Wow, I got more reviews for that chapter than almost the whole story put together. That's amazing, and I feel all special inside. :) Anyway, I know this took forever, and that you are not interested in my excuses, but remember that break-up? …stuff happened…I think I'll never stop loving him.
So through all the hurt I decided to just stand up (well, technically sit down) and finish this story. Close out a chapter of my life, really. Thank you all so much, from the bottom of my heart, for reading and loving this story. I need all the love I can get right now.
I will repeat my previous request one more time. I hope you'll indulge me a little, and honor it.
A Special Request (The Final One, Actually.)
If this story makes you cry, makes you angry, makes you say "WTF?", confuses you, or you hate its guts… I want to know.
What I'm asking is for every person who reads this chapter to review. This fic is a part of me, and I've shared it with you in the hopes that maybe you can know me through my writing.
Please, if you love this story, if you hate it, if you have an account or not, if you want to kill me, anything. Tell me everything. In the end, your reviews are what made writing this worth it, and they are what I will continue to work for.
Flames loved just as much as high praise, lengthy comments preferred either way.
If every person who reads this chapter reviews, imagine what a beautiful world it will be.
The day of Roxas's funeral, it didn't rain.
It was sunny as hell, bright, and the flowers were almost garish against the white of the casket. It wasn't pretty, and I didn't cry when a man in black read from the Bible about the valley of the shadow. I knew Roxas was past all that now, on to somewhere else.
So many people were there, nurses, Demyx and his new boyfriend, the social worker. Everyone he'd ever touched seemed to be there. That was the beautiful part, even though the occasion was the ugliest it could be. So many lives intertwined.
I stayed numb through all the ceremonies and standard procedures. I couldn't lose it in front of everyone. No one else knew how much he'd meant to me.
I stayed when the priest asked us to go in peace.
I stayed when men in coveralls began to shovel wet dirt over the shiny white wood.
I stayed when they left in their truck, and I stayed, and I stayed until the sun rose on the next morning. I told him all my secrets. I held on to the night-cold earth, pulling up handfuls and packing them back down.
No matter how many times I told myself, I couldn't reconcile with the fact that he wasn't in the hole with everything he left behind.
So I stayed until the stone was put in, until he didn't need me to mark his place.
Aerith Gainsborough-Fair and her husband came to the gravesite soon after. They noticed the many footprints, handprints, knee-prints left on the earth, and knew someone had been here already.
"Roxas," said Aerith. "I…I don't know if you can hear me, but if you can…we wanted to tell you something."
There was silence from the cool marble, not that she'd expected anything else. Zack was still at her side, holding her hand, a pillar of life in the suburb of the dead.
"Roxas…your social worker, she told us you had a friend at the home. Sora?"
No answer once more, but that was how it was meant to be.
"Well, we…I can't have children, Roxas. I wanted you to know, and ask if it was okay…we want to adopt him. A child your age, who needs a real home."
All was quiet except for the chirp of crickets early for fall. Zack squeezed her hand gently. Aerith found the strength to continue, though her eyes shone bright with almost-tears.
"I…I hope that makes you happy, wherever you are."
Then it proved to be too much. Aerith turned on her heel and almost fell into the new grass, crying harder than she'd ever remembered doing.
"Zack," she sobbed. "…are we doing the right thing?" She looked up through her fingers at him.
He put an arm around her. He was so terrible with words, but there had to be something right to say. What were his odds of saying it? "I think…he would be happy."
It wasn't enough, but it was getting there. That was what mattered.
Axel is in his car, his old black Demon, driving on the interstate in the only direction he can think to go: forward. He passes so many green signs, so many yellow lines, so many supposed rest stations at which he parks when he can't drive any longer. He fills up his tank repeatedly, uses his debit card with abandon, doesn't care that he's missing weeks of class.
Axel drives forward until he can't any more.
Not because it's not in him, but because he's reached a great crevasse in the earth. He almost drove right into it, and there would have been poeticism in that, but he stopped just in time. The numbness was wearing off. It had been for a while.
He had an envelope full of black-and-white prints in his hand, and a letter in the other. The red cliffs stretched out in front of him, deeper than anything he'd ever seen.
One by one, he lets the pictures go.
Then the envelope. He reads the "Kisaragi Pharmacy: One Hour-" inscription one more time before it flutters away on the wind. There's something been lost here, but Axel still can't comprehend that all of the light in his life has gone out.
He unfolds the letter in his pocket.
If you're reading this-
It hurts too much to see. Hurts too much to cry or to think or to breathe any more. That was his handwriting. The last thing he touched. Axel teeters on the edge of the crimson gorge, and if anyone had looked up, they would have sworn there was a man about to fly. Minutes pass this way, and Axel considers his life and what is left in it.
No, he thinks. This is not what Roxas wanted. This is not the reason he drove all this way. He drove here to get somewhere he wanted to be. That was his promise. The last promise.
The letter made its way over the edge. It sailed so far out that Axel thought it would never begin to fall. But it did, carried on the wind, to somewhere no one would understand.
Axel thinks, and he comes to the conclusion that if he leaves and takes the next exit, the ocean would rise up before him. It would be dark, but maybe that was the idea.
If you had looked up from the bottom of the gash in the earth, you would have seen the man smile slightly. You would have felt a few drops of foreign water on your face, and it would taste like salt.
You would have seen the man turn around, in all his greasy, unwashed glory, and return to his car.
You would have heard him drive away toward the Pacific.
Axel does not smile, but drives with a dogged determination, two hands on the wheel.
When the sunset glows too brightly, he folds down the shade and stares at the thing he doesn't even remember putting there. Weren't they all gone?
There he is, smiling out from the black-and-white photograph. My Roxas.
"The ones we love never truly leave us."
It might be true, Axel thinks.
He turns on the radio for the first time in a long time, and sings along.
"…you and me will never make a mark on the shape of history, but I'm glad you came to make your mark on me."
And it's over…maybe now I can find it in my soul to heal.
I love each and every one of you.
Please do go and take my poll, as it relates to this.
Also, do you want the soundtrack to this posted? I am waiting on cover art…
Don't forget. Don't forget anything, or take any happiness as granted. We don't all have years, and all things must end.
I hope to see you soon.