Disclaimer: Still don't own any of the characters, except in plushie form….I swear, Axel keeps moving closer to Roxas on his own….
"Mom, do I really have to stay here?" I ask, looking up at the ominous brick building in front of us. The building is very nondescript, and I really don't like the overall feeling it gives off. It's too… homey.
"I'm sorry, honey. But the doctors think that this is the best place that you'll make the swiftest recovery in. We really didn't have that much say in the matter." Mom stood behind me, gently placing a hand on my shoulder and giving it a comforting squeeze.
I let out a sigh, and then look to my right. "Can't Roxas stay with me?" I know I'm whining like a little child, but come on, eight months in this prison alone? No sane person should have to deal with that!
Mom let out a deep sigh, while Roxas looked like a deer caught in the headlights. "Sora, Roxas doesn't need this kind of help. Don't worry, we'll both come visit you every week. Eight months will go by faster than you expect, and if things go well, maybe it won't even take that long. Then, you'll be all better and home again with everyone."
"Way to make it sound like I'm going to a mental house, Mom." Roxas muttered, then turned to me. "I don't like it either, Sor. But we justf have to do whatever we need in order to get better as fast as we can." My brother looked over at me with a slight smile, making me feel guilty. Of course he'd be as lonely without me as I would be without him.
"Roxy, I'm sorry." I whisper, opening my arms and offering a hug. My blond counterpart leaned down and wrapped his left arm around my shoulders. I return the favour, much more gently. A bright flash broke us out of the hug and we both turn to glare at our mother.
She had a goofy grin on her face and a camera in her hand. "You know that I can't resist when my twins get all mushy like this."
"Mom!" A simultaneous groan from us came instantly. Our mother with a camera is never a good thing. The groaning only earned us another giggle from Mom as she stood behind me.
"Anyway, boys. Time to head on in." Her face had a smile, though her voice seemed a little strained, I guess I never thought of how Mom would handle me being here. I take a deep breath in, and then nod before we make our way inside.
"Now, the two of you stay here while I go get you all signed in and find a nurse to show us to your room." As Mom walked away, we started a quiet conversation between the two of us, neither of us really wanting to look around the room much at the moment.
The next hour was a blur to me, so many things happening at once that I couldn't make head or tails of any of it. All I know was that there was a tour, and the nurse was talking the entire time. I just couldn't focus on anything, and I just hoped that either Mom or Roxas would be able to explain everything to me when we got to my room.
The next thing that I knew, the nurse was opening a door and ushering us in. "And this will be your room, Sora. I'll leave you and your family here to get settled. Dinner will be served down the hall in about an hour and a half. Normal sessions will start tomorrow at 9 am, and there will be someone in here to help you at 8:30 in the morning, and tonight, there will be someone around to help you just before lights out. If you need anything before then, the call button is right there beside the bed. Just press the button, and someone will be right with you. We will see you down at dinner tonight then."
And with that, the nurse left the three of us in the room alone. Well, if you could call it a room. The small… box, for lack of a better word, held a low single bed with stark white sheets and blankets that it almost made my eyes hurt. Aside from that were a nightstand and an alarm clock with annoying bright green numbers. Across the room was a dresser, next to a door which I assumed lead into the bathroom. The dresser and the nightstand were both made of matching dark wood, but other than that, everything was just so…
"…white." Roxas whispered, finishing my thought out loud.
"I'm supposed to survive in this place for how long?" I ask as Roxas sat down on the bed, wasting no time in making himself comfortable and laying down.
"Eight months, less if your recovery goes faster." Mom assured me, giving me a quick hug. "But don't worry, it will go by faster than you know it, and we'll come visit you every weekend. You won't even have time to miss us. I'm just going to go get your bags honey, you and Roxas can just stay here and start saying farewell." And with that, she walked out of the room and closed the door, leaving just me and my twin standing there.
"I'm going to miss you, Sor." My brother whispered, still facing the white ceiling.
"I'm gonna miss you too, Roxy." I answered, letting a deep sigh out. A silence passed between us, allowing each of us a moment with our thoughts. "Hey, Rox. What if I don't get better?" The thought escapes my lips before I can stop it.
The question causes my twin to sit up as fast as he can, and earns me a glare that I have only been on the receiving end of a handful of times in my life.
"Don't say that, Sora! We promised that we'd get over all of this together." He says, his glare easing up only slightly.
"Yeah, but you get to stay at home, go to school and be near all of our friends. All I get is to stay in a strange room with no one I know around me. It's not fair." I grumble, pouting and crossing my arms. Roxas sighed, then got up off the bed; walking over and kneeling next to me.
"Sora, nothing in the past month has been fair to either of us. This type of thing should have never have happened to us, so we just need to overcome it, right? Besides, I'm not going back to school." He trailed off after the last part, and looked away from me.
That caught my attention. "What do you mean you're not going back to school?" I demand of him. I can understand me, but he has no reason to neglect his education.
"I'm going to have a private tutor, and be home schooled. You should have known that I wouldn't be able to go back to school without you." And after telling me that, Roxas is silent once again, just as our mother walked back into the room.
"Alright, Sora, I think we'll help you unpack; then we have to be on our way, okay?" Mom said in a gentle tone, almost as if she knew that she was interrupting something.
The three of us work in relative silence, attempting to give this white box of a room a slight semblance of comfort for me to live in, instead of the prison I know it to be. The time flies by before Roxas takes a coughing fit and sits down to catch his breath.
"I think that's our cue to leave, Sora." Mom looks at me with sadness in her eyes. I guess this stay is going to be hard on everyone. Why the hell does all this have to happen to me? I give her a tight hug, and I can feel the tears starting to soak through on my shoulder. Great. The worst feeling in the world is knowing that you've made your mom cry.
"I love you, Mom. Don't worry, I'll be fine." I tell her, my voice wavering with tears as well. Another tight hug comes from her, before she pulls away.
"I love you too, honey. Now, I was going to wait, but I think that now is as good a time as ever. You're both 16…"
Roxas let out a wheezy laugh. "Obviously we both are." This earned a slight laugh from all of us.
"As I was saying, I know that you've never been away from each other for so long, so hopefully these will help you." Mom began to root around in the bottomless pit known as her purse before pulling out two cell phones. "I have you down on each others phones as speed dial one, and home is two. Now because you are both…" She paused and shot a look at Roxas, challenging him to comment again. "…both 16, I trust that you will use them responsibly. I will be taking care of the bills for the first year, unless you start to go crazy with them." She told us as she handed us each a phone.
"Thanks, Mom." We thanked her in unison, before Roxas got off the bed and embraced me with one arm.
"You better get better quickly." Roxas warned me playfully, before letting go. "Call me anytime, day or night. Whenever you need anything, just call me. I need my big brother back soon."
"Same goes for you, little brother." I replied quietly, before looking back over towards Mom, who had a confused look on her face.
"You two were delivered by C-section less than thirty seconds apart, and I was drugged out of my mind, so I don't remember. How did you decide who was big brother, and who was little brother?" she asked, before Roxas and I begin to laugh.
"Sora's hair spikes higher. That's how." Roxas told her and I nod in agreement
"Sometimes you two are too much." She laughed and it felt good to see both her and Roxas with smiles on their faces. "Anyway, honey, we really have to get going. We'll come here on Saturday to see how things are going. Remember to call the nurse if you need anything." And with a final hug, a kiss on the cheek, and a wave, I was left alone in the hell hole I'd be calling home for a while.
The silence was what scared me the most about this place, and in some odd type of irony, I was happy that dinner would be in half an hour. Not wanting to start on the books that I brought with me, or stare at the wall, I decided to head to the common room that was just down the hall, in fact, it was the only thing I remember from the whole tour. I made my way out of my room and headed down the hallway, passing only a few orderlies, nurses and other assorted type of people, none of them paying too much attention to me.
The common room was empty except for a single person, sitting at the window, looking out with a blank look on his face. I didn't know whether or not to disturb him, he seemed so natural in that position, so I let him be. After taking a few minutes to look around, I find nothing interesting, and the guy doesn't seem to notice me, so I let out a sigh and decide to move on.
"Hello?" he asked, not turning his head. I looked over at him, actually taking in his appearance for the first time. He had long silver hair that reached just pass his shoulders, and his bangs hung messily over his eyes. He was thin, but not too thin, and looked to be quite tall. Wow.
"Umm, hi." I replied, cautiously, wondering how he knew that I was there. Maybe he saw my reflection in the window or something.
"You must be new here. What's your name?" He asked, finally turning around and looking over to me, and with that, I come to see the most brilliant pair of green eyes that I have ever seen. They seem to glow; pierce right into my soul.
"Sora. My name is Sora. What's yours?" A thought hits me then. If I befriend someone here, maybe the coming months won't be quite as bad.
"Riku. So, why are you in a prison like this?" He smiled with a joking tone, though I don't get the joke. Why is he asking a question like that when it's so… apparent?
"Well, isn't it obvious?" I blurt out before I can stop myself. Leave it to me to offend the only person to talk to me in minutes after first meeting them. I hang my head to hide the blush that I know is creeping up on me.
My rude tone only earns a chuckle from him, before he stands up. "Actually no, it isn't. At least to me it's not." He answered, before I see him grab a long white cane that had been sitting beside him. He holds it out in front of him before making his way over to me.
"You're blind?" Once again, my mouth goes off before my brain can okay the statement.
"Don't worry. I get that reaction all the time." He laughed, stopping in front of me. "You must be the new kid in Room 13. So, Sora, now will you tell me why you're here?" And with as much grace as I have ever seen, Riku sat down in the arm chair beside me.
"I was in a car accident a couple of months ago and suffered an incomplete spinal cord injury." I explain, not quite ready to go into the details yet. "So have you always been blind?"
He laughs again, and the sound is almost musical. "Nope. Eight years ago, I was hit in the back of the head with a blitzball."
"Eight years? Then how come you're still here?" I must say, there is something about Riku that completely intrigues me. I can't help but want to learn more about him.
"Well, my parents died when I was 12, and my brother is a therapist, so it was only natural that I stay here with him. Now, though, I work part time here as a peer counsellor. I can't judge people by their appearance, so some people find it easier to open up to me." He shrugs with a little smile playing on the corner of his lips.
"Oh, your brother works here?" I still feel the blush on my cheeks, trying to make conversation. I hate being reduced to such meaningless small talk. Why couldn't Roxas stay here with me? He's always been the better of us at talking to guys. I mean, he's been through several boyfriends, and I still have yet to find a guy I have wanted to call my boyfriend.
"He's the on site rehabilitation specialist. You'll more than likely end up working with him at some point. Some people call him a slave driver, but he always gets the best results. Personally I think that he must have been a general of a private militia in a previous life." I find myself laughing at the joke with him, and it felt really good. After everything that we have been through over the past couple of months, a smile was a rare thing for me, and laughing even rarer. It wasn't until just now that I realized just how much I missed it. "Anyway, pardon my rudeness, but are you in a wheelchair?"
Once again, I find myself letting out a small laugh, understanding his earlier statement. "Yeah, I am."
He just smiled again. "And because I didn't hear anyone come in here with you, I am assuming that you still have use of your arms?"
At that moment, I feel a little of my old self come out and I reach over and poke the silver haired boy in the shoulder. "Answer your question?" I grin, even though I know that he can't see it. He just laughs at me, and the highly contagious sound soon infects me.
It takes a few minutes before we are both able to calm down and catch our breath enough to talk again. "Wow. It's been a while since we have had a new inmate, uh, I mean patient here that has acted so naturally around me." He said, the last of his laughter still lacing his voice. The comment causes another bout of laughter from me, and soon spreads back to him. And it's right then and there, that I decide that I am going to make the most of my time here and that I want to be friends with Riku.
When we both calm down a second time, I watch as Riku runs his fingers over his watch and stands up. "Shall we head to dinner then? It's already quarter to."
I cock my head in confusion. "What? How do you know that?" I question, curious as to how he knew what time it was.
He lets out another chuckle, and holds out his wrist. His watch looked normal to me, and I could see that he was giving me the right time, but how could he tell with out seeing the hands?
"See the raised dots along the dial? Well, that's Braille for the corresponding numbers. I just read where the hands are in relation to the numbers and I can tell what time it is."
"Oh." Was all I could say, and once again I could feel myself blushing deeply. "Well, then. Let's go to dinner." As the words leave my mouth, Riku's fingers gently begin to touch my arm, running lightly all the way up to my shoulder. It was all I could do not to shiver from the light touch. But I was disappointed when as soon as he reached the top of my shoulder, the feathery touch disappeared.
"Do you mind if I push you?" he asked softly, and as I look at him, I can't believe how hot he looks up close. Roxas is going to be so jealous! I nod before remembering that he wouldn't be able to see it.
"Go ahead. I didn't pay much attention during the tour anyway, so I'm not completely sure where it is." I admit, a little bit embarrassed.
"You must have had Nurse Mikoto. She can be a little dull to have to listen to for more than a few minutes." He gave me a small smile as he took hold of the handles at the back of my chair and we began to move forward. I wanted to ask him if he would be able to find his way to the cafeteria, but then I realized that after living here for a couple of years, he would probably be able to navigate this place better than I ever could.
We went along in silence for a few moments before I couldn't stand the quiet any longer and decided to ask Riku a few things that I have been wondering about. If he was an employee here, he might be able to answer them, and I feel oddly comfortable around him.
"So, how many patients are here?" I ask, looking around at my surroundings, paying a little more attention to everything this time around.
"Long term patients, we normally have about ten to twenty. Right now, we have 13, but a couple are about to be released and we still have two who are in no condition to participate in group activities or anything like that." He explained to me.
"So, there are different types of rehab here?" I can't believe how curious I am about everything. Normally Roxas is the curious one, and now I can see why.
Riku hums the confirmation of my last question before continuing on as we make our way down the hall. "You'll mainly be interacting with only the other trauma victims, but there will be times that you will see and work with everyone." With this knowledge, we've come to a stop in front of a set of double doors. "And here's to the first meal with everyone. Are you ready?" Riku stepped beside me as he said this, and he had a mischievous grin on his face. Such a Cheshire Cat he is.
"Ready as I'll ever be." I offer an unseen smile before Riku pushes open the door, only for me to see a cozy little room, painted in various shades of green. In the room were half a dozen large round tables. Most of the tables only had a few chairs around them, leaving plenty of room for people with wheelchairs to sit at them as well. I look around the room, and there are only a handful of people here, which makes me feel more at ease. I think coming here was even more terrifying than the first day of high school. Yeah, I'm a wuss, so sue me.
"Riku! We're at table one!" Came a cheerful voice from the only table with occupants; as bad as it may sound, it eased me to see that two of the four occupants were in wheelchairs as well. Both were girls, one with red hair, and one with pale blonde. They looked a little bit alike and I gathered that they must be sisters or something in relation. Both had their hair down and swept to opposite sides, they were giggling to each other in a private conversation that the other two were not privileged to hear.
The one that had spoken when we first came in had a huge smile on his face, and his blond hair was done up in the oddest style I had ever seen. It almost looked like he had a Mohawk, but it was long in the back like a mullet. Scary almost, but he seemed to be quite friendly, as when he noticed me, he waved and smiled even more broadly. The final person at the table had the wildest, reddest, spiky hair I had ever seen, and believe me, I know spikes. But it wasn't normal red hair, it was fire engine red. Heh, I bet that Roxas would like him. He's always preferred redheads.
"Thanks, Dem." Riku smiled at the blond boy before once again pushing me towards the table. It amazes me that I don't hit anything on my way. We make it to the table, and I immediately feel four sets of eyes fall onto me. "Everyone, this is our new hostage, Sora."
"Hiya, Sora! I'm Demyx!" The blond boy grinned before thrusting out a hand for me to shake. He seems to have way too much energy, in an almost childlike way, but he seems nice enough. I shake his hand and offer a nervous smile.
"Hi, Demyx." I spoke softy then turned to the two girls in the wheelchairs.
"We're Kairi and Naminé." The girls say in perfect unison, pointing to the redhead first, then to the blond. They have warm smiles on their faces, and I think that I know where this was going. "We're twins. Fraternal." They giggle at the continuation of their unison speak, and I can relate. It drives my mom nuts when Roxas and I do it. I offer them a knowing smile before I hear Riku groan.
"Sorry you have to deal with the insanity known as twins on your first day here, Sora. We normally don't subject new people to it for at least a week." The silver haired teen jokes, before I decide to play my own little joke.
"So you have something against twins or something?" I ask in a play hurt voice. A little flirtation never hurt anyone, right? I put on a pout which causes Demyx to laugh, and the redhead beside him to grin. Both Kairi and Naminé giggle, I think that they already have this one figured out.
"They're just annoying." Riku sends a sightless glare towards the girls, which is followed by a smirk. I think he sort of means it, which makes me inwardly laugh.
"Not all twins are annoying, are they?" I continue my act, and Demyx quickly clasps his hands over his mouth in an effort to contain his laughter. I assume that he has this figured out as well.
Riku snorted, his blind eyes coming back to rest on me. "No, only giggling ones in wheelchairs." He stated in a confident voice, and I swear Demyx is about to pop. I hold in my laughter, and watch as the blond males face gets redder and redder as he forces himself quiet, and the redhead beside him chuckles softly before patting Demyx on the back.
"Then I'll be sure to never giggle around you." I mock sniffle, watching as Riku's eyes grew larger at the same time that Demyx finally loses control and just about chokes on his own laughter. The twin girls begin to giggle again; even the redhead joins in the laughter.
"Oh my gosh Riku! You should see the look on your face!" Demyx manages to say between laughing fits. I must say, Riku reminds me of a fish right now, his eyes wide and mouth agape, slowly opening and closing.
"Fuck, you're alright, kid." The redhead laughs, then leans over and claps me on the shoulder. "Name's Axel, got it memorized?" He has a sly grin on his face as he taps the side of his forehead with a gloved hand. It's then that I notice that he has two, upside down, triangles tattooed on his face in a semblance of tears, right under his bright jade eyes. I nod in response to his question and he sits back in place.
"Do you really have a twin?" Riku questions quietly, in an almost humble sort of way. This causes Demyx to break into a new fit of giggles. It seems that there is no stopping him once he gets started.
I laugh in response, but not nearly as hard as the others. "Yeah, Roxas and I are identical twins, like thirty seconds apart." I smile, looking over to Kairi and Naminé with a wink and a smile.
"That's it. I give up. I am transferring to the asylum down the road." Riku groaned.
With that comment, Demyx started laughing harder. And just like that, the laughter stopped, replaced by a crash and then and 'owie' as the blond fell off his chair.
Whats this? A new story for the new year? Yes! Yay! Don't worry, I'm not abandoning Key, I just need a little longer to figure out where it is going. As for this one, It was something that I have thought about for a while, and got lots of ideas and such when I was in a physical rehab center not that long ago…although it wasn't as extreme as these circumstances.
Thanks again to my wonderful beta, elichi, thank you so much for contacting me again, I don't know what I would have done without your wonderful thoughts on this chapter!
On that note, I hope everyone has a safe and wonderful New Years celebration and may it continue into 2008! Everyone please enjoy this new story and please read and review