"I'm so sorry, Roxas."
"It's okay, Yuff, really."
"But your shirt…"
Roxas and Yuffie were in the family restroom, attempting to rid his shirt of a stain. She just happened to puke at an inopportune moment. And lucky number thirteen had the joy of getting her brunch all over him. Yuffie flushed with embarrassment, almost on the verge of tears. Seeing this, he tried to console her.
"Yuffie, it's not your fault. Things like this happen all the time," Roxas insisted.
Oh yeah, I'm sure Aerith has heaved in Spike's hair before, she thought ironically. She sniffed and pathetically poured more hand soap on the ugly, yellow-green spot.
"I don't think this is going to work. This needs to be laundered with detergent," Roxas stated, wringing his jacket. "We'll have to ask if they provide this service at the hotel."
"If they do, I'll pay for it. It's only right," Yuffie replied as Roxas put his soiled clothes in a bag. He looked up when she said this and shook his head.
"Forget it. I'll deal with it. You should take it easy," Roxas persisted. If anything, it was my fluke for forcing you to come with me.
"If you say so," Yuffie sighed, finally giving in. Were it anyone else, she wouldn't have backed down. However, he was just as stubborn as she was. Arguing back and forth wouldn't get them anywhere. She would have to find some other way to make it up to him. For now, he was right, she should take it easy. It wouldn't be pretty sight if she hurled on the way back.
Once their predicament was sorted out, Yuffie suddenly realized Roxas would have to go back bare-chested. The weather wouldn't cause a problem, since the night was cool but not chilly. But the amusement park's rules and regulations stated shirts and shoes must be worn at all times.
"You can't walk around shirtless, you know," Yuffie pointed out blatantly. Surprisingly, she didn't swoon at the sight like many other girls would've done. She supposed she was used to it by now. After all, she had trained with Leon in the waterways of Transverse Town and Cloud in Hollow Bastion.
But she had to admit, even if he was a bit gaunt, he wasn't badly defined.
"I know," he responded, somewhat timid of her gaze on him. The only girl who had seen him like this was Olette, and she was a childhood friend. Yuffie… he wasn't quite sure what relationship he had with her. To others, he would simply say they were companions. However, from their private interactions the past few weeks, it seemed like something deeper.
"Wait here," Yuffie commanded after a moment of contemplation, "I'll be right back." With that, she took her munny pouch and headed out the door.
After hearing the door shut, Roxas sighed and slouched against the wall. He was stuck in the family restroom until she brought him a top. Or, at least, that's what he assumed she was getting.
"You've got to be kidding me…" the blonde muttered, staring at the most hideous shirt he had even seen.
"Hehe, sorry but everything else sold out," Yuffie notified. "The demand for carnival goods was much higher than we expected."
I can't believe she expects me to wear that, Roxas thought in disbelief, looking disdainfully toward a hot pink T-shirt with the slogan, 'It takes a real man to wear pink.' He could just picture the looks on his friends' faces. Hayner would die laughing, Pence would have a perfect opportunity for blackmail, and Olette would shake her head in disapproval.
"I can't believe they actually sell this stuff," the ninja commented, taking the words out of his mouth.
Roxas frowned. "Shouldn't you know about that?"
"Nope," Yuffie responded cheerfully. "Tifa and Aerith are in charge of the merchandise. My job is to spread information about events hosted by the HRBC."
That makes sense. She is quite a social butterfly, Roxas mused.
"Anyway, you should get dressed. The carnival will be closing soon," Yuffie said.
He groaned and threw on the shirt reluctantly. Thank goodness it's dark outside.
Roxas yawned and plopped his head on the starchy pillow. Today, sure has been a long day, he thought tiredly. I can only imagine what tomorrow will bring—especially with the unpredictable Yuffie.
"Here are your clothes, Roxas. The maid just brought them in," the ninja announced, closing the door of their suite.
"Thanks, Yuff. Just leave them on the dresser," Roxas told her. "I'm turning in for the night."
Yuffie dutifully placed the clothes on the dresser, folded and neat, just as he had asked. Then she kneeled on the makeshift sleeping bed next to him. "Already? Sheesh, you sure don't have a lot of energy. It's only 7 o' clock."
"Well, being twirled around and upside down takes a lot of energy out of you," Roxas notified, shifting on his side toward her. "Aren't you even the least bit tired? If you don't recall, you lost your brunch earlier this evening."
Yuffie chewed on her lip. "Yeah, but I feel better now…"
Roxas realized from the remorse in her eyes that his tone was bitter. "I didn't mean it in a bad way, Yuff. It's just that most people don't spring back from heaving their insides so easily."
Yuffie scowled. "Thanks for putting it so nicely."
Roxas winced, sitting up. "Sorry, Yuff. I've been feeling a little strange since we got back from the carnival."
"Motion sickness isn't contagious as far as I know," Yuffie informed sarcastically, not buying his apology.
"I mean it. Maybe it's from something I ate. Or…" Roxas trailed off. No, it couldn't be him.
"Or what?" Yuffie asked cautiously, noticing a serious look on his face.
"Nothing. I'll just get some rest and see if I'm better in the morning. Night," Roxas said quickly, laying back down and throwing the covers over him. He turned around and buried his face in the blanket.
"Good night," Yuffie replied, giving him a concerned look. I wonder what's up with him. I hope it has nothing to do with me. Though, she didn't give it too much thought, and before long she retired as well.
The blonde stirred from hearing his name being called. He opened his eyes slowly, taking in the sight around him. The dark-haired ninja hovered over him. Desperation and fear were written all over her face. Bewildered, he attempted to sit up. However, his muscles felt rigid, and he couldn't move.
"Y—Yuffie? What's going on? Is this a dream?" Roxas tried to ask all at once. His mouth seemed to be the only mechanism in his body that was working.
"I don't know. I—I just woke up and saw you were glowing!" she managed to spit out.
"Glowing?" he repeated. Suddenly, his bleary eyes widened at the reflection in the mirror behind her. His body was radiating a soft, yellow hue unlike any he had seen before. Unbeknownst to the two caretakers, it was much like when Sora contracted the Time Reversal Curse.
"What's happening? What should we do?" Yuffie panicked, rummaging through her suitcase for restorative items.
"Calm down, Yuffie. I don't think those are going to help. We should—" Roxas was cut off from a loud ringing.
Bring, Bring. Yuffie stiffed at the sound then relaxed slightly. It was just the phone. But who would be calling at this hour…? Could it be?
"Answer the phone. It might be Merlin and the others," Roxas requested.
She nodded slowly and got up to answer the phone. "Hello?"
"That you, Yuffie? It's Riku. Is everything all right over there?" Riku inquired. His normally nonchalant tone had a hint of uneasiness.
"Actually, we're in the bit of a bind right now. You see, Roxas is—"
"Glowing?" he finished.
"Yeah. How did you know? Something… isn't wrong with Sora, is there?" Yuffie questioned.
There was a pause on the other line. "I think you should see it for yourself. Let's just say he's having a similar reaction."
"I would like to, Riku, but Roxas is disabled at the moment. He can't move an inch," Yuffie answered.
"I figured as much. That's why Merlin is going to teleport you here,"
"Teleport! How? That spell is quite difficult even for an experienced wizard."
"There's no other option at the moment. I'm told he only uses this in emergencies and it drains a lot of magic power. So it's best that we get this right the first time. I've give you instructions."
"What's Riku saying?" Roxas asked.
"He's saying that Merlin's going to teleport us to his house," Roxas raised a brow in disbelief, but Yuffie continued, "I don't know how exactly, but there's nothing else we can do."
"Alright, first step is to…" Yuffie returned her attention to the phone, "…sit next to Roxas."
She complied and awaited further instructions. "Contact him physically to ensure your atoms don't get dispersed."
"What?" Yuffie exclaimed.
"Er—hold his hand so you two won't end up in different locations," Riku clarified.
The shinobi intertwined her fingers with Roxas'. He looked at her strangely. "Just following procedures," she replied shyly.
"Last step—this is the most important part—close your eyes and picture Merlin's house as best as you can."
"Picture Merlin's house in your head," Yuffie mumbled, shutting her eyes. Roxas mimicked her.
"Get ready. We'll take care of it from here," Riku finished, hanging up. With her free hand, Yuffie placed the phone back in the cradle and waited.
Abruptly, the duo was enveloped in a blinding light. Roxas gasped and his eyes fluttered open. Yuffie tightened her grip, wordlessly reminding him to focus. He closed his eyes and continued to concentrate. The blonde started to feel a tingling sensation throughout his body. It was as if his atoms and molecules were being rearranged. A moment later, he lost consciousness.
"It's good to see you safe and sound," someone said.
"I'm fine, but Roxas didn't take it as well as I did," another voice responded.
"Not to worry, the lad will be fine. It was his first time, after all."
"I hate to interrupt, but we should check up on Sora. Roxas will be awake soon," a third voice stated.
"Right," the first two voices agreed, and there was the sound of shoes shuffling up the stairs.
Roxas grunted and sat up once again. He realized that he was now mobile, so he threw his legs over the side of the bed and stood up. So far, so good. Before observing his surroundings, he brushed a long, white hair from his shirt. From this, he concluded that he had been lying in Merlin's cot.
Roxas guessed that he had lost consciousness during the teleportation process. Though slightly embarrassed, he supposed he should be grateful that he got to Merlin's house in one piece. Also, he was glad that Yuffie was alright. Speaking of which, where was the shinobi?
At that moment, he heard a gasp and saw a billow of smoke coming from the second floor. Immediately, he sprinted up the steps and stopped in front of the guest room.
"Hehe, hey guys…"
The blonde gaped. It was Sora. But it was not the little brunette that he remembered…
In other words, he was back to normal.
"Sora!" Yuffie shrieked, rushing over to the brunette and wrapping him in a bear hug.
Riku simply smirked and Merlin let out a sigh of relief. Roxas couldn't believe his eyes. How could he change back so soon? Just three days ago, he couldn't have been more than three feet tall. That meant he grew about twice that size in a matter of hours. His head spun just wondering how that was scientifically possible.
"You need to stop overanalyzing things. Be happy that you don't have to play the babysitter anymore." Riku clapped Roxas on the back, bringing him out of his reverie.
"I am. You need to stop being so casual," he snapped.
The silver haired enigma chuckled. "No need to be so touchy, Roxy. Go see your family."
The blonde huffed, not bothering to retort. He moved over to the ninja and the keyblade bearer, who was lying in bed with a cheesy grin on his face. "Not going to change back on us, are you, Sora?"
Sora laughed. "I don't think so. I'm feeling a lot better now—thanks to you guys. Though, I have to admit, it was kind of fun being a kid again."
"You mean you were conscious during that time?" Yuffie asked in surprise.
"Hmm… I have bits and pieces of memory. Not a whole lot—but enough to get the gist of what was going on."
"That is good to hear, Sora. We are all glad to see you are in good health," Merlin said.
"Me too, but to be honest, all those potions and stuff were kind of unnecessary…"
"What!" Roxas and Yuffie exclaimed.
"I think all I needed was a break from all the fighting. The darkness was beginning to feel overwhelming," Sora admitted softly, "I guess my body decided to go back to a time when my heart was full of light and happiness."
"That makes sense. Childhood is usually the time when the heart is most pure," Riku said.
"Still, how was his body able to do that? It defies all sense of logic," Roxas questioned.
"The heart cannot be defined by logic, Roxas," Merlin declared wisely.
"He's right," Yuffie agreed, swinging her legs back and forth from her seat on Sora's bed. "There are just some mysteries that can't be solved."
"It could also have to do with the keyblade. Choosing its wielder might not be the only power it has." Sora brought up an interesting point.
"True," Roxas replied.
"Now that that is settled, um… mind giving me my old clothes back?" Sora inquired bashfully. His current attire was ripped from the transformation process.
"Oh! I'll take care of that." Yuffie volunteered, hastily exiting the room.
For Roxas, today was the last day of summer vacation. He was leaving with Goofy and Donald by gummi ship. Riku had disappeared mysteriously the night before. He was never one for goodbyes. Sora, on the other hand, decided to tag along for old time's sake. Not only that, but school in the Destiny Islands would start soon as well. Merlin, Yuffie, and the rest of the HBRC were seeing them off in the town square.
After everyone bid them adieu, Yuffie gave Roxas a personal goodbye. She placed him in a headlock and grinding his skull playfully. "You better not forget me, Roxy-poo."
"Believe me. You've been permanently stamped into my memory," he wisecracked, rubbing his sore head.
"That was my intention," she stated, sticking her tongue out.
The blonde smiled genuinely. He was really going to miss the hyperactive ninja. She brought a lot of liveliness into his existence. Not a day went by without being filled with energy and enthusiasm. Regardless of who was watching, he locked her into his embrace. "Thanks, Yuffie."
Yuffie was shocked at his rare show of affection, but she returned it wholeheartedly. The crowd hushed not wanting to ruin their moment. She wasn't quite sure what he was thanking her for, but she went along with it. "Aww… you're welcome," she whispered, reveling in the warmth that he provided. "And don't make it sound like this is the last time I'll ever see you," she continued. "There's always winter and spring break."
"And, of course, the endless summer," Roxas added.
"Yes, the endless summer," Yuffie repeated, grinning.
"Alright, you two lovebirds, time to go," Sora announced as they released each other. Neither of them blushed or shied away this time. What they felt was natural. It was nothing to be embarrassed about. Besides, they could always tease him over his secret crush.
Roxas and Sora boarded the gummi ship as Donald and Goofy ushered them inside. They could still hear the cheers from the townspeople of Hollow Bastion ringing in their ears. Roxas and Sora waved from the window, flashing their trademark grins until they disappeared into the atmosphere.
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