A/N: And here we are at the last chapter! Many thanks to all of you who have read, reviewed and supported this story - you peeps are rad!

I hope to see you all when the rewrite of Shine and the midquel featuring Axel (and perhaps a few others) posted!

Until then I hope you enjoyed this story, and have fun reading the last chapter!


The Wait Is Now Over.

She did not know how long she had been knocked out for, but when she roused out of unconsciousness everything was discombobulated and unreal.

Naminé's eyes fluttered half-open, only to be greeted with a painful white glare; she groaned and shook her head a little, trying to rid her eyes of the sting, but it never faded away.

"-always there, don't forget that." ...Axel?

"I'll let her know." That was definitely Roxas.

"Ngh…" She forced her eyes open and grimaced as the glare hit her full force; she waited a few minutes for her vision to focus, and when everything settled down she realized she was sitting in a hospital bed, dressed in a thin, powder blue hospital gown. Her right arm was hooked up to an IV; a bag of blood was hanging overhead. She sniffed and realized there were tubes sticking out of her nose; she could feel them running all the way down her throat. Her head felt tight for some reason, and she reached upwards and gasped when she felt a few layers of bandages wrapped around it. She then ran her fingers over her abdomen; there were bandages underneath her clothes, she could feel it. The pain in her ribs and head had somehow died down into a tolerable throbbing, and she felt very drowsy for some reason.

"Naminé," She slowly turned her head and smiled when she found Roxas sitting by her bedside; his face, neck and arms were mottled with a few small bandages, his hair was messier than usual, his clothes were wrinkled and dotted with blood and his eyes were tired but other than that he looked very happy. He left his chair to sit on the edge of her bed, and he leaned in to softly kiss her mouth. When they pulled apart he rested his forehead against hers and gingerly combed his fingers through her hair, "How are you feeling?"

"R-really tired," She answered thickly, trying to ignore the awkward feeling of the tubes taking up space at the back of her throat, "And…" Her brow scrunched together as she tried to gather her thoughts, "Wait, what happened after the fire? And is everyone else okay?"

"The entire warehouse collapsed," Roxas frowned, "But we were at the hospital by the time that happened so no one was seriously hurt - in fact, you and Xion were the only ones who actually got hurt." He chuckled and shook his head. "For some reason I'm not surprised."

"Oh!" Naminé's eyes lit up at the mention of the dark-haired girl, "How is she? Is she-"

"She's fine, Naminé," He assured her, "She got treatment for her arm, and she has a few bruises and scrapes here and there but other than that she's fine - she's walking around right now, actually. You, on the other hand," He shook his head, "Are going to need a little more recovery time."

"That's good to hear," The artist sighed in relief, "But what about the others - Kairi, Riku, Axel, your brother?"

"They're asleep in the lounge - all of them are, including Olette and the others," Roxas explained with a small smile on his face, "They didn't want to leave until they knew you were going to be okay."

She quirked an eyebrow at him. "You should be sleeping with them - you look exhausted."

He shook his head and leaned in to bury his face into her neck; he breathed in deep and wound an arm around her waist, careful not to press too hard on her ribs. "I couldn't sleep even if I tried," He murmured against her neck, "I knew I wouldn't be able to rest until I see you wake up." He shook his head and his hair tickled her skin. "I was so close to losing you, Naminé...you don't know how scared I was when I saw you on the floor outside of the warehouse; you were barely breathing, and you were trembling so much..."

Guilt wrought her insides and she hugged him close to her, ignoring the dull aching in her ribcage. She hushed him as she pulled her fingers through his hair. "It's okay, Roxas - I'm okay now, there's nothing to be afraid of." She kissed the side of his head and rocked him gently, closing her eyes against his dark blond spikes.

There were three words she wanted to say to him right now but she was not sure if had the courage to do it. She then thought about sneaking through a dark alleyway with no shoes, crawling through a dusty air vent maze, falling out of said vent, kicking Seifer in the groin and the explosion she miraculously survived: this should be nothing!

"I…I love you," She stuttered, but when the words finally came out an invisible weight had been lifted off her shoulders. She grinned triumphantly when she realized that it was not so hard to say it after all. "I love you," She said with a little more enthusiasm; she took his face in her hands and stared straight into his eyes, "I love you, I love you, I love you!"

He gazed into her eyes with an emotion so powerful, so passionate she could not find a proper word to describe it. His smile was so bright she almost forgot how white the room was. "I love you too, Naminé," He whispered, "And I will always love you, no matter what happens."

She was filled with an unmistakable warmth, and her smile widened as he moved in to capture her lips again. A soft giggle escaped her lips as he moved in to nuzzle his head against her neck, and she closed her eyes against his hair. "Okay," She whispered tenderly, "Now that you know that I'm going to live can you please get some sleep?"

"Yes ma'am." He swung his legs onto the bed, and she shifted over a little to make room for him. Roxas threw one arm around her stomach and the other around her shoulders, gently easing her body against his.

She smiled and kissed his forehead as she reached for his hair again. "'Night, Roxas."

"Actually, it's midday," He chuckled against her skin, and her eyes widened; she glanced towards the window and gaped at the bright stream of sunlight peeking in between the white shutters, "You were out for a really long time."

"Erm, exactly how long was I out for? If the thing only happened last night it wouldn't be v-"

"A day and a half." She felt his lips curve into a smirk against her neck.

"WHAT?!" Naminé pushed away to stare at him incredulously, "How the hell was I unconscious for a freaking day and a half?!" She coughed violently afterwards; speaking loudly made the tubes in her throat jerk around a little.

"Shh, you're going to wake everybody!" He hissed, and she flushed and pulled him in for another hug, "Nobody really knows why you were asleep for so long," He chuckled, "The doctors didn't even put that much morphine. Oh well, it doesn't matter - you needed your rest."

"I guess," She shook her head, still trying to accept the fact that she had wasted a day and a half, "It was kinda scary when I couldn't see."

"I can imagine," He agreed, "But the only way you could've been blinded like that was if you were right by the explosion…"

"I was above it, actually," The blonde muttered, "Xion and I were on the stairs, and I think the barrel was right below us."

"I am going to kill Axel." Roxas growled.

"I knew he was responsible!" She laughed, "Oh, don't hurt him, Roxas - I'm pretty sure he has his reasons."

"He does, but they're not good enough." He yawned and nestled closer to her; she felt his eyelashes tickle her skin as his eyes closed. "Huh, I feel really sleepy all of a sudden."

"It's probably because you've been up for more than twenty-four hours," She smirked; she massaged his scalp and kissed the side of his head, "Sleep now, Roxas."

"Mm," He mumbled tiredly; his lips puckered against her collarbone in a swift kiss, "Love you."

She laughed quietly and kissed him again. "Love you too." She pressed her cheek against his forehead and sighed contently, continuing to thread her fingers through his soft spikes. The artist began to hum softly, singing the same song he sang to her all those months ago - their song. He relaxed in her arms, muttering something incoherent and cuddling closer to her body. A warm glow swelled up inside of her, and her smile widened as she bent over to kiss his head for the fourth time.

There was a shy knock at the door. Naminé glanced upwards to see a nervous-looking Xion standing by the doorway; her arm was confined to a thick cast, and it was supported by a sling. There were a few scratches on her face and there was white, square-shaped bandage taped to her chin. "Er, am I interrupting something?"

The blonde shook her head and smiled. "No - he's sleeping." She nodded towards the chair by her bedside. "Sit."

The darker-haired girl stepped closer, and when she finally eased herself into the chair Naminé noticed the light tinge of pink spread over her petite face. "At least he's finally sleeping," Xion chuckled and shook her head, "He wouldn't leave your side for a second - he was so worried about you. We all were."

Hearing that from someone she hardly knew was touching. "Thanks," Naminé glanced at her casted arm and frowned, "Your arm, though - I'm sorry. I should've done something-"

"No, it's alright, really - and besides, you kind of made up for it when you gave him a nice kick where the sun don't shine." The raven-haired girl grinned, and the blonde laughed quietly. "You really didn't have to come for me, you know. If you didn't...you wouldn't be lying here."

"I wanted to," The artist shook her head, "I mean, I know how much you mean to him-" She nodded towards Roxas, "-you should've seen him when he found out that you were missing; he was so bothered by it. I felt horrible that he was feeling that way - I had to help out somehow..."

Xion laughed a little sadly. "He wasn't kidding when he said you were perfect."

The blonde flushed and cast her eyes to her lap. "I don't understand where he's getting all of this from - I'm far from it!" She gave the darker-haired girl a despairing look, "You're a better fit for the description; I mean, look at you - you're independent, strong, brave, you can walk five metres without tripping over thin air-"

The raven-haired girl's eyes widened and she shook her head, her short black tendrils of hair swirling around her face. "Hearing you say all of those things only reinforces his point, Naminé," She gave her an apologetic smile, "You're selfless, modest, kind...everything Roxas said you were." Her vivid blue eyes glazed over with tears and she shook her head again. "He deserves someone like you, after everything he's gone through."

"Xion…" The blonde bit her bottom lip as she felt the corners of her eyes sting; seeing other people cry made her want to cry too, and the weight of their conversation was not helping much either, "D...don't think that you're any less significant, because you're not. There are some things you can do with him that I can't - things that only the best of friends can only do together." She leaned forward, cringing slightly at the stabbing pain in her ribcage, and reached for the other girl's hand, patting it comfortingly. "Believe it or not, you have a special relationship with Roxas, and I'm sure he knows it too. He has, does and always will love you - it's obvious to see that - so don't think that you're no longer important to him."

By now the tears were streaking both girls' faces. Xion glanced upwards and smiled, sniffling and weaving her fingers through Naminé's. She gave the artist's hand a squeeze, and she nodded. "I'm so happy, so happy he's found you," She chuckled, "You...you gave him something that I couldn't, something that he's been searching for forever. As long as he's happy, I'm happy too."

The blonde sniffled and nodded. "That's the spirit." Her eyes wandered over to Xion's good arm and she noticed a white cotton ball taped to the underside of her elbow. "Uh, did you get a needle or something? I thought Roxas said you were okay."

The darker-haired girl raised an eyebrow, confused, but when she looked at what Naminé was looking at she lit up with recognition. "Oh!" She laughed and shook her head, "No, no - I'm alright, but a day and a half ago you weren't."

The blonde tilted her head to the side, perplexed. "Uh…"

Xion laughed and nodded towards the bag of blood that was hooked up to the blonde's IV needle. "Your broken ribs sort of punctured your lungs - you were losing a lot of blood on the inside, and you didn't have a lot to begin with so we were all getting a little nervous," She jostled their joined hands, "And to make things worse your blood type is the rarest - AB Negative. Everyone took blood samples to see if they were a match, but there was a one in a million chance they would find one. Only point-eight of the world's population has your blood type."

Naminé's brow crinkled in thought. "But you…"

"Yeah," Xion smiled, "When I woke up the doctors told me that I was a match. Everyone was surprised 'cause like I said - finding two people with AB Negative is a one in a million chance. When they said you needed my blood I didn't even answer - I held out my arm and asked where the needle was."

A fresh round of tears made their way down the blonde's cheeks and she laughed, shaking her head. "Oh, Xion...I don't even know what to say."

The darker-haired girl smiled again. "Well, at least this way we know who to ask when we're in need of an emergency blood transfusion." She stood up to lean over Roxas, wrapping her good arm around the artist's shoulders and hugging her gently. "You've made a big difference, Naminé. I'm glad you came here."

The blonde patted her back and nodded against her shoulder. "I'm glad I came too."

"Aw," A voice piped up from the doorway and the girls' heads turned to see Axel leaning against the wall with that all-too-familiar smirk on his face, "Where's my hug?" He ambled towards the bed and snickered when he found a sleeping Roxas sandwiched in between the two girls. "Shame, he's sleeping through a moment any guy would kill to have."

"Hiya," Naminé grinned up at him, and she squirmed when he reached towards her to muss up her hair, "How are you doing?"

The redhead scoffed as as he extended his arm towards Xion's hair. "Better than you."

"That's because you didn't have to put up with Seifer and the explosion that could've been prevented if not for your extreme pyromania." The darker-haired girl rolled her eyes as she attempted to flatten her hair with her hands.

"I wasn't aiming for the barrel - I didn't even know it was there!" Axel yelled, flailing his arms, but then he remembered Roxas and he clamped his hands over his mouth. Roxas muttered something, but he did not wake; instead he shook his head and nuzzled closer against Naminé. The redhead chuckled at his best friend. "Heh, what a baby."

"What exactly did you throw?" Naminé asked, glancing curiously at him.

"Er," Axel hesitated and reached for the back of his neck, "Is it really that important?"

"No," Xion replied, "But it would be nice to know since, well, it nearly killed the both of us."

"Ugh," The pyromaniac's eyes drifted towards the ceiling and he rubbed the back of his fiery mane, "It...itwasamolotov."

"A what?" Both girls leaned in, and Axel groaned.

"It. Was. A. Molotov. Cocktail."

"You've got to be kidding me," Xion laughed darkly, "The firepower of a molotov mixed with a gigantic barrel of fuel would've blown up half of the warehouse!"

"There wasn't a lot of fuel in the bottle," Axel muttered, "I was only intending to incinerate a small group of dudes - the barrel just happened to be there."

"Even so, you could've at least watched where you were throwing." Xion rolled her eyes.

"You wanted to burn people alive?!" Naminé hissed in disbelief, "I understand that The XIII and Seifer's gang are kinda rivals but you don't have to go that far!"

He shrugged. "Hey, come back to me when one of your best friends' life is on the line - I bet you wouldn't be so appalled."

"I swear," The blonde growled, "You're as idiotic as Roxas."

Axel grinned and rubbed the underside of his nose with an index finger. "What can I say? Great minds think alike."

Naminé only had to stay in the hospital for another day, but even when she arrived home she could not get out of bed for another two and a half weeks. Roxas, being the good boyfriend that he is, visited her every day after school to watch her and give out the homework that she missed. Xion often visited with him, and the two girls struck up a strong friendship. They were more alike than they thought: both were incredibly shy, they were the only victims to Axel's hair-mussing, they disliked Math and they had developed an addiction to sea-salt ice cream because of a certain blond boy. Kairi was eventually included in their friendship too, and once the blonde's ribs and respiratory system were completely healed the threesome often spent their weekends together in the city.

It was now the end of June: the blonde was staring dismally into her full-length mirror, tugging at the ends of her skirt. Her hair was its usual tousled self, and the curl of hair at the back was as rebellious as always.

"Naminé," Roxas called out impatiently from her room, "We have to go."

She huffed in frustration and stormed out of the closet. "But I look like a mess."

He stood up and dusted off his black dress pants, wandering towards her and shaking his head. "You do not," He smiled as he wrapped his arms around her waist, squeezing her affectionately, "And besides, it's just a high school graduation ceremony - it's not even yours!"

She frowned against his shoulder. "Still."

He laughed and shook his head. "You look fine." He reached upwards to cradle her face in his hands. "I don't think Axel would care, anyway."

"Larxene will."

"Who cares about what she thinks?"


Roxas chuckled and shrugged his shoulders. "You think so too, huh?" His hand found hers and he gently tugged her out of her room.

Naminé's eyebrow was raised the entire time they descended the steps. "What's that supposed to mean?"

He gave her an enigmatic smile as he stepped into his car. "Whatever you want it to be." He glanced into the rearview mirror, straightened his tie and stuck the key into the ignition.

The graduation ceremony took place in the school auditorium; it looked a lot like a theatre, with cushioned seats and a large stage with bright spotlights.

"'Ey, dude and dudette," Xigbar leaned forward in his seat to grin at the two blondes; his suit was entirely black, "Looking good!"

"Ew, you're matching," Xion jokingly wrinkled her nose; she, too, was wearing all black, and though she was still wearing a cast she no longer had to wear a sling, it was not as thick as before and it was covered in all sorts of graffiti images and people's signatures, "That's such an old people thing to do."

Naminé stared at her pearly white strapless dress, and then over to Roxas' black suit, black dress shirt and white tie; her eyes widened and her face turned red as she smiled nervously at her friend. "Er, that was unintentional." She frowned and tugged on her hair. "Uh, isn't it kind of bad that all of you are out here in public?"

"Rubbish," Luxord waved his hand dismissively; his suit was all black like the other male members of The XIII, except that he was not wearing a tie and the top buttons of his dress shirt were undone, "What's the harm in attending your mates' graduation?"

The ceremonies started soon afterwards; they were forced to sit through the long, tedious speeches from the principal and the vice-principal, and then they had to endure the valedictorian speech (Roxas had to nudge Xigbar awake at least seventeen times and Vexen seemed to be the only one who was actually listening). Around an hour later the distribution of the diplomas finally commenced, but unfortunately there were at least three hundred graduating students so it was going to take forever.

"God," Naminé breathed a sigh of relief once the last diploma was given, "I was wondering when it was going to finish."

"Hm?" Xigbar yawned and stretched his arms, "What did I miss?"

"Everything." Xaldin added cheekily, and everyone laughed.

"Hey!" Axel pushed through the crowd, beaming like a child in a candy store; he was waving his diploma in the air and his graduation cap sat in a lopsided fashion atop his spiky mane, "So, whaddya think? Do I fit the description of a high school graduate?" He puffed out his chest and held his diploma in the air to make himself look powerful and important.

"Personally, no," Roxas smirked, "But the school thinks you do, so I guess that's okay too."

The redhead's chest deflated and his eyes dulled. "And you wonder why your girlfriend's my new favourite blonde," He gave his best friend a nasty glare before reaching forward to tousle the artist's flaxen locks, "Y'know, I never thought I'd actually get up to this point."

"But you did," Naminé grinned, "And I'm proud of you - Roxas doesn't look like it, but on the inside he is too."

"So, any after-grad plans, mates?" Luxord appeared from behind and slung his arms around Numbers XIII and VIII, smirking at the both of them, "Supper? Drinks? Anyone fancy a round of strip poker?" He threw a suggestive wink in Naminé's direction and her face flushed a deep scarlet.

Roxas glared at Number X and shrugged his arm off. "Dinner sounds good." He muttered as he threw a possessive arm around the artist's waist.

"Oh, so you're volunteering to treat all of us?" Axel smirked as his best friend's eyes widened, "How thoughtful of you, Roxas!" He turned towards the rest of the gang, "Hey guys - dinner's on Roxas tonight!"

Everyone whooped and cheered, and Roxas groaned and slapped a hand to his face; Naminé could not help but burst into laughter. They all piled into separate cars and drove all the way to Le Soleil Couchant; everyone seemed excited to eat fancy food - except for Roxas, who was paying for it all.

"Ah, eet ees nice to see you all again," Adrien greeted them all with a bow; when he straightened up he eyed Naminé lewdly, "And I see you've brought your belle fille again, Numero Treize." When the smallest blonde gave him a shy wave he let out a low chuckle. "Your tables are ready in ze usual spot - Superior is up zere waiting for you."

"Superior?" Vexen spluttered, "He's actually here? How did he even know we were eating here?"

"Why wouldn't he be?" Axel puffed out his chest again, "He's probably proud that his favourite member is now an official high school graduate."

Larxene scoffed. "Sorry, Axel, but you're not Saïx."

"This is great," Demyx was grinning from ear to ear as they approached the stairs, "You can finally meet our boss, Naminé!"

For some reason she felt intimidated. "Er, hooray?"

"Don't worry," Xaldin gave her a reassuring smile, "He may look intimidating but he's actually not that bad - he can actually come off as a bit charming."

"Yeah," Xigbar winked at her, "And he has a soft spot for pretty girls, so you've got some sort of an advantage."

"He doesn't seem to be the only one." Roxas muttered through gritted teeth, and his hold around Naminé's waist tightened by just a little.

"Maybe that's why he hates you so much, Larxene." Axel snorted; he raised his arms to protect his face as Number XII began to punch every inch of him. "Ow, ow - okay, I'm sorry, I take it back!"

When the somewhat large group finally reached the roof the first thing Naminé noticed was that there was not a single table waiting for them, but at least five: they were all covered in the same white cloth, and they were all decorated with the same silver candelabra and crystal vases with fresh roses. The cutlery and plates were shiny and new-looking, and the crystal glasses were already filled with water.

"Congratulations Axel, Larxene, Demyx and Zexion," A man had approached them from the far end of the railing; his skin was dark, his hair was long and silvery and his eyes were a strange, sulphuric yellow. Unlike the rest of The XIII he was wearing a white suit with a black shirt and a silver tie; he gave the group a welcoming smile and spread out his arms, "You've taken another step into adulthood - the real world is at your fingertips; grasp it with all the strength in your young fingers, for you'll never know when it'll slip right through them."

Another man Naminé had never seen before stepped out from behind him; he had a strange, x-shaped scar on his face and his hair was blue. His suit was black like the others. "It's nice to see you all."

Roxas awkwardly cleared his throat and stepped forward, pulling the small artist with him. "Xemnas," He nodded towards the silver-haired man, "Saïx," He also gave the second man a short nod, "This is Naminé."

Xemnas' bright yellow eyes widened for a moment, and then his mouth split into a kind, welcoming smile. "So you are Naminé," He took her free hand in his and politely pecked her knuckles, "I've been anticipating this moment for some time now."

The blonde blinked rapidly, trying to make sense of all of this. "R-really? You've...you've been waiting to meet me?"

"Yes," The leader of The XIII straightened up and placed his hands behind his back, "We all have."

"We've heard a lot about you," Saïx added; his voice was deep and lacked emotion, giving off a sort of stoic vibe, "You've made quite a difference in Roxas' life, and that's noteworthy - at least to the likes of us."

The other members scattered to the different tables, but Roxas and Axel stayed put. Xemnas' eyes crinkled as he threw them another smile. "It's so rare in this world to find someone that can make us feel so whole, so...complete. To make one of our own - Roxas, out of all of them - feel as such you must be in possession of something extraordinary."

She absently scuffed the floor with her heels. "You make it sound as if I'm some kind of superhuman."

"You'll be surprised at how powerful love can be," The gang leader chuckled, "Sadly I've never been in love, nor do I think I ever will be but I've seen it happen to those around me and it's astonishing - the changes and hardships they endure for that other person, the things they are willing to sacrifice for them; it's unbelievable.

"Roxas has been one of my most faithful and most trusted allies in the past few years that I've known him, but at the same time I could not help but feel grief whenever I was in his presence. He always seemed so distracted, so bothered by the emptiness in his life...I'm more than certain that all of the other members have taken notice of his pain." Xemnas gave the thirteenth member a nod, and Naminé felt Roxas' hand tighten around hers. "When he first mentioned you I knew something good was going to happen, and of course I've never been mistaken."

"I've found everything in her, Superior," Roxas turned to smile at her, and Naminé blushed in embarrassment but thankfully the hues of the setting sun concealed the worst of it; the thirteenth member bent over a little in a respectable, apologetic bow, "But that also means that my time with The XIII is finished."

"What?!" Axel exploded, stepping backwards in surprise, "Y-you...you can't leave!"

"Why not?" Roxas asked with one eyebrow quirked upwards, "I found what I was looking for, didn't I? Isn't that the whole reason why everyone's here?"

Naminé could feel the eyes of the other members on the two best friends as they quarreled senselessly; Axel shook his fiery head and slapped a hand to his forehead. "Yeah, but…" He faltered and his shoulders drooped in disappointment, "That means you won't be hanging out with us anymore."

Demyx whispered something to Larxene in the background and they both erupted into a fit of poorly-concealed snickers. Roxas sighed uncomfortably and ruffled the back of his hair. "Just because I'm not a part of The XIII anymore doesn't mean that we can't be friends, Axel."

Xemnas chuckled. "He's right, VIII - and we all knew that Roxas would be the first to go. He's been looking the hardest."

"Yeah," Demyx sneered from his table, "Superior's giving you a hint, Axel - you gotta work harder!"

Everyone burst into laughter, and the pyromaniac threw them a dirty glare. He sighed and shook his head, returning his attention to the two blondes. "Alright, alright, if it makes you happy," He smiled for them, "But just to make things clear: Naminé's still my favourite blonde."

Dinner commenced soon afterwards; Naminé thought that eating with fourteen members of a notorious gang would be somewhat intimidating but she was proved wrong. It was actually like having dinner with overgrown children: Axel, as usual, picked pointless fights with Demyx, Larxene and Roxas - his quarrels with Larxene were the funniest because he always got hurt in the end. Xigbar cracked a few dumb jokes every now and then, and Luxord would awe everyone with one of his dinner table magic tricks (she was still trying to figure out how he made that salt shaker disappear and how he managed to bend the tines of his fork in different directions by just shaking the utensil). The evening ended with Axel sneakily slipping in pepper into Vexen's wine, and since it was already dark out the poor blond did not notice the dark specs floating around in his drink.

Dinner eventually ended, but Axel, Xion, Naminé and Roxas decided to stay on the roof for a little bit longer. The foursome were leaning against the iron rail (except for the redhead, who was actually sitting on it), watching the full moon and the twinkling stars.

"Did you see how red his eyes got?" Axel spluttered in between fits of laughter, "And the way he kept gagging - oh God, what a way to end the day!"

"Does this sort of stuff happen on a regular basis?" The blonde turned towards the only other female in the group, and she giggled when the darker-haired one of the two nodded dismally.

"This is nothing - it's really bad back at headquarters," Xion shook her head, "I remember this one time when Axel snuck into the bathroom while Larxene was taking a shower and he managed to steal-"

"We don't need to hear that story," The redhead cut in immediately; his face was as red as his hair and his sharp green eyes were shifting around, trying to avoid his friends' gazes, "It wasn't that funny."

"Yes it was," Roxas chuckled, "Especially when Larxene stormed out and-"

"NO!" The pyromaniac flailed his arms frantically, "Shut up, shut up - I don't want to hear it!"

"For some reason I don't think I want to hear it either." Naminé mumbled; from Xion and Roxas' partial explanations it sounded a little too explicit for her tastes. She shook her head, trying to rid herself of the images that formed inside her brain, and turned towards Axel. "So are you guys gonna come visit us in Twilight Town?"

"Duh," He smirked, "Xion and I got it all planned out - we're taking Zexion, Larxene, Demyx and whoever else that wants to come on a road trip from here to Twilight Town, and we'll stay there for the last two weeks of July."

"Yeah," The raven-haired girl added, "And then when you guys come back here we can drive back with you so we'll all be together for the remainder of our summer vacation."

"Sounds great," The blonde grinned, "I can't wait to show you guys my hometown - we can go to the beach!"

"And I can kick Roxas' ass in Struggle," Axel turned towards his best friend, who was rolling his eyes, "For some reason I've always had this strong desire to hit you over the head with a toy bat."

"Gee, thanks, best friend." The blond muttered. He gave Naminé a one-armed squeeze, and she yawned and pressed her cheek against his shoulder. "Anyway, we better get going - she's leaving tomorrow morning."

"What, already?" Axel hopped off the railing and rubbed the back of his head, "Well, alright then-" He opened his arms and Naminé broke away from Roxas to give her redheaded friend a hug, "-I guess I'll see you in a few weeks." He ruffled her hair, like he always did.

"I'll be waiting." She smiled as she pulled away. She turned towards Xion and gave her a hug as well. "Make sure he behaves - especially when you're on the road."

"I always do," The darker-haired girl laughed, "We'll see you around, Naminé."

"Later Roxas." Axel waved, and his best friend gave him a nod before turning around and walking towards the door.

Naminé caught up to him and laced her fingers with his. "Your friends are great," She giggled, "It's a shame I haven't met them sooner."

He shook his head. "Great? I guess that's one way to look at it." When they exited the elevator Roxas swept his blazer around her shoulders and hugged her close to his side as they walked to his car.

"Are you coming back?" She asked hopefully once they reached the front doors of the Hinomoto manor.

"Only if you want me to." He smiled, pressing his forehead against hers.

"Yes please," She smiled shyly, "I won't be seeing you for a week so I need to steal as much time with you as I possibly can."

"Alright," He chuckled against her lips, "I'll see you in an hour or two."

Naminé had already packed all her things; her suitcases were lying by her door, and her closet was almost completely empty. She stretched her arms as she made her way towards the bathroom to dress and wash up; when she was done she made sure to unclasp her necklace before crawling into bed.

Roxas climbed in from her window an hour later, just like he said. "Everything looks so empty," He chuckled as he shrugged out of his shirt, "You've really swept through the place didn't you?"

She pulled him into bed beside her, smiling as he cradled her face in his hands. He leaned in, closing his eyes and kissing her softly; her hands moved to loosely grasp his wrists, and her long eyelashes fluttered to a close as well. When they broke apart they lowered onto the mattress and her arms wound around his neck as she pressed her cheek against his collarbone, breathing in his cologne. "I'm surprised Kairi doesn't know anything about this yet."

"Isn't that a good thing?" His hands were rubbing circles against her back and she was feeling sleepier with every passing second. She yawned and nuzzled closer to him, and he craned his head to kiss her temple. "Sleep now, Naminé - you have a long day ahead of you."

"Will you be here when I wake up?" She asked quietly.

"Of course I will," He kissed her again, "I love you."

"I love you too." Her voice was slow from fatigue and muffled against his neck.

He kept true to his word; Naminé woke up the next morning to find him sleeping next to her with one arm thrown over her waist. She giggled and slipped out from underneath his arm to take a quick shower; she changed into jean shorts and a white tank top and leapt back onto the mattress, straddling his back and shoving his shoulders. "Wake up," She said half-sternly, half-amusedly, "I have to go soon."

He groaned and rolled on his back, staring up at her with half-open blue eyes. "Already?"

She lowed herself so that she was lying on top of him, and she kissed the corner of his mouth. "Yes," She smiled sadly, "Kairi'll storm into my room in approximately fifteen minutes from now, demanding that I get my butt downstairs with all of my things."

He sat up, bringing her with him; she wrapped her legs around his waist and he nuzzled his head against her neck. "Do you need any help?"

"I'll get Geoferry to help me," She replied with a smirk, "'Cause if anyone sees you they're gonna wonder how you got here in the first place." She crawled off of him and bent over the side of the bed to fetch his clothes. "Hurry up and get dressed - like I said, Kairi will be here in fifteen minutes."

"Oh, right." He pulled on his t-shirt and wriggled into his jeans. After stepping into his shoes he stretched his arms, and she stood up and hugged his waist. He chuckled and hugged her back, nuzzling his head against hers. "Will you be okay without me for a few days? No tripping over invisible objects, no tangling yourself in the sheets and tumbling off the bed when you wake up in the morning, no falling up the stairs instead of down?"

Her face was a violent shade of red. "Er, I can't guarantee." She glared up at him as he laughed. "Okay, I know I'm disabled - you don't have to rub it in." She stood on her tiptoes and kissed him daintily. "Make sure Sora packs all of his things, okay?"

He chuckled and nodded obediently. "Your clumsiness is oddly adorable, actually, and don't worry - I'll double-check his suitcases to make sure." He relinquished his hold on her and made his way towards the window, and she ducked underneath her bed to grab the rope. When she tossed it to him he gave her one last kiss. "I'll see you in a week." He threw the rope over the windowsill and she quickly tied it to her bedpost. She watched him climb all the way down, and she waved as he ran off.

As she pulled the rope back into her room thoughts of the past few months ran through her head; she remembered distinctly how reluctant she was to move here in the first place, and how she found her new room so perfectly aligned to her tastes. She recalled seeing Sora for the first time and wondering how his hair managed to define gravity.

Then she remembered seeing Roxas storm through History class looking like the world was against him, and how he could not stop staring at her. She remembered how flustered she would feel whenever they met eyes, and how embarrassed she was when she collided with him in Gym class. She remembered their lunch sessions in the bleachers and his irritatingly smooth demeanor; she remembered tasting sea-salt ice cream for the first time. She remembered seeing him and Xion downtown and meeting Riku, and that dreadfully long weekend. She remembered him explaining everything to her, and how it hurt him to see her cry.

Then there was the first date, which was amazing at first but then Seifer had to ruin everything. She remembered another agonizingly long weekend and the horrible Monday afterward. She recalled driving lessons with Riku and their date that did not end up as disastrous as she thought it was going to be.

She remembered the holidays and the nice gifts her friends gave her. She remembered painfully running into Roxas at Sunset Hill and how hard it was to watch Sora and Kairi together under the stars. She remembered the key-shaped pendants, the keys to his heart - the ones she was wearing now.

New Years was something she did not want to think about, but she realized that it was inevitable; she remembered the fear that paralyzed her and the way Seifer violated and dirtied her. She knew from the very beginning that she was never going to forget that dark, lustful look in his eyes. She remembered Roxas storming in and dragging Seifer out. She recalled how gentle he was when he held her in his arms, soothing her and singing her to sleep with his soft voice. She remembered sneaking into his room while he was asleep and awing at his toned physique, while at the same time dying from embarrassment.

Then there were those infuriating Math lessons and how he sandwiched her in between him and the couch, and the unexpected kiss that caused him to leave again. She remembered Valentines and the flowers, and running out from under the bleachers to make sure he was never going to leave again.

Then Xion went missing, and she remembered the pain in his eyes and the guilt she felt for having stolen him away from her. She remembered stepping into that icy cold puddle while sneaking through the alleyway and the way the vents smelled as she crawled through them. She remembered Seifer's new, ravaged face and the explosion that could have killed her. If she thought really hard she could still feel the stabbing pain in her ribs, the aching in her head and the hazy heat from the flames that surrounded her. She remembered the blood distorting her vision and Riku's voice calling her name.

She remembered waking up to the white sting of the hospital room, and Roxas telling her how he could not leave her side until he saw her wake up with his own eyes. She remembered telling him that she loved him and how amazing it felt to say it. She remembered Xion and how they had the same blood type, even though it was a one in a million chance. She remembered Axel's graduation and his plans to visit her and Roxas, and the way his face turned red when Xion and Roxas tried to explain some mishap he had with Larxene.

Was she a completely different person all those months ago, before all of these things happened? Did all of that waiting, pain, frustration, confusion and fear help her see where she truly belonged in this world? She was never meant for McMansions and fancy cars, she was sure of that, but for some reason she was standing in a McMansion at the very moment, ready to stuff her bags into her fancy car. She never expected to make such great, quirky, memorable friends, and she sure as hell never thought she would be in a relationship with a certain blond boy who kept her waiting for all of these months.

Hm, maybe she did do a little bit of growing up after all.

Kairi knocked on her door, scaring her out of her thoughts. "Nami, are you ready?"

Her cousin's words could have meant many things.

"Yeah," Naminé grinned, "I am."


A/N: I know everybody hates Xion (Hah, sounds like the title of a really funny story - hm, do I smell another plot bunny?), but I kinda don't so I tried to make her somewhat likable.

I don't know why I made Mansex so...emotional. It just suited him in that particular situation. I remembered how he always made these long, corny speeches during the game so I tried to add that aspect to the story.

Parts of this chapter have been inspired by yet another Cinematic Sunrise song: Crossing Our Fingers For The Summer. I also used a part of the lyrics for the chapter title.

Anyway, that's a wrap! I hope you had as much fun reading this as I had writing it, and I appreciate all of your support! I'll see you again when the rewrite comes up, and keep your eyes open for the midquel starring everyone's favourite pyromaniac!