Epilogue: Just Another Chapter
Kairi stretched in her seat, groaning as a wave of relief washed through her. Tucking her hair behind her ear, she resumed her sitting position and reread the recently written letter on her desk. Satisfied, she folded it into three perfect sections and slipped it into a clean, stamped envelope. She wrote a familiar address in the center, the letters of the name curling under the spell of her neat handwriting.
There was something funny about proper letter addressing, Kairi thought. She wondered why no one mentioned how goofy it looked to write "Mr. and Mrs. Roxas" on the envelope.
She smiled at the thought of her work. Handwritten letters have long been deemed snail mail, but there was something that electronic mail would never be able to replicate: that true and traditional sense of communication just by seeing the handwriting of a loved one. That, and the excitement of finding a letter in the mailbox personally made for your eyes. Kairi herself enjoyed it when she got letters from fans and admirers when it didn't involve her e-mail address.
She tucked the letter into a small planner, resolving to take it to the post office in the morning. Then, she let her eyes trail around the room, taking in the surroundings.
It was a place Kairi thought she'd never thought of as a possible home. When she found out she was going to be staying at a log cabin for the next couple months, she was skeptical. But it didn't take her long to adjust to the brilliantly carved furniture and the intricate decorations of warm colors that made it feel so homely. Just the appearance of the walls made Kairi sigh in content: she certainly considered herself lucky, if not blessed.
She closed her eyes, inhaling deeply. She always thought log cabins would smell like the wood, or something akin to pine. She quickly learned that it instead smelled like something burning, the result of a radiator that has been long out of use. She grew used to it in time, and the smell had long been replaced with whatever scented candle she chose. Today's choice: Vanilla Breeze. It seemed to fit well with her surroundings.
Kairi stood, walking over to the window. Pushing aside the crimson and ornately designed drapes, she peered outside. The snow fell heavily, piling on the ground just outside her warm sanctuary. A small grin appeared on her face as a certain mood finally returned to her.
She sat at her computer desk, waking the system up with a tap to the spacebar. Looking in the mirror, she brushed her hair while the computer finished rebooting. Satisfied with her appearance, she returned her gaze to the computer screen, opening a familiar program. She scrolled through her list of contacts, clicking a bolded name. A dial tone reverberated through her speakers, followed by a voice belonging to a young man. She smirked. He didn't bother turning the video on.
"I'm going to start filming now." Kairi answered as she looked at the clock. "Will you be joining me?"
"In a bit. I'm almost finished here. Go ahead though." He ended the call right there.
Kairi exhaled slowly. No matter how many times she did this, she always got a little nervous. Nevertheless, she sat up straight, adjusted her expensive high definition camera (a gift given to her thanks to an endorsement) on the tripod before her, and took hold of a small remote. She counted slowly to herself:
"Three, two, one…" The light on the camera came on, signaling that it was recording. Taking a deep breath, she started with her routine opener. She stared into the lens and began "M&M Daily, Episode twenty-one hundred…" Kairi froze as she realized she forget to even make a title. "Um… all right! I guess I don't have a title for this one. Welcome to yet another episode of Milk and Marshmallows! For those of you just tuning in now, I'm Kairi. For those of you who are already familiar with how this works, feel free as always to speed by this to the one minute mark as I fill the new people in." Kairi paused the remote, sighing when the light on the camera turned red.
This was always the fun part: She had exactly forty-five seconds to summarize who she was and describe her job, a challenge that grew harder and harder over time. Willing to step up to the challenge, Kairi sat up once again, rolled her shoulders, and turned the camera back on. "For all of those who are just tuning in, M&M is just a video log of the day in the life of me and my boyfriend."
"Fiancé, Kairi! We've done this a hundred times already!" a voice added to the video behind her. A young man holding two cups of hot chocolate appeared at the doorway and quickly made his way over, handing Kairi one of drinks. The young man smiled at the camera, wiping imaginary dust off his black hoodie as he bent down to look into it. "And I'm Sora. While M&M is usually a day-to-day video journal that we make for you guys to see, this one is actually pretty special. If you were hoping to find something else, well… try coming back next episode, because you definitely dropped in at the wrong time. But the fans ought to know the routine by now. Today marks the two thousandth… hundredth… did I say that correctly?"
"Today marks the two thousand, one hundredth episode of Milk and Marshmallows." Kairi said quickly as Sora lost steam. He sent an apologetic smile as she continued. "What Sora's trying to say is this: every one hundred videos, we take the time to thank the fans, answer some questions, discuss future destinations, and more importantly…"
"You guys learn a little history behind the two people who travel around the world and make these videos." Sora finished with a huge grin.
Kairi paused the camera once again, taking a sip of her warm beverage. "That was a bit too convenient, Sora. But good timing." She complimented with a pat on his head.
Sora laughed, pulling a rolling computer chair up next to Kairi. "I was walking down the hallway when I heard where you were in the video, so I actually ran in to join. It just so happened that I came in just in time to see you messing the whole thing up!" While Sora was ranting, Kairi sneakily turned on the camera with her remote. The camera turned on in time to catch Sora raising Kairi's hand to point at the ring around her finger. "What, do you think that's just for show, hon? It's not."
"And if you missed that episode… I think it was Episode 2011," Kairi spoke directly to the camera, "then you can see Sora's forgettable proposal. It's not my fault that I still think I'm just a girlfriend."
"Oh, it's on!" Sora chuckled as he dropped Kairi's hand in her lap. "Every hundred days, Kairi and I like to talk about our past. You know, let you know how we met, how we fell in love, the boring stuff." Sora took a sip of his signature hot chocolate before continuing. "New viewers, I seriously suggest watching every one hundred episodes, starting with the episode titled 'The Babysitter,' because you will seriously be lost. Also watch episodes titled 'Surprise!' and 'Hot Chocolate' because… well, they're like chapters of our life before M&M. I'll have the links below the video so you can go back."
"And for those of you who have been keeping up, you'll remember that we left off where Sora and I had just confessed our love for each other." Kairi pretended to fawn over her future husband. Sora leaned back with a smirk as Kairi took attention. "This episode is a little more special— and not as sappy— because some of you might have been following us since that time." Kairi grasped her cup with both hands, leaning her weight on her elbows. "We were separated, but we still chose to continue our relationship. We thought we could just chat every night and whatnot, but scheduling conflicts often strained that idea. So, we stepped out of our comfort zone and posted videos, addressed to each other, so we could keep in touch without actually having to be free at the same time. Since then, Sora and I have been uploading videos about anything. Sometimes we talked about school, our friends, or even places we wanted to visit. If you think it's cheesy… then it was Sora's idea."
"But yeah. M&M Daily started soon after the events described in Episode 2000, titled 'Young Love.' So this episode will be like the epilogue, of sorts."
"And I know we usually take turns on these occasions," Sora added as he stared into the lens, "but this time, Kairi and I will be taking turns."
"As some of you may know, we weren't always the trekking couple we are today. In fact, it wasn't until nine hundred or so episodes that we suddenly struck gold. At the time, Sora and I were about… twenty years old. It all started when Sora and I took the camera out together to explore Destiny Islands. We also got permission to tour the house of the famous movie actor, Cloud Strife. I'm pretty sure our video views hiked up considerably for that episode." Kairi said more to Sora than the audience.
"That's right. People had been requesting since Episode 100 that we prove we met in that house. Older viewers may remember it as the first viewer challenge we ever accepted. I'm sure some of you just wanted to see Mr. Strife make a cameo appearance too. That was actually a lot of fun 'cause we totally showed 'em!" Sora said with a reminiscent grin. "It was then that we were called by some of the representatives on this site. Apparently we had one of the larger fan bases, and they hoped to get a contract with us."
"I think at the time we surged to five hundred thousand subscribers." Kairi finished the thought for her fiancé. "They wanted us to continue documenting on a daily basis with the same formula we used that episode: show people the world, as well as share our 'interesting' story."
"So for the past twelve hundred episodes or so," Sora started, "we've taken you around the world with us. We visited all the top tourist destinations at Destiny Islands— an endeavor that spanned at least twenty episodes— and showed you guys around. Along the way, we kind of promoted tourism, local shops that made it into our list of favorite places on the island, and pretty much gave you guys a way to travel the world without leaving your seat."
"We've since been to many places. To name a few: Radiant Garden, famous for its rich history and innovative technology; Twilight Town, the origin of the national sensation of Struggle Tournaments; and just last week, the deserts of Agrabah. This of course would not have been possible without all your support."
Kairi paused, temporarily halting the filming. She pulled out a notebook and went down a checklist for the episode. The feeling of forgetting to mention something ate away at her.
Sora exhaled loudly, staring at Kairi. When she raised a brow in question, he spoke up. "Was my proposal really forgettable?"
Kairi laughed, rolling her eyes at his insecurity. "Sora, I was kidding. I don't think I'll ever forget how you nearly fell off the balcony of that Hawaiian resort." She took his hands in her own. "I'm still here too. I never thought this was how things would turn out between us. It's like a dream come true."
Sora nodded in agreement. Not everyone in the world could say they did the same thing that Sora and Kairi did, especially at the young age of twenty-three. They were internet celebrities, notorious for their video journals and amateur documentary-style uploads. Since starting six years ago, their channel Milk and Marshmallows amassed a following of both young and old interested in their story and their travels. Sora was known for his goofy personality and competitive streak: interviewers often asked him why he took on the dares that his fans challenged him with. Sora would merely laugh and tell them he wanted to do those things anyway. Who didn't want to skydive, zipline, and raft through rapids?
Kairi, on the other hand, seemed to be the mediator between the two. She was more known for being the brains of the couple. He didn't mind though: it made them more complementary than anything else.
And while it was a dream job, it wasn't always easy. He and Kairi oftentimes worked with the camera off as well. The biggest challenges revolved around filming: since they weren't allowed to take their camera everywhere, they always worked at least two months ahead of time to plan out their next destination. They would have to call certain tourist destinations, explain who they were, and ask if they could video log their experience. Sora and Kairi often got their way thanks to their planning; when they couldn't film, they'd simply review their experience later.
The biggest perk: they didn't pay for any of it. Their whole journey around the world was paid for and sponsored by the website they technically worked for. They essentially got paid to do the things they wanted to do, even getting a wide degree of freedom: all they had to do was film it all. Sora usually chose the destinations, either following the requests of the reviewers or because he wanted to see something for himself. It really was a matter of getting Kairi to agree to his ideas, which wasn't that hard anyway.
He watched Kairi set her notebook back down on the desk, her brow furrowed in thought. It was probably time to resume filming. That, or they messed up and would have to refilm.
"Sora, you uploaded yesterday's video already, right?" Kairi asked as she sipped the remains of her hot chocolate. He nodded.
"As soon as we arrived. What's left for the episode?"
"From where we left off… let's finish up about ourselves. Then we can give a shout-out to the fans we ran into in Agrabah. We also need to thank our three million subscribers." Kairi read off casually.
The number made Sora's eyes bulge. "Three million subscribers?" A smile easily formed on Sora's face as he was hit with reality. "Holy crap. Are we that famous? Sure doesn't feel like it."
"Apparently. There's a lot of good questions too, so we'll save that for last, just before the sign-off. Come on, we have some filming to do." Kairi said as she settled into her seat. Sora rolled his seat closer to her, placing a kiss on her lips.
"Let's do it."
Two hours later, the couple sat at the computer and edited their video segments, trying to keep the episode to a half-hour length. They had not completely finished the episode, but they had fulfilled the objectives that Kairi had set for them.
Wiping her eyes tiredly, Kairi drank from her newly made hot chocolate. Checking the clock, she noticed it was nearing an hour past midnight.
"Finished!" Sora exclaimed as he turned to Kairi. She leaned in closer to review the edited video.
Satisfied with his work, she sighed contentedly. Just the final segment left!
Sora was keen on finishing as well, which he made obvious by quickly setting the camera up once again. "Finally. I feel like we've been working on this forever."
"We have, Sora." Kairi smiled as she took a hold of the camera remote. "But we got everything done. We finished recapping, thanked our fans, answered their questions, gave some shout-outs… "Kairi listed off vocally, "I think we got everything. All that's left is the sign off and a preview for tomorrow."
"Awesome." Sora said under his breath as he took his seat beside her. Before Kairi could ask if he was ready, Sora beat her to a question. "Hey Kairi, what will we do now that we've finished our story? We can't exactly do what we've been doing for the past six years. We'll need to come up with something new for the one-hundred episode landmarks."
Kairi pondered the options. Outside of recounting the past, she was stumped. "I don't know, Sora. Our little routine had us going for over two thousand episodes… "
"We could always take a break." Sora voiced his idea quietly. Kairi looked at him curiously. "I know, we've been video documenting our lives for two thousand-something days straight. That's a crazy accomplishment, if it could be called that. But when's the last time we went out without a camera?"
Now that Kairi thought about it, she couldn't remember the last time they had a day off. It was true: for twenty-one hundred days straight, Sora and Kairi never failed to either talk into or take the camera around and share their day with their fans. "Hmm…"
"I just thought we could have the day to ourselves." Sora took Kairi's hand with a smile. "I love what we do, Kairi. I really do. I sometimes can't believe our conversation on that car ride to the airport and our video posting would ever amount to anything. I consider myself the luckiest man on this planet not just because the woman I love said yes, but because I get to do it all with you." Sora smiled, his emotion gaining hold of his voice. "But it doesn't hurt to take a day off every now and then. Our job has been to live our lives just as we please. Why don't we use every one hundred episodes to skip out on work? That way, it'll really be just us. You and me, Kairi."
"Oh, Sora…" Kairi fell into his arms, feeling a warm sensation spread throughout her body as he embraced her. "You're just saying that 'cause you're a lazy bum."
He chuckled, placing a kiss on her forehead. "Maybe I am. But I also think we deserve a day where we can stay in bed together and watch movies. Or… since our job is to essentially vacation, why don't we spend ours working at some big company? We'll be that weird couple whose vacation is the normal person's day at work."
Kairi lifted her head from Sora's shoulder. "Staying in bed all day sounds awesome." Kairi said wistfully.
"So you think it's a good idea?" Sora asked eagerly. He was hoping she would agree.
"I'll think about it. For now, that sounds like the best option." Kairi leaned closer to Sora, meeting his lips in a lingering kiss. After all these years, it still placed her on top of the world. She pulled away slightly, just enough to whisper to him. "We have to film this last segment."
"I know." Sora tucked strands of hair behind Kairi's ear. "I'm ready when you are. Time to put this thing away."
His fiancé nodded, taking in a deep breath in an attempt to hide her fatigue as they prepared to record their final part of the video. With a squeeze of Sora's hand, Kairi began recording the final segment.
"When I go back and watch old videos posted between Sora and I, I remember just how long all of you have been with us. For some of you, you've been following our story since I first started telling it in Episode 100, The Babysitter. Never did I think at the age of nineteen that I'd be doing that, nor did I think that five years later I'd be twenty-three and wrapping things up."
"Unfortunately, you guys have pretty much heard everything on how Kairi and I met. One hundred days ago, I described the final events that led to the creation of our channel, Milk and Marshmallows. There isn't anything left for us to tell you since it's all uploaded right here. Feel free to check them out if you'd like to catch up!"
"Since then, our musings in the car that day became our livelihood. This isn't the last episode, but I have to tell you that it's been fun traveling around the world not only with Sora, but with you guys as well. Our story ends here, but we've got a whole world to explore and a lifetime of countless journeys ahead of us. And because of this ring right here, count on Sora and I being together every day. Right, Sora?"
"Uh… yeah! We will. As Kairi said earlier, this may be an epilogue, but it's essentially just another chapter of our lives together. And we hope that all you fans choose to stick around for the ride too. It's past midnight here near Beast's Castle, but in the morning, I finally get to prove to Kairi that the Beast did exist and that the castle was magical."
"We've got a big day ahead of us. By the time you finish this video, we'll be checking out that castle and all the secrets it has kept for centuries."
"And who knows? Maybe you might learn something not told in the fairy tales. It's just one of the many adventures we plan to have, and we hope you'll come along!"
"So thanks for watching today's episode. With love for our friends, family, and fans, this is Kairi—"
"—signing out for Milk and Marshmallows."
Redeeming Endeavor: So ends the story of a couple whose relationship started over a cup of hot chocolate (ignoring the riffraff that happened before the first civil conversation). Anyway, I hope you enjoyed that. Feel free to tell me anything you want, whether it be disappointment, flames, or compliments. I take them all.
For those interested: At the time of this posting, M&M has 50,015 hits, 272 favorites, and 219 Alerts. Thank you so much for sticking around, readers!
It's been a great ride, guys. Again, thank you all for reading my first story and KH fic EVER. Never in a million years did I think I'd make such an impact for some of you.
Thanks for all the support. Take care, and I'll see you around!