You Don't Know Me.
It's a hot summer's afternoon and like always you're late. You're never one to keep track of time, even when you know it's important and somewhat essential. You're charging forward with the wheels of your skateboard whirring at mach speeds and you're afraid you're going to get into some kind of head-on collision with all the people littering the sidewalk.
The park is not so far away now and you breathe a sigh of relief as you jump off your skateboard and begin dashing towards the playground. Your eyes scan the crowd; there's a lot of people today - couples holding hands, children running around, parents keeping watch, kids your age huddled in groups - but you can't find them. Where the hell are they? And you thought you were the one that was late.
Maybe they're walking around. You run your fingers through your hair, frowning when your fingertips skim across your damp, sweat-ridden scalp and hop on your skateboard again, strolling the paved path and searching for your friends. They should be here - this was the park you all agreed to meet at, right? You breathe in a good lungful of the muggy air as your eyes continue to work through the crowd, trying to find a brunette wearing orange, an arrogant-looking blond and a chubby dark-haired boy but after ten minutes of searching you come up empty. You sigh and drag your tired, sweaty body over to the grass and collapse there, shielding your eyes underneath the glaring sun as you distractedly look around for an ice-cream vendor.
A silvery flash captures your attention and your eyes immediately backtrack; there's a girl sitting underneath a nearby tree with a sketchbook leaning against her thighs. The flash is coming from her hair; it's wispy, shoulder-length and a very pale blonde. Her face is contorted with concentration as the pencil in her hand moves skillfully across the page, and you tilt your head in wonderment. Besides you she's the only one in the entire park that's by herself.
Feeling ridiculously bold you rise to your feet and slowly, cautiously make your way towards the girl. She's so engrossed in whatever she's drawing that she doesn't even notice you standing over her with your head tilted so that you could see what she was sketching; it was a landscape of the park mottled with people, and it's so detailed and exact you're not sure which looks more real: the actual park or her drawing.
She finally notices your presence, due to the shadow you create from looming over her. She slowly looks upwards and you're taken aback at how big and blue her eyes are. Her face is petite, her skin is ghostly pale and she's a little on the thin side but she's beautiful nonetheless. Her head tilts to the side in curiosity, and you're surprised she's not annoyed or frightened. "Hello." Her voice is so soft, nearly a whisper; you have to lean in to hear her properly.
Another thing about her: despite the fact that today is probably the hottest day of the year she's swathed in a hoodie and jeans. She doesn't appear to be sweating to death, though. You assume she has her reasons, so you ignore it. "Er," You stutter, rubbing the back of your head, "Hi." Your eyes shift around nervously as you try to think up of something suave to say; you can feel her eyes on you and your heartbeat begins to accelerate. "You looked a little lonely by yourself, so I decided to see what you were up to."
A lovely smile graces her pallid mouth and she scoots over, patting the soft grass beside her. You take her invitation and lower yourself to her side, resting your skateboard against the tree trunk your back's pressed against. "That's very nice of you," She turns to you and you're mesmerized by that wonderful smile, "Not a lot of people these days are nice anymore."
"I know what you mean," You agree, smirking shyly and rumpling your damp hair, "With time people are starting to forget that the world's a better place when you're nicer to others." Whoa, where did that come from, Mister Philosopher?
"Nicely put." She pokes her pencil through the spiral binding of her notebook and holds out her hand; you stare at it questionably and a giggle escapes those perfect lips. "My name's Naminé."
You smile and grasp her hand, awing at how cool it is despite the hazy heat swirling around the both of you. "And I'm-"
"ROXAS!" That all-too-familiar, obnoxious voice cuts through the crowd like a bullet and your head immediately turns towards the source of the noise; Hayner is standing by the ice-cream vendor with Pence and Olette, waving his arms erratically like he's trying to signal a plane. You groan, disappointed at how your time with this lovely, mysterious girl has to be cut short but then a brilliant idea pops into your head.
"Say, do you wanna come with? I can introduce you to my friends if you like." You jerk your thumb over to the blond boy who is still trying to get your attention, and you frown when she shakes her head.
"I'd love to, but I can't." She gives you a sad smile; her eyes drift to her sketchbook and she bites her bottom lip, hesitating. "But...I think I want to see you again. Sometime soon."
Your heart soars at her words and you beam like a child on Christmas morning, but at the same time you have no idea why you're feeling this way. It's strange and exciting at the same time. "Sounds good to me," You say as you spring to your feet, grabbing your skateboard along the way, "How about same time, same place tomorrow?"
Your new favourite smile stretches across her lips once more. "I'll be waiting for you."
"Alright, I'll see you then." You give her another childish grin before running off towards your friends. Hayner's looking at you like you've grown another pair of eyes and you can't help but blush. "Er, sorry, I was-"
"Forget it, Roxas," He gives you one of those looks and your embarrassment worsens, "We could plainly see that you were busy. Who is she, anyway?"
Pence hands you a stick of your favourite ice cream and you begin walking out of the park. You glance over your shoulder and realize with confusion that the girl - Naminé - is nowhere to be found. You shrug it off, knowing you'll see her again tomorrow, and smile to yourself. "You don't know her."
Okay, the world is definitely ending.
How are you the one on time? Just a week ago you were always ten minutes late for everything, and now you're the first to show up! You frown as you sit under the tree, scanning the crowd for that familiar platinum blonde glare; she did remember to come, right? Maybe she was just one of those girls who gave pathetic guys like you false hope just for the sake of their own entertainment - no, no...she doesn't seem like that kind of girl. She's far too sweet.
Wait, how would you know? You only met her yesterday!
You really need to stop arguing with yourself.
"S-sorry," Her delicate voice causes you to glance upwards; she's standing over you, dressed in jeans and a hoodie just like yesterday. She's got her sketchbook tucked underneath one arm and the other is behind her back, "Something...something came up at home and I was held back for a bit. I came as quickly as I could."
"No worries," You shrug as she sits next to you, "It's not like you were super late or anything, and I just got here too so I wasn't waiting long."
Her shoulders depress as she heaves a sigh. "Oh, that's good." She opens her sketchbook and pulls her pencil out of the binding. She does all of this with one hand; the other is listless by her side, but since it's on the side you're not sitting beside you can't see it.
"So," You hesitate, trying to think of a good way to start a conversation; you glance at her sketchbook and another brilliant idea forms inside your head, "Uh, you like to draw?"
She smiles up at you and the butterflies in your stomach flutter wildly like they're on steroids. "Yes," She answers in that superbly subdued murmur of hers, "I use it to get away from everyday life. With my sketchbook I'm free to do anything I want - I can create worlds where everything isn't so hectic, confusing and frustrating."
"Or where people are nicer?" You suggest; her smile widens and your heart leaps at the fact that you're the reason behind it.
"Exactly." She turns to face your battered, scratched-up, beloved skateboard. "I'm guessing you skateboard a lot?"
"Yeah," You feel a little embarrassed and your hand moves to your hair, "I used to do it just to get around town but then I started learning tricks and stuff, and then it just went up from there."
"I see," Her face was pensive, "Isn't there a local competition on the day before school starts?"
You shrug. "Yeah, but it's nothing, rea-"
"I'd like to see you compete." She speaks so quietly you think you might've imagined it. Originally you weren't going to enter the competition but now that she mentioned it…
"Then I guess I'll see you there." You smile, and millions of butterfly wings graze your stomach lining when she smiles back.
Hanging out under the tree with Naminé becomes a regular routine; eventually it becomes your favourite part of the day. The air hasn't been so hot and muggy since the day you met but it's still quite summery. It's always something to wonder about whenever you see her fully clothed and how she always seems to avoid showing her left hand whenever you're too close, but you're too polite to ask why.
Until today, that is.
You're underneath the same tree again, peering over her shoulder as she begins yet another drawing; this time she's sketching what seems to be a beach with white sand, bright blue water and lots of palm trees.
"I'd like to live on an island someday," She explains to you in a faraway voice, "Someplace like Destiny Islands, where it's always nice and warm and carefree. I want to live in a nice little house right on the beach with a perfect view of the ocean so I can paint it," Her eyes lower and a faint blush spreads across her cheeks, "And...maybe I'll find someone there that loves and cares for me. We'll share a paopu fruit together, and we'll wake up early every morning to watch the sunrise - frankly I'm getting a little tired of the perpetual twilight."
She unconsciously raises her left hand to brush her bangs out of her face, and your eyes widen at the small purple bruises blotching her knuckles and the joints of her fingers. She notices you staring and quickly withdraws her hand, but you're faster than that and you grab her wrist to further inspect her injuries. She's squirming under your gasp but you remain firm; you slowly push back the thick sleeve of her sweater and nearly gasp when you see more, larger bruises tainting the creamy skin of her arm.
"Naminé," You say slowly, glancing upwards, "What is this?"
She whips herself out of your hands and stands up abruptly, slapping her sketchbook to a close and shoving the pencil through the binding. She casts you a look you'll never forget; her large, tear-rimmed eyes express all the hurt, fear, anger and frustration you never knew she had and her bottom lip is slightly quivering. She looks like she wants to say something to you but instead she spins on her heel, her floaty hair whirling around her shoulders, and storms away.
You don't run after her - you're still trying to shake off the shock.
She's the first one there the next day, but even from far away you can feel the tension sparking in between the both of you. You force the lump down your throat and make your way towards the tree like you're walking on eggshells. Her head is down, focused on her sketchbook as usual, and this time she isn't afraid to show off her bruised hand; it's gingerly holding the sketchbook in place so that it won't move around on her legs.
"Er, hi." You greet her nervously when you're close enough; she glances upwards and gives you a curt nod, and another painful lump grows in your esophagus. You place your skateboard against the tree trunk like always and sit next to her, though you're a few inches farther than usual. You hug your knees to your chest and stare around the park, tapping your finger against your shin as you try to figure out just how you're going to end this awkward, unwanted silence.
"I bruise very easily," She blurted out, and you whip around to face her; her eyes are still on her sketchbook but she isn't drawing anymore, "The slightest touch gives me one. I have no idea why."
"But what caused you to have so many?" You flinch, afraid she's going to get up and leave again.
"I fell down the stairs a few days ago," There was something about the way her voice sounded that made you think she wasn't telling the truth, "And I fell on my arm. Luckily I didn't break it but it did give me a few bruises." She nodded towards her legs. "That's why I'm all bundled up - I don't want to walk around looking like a spoiled fruit." She gives you a small, sad, unconvincing smile.
You bite your tongue, however, and nod in understanding. "Oh, I guess that's reasonable. At least you're okay now." You watch her rise to her feet and brush off her jeans. "You're leaving?"
She nods. "I have to be home soon," She watches you stand up and reach for your skateboard, but when you feel her cool hand on your wrist you stop moving and turn around to gape at her, "But I'll see you tomorrow, okay?"
You smile your biggest for her. "I'll be waiting for you."
After twenty minutes of waiting you conclude that she isn't coming. Odd - she could've at least called or something.
You scratch your head as you glance around the park, searching for her tousled, white-blonde head but you don't see her anywhere. The image of her bruised hand flashes before your eyes and worry flares up inside of you.
You know where she lives - she's told you once or twice before but oddly enough she's never invited you over. You grab your skateboard and slam it against the pavement, jumping on top and skimming down the sidewalk. The breeze pushes your hair back and you're moving so fast your eyes are beginning to water, but you don't care. You want to see Naminé.
You swerve into a residential area not so far from yours and scan the numbered houses, searching for hers. When you stop in front of the house you think belongs to her the first thing that catches your attention is a loud crashing noise stemming from inside. Panic bunches up inside of you, scratching and clawing at your insides like a caged animal and you swiftly yet soundlessly make your way towards the house, backing up against the brick wall and closing your eyes to concentrate on the noises going on inside.
There's a man yelling; you assume it's her father. He's spewing insult after insult, and every once in awhile there would be a blunt thud and a loud, feminine scream - Naminé. Your heart threatens to explode right then and there, and you spin around to crane your head towards the window to see what exactly is going on; your face falls when you see nothing but an overturned table, cracked liquor bottles, broken dishes and scattered food.
You circle the house towards the backyard; it's empty here with nothing but dying, patchy grass and a tall tree. There's a sound of a slamming door coming from somewhere upstairs; a light from a window flickers on and you instantly know whose room that is. You toss your skateboard onto the grass and scale the tree, grunting when you feel the rough bark scraping across your arms. There's a thick branch that extends all the way to her window and you shimmy across it. When you're close enough you can see a crying girl curled up in a ball in the middle of the floor, and your chest aches for her.
"Naminé," You call hopefully, unsure if she's able to hear you from all the pain she must be going through. Of course she doesn't notice so you take matters into your own hands; you crawl through the open window, kneel by her side and gently touch her shoulder. "Naminé," You call again, your voice cracking just a little bit.
She jumps at your touch and she recoils, holding her fists against her chest. The fear in her eyes is like a punch to the face, but when she finally realizes it's only you she shakes her head in disbelief. "R-Roxas?" She whimpers; she shakes her head again and her expression hardens. "What are you doing here?" She demands, though the tears are still flowing freely, "You're not supposed-"
There's no need for formalities; you envelop her miniscule body in a big, comforting hug and you hold her for as long as she needs you to. Initially she stiffens against you and pushes her hands against your chest, trying to pull away but eventually her arms find their way around your waist and she hugs you back. The tears intensify and she's sobbing into your shoulder; she's dampening your shirt but you don't care. You rest your back against the wall underneath the window, gently pulling your fingers through her soft hair and whispering soothingly, "Shh, it's okay, I'm here now - there's nothing to be afraid of anymore."
She cries and cries and cries and your heart and chest feel like they're going to cave inwards; you've only known her for a week but she already means the world to you. You watch the tears cascade down that perfect, bruised face of hers and you're compelled to challenge the entire world just so it wouldn't hurt her anymore. You're itching to march downstairs to face her father to tell him off, to tell him that he's the worst dad in the entire world and that he should be ashamed of himself. What in the world would possess him to hurt someone so perfect, so fragile? Who in their right mind would want to break someone like Naminé?
"C'mon," You say, grabbing her hand and pulling her to her feet, "You're coming with me."
She shakes her head and tries to pull away from you. "No, Roxas, I can't-"
You reach for her other hand and shake your own head, staring straight into her eyes. "I'm not going to leave you here, Naminé. Please, just come with me. I don't want to see you hurt anymore."
She hesitates, but nods anyway and scrambles out of the window. You follow her diligently, and when your shoes touch the pointy grass you lace your fingers with hers and grab your skateboard before leaving. As you walk all the way back to your house she presses herself against your arm, sniffling against the fabric. Your chest aches again and you hug her waist; you turn your head and fearlessly plant a kiss against her forehead. She smiles up at you and you smile back, feeling like you've conquered the universe.
You're thankful your parents are out late tonight. You lounge around the house with her, making her feel as comfortable as you possibly can. When she claims she's tired you give her a loose t-shirt and shorts to wear and offer to sleep on the floor but she shakes her head. You raise an eyebrow at the adorably shy expression she's wearing.
"I…" She stutters; her cheeks are red and she's staring at her fumbling fingers, "I don't want to sleep alone."
You get the message, and though your face feels like it had just burst into flames you crawl into bed beside her, draping the sheets over both of your bodies and pulling her close against your chest. She hugs your neck and sighs against you, and everything is right in the world.
"You don't have to do this, you know," She mumbles against your shoulder, "I'm used to it - I've been dealing with this for years. I'm fine on my own."
You squeeze her waist and shake your head against her hair. "I don't want you to go through with it by yourself," You say firmly, "I'm here for you, Naminé. Don't forget that."
She sighs again, but does not say anything else. Minutes later her breathing becomes slow and even and her arms slacken around your neck. You rub her back soothingly and kiss her forehead again, smiling when you feel the heaviness of sleep slowly taking over you. You saved your princess for today; she's safe for now and that's all that really matters to you.
You didn't know it right then and there, but that was probably the exact moment you fell in love with her.
You're underneath the tree with her again but this time things are a little different, more specifically the way you're sitting. She's eased in between your legs and her back is pressed against your chest; you can smell the shampoo in her hair and you can feel her heartbeat thumping against yours. Your arms are fastened securely around her waist and your chin is on her shoulder. You're glancing at her latest masterpiece: yet another beach landscape, but this time there's a house by the shore.
"I'll take you there one day," You say unexpectantly, and she glances up at you in confusion; you point to the house and smile, "We'll live in that little house on the beach, and I'll wake up early with you every morning so we can watch the sunrise." You squeeze her waist and nuzzle your head against hers. "We'll be far, far away, Naminé - far from this town, far from your dad, far from anything that's ever hurt you."
She smiles softly and lifts herself off the ground a little to kiss you on the cheek. Though it was light and innocent it's enough to send your mind through a whirlwind of emotions, and you feel your cheeks heat up in an embarrassed blush. She giggles at your flusteredness and returns to her drawing. "You don't have to," She tells you in a quiet, sad voice, "You have friends here, Roxas. Parents that love you. I don't want you to quit your life here just for me."
"You're worth starting over for," You assure her, "I'm pretty sure everyone will understand. Just you wait, Nami - I promise you, one day we'll be in Destiny Islands eating that paopu fruit together. I'll make sure it happens."
She gives you another smile, but you can't help but notice how melancholy she looks.
Anger and confusion surges through your veins, and your hands ball into fists so tight the tendons are strained against your skin. You don't care how many people are staring; you're so caught up in your negative feelings that you fear you're going to explode.
"Naminé," You growl as you reach for her arm; you jerk your head towards the red lines simpering at you from her wrist. Her body's facing you but her eyes aren't, and you release her arm to cradle her face in her hands. You force her to stare straight into your eyes; the tears glistening in those bright blue irises cancel out the negativity jumping around inside of you and you soften up, "Why are you doing this to yourself? It's not healthy."
She jerks away from your touch and pushes her sleeves back down, glaring at you with raw, burning hatred. "What makes you think you've got any sort of authority over me?" She yells, and the pigeons waddling around on the floor nearby flutter away to someplace quieter, "I've only known you for two weeks and you think you can just take full control of everything that's going on in my life!"
"Well," Your voice hardens as the anger in you rekindles, "When you're covered with bruises and you're hacking away at your wrists what else am I supposed to do? I can't just leave you to rot away like that!" You step forward and hurt reverberates inside of you when she takes a step back. "Naminé," You plead, trying to keep your temper even, "Please, I want to help you. Don't turn away from me - I want to make everything better."
"You can't help me," She spat, "You don't know the things I've gone through. You don't even know who I am."
"Yes I do," You counter, though your voice is beginning to falter under the incoming tears, "In the short amount of time I've been with you I've managed to see you, the person you really are, and I know for a fact that you're not the kind of person who deserves to live the way you do," Your throat's beginning to ache and your eyes are stinging but you ignore it and continue on, "Naminé, I love you - let me fix it, let me fix everything for you. I want to make your hurt go away."
You reach for her but she shrinks back, shaking her white-blonde head. "No," She says firmly; the tears are reddening her eyes and her hair's sticking to her wet face but she's still beautiful to you. She always is. "You...you can't love me, Roxas."
Your hands ball into fists once again. "Why not?"
"I don't want to be a burden any longer; I can't live knowing I'm pulling you down." She sniffles and you feel the world crashing down on your shoulders. "I-I think it's best we no longer stay friends."
"No," You beg as she turns her back towards you, "Naminé, wait-" But she's already gone, disappeared into the crowd. Your eyes water and you give into your emotions, sinking to your knees and punching the tree trunk in frustration. Your curse yourself as the tears drip out of your eyes, splattering against your jeans and darkening the fabric. You can feel people's eyes on you but you don't care; they don't know anything.
Why can't you save her from this? Why can't you make it go away?
A month passes, and before you know it the skateboarding competition is here. You decide to go anyway, even when you know she most likely won't be there. Hayner, Pence and Olette are coming to cheer you on and you don't want to let them down, and plus - how can you pass up an opportunity to look better than Seifer?
The square is covered with two mini-arenas; there's a floor for tricks and a mini half-pipe for the arial stuff. You eye your competition and scoff, knowing that you've got the advantage. It's a little arrogant, yes, but it's also the truth - these kids haven't been skating as long as you have.
The trick floor is the first event; you watch your competition silently with your arms crossed, examining their every move. You want to make sure that when you do the tricks it'll be at least ten times better. You want to ace this thing - you want to come out on top. Your competitive streak is thumping excitedly inside of you and your fingers itch as you wait for the announcer to call your name.
When it's finally your turn you step up to the centre of the floor and wave around; the crowd answers you with booming enthusiasm and you grin cockily as you scan the different people for your friends. Hayner, Pence and Olette have front-row seats on the bleachers like you expected, but when you spot Naminé sitting shyly beside the brunette your heart almost stops. She notices you staring and gives you a little wave; you dumbly wave back.
Filled with a newfound determination you flip expertly around the floor with your skateboard like some kind of street acrobat; you pull off the hardest tricks in the book and with every perfect landing the crowd grows more and more excited. Even the announcer is on edge; he's shouting your name like you're the messiah.
When your run is finally done you make a beeline for the blonde who was quietly watching you the entire time, and you do something a little unexpected; you lock your arms around her tiny waist and give her the biggest hug you have ever given in your entire life. She laughs as you lift her off her sneakered feet, spinning her around not once, not twice but three times, and when you finally place her back on her feet you lean in and kiss her lips.
You feel like you're having the worst headrush, but at the same time you can feel the happiness practically exploding inside of you. You can tell she's as happy as you are; her arms tighten around your neck and she pulls you closer, deepening your embrace. When you pull apart you can hear Hayner and everyone whistling and cheering for you, and you laugh when you spot the bright blush on her pale cheeks.
"You were amazing," She breathed, "And this isn't even the main event!"
"I thought you weren't gonna come," You admit as you lean in to press your forehead against hers; your heart is beating spasmodically as your hands slowly slip down to hers, "I thought you said that we shouldn't be friends anymore."
"We shouldn't," She answers you as she releases your hands to cup your face with her own, "But that doesn't mean I never wanted to." She leans in closer, standing on her tiptoes, and you hug her waist to support her weight. "Plus - I think we're a little past the friendship stage at this point." She kisses you, and the world ceases to exist again. When you pull apart she remains close, bumping her nose against yours. "When I'm with you everything's in its right place."
"Everything's gonna be different from now on," You say determinedly, "You're moving out of that house and you're living with me. I'm gonna take care of you, Naminé, and when you're ready we'll move to the islands together and watch as many sunrises as you want."
She giggles against your lips and shakes her head. "Oh, you don't have to do all of that," She smiles, "I'm actually fine right here - as long as I'm with you it doesn't matter where I am."
You kiss her again; you can hear Hayner chuckling in the background but you ignore it. Naminé's your primary focus now - she always has been. You reach for her hand and lace your fingers together, pulling her away from the bleachers. You saved your princess once again, though this time it's for good.
Seifer can take the competition if he wants - you've already won.
A/N: A little idea popped into my head in the middle of the night and I couldn't let it go.
Inspired by the song Boston by Augustana.