I am SO sorry, you guys. My sincerest, utmost apologies. I'm a horrible human being. After spending so much time on fanfiction frustrated with writers who never update, I leave you all hanging, even when I'd promised not to. (falls on hands and knees) I am so, so sorry. Oh, man. I'm so sorry.
Dammit. I'm a jerk.
Regardless of how awful I am to you all, I'm still pretty impressed. Last chapter. I mean, after all this time – my bad, I'm sorry – it's finally done. And I've decided against an epilogue, considering I'm not so happy with this story and I'm miserable at updating, as you've all seen. Plus, my creativity is kind of…drained for the moment. So, yes. This is then end. After all of this time. Wow.
Thanks for sticking with me, guys, and for liking this story so much. Here's to you, you who read, reviewed, and/or both read and reviewed. You really kept me going. I'm so glad you liked it (and I'm sorry if you didn't).
Edit: While I'd planned to reply to all of your reviews before I updated this, I still haven't gotten around to doing so, and I feel really bad about making you all wait for this. So, I'm uploading this now, and I'll reply my thanks to you guys hopefully within the next year, haha.
So, without further ado, and with no more frantic apologies and ultra sappiness, here we are: the final installation.
Disclaimer: No. I'm bored. And I don't own the song.
Sora didn't notice at first that the elderly man was staring at him quite desperately, swaying under the weight of the luggage. His eyes were instead boring pointedly into the asphalt under his feet, thoughts wandering away from him, jaw clenched in regret as embarrassment washed over him full force. However, he finally shook himself and snapped into attention, lifting his chin and offering thanks and a gracious smile as he took hold of his suitcase after recovering from mild surprise. Dropping it then to the side, he stepped forward and grabbed Kairi's before the other could, feeling that he didn't really need assistance, and so the man helped another pair that was walking over.
Placing her suitcase beside his, he let out a heavy sigh, running a hand through his hair. He knew he shouldn't have done that. He really shouldn't have done that. God help him, why had he done that?
"Uh…mind telling me what the hell happened between you two?"
Starting at the familiar voice sounding behind him, Sora looked over his shoulder and then grinned joyfully to see his silver-haired friend staring at him under longer bangs than he remembered, arms crossed over his chest. Straightening, he laughed and tilted his head at his friend.
"Riku! Hey! Long time no see."
Riku arched a brow, lips tilting into a slight smirk. "What'd you do to Kairi?"
Sora shrugged, scratching his cheek helplessly as he glanced away. "Nothin'," he mumbled as a sheepish reply, flicking his sky-blue gaze back to prying aquamarine. Desperate for a change of conversation, he replied, "Nice hair."
Surprised, Riku blinked, and then he reached up and fingered a strand of his bangs thoughtfully. "What about it?"
"It's nice. Very luxurious. Naminé must be jealous."
"Oh, shut up," his best friend snapped as Sora laughed in response, watching the older male send a hand through his hair in agitation. "Now tell me what happened, or I'll kick your ass."
Holding up his hands defensively, Sora smiled. It was a familiar enough gesture to pacify Riku, who then crossed his arms expectantly, head tilted gently to the side as he waited to be clued in. Amusement falling slightly at this, though, as he was well aware of how stubborn his best friend was, Sora sighed and kicked gently at the ground, sending his gaze sideways towards a short distance away, where most of the passengers of their bus were now walking. He vaguely wondered about how they were getting home as he stared, and then about whether, by some form of strange coincidence, Selphie and Tidus would appear.
Kairi would at least be happier then.
"I happened. Me and my big mouth." Gaze trailing back, he stared for a second or two at Riku's stoic face and arched eyebrow, and then he grinned slightly. "But it's really your fault, you know."
Riku arched his brows higher, drawling out, "How do you figure that one?"
Sora laughed. "Please. You arranged this whole thing."
His friend's expression melted into one of smug amusement. "How the hell else would I get in my last minute fun? Anyway, serves you right for taking so long to show your face to us." Shaking his head, Riku fisted Sora gently on his shoulder. "Good to see you finally."
"I have kept in touch," he said, shrugging his shoulders as he looked over to the two girls. He winced when he saw Kairi listening to the song still, fist shaking over her mouth as Naminé tilted her head and asked her something.
"What's she listening to?"
Sora continued to stare. Absently, he murmured, "It was a dare…thing. She wanted to know how I felt."
"Did you answer truthfully?"
"And that's her reaction?"
"Is it good or bad? I can't tell."
He shrugged. "What song is it?"
"Iunno. The Reason?" Sora turned towards Riku and idly scratched the back of his head. "Seemed fitting."
"You would like such a girl song, wouldn't you?" he muttered with a knowing smirk, and Sora heaved a frustrated breath, rolling his eyes.
"That's not the point!"
"Really, sometimes I'm embarrassed to be your friend, Sora." Waving his hand absently, Riku continued to grin in self-satisfaction. "You're softer than Kairi is."
"Are you ever gonna answer my question, Riku?" he mumbled tiredly, sending his hands through his hair in a frazzled manner. "And it's not a girl song," he added in belated protest, his mouth forming into a pout as he kicked at the ground.
Riku gave a soft laugh in response, allowing himself a moment or two of triumph before he let his amusement drop. Then, cocking his head, he raised his shoulders in a casual shrug, displaying that he had no answer for his friend, and then let them drop. "I'd ask Naminé," he supplied as a solution.
"Or Kairi," Sora remarked with a roll of his eyes.
"Well, yeah. I just meant what I would do."
Sora grinned. "You're a jerk."
Riku merely sent him a look, eyebrows raised, expression bleeding sarcarsm. In response, Sora laughed and tousled his already-rumpled brown locks for the sake of it, sweeping his sneaker across the gravel to kick absentmindedly at the back of his left heel.
"How go the wedding preparations?"
Riku let his head roll at the question with an exaggerated look of frustration on his face, making Sora laugh again. "Church is a freakin' castle," he muttered with a roll of his eyes. "Called Hollow Bastion or whatever. Sounds kinda too ominous a place to be married in if you ask me, but Naminé picked it, and I'm just not going there." Holding up his hands, he grimaced, much to Sora's growing amusement. "'Least it's beautiful." But he sighed then. "God, though – y'should see the stupid reception hall. Friggin' massive. Doesn't have a name, either, but I dubbed it Castle Oblivion, since it makes my money non-existent."
Sora snorted with laughter. "Sounds promising."
"Better be," he muttered.
"You're really going all out."
He waved the question away as unimportant. "She wanted a big wedding."
"And you live to please her."
"When'd you decide you wanted to settle down anyway?"
He shrugged. "Was on my mind for a long time. We were living together, and it just seemed so right, the two of us together."
Nodding appreciatively, he let his eyes wander again to the spot in which the girls stood, focusing all of his attention on Naminé's form. It had been a while since he'd seen her, and he recognized that since high school she'd matured into a more confident person. Her hair was longer, her eyes were brighter, and her stance wasn't as defensive and withdrawn as it used to be. He could tell that she was really happy.
"And the real reason?" he remarked absently.
He smirked. "You doubt me that much, Sora?"
Sora only looked back towards him expectantly, arms crossed, feet planted strictly on the ground again.
Blowing out a frustrated breath, Riku sent a hand through his hair. "Yeah, fine. Roxas showed up again, was way too friendly with her for my comfort, and I knew I didn't want to lose her, especially to him. Other part's true too, though."
"Roxas…" Sora let his gaze wander past his friend, murmuring thoughtfully. Then his eyes widened. "Oh crap, that's who it was!"
Riku merely stared at him, brow arched and expression dry.
"Some kid was hitting on Kairi in this fast food restaurant we stopped at, and there was this blonde kid with him who I thought I recognized," Sora indulged in explanation, all the while shaking his head in disbelief. "It was Roxas, with a couple of friends. I totally didn't recognize him. But…that was about four hours back." Questioningly, he looked at his friend again.
"That's because he wasn't invited," Riku remarked with a grin.
Riku shrugged. "It's worth the fights I had with Naminé."
"He never liked her, you know."
"I don't care."
Sora sighed with an amused smile. "You're terrible."
Riku rolled his eyes carelessly, pulling absently at the sleeve of his jacket, and as their conversation ended an amiable silence fell between them. Allowing his eyes to stray, Sora looked back to where Kairi and Naminé stood, the redhead wiping her eyes now and laughing weakly at something her friend was saying. Gaze softening, he scratched at the back of his head, ruing the moment when he would have to confront her and would have to sort out the tension and questions that hovered unanswered between them. It wasn't going to be the highlight of his day, of this he was well aware.
Looking back towards Riku, letting his attention refocus, Sora smiled in a lopsided way. "Not in well-paying jobs, but yeah. I'm working."
"And how's the old lady?"
Sora grinned. "Going to beat you for that remark."
Riku smirked. "C'mon. I love your mom."
He nodded and afterwards shrugged. "Iunno. She's been depressed lately. And lonely." Pulling distractedly at the tail end of his shirt, he muttered, "Might pick up drinking again, if she keeps on this way, which scares me." His head tilted to the side. "But I talk with her a lot, at least."
"Do you visit her?"
"I keep my distance from everyone right now."
Riku snorted in contempt. "So your really haven't grown up yet. You still run from all your stupid problems."
"I'll get the hang of it eventually – you know, this 'dealing' thing," he stated with an awkward smile, lifting his chin to look back towards Riku. Rolling his eyes, the silver-haired male finally smirked and leaned forward, ruffling Sora's hair despite his protest. And then there was a hiss, and the bus pulled away, and Sora looked up from flattened hair strands to see Kairi and Naminé standing, waiting.
Sora batted Riku's hands away and righted himself, going to pick up Kairi's suitcase.
"Forget it," Riku said, putting his hand out. "We rented a car. Naminé and I will go get it now."
Wearily, he sighed, pinning his friend with a blank expression. "You just won't ever stop trying to set us up, huh?"
Riku smirked and waved, then motioned for his fiancée. She hesitated and then hugged Kairi, hurrying afterwards over to Riku. Brushing up beside him, she quietly took his hand and curled her fingers into his, a placid smile rising up onto her lips as Riku tilted his head and murmured something into her ear. It wasn't long before he pulled her along, too, and Sora and Kairi were left alone.
Uncomfortable now, Sora shifted and shot Kairi an uneasy glance. When her eyes strayed to his he instantly glanced down, and, for the sake of not looking like a complete fool, he looked purposefully at his watch. And he sighed.
He'd avoided her for fifteen minutes. He couldn't do it for much longer.
Reluctantly he again lifted his eyes, feeling his face flush. She was staring at him hesitantly, earphone still in one ear and device in the hands that were clasped behind her back. She opened her mouth to say something, but her gaze quickly flitted to the ground, and she awkwardly scuffed at the sidewalk with her sneaker as silence fell once more.
He ran a hand through his hair, breathing out heavily and shakily as he focused his attention on everything but the pretty, red-haired girl in front of him. Desperate, he lowered his arm and leaned backwards, making to sit on his suitcase, but he realized the hard way that it was not able to support his weight. Within moments of sitting he felt himself being hurtled backwards, and then his back struck the asphalt, dazing him. Blinking, then coughing once, he stared up at the sky for a long moment before rolling to his side, sitting up, and rubbing the back of his head.
There was a giggle, and in curiosity he glanced up to see Kairi standing over him, eyes sparkling. Apparently she'd rushed over when he'd fallen, but her worry had given out in favor of the comedy of the situation.
Embarrased, he grinned slightly in response. "I could'a died, and you laugh."
She laughed. "And you're not at all overdramatic."
He rolled his eyes and sighed. "Gimme your hand." At her stern look, he smiled sheepishly. "Uh, please."
Still she stared at his outstretched hand, contemplating, and then finally she grinned and stepped back, much to his confusion. "No, I'm not falling for that. You're just gonna pull me down."
Frowning gently, he leaned forward, shaking out his hair and using this as an excuse to avoid her amused expression. "You have no faith in me," he muttered softly, and then, placing his hand on the ground for support, he pushed himself to his feet.
"I do, too."
"No, you don't." He shrugged and doubled over slightly, brushing the wrinkles out of his shirt. "But that's okay, I guess. You don't know me enough to trust me anyway, right?"
Indignant, Kairi placed her hands on her hips. "I think eight hours is enough time to get to know a person, Sora."
Lifting his eyes, he sent her a weary expression. "No. It's not."
"Then explain this song," she said angrily, pulling the earphone viciously out of her ear and then outstretching her hand, shaking his possession in his face irritably. "What the hell is this, if not for a love confession?!"
"Kairi, I didn't fall in love with you out of the blue in eight hours. I'd had four years of admiring you, and then when I saw you again, my feelings came back."
"Bull," she snapped. "You feel differently now. That was just a stupid high school crush on a girl you thought was so much better than you!"
He narrowed his eyes.
"You know me better now. You know I'm not perfect. But if you're gonna sit here and say that these feelings are just built off of your selfish idolization of me, then I want nothing to do with you!"
His eyes narrowed further. "Well, if you want to push me out of your life just like that, then I guess there's nothing that I can do, huh?!"
"Yeah? What have you done, Sora?!" she screamed. "Why are you out to always make me the one who's so much worse?!"
"You see? You don't trust me."
She looked away from him, cross. "You…what am I supposed to say, huh?" She looked back at him, a fire burning in her eyes. "I don't get you. For so many years I thought I hated you, and then I get stuck next to you and all of a sudden I have these feelings for you? How am I supposed to trust someone who does that? That's normally a sign that they're no good."
"And from your experience with me," he said in a hushed voice, "I'll only hurt you."
"Exactly," she snapped softly, and then, in remorse, she looked down.
"So you push me away."
"I give up," she growled, glancing back up and glaring at him. "I just do. I can't take this, Sora. I can't take arguing all the time with you. So here." She stepped forward, shoving the device into his chest. "Take your stupid song and just forget this ever happened. Nothing can go right between us."
He sighed tiredly and clasped her wrist.
"Let go," she snapped.
He did so obediently, but before she could move he placed his hand on her cheek and pulled her close to him, capturing her lips with his. Heart fluttering anxiously in his chest, blood pounding in his cheeks, he coaxed her mouth with his in a kiss that was both skittish and sweet. He didn't dare open his eyes, and he didn't dare remove his fingers from her cheeks – he was almost afraid to touch her, afraid to handle her in any way other than with the utmost care. But he knew, just like he always had, that she was the only girl he'd ever wanted to share this moment with, and in a tentative sort of way he continued to caress her lips with his, soft, peppered kisses keeping her speechless.
He loved her. He had for the longest time. And he was tired of these games that they played.
But she pushed back from him, and he opened his eyes to see her fuming. In disbelief she rapidly shook her head and slapped him, breath hitching and cheeks red.
In pain, Sora closed his eyes and tilted his head, rubbing his cheek. Yeah, that was a surprise – though, in retrospect, he really should have expected it.
"Sorry," he murmured, looking down at the ground and straightening.
"Jackass," she muttered in response, moving her hand to nudge his aside and anxiously cup his injured cheek. He was startled, to say the least, and as he looked to her with great hesitance, he took in the uncertain smile on her lips. And he smiled back as she tugged him down with impatience settled stubbornly on her face, grinning into the kiss immediately when his lips met hers. Somehow along the way, too, his arms wound around her waist, and he held her flush against his chest, never wanting to let go.
"Come up for air sometime, guys."
Both pulled away immediately, as if burned, and Sora jerked his attention to the side to see Riku smirking, arms crossed over his chest. Flustered, he stumbled over his feet while still gently holding onto Kairi, using his right hand to rub the back of his head in embarrassment.
"What the hell're you doing, watching us like a pair of creeps?"
Naminé, at Riku's side, cocked her head and laughed softly, the sound of it musical. "Sora, if you really cared for privacy, you wouldn't be doing this in front of everyone at a bus station."
Blinking, as if just realizing where he was now, Sora glanced around, and Riku snorted. In his arms, Kairi fidgeted, and it called his attention back to her. Before he could saying anything, though, he was interrupted.
"Oh, and the car's waiting, so if you could wrap this up…?"
Rolling his eyes, Sora cast his best friend a withering look. In response, Riku tapped his wrist expectantly once and then crossed his arms, issuing a challenging look. Naminé kept her hands interlocked behind her back pleasantly, watching Sora and Kairi with an entertained expression.
Wrinkling his nose, Sora muttered,"Tch," and then looked back to the girl he was holding, running his fingers idly through Kairi's red hair. "Think we should make them wait?"
She sighed and smiled, pushing away from him only a few steps, only to come closer again and seize hold of his hand. He grinned.
"Relax, Riku. Don't have an aneurism," Kairi teased, looking back at him with a grin.
"Just shut up and follow us, all right?" he retorted. "And no fighting in the car. You're like frickin' kids."
"What're you? My father?" she quipped back, dragging Sora along with her. Pleased to once not be the at the end of her verbal attack, he smiled, squeezing her fingers as she focused on arguing with Riku, reassured when he felt a gentle squeeze back.
What happened beyond this day, beyond tomorrow, beyond the week…he didn't know. But he'd ended such a hellish trip in a better way than he could have ever hoped for, and he was going to try his hardest that the hours and years that they'd spent at each others' throats wouldn't waste away in vain. He promised.
"Uh, Sora?" Riku remarked dryly as they reached him, one eyebrow arched, a dry expression on his face. "Your bags? I mean, I have a car for them, yeah…"
"Crap," he muttered under his breath, slipping his hand from the now giggling Kairi's grasp and rushing back towards where he'd left them. And as he reached the luggage and glanced back to see his group of friends smiling and conversing and seeming as if nothing had ever come and torn them apart, he believed that this could really work.
He'd see it through, one small hour at a time.
I've found a reason for me
To change who I used to be
A reason to start over new
and the reason is you
DONE! Done, done, done. So, please review.