Author's Notes: Sooo.....this is it! The final chapter! It feels like I've hit some kind of milestone or something just finishing this story! I feel terrible that it took so unbelievably long to finish this final chapter/epilogue in one. I had a terrible time trying to finish this chapter because it would never come out exactly the way I wanted it to. I also want to thank every single person that stuck by this unbelievably dragged out story. Every last review was really appreciated, especially all the constructive criticism I recieved. So, thank you all so much and enjoy! Hopefully, you don't think this final chapter is too terribly bad and enjoy!
Chapter 17: The Last Chapter
completed on May 26, 2009o.O.o
Here's a thought for everyman
Who tries to understand what is in his hand
He walks along the open road of love and life
Surviving if he can
--"Cast no Shadow" by Oasis
The ride back to Twilight Town was, in a word, eventful. Mom and Dad sat comfortably in the front, each in their own seats, while Riku, Sora, Demyx, and I sat sardined in the back, with Sora and I jammed in the middle because we were dubbed 'the smallest.'
I wasn't all that concerned with the seating arrangements, though. Because Demyx was there, sitting next to me, and we were finally going home together.
We didn't say much on the trip home, leaving that to Sora and his typical chatterbox ways, but it wasn't really necessary that we did much talking really. For me, it was enough to know that he was there with me and wasn't going away.
The first thing that I noticed as we pulled into our driveway, glancing over at the Kirkbride place, was that it wasn't Mrs. Kirkbride bent over before her garden, pulling weeds, but a completely different person that I had never seen before in my life. She appeared to be about five months pregnant with pretty auburn hair and a wide smile. Lucky for her winters in Twilight Town don't really exist, otherwise there would be no gardening for her.
She waved at us as our car pulled into the driveway, peeling off gardening gloves and standing. A man with long black hair was at her side in an instant, attempting to help her to her feet as she waved him off with an eye roll. He appeared to be a grumpy looking sort of man, but the expression on his face when she smiled at him was priceless; the man literally seemed to melt.
"Did we get new neighbors?" I asked my parents, glancing back over at the couple who was now making their way over.
"Yeah, we did," Mom replied. "The Kirkbride's moved out in the end of September and their house sold right away. The Valentines, a really darling young couple, moved in."
Dad turned the car off and we all got out.
"Hi," the woman said. "You must be Zexion."
"I am," I replied, offering her my hand. "It's nice to meet you."
"I'm Morgan, and this is my husband Vincent. Mitch and Kathy have told us so much about you. We've been looking forward to meeting you."
I shook her husband Vincent's hand next. He offered me something that I think was supposed to resemble a smile, but wasn't quite. I didn't think that he was much of a people –person, but I wasn't really in the position to judge a fellow socially inept.
"All good things, I hope," I murmured, smiling back at her.
"Of course," she said with a laugh. "Actually, you know Cloud Strife, one of the counselors at Oblivion? He's a really good friend of ours. Vincent went to high school with him, they were in the same grade. I was about three years younger, their pesky little neighbor who wouldn't leave them alone. They wouldn't give me the time of day back then," the woman said reminiscently, then glancing at her husband and giggling.
"Morgan," Vincent admonished gently, his eyes refusing to meet anyone else's.
"Sorry," she replied, tossing her husband a guilty smile. "Sometimes I don't think before I speak. Well, we'll let you guys go about your business. We just really wanted to finally meet you after hearing so much about you between your parents and Cloud."
"Bye," I replied as they walked away.
"See you!" she said, one hand landing on her inflated stomach and the other finding her husband's hand, gardening gloves and all.
That was odd, I remembered thinking. But they seemed nice enough, the man a little too standoffish and woman maybe just the slightest bit too flakey.
"Well, let's get your things inside," Dad said, grabbing my duffle. Demyx quickly grabbed my other bag before I had the chance to, tossing me a sly grin. I smiled back; if he wanted to wait on me, who was I to deny him? And I always said that I'd never deny Demyx of anything.
As we neared the stairs, Demyx grinned, taking my duffle from my dad and charging up the stairs to drop the luggage off in my room. I waited downstairs, staring somewhat awkwardly at my family until my dad coughed not so subtly into his hand and said, "Son, I think Demyx is up there waiting for you."
Riku burst into laugher and Sora grinned at me. Mom smiled behind her hand. I could feel my face burning in embarrassment. Without a word, I turned on my heel and darted up the stairs and down the hall to my room.
When I got there, Demyx was sitting on my bed, his back against the wall. "It's about time, Zexion. I was beginning to think that I, for once, was the one being too subtle."
"You were," I admitted, staring at him, my face still slightly warm. "My dad had to say that he thought you were waiting for me up here."
"Oh gosh," he said, grinning as he stood and walked over to me. "You poor, poor thing."
His hands cupped my face before leaning in to kiss me. My arms wrapped around him, our bodies flushed to the others. After a moment, we pulled apart. I could feel my face burning more than ever, knowing that it was probably redder that it had been only moments before when I was still downstairs with my family.
We took a seat on my bed, his head lying on my lap. I ran my fingers through his hair, looking down at him, his cerulean eyes wide and staring up at me. He paused briefly, his fingertips touching the side of my face, and asked, "So what now, Zexion?"
I knew that he wasn't referring to right now, at that exact moment, but of the big picture, the long term.
"Well," I began, "Monday I go back to school. Then we'll graduate in June and go to college together at the end of the summer. We'll get our degrees and get jobs. And we'll be together forever."
"Sounds good to me," he said with a slight contemplating and sleepy smile. "Sounds really good to me, in fact."
The six of us went out to eat a while later. Demyx had fallen asleep and I felt badly about waking him up when Sora came to my room and asked us if we wanted to go to the Twilight Town Dinner. Uncle Cid and Aunt Sherra and Demyx's parents joined us there. I received more hugs and smiles from all around before I could even finally sit down to eat.
It was rare that I actually enjoyed being the center of so much attention, but when it was the people I loved most in the world, I can't say that I minded it too much.
Most of the conversation revolved around me filling everyone else in on what had been happening in Oblivion and them filling me in on what had been happening on the outside. Cid had decided to open another branch of his business, Aunt Sherra decided to go back to school and was now taking night classes, Dad had helped the Valentines move in next door and Mom received a promotion. I've already mentioned this before, but Sora and Riku had finally come out of the closet, and Demyx was working on some new material and had gotten two A's and five B's on his mid-term reports.
And I was proud, proud of them all and what they had accomplished in such a short period of time. Of course, they all said that they were proud of me as well. But I was still wearing long sleeve shirts, so I knew that I wasn't yet completely over it.
Demyx, Sora, and Riku all stayed over that night. We stayed up late into the night watching movies and listening to music, pigging out on junk food and playing cards and Rock Band. Of course, Demyx handed all of our asses to us, but it was a lot of fun nevertheless.
We made pizzas at around two o'clock in the morning, catching the concoction on fire and setting off the smoke detector. Mom and Dad were none too pleased as they came stomping down the stairs, both groggy-eyed and having to go to work the next morning.
We decided to leave it to the professionals, throwing that charred heap of dough away, ordering a few pizzas from Twilight Town Pizzeria.
I don't think that we got to bed that night until around, oh I don't know, nine o'clock in the morning. Demyx climbed into my bed with me and Sora and Riku slept on a roll away bed Dad had set up in the room more than twelve hours before.
At one point, long after the soft snores of Riku and somewhat nasally snores of Sora had begun filling in the room, Demyx rolled on his side so he was facing me. "Hey Zexion," he asked almost timidly.
"Hm?" I snuggled into his arms and felt them tighten around me.
"Can I ask you something without you getting mad at me?"
"Of course, Demyx," I said, pulling back slightly so I could look at his face in the morning light that filtered in through the blinds. "Ask me anything."
"Well, it's just that…I don't want you to get upset.
"Ask me anything," I repeated gently.
He nodded to himself before asking, "You haven't been cutting again, have you?"
"No," I replied honestly. "I am not going to lie to you, I almost did just once, but I haven't actually done it since that day you found me in my bathroom."
He sighed in relief. I knew that he had been worried, had been stressing over it. And I knew that it didn't have anything to do with a lack of confidence in me; he was just worried as lovers tended to be. After somewhat shyly gazing at me for a moment, Demyx kissed me before laying his head on my chest.
As I lay there myself, staring at the ceiling and listening to the snores of three of my nearest and dearest, I began thinking of the present, of the past, and especially of the future.
And just as they begin, all good stories must end. Not that I am saying that this tale that is more autobiography than story is actually any good. In fact, I would say that many may find it to be little more than another angsty teenager's journal entry. That is between you and your higher power. Besides, I didn't really write this for anyone else, except maybe Demyx. I entered this contest as therapy, as a way to get everything off of my chest the only way I really know how to, by writing it down.
I knew that my stay at Oblivion wasn't going to make all of my problems magically go away. I knew going into it that I would end up hurting to heal myself, knew that it was going to be a frustratingly lengthy process, but I had made it. I had survived. And I found myself oddly confident that I, I mean we, would get through whatever bumps were still left in the road for us. I whispered a very delayed "good night" into Demyx's ear and closed my eyes.
A few things of note:
-Demyx and I received our acceptance letters to Radiant Gardens University on January 11th. It was the only college that we each applied to that had phenomenal English and music programs.
-Demyx won the Spring Talent Show singing the song that he wrote for me during my stay at Oblivion. I sat in the front row and, during his entire performance, never saw him take his eyes off of me even once.
-We graduated on June 8th. I was salutatorian and Demyx was asked to sing our Alma Mater.
"Hello, may I speak with Zexion Schemer?" a pleasant female voice asked me as I answered the phone.
"This is he," I replied, curious as to whom this was.
"Hi Zexion, my name is Ambre Winchester and I am the editor for the Twilight Town Literary Magazine. I am just calling to inform you that you have were the first runner up in our Young Writers contest for your entry in the nonfiction category. Congratulations."
"I actually placed with that rubbish?" I asked her, completely stunned.
She laughed. "Zexion, I was one of the judges of the contest and personally read your piece. What you wrote was far from rubbish. In fact, it was one of the single most heart felt pieces I have ever read and you should be absolutely proud of yourself at such an accomplishment."
Politely, I murmured a quick, "Thank you."
She laughed again. "Actually, I voted for your piece for the grand prize, but got outvoted. I am sorry to say that some politically correct essay on censorship won."
A side note:
There was really only one thing that I could have done with the prize money; bought what can only be described as a hippy van. And with this shag rugged, tie-dyed curtained, hemp seat-covered van, we decided to go on a road trip before college started.
Demyx and I left on July 7th, the day after I bought the van and one week after I received the check for the prize money in the mail. We had asked Riku and Sora to accompany us, but they both worked at Uncle Cid's place and had to unfortunately decline.
I didn't lose sleep over it though. After all, it meant that Demyx and I got to be alone. Well, at least until we got to Roxas' house. Axel was ecstatic to discover that his house was a stop along the way, picking him up only after stopping in Namine's tiny hometown for her.
We drove and drove, each taking turns at the wheel for over four days, until we finally reached the opposite end of the country, parking the van on the cracked and graying pavement. Axel, Roxas, and Namine sprinted from the van to the shore, jumping into the ocean in their clothes.
But Demyx and I hung back, slowly making our way hand in hand over the hot sand that threatened to scorch the bottoms of our feet. It took us nearly five minutes to reach the edge of the water. Finally, we did and I knelt before the sparkling blue waters and withdrew from my pocket a photograph Demyx had given to me so many months before. In the photograph was my past, was a time when Demyx and I were only best friends, a time when my younger brother was so full of youth and of life.
I was a completely different person in that photograph. I hadn't yet known the excruciating pain of losing the only sibling I would ever have. I hadn't yet made a complete mess of my life by making stupid mistake after stupid mistake. But I also didn't yet have the inner strength that I now possessed, I hadn't yet needed it.
I felt a single tear fall down my cheek as I brought that photograph to my lips before laying it gently on the surface of the Pacific Ocean. I watched the tide wash the photograph out to sea, the picture floating by Roxas who gave me a look of the purest understanding.
After a moment, Demyx knelt next to me in the sand and brushed my tear away with his fingertips, taking my hand in his own once again. Together, we watched the photograph float out to sea until it was gone completely from sight and only then did we, together, step into the water.