Of course that wasn't the end! Did you REALLY think I was going to leave it on such a miserable note? XDD
Sorry for putting you all through that. And sorry that the previous chapter seemed so rushed as well, as many of you pointed out. I was trying to go for fast-paced, but it seems that I failed :(
So, this is the epilogue. The final, FINAL chapter. I'll say more at the end. For now, all you need to know if that the song is "Ocean Avenue" by Yellowcard, and I highly recommend that you listen to it. It's rather integral to the chapter.
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Kiss and I Will Surrender
Four Years Later
Today felt like a good day. As he closed the door to his apartment and headed down the hallway, Sora could feel a light spring to his step, as if the very air held a positivity it hadn't done for a long time. He tipped a salute to the old guy at the end of the corridor who was just coming home, and the man nodded and smiled.
"You look happy today," he observed in his reedy voice as he fumbled for his keys. "Something good happen?"
"Not yet," Sora said, but he was grinning. "But we've got the whole day yet."
The old man nodded. "Quite. Have a nice day."
"You too!" Sora continued on to the elevator and thumbed the down button. As he waited for it to arrive, he jiggled his legs to try and alleviate some of the energy that was coursing through his veins today.
He didn't know why he was so happy. He hadn't had anything to be truly happy about in a long time. Well, that sounded ungrateful. He had good friends, a decent job, and a nice apartment. His love life was somewhat non-existent but he was fine with that. But all that seemed so mediocre after the elation he had felt every day all those years ago. Back then, every day was a new adventure, and it always started with blue eyes and blond hair and a kiss.
He supposed he had never really gotten over Roxas. Not when it had ended so suddenly, with almost no explanations. Roxas had broken up with him right in the midst of the trauma of losing Xion, and Sora had had trouble sifting through his grief for losing Xion and his broken heart. Maybe that was for the best, but at the time, he had been so broken that he hadn't eaten for at least a week. He'd spent the weeks following that in a glazed, emotional trance, prone to fits of hysteria at any moment.
He was exceptionally paranoid now. He had constant fears that all his friends would leave him, just like Roxas had done, and this paranoia also prevented him from kick-starting his love life. It didn't help that nobody he saw could even compare to Roxas, be they male or female. Sora had lost all interest in both sexes.
Yes, he'd had a few one night stands, with guys and girls, but none had been satisfying, and none had even compared to sleeping with Roxas.
Everything revolved around his ex, even four years down the line.
Four years, and he still hadn't heard from Roxas.
You'll know when I'm ready.
Sora didn't doubt that he would know. But how long did Roxas need? And after all this time, surely Roxas had already moved on to someone else? He used to sleep around all the time after all. He could have returned to old habits.
It pained Sora to think so lowly of Roxas, but after the low blow of being dumped on Xion's funeral day, Sora still hadn't quite forgiven him. He wasn't even sure he could bring himself to take Roxas back, should Roxas ever send out this magical sign that he was ready to give it another go.
But if he didn't, Sora would grow old a lonely man, and he knew that in his heart. Roxas was the only one who could make him happy. He was also the one with the ability to hurt Sora the most. And he had done just that.
Sora suspected that Roxas was probably feeling very guilty for all that had happened. After all, Sora had been kidnapped, beaten to within an inch of his life, and lost one of his dearest friends. He wouldn't be surprised if the guilt would stay with Roxas forever, even if Sora didn't him blame him one bit for all that had happened. Not even Xion's death. Nobody blamed him for that.
The elevator dinged at last, and Sora stepped in, pressing the button for the ground floor. It descended slowly, and he stared vacantly at his expression in the mirrored walls as he waited. His hair was longer than it had been four years ago, the weight meaning it no longer stuck up in every direction. Okay, it still did that, but not as much.
He'd lost a lot of weight as well. His relationship with food had deteriorated to the point of him only really eating one meal a day. He just didn't have an appetite any more. He wasn't dangerously thin, like Roxas had been when he first met him, but Sora certainly wasn't the lean muscled gymaholic he had once been.
His skin was marred with lots of tiny thin scars now as well. They weren't obvious even from a few feet, but Sora knew they were there, so he always saw them. The scars of his beatings back when he had been held hostage covered nearly every inch of his body, like little glass scratchings. He couldn't stand them. He shuddered when he looked at himself in the mirror after taking a shower.
He finally arrived on the ground floor of his apartment complex and walked quickly out onto the street, marching past street vendors and dodging the stragglers as he headed towards the city centre at a fast walk. Midgar had acquired quite a few new skyscrapers in the past four years, and they towered over him as he walked between them.
He stopped at Starbucks briefly and bought a coffee before proceeding into the building across the street. The foyer was teaming with office workers, and Sora joined the throng heading towards the elevators. He stuck out like a sore thumb in his hoody and jeans, but most were accustomed to his presence and paid him no attention.
He sipped quietly at his coffee as he squeezed into an elevator with a load of other people. Most of them also had Starbucks cups in their hands; some had more than one and were presumably bringing them for their colleagues. Sora got out on the twelfth floor, leaving the paper-pushers to head higher up.
He walked into his office to the usual hellos and slaps on the back. Everyone here was dressed the same as him. Graphics designers don't care so much for looking smart in their offices.
He slid into his cubicle and booted up his PC, setting his coffee on the desk next to a pile of papers his supervisor had blatantly left there for him to go through. One was a rough story board, the rest were forms he was required to sign concerning copyrights.
"I smell Jamaican blend, that means Sora's here!"
Sora looked up with a wide smile for Kairi. She had managed to get a job as a secretary for their company, and was the first person he saw every morning without fail. Her head had poked over his cubicle wall like a meerkat, and she was inhaling the coffee aroma deeply.
"Hey Kai," he chuckled. Her eyes widened a tiny fraction.
"You're happy today," she observed. "Did something good happen?"
"Not yet," he repeated, unable to keep the smile off his face. He felt so good today, so positive. He couldn't explain it at all.
As per usual, Naminé popped into his cubicle next, stealing a drink of his coffee. "Morning sunshine," she sang, ruffling his hair. "How's my favourite boy today?"
"Happy," Kairi said to her, and Naminé looked more closely at Sora's face.
"So he is!"
"Do I always look miserable or something?" Sora groused, though there was no negativity behind it.
The girls laughed and joked with him for a bit until their supervisor Aqua came strolling down the aisle and they fell back into their own cubicles.
"How's my much-loved graphics designer today?" Aqua asked, not seeming as if she really cared. Her eyes were focused on the papers Sora had signed. "Did you look through the story board Terra proposed?"
"Yeah, I think I can work with it. When do you need it for?"
"Have a draft ready by the end of the week." With that, Aqua swished off, taking her precious forms with her.
The day progressed then as it always did. Sora hunched over his computer and did his job to the best of his ability, occasionally leaning back and stretching so his back popped. The office was always a bit stuffy, but he didn't mind because it had been quite cool outside today. Inside, it was quiet save for the tap of keyboards or the sigh of the photocopier. He supposed it was weird, but work was one of the only places he could actually relax.
At about eleven o'clock, Naminé sent him an email tagged as "URGENT". He frowned, opening it up to find a website link and a message from Naminé saying "Put your headphones in."
He did so, looking over at her cubicle quizzically. She smiled and made a little ushering gesture with her hand.
Sora put his headphones on his head and clicked the link. A youtube page opened, and his stomach twisted into a little origami shape when he saw the title of the video – Reizones NEW Single! "Ocean Avenue".
Roxas' band had taken the musical world by storm in the past four years. They currently had one multi-platinum album and were rumoured to be releasing another one soon, and had just come back from an international tour. Sora had followed their rise to fame avidly, pleased to see that Roxas was following his dream. He had even seen a few interviews with Cloud and Roxas' parents, and was touched to see that they were proud of both their sons for making it so far.
He paused the video before it began, letting it load, and tapped his pencil on his desk as he stared at the screen. The screencap of the video was of the band on what looked to be the end of a jetty jutting out into the sea. Tropical foliage was in the background, with a glimpse of beach to the right. It looked really similar to his island back home actually, almost identical in actual fact.
The red loading bar reached halfway, and Sora pressed play.
"There's a place off Ocean Avenue
Where I used to sit and talk with you
We were both sixteen and it felt so right
Sleeping all day, staying up all night."
Sora felt his heartbeat increase a little as he listened to the lyrics. This was... extremely personal sounding. Another verse progressed in much the same fashion and Sora couldn't help but reminisce of all the times he and Roxas had spent together.
Roxas looked so much older now. He had kept his edgy image, but it had matured with him, though his eyes always seemed a little haunted and dead to Sora. But now, there was a light in Roxas' eyes that made them seem as if they were looking through the screen directly at Sora.
And then the chorus played, and everything clicked into place.
"If I could find you now things would get better,
We could leave this town and run forever,
I know somewhere, somehow we'll be together,
Let your waves crash down on me
And take me away!"
Sora stared in disbelief. Every positive hint he had felt throughout the morning suddenly amassed together like a nuclear reaction inside his head as he realised that this was it. This was the sign that Roxas was ready! And now that it was presented to him on a plate, no fucking way was he going to turn it down.
No wonder he had been feeling so good today. Fate must have been anticipating this. He had to get out of here, he had to leave now, find Roxas...
"What's this? Not slacking off are we?" Aqua bent over his shoulder, a stern expression on her pretty face. Still a bit shell-shocked, Sora pulled his headphones out and let the music play on his loudspeakers.
One chorus was all Aqua needed.
"What the hell are you still doing here?" she demanded, yanking him to his feet and shoving his bag into his arms. "Go!"
"R-really?" Sora stammered, clutching his bag awkwardly. The whole office had stopped to listen when the music had come on, and now people were standing and clapping, or running over to urge him out of the door. Kairi and Naminé were hugging each other.
"Go!" everyone chorused, breaking out into full applause now. The whole office was on their feet, clapping and cheering, and oh Jesus was Kairi crying?
"I'm giving you a week's paid vacation, starting immediately. Now get out of my sight!" Aqua shoved him towards the elevator, people still clapping and whooping, and then she pushed Sora in once the doors opened. "Go get your man," she said with a wink, and then the doors closed on his old life.
Sora had never run so fast in his life. His converse smacked the pavement as he pelted through the streets, aiming directly for BBS Records where he knew the band had a record deal. There was no questioning that Roxas would be there. Sora didn't know his new address for one thing, and they were probably in the middle of lots of promotional stuff there anyway, so it was the logical place to find Roxas.
The record company was only three blocks over, and Sora ran the entire way, knocking into people without apologising and his heart beating in his head and his face flushed with anticipation, elation and excitement.
He skidded into the luxurious foyer of the tower and nearly fell over a low bench in his scramble to get to the reception desk. A middle aged woman behind the desk looked at him critically, with a slightly raised eyebrow.
"May I help you, young man?"
"I need to see Roxas Strife, immediately!"
Both eyebrows shot up into her hairline at the demand. "Do you have an appointment?"
Sora blustered. "Well, no, but I... He'll want to see me, believe me!"
"No appointment means no access," she chimed, and as if Sora had suddenly vanished before her, she turned back to her computer screen.
"You don't understand! This is important!" he shouted, reaching over the desk and grabbing the top of her computer monitor.
She looked up at him with irritation. "Young man, fans of Roxas Strife come in here every day begging to see him, claiming to know him. They all say it's important, but all they want is an autograph."
"I don't want a fucking autograph!" he yelled, making her jump. "This is fucking important!"
"What could be so important that you risk being apprehended by security for verbally abusing a receptionist?" she asked coldly. Sora could see in his peripheral vision that the security guards had taken an interest in the commotion he was causing.
"He's got a date with me," a voice said behind Sora.
Sora knew that voice anywhere. He whirled on the balls of his feet, and sure enough, Roxas was standing behind him, one hand in his jeans pocket and a pair of shades pushed up on his head. He had acquired a few arm tattoos since their last meeting, and was now several inches taller than Sora. He had gained muscle in his shoulders and biceps as well. He was almost unrecognizable as the emaciated boy Sora had met through a friend all those years ago.
Roxas was grinning so hard it was dazzling. Sora stared.
"Shall we?" Roxas offered his arm, and in a daze, Sora reached out and took it, relishing in the warmth of Roxas' skin and the smell he had missed so much. The receptionist and pretty much every other person working in the building gawked as the famous singer led Sora through the foyer – Sora who must have stood out like a sore thumb in his ratty old work clothes and his slightly-too-long hair.
Sora was barely aware that they were moving. His feet worked on autopilot as Roxas coolly directed them towards the exit. Sora couldn't get over how tall the blond was now. His face was a mere shadow of the troubled man he had once been. The bags under his eyes were gone. Roxas had always been beautiful, even when he had been at his worst, but now... Sora was in pure awe.
So much so that he was forgetting to be cross at Roxas. He had originally intended to shout at him first. Scream at him for the purgatory he had put Sora into for the past four years. Lord knew that Roxas deserved it.
But upon seeing his face, Sora knew he was home.
"Sora? Are you okay?" Roxas was looking at him with concern. Sora vaguely registered that they were outside and making their way around the building towards it's private garage. The sound of Roxas calling his name was enough to tear him into little pieces, ready for Roxas to put back together and make him whole once again. He had been empty for so many years, and now his final piece was here, smiling down at him in all his former radiance and more.
It was too much. Sora bit his lip and scrubbed furiously at his eyes with the hand that wasn't looped through Roxas's proffered arm, but it wasn't any good. He started to cry silently.
The sounds of the outside world died as they stepped into the darkness of the private garage, and Roxas pulled them to a stop. "Hey," he called softly, taking Sora's face in both hands. "Don't cry." His thumbs scraped gently over Sora's cheeks, wiping tears off the skin which were only replaced by more. Sora covered his eyes with one arm and let the tears roll over his face.
"I..." he started, trying not to let his voice crack. "I... I can't believe what a bastard you are!"
He felt Roxas's grip on his face tighten minutely, but other than that Roxas didn't respond. He had apparently been expecting something like this.
"F-four years! And not even so much as a card at Christmas!" Sora could feel his voice getting a little stronger now. He needed to do this. Even if he was intending on taking Roxas back in the end, he had to let his grief out. He had been a zombie for the past four years, one that only came back to life at the mention of Roxas's name or when he heard the man's music.
Roxas needed to understand. Because if he thought he would be able to do it again, he was very, very wrong.
"Do you have..." Another pause as Sora hiccupped, "Do you have any idea how crap this has been? And you think I'll just... just take you back like nothing happened?"
He was taken by surprise when Roxas pulled him into a tight, unexpected hug. Roxas' arms were tight around his shoulders, and he felt the blond rest his forehead on the top of Sora's chocolate spikes. Sora's face was pressed against Roxas' chest, and he shivered at the warmth there.
"Of course not," Roxas whispered into his hair. He was backing up, and Sora followed him until Roxas' back came into contact with the concrete wall. Cars gleamed a couple of metres away from them and were the only witness to the embrace. Sora could feel Roxas trembling against him.
"I know I don't deserve you," Roxas breathed, and his voice cracked heavily. It nearly broke Sora's heart. He didn't want to make Roxas sad. He just wanted to make it clear how much the past four years had hurt.
"I know that there is nothing I can do to make it up to you," Roxas continued. His fingers dug into Sora's back. "I... I know that. But know this. I p-promise that I will never, never put you through that again. You will be treated with all the love and respect you deserve if you ever take me back. Anything you want, you can have it. Every morning, you'll wake up to breakfast in bed and a kiss, if that's what you want. I'll tell you I love you every minute, of every day. Because it's true. I love you, Sora. I love you so much that the past four years have been absolute torture. Knowing I could find you, but not being ready to..."
Sora felt himself being tugged back a little, and moved readily. He wiped away some more tears that were dribbling down his face and stared up into the face of the person his heart would always have a space for.
"I meant what I said in the song," Roxas said honestly. He wasn't crying, but he looked like he was trying not to. His bright eyes were swimming with unshed tears. "We can leave Midgar if you want, get out of the city and leave our old lives behind. I'll give up my career and I can find another job. We can live in your hometown, go to the island everyday... If that's what you want. The possibilities are endless, as long as we do it together.
"I need you. And I'm finally ready to admit that and accept it. I'm ready to shoulder my guilt for everything that happened and be the perfect boyfriend... The perfect life partner. If you'll have me."
Finally, his speech at an end, Roxas bent down and kissed him.
And hell did Sora kiss back. He threw his arms around Roxas' shoulders and pressed himself up against him. There was a grunt as Roxas' back smacked into the wall, and that grunt transcended into a groan as their lips parted and their tongues slid against each other, relearning their individual tastes.
Sora didn't have to say anything. Roxas had said it all for the both of them. As long as they were together from now on, life was perfect. Life was complete. It didn't matter where they were. It didn't matter what jobs they had. Hell, it didn't matter if they lived in the secret cave on Sora's island for the rest of their lives, as long as they were together.
He poured all his emotion into the kiss, and Roxas matched it with his entire life force. Roxas' hands trembled as they ran over Sora's back, slid around to his sides to trace his ribs, and then moved up over the brunet's chest before coming to rest on either side of his face again. With difficulty, they broke apart, breathing heavily.
"Take me back?"
"Do you really have to ask?"
Would you believe that it's been a whole year since I started this story? It took me a YEAR to write twenty six chapters. I'm actually quite emotional now that it's over. And I'm sorry to say that there won't be a sequel :( Though there may be occasional oneshots following up from this or set within the timeline of the story, I just don't have the interest I had in KH to write another multichapter for it. As a lot of you may have noticed, the Naruto fandom has more or less stolen my soul and that's pretty much how it's gonna be for a long time. But I just started playing Birth By Sleep, so WORRY NOT. THERE WILL BE ONESHOTS. BEAUTIFUL, PORNY ONESHOTS.
The only thing left to say is Thank You. Thank You for the reviews, faves and alerts. The words of encouragement. The critiques. The way some of you followed this story so religiously. It means the world to me as an author. This has been a great learning curve for me. I hope to put all that I have learned to good use as I write my book. If it ever makes it, you'll all be the first to know!