There Is a Destiny That Makes Us Brothers
Chapter 15: None Goes His Way Alone
Notes: …Wow. Eleven months and something like 80,000 words later, this story is done. It definitely took me way longer to complete than I had originally anticipated! This is the longest story I have ever written, and working on it was often both frustrating and exciting. But I'm really pleased to say that I was able to finish it, despite all of my doubts. Thank you to all of my readers and reviewers for your support!
I purposely left a few things open-ended, like Kairi's past, and how Chernabog got his hands on the prophecy in the first place, because I do plan to continue this story at some point. Probably not in such a lengthy format, though!
Without further ado, enjoy the last chapter of There Is a Destiny That Makes Us Brothers, and thanks so much for reading!
"Roxas! Roxas, hey, wake up!"
Roxas rolled over and swatted at the hand shaking his shoulder. He squinted up at Sora, who had so rudely pulled him out of sleep. "Could you just not be a morning person for once?" he mumbled.
"It's almost ten!" Sora rolled his eyes. "And I'm serious, you've gotta get up, we have a problem!"
"Okay, okay, you can at least quit shaking me," Roxas said, sitting up and pushing Sora's hand away He stifled a yawn; the spare mattress he had been sleeping on in Sora's room these last few weeks had never been quite so inviting. But he forced his sluggish brain to focus on Sora, who was crouched in front of him.
"So what's this problem?" Roxas asked.
"Well, I'm not sure, the King didn't have time to tell me a lot."
Roxas just stared, suddenly much more awake. "The King? King Mickey?"
Sora nodded emphatically. "Yeah, he said we gotta get to the train station right away." Roxas was already climbing out of bed, worried. This was sounding an awful lot like how their last escapade had started out.
"What about the others? Kairi, Riku, Naminé?" he asked, grabbing his clothes off the floor and ducking into the bathroom down the hall to change.
"Mickey says it's just us this time," Sora said through the closed door.
Roxas emerged a moment later and tossed his pajamas into Sora's room. "Really? Just us?"
"Really," Sora said quickly, heading downstairs and motioning for Roxas to follow.
They were almost to the door when a voice from the kitchen stopped them. "Where are you boys off to this morning?" Sora's mother stood there in the hallway, coffee in hand, regarding them with curiosity.
Roxas remained silent, content to let Sora take the lead on this one. "Just…out," Sora said casually. "We're probably taking the train downtown."
"You'll be back for dinner?" she asked.
Sora nodded. "We can do that," he said. At this, Roxas shot a look at him, unsure as to how Sora could sound confident about that, considering how long they had been away during their last adventure.
"Okay," she shrugged. "Have a good time."
"Bye, Mom!" Sora said, and then he was out the door.
"Bye," Roxas added, somewhat awkwardly, and he hurried after Sora, shutting the door behind him.
Sora's mother retreated to the kitchen where she'd left the morning's paper, but she ignored it and sunk into her chair, deep in thought. Sora was a good kid. That, she knew for sure. But she was equally sure there was much he was not telling her. When she voiced these concerns to her husband, he told her that he trusted Sora enough not to pry. She agreed, but the sudden appearance of his friend Roxas had brought all of her doubts and worries to the forefront of her mind.
It had been perhaps three weeks since Sora and Roxas had turned up on her doorstep. Sora had explained that Roxas was a friend without anywhere to go. "What about your parents, your family?" she had asked.
"I don't have any," was the mumbled reply.
She certainly liked Roxas well enough. He was a polite, albeit quiet boy, and it was clear he was uncomfortable accepting help from strangers. And she trusted Sora's judgment. There was just something about Roxas that made her pause. It wasn't a feeling of distrust or dislike. If she were honest with herself, it was more a feeling that Roxas belonged there, that she already knew him, even though she was certain she had never seen him before.
So many strange things had happened with Sora in the last year and a half or so. She sighed, eyeing her husband's empty chair. He was a good man and he loved his family, but he was too preoccupied with his work at sea to be aware of these things.
Her mind was made up. Sometime soon, when the time was right, she was going to sit Sora down and get some answers. Pleased with this decision, she set her coffee down and picked up the paper.
The rush of weekend shoppers had not yet descended up on the trains, and so Roxas and Sora ended up with a car all to themselves. They had been riding along for some time in silence; Roxas was worried about whatever Mickey needed their assistance with.
"You sure we'll be back by tonight?" Roxas asked, watching the ocean speed by them.
"Yep," Sora answered.
"How can you be so sure?"
Sora shrugged. "Well…I mean, I talked to the King, and this isn't as dangerous this time."
Roxas raised an eyebrow. "But I thought he didn't get to tell you much. Do you even know where we're going?"
Sora was about to answer when the train entered a dark tunnel. Roxas looked out the window, unsettled; it was pitch black out there. They weren't in any ordinary tunnel. Idly Roxas wondered if some sort of magic had prevented any other passengers from entering this car, since he and Sora certainly would not be going anywhere that any of the other passengers were headed. Roxas was not prepared for the darkness to lift so suddenly, and he threw up a hand to shield his eyes as light streamed in through the window.
As his eyes adjusted to the light, Roxas stared out the window, trying to get a feel for where they were, and at first he thought he was seeing things. But he blinked a few times, and the familiar ocean, dyed orange by the brilliant sunset above them, remained. "This is Twilight Town," he said. He whirled to face Sora, worried now. What sort of problem was there in Twilight Town? But Sora didn't look concerned at all. In fact, the corners of his mouth were turned up and something in his eyes sparkled, as though he were biting back the urge to smile and not doing a very good job of it.
"Sora…what's going on?"
"Er, nothing's going on, actually. We're just here to visit," Sora said, his expression sheepish.
Roxas gave him a deadpan stare. "So we're not here to fix some kind of magic catastrophe."
"And all that stuff about you talking with the King is made up."
"Not quite!" Sora said. "I talked to him about this way back when we were still recovering in Radiant Garden. Traveling between worlds isn't done lightly, but we both agreed that there ought to be an exception."
Sora shrugged. "I told you, didn't I? When we came here to see Yen Sid. I told you we should come back here and get ice cream."
Now Sora looked worried. "You're not too mad at me, aren't you? I mean, I figured you'd want to come back and visit…"
Roxas sighed. There was a part of him that still considered Twilight Town his hometown, and he would be lying if he had said he didn't want to visit, especially after all they had gone through to fight Chernabog and save it. "No, I guess I'm not mad. But why all the secrecy?"
"Because I knew you'd never admit that you wanted to come back, no matter how much you actually wanted to," Sora said, as the train pulled in to the station. He jumped to his feet and moved to exit the car. Roxas opened his mouth to call out after him, and issue some protest, but he realized the words would be empty. Sora was right about his desire to come back here; there was no point in pretending he wasn't.
Twilight Town hadn't changed at all; but then Roxas reminded himself that the Twilight Town he had known had existed only within a computer. He and Sora passed buildings he knew, though he had never actually been inside them. At one point he paused in front of the school that Roxas knew he could navigate easily, even though he had never actually set foot in it.
Roxas stood still for a long time, gazing down a winding street.
"What's down there?" Sora asked, coming to stand behind him.
"My…house. My virtual house," he corrected himself.
Sora shifted his weight from foot to foot. He was starting to wonder if he had made a mistake in bringing Roxas here. But then Roxas turned to him abruptly.
"If you're not sick of trains, let's go to the beach," he said.
"Yeah," Roxas nodded. "I mean, the only beach you know is Destiny Islands', right?" He was already turning back and heading for the train station.
"Uh, true…" Sora said, hurrying after him. Roxas led them through the winding, hilly back streets of Twilight Town and back toward the train station. Above them, the huge clock tower chimed the hour. Sora hung back a little, watching Roxas approach the ticket counter and order their tickets as easily as if he had done it a hundred times.
"This is weird," Roxas confessed finally, when they were settled on the local train that took Twilight Town's citizens to the beach.
"Just…being here," Roxas shrugged. Sora nodded, his expression guilty, and Roxas held out up his palms in protest. "Don't make that face! It's not your fault, I'm glad you set this whole thing up. It's only that…well, just now at the train station. I remember how to do things I've never really done before, thanks to the false memories DiZ gave me. It's just a weird feeling, to remember things that I know aren't real."
Sora shook his head firmly. "Just because those things happened in a computer doesn't mean they're not real. They're as real as you want them to be, Roxas."
Roxas leaned back in his seat, considering this. "Yeah, you're right."
Sora gave a cheeky grin. "Of course I am!" Before Roxas could protest, the rolling hills around them gave way to sand dunes. The train soon slowed to a stop, and the boys disembarked in Twilight Town's beach district.
Twilight Town was known for its perpetual and spectacular sunset, and at the beach, it wasn't hard to see why. The sky was a blur of purples, pale blues, and pinks, dotted with cotton candy clouds the color of ripe paopu fruit. All of these brilliant colors were reflected in the calm sea.
"Wow," Sora said finally, taking in the scenery. He yanked off his shoes and socks and ran to the surf, but the water was cold. Sora yelped in surprise and darted back to the sand.
Roxas rolled his eyes. "It's not as warm here as Destiny Islands."
"Yeah, I gathered," Sora said. Although, it was starting to get a little colder back home. Idly Sora thought soon it would be winter, and soon it would be Christmas, and he smiled at the thought of having Roxas and Naminé around for Christmas.
"What're you thinking about?"
"Nothing," Sora smiled. "Just that we ought to bring the others here sometime."
Roxas raised an eyebrow. "I thought traveling between worlds was a big deal."
Sora just shrugged, carefree and unperturbed as always. "We'll figure something out."
As the afternoon progressed more people came to visit the beach. It was too cold to swim, but there were sweethearts strolling hand in hand, groups of giggling teenage girls, and young children tossing beach balls back and forth with each other while their harried parents took a moment to relax. Twilight Town, Sora was realizing, was hardly different from Destiny Islands.
As they made their way down the beach, Sora glanced at a clock near a gaudy gift shop. "Hey, we ought to start heading back soon if Mom wants us home for dinner."
Roxas glanced at the clock himself and had to concede that Sora was right. "Yeah," he said. "I wanted to get some sea-salt ice cream on the way back, anyway."
Sora's eyes widened. "Oh yeah! I completely forgot about that stuff! I've never tried it." He grabbed Roxas by the wrist and tugged him along.
"Hey, I can walk, you know," Roxas said, pulling his arm out of Sora's grasp. He shook his head. One minute, Sora might surprise him with some intuitive remark about the nature of reality, and then the next he would be all worked up over some ice cream.
Just then an errant beach ball skidded across the sand towards them. Quickly, Roxas put out a foot and brought it to a halt.
"Thanks!" called a male voice behind them. Roxas froze, recognizing the voice instantly. He turned, Sora following suit, and Hayner was running towards them, with Pence and Olette close behind.
Hayner stopped in front of them and looked from Roxas to Sora. "Hey, don't we know you?" he asked Sora.
"It's…Sora, right?" Olette was saying. Sora was nodding and making some comment about how it was nice to see the three again.
Roxas was dumbstruck; he had of course realized the three of them would be in Twilight Town, but he had decided from the minute the train first pulled into the Twilight Town station that he would not seek them out. Somehow it hadn't occurred to them that their paths might cross anyway.
It was Sora who jumped to the rescue. He grabbed Roxas' shoulder. "This is my friend Roxas!" he chirped. "He used to live in Twilight Town a long time ago, so we thought we'd visit, and see if anything's changed."
"Nah, nothing ever changes in a place like this," Hayner grinned, holding out a hand to Roxas. "I'm Hayner."
Roxas shook his hand, finally finding his voice. "Yeah, everything's pretty much the same," he smiled, and he meant it.
Olette stepped forward. "I'm Olette," she said. Behind her, Pence opened his mouth to speak, but she jumped in again before he had the chance. "Oh, and this is Pence," she said, ignorant of Pence's exasperated expression. "So you used to live around here, Roxas? Did we ever know you when we were kids?"
"Er, I don't think so," Roxas said, hoping they didn't ask him any more questions about his past. He shot Sora a helpless look.
"But I definitely recognize you," Pence said suddenly, surprising them all. He tapped his chin with a finger, eyes skyward, trying to remember. "Hey…" he began, turning to Roxas. "I remember, you were that kid in the black coat. I remember seeing you around a few times, a couple of years ago."
Now it was Sora's turn to look shocked. "R-Right…" Roxas said slowly, surprised that Pence remembered that.
"Oh yeah," Hayner said, arms crossed. "I think I remember that. Yeah, I got some pretty weird vibes from you – ow!"
Olette had elbowed him in the ribs. "Be nice!"
Roxas tried and failed to suppress a grin. "It's okay. I would've gotten weird vibes from me too, back then, if I were you."
Olette was thoughtful. "I don't know what it is, Roxas, but I feel like I used to know you. Really know you."
He could only stare at her. "You do?" he asked, his mouth suddenly dry. But that made no sense – the only times he had ever met the real Hayner, Pence, and Olette, in person, was back when the Organization had sent him to missions in Twilight Town. And that had only been a few occasions.
"This is going to sound really cheesy, and awfully weird," she began, "but I feel like my heart knows you, and my head just needs to catch up."
"That is really cheesy," Hayner drawled. "…But I kind of feel the same way," he added quickly.
"Me too!" Pence piped up. "Even though it doesn't really make any sense, does it?"
"It makes perfect sense," Sora said warmly, putting a hand on Roxas' shoulder. "Doesn't it, Roxas?"
Roxas had almost forgotten Sora was still there. He couldn't believe what he was hearing from the three – somehow they remembered – no, somehow they knew him. Had he somehow – and he hardly dared to hope it was true – made a mark on their hearts in the virtual Twilight Town? "It does make sense," he said finally.
Sora frowned, turning to the three. "Only thing is, guys, we were kinda just leaving…"
"Oh, really?" Olette said, her face mirroring the disappointment in her voice.
Roxas nodded. "Or else we'll be inviting the wrath of his mom," he said, gesturing to Sora.
"Oh, I know how that goes, friend," Hayner said sympathetically. "Olette's dad thinks I'm a bad influence."
"'Cause you are a bad influence, you goof," Olette teased.
"All right, well, if you're leaving, at least promise you'll be back to visit again soon," Pence said.
"We promise!" Sora said immediately. Roxas could only nodded, amused at Sora's ever-present enthusiasm.
"Later, then," Hayner said, picking up his beach ball off the ground and tucking it under his arm.
Pence nodded in agreement. "Have a safe trip home."
Olette smiled and gave them a little wave. "See you!"
With that, Sora and Roxas turned and began making their way across the sand, back to the train station that would take them back to Twilight Town proper, and then back to Destiny Islands from there. Back home.
"How…could they possibly remember me?" Roxas muttered, more to himself than Sora.
Nevertheless, Sora drew an arm around Roxas' shoulders. "Because they wanted it to be real too, I guess," he said.
Sora gave a contented sigh. "Now we really need to figure out how to come back."
Not long afterwards, Roxas and Sora sat in an empty train car, heading back to Destiny Islands. Roxas leaned back in his seat, contentedly licking a bar of sea-salt ice cream. Between the two were another four wrapped bars – one for Sora, Kairi, Riku, and Naminé. Sora picked one up and eyed it skeptically. Salt and ice cream just didn't go together in his mind. "Are you sure this stuff is good?"
"Best thing since sliced bread."
"All right…" Sora tore the wrapper off of his and tasted it. Roxas sat up straight, watching Sora expectantly. Sora scrunched up his nose. "This stuff is so weird!" he exclaimed, taking another taste. "No, wait…" He licked the bar again. "No, actually, it's pretty good," he said, nodding at the ice cream as though it were a new friend he was particularly pleased with.
Roxas leaned back in his seat and laughed.