My funeral was a quiet, simple affair.
Kairi and Selphie had decorated my coffin with a huge spray of blue and white roses. They sat in the front row of chairs at the burial grounds, both looking small and pale in their black dresses, their cheeks streaked with tears and mascara. Next to them were Roxas, Axel, and, to my great surprise, my father. I had never expected him to be there, but I was glad he had come. In the rows behind them sat Hayner, Pence, Olette, and the friends I had left behind so many months before. I never realized that I knew so many people.
The priest finished reading the prayers and stepped back, silently motioning for anyone who'd like to come up and say a few words. A figure stepped forward from the back hesitantly, as if unsure whether or not he was welcome there.
"I'd like to say something," Riku said, and slowly walked to the front of the congregation. Even though he was sleep-deprived and worn, he still looked amazingly handsome in his black suit. He paused next to my coffin, one hand resting on the darkly polished wood. Silent tears fell steadily down his pale cheeks.
"Sora meant a lot to all of us, and I think you all deserve to know the reason why he…why he died." Riku kept his gaze trained on the roses the rested a few inches from his fingers. His voice was empty and broken, as if his will to live had been stolen away. He paused for a few seconds, trying to get his tears under control, before continuing.
"A year ago I was called for an assignment near the schoolyard where Sora was killed. I was supposed to go collect an unpaid debt from Leon and Cloud's business, but neither of them was there when I arrived. Two women were there, however, and they both knew the reason why I had come.
"Their names were Aerith and Yufie. Aerith was Cloud's wife, Yufie was Leon's sister. In a desperate attempt to save their family members from harm, they tried to force me to leave. The fight turned deadly, however, and in self-defense both women were killed. I'll never forgive myself for what happened.
"It didn't take long for Leon and Cloud to figure out what had happened, and that is when they began their hunt for revenge. They believed that if they killed the person I loved, it would be repayment for the damage I cost them. At first they went after Roxas. I knew in the end Roxas might die, so I hurt him in an effort to separate myself from him and, in the end, save him. It worked, and I left to try and lead Leon and Cloud away.
"When I returned, I met Sora. From the first time that I saw him I was in love with him. But things turned very wrong, very fast. Leon and Cloud had found their new target.
"I should have realized it was them when Sora found his apartment destroyed. But I was blinding myself to the truth in an effort to make myself believe that we would be allowed to live in peace. When Sora was beaten, I had a feeling it wasn't muggers, but again I pushed the hunch aside. I just wanted to be with Sora—I never wanted to have to do what I did to Roxas.
"But Sora knew. He knew that there were people who were after me, and he also knew that they were using him. So, he did what I had. He made me believe that he no longer loved me, so that I would cut him out of my life, and as a result, cut the danger out as well. When I finally realized the truth, it was too late. The plan to save him went wrong. We didn't even make it to the hospital before he was gone.
"Sora was brave. He was selfless. He loved passionately, and he died with equal passion. I have never loved anyone as I loved him, and I can say now that I will never love anyone like that again. My heart and soul are in that coffin with him. I'll never get them back."
Riku bent down and kissed my coffin softly, his tears staining the wood. "Goodbye, Sora," he whispered. "I love you."
Everyone stood up then and placed a rose on my coffin as it was lowered into the ground. There wasn't one person who wasn't crying.
People left then, silently walking back to their cars until Axel, Roxas, and Riku were the only ones left. They stood there silently, staring at the place where I had been buried.
"Sora, honey, are you ready to go?"
I looked over and smiled at my mother, looking as beautiful and vibrant as the day she had so tragically died. The only thing betraying that she was a ghost was the slight shimmering around her outline.
"Not yet, Mom." I turned back and continued watching Riku as he, alone now, kneeled in front of my grave and placed a hand on my headstone. From my position of leaning against a tree, I was just close enough to see as his tears fell to the grass like miniature rain.
My mother silently came up beside me and placed a hand on my shoulder. The weight of her hand felt odd to me; for some reason, I had expected to have no feeling at all. It was easy for me to forget that I was just as invisible as she was.
"You really love him, don't you?" she asked me, her voice soft.
"More than life itself," I said, and then grimaced at my choice of words. "Look how much pain I've caused him already; I just can't leave him."
My mother smiled and wrapped her arms around me. I leaned my head against her shoulder, just like I had when I was small. I had missed this so much.
"You won't leave him, Sora. You'll be able to watch over him at all times, just as I watched over you and your father. And then, when it's his time to cross over, you can bring him back with you, like I'm bringing you now," she said.
I nodded. "Just one last thing, okay?" I slipped out from underneath her shimmering arms and made my way to where Riku was. I knelt down beside him, filled with pain at the agony and despair written on his face. His silver hair laid flat against his tear-stained cheeks as he silently kneeled with his hand on my headstone. I reached my hand out to touch his face, but stopped, afraid that I wouldn't be able to feel him.
Instead, I watched him for what seemed like ages before I heard my mother's soft voice calling my name. I went to stand up, hesitated, and without a second thought, flung my arms around Riku. As I suspected, I couldn't feel him, but it was still worth it.
"I love you, Riku," I whispered against his ear, praying that he could hear me. "I'll always watch over you, I'll never leave you. I'll be here for you when it's your time. I'll be here."
I stood up, and without looking back, walked to where my mother was. She smiled and took my hand, and together we began to make our way to Heaven.