Xion was in love.
That's it, she told herself, those are the exact words that describe me.
Admittedly, she was never honest with herself about Roxas. Right from the get-go, Roxas was sweet, charming, adorable, kind of hot if she looked at him in a certain way, and somehow, he seemed like the most perfect man in the world. He protected her from ugly dates, he cooked wonderfully, he did a lot of things for her. The more she thought of their limited time together, the more convinced she was.
She was never sure what to make of him, except she knew that when she was with him, Xion was herself. She could run into a beanbag and not feel an inch of horror at Roxas' grin. She could talk about her bad times and he'd somehow find the right things to say, do the right things.
Xion had no idea why her brain was in overload thinking about all these; perhaps it was the night, perhaps it was the urge to taste mango on his lips, perhaps it was the urge to sleep next to him, and to watch him wake up and to see him smile. There were so many things to think about and Xion, the love critic, who could write hard-hitting articles on current affairs and light-hearted columns about dates in one day, could not find the words to describe what she felt for a certain man in her life.
But now she did find the words and the words were I am in love with him.
And then she visibly slackened, relieved by finally finding the words to express her feelings as she watched Roxas Strife scold Axel for spoiling Tangled for her.
"You ruined it for her!" the blonde argued.
"WHY MAKE GOOD THINGS COME LAST?" was Axel's response. "She totally knew they were gonna get married; I mean, it's a Disney movie! What are they gonna do, kill Eugene and send Rapunzel to a psychiatrist?"
"Of course not, but-"
"Oh, wait, they did kill a couple. They killed off the old man's wife in Up. You know, I've been treating wrinkled prunes nicer now-"
"You just ruined Up for her too!" Roxas moaned, frowning at the thought that two brilliant movies were ruined in a single moment. "And you can't call old people wrinkled prunes!"
She didn't know why, of all times, her epiphany had to come at a moment like that. Granted, she was hoping for a more romantic moment to realise that she loved someone. Maybe over a romantic dinner up on the highest building in a random country with scented candles, or on an elephant in Thailand (epiphanies in exotic places sounded exciting), or maybe after an intense stare, where they would both hear a distinct 'click' in their heads, as though looking at each other somehow made the whole world fall into place, with everyone achieving world peace and plain perfection on the earth because two of them fell in love and it was the most beautiful thing around.
Xion didn't expect Cupid to strike when she was seated on a beanbag, watching two grown men fight over Tangled in an apartment smaller than her living room. But for some reason, she couldn't imagine a more perfect moment.
"We are watching Toy Story 3 and no one will be spoiling anyone," Roxas finally declared, and then his tone changed a little as he glanced at Xion and asked, "or do you have a movie you want to watch?"
Xion snapped out of her epiphany for a bit. "U-Uh, any movie will do, actually…"
Her soft voice made Roxas look up from his search for the DVD. "You sound weird; are you sick?"
She furrowed her eyebrows. "Sick? No, I feel just fine, Roxas. In fact," and as the memory of Roxas blushing at his first kiss surged through her mind, she jumped out of her beanbag, which clearly gave the blonde a shock, "I'm feeling great! We should go for a walk. Just the two of us!"
"W-Wha-" Roxas wasn't sure how to respond to that, but Axel stood up languidly and shoved him towards Xion, which shut him up.
"I don't know why you're acting like this, Xion, but you are absolutely right. Look at poor Roxas and his frayed nerves!" The redhead grabbed Roxas' chin, and studied his confused face, as though he could see Roxas' nerves beneath his skin, working overtime to process what was happening. "He should get some fresh air to get over how I spoiled the movies. Go right ahead, you two; run along now!"
Nothing was making sense. Xion would never have done that an hour ago. Axel didn't even ask why he wasn't invited, but she just thanked the redhead silently – as much of an idiot that he could be, he wasn't stupid.
She just felt so energised and so incredibly happy, like everything fell in place for her, like life had meaning again and she finally knew what she had to do. She beamed at Axel and then walked off with a spring in her step. "Come on, Roxas," she called out to the dumbstruck blonde still slightly hunched over at the DVD box, "the night is still young."
"Y-Yeah…but…" Roxas drew up to his full height, like he could finally see out of the haze of confusion, "why the sudden urge to walk?"
If anything, Roxas blinded himself in the haze of confusion.
"Because…" Xion stopped trying to put on her shoes and genuinely thought about it for a moment.
"Oh, for Alice's sake, Roxas, will you please walk the woman?"
"I didn't say no!" Roxas retorted, as he slowly went up to Xion. Entirely unaware of Xion's pounding heart, he plopped himself right next to her and started wearing his shoes, his wary eyes watching her. "It's just that it seems so…spontaneous."
"I like that in a woman," Axel mused. "Once, Alice burnt my finger. Man, I love a woman who bites."
The two of them ignored Axel. "I…just felt like having a walk?" Xion offered, almost helplessly.
Roxas just gave her a smile. "It's okay, you don't need to explain yourself," he told her, as he opened the door, eyeing Axel for a bit. "Axel, you sure you're gonna be okay by yourse-"
"Yes, yes, go right on ahead, man," the redhead yelled back, already starting his own movie on the TV. "I'll be fine crying over Eugene's death!"
"…that's…reassuring." Roxas sighed, and then he opened the door. "You ready for your walk?"
They walked past bustling streets with flea markets hawking their fares, laughing together and commenting on the clothes and food sold. Xion even managed to buy Roxas a new pair of leather shoes, which she found completely romantic of her (she didn't say that out, of course).
"Hey," and he touched her elbow, like he wanted to tell her something intimate, "do you want a walk in a park instead? More fresh air there."
She turned to look at him, in the midst of the crowd, his sapphire eyes glinting in the street light, blurring faces all around him, like a perfect photograph was forming before her – a beautiful subject with the most intense eyes, and nothing else in the background that could possibly draw away attention from him – and for a moment Xion heard nothing but the sound of her heart beating firmly against her chest.
He didn't say much after that, as he took her by the wrist and slowly led her away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Roxas wasn't sure why, but he had a vague feeling that she had something to tell him, and it was something more than just "I wanted a walk so I could spend some time with you", because from the way she laughed and the way she had a slight lilt in her step, there was clearly something that she wanted to let out.
He didn't want to admit to himself, though, that perhaps she was very much enamoured by him. The thought still seemed ludicrous; the whole arrangement that life had presented to him seemed ludicrous. Sure, he always harboured a desire to settle down properly; it'd take him away from Axel, who'd be a little too impatient to play babysitter to a wailing child. It wouldn't be peaceful, but Roxas figured that he didn't want to be the father that his very own father was to him.
As the years passed, he just felt that dream slipping through his fingers. Money was a major problem. His job wasn't particularly secure, even if he was working up the ladder. And that wouldn't make him a perfect husband, if not a perfect father.
He didn't know why, but every time a girl tried to talk to him, he'd just think of being a good father. Was that too weird? Perhaps. Axel used to tell him that it'd "scare off chicks who may want to consider a kiddo" and he was absolutely right.
Now…he didn't really know. And as he finally slowed down, releasing his grip on Xion's wrist, he wasn't very sure if he was ready for whatever Xion had to tell him.
They both went silent, in two completely different worlds for a while. Xion, thinking about how it all began and how absolutely brilliant it was; and Roxas, thinking about how it may possibly end and how absolutely terrible it would be.
He snapped out of it when he realised his dead silence. "What's on your mind?" the blonde asked.
"Huh?" Xion jerked up, slightly taken aback. She looked at his worried face, eyes narrowed, as though if he squinted, he could read her thoughts. For a moment, maybe he could. "Oh. Uh, nothing much…"
"Really." He knew exactly what she was thinking, but yet he was completely wrong.
Xion thought about it for a moment, and then she looked at their hands. Roxas was holding on to her wrist loosely; he didn't really want to let her go, even though they've stopped in the middle of the path, a small waterfall beside them, trickling quietly.
"This." She raised her wrist, Roxas still holding her. She slipped her hand into his, and then she held it in front of him. He didn't pull away; he just stared at it, transfixed. "We're not…friends."
Of all possible ways to start a confession, this was clearly not one of them. "Um…I guess…not?"
"Of course we're not. Friends don't just hold hands. They don't just kiss and end up in a bed together just like that. Right?" Xion stated, her tone unwavering, but quiet. "If we're not friends, then…what are we?"
Roxas didn't skip a beat on this one. "We're human."
"Very funny, Roxas."
"No, but we are, right?" He looked as confused as Xion, but there was not a trace of confusion or uncertainty in his voice, which surprised them both. "We have feelings. We're scared. And…we don't know what's going to happen."
He then started walking towards the waterfall; his eyes were as crystal clear as the shallow pool of water at the bottom, and Xion could tell that his thoughts were, as well. As though the power of their touch cleared things up. "You're scared because…you've never had a relationship, a proper one. And you have all these feelings and you don't really know what to make of them, but you know that…you're happy, and you want to keep it that way."
"And for me…" He stopped at the edge, pausing to collect his thoughts. "I'm scared…because I know what to make of them, but I don't really want that."
Xion furrowed her eyebrows. "And why is that?"
"Because…I don't really know what's going to happen in the future. Maybe. I don't really know. But all I can think of is whether I can be…someone good for you. Not just now, but later. Like, really later." He turned to look at her; he could see her brain slowly sorting through what he said, reading between the lines and trying to link it all back.
"But…you don't need to be scared of the future. There's only now, right?" Xion smiled. "You can't control what happens in the future. But you can control what happens now, and maybe it might just change your future."
"What if it's for the worse?"
At this, Xion grinned, finally finding her answer. "Roxas, if I ask you right now to formally be in a relationship with me, and you had one second to decide, what would you s-"
"Yes." And then Roxas widened his eyes and then he frowned. "But-"
"Have you always enjoyed being with me?"
"Well, yeah, but-"
"If you want to be with me, and if you like it, I don't see what's the issue here." Xion grinned. "If you do the math, and if you think logically, chances are, you'll enjoy yourself with me."
Roxas slowly nodded. "But what if something happens?"
"For every one bad thing that happens, there will be at least ten good moments of us." Xion stood up, and then she kicked off her slippers, before she started walking into the shallow pool, much to Roxas' horror.
"Why ten? And how?"
Xion turned, and then she raised her arm, beckoning him to come forth to meet her in the middle. "Because I promise you that we'll make as many good moments as possible. And as for your last question…come closer and find out."
Roxas averted his eyes, not very sure of the proposition, and then he finally looked up, and Xion felt the blonde slowly putting his trust in her. "Are you sure?"
"As I said, you should probably come into the pool and find out."
She saw his smile slowly, but surely, appearing, and the light in his eyes came back. "Okay. I trust you."
Without a second thought he kicked off his shoes and joined her.
After many disappointments, many great friendships made and after I started and ended one relationship, I am back. Hopefully for the long term.
Please tell me if I've done anything wrong with this update because all of a sudden a few days ago I knew how this story would go and how I wanted it to be written; for a very long time I've been thinking and wondering how I could write and finish TLC properly. And then I found out how, so I started writing and this is my final masterpiece.
I've been writing almost every day, but not in fanfics. I'm doing my internship in a magazine company in Singapore, so I write a lot. So...uh, let's hope this update was worth the year-long wait?
REVIEW because I need to know what I've done right/wrong.
And to everyone who is reading this right now because they saw the email alert in their mail...thank you. For following TLC even if it all seemed dark. I will see to it that I finish it properly.