Author's Note: …I had to like drag myself to the computer in order to start working on this again… I mean… It's like I want this story to be over and yet… I can't imagine not having to work on it. I've never written a more popular multi-chapter.
-gets teary eyed- I love you all… TT.TT Waaah! –warbles-
Sorry for going on a bit of a rant in the last chapter.
Also, on an entirely different note. It is my deepest burning regret that I have to do this but… I'm afraid I must give you all homework. Dun, dun, dun… No but seriously, it would mean the world to me if all of you were to go off and read my friend CraziiJaney's story "A Time of Panic, Patience and Hair dye". You can find her on my fave author's list.
So yeah that's it basically. Read it, and review it, and BEG her to UPDATE. You don't have to, but it would mean a lot to me. I've been trying to get her to update for almost a year now… And don't worry about the summary, the amount of Namiku in the story is so miniscule it's literally nonexistent, plus I'm convincing her to take it out. So it's safe for yaoi fans.
So yeah, please do that.
And now without further ado…
Disclaimer: I do not own Kingdom Hearts or Final Fantasy. I am not profiting from this story at all. There. I said it. Happy? I also do not own Amazing Grace. Though I do own a copy. The rights to that book belong to Lady Karai.
Song: Thousand Miles (one of my favorite songs EVER, even if it is pop… -shudders-)
"No, no, no! Don't put that over there! Those are really expensive!"
The movers all exchanged wary looks before doing as the lithe blonde had instructed and moving the box they were carrying elsewhere. Namine sighed and rubbed her temples, she didn't mean to nag them but… Honestly, could they be any less careful with all her treasured possessions?
She looked up just in time to catch one of the men about to drop a box onto the hardwood floor. Her heart skipped a beat.
"No! Omigawd! No!" she rushed forward to snatch the box from the man, but found it was too heavy with her. The man, whose nametag, read Leonhart, immediately grabbed the box from her before she capsized.
"Ah, sorry ma'am," he said, dipping his head, "where would you like me to put this?"
Namine sighed, putting a hand to her racing heart, "Over there thanks," she said, pointing one finger towards a vacant spot on the floor, "And be careful!" she added painstakingly as the box teetered dangerously within his arms, "Those are some of his favorite books! He'll kill me if they get damaged!"
"Yes, ma'am," said Leonhart, wearily readjusting the box before setting it down carefully. One of the books resting near the top of the box toppled off. Namine rushed forward, heart racing for the poor book.
She turned the book over in her hands, examining the memorable cover.
"Amazing Grace," she breathed the title, holding the book close to her chest she blew out a deep sigh of relief, "Thank goodness, this is his favorite book. He would've died without it." Brushing off the nonexistent dust on the cover, she placed the novel tenderly back into its secure spot in the box.
Leonhart eyed her for a moment before turning to go bring in the last of the boxes. He exchanged looks with the rest of the other workers, they all rolled their eyes. This pale, blonde chick was clearly new to the idea of own her own place. Young people… Always worrying about everything.
Namine bit her lip, searching the room for inattentive movers. As her pale blue orbs scanned the room she spotted something out of the corner of her eye. It was just like any of the other boxes, but what really caught her eye was what was inside. She bent down, brushing blonde wisps of straw out of her eyes before reaching in and gently taking out a picture frame. A bittersweet smile formed on her face, soft and supple, as she studied the picture the frame held.
It was a picture of herself with Denzel and Riku, sitting on the curb outside of Chill. Pain flashed through her eyes as she realized that Denzel had died just days after that trip. She took in each of their individual expressions, Denzel had his usual good-natured grin in place, Namine herself was smiling her own shy smile and Riku… Riku had his elbows resting on his knees; his attention was focused on Denzel who looked like he might've been telling a joke… Riku's smile was a warm smile, and anyone who got to see it could tell right away that it was the kind of thing that didn't happen often.
Namine's lip trembled momentarily, but a second later it was gone. She got up, brushed herself off, and turned to see that most of the movers were waiting around watching her. The brunette- Leonhart? - walked into the room, struggling under the weight of what looked to be the last box.
After setting it down- Carefully, he reminded himself grudgingly- he turned to Namine, wiping a bit of sweat of his brow.
"Well, that's the last of it," he said, hand on hip, "Do you want us to unpack or would you-
"I'd rather do it myself if you don't mind," said Namine, bobbing her head in a semi-apologetic way. Leonhart nodded. Of course, Little Miss Perfect wouldn't want them touching all her pretty things now would she?
"Where's that guy who was with you?" he asked as the rest of his workers filed out of the door, "If he's living here with you shouldn't he be helping you?"
Namine smiled, though the man had no idea why, "No," she said simply, shaking her head, "he's got other things to do at the moment."
"Okay…" Leonhart replied, not really understanding. But then again, hey, it was none of his business, "if you say so," he said, before pleasantly lifting his baseball cap towards her as he walked out the front door, "Pleasure doing business with you, ma'am."
Namine smiled, nodded and waved at him.
When the door clicked shut behind him she let out a breath, she smiled. She just couldn't seem to stop smiling today! It was so wonderful; she had an apartment all to her own!
She looked around at all the boxes, that was when she realized that the daunting task of unpacking all of them had been left to her. She groaned and slapped her head.
"Gosh darn it," she muttered, "Why'd you have to go and leave me with all the work?"
With a resigned look planted on her face, she bent down and began unpacking box upon box upon box. Grumbling to herself the whole time.
"Shouldn't have let him leave… What was I thinking? I should've just let him go out after we'd unpacked together but nooooo… 'Aw c'mon Nami, please? It's been so long…' Damn his puppy eyes."
"Hey there Delilah, what's it like in New York City? I'm a thousand miles away but girl tonight you look so pretty. Yes you do… Time Square can't shine as bright as you… I swear it's-
"What?" snapped Namine, flipping open her silver cell phone irritably.
"Whoa, someone's cranky…"
"Oh," Namine brightened, "it's you," but as soon as the statement left her lips her countenance darkened considerably, "It's you," she hissed.
"Hey, you said it would be okay for me to go out. S'not my fault."
"As if," muttered Namine as she proceeded to arrange the framed pictures on top of one of the shelves she'd already set up, "you brought out the puppy eyes."
"I did no such thing."
"Oh yes you did, and don't deny it," she accused, eyes narrowing when she heard laughter coming from the other end, "it's not funny. I'm saving all the hard boxes for you once you get home."
"You cruel woman, you…"
"That's right," she said, a triumphant smirk playing across her lips, "that's what you get for abandoning me."
"Well at least I had a good reason…"
The smirk fell from Namine's lips and when she spoke again it was in a hushed, anxious tone, "So," she cleared her throat, pausing as she opened another box, "Did… Did you find him? Was he there?"
"No." That was his blunt response.
Namine's eyes clenched shut, "Oh, I'm so sorry R-
"But I ran into him after I left."
Namine blinked, "Really? You found him?"
There was a long pause. Namine bit her lip. When he failed to say anything she tried again.
"R- Riku? Did you find him? Riku?"
Another pause, an intake of breath and then…
"Yeah Namine, I found him… I found him."
"Hey! Hey you! Come back!"
Keep walking; they're probably not even calling for you anyway. You don't know anyone with that voce. It's none of your business so just ignore them. Besides, you're running late as it is.
"You! Could you hold on for a sec?!"
God, that person sounds really desperate… You wonder who their calling for. Perhaps a long lost lover? Pfft, as if, get your mind out of the gutter. Still, you can't help but wonder…
"Hey dude with the red hair! Yeah you!"
Hmm, well there are plenty of people with red hair and besides look at the time, oh God you're so late! Demyx is gonna be really pissed at you, and then he'll sick his boy toy, Xigbar, on you. Now what would that make you? Ah, let's think… Um, that'd make you pretty damn screwed. So c'mon, hurry up!
"Wait! Please! Just hold on for a bit okay?!"
Man, just who is this guy? Ah well, that doesn't really affect you.
"Just stop! What's wrong with you?! Hey! I'm talking to you!"
It is kind of odd that whoever's shouting must be going in the same direction as you though… Very odd indeed. But so what? This is New York; it's full of idiots going in the same direction. He's probably just shouting for that guy in front of you. The one with the big coat.
"Can you hear me?! Why won't you stop?! C'mon man slow down!"
The thought of the man's nice big coat reminds you that all you're wearing is a paper thin jacket. You shiver and draw it closer to yourself.
"STOP!!! Slow down! Hey I just want to talk!"
And there he is again. There's something very familiar about the things he's saying and this whole scenario in general but you can't quite put your finger on it…
"Will you stop for just one second?! I'll only take a minute of your time!"
That's when it clicks in your mind. What he's saying now, what you said at that time… Almost three years ago…
You stop and just as you're turning around he shouts out his final plea for you to stop.
And there he is.
He's running right towards you.
Oh my God, it's him… Oh God…
"Axel," he says your name, when he finally catches up to you he doubles over, hands on knees, panting for breath. Suddenly you feel guilty for making him run to catch up to you. You stare at him, bent down and gasping for breath.
"Axel," he says your name again, maybe just to feel it on his own tongue. His own lips… You remember those lips… You remember feeling yours on his.
You remember the way he's just popped up in front of you after two years of separation.
"Riku," you say, at a loss for words, "Riku, I-… What are you doing here?"
Finally he straightens up, and now you can see just how much he's changed. You tune out his next words; opting to take in his appearance.
"I've missed you so much…"
He's definetly gotten taller. A late growth spurt perhaps… Or maybe it's those boots. Which look great on him.
"…Sora and Kairi were kinda upset at first but…"
And there's something else about him too… There's something else that's changed.
"…that hardest part was when my mom…"
He looks… Happier. Lighter. And you're not quite sure if you've ever seen him looking so light and pure and… Untarnished.
"…but Naomi came in and help-… Axel? Axel, are you even listening to me?"
He's still not as tall as you though. Thankfully. You're not sure if you'd ever be able to get used to him being taller than you.
You blink just as he whaps you upside the head. And his action brings a small watery smile to your lips as you recall all the times he's done that before. Before things went to hell.
"Axel?" Now he's looking at you a little worriedly. You flash him your trademark smile just to reassure him. It works. Just like it always worked before. Back when the man standing before you was nothing but a little boy, lost in his own darkness…
"Space cadet," he says, thwacking you on the head again, he laughs a little. You just smile. It's been so long…
"You're mean," you whine, pushing on his shoulder lightly, "this is the greeting I get after two years of morbid separation? Man, that's cold…"
The smile fades from his face when you mention those two years apart. He blinks, worrying his lip in the same way he did when you first met him, only now his lips seem so much fuller. Not that pale little line you got so accustomed to assaulting with your own mouth. They look almost plush…
"I'm sorry…" he mumbles, looking at the floor, and once again you're struck by how his actions and little habits haven't changed one bit. He's still avoiding your gaze in that same guilty manner a child uses when they believe they've misbehaved.
"Hey," you place one hand on your shoulder while using the other to tilt his face up, "don't be sorry."
"It's just…" he struggles for the words, bringing both hands up to muss his hair, this action of course causes you to wonder just how stable he is now, "I wanted to… Wanted to see you… but then… I was just so… And then the medicine came and I couldn't even really think anymore."
"Wait, what?" you hold up a hand to pause him, "Medication? What? What do you mean?"
"Well," Riku drags his foot along the pavement, "after you left… Things just got worse… My parents started fighting. My friend Namine had a relapse after her boyfriend left her. Sora and Kairi started really dating… After about a month or so Naomi had no choice but to prescribe meds… Just some anti-psychotics… Among other things."
You gape at him for a full minute before bringing him into the tightest hug you've ever used on him. Just what has this angel been put through without you?
"Axel…" he whispers, but you don't pull away. Just savor the feeling of gripping this body in your arms, "Axel, um, people are staring…"
You pull away and glance around. Indeed, the two of you are attracting a fair share of attention.
"Ah, right…" you say, scratching the back of your head sheepishly, "it's just…" You shrug, at a general loss for words.
Riku nods his head once, "I know. Here c'mon, we can walk and talk."
You walk with him for a while, bathed in awkward silence. You study Riku carefully, noticing all the changes in the silver haired teen. Riku stands straighter; his face is clearer than it had been before. His hair is still about the same length, but instead of parting for his face, it now frames his face; occasionally falling in front of his features. His stride is slightly more confident. And yet…
And yet there's still plenty of your Riku there. That certain childish look of innocence is still left. And if you look closely enough, there's still deep pain hidden behind aqua orbs. Riku's hands, from what you can see, also seemed to still have that same baby smooth touch to them.
You smile. Riku's still Riku.
You watch affectionately as a small gasp leaves the teens parted lips when he almost trips over a small bend in the pavement.
Just as adorable as ever.
Suddenly you frown, numerous thoughts occurring to you all at once; possibilities…
"Riku," you begin, uncertain of what exactly you're about to say but knowing it needs to get out, "What does this mean exactly? I mean, I haven't heard from you in two years… Are we back together now or… Why did you come here?"
Riku glances at you before eyeing the sidewalk stretching out before the both of you, "I-… Well first of all, I'm not visiting. Namine and I just moved here."
You blink, "Wait- what? You-… Wha-aa-aa?"
All it takes is one look at your face and Riku's doubled over laughing, you wait patiently (sorta) for him to finish before tapping your hip testily, "Well?"
Riku wipes tears from his eyes before saying, "Oh God… I am never going to get over the look on your face… Oh man…"
You decide that since he's obviously not about to explain you might as well ask, "So who's Namine?" you ask, although the name does sound familiar to you…
"Namine's my best friend," he explains, "you might remember me mentioning her a couple times… I met her in rehab… Denzel-…" And for a second Riku's breath catches in his throat, "Denzel introduced us… So we bought an apartment here," Riku says the last part with a hint of cheerful pride and you can't help but smile with him.
"But how'd you afford it?" you ask, tilting your head just so.
"Well," Riku scuffs his foot on the ground, "I guess it's a long story…"
You mull over the way he says this for a while, "Look Riku," you begin, not entirely sure of how to put this into words, "are we back together now or…? What's gonna happen now?"
Riku shrugs, a smile spreads across his face, "I think that's mostly up to you."
You raise your eyebrows, "Are you going to be quoting me all day?"
He laughs and nods. You roll your eyes.
"No but seriously," you say, wiping the smile off his face, he eyes you curiously, "how are you and Namine going to afford an apartment? In New York no less…"
"Well," Riku runs a hand through his hair, "Namine's parents and mine are chipping in. Her parents are going to let her finish school here in New York."
"Wait a sec," you interrupt him, "your parents are helping pay for it?"
"Well yeah," he shrugs, "I guess they had a change of heart? Plus, Naomi talked to them about maybe giving me some space to breathe…"
"I see," you say, thinking back on Naomi fondly, "that woman's a saint…"
"Yeah," he agrees, he seems to be debating over something in his head, with a small nod to himself he goes on to say, "plus there's the money I'm making with my job."
You look up at that, blinking at him, "Job?"
"Yeah," he says simply, "song writer. I write songs and lyrics, people pay me for them… I guess it's like freelance or something…" There's a nervous chuckle following this statement, "I uh, got the idea from you… When you saw some of the music I wrote… I don't know, I just started thinking that maybe it was something I could do."
"Huh," you're watching him out of the corner of your eye, "so… How's that going then?"
"Really well," Riku nods fervently, "I'm making a pretty good living… I think my songs are really popular or something…What about you? How's the restaurant going?"
"Its' going great," you say, "The Joint's become a huge success."
"Yeah, that's its name."
It's nice, just talking with him like this. You smile to yourself, allowing thoughts to flow through your brain as your head turns upward to admire the skyscrapers. However there is one thing that bugs you…
You stop and turn to face him fully. Riku, sensing your movement, stops too and watches you carefully. You stare at him, studying every change critically and glorifying all the things that have remained the same.
It's soft and it's quick. You step forward, tilt his chin up with one hand and before he can put a word in edgewise you've pressed your lips to his. Both of you oblivious to the people around you and their reactions.
And right when he's about to close his eyes, you pull away. Watching his expression. It's a pout, but then there's underlying worry behind it. You can tell Riku's watching you carefully, he's all too aware of the fact that you haven't given him a direct answer regarding your relationship.
"Y'know," he begins, breaking the chilly silence, "I passed… I passed a Chinese restaurant while I was on the way here. It looks new... Maybe… Maybe we should stop there and talk? I mean… That is if you think…If you have the time." He dips his head, bangs obscuring his pale features. You smirk at the irony of the situation.
He's eighteen now. For some reason, that thought startles you. It's odd thinking that all that time you were gone, Riku's been growing and changing and suffering… But now it looks like maybe the latter is over. Riku seems genuinely… Okay. There's no nervous twitching. His eyes aren't darting everywhere; though they're still slightly bigger than what would be considered normal.
In the two years you've been apart you've been thinking. Thinking that maybe you both got it wrong the first time around. You never really took time to fully, fully understand his situation. You just figured that you loved him and that would be enough.
But now, looking back, you realize that was stupid. Ritsuko had every right to guard Riku from you because really, if you think about it, even you didn't know what you were doing with him. It was all so quixotic…
So… What now? Are you going to really put effort into it this time? Are you prepared to try? Will you learn how to help him best? Will you really commit? How are you going to try to help him this time around?
What will you do differently?
"That sounds… nice. I'd like some Chinese… Yeah. Let's do that."
You'll get things right.
"Really? Great, then c'mon, it should be down this way."
You'll get things right this time.
Because maybe the first time around, you both screwed up. And maybe the first time around nothing came out of it.
"Are you gonna pay? Or should I? I can take the check now that I'm making my own money, y'know."
But you've learned from your mistakes. You've both learned.
You look at him, all pure energy and light, and you smirk, "Fine then, you pay Mr. Big-Shot."
He laughs, and puts one hand on your arm gently. You look at that hand, and follow its arm all the way up to his face; which is smiling at you. He's happy now. So maybe… Maybe you can both be happy together. That would be nice wouldn't it?
"Alright then, but you're paying next time, mister!"
You smile, and then, taking his hand in yours, you interlock your fingers. He blinks, startled by your actions, and looks up at you uncertainly.
"What are you doing?"
The question just causes your smile to grow.
And when he hears your answer, he smiles wider than you've ever seen him smile before. Because he, like you, knows that this time things will be different. This time things will work out.
You smile and squeeze his hand.
"I'm getting things right."
And that's all it takes.
Ending Notes: Many thanks to everyone who's reviewed and favorited this story. You have no idea how much all the support this story has gotten means to me. Please leave a review and tell me what your final views are. :D I hope the ending goes across well with everyone.
To those of you who think all the reviews this story gets has gone to my head please don't. I'm well aware of this story's quality. It's ups and downs. There are plenty of errors…
But I don't want to go back and correct any of them. Because to me Iggy was my way of improving my writing. It's certainly not the best thing I'll ever write. But my writing has improved so much throughout this whole chapter fic. I mean, if you just compare the first few chapters with the later ones you can tell… There's a huge difference.
So yeah. I guess that's all I have to say. Thank you, once again.
I hope to seeing you all in the reviews for my other fic, Macarena. I will also be starting on Washed Out soon. Washed Out will be het though… So I guess I won't see most of you there.
Thanks again, lots of love-
Ignorance is Bliss