Epilogue: Healthy In Paranoid Times.
It was a little chilly for a July afternoon, but at least it was still sunny out. The patients were allowed to dally around the courtyard; Ansem said it was healthy to enjoy the summer sunshine every once in awhile.
Roxas strolled around the short green grass with Naminé's hand in his; it had been months since he was admitted into the hospital and though it was very different from his previous life he couldn't say he didn't like it. He had friends here, and of course he had Naminé. Whenever she was around Sora and Xion wouldn't bother him, and whenever he was with her she wouldn't get any hallucinations or sudden urges to harm herself. They were each other's cure - there was no other way to explain their relationship besides their obvious feelings for each other. He wasn't sure what it was, but he knew from the moment he saw her there was something about the small artist; what it was, he'd never find out but it was something, that was for sure.
"Roxas, look," The blonde's soft voice caught his attention; she was pointing towards one of the flower beds. He smiled slightly as she pulled him closer, and he tilted his head to see what she was looking at: there was a small butterfly sitting on top of one of the flowers, and it was slowly opening and closing its vivid violet wings. The small artist let go of his hand and cupped both of hers close to the winged insect, and to his astonishment the butterfly casually walked right into her palms. Naminé's eyes were wide with a childlike awe as she watched the butterfly stroll around on her hands, and she glanced up at him.
"He seems to like you." Roxas chuckled, and she grinned before lifting her hands above her head; the butterfly gracefully took off, fluttering higher and higher into the clear summer sky. He took her hand again and raised it up to his mouth to kiss her knuckles, and his smile broadened when he noticed the faint tinge of pink smeared across her cheeks.
"Roxas?" Called a voice from the back door; both blondes turned to see who it was, and they smiled when they found the bright turquoise eyes of the psych ward's newest volunteer: Riku Yamagata. "Oh, good - you've got Naminé with you. You guys have a couple of visitors."
"Already?" Roxas raised an eyebrow, "Huh, I thought they were gonna come in the evening." He shrugged and tugged on Naminé's arm, guiding her back towards the building. They followed Riku into the visitor's area, where there were many round tables situated in a large room with a high ceiling. There were a few patients talking with their friends and families here and there.
"Roxas! Naminé!" A familiar voice boomed from one of the tables to the left; a redhead wearing a mischievous smirk was waving in their direction. Sitting beside him was a boy his age with sandy blond hair.
"Hey guys," Roxas grinned as he and Naminé moved towards the table. They sat across the young adults and he ruffled his hair with his free hand, "How's everything?"
Demyx shrugged. "Eh, we're still trying to get used to stuff; I mean, it's difficult enough to wake up every morning and decide what to wear every day!" He tugged at his white shirt. "I'm so used to wearing white...I feel weird wearing any other colour."
"You're such a girl," Axel rolled his eyes as the blonde couple laughed, "But he's got a point, somewhat: it's only been a month and I still feel like I'm supposed to be here."
"But you got better, didn't you?" Naminé asked with her white-blonde head slightly tilted to the side, "That's why they let you out."
"Yeah, but...I dunno," The former pyromaniac shrugged, "I guess it's 'cause I've been here for so long - I feel sorta...unattached from the real world, y'know what I mean? It feels weird to talk, to interact with all of these-" He shuddered, "-normal people."
"Especially when they know you were just released from a mental hospital," Demyx shook his head, "They treat you like some kind of heathen or something."
Axel's signature smirk returned and he leaned forward to rest his elbows on the table. "Speaking of heathens, we wanted to see Larxene but apparently they locked her up in one of the padded cells. What'd she do this time?"
"The usual," Roxas shrugged as he extended his arm so that it wound around the smaller blonde's waist, "Tormenting other patients, pining for attention, complaining how the world sickens her...nothing new." He scratched the side of his head. "I hope she calms down soon, though - it scares me every time I say this, but when I don't hear or see her screaming in my face at least once every day I kind of miss her."
"I know what you mean," The redhead chuckled, "She's the kind of friend you wish you never met, yet at the same time you don't want to let go of her." He eyed the intimate position the two blondes were in and gave them a sly smile. "How about you two? How are things holding up?"
The faint pink blush reappeared on Naminé's cheeks. "T-they're good," She replied shyly, "Ansem said I'm getting better - I...I haven't had an episode for a long time now," She glanced up at Roxas and smiled. "And he hasn't seen Sora or Xion for at least three weeks."
"That's great!" Demyx clapped his hands together in glee, "Does that mean the both of you are gonna get released anytime soon? Oh, that'll be so fun…"
Roxas chuckled. "I don't know, Dem, but I really hope it is. I miss home."
"What about you, Naminé?" Axel asked worriedly, "When they let you out where are you gonna go?"
"You can stay with us if you want," Demyx offered, "I need someone to keep my newly-regained sanity in check - if I spend any more time with Axel I'm gonna end up getting sent back here!"
The blonde girl laughed her silvery laugh and shook her head, leaning against Roxas' side and pressing her cheek against his collarbone. "Sorry, Demyx - Roxas said I can stay with him once we're both released."
"Ooh," Axel let out a low whistle and both blondes flushed in embarrassment, "You're already at the moving-in stage? How sweet - don't you think this is going a little too fast?"
The blond boy shook his head and tightened his arm around Naminé's waist. "Nah - I couldn't ask for anything better, really. She's the only effective cure I have." When the girl's blush worsened he chuckled and nuzzled his head against hers. "Mm, there's no need to be embarrassed, Naminé - it's the truth; it's because of you that I'm getting better." He pulled back to give her a smile, and she returned it with a small one of her own.
"All this sweet stuff's gonna give me a toothache," The redhead smirked, and the blondes flushed again, "But hey, whatever floats your boat, right? You guys are living proof that it takes more than meds to cure a sickness."
Demyx was eyeing Riku, who was helping one of the patients on the far side of the room. "So he's the new fresh meat, huh? How's he holding up?"
Roxas smirked. "Way better than me - the moment Ansem dumped him in the room it seemed like he knew what he was doing. Says that he's not doing this for the volunteer hours - he's actually in school studying to become a psychiatrist, and he's prepping up for his internship."
"Ooh, big boy," Axel snickered and the musician followed suit, "He looks like a psychiatrist anyway - he's got that knowing look in his eyes."
"Or maybe this is just a cover-up, like Roxas - maybe his parents just sent him here so Ansem can keep an eye on him," Demyx shrugged, "Sure, he might seem like a cool guy on the outside, but what if on the inside he's really a bloodthirsty cannibal who gouges his victims' eyeballs out with his thumbs? Then when he's finished he hides their remains under the floorboards and uses their blood to paint the walls of his house!" His eyes widened and he stood up from his seat, spreading his arms.
Axel, Roxas and Naminé blinked at the musician with concerned, horrified expressions on their young faces; the smallest blonde shrunk into the other's embrace while the former pyromaniac raised a skeptic eyebrow. A few other people in the room were staring too.
Demyx coughed awkwardly into his fist and rubbed the back of his head. "O-or he might just be a psych major looking for an internship here." He gave the entire room a nervous smile before slowly lowering back into his seat.
"And I used to think you were saner than me." Axel muttered into his hand, and the blondes laughed in unison.
The foursome continued to chat for another hour or two, and then the young adults had to leave - Demyx had just recently started a band with people that lived on the same floor as them and they had practice this evening.
"Remind me to buy earplugs on the way home," Axel smirked, "I want to be able to sleep through the night for once."
"Hey, what's that supposed to mean?" The musician rolled his eyes, "At least the music we play is tolerable!"
"Yeah, but the people that play the actual music aren't." The redhead chuckled, "You've got a guy who likes to garden, a gambler who won't admit he's addicted to gambling and a guy who always has some kind of pistol attached to his belt! How are they not admitted into this place?"
"Sounds like an interesting bunch," Roxas laughed, "I'd like to meet them sometime."
Demyx gave him a kind smile. "Someday soon you will." He patted the blond's shoulder and gave the smaller one a hug. "We'll see you guys in a few days."
Once the musician let go of her Naminé shuffled towards Axel to give him a hug. "We'll be waiting."
The former pyromaniac smirked and playfully tousled her hair. "You better take care of her, Roxas - I'll know if you aren't!"
The blond boy rolled his eyes as he gently tugged the artist back towards him. "You know I'll always watch out for her, Axel. Later." The blondes waved as their two friends left the visitors area, and when they disappeared behind the doors Roxas sighed and pressed his cheek against the smaller blonde's hair. "So what do you want to do now?"
She glanced up at him. "Let's go outside for a bit more."
He chuckled and nodded. "Alright." He took her by the hand and gently guided her out of the visitors' area, through the hallway and back to the courtyard. The sun had long since set, and everything was shrouded in black and navy. There were a few lamp posts set up around the small garden, but the lights weren't very strong.
Roxas felt Naminé's hand leave his, and he squinted through the darkness to see where she ran off to. "Hey, where'd you go?" He sighed and stepped off the cement path onto the plush green grass, looking left and right and sighing again when he couldn't find her.
"Over here!" The artist's voice was an excited whisper, and he chuckled as he walked towards her. Naminé was standing in the middle of the garden, glancing up at a group of fireflies flitting around her head. There had to be at least fifty of the small glowing bugs; their soft orange and yellow glow bounced off the small blonde's face, glittering in her large eyes and flickering against her flaxen hair. Her mouth was slightly parted in awe as she hesitantly reached towards the cloud of light, and she jumped a little when a couple of the insects rested on her open palm.
Roxas laughed softly as he approached her, wrapping an arm around her waist and kissing the side of her head. "What's with you and bugs? Normally girls would run away and scream bloody murder."
The smaller blonde giggled as a few more fireflies danced around her fingers. "In case you've forgotten, Roxas, I'm not exactly normal."
He gave her a sad smile and nuzzled his head against hers. "Of course you are - you're more normal than a lot of people."
The subtle glow from the fireflies flickered against Naminé's face, illuminating her small smile. "I hope we'll be let out soon - I miss school. I miss walking around town. I miss a lot of things." She lightly shook her hands and the bugs flew back towards the others.
The blond boy drew her into his embrace, throwing his other arm around her and hugging her close to his chest. The fireflies flew a little higher, floating above both of their heads. Roxas rested his cheek against the smaller blonde's hair and closed his eyes. "We will be, Naminé, don't worry - and when it happens you'll come live with me, and you'll be able to go to school again. We'll hang out with Hayner, Pence and Olette every weekend."
The thought of the trio, who have visited the blondes a few times, made the pale artist smile. "I'd like that." She peered up at her companion with worried eyes. "Your mother, though...will she...will she be okay with me…?"
Roxas laughed and touched her forehead with his. "Of course she will - she loves you!" Memories of his mother's past visits flitted through his mind and his grin widened. "She's really excited, you know. She can't wait for us to get out of here - she already has your room prepared." He briefly unwound one of his arms from her waist to awkwardly rub the back of his head. "Granted, I think she's going a little overboard but I guess it's better than nothing."
Naminé giggled and eased her head into the curve of his neck. "I can't wait." She looked upwards again and smiled at the cloud of fireflies swirling above their heads. "So pretty." She murmured.
Roxas laughed again and lifted his head to watch the glowing bugs with her. Minutes later he felt the girl tremble slightly, and he looked down. "Are you cold? Maybe we should head inside - it's getting late anyway."
The smaller blonde nodded and let him pull her back towards the building. After navigating through the confusing hallways (even after a few months of living here he still gets lost from time to time) the twosome found themselves in the artist's room; they were staying here tonight since they were in his room yesterday.
Roxas stretched his arms and ruffled his hair. He watched the platinum-blonde crawl into bed and he chuckled. "Naminé," He nodded towards her feet.
The artist blushed and swung her legs over the edge of the bed. "Oops," She smiled bashfully before bending over to unbuckle her sandals, "I keep forgetting - it's been awhile since I've worn shoes."
He smiled and stepped out of his own shoes before climbing in beside her. "I know." He was about to pull the sheets over them when he felt a pair of cool hands on either side of his head. He slowly turned towards her and eyed the sheepish expression on her petite face. "What is it, Naminé?" He asked quietly, reaching upwards to enclose his hands around her wrists.
The artist's usually ashen face was beet-red, and she was biting her bottom lip. "S-stay still." She ordered quietly, and his heartbeat quickened as she began to lean in slowly towards him. There was a moment where he could feel her eyelashes against his cheeks as they fluttered to a close, and when he felt her lips brush against his he sucked in a sharp breath. His hands slowly moved from her wrists to press themselves against the small of her back, pulling her body closer against his. Seconds afterward she began to pull away, but he kept his hold on her and brought her back in. He deepened the second kiss, gently parting her mouth with his and slowly probing inwards with his tongue. She gasped against him and he grinned as he shifted to lower both of their bodies against the mattress. They finally broke apart sometime later, gasping for breath and laughing softly.
"Breathe slowly." He whispered to her, reaching upwards to tuck a few strands of hair behind her ear. He grazed his thumb underneath her eye, reveling in the warmth of her blush.
She smiled shyly and placed her hand over his, pressing her cheek against his palm. Her grey-blue eyes were flickering vividly, and her chest was heaving slightly from lack of breath. Naminé lowered her head to his chest, yawning against him and clutching his shirt with a small fist. He was sure she could hear his stuttering pulse. "I'm sleepy." She mumbled as she nestled closer to him.
Roxas gently placed her by his side and sat up briefly to grab the white sheets. He raised the covers to her shoulders before lying next to her. The second he was lying down Naminé scooted towards him, snaking her thin arms around his neck and resting her cheek against his collarbone. She hummed in pleasure as he hugged her waist and buried his face in her soft hair.
"'Night, Roxas." The artist half-yawned, half-murmured.
The blond boy chuckled and kissed her forehead. "Sweet dreams, Naminé." He massaged her back as she relaxed in his arms, falling asleep quickly - she always slept first. It wasn't like he minded or anything; he always made sure she was asleep first anyway. That way he knew she would be safe when he was unconscious.
Before closing his eyes for the night he took a quick look around the room. He developed a habit out of this - he didn't want any unexpected visitors - and when he found nothing (and nobody) he sighed in relief. His eyes lingered on the walls for a few seconds, smiling at the various drawings Naminé had taped up in an attempt to give the place some colour. Most, if not all of them were of a blond boy and a blonde girl. Some of the drawings looked a little more realistic and proportionate: Ansem theorized that her talent was coming back due to her recovery.
He wondered if he was changing, now that he was getting better. The hallucinations have ceased, that was one thing, but was there anything else? He wasn't so sure.
Naminé stirred against him, mumbling inaudibly and snuggling closer. He held her tighter and kissed her forehead again, and he smiled when she sighed and nuzzled her head against his neck. He closed his eyes against her hair, figuring it was safe to sleep for tonight. There weren't going to be any hallucinations, no nightmares, no-
A faint shifting was heard on the opposite side of the room - footsteps? - and Roxas' eyes snapped open. He quickly glanced over his shoulder, his pulse racing as he anxiously searched around. When he came up empty he sighed and shook his head, turning back around to rest against Naminé. He felt a little ridiculous and chuckled to himself before closing his eyes again.
He was thinking too much.
A/N: The title of this chapter is taken from an Our Lady Peace album. One of its songs, Angels/Losing/Sleep was a big inspiration for the story.
Part of Demyx's theory of Riku's real purpose at the psych ward is taken from a few lyrics of the song Ride The Wings Of Pestilence by From First To Last.
I hoped you guys liked this short, dark, rushed story - I wrote it on a whim, so if you think the plot's been rushed or there's a billion mistakes in each chapter that's my only excuse - and I thank you all for reading and reviewing!