Author's Notes #1:
READ THIS: So we've arrived here, the last chapter. The end of a story. I do hope to write again in the future, so keep checking up on me if you feel like it. An easy way to do this would be to put me on what is called "Author Alert," which I am informed is performed by pressing a button. Besides, I may even update my profile one day. Wouldn't want to miss out on that. (If I write a new story, would any of you read it? Tell me.)
I know I said before that Namine wouldn't be in this story anymore (Read the chapter for more information.) but I had made some changes, and I think that her inclusion really adds something to it.
I recommend listening to some relaxing piano music while reading this chapter. Also, at the very end, Howie Day's Collide.
(Added 10/13/08. I recommend reading this if you're reading this story for the first time. I suppose I should've added this little note before I published this chapter. My bad. Okay, the last part of this chapter-- the part where Roxas is a baby-- is open for interpretation. It means whatever you want it to. If you read that part and decide you don't like what you think it means, it doesn't have to hold that meaning for you. You can change your perception of it to fit your preference, which was what I intended in the first place. If you want to know what my interpretation of the ending is, PM me, and I'll happily send it to you. :D However, the meaning isn't exactly set in concrete, and I never intended it to be. I'm sorry for any confusion/discontentment I may have caused by leaving this note out.)
Disclaimer: Kingdom Hearts and all related characters are the property of Square Enix and Disney. Elsewhere was written by Gabrielle Zevin.
Chapter Nineteen: Heaven
At The Beginning
There he was again.
The red one. He always walked by this spot. He always sat down in that one spot. The orange flower growing through a crack in the road had grown used to this by now, but it still felt the need to point it out.
That was the spot where it happened. Where he died. The person the red one was always muttering about. The red one would sit here for hours, in that spot in the middle of the road, right next to the orange flower. He would sit on his knees and stare at it, thinking whatever humans think about these sort of things. The flower was sure they were sad thoughts, though. Sometimes, the red one would say that it had grown here to give some sort of tribute to the other human, but it didn't know about that.
It was born before it had happened.
And it would know. It saw it happen. It knew exactly what human the red one was talking about. Sometimes, he would yell and scream, sometimes he would cry, and sometimes he would do nothing but stare and think. He repeated the person's name over and over again, but the flower never took the time to remember it.
Quite frankly, it did not understand why there was so much sadness surrounding the death of one human. It did not understand the tears, the screams, the pain. Flowers accept their demise as it happens, slowly fading away for whatever reason. Winter, especially, was a time of great death among its kind. When one flower died, another was born, so only happiness could be found whenever one wilted.
Because nobody mourned the death of a flower.
But then it remembered that flowers are stationary. They do not move. At all. In fact, the only time it could think of when flowers willingly move is to reach towards the sun. To take in as much sunlight as they can. A rather selfish reason, in its opinion. Humans move for selfish reasons, too, but they also move to help others. Not just move, but rush, such as they did when the yellow one was struck by the metal horse.
It supposed the red one had a point.
Truth be told, it was rather jealous of humans and their ability to do whatever they pleased. That really wasn't saying much, though, considering it was jealous of a lot of things. For example, it was jealous of flowers that did not grow through cracks, but through soil. Those are the ones that humans like to pick. Like to move. Like the ones the yellow one was bringing somewhere. Not the yellow one the red one was sad over, but a different one. A girl. Those flowers she had were arranged so beautifully.
But the flower in the crack did not see a lot of beautiful things so far. The crashing of the metal horse was certainly not a beautiful thing. It did not completely understand what was going on, but it knew it was something bad. But in a mean sort of way, it was glad it had happened. Otherwise, it would have no one to keep it company. All that red, liquidy stuff wasn't very good tasting for its roots to soak up, however. And that expression on the yellow one's face when it happened. He looked so scared. But then he closed his eyes, and he didn't look like anything.
Wait a moment.
The flower noticed something different about the red one today. Something... happier. And at that moment, it knew it wouldn't be having as much company as it had been having the past week.
It knew the red one was fine now, even by humans' standards. It saw him walk along the area, but he did not stay in his usual spot. He did not stay still. He merely walked passed, smiling the entire time. His steps were more confident when he walked, and he didn't look down. It did not know what made him smile and change so quickly, so greatly, but whoever it was deserved all its thanks.
Why shouldn't he smile?
Humans can change their faces so many different ways. They can show so many different emotions. Nobody knows what a flower feels like, nor does anyone care. Humans were gifted. They should use their gift as much as possible.
Flowers don't have any concept of the afterlife like humans do. Flowers are thoroughly logical beings. When they die, they die. But if it had to guess, if it could be even slightly human for one day, it had a strong idea of where the yellow one went after he closed his eyes. It realized the red one must've had the same idea.
He went to the place that flowers reach for.
He had been killed.
He had been denied access from Heaven to do some asinine "Life Review."
His best friend hadn't even attended his funeral.
He had been killed twice.
His best friend, who he had hated, kissed him when he knew he had a girlfriend.
He had watched his best friend die because of him.
He had been forced to break up with his girlfriend because of feelings he didn't want.
The person he loved rejected him, driving him to attempted suicide.
He had been killed.
It didn't make sense.
It had been two weeks and two days since Roxas had died.
She opened the door to his bedroom. She instantly regretted it. She didn't want to be in here, but she knew she had to be.
Everything was as still as a photograph, the essence of its former inhabitant still hanging in the air. Untouched by time or the events that took place. Schoolbooks stacked neatly on the desk. Photographs on his bookshelf. Clothes that'll never be washed still waiting in the hamper. In the end, all of this stuff, piles of it, was all a person was and all they'll leave behind.
She sat on the bed. It was still perfectly made. She found herself folding the corner of the sheet, just to wrinkle it a little. Just to make it seem like someone had been sleeping in it the night before.
She scanned the room until she found it. What she was looking for. She walked up to the window and wiped a small smudge off with her sleeve. That was it. That was all she came here for. She just didn't want Roxas to go through the trouble of cleaning it himself.
She looked out the window and saw only one or two clouds in sky. Today would be a perfect day to do it, she decided.
She went downstairs and saw someone standing in the dining room. A woman. She knew her.
"Namine," the woman, Aerith, said, "You're leaving already?"
Namine grabbed the flowers she had bought from Aerith's flower shop off the table, where she left them.
"Yeah. I'll be heading over there, now."
"Okay. Take care."
Sometimes, Namine would hear Aerith and Cloud talking to each other, reassuring each other that it didn't hurt when that car crashed. That it was quick and painless. She didn't know if they actually believed that, but she did.
As soon as she opened the front door, Aerith asked her, "Namine, do you know how Axel is doing? I haven't seen him lately..."
Namine didn't answer her. She walked out of the house, onto the sidewalk, flowers in hand.
She was angry at Axel, because he didn't seem to care. She rarely got angry with people, but, given the circumstances, she thought she might make an exception.
He was not at the funeral. When she was giving her speech, she looked out into the crowd and didn't see him anywhere. He hadn't spoken to Roxas's parents at all. He hadn't spoken to anyone. She knew he cared about Roxas and was going through a tough time, but it wasn't like he was the only one who had a problem with it. He could've been a little less selfish.
Although, she was beginning to worry about him. Perhaps she should stop by his house after this, to check up on him.
She rubbed her hands together. It was cold. Good thing she had brought her jacket.
She crossed the place where the accident happened and didn't notice the small orange flower growing out of the road.
She was angry at the driver, for causing all this. But she had met him before. Some time after the funeral. He was a man by the name of Zexion. He wouldn't give his last name for some reason. His wheelchair looked new, and he had some difficulty moving around, so he couldn't have been in one for long. She knew he had regrets, too, though not all of them were about Roxas. He had lost someone, too.
She was angry at the world, for not caring as much as she did.
Everyone had cared when it first happened. Everyone was upset and shocked. It was a topic amongst many students' conversations. But after a while, it became old news. Unimportant. It was overshadowed by the death of famous teen singing sensation, Demyx Loreone. To everyone, he mattered more than a small kid from a big city like Hollow Bastion. But soon, even that was forgotten, and the world went on.
She was angry at Roxas, for not being more careful. But she knew that feeling wouldn't last long.
She rubbed her hands together.
She soon saw her destination and walked past the gate. She scanned the names on the tombstones. She saw his name and walked towards it, flowers in hand, but was surprised to find there was something laying on the soil already.
There, on the grave, were the Algerbra notes Roxas had lent to Axel about a month ago. There wasn't a doubt in her mind about who gave it back.
That was all the evidence she needed. That was it. She didn't need to check up on him anymore. In that moment, she realized Axel would be okay. He'd be okay from now on. He'd be fine. She didn't know who had changed Axel after the funeral, but whoever it was deserved all her thanks.
In that moment, combined with how Axel had been acting ever since the accident happened, she realized how much Axel had actually felt for Roxas. How much he still does. She wasn't so sure how she felt about that.
She laid the flowers on the grave and walked her way home. This place was so cold.
On the way back, she heard a rumble from the clouds. Another one. It was getting louder each time. Oh no. She'd never make it home in time. Finally, the sky grew dark, and it started with a light drizzle. It ended with heavy rain. Letting out a small whimper, she pulled on the hood of her jacket and ran to the nearest dry shelter.
She pressed her back against the wall and looked on the scenery sadly. It was like Roxas was crying because no one remembered his death.
She didn't know what the world wanted from her. She had walked all the way there, alone, to make sure his grave wouldn't be bare, and the weather was protesting it. She spent all her time thinking about how much his death had affected her, and she couldn't even have a peaceful walk home.
She wasn't usually one to complain, but this was... she didn't know. She couldn't wait under here forever, and if she tried to get home now, she'd get wet and probably catch a cold.
She was tired already. She needed to get home. She was tired of searching for shelter whenever it rained. She was tired of always going the safe and careful path and never taking chances. She was tired of being angry at people for things that weren't their fault. She was tired of feeling so helpless.
She had enough.
She pulled off her hood and ran out into the rain.
The heavy rain pounded on her body and soaked her to the bone, but she didn't mind it. She didn't even try to run home, which was the point of this. She stood still in the middle of the sidewalk and let the rain wash her off. She tilted her head upwards and closed her eyes. Why hadn't she ever tried this before? A smile tugged at her lips. Everything was so new and different. It stayed like that for a while.
Drop by drop, the rain got lighter.
All of a sudden, it stopped. The sky was completely clear. Namine blinked once. Was it over already? He stopped. It was as if Roxas wasn't crying for himself, but rather for the well-being of her and Axel. He didn't want them to be sad anymore. Seeing as Axel had been fine already, maybe it was just her.
She shook off the water dripping from her clothes and hair. Everything was clear, and she could see her house. She wouldn't get there, yet. She leaned her head against a lamp post.
Roxas knew she was fine now. She knew it, too. She would be okay. It was the least she could do for him. Still, the thought tugged at her heart. It wouldn't keep her from standing in the rain, but it left a small imprint. She had to wonder about some things. She had to ask whatever was listening. She thought about Roxas's room and how empty it felt. She thought about how it would feel if Roxas came back.
If he did have a second chance at life, what would he do? Obviously, he would gain some new appreciation for life and the fragility of it all. He'd stop wasting time doing whatever he deemed unecessary. He'd do everything he'd want to get accomplished in life and more. And then... what? What would he do after that? Would everything just become normal again? But he'd never really be normal again, would he? Because he probably knew things about the other side that no living person should know. He'd never really be the same Roxas ever again, would he?
The way she saw it, after you went from one state of being to another, there was no turning back. Take getting older, for instance. Once you're an adult, you can't go back to being a kid. You could be a kid at heart. Roxas could stay alive on his and everyone else's hearts. But not really. By then, you would've learned things. Important things. Things that take time to learn. And you can't forget them. If you did... then...
You can't move.
If you look at things that way, then nothing has been a waste. Not even the death of a loved one.
If Roxas came back, living for him would be just that. Living. Maybe she was wrong. Maybe if he came back, everything would be better and everyone would be happier. Maybe. But what about the next time he died? What if she and Axel and everyone he knew didn't die by then, either? Would he get another chance, then? What about the time after that?
For the funeral, she had written a speech about he had touched all of their lives. She should start remembering what she had written. About how anyone who was loved and remembered lived forever everywhere.
She planted a kiss on the palm of her hand and blew it to the sky. She wasn't sure which way she meant it. As Roxas's girlfriend or... as a friend. As a friend who desperately missed her other friend but was happy for him, nonetheless, wherever he was. And really, she could do nothing else.
She was angry at herself for having so many questions.
What, she wondered, was the last thing Roxas ever felt on Earth? The very last thing? Was it some strong feeling or emotion, enveloping him in its grasp before he stopped feeling anything? Or what it just the road, hard and unforgiving against his body?
How, she wondered, did it happen? She didn't mean how his death happened. She'd never want to know the details of that crash, and she didn't think Roxas did, either. She meant, how did he let go of Earth? How did he go from living to not living? Did everything simply go black? Was there a light at the end of a tunnel? Was it painful? Did it hurt?
She had a feeling she'll never know the answers to those questions. At least not anytime soon. And she was happy that she wouldn't. Because she gets to imagine the answers any way she wants to, shape anything the way she wants to, live the rest of her life any way she wants to, and breathe in the sweet and sometimes salty air of hope.
He should've been corrupted by now. It didn't make sense.
The Devil looked at everything that had gone wrong in the boy's death. By all means, his soul should've been his by now. He had even used an elaborate disguise to try to get to him. He knew enough, however, to know that the fate of a soul could very well be determined by a simple flip of a coin. Or, as the Devil like to put it, by a game of chance.
He looked on in anger as the boy smiled and laughed on his last day and knew he had lost the game this time.
No need to worry, though. There were always other fates to ruin.
But for now...
The ugly, hideous face of love had won.
It sickened him.
The clock had struck midnight.
As Roxas drifted into sleep the night he was five years old, he began to dream for the last time. The last time he'd go into a world without ever opening his eyes. The night was quiet and peaceful.
This time, however, neither Demyx nor his grandfather nor anyone was there with him. There were no clouds or Gates or lakes or angels. No Mom telling him it was time to wake up. No voices anywhere.
He was alone.
Yet at the same time, he wasn't.
And he was sinking underwater.
No. Sinking wasn't the right word. He was in water, but he wasn't being pulled down. He was floating. This wasn't like that time when he saw the Devil. This was different. Lighter. He could see the light clearly and knew where he had to go. He kept swimming up until he could breathe again.
But when the first thing he saw was darkness, he knew this couldn't possibly be Heaven.
What had happened? Where were the Gates, finally open? Where was Sora, telling him what a good job he did? Where was Demyx, singing again? When he found none of that, it was then he knew he was dreaming. It didn't necessarily feel like anything went wrong, but he knew this wasn't where he was supposed to end up. This didn't feel like Heaven or Hell. This felt like...
It felt extremely familiar.
It felt like Earth.
He didn't feel alive, but it felt like Earth.
Another day of Reversal? Then why was it so dark? Shouldn't it be morning? Shouldn't he be in bed, waking up by now?
Why was it nighttime?
He scratched his head in confusion and almost jumped when he saw his arm. It was see-through! It was.. It was glowing! He tried to touch something with it, the first thing he saw, and he couldn't feel it at all. The paperweight moved when he got close to it.
But he didn't feel it touch his skin.
He managed to get a vague idea of what was happening. In this dream--or not a dream--he was on Earth, but as something very ghost-like. He probably was a ghost. He could hardly see himself, and he couldn't feel anything, but he was definitely there. At least, he hoped so. He could've just been imagining himself being there.
A nagging voice in his head said, there... where? He ignored it for the moment.
The eerie way he seemed to glow. He was reminded of that experience he had right after he died. You know, the double exposure thing. Well, this was kind of like that. Except that it wasn't really a double exposure this time because there was only one of him. His body was nowhere to be found.
But he knew exactly where it was.
Memories came flooding back. That nagging voice in his head? It was telling him where. It was at the funeral. Today. His funeral.
It was telling him today was the day of his funeral.
This was a week after he died. He never lived through this. And he saw his funeral already. It already happened. So this was before present time and after he died. What was he doing here? He couldn't think of any clear explanation. He began to think that Heaven had simply forgotten about him but quickly shook that thought out of his head.
He felt a pain in his chest. This was the funeral his best friend never attended.
Which was funny, seeing as how his best friend was right in front of him.
He was in Axel's room, looking at Axel, and he could hardly believe it. He couldn't believe it. It was Axel. His Axel. Eighteen-year-old Axel. A smile forced itself upon his face, and he felt terrible about it because today was supposed to be very depressing.
But seeing Axel as Roxas last saw him was incredible. A miracle. Roxas never thought he'd see him again. He felt like running up to him, calling out to him, doing anything to catch his attention. Tell him how much he missed him, and how much of a miracle it was to see him now. He'd tell him he was sorry for everything, and kiss him, and hug him, and...
But he restrained himself.
Because he knew Axel wouldn't see him there or notice him, anyway. And Roxas thought about how cruel Heaven was to put him here and make him an invisible, untouchable, barely there ghost.
Standing there, Axel not noticing him at all, made him feel, for the first time, really dead.
All he could do was watch him.
Axel was sitting on his bed. How he even got there was a mystery to Roxas, seeing as how Axel's room was just as messy as before, if not messier. He had an open Algerbra notebook in front of him and was doodling on it. And Roxas knew he was just doodling because Axel never did his homework. God. Ten years after they first met. Axel seemed so mature right now.
After he was done with Algerbra, Axel moved on to History, then to English, and so on and so forth, until Axel had just about defaced every subject. Roxas didn't feel bad for spying on him like this at all, because everything was so average. Regular Axel stuff.
It's not like watching your best friend do this all night was boring. Oh, no! It was just that Roxas wondered why he was watching this in the first place. Axel didn't even have any music on or anything.
Speaking of which, how come Axel didn't have any music on? He usually did. Maybe this was his way of mourning. After all, his best friend did just die recently.
Funny. When Roxas thought of that word, he usually thought of more than this.
After Axel was done, he put all of his books back into his bookbag, which was on the other side of the room. As Axel began to walk back to his bed, Roxas noticed that he was moving very slowly and his legs were trembling slightly.
Maybe he was just tired?
Suddenly, just like that, Axel collasped. His legs gave in and he just fell until he hit the floor. He didn't even try to get up. Roxas wondered what the hell was wrong with him.
Only when he listened carefully did he realize that Axel was crying.
It was very quiet crying. From a certain distance, you couldn't even tell that he was crying until you noticed that his body was shaking and that he was breathing very heavily.
It just stayed like that for a while. With Axel crying on the floor and Roxas just watching. It hurt him to see Axel like that. Seeing Axel this unhappy was a pain that made Roxas want to curl up on himself and cry with him.
This was just like the cigarette thing, except a thousand times worse. Because this time he was crying about something Roxas couldn't help. His heart (as if he had one) was overflowing with compassion and pity, and he just wanted to do something. Comfort him somehow.
Talk to him.
Roxas froze when he saw Axel pull something out. A bottle.
A pill bottle.
No. Not this. Not like this. Don't tell him Axel tried to kill himself like this. Fear quickly made its way into Roxas's consciousness and made it difficult for him to breathe. He watched Axel open the bottle.
Axel never took any medications. There would be no other reason for him to swallow pills. He poured some pills into his hand and stared at them. More than two. More than five.
More pills than Roxas could imagine as a safe dosage.
Watching Axel die was something he would never want to experience again, under any circumstances. He couldn't imagine the horror that would come with watching Axel kill himself.
Frantic, Roxas thought back to the paperweight. Y-Yeah. That was right. If he wanted to--if he really wanted to--he could take the pills away from Axel. He could save him.
He reached out his hand and stopped, face frozen.
If he wanted to--if he really wanted to...
He could leave them in.
If Axel killed himself and died, he would go to Heaven, and the two of them would be together. Forever and ever and ever and ever and... A twisted smile formed on Roxas's face. Axel was in so much pain. If he did this, he wouldn't feel any pain anymore. Or ever again. And neither would Roxas. Both of them would get the happy ending they deserved.
Sure, Sora said he couldn't change anything, and Axel already decided not to do it, but that was for Reversal. This was different for a reason. Heaven made him watch this for a reason. Heaven wanted him to pick his prize for doing such a job well done.
Heaven was giving him a choice.
Either kill Axel and spend eternity together in Heaven, or save Axel and spend all those agonizingly slow years alone.
He knew which choice he wanted to pick. He just wasn't sure which was the right one.
This would be an easy decision for anyone else. Kill someone or let them live? Obviously Heaven would want him to pick the second one. Obviously. He was telling himself that. Obviously the right choice was the second one.
But Axel really wanted to die. He was in so much pain. He wanted to die. Roxas would be helping him get what he wanted.
Both of them wanted him to die.
It would be better, right? Once he met up with Axel again in Heaven, he'd tell him how he felt, and the two of them would be together forever. Everything would run the way it was supposed to. Because of course Heaven would want him to have a happy ending. It wouldn't have given him the choice if it didn't.
All he had to do was nothing. Just let Axel swallow the pills.
What was taking him so goddamn long? Jesus, he was just staring at them!
Axel might not do it, he realized. Axel might actually decide not to go through with it, like he did the first time. Heaven might be making him watch this to torture him, to remind him that it was tearing them apart. But he had power. He could move things. All he had to do was stop whatever was stopping Axel. What were they going to do? Crash a meteor through his window? He'd die anyway!
This wasn't like when Roxas tried to kill himself. Nothing like it. He was only doing that because he felt lost and lonely. Axel was doing it for love. It was a noble cause. The best one out there. Axel wouldn't go to Hell for this. He couldn't.
Axel died for him once. He'd do it again.
Roxas thought it over some more. Choosing not to kill Axel would be too obvious. Since when had any of Heaven's tests been obvious? It was mercy killing. Mercy killing.
And if he believed that, then it was no wonder he was gullible enough to believe the Devil. The cynical, break-out-of-the-fairytale side of him spoke up.
Besides, it said, sarcasm dripping, it wasn't like Axel had a life ahead of him, right? It wasn't like he was strong enough to get through this. Of course not. Roxas looked up to him all those years for nothing. It wasn't like he would actually want Axel to live happily. No, he'd rather see him dead, just because he can't wait too long. His time was that precious.
It was murder, it said. It would be killing his best friend. Killing. Mercy killing or not, it would be like force feeding Axel the pills himself. It would be condemning him to Hell and signing the Devil's contract with a blood-tipped pen because he thought it was the right thing to do.
That wasn't fair! Giving him this choice wasn't fair! He wasn't ready for it! He couldn't make a decision like this so quickly. Axel couldn't stare at the pills forever. Any one of these minutes, he was going to swallow them. Bullshit. Roxas wasn't even completely sure if he could really change anything or not.
But that wasn't the point was it? The point was, if he could, would he kill Axel? Or would he let Axel live his own life from here on out?
'You're doing it again. You're only thinking of yourself.'
Axel brought the pills closer to his mouth.
Roxas yelled out, "Axel, DON'T!" He reached forward and knocked the pills out of the palm of his hand. They landed on the floor, and Axel didn't pick them up. Roxas stared at his hand, thinking about what he had done.
He did it.
He saved him.
The better side of him won.
Axel looked up in shock, staring at the air expectantly. The hell? Something put the pills on the floor. But he was the only one in the room. He was pretty damn sure it wasn't the wind. Some invisible... thing wouldn't let him die. And Axel wanted to know why.
'You bastard. You sick, selfish, twisted bastard.'
Roxas had to ask. Okay, first he had to say. He must've been masochistic, because no one in their right mind would want to wait over fifty years to see the person they loved again, especially when they had the perfect chance to do something about it. He had to ask. Why, goddammit, why?
Mostly because he just couldn't do that to Axel.
He couldn't do that. He couldn't kill him. He loved him. Why would he kill the person he loved? Axel said that if he was near the car accident, he would've saved Roxas. Why wouldn't Roxas do the same? He was onlyeighteen. There was so much he could accomplish. He couldn't do this to himself. Not over Roxas. Not over this.
He'd made Axel happy. He'd brought light into his life. He made him love. Just so he could end his life at eighteen? Just so he could never resolve the problems with his mother? Never graduate from high school? Never see the light again? Roxas didn't want that, and deep, deep down inside, he knew Axel didn't, either.
He noticed Axel was staring at the air, waiting for an explanation. He didn't blame him. He'd be confused, too. And pissed. He'd be really, really pissed. But what could he do?
He reached out to touch Axel's shoulder.
His hand passed right through.
Before he knew it, his mouth was moving.
"Don't worry, Axel," Roxas whispered. In the back of his mind, he wondered why he was saying anything at all. It wasn't like Axel could hear him. At least he thought not. When he yelled what he did, Axel hardly flinched. But he had to say something.
He needed to.
"It may seem like everything's gone wrong, and there's nobody left to care about you, but everything's going to be okay." He wished he paid more attention from his mother on how to comfort people. He sucked so bad at it. "I should know. I once felt like that, too."
Axel wasn't listening. Roxas bit his lip.
"I hope you never die."
He hoped Axel would live forever. He hoped Axel would do whatever he wanted to do and die without a single regret. Regrets that pound at his head like Roxas's were now. He wanted Axel to live as long as possible. Go to college, grow old, all that crap. He wanted Axel to know that he wasn't going anywhere.
He wanted Axel to be happy. He never wrote a will. But that was one dead man's last wish. To see the person he loved be happy. Even if that meant waiting a hundred billion gazillion years.
'Tell you what, Axel. I'll promise to wait for you if you promise to wait for me.'
"I'm not letting you go because I don't care about you anymore. I'm doing it because I love you. I want you to be happy, Axel. I want you to be so, so happy."
Axel wasn't listening. He didn't think so. He was about to give up until Axel did something so unexpected, Roxas's mind went as blank as paper, and his words became a garbled mess.
Axel leaned forward and kissed him.
He kissed him. Impossible. Roxas could feel it, and he knew Axel could, too. Physically feel it. Even though Roxas was dead, and his body was miles away, they were able to feel each other. It was impossible. It was magic. Axel must've thought he'd gone insane because he was kissing air, and air was kissing back. Or maybe he knew, or just felt, that his best friend was with him.
"I'll wait for you." Roxas whispered in-between kisses. "I promise. I'll save a spot up there for you, okay? There's no need to rush. There's no need to throw anything away. I'll wait for you. I'll always wait for you. But you have to promise to wait for me, okay?" It came out a lot more sad sounding than he wanted it to. No. Why was he unhappy? He was kissing Axel. They were finally together.
Why on earth would he be unhappy?
"Even if Heaven gives up on you." he said, steadying his voice. It was hard. "Even if you give up on you. I'll never give up on you."
Okay. Heaven gave him a choice, and he chose to let Axel live. Who was he to complain?
They touched each other's skin and felt each other's breath. Roxas could hear Axel's heartbeat. He couldn't hear his own because he didn't have one. Axel must've known something was there. One doesn't just do this to air. He knew something was there. He didn't know if he knew it was Roxas.
If Axel could see him, because Roxas felt he had to delude himself with the idea, what did he see? Did he see an angel, glowing with light?
"We'll meet again. Someday. One of these days we're going to meet again, and it'll be just like old times, and you're going to fill me in on all the parts of your life that I wasn't there for, and then it'll be like none of us ever died." He leaned his invisble head against Axel's chest. "And then we'll get to do this all over again."
It was a miracle. Things like this don't just happen. People don't go making out with he ghost of their best friend who really had no business being a ghost. People don't go kissing intangible things that suddenly become tangible.
Axel waited so long for this. Now, it was Roxas's turn to wait.
They broke the kiss, and Axel looked down. He didn't say a word.
Or did Axel see a little, five-year-old boy who desperately needed to get out of the sandbox and go home?
Maybe Heaven was giving him one last chance to say goodbye.
Roxas just laughed. That was right. Axel had to breathe. Those living people and their needs! Those living people and their growth! Axel was so much taller than him. He had always been taller. He had always been rubbing it in.
"One of these days," Roxas said. "I'm gonna be taller than you. When you grow old and hunched over, I'll be taller than you."
It was like Roxas had never left.
Somewhere else, a bunch of people were mourning his death in some funeral. His girlfriend--God, he missed her.--was giving a heartfelt speech about he had touched their lives, and almost everyone he knew was there to listen. Parents, teachers, classmates. Most of them would be crying. But why? He was right here. He never left.
"But now you have to move on and smile, for God's sake."
He wiped his face. He hadn't noticed his tears. Or were those Axel's tears? Who cared anymore? Whether he was crying or Axel was crying or both of them, none of it mattered. It didn't make anyone better than the other. Hell, they could walk right over to his funeral, and they'd fit right in with everybody.
He thought about what Axel had told him on his last Reveral day.
Was everything going to be okay? He didn't know. He was never meant to. But he did know that, somehow, everything would turn out okay in the end. Somehow. So if it wasn't okay, then you just knew it wasn't the end.
God, that sounded like something Sora would say.
But he didn't care. He missed the damn guy.
Axel climbed back into his bed, the pills forgotten. He wouldn't be doing that shit anymore. He didn't feel like he had to. There was better shit to do, anyway. He turned on the music and turned off the lights. Now, he had someone to live for.
And he could finally rest in peace. Both of them could.
Roxas knew now that there was such a thing in the world as a love that defied the boundaries of death. In this world, full of hatred and kindness, such a thing existed. That was enough for him. He knew he had it. If that wasn't worth waiting for, then what was?
Put that in the History textbook, Mr. Saix. Go ahead. He dared you.
"I'll see you later, Axel. Much, much later."
Could Axel hear him? Roxas wasn't so sure. But for a moment, just a short, tiny moment, Axel looked up, right where Roxas was. He was looking right at him.
"I love you," he whispered. He smiled when he said it, too. "More than you'll ever know."
Roxas smiled and whispered it back. "I love you." He said it with all the feeling, all the honesty, all the power he could muster. "Got it memorized?"
He felt a drop of liquid touch his skin. Then another one. And he knew he was falling back into the water. He felt himself being pulled away from Axel, slowly at first, then it was like a supersonic boom. Like breaking the sound barrier. Like breaking the barrier between living and dying. Axel became nothing but a pleasant blur as Roxas moved up, up and away, floating into the night sky. It was thrilling to be up there. The moon never looked so clear, so close.
Suddenly, the sky became blue. As blue as a kid's crayon drawing. Like one of Namine's drawings. He could sense the sweet scent of flowers in spring, milk and honey on his tongue, and lukewarm fire on his soul. All the world's happiness was his. They were like ants down there. Axel was one of those red ones.
And then there were Gates. Right in front of him and wide open. They never closed.
Roxas Benjamin Gainsborough Strife figured that if he wanted to--if really, really, really wanted to--he could've stayed on Earth as a ghost and haunted Axel for the rest of his natural life. But really, who would want that? Whether you loved them or not, being haunted by anyone, being haunted by a memory, chasing you down until you can't go on in the real world, is a terrible thing.
You know, letting go and moving on sounded like pretty good advice. So good, in fact, that Roxas decided to take it himself. Sora and Demyx were waiting for him, after all.
Without even sparing a backwards glance, he called out to the Voice.
The first--and the last, last--thing he ever felt on Earth was happiness.
And he disappeared into a sea of sparkles.
One sunny Saturday morning, at exactly 2:35 P.M., a baby boy was born.
He had bright blond hair and wide blue eyes, just like his father, and a soft and quiet smile, just like his mother.
Unlike most of the other babies being born that day, he wasn't crying but remained silent, as if he knew that all the hardships were over now, and that this was a time for new beginnings.
The mother whispered gently, "Hey there, Roxas. Hello. We've been waiting for you for a very, very long time."
Then the baby, who at the time didn't know what the future held and didn't really care, laughed.
Because they'll be okay.
Author's Notes #2- READ THIS:
Whew! Finished it! A lot of work went into this, and now I (and you) have a finished product. I really, really, really hope you enjoyed this chapter and the story as a whole. I know I enjoyed writing it. Thank you to everyone who has reviewed this story! Also, thanks for just taking the time to read it and sticking with it until the end. Your support means a lot to me. I give you guys my love! :D
Thanks to Gabrielle Zevin for writing the book that inspired this. Although, some people have told me this is better than Elsewhere, so I do apologize for that.
About the ending... In my mind, this is a happy ending. In a way, the two of them got to stay together forever, and it's enough for both of them. Everyone ended up being okay. When I first thought of this story, before I had even gotten an account or considered making this available to public view, I had always pictured it ending this way. I find that stories are a lot nicer when they're told the way the author wants them to.
If you have this story on alert or favorites, review, please! Not only for this chapter, but all of it. I'd really like to know if you liked it (or disliked), why you liked it (or disliked), and how I could improve. Does this mean I expect every single one of you to review? Well... It would be nice. :)
If you like this story... fave, please? That is, if you haven't already. And if you like it. It's not like I can make you favorite it, but it would be heavily appreciated. It would raise the chance of other people reading this and telling me how I'm doing. Recommend it to others, if you feel like it!
Once again, thanks for reading! Not bad for my first try, I think.
Until next time,