A/N: Sorry for the delay in updating. This chapter was really difficult to write, I guess because finding a way to tie everything up was difficult. But here is the last chapter, chapter 34. Read and enjoy!
Disclaimer: I own nothing but Kanixa
Kanixa opened her eyes slowly, regaining consciousness bit by bit. Her lids felt glued to her face, and to lift them was a struggle. The last thing she remembered was sitting at the table in Merlin's house with Demyx. Where was she? She blinked a few times, and her vision swam into focus to reveal—
"Axel?" she said, and her voice came out weak and raspy. He sat on the dresser at the foot of her bed—so she must be in Aerith's guest room—watching her, face unreadable. His intense gaze unnerved her, but this time she let it slide without comment. She gave in to the urge to smile. He'd made it back in one piece. Not that she'd expected any other outcome.
"What's the matter? Surprised to see me?" he asked, getting up to stand by her bedside, gazing down at her. Looking back at him, she felt a nervous flutter in her stomach. He wore a smile as he waited for her to respond, but something about it was…off. But she couldn't decide what. He remained as hard to read as ever.
"A little," she admitted, sitting up. "But I'm glad you made it back all right. I guess Xemnas wasn't a match for you, huh?" she teased.
Axel's face closed off, and Kanixa knew she must have said something wrong, but she couldn't think what. "The battle isn't over," he replied. "I just won't be a part of it." Kanixa raised her eyebrows questioningly, and he sighed. "We went into Kingdom Hearts and defeated Xemnas, everyone celebrated, you get the picture. Then some ship started firing on us, and Sora asked me to take his little band of merry men home to safety." He rubbed a hand through his hair. "I was stupid enough to agree. When I got back, Sora and Riku were gone."
So his former best friend was off fighting, but he was stuck here. No wonder he looked unhappy. "I'm sorry—" she began, but he cut her off.
"Save it," he advised curtly. "It's done with." Kanixa just nodded, not having the energy for a snappy retort.
"So is there something I can say that won't result in your biting my head off?" she asked wearily.
"How are you feeling?" he asked, changing the subject.
"Tired. I'm going to get some sleep," she muttered. Maybe he would be in a better mood when she woke up. "You probably should too," she added, trying to be considerate about the fact that he'd just gotten back from a battle himself. Leon or Aerith would find somewhere for him to crash for a few hours, a couch or something.
"All right," he agreed. That had been surprisingly easy. She waited to hear him leave, but instead the mattress gave behind her, and when she inevitably slid towards the new weight, a long arm snaked around her waist, pulling her until her back rested against something warm. "Comfy?" Axel murmured in her ear, sounding far too pleased with himself.
"No, I'm not!" she hissed, trying to struggle free of his grip. "What are you doing? Get off of me!"
"Relax," he soothed, not moving the offending arm. "I'm just here for a nap. And this isn't the first time we've shared a bed," he pointed out, sounding reasonable. "So what's the problem?"
"Last time you stayed on your side of the bed!" she protested in a near-whisper. It wasn't that she was afraid of him trying anything, but what if someone should walk in? Yuffie, or worse, Aerith. Yuffie would just snicker and tease them a little, but Aerith would go ballistic. The older girl might seem sweet and meek, but she had very firm ideas on proper behavior. There would be screaming…lots of screaming…her entire body tensed at the thought of the possible confrontation.
"Is something wrong?" He withdrew the arm from around her waist, and the mattress creaked as he presumably sat up.
"It's just…Aerith would die if she saw us like this. Well, she would kill me, and then she would die," Kanixa corrected herself. "I know what you're thinking, but she can be a terror. Like a huge, fire-breathing dragon."
"Really?" he asked, sounding unconcerned. "Aerith might have been strict with Anika, but you're not Anika. You're her Nobody. Why should who you spend your time with concern her? And why do you still care what she thinks?"
Kanixa rolled over to face him, glaring at the redhead. His deliberate probing of a topic that he knew upset her was the last straw. Her temper was on a short leash anyway, with her lack of sleep. "What is with you, anyway? You haven't been able to say once nice thing since you've been here," she accused.
"Can I help it if the truth hurts?" he asked in a deceptively casual tone, wearing an unreadable expression.
"No, I guess you can't. And the truth is you would rather be off fighting with Sora than here!" she shot back.
Axel sighed heavily, as if irritated with her stupidity. "Sora needs protecting, and you're safe!" he said sharply. Kanixa's eyes widened, surprised at the anger in his tone, and he took a breath before continuing. "I came here for you. But maybe you're the one who doesn't want me around."
"No—" Kanixa tried to formulate a coherent denial. This whole situation was going wrong. They'd accomplished their mission. They had destroyed the Organization, and she had assumed that a "happily ever after" ending would naturally follow. Apparently she had been wrong.
"No? Well, you could have fooled me," he replied implacably.
"…I'm sorry," she said, unsure what else she could do. He didn't respond, and a sinking sensation manifested in the place where her heart would be.
"Apology accepted. Enjoy your nap," he said finally, opening a portal with a flick of his wrist.
"You can stay if you want," she offered.
"No thanks. Wouldn't want to ruffle Aerith's feathers, after all," he said, with a hard smile. "But don't worry. I'll be around when you wake up."
"I was wrong, okay? Aerith's opinion isn't important. But I do care about you." He just stared at her, the portal still swirling behind him. Accepting defeat, she closed her eyes.
The portal collapsed with a whoosh. "That's all I wanted to hear," Axel said softly. She opened her eyes at the sound of his voice. "I guess I'm staying, then." The mattress creaked as he stretched out beside her. She scooted closer, and he put an arm around her shoulders. "Sweet dreams," he whispered.
In Aerith's living room, Demyx moved off of his post on the couch, deciding to go and check on Kanixa. Anything had to be better than staying where he was. The rest of the Hollow Bastion Restoration Committee had gathered in Aerith's house to wait for Kanixa to improve. It seemed that their friendship had really progressed from a weird since of duty to Anika's Other, and that they really cared about Kanixa. And all of them sat around the living room waiting for her to recover. In the past few hours Demyx had had to endure polite conversation with Aerith and death glares from Leon. Yuffie wasn't so terrible to be around, except for the fact that she talked his ear off. And she had insisted in waging a mock battle against him when she got bored, and had creamed him. He rounded the corner and went up the stairs before vanishing into a portal, not wanting to call attention to his difference and put the Gunblade wielder's hackles up yet again. A few seconds later, he stepped out into Kanixa's room.
"Nixa?" he whispered, before stopping dead as the scene in front of him finally reached his brain. Two forms lay stretched out on the bed. It was…cute, he decided, lips turning upwards into a smirk. Axel had arrived, and had apparently decided to skip alerting people to his presence and come straight to check on Kanixa. Now they were both asleep. She had her head on his chest, tucked under his chin, and he had one arm wrapped around her protectively. If only he had a camera—a picture would be irrefutable proof that Axel could take a break from being an obnoxious jerk for even a few minutes. Plus it would make great blackmail material.
He should leave before one of them woke up, Demyx decided. Kanixa would just act flustered, but Axel would be annoyed, and probably vent his annoyance through physical means. He raised a hand to summon a portal—
"Demyx." A quiet voice froze him in his tracks. Axel's eyes had opened into slits, and the green gaze had locked onto him. "What are you doing here?"
"I came to check on Nixa," he replied, not letting his nervousness show.
"As you can see, she's fine." His eyes closed. "Now go away and let her sleep." Demyx complied, knowing that he was getting off relatively lightly. It looked like Axel and Kanixa had finally gotten over themselves to form a real couple, he noted smugly. And he had thought the day would never come. Stepping back into the real world at the foot of the stairs, Demyx walked over to once again take a seat on the couch. Now Aerith occupied the matching armchair, and Leon and Yuffie had mercifully disappeared, maybe to train. The pink-clad healer gave him a beatific smile. "More tea, Demyx?" Demyx accepted the cup mutely, praying that Axel and Kanixa were back on their feet soon.
Kanixa awoke to a spicy, smoky smell in her nostrils. The scent was vaguely familiar, but she couldn't quite place it. Opening her eyes, she found her face buried in something black that felt leathery. When she sat up, she saw that she'd been sleeping with her head on Axel's chest. Axel himself looked up at her, already awake. For once, the ever-present smirk wasn't on his face. "Axel," she greeted him levelly, trying not to act flustered. That would just amuse him.
"You sound surprised. Why, were you expecting someone else?" he asked, smirking as he climbed to his feet
"No, of course not!" she protested, shocked that he would even ask that.
"Relax. It was a joke. How are you feeling?" His eyes flicked over her quickly, taking his own assessment as he waited for an answer.
"I'm feeling a lot better," she answered honestly, stretching and hearing her joints pop. Before, it had been an effort just to keep her eyes open. Now, she felt full of energy, ready to tackle anything. "I think I can actually do something besides sleep all day," she added jokingly.
"Good to hear," someone said from the doorway. Leon leaned against the frame, blue eyes giving her an assessing once-over. "I was coming to wake you up, but it looks like your friend here beat me to it," the Gunblade wielder explained. "I didn't know you were back," he added, looking over at the redhead.
"Not my problem you're unobservant," Axel said, shrugging, staring Leon down. "So, what exactly is it that you want of Kanixa?" he asked pointedly.
"Actually, I wanted to talk to both of you." Leon held up a roll of parchment stamped with an odd-looking seal. It almost looked like the head of the King they'd met on the World that Never Was…"It's a message from the King," he declared, confirming her suspicions. He handed the roll of parchment to Axel, the closer of them, explaining the contents to Kanixa while the other read the note. "Sora and Riku made it back to the Destiny Islands just fine. He thought that you'd like to know…and also he wanted to thank you for your invaluable help in defeating the Organization."
"'Invaluable help'?" Axel snorted, thrusting the note back at Leon. "Your King has things backwards. Without us, there would have been no victory." The brunette warrior looked skeptical, but he decided not to antagonize Axel for once. Instead, he turned to Kanixa.
"So, Kanixa. What will you do now that the Organization is gone?" the Gunblade wielder asked, folding his arms.
"Just…find somewhere to settle down, I guess," she replied, thinking out loud. She hadn't really planned this far ahead. All her energy had been concentrated on bringing down the Organization. And now that the goal was accomplished, she really had no idea what to do with her life…existence, whatever.
"Why not here?" Leon asked seriously.
Kanixa blinked at him, shocked. "You'd want me to live here, knowing what I am? And my friends too?" Leon made a sour expression at her second question—evidently he was just as fond of Axel and Demyx as they were of him—but he nodded.
"Yes. All of you."
Kanixa glanced over at Axel, knowing that he would be the most likely to object. "Go ahead," he invited. "It isn't like we have anything better lined up."
"Then…sure," she replied, smiling at Leon.
"Then it's settled." Leon looked pleased. "I'll let the others know." He turned to go when Yuffie rushed in, nearly barreling him over. "Yuffie!" he protested, glaring at the ninja. She completely ignored him.
"Sora's here!" she informed Axel, panting. "And he wants to see the three of you. He's at Merlin's. So you'd better get going." Axel nodded before vanishing into a portal, obviously eager to see how his friend's Other was doing. Kanixa prepared to do the same, but Yuffie stopped her with an indignant question. "What are you wearing?!" She pointed one finger accusingly at the shredded Organization coat Kanixa still wore. "We have to get you changed." Taking one wrist in a vise-like grip, the ninja towed her across the hall to her room. Kanixa gave Leon one pleading glance as she passed him, but the warrior shook his head slightly, wearing a resigned look. He was no stranger to Yuffie's determination to get her way.
Once Kanixa met Yuffie's standards of dress, she headed straight for Merlin's house through a portal. Upon arrival, she saw that Sora, flanked by Riku, Kairi, Donald and Goofy, was busy talking to Axel and Demyx, both of whom listened impassively. Demyx spotted her first, and broke into a grin. Axel followed the water wielder's gaze and gave her a tiny nod, telling her to join them.
"So? Are you in?" Sora gazed at them expectantly. "Oh, hi Kanixa," he added, running a hand through his hair, as she came to stand beside Axel.
"In for what?" Kanixa asked, looking from Axel to Demyx. She must have missed something important. It sounded suspiciously like Sora was asking them for help or cooperation. Why would Sora and his friends seek them out? Riku and Kairi especially didn't trust Nobodies.
"It seems Maleficent doesn't waste any time," Axel said cryptically.
"She's already summoning massive forces of Heartless from her new base at the castle," Demyx explained. "King Mickey is sending the Keybearer to investigate. And we're being invited along for the ride."
"Hmph," Riku snorted, making it clear that he was less than thrilled about the King's invitation. Kairi just glowered at the trio of Nobodies, chin up mulishly, lower lip pushed out slightly in a pout. But her little defiant expression had no effect on Sora.
"So? Are you coming?" he asked again, clenching his fists, blue eyes alight with excitement. Evidently he felt impatient to be off on his next big adventure. Boys, Kanixa thought with a mental eye-roll.
"Did you really think we would say no?" Axel replied immediately with another question, grinning down at the brunette. Somehow she had known he would say something like that. Of course he would want to keep Sora, and therefore Roxas, out of trouble. And besides, he would quickly find Hollow Bastion to be boring.
"No, but we hoped so," Riku muttered. Axel heard, and gave the silver-haired boy a hard smile in response.
Demyx shrugged. "I guess I'm in, too." Kanixa shot him a surprised glance. She knew that he hated to fight. "Someone has to be along to keep him in line," he explained, jerking a thumb at Axel, and earning a glare from the redhead.
"Count me in," Kanixa said finally. Rushing off for more fighting wasn't exactly what she had in mind, but no way would she sit around here twiddling her thumbs while Axel and Demyx went off to face who knew what. The suspense would be maddening. Demyx smiled at her, giving her a thumbs up, and Axel draped an arm over her shoulders.
"Good to hear."
"Great!" Sora grinned, pumping his fist in the air. He actually seemed excited that they had agreed, Kanixa thought, surprised.
"Wait a minute." Yuffie, Leon and Aerith had arrived, and all three were staring. "You're leaving us again?" Yuffie demanded of Kanixa, looking crestfallen. "But you just got here!"
"And we hate to cut the fun short." Kanixa rolled her eyes at Axel's obvious insincerity. "But for now it's just a reconnaissance trip. We'll be back soon."
"If we're not lucky," Cid muttered from where he sat in front of his beloved computer, typing feverishly.
"Let's go," Sora declared. "We'll be going by Gummi ship. But I guess you have your own way of getting there," he said, glancing at Axel for confirmation.
"That's right. We'll probably beat you there," Axel replied with a challenging smile.
"Says who? I'll race you!" And Sora took off running towards wherever he'd docked his ship, his friends trailing behind him with cries of "Wait up!" and "Slow down!"
"I guess that's our cue." Axel summoned a portal. "Time to go." He looked expectantly at Demyx and Kanixa.
"This instant?" Kanixa asked, frowning. She hadn't even had the chance to say goodbye to Leon and the others.
"We can't actually let the little brat beat us. It would ruin our image, you know." He smirked at her.
"Fine." She rolled her eyes. "Why not?" Demyx glanced at her, giving her an encouraging nod, before disappearing into the portal. Taking a deep breath, Kanixa prepared to follow him. It was impossible to guess just what would wait for them at the castle, but at least with Axel and Demyx along, the journey would be interesting. She vanished into the blackness, prepared for whatever would greet her on the other side.
I am so cheesy. The end, finally. Yay for finishing my first story! It is 34 chapters of garbage, but it is entertaining garbage, so that's something. And yes, it is an obvious space for a sequel, but hey if Square Enix can do it than so can I!
I want to thank everyone who has reviewed on this story, starting with the beginning (well, since Chapter 6), roughly in chronological order:
An (Often) Honest Mouse
Not a bad turnout for my first story! Your praise and/or constructive criticism was very helpful. I also want to thank those who favorited (if that is even a word—well, if it wasn't it is now) this story, and those who favorited me as an author.