Three years have passed since then. I saw the report of The Org building burning down on the news a couple days later. No survivors. Not even Paine or Lexaeus.
I still believe that I lived a dream while lost in my lust for carnage. That wasn't me. I will never believe it was me. I tumbled out of the truck as soon as I was found out, stumbling, weak and weary, to whatever home I would find first.
Out of whatever god's grace, I stumbled onto the porch of Sora and Riku.
At first, they were scared. They didn't know what to do with a figure caked in muck such as I was, and the stench? It was unbearable. Nonetheless, Riku carried my weak form to the bathroom, turning the shower on for me after he sat me on the toilet. A heavy sigh of relief released from my chest that glowed inside me as I happily clambered inside.
I wear an eye patch now, which I greatly dislike, but I've learned to live with it. It's a staple to me. It reminds me of the past and how terrible it was, but I survived. It reminds me how lucky I am to have -
"Ven!" Riku calls from downstairs, and the one known as Ventus (he can't bear to be called Roxas anymore) jumps, dropping his pen in mid-write. "Miss Gainsborough's here for your lesson today!"
The woman's kind voice murmurs something along the lines of, "Please, just call me Aerith." Ven whispers, "Time to go," to his incapacitated pen before scooting back and heading down the stairs.
Aerith is a soft woman. She's wearing a salmon-pink dress today that modestly whispers around her ankles, and her curly hair is down for a change. She extends a hand to the eye-patched boy, which he takes. "Good to see you again, Ventus."
"My pleasure." The boy smiles, and they sit at the kitchen table to discuss school matters as Riku escapes into the bedroom with Sora.
"Aerith..." the boy asks mid-lesson, twiddling with his pencil to make it look rubber, "How do you get a book published?"
The woman blinks, flipping a few pages in her lesson plan as if to look for the answer. "I...know an editor. Why?"
"I want to get something published."
"Something you wrote?"
She puts the end of her pen to her lips in thought before speaking. "Your writing is exceptionally good, especially considering -" she clears her throat, "Well, when whatever you have is finished, just let me know and I can have my editor friend look over it, and I'm sure he knows some reliable publishers."
Ven grins. "That's great."
The blonde slaps his pen down and stretches. Done. All he needed was that one, last stretch of month - of writer's cramp and the enlargement of the callous on his middle finger and he is done. He straightens the papers laced with ink and hands them over to Aerith the next day, who, in turn, gives them to her friend, Vincent Valentine.
A week later, the phone rings, and Sora says it's for him.
"Roxas Hart?" the voice asks, incredibly crackled with what Ven guesses is fatigue. He flinches at the name.
"Yes. That's me."
"I've read your manuscript and would like to schedule a conference with you at my home about the edits I've made. Can you come over, say...this Saturday?"
There's a small pause before Ven nods, remembering he can't be seen. "Of course."
"Great. Aerith can give you my address tomorrow."
Mr. Valentine's house is large and white, cold the way rich people's houses always are and smelling of Pine-Sol. It reminds him slightly of a certain Brit's home, that he once visited long ago, but far cleaner and more modern. Ven rubs his arms as the door closes behind him and Vincent beckons politely, "Have a seat."
He does so on the softest, biggest, most comfortable chair he'd ever snuggled up in, and the dark, but very handsome man sits across from him. His hair is straight and black as night, stopping right past his shoulders. His eyes are a shocking red and he's dressed in a long-sleeved, white, button-up shirt. He crosses his legs, indicating the manuscript dotted in red stacked on the coffee table between them.
Ven can't tell if the remark was sarcastic or not. "You don't believe it's true, do you?"
"I believe every word of it." Vincent annunciates, looking up at the stairwell. "Xion!"
Small feet clamor down the stairs and a young girl half the age of Ventus meets them, dressed in a sun dress reminiscent of a maid's outfit. Her hair is also black, but very simple and short, and her face...where has he -" "Yes, Daddy?"
"This is my daughter, Xion." Vincent explains, pulling the young girl onto his lap. Her eyes are a dull blue, but her face...God, her face, the the high cheek bones, the small mouth, the almond-shaped eyes. She's just like -
Vincent smiles weakly as Xion cocks her head and asks, "What's going on?"
"Nothing, sweetie. You can go up to your room now."
Xion, slightly confused, clambers back up the steps. They watch each other as the footfalls recede.
"Larxene Rose was the mother. It was a one-night stand, and yes, she was already married to Marluxia. She had just had Naminé. People get drunk, Roxas, you have to understand."
Ven nods, attempting to wipe the look of disgust off his face. "Y-yeah. I understand."
"She got pregnant and didn't want Marluxia to find out, so she asked if I knew anyone who'd be willing to carry her. It's...a very expensive, top-secret process that the government has kept quiet for several of years where the fertilized egg in transferred from one uterus to the other. My co-worker, Tifa, agreed to it and carried Xion from then on so she was kept secret. I wouldn't allow any word of her leaking out. It the Org ever knew about Xion, they'd lock her up and throw away the key so they could experiment on her."
Ven nods, looking down, remembering. Vincent notices and quickly picks up again.
"I know you're not lying because of Xion. She does things...that I just can't explain. Closes the door without touching it, picks up toys by looking at them. They're little things, yes, but..." he swallows, changing the subject quickly, "I took a red pen through your manuscript, editing some grammar and spelling errors. Those were the only problems. Since it's a memoir, you don't have to really look over my corrections, unless you want to."
"I trust you." Ven whispers, "Will you...publish it? Is it good enough?"
"It's more than good enough." the man leans forward to emphasize his truth, "The world needs to know what the government is up to half the time. Sure, some people won't believe, but your writing is so eternal, so breathless, so human...It's hard to deny that it's true."
"So you'll do it?"
"I'll get you the best publisher I can find."
Ven laughs, a smile stretching wide across his face. He stands up to thank Vincent, shaking his hand and still smiling out the door, where the sun is setting, washing the sky a deep red. He looks up at it as he walks down the sidewalk, stopping, his mouth slightly open.
"Hey, Roxas. Bet you don't know why the sun sets red."
Roxas scoffed and looked up at the sky with him. He really didn't know.
"You see, light is made up of lots of colors, and out of all those colors, red is the one that travels the farthest."
"Like I asked! Know-it-all."
The laughter from those years ago rings in his ears as he watches the sun peek out behind a ruby cloud. He smiles and has the urge to wave, but decides to just look.
"Show off," he speaks to the sky, "And see? I told you I'd promise."