Sometimes, though, he was terrifying. Other times, he was….” And here she trails off, blushing. Roxas can feel the heat of her skin against his own.
“It’s all right,” Roxas reassures. Lost in his own thoughts, he absently takes her hand, placing it over his chest so that she can feel the steady beating of his and Sora’s heart. “You know… sometimes, I think I’d be willing to give this up, for a chance to go back.”
Her response is very quiet, and in that moment, she sounds fragile and so very sad: “Sometimes, I think I would be, too.”
She doesn’t elaborate, and neither does he. Elaboration isn’t something that is required right now. They simply hold onto one another, lost in thought, until Roxas speaks again: “The sun’s gonna set soon. We can go watch it together.”
Within the blink of an eye, Blonde is auburn, and a different set of blue eyes are gazing sweetly and longingly at him. The face is Kairi’s, but the tears are Naminé’s.
Roxas gently brushes them away. “Let’s go.”
Maybe there’s just something about the sunset or about the first few twinkles of starlight in the sky. Maybe there’s just something about the way she looks at him or smiles at him or leans into him. Either way, Roxas doesn’t pull away—not when she kisses him, not when she begins undressing the both of them, and not when Sora teasingly informs him that even though the beach is romantic and all, it’s not exactly the ideal spot for lovemaking due to the sand.
It’s one piece of advice that Roxas probably shouldn’t have ignored considering that both he and Sora know better at this point, thanks to experience. But he is as urgent as she is, and hasn’t Sora always told him, listen to your heart first?
He doesn’t regret it, even when he discovers that he’s got sand in rather uncomfortable places.
“She thinks you are a beautiful person,” Kairi tells him, and she is referring to Naminé. “No-one’s ever really done that for her before.” Quickly, she adds, “I think you’re beautiful, too.” She’s blushing, even though this isn’t the first compliment she’s given Roxas, and this certainly isn’t the first time they’ve been in this sort of situation together.
Roxas smiles at her, and it is genuine. For several long moments, there is nothing but the sound of their breathing and the sound of the waves, and the feel of her arms around him, of her body against his.
And then, there is this: “It was Xion.”
Roxas’ fuzzy brain can’t make sense of the words. “What are you talking about?”
“Her name,” Kairi (though not Kairi now; Naminé) elaborates. “It was Xion.”
“It’s my fault that she’s gone,” Roxas says, entirely out of the blue. He doesn’t mean for the words to slip out, and he doesn’t mean to wake Sora from his sleep.
“Wasn’t it her decision?” Sora asks, and Roxas knows that he’s trying to be helpful, but it’s not like he truly understands—he never knew her, after all. Hell, even Roxas had pretty much forgotten her, but because that was apparently how it was supposed to work. He still doesn’t know everything and he doesn’t know when or if he’ll be able to fill the gaps of the missing pieces, but he knows quite enough at this point to come to the conclusion that her rather rapid and untimely death was entirely his own fault.
“She wanted… to come back to you,” Roxas replies. “She knew it was where she belonged.”
“Then she isn’t really gone,” Sora says. “You might not be able to see her or hear her, but she’s with both of us. I’m sure she would have wanted you to understand that.”
“You don’t get it,” Roxas hisses, and the anger in his voice causes Sora to inch away from him. “Despite all of that… I killed her, Sora. With these hands.”
Sora is close again, taking Roxas’ hands and holding them tightly. “You helped her live,” he corrects.
Roxas can’t hold back the tears or the sobs, and it is Sora who holds onto him, Sora who tells him it’s all right, Sora who keeps him from shattering.
When he’s exhausted himself and is drifting towards (a hopefully dreamless) sleep, he swears he hears her voice, right by his ear: “He’s right, you know.”
He knows he has to be imagining it, but it makes him feel better, anyway.
It’s the five of them again—Naminé’s pulled herself away from Kairi but she remains close by, curled against her side, trailing gentle, exploratory touches along Kairi’s upper body. Some of those touches make her laugh, and some of them make her breath catch. Some of them make her whimper.
“Shit,” Riku curses, wriggling beside Roxas, who has voluntarily trapped himself between the silver-haired teen and his Other. There is no bite to the word, and Roxas has the feeling that Riku is more amused than anything else. “The girls just don’t let us catch a break, do they? A grand total of five minutes, and they’re at it again.”
“I think it would be very smart to not complain, you dolt,” Roxas (affectionately) admonishes, tugging at strands of Riku’s hair just because.
“I’m not really complaining,” Riku replies, sticking his tongue out at Roxas. “They don’t need my permission to continue; we’ll catch up.”
“It’s my fault,” Sora murmurs, and he sounds so grave, almost… mournful. He’s the one close to breaking now, and Roxas can’t begin to understand—just moments ago, everything was fine, so why?
Riku reaches over Roxas so he can get to Sora, and there is a mix of concern and adoration in his gaze. “What’s wrong, Sora?”
Sora shakes his head. His eyes remain on Riku for a moment, but then he is glancing at Roxas.
“Come on,” Riku prompts. “Whatever it is, you’ve been holding it back a while, haven’t you? I can see it in your eyes.”
There’s this cold feeling inside the pit of Roxas’ belly, like glaciers are moving around in there and bumping into each other over and over again. He has the sneaking suspicion now that he knows what this is all about—the look in Sora’s eyes says a great deal.
“No--” he starts, but Sora interrupts him.
“I took everything from you,” Sora says between gritted teeth, and the expression on his face is one of pain.
It is suddenly very quiet: Naminé and Kairi are no longer moving against each other, and Riku is silent and unmoving as well. This is a very serious moment, and Roxas believes that all eyes are on him, waiting for his reply.
Part of him kind of wants to smack Sora for having this little breakdown now of all times, but the majority of him just wants to grab Sora and pull him close and never let him go and tell him that it’s really okay, because in spite of everything… Roxas has never blamed him. Not once.
“Don’t,” Roxas gently tells him, rolling over to face him fully and slide trembling arms around him. Sora is (unsurprisingly) shaking, too. “Don’t do this. I never blamed you, Sora. I wanted to find you. I wanted to be with you. I signed up for this.”
Sora makes a choked-off sound and just shakes his head. “You’ve never blamed me, maybe, but I’ve always blamed me.”
Roxas bumps his forehead against Sora’s. “You’ve got to stop this. It isn’t like you. You’ve been carrying this for too long, so just let it go. You’ve always given me your light, your warmth. Don’t fall apart on me now—not when it’s uncalled for.”
“I have a damn good reason,” Sora argues, his eyes closed and his face all scrunched up, like he’s trying not to cry. “I told you, I--”
“And I’m telling you that you didn’t,” Roxas quickly interjects. “Look, Sora, I see you.” He then glances at Riku, Kairi, and Naminé: “And you, and you, and you.” Then he closes his eyes, and he sees Xion’s little grin and Axel’s self-satisfied smirk, and silently adds: And you, and you.
His eyes are on Sora again as he resumes talking: “You have given me everything, Sora. Everything. You’ve never taken anything away.”
“But Roxas--” Sora obviously wants so badly to argue, but Roxas won’t let him.
“Everything,” Roxas repeats. Then, remembering, he adds: “Got it memorized?”
It doesn’t sound quite right coming from him either, but it makes Sora smile and it makes the others laugh softly, and it makes Roxas feel a thousand times better for some unexplainable reason.
Roxas is caught between all of them—their kindness and their patience and their love. He knows he is exactly where he belongs; he knows that Xion would have felt the same way, and that Axel would have, too.
I see all of you.
It’s more than he ever expected; it’s more than he deserves; it’s more than he could have or would have ever asked for.
In this moment, he can hear Axel’s voice, clear as a bell (and he’s the only one that can make that silly phrase of his sound right): “You’ve got all the pieces lined up, Rox. Keep moving forward; don’t look back. We’re all with you. Got it memorized?”
And maybe this time – just this once – he actually does.
I know it’s not terribly long or anything, but writing this… it felt like a journey. I’m actually kind of grateful for it.