Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters presented here and am not making any profit off of this whatsoever.
Story Title: Straight From The Heart
Chapter Title: Valentine Victory
Rated: PG-13
Story Word Count: 11,767
Chapter Word Count: 3,913
Romance: Sora x Roxas
Notes: I wrote this for the Kingdom Hearts Exchange Project and since permission has been given to reveal, I'm posting this and thus...revealing that I wrote it. It was written for remi_chan and I hope everyone likes it. This takes place after the ending of Kingdom Hearts II. Comments and criticism gratefully accepted.
Summary: It's nearing Valentine's Day and Sora has a little problem: he's in love with Roxas.

Valentine's Day Town had everything that could be included in a single thought of romance and love. That happened to include a beautiful beach, with plenty of room for long romantic walks or picnics or anything else someone might decide they wanted to do there. Riku and Kairi were doing other things, probably exploring, but Sora found himself wanting to spend a little time with his Nobody, and the beach was perfect for it. It was Valentine's Day after all at last. He'd spent as much time with his two friends as he could until today had arrived, but now it was time for something else. For someone else.

This is gorgeous, Roxas thought as they walked by it. Well, Sora walked by it, and Roxas was there in his mind, so it was about the same thing. They were getting used to that. I always used to want to go to the beach in Twilight Town.

Well, this is just as good, isn't it? Sora asked, bending down to scoop some sand and watch it filter through his fingers. His eyes unfocused for a moment, and there were two sets of hands there. He knew one was his and the other was Roxas's. And he wished that he could touch the other for real, feel their lips touch and so much more. If only there was some kind of a way…

Roxas's hands turned a little, and he could almost feel them touching one another. When do I get it? The question was almost that of a child, and Sora had to laugh.

All right. Now. Sora reached inside with one hand as the vague image of Roxas's vanished, and drew the keychain out. With a flick of his hand, the Kingdom Key was there, and he stared at the two of them for a moment. Then he closed his eyes, let go, turned, and he could feel without knowing how that it was happening…

When he opened his eyes, he was in that same place that he went to when he dreamed, but there was no sign of Roxas. A faint mental brush told him his Nobody was still by the beach, with the Keyblade and keychain in his hands. Sora did his best to get a good view and waited. There was something strange about what was going on through Roxas's thoughts, but Sora couldn't get a good enough grip on them to be certain of just what it was.

Then Roxas hooked the new keychain to the Kingdom Key, and it glowed briefly, transforming itself. Now it was a deep rose color all over, with a softly intertwining design of hearts around the grip and down the blade itself. It should have looked girlish. It didn't. It looked downright deadly. Both of them knew the name as soon as they saw it.

"Heart's Ease." It didn't matter who spoke the words. They both did. Or neither did.

Roxas brought it up a little and ran a finger down the edge. "A secret power lies within, but it can only come from the heart," he murmured other words that came from wherever the knowledge of what each Keyblade did was stored within them.

Do you like it? Sora asked as he wondered just what kind of a secret power this could have. He'd left off asking about the whys and wherefore and hows of Keyblades months ago. He suspected he was better off not knowing some things.

"Yeah," Roxas replied, slicing the Keyblade through the air as he did so. "It's perfect, Sora. Thank you." The words felt a trifle rusty, as if Roxas weren't used to saying them, but they were meant sincerely.

A roar interrupted anything that might have been said before it could even be formed, and Roxas whirled, Heart's Ease raised at once, to face what had to be one of the largest Heartless he'd ever seen before. Sora, staring through his eyes, couldn't recall too many that were any larger. Let me take care of it!

"No," Roxas hissed between his teeth as he got into a battle stance. "You got to have all the fun earlier. Now it's my turn." He didn't wait around for Sora to give permission, but flung himself forward.

The creature had to be a good fifteen feet tall, covered in thick black scales, and with long reddish-brown claws that struck swiftly at Roxas as he raced towards it. Two bat-like wings extended from its shoulders, and three baleful demonic green eyes burned on a face that belonged more in nightmares than in reality. It said nothing coherent, not that either of them expected it to, and swiped again as Roxas leaped over the attempted grab and struck straight for the face.

Sora, even though he wasn't quite participating in the fight, grunted as one of those claws made contact, knocking Roxas back and sending him sliding along the sand. Smaller Heartless leaped up, mostly Shadows, and Roxas burned through them with one fierce hit after another, driving his way back to the ringleader.

"You are not going to interrupt this!" The Nobody spat the words out as he leaped into the air and brought Heart's Ease down with crushing force on the Heartless's shoulder. Sora spied another opening as Roxas spun and struck and would have pointed it out if Roxas hadn't sent the blade crunching into it moments later. The lesser Heartless were scarcely a problem as he quickly crunched them into nothing, not even bothering to pick up what munny or other treasures they dropped. All that mattered was taking out the enemy.

Roxas… Sora could feel something that he almost never did from Roxas: emotions. Even though Roxas had them since they were joined, his Nobody usually kept them tightly under wraps for reasons of his own. Now Sora could feel them: rage, fury, anger, wrath…and one that while he'd hoped and tasted the edges of, he hadn't really felt until now.

Love. Simple, clean, pure, without a shadow of a doubt, love. Love for him. Not as a brother or a friend, not like what Sora himself felt for Riku or Kairi. But the kind of love that fired the very universe itself, according to all the romance writers.

The Heartless struck Roxas down again, this time sending him smashing into a tree, and the Nobody didn't move, and Sora couldn't feel his mind anymore, or his feelings, or anything else.

Roxas! Sora scarcely noticed that Heart's Ease was glowing faintly. It didn't matter. He wrenched himself forward, and for a moment there was some kind of weird disorientation, the likes of which he'd never felt when he took back his body from Roxas, but it didn't matter. What mattered was that he could see that Heartless ahead of him, and he growled, eyes flashing with a kind of anger and rage he'd never felt before.

"No! You're not going to take him from me!" Heart's Ease was in one hand, and Ultima was in the other, and he plunged into battle without a backwards glance at Roxas under the tree, only wanting this to be over with as quickly as possible. He struck again and again, pausing now and then to blast the Heartless with fire, with ice, or with thunder, whatever his mind and battle instincts threw at him.

Then he struck one final time, and as he landed firmly on his feet again, breathing hard, he saw the Heartless fading away into nothing. Good riddance, he decided, not having been that content to defeat an enemy since Xemnas. He turned inside of himself, searching for Roxas. He had to be all right. Roxas? Roxas? Are you all right? Without thinking of why, he repeated it out loud. "Roxas? Roxas?"

"Sora…" The voice was familiar, but he couldn't think right away of where he'd heard it from, or why it sounded just a little different than he was used to.

Then it clicked, and he turned to see Roxas pushing himself to his feet under the tree. Roxas rubbed the back of his head slowly as he turned towards Sora, and the two of them stared at each other. It wasn't quite the first time they'd met face to face, but it was the first when they'd known exactly what was going on and who they each were and with all of those emotions between them.

"Roxas." Sora all but breathed the word out, not believing his eyes. He still held the two Keyblades in his hand, but banished Ultima with a brief flick of his hand. Heart's Ease he kept, and stared down at it as if he'd never seen it before. Perhaps in a sense he hadn't. But he had never imagined what it could have done if he hadn't seen it for himself.

"Sora." Roxas took a couple of steps towards him, and started to totter, one hand reaching out nearly blindly to grab onto anything for support. Sora raced over there, and all but gasped as he actually held onto Roxas, not a vague image or memory or anything of that nature.

"You're real." Again, both of them said it. Sora stared at him again, not certain if he could ever get enough of doing so. He reached out tentatively, not sure where he wanted to start touching first, then his hand landed on Roxas's chest as if he'd meant to do so from the beginning.

It only took a few seconds for them both to realize what was going on under that hand: a steady heartbeat, as regular as Sora's own, thrummed under the skin. Roxas's eyes were full of shock, and Sora knew he had to look much the same way.

"I'm real," he whispered, and Sora pulled him closer, wrapping his arms around him. He was real; Sora didn't know how, but Roxas was real, no longer a Nobody, someone who didn't exist.

"Was that…was it the Keyblade?" Sora murmured, staring down at it. Roxas's hand joined him on the hilt, and they both looked at it. "Could that be it's power?"

"I don't know," Roxas replied. "It's really strange, that's for sure." Sora had to agree. There was nothing else he could do. "Maybe it's something we don't need to think about that much?"

Sora nodded a little, then laughed. "What are we going to tell my parents? What about school? And everything else?"

"I'd rather we didn't think about that, either." Roxas smiled briefly, and for something he wasn't used to doing, Sora found it incredibly charming and sweet: so much so that he leaned over without thinking and kissed those smiling lips. Roxas kissed back, and it was every bit as good as either of them had ever dreamed that it could be.

Sora moved even closer, doing what he did best in any situation: following his instincts. His fingers brushed a bit across one of Roxas's cheeks and made a note that they should really spend some time in the sun together as soon as possible. Then he leaned in to kiss again.

But this time, before their lips could properly meet, two voices called from the direction of the road that led down from Valentine's Day Town itself to this beach. "Sora!" Riku called, with Kairi a quick echo. "We heard there was…whoa…" He stopped and stared. "Sora?"

"Hey, guys." Sora grinned at them and waved cheerfully. "I don't think you've ever really met Roxas, have you? Come on and say hi!"

Riku took a few steps closer. "Sora, if you've been stabbing yourself with a Keyblade again…"

"No!" Sora shook his head quickly. "Nothing like that, Riku! Come on, we can tell you all about it." He grinned even more as they came closer, both staring at Roxas a bit uncertainly, and kept a tight grip on the other's hand. This was going to be really, really good.

Sora's hand was placed gently on Roxas's chest. Both of them liked being like that, with Roxas in Sora's arms for the ease of it. To feel Roxas's heart beating underneath Sora's hand…it was bliss for both of them. Ever since they'd made it back to Destiny Islands from Valentine's Day Town, they'd done this as much as they possibly could.

"They took it really well," Roxas said quietly, thinking of when he'd been introduced to Sora's parents for the first time. Sora nodded, his chin touching the top of Roxas's head as he did so. "But did you have to introduce me as 'the voice in my head who isn't just in my head anymore'?"

"Well, no, I don't think I had to," Sora mused teasingly. "But I wanted to. Mom and Dad still try to think I'm their little boy. I don't think they want to admit that I'm grown up. I've heard parents can be like that."

Roxas rolled his eyes. Sora couldn't quite see that from where he was sitting but he didn't need to in order to know it had just happened. "I don't think they're going to be thinking that anymore."

"Probably not." Sora tried not to laugh too hard, but did anyway. "Mom's probably still cleaning out the spare room for you." Both of them knew that it wouldn't be getting that much use. Even if they didn't do anything for months or more, neither of them had any intentions of sleeping by themselves. They were simply too used to being one with each other even now.

There were still a lot of other things they had to figure out, but neither of them were in a huge rush for it. As far as Sora was concerned the best way to really deal with most of the upcoming questions was just to smile, nod, and let people make up their own minds. They'd probably never come up with the truth, and that was fine with him.

"We should go on a date," Sora said at last. That was a lot more interesting to him than anything else he could think of at the moment. Not that sitting by the ocean with Roxas wasn't awesome, but he wanted to do something, the more active, the better. Or at least interesting. Interesting would do.

"Where to? And doing what?" Roxas had a vague idea of the general layout of Destiny Islands and what was on it, but it was Sora who knew the place inside and out. That was fine with him, too. He wanted to get to know it on his own terms.

"There's going to be a carnival this weekend," Sora said after thinking about it a few minutes. "Want to go there? Together?"

Roxas turned his head a little. "A carnival? Rides, games, bad food?"

"Yeah. Ever been to one?" Sora wondered. Roxas nodded a little, and Sora blinked. "Really?"

"Yeah. It was some mission or other. I can't remember where or what for anymore. It was kind of boring. Axel wound up setting fire to most of it and we watched people running all over the place trying to put it out." Roxas hunched just a little as he thought back to those days. "I also got a stomachache there. We don't have to get any cotton candy, do we?"

"Not if you don't want any." Sora reassured him. He kind of liked cotton candy himself though, so, "But I could eat yours for you if you wanted."

The former Nobody rolled his eyes. "No, thanks. I can't even stand the smell of it. Pretzels. That's what I want. Some good ones. And some…"

Before Roxas could say it, Sora did. "Sea salt ice cream!" The thought of sharing some of that with Roxas, in an entirely different fashion than they were used to, was very, very enticing indeed. He brushed his fingers a bit past Roxas's cheek and found that they were both smiling. "Right. We'll get pretzels and ice cream and go on rides and I'll win you a goldfish."

"I don't want a goldfish."

Sora shrugged easily. "Okay. I'll keep it for you and you can come visit it."

"I don't want to visit a goldfish, either."

"I'll keep it for you anyway." Sora was not going to be deterred. He would win his boyfriend a goldfish!

"Besides, I'm going to be living down the hall," Roxas pointed out sensibly. "How would that be visiting?" He looked back at Sora again. "And it's not like I'll be that much out of your room when you're there."

Sora nodded brightly. "So he won't miss you!"

Roxas gave up. Sora laughed triumphantly at that, and dropped an impulsive kiss on his cheek. "You're impossible."

"So? Doing the impossible is part of my job," Sora pointed out. "Doing the impossible, being impossible, saving all the worlds, that kind of thing."

"That's not what I was talking about." Roxas tried to tell him, and Sora only grinned even more, and Roxas gave up all over again. What could you do with that kind of attitude? Well, other than bury him in the backyard, which sounded just a bit too inviting at the moment.

Sora pulled himself to his feet and tugged Roxas up as well. "Speaking of ice cream, let's go have some. My treat."

"Of course it's going to be your treat. I don't have any munny yet," Roxas pointed out. He wondered if he were going to have to be the semi-sensible one in this relationship. That would be a little scary.

"Next time there's some Heartless giving us trouble, you can have whatever it is they drop," Sora promised. It was easier than an allowance and you didn't have to wash dishes or take out the trash to do it.

"Thanks." Roxas's voice was a touch dry at the thought, but he also wasn't going to argue about it. It was better than an allowance. Even if risking your life wasn't the kind of thing most teenagers did to get spending money. "So, that ice cream?" If Sora were going to treat him, he wasn't going to argue about that, either.

Sora tugged him along until they were off the beach and going through the streets. Everywhere they went, he pointed out little landmarks and points of interest, places and people that he'd known growing up and would probably be able to remember ten seconds before he died, perfectly. Roxas did his best to take it all in, though he figured it would be years before he knew this place as well as Sora did. That was assuming he ever did know it that well.

"A bowl of sea-salt ice cream!" Sora declared as soon as they walked into the ice cream shop. "Big enough for two, and a couple of sodas, too. All on me."

The clerk glanced at them both, and a faint smile hovered briefly about her lips as she got to work on delivering the order. Sora scarcely noticed as he found an empty table for himself and Roxas. There were other people there, and he waved to those he knew, which was most of them, of course. They waved back, to him and to Roxas both. Roxas eyed them a bit as he settled down into his seat.

"They're not going to get weird about us, are they?" he murmured briefly. "I've heard some worlds can be like that."

Sora just shrugged. "They aren't all, and there's lots of other places we could go if we had to." He didn't appear to be all that worried about it, and Roxas slowly relaxed and was even able to smile a bit cheerfully when the clerk brought their drinks and ice cream over to them. "Thanks!" Sora said once she'd set it down before them.

"You two have fun. Though I don't think I've met your friend, Sora. New in town?"

Sora grinned mischievously. "Kind of. He's been by before, but now he's going to be living with me. This is Roxas."

"Nice to meet you, Roxas. Hope you like Destiny Islands," the clerk said. "It's a really great place."

"That's what I've heard," Roxas managed to find his voice and reply to her. "I think I'm really going to love it here."

She nodded and waved as she headed back behind the counter, leaving them to enjoy their snack. Roxas nibbled on the ice cream and sipped at his drink, enjoying both of them more than he ever had before. That was probably because of Sora sitting across from him the way that he was. And because everything he was experiencing was real and not a lie to deceive him. Reality was so much sweeter than he'd ever imagined it could have been.

"When summer hits and we've got the time off from school, do you want to go to Twilight Town? See the gang?" Sora asked, trying and failing to get a bit of ice cream off of his nose. Roxas looked at that, highly amused, and reached over carefully with a napkin to take care of it for himself.

"Sounds good to me!" Roxas wiped the bit of ice cream off of Sora's nose, and would have followed it up with a bit of a kiss, if they weren't virtually in public. He really didn't think it had that much to do with people disapproving, but more with the fact he didn't want them to be watching when he did anything with Sora.

Even as each day clicked by and he woke up with Sora instead of inside of him, it was almost impossible for him to believe this was happening. According to Cupid, the power of Heart's Ease was to grant the deepest romantic wish of the bearer's heart, and since that was to have Roxas with his own body and heart, when Sora had used it to defeat that Heartless, that was what had happened. Sometimes he was almost afraid to go to sleep at night, for fear he'd wake up in the virtual Twilight Town or even in the World That Never Was, with all of this nothing but a fantastic dream.

"You're worried that this isn't real, aren't you?" Sora asked suddenly, and Roxas nodded without thinking about it. What couldn't he trust Sora with, after all? "Well, it is. Want me to prove it to you?"

Huh? Roxas has no idea of what Sora was talking about, but he nodded once again without giving a thought to the consequences. It was Sora. He loved him.

Of course he gave a bit of a second thought to that when Sora darted around the table and planted a firm kiss on his lips, one that very nearly sent Roxas sprawling on the floor. The first thought through his mind was that people were watching them, and probably laughing.

The second thought through his mind was that Sora was still not a very good kisser. Their noses bumped just as they had when they'd kissed in the inner world, and Roxas really didn't know what one was supposed to do with the tongue when they kissed. Also, what did you do with your eyes? Open or closed? Roxas closed them more to keep the sight of other people out than anything else.

When he felt Sora ease off a little, he cracked one eye, then opened both of them and sat up the best that he could. Sora looked at him with a simple and happy grin, and Roxas returned it, knowing they both looked like idiots and not caring.

"You believe it's real now?" Sora asked simply, eyes twinkling at his boyfriend. Roxas reached up to smack him lightly on the arm.

"No. Convince me some more."

It took Sora a long time to convince Roxas. But neither of them cared that much. Convincing was really too much fun. And it became a tradition that on Valentine's Day, Sora convinced Roxas of his reality in a grand style.

The End