A/N: OK, if we want to get REAAAAALLLLLY technical, then this is the first one-shot for this pairing outside of a drabble collection in its fandom. TECHNICALLY! However, I hope you enjoy this, the biggest one-shot I've created to date. I made it long on purpose, since I've read some pretty good epic one-shots lately. By the way, this one-shot is indeed AU-ish. It's a shame that Zexion was already dead by the time Xion was in her game. Another thing, timeline is messed-up ON PURPOSE.
Disclaimer: Don't own anything.
Warning: May get sad.
Never Will be a Memory
The residents of Twilight Town went about their business as usual in the waning hours of the afternoon. Drifting from outdoor shop to shop, they bought all the clothing and tools and groceries they wanted to take home. Shopping was big in this sleepy little town, because there was nothing else to do, no place to go. Shopping brought these citizens together not only for doing the mundane chore of getting groceries but for socialization as well.
Friendly words were exchanged as people spoke to each other on varying topics: from kids to politics to weddings to birthdays, they discussed them all. Overhead, the beautiful red sun dipped progressively behind the clock tower, the most famous monument of Twilight Town. It would soon fade into the horizon for its nighttime slumber, not to awake again until morning.
However, the shoppers still browsed and felt that the passage of time meant nothing for now.
They lived for today, rarely if at all looking back on the past, unlike one young girl who kept to herself. In fact, none of Twilight Town's people knew she even existed, for she hardly ever ventured out of her tiny apartment in a certain complex four blocks from Market Square. Even the shop owners, who knew everybody's name, couldn't remember hers. She was a drifter by nature, here today, gone tomorrow. But, always she managed to meander back here, in the one town where she felt...well, not exactly wanted, though she did feel a connection to it. Maybe it was nostalgia, maybe it was the lack of knowledge of where she could find another world like this one. One that was safe, somewhat homey, and the last place where the Organization could ever discover her. Or maybe it was the first.
Her lonely ocean blue eyes stared out the window to her three-room apartment, looking out beyond where she perched on her window seat. A book rested idly on her knee, but she neglected to pick it up. Somehow, today just wasn't the day for escaping into another world. Nothing mattered from fantasy if it could not illogically become reality. Pastel colors from the twilit sky looked very inviting for the present along with the wispy cotton candy clouds she adored so much.
Another lazy day was drawing to a close in Twilight Town, and she rather liked it. Any more, she would watch the sunset every day without fail. Sometimes she watched it darken in its entirety, other times she didn't. It was simple to get lost in the artistic, quietly majestic scenery for maybe a few minutes or couple of hours. The girl sighed contently, her precocious blue eyes fluttering closed. In her mind, she could still remember the day she first tried sea-salt ice cream.
"Hey, Xion, get a load of this!" Roxas boasted while she and their other friend Axel perched gingerly on the jutting edge of the clock tower. Before Xion could react to his random exclamation, a stick of pale blue ice cream was thrust into her mouth. True to her stubborn nature, she pulled it out and stuck her now periwinkle colored tongue at the blond boy.
"Roxas, ick! You know that I don't want to try sea-salt ice cream!"
"Come on, kid, Ieat it. And that's saying something," Axel told her composedly, casually throwing his hollow stick away and watching it hit the bricks below. "I mean, I used to hate that stuff."
Xion raised a perplexed brow. "I'm surprised you didn't get food poisoning. Anyway, I'd rather eat Vexen's cooking than that stuff. Though last time, he cooked up a UMO."
Axel and Roxas exchanged joking looks that at the same time showed their combined confusion. Despite the fact that they both considered her a sisterly figure, the two best guy friends could never understand her made-up vocabulary. At times, she downright baffled them with her words. Still holding onto the melting ice cream he bought specifically for her, Roxas looked over at Xion.
"So, what's UMO stand for?"
"Unidentified moving object, Rox, and I'll never eat that food again," she declared, sticking a gloved finger up in the air. "I think it had eyes."
Axel shrugged but smirked all the same. "That's Vexen for you: mad scientist, bad cook."
The three comrades laughed companionably, nearly falling off the ledge before quickly regaining their balances. Roxas took this opportunity to stick the ice cream into Xion's mouth again.
"I told you, Rox—mmm, oh baby! Oh, Kingdom Hearts moon, that's good. Holy crap! Thanks for being forceful, man."
Due to his slightly immature, demented mind, Axel snickered. "That sounded wrong, Xion. And having that stick up your mouth..."
Getting the perversion underlying his words, Xion sensed her blue eyes widening out of revulsion. Teen minds could be very filthy at times, she assumed as she punched Axel hard in the arm.
"You dirty perv!" she shouted with a huge grin. "You totally gross me out, dude!"
More laughter followed, and it was just another day-off with the boys.
Currently, Xion shifted her position on the battered cushioned window seat, seeing that joyful memory in her mind again. She smiled slightly to herself, but the gentle curvature of her lips contained a vestige of sorrow, sadness for what she lost. Maybe if she could have stayed in that ivory castle, she could live as happily as she once did. However, she knew that was unrealistic and that that would not have been the case. The fact of the matter was they were all Nobodies in the Organization XIII, every single one of them. Even her best female friend Namine had suffered the same affliction as them. No one in any of the worlds would ever take them in or accept them in any way. In spite of their lack of hearts, though, she had one difference. Everyone had once been somebody else before tragic accidents claimed their Somebody lives. She never had a choice in the matter.
As a Nobody, she had developed differently from her friends and enemies alike, awkwardly becoming the oddball of the group. But, she chose to overcome that empty feeling, right? She triumphed over the rigid blows of adversity and endeared some of the members to her with her charming quirkiness. It had been her life, so why not stay random? Yet another memory that lay in wait within the back of her mind resurfaced. Xion brushed her longer black bangs to shield her bright blue eyes swirling practically with strange emotions. How could she not forget that painful day, which destroyed her life? Agony like that could break her. Well, at least she had ended up getting out of the stuffy black robe she used to despise so inevitably much.
She gazed down at her new outfit now, one of many. Her hand tentatively wandered down the soft fabric of her violet hooded sweatshirt, under it to feel the thinner cloth of her light blue aliens T-shirt, and down to her denim jeans. No more Organization-related duties, so that Xion had earned the freedom to choose her own clothing. She had the freedom of expression, to show off her great outfits to the world. That would have been nice a year ago. If the trio of friends could only reunite, she would flaunt her slightly longer (even she couldn't believe she decided to let it grow) black hair and one of her shirts that said, "Elves are only twice removed from leprechauns" to them. Roxas would laugh at her resonant sense of humor, and Axel would tug her hair that he previously couldn't have done before. They would catch up on old times, old pranks pulled on Saix and the other irritating members.
Not only that, but Xion was creative enough and witty enough to have a humorous or flattering opinion on almost everything. She could reveal those thoughts to her two best friends in any of the whole, wide worlds. Heck, she could hug them tightly in a girly embrace if they knocked on that door across from her right now. Just as long as they tracked her landlord (a very lenient, borderline careless man) down for her address and visited her, everything would be fine.
But, everything would not be fine, could not be fine. For, in crushing reality, she simply could not forget the past. As much as it pained her, she knew how terribly things had gone on the last day.
That fateful last day—she nearly had tears in her eyes simply recalling the hurt it gave her. Shivers ran up and down her spine, and her hands trembled.
Xemnas, the Superior who ruled his brotherhood with an iron fist, paced up and down the empty throne room in front of Xion. He had requested her to meet him in this one room where all the schemes were planned, all the missions assigned. On that day, though, he was highly displeased with her actions. She had consistently kept disobeying his direct orders to her. She tried escaping due to her increasing unhappiness with how things were done within this deplorable group of Nobodies. New revelations popped up all the time. Her fear of her own future that she carefully hid grew with each passing day. However, she would not be swayed through Xemnas' scolding.
After ten minutes of reviewing her so-called crimes against the Organization, he was well aware that he didn't get through to Xion's usually perceptual mind. So, he did the one thing that would convince her firmly to see things his way: lower her self-esteem and wound her spirits.
He narrowed his disdainful amber eyes at her. "You were never one of us, Number Fourteen. I would believe that you know that better than anyone here. Notice that I insisted on keeping our name the same. I did that purposely, to show to everyone you will never truly belong with us. Part of you is rested within the hero even. You are less than nothing. You are inferior to all the other Nobodies. Do you understand this?"
She shook her head rapidly back and forth, tears arising. "No."
"Neither I nor the others will put up with your shameful behavior. You should know that you live in lies."
Though these last words fallen from Xemnas' spiteful lips were cryptic, Xion completely grasped them without question. Could Axel and Roxas have been lying to her this entire time? Had they merely been pretending to be her friends? And what of Zexion, the Nobody boy who could actually love her? Was he faking it, too? She instantly teleported out of the too white throne room, the wavering tears in her blue eyes finally streaming down her face. She was in so much emotional pain that maybe Xemnas was a huge liar too when he said they possessed no sense of emotions. This hurt a lot. How could anybody live through this anguish? Axel and Roxas walked toward her currently, their strides quickening once they noticed her tears. She tried to run away but discovered her feet planted to the floor.
Gulping down her bitterness, Xion could barely move. The shivers were back worse than ever.
Just as she prepared to run for sure, a hand stopped her, causing her to spin around to face Roxas. He was like her close brother who cared for her. His concern frightened her.
"Xion, what is it? Is there anything we can do to help?" he asked in a low tone.
The memories of the good times with her pals rushed back to her. Sea-salt ice cream days and funny prank days vanished from her sight due to their recent strain. She would attempt again and again to flee this Organization XIII life, but they tenaciously would never let her go, especially Axel. The redhead was downright horrible in terms of setting her free. That poor schmuck had inevitably gotten attached.
Set me free, her mind screamed, though she desperately considered what to say aloud to them.
She trembled, her fists shook as she shouted, "No, leave me alone!! I can't take it here any more! I'm—I'M MOVING OUT!!!"
"I won't let you!" Axel shot back, his hands roughly grabbing her shoulders. "Are you just going to throw our friendship we all had away like that? We had something, Xion! You know it better than anyone."
"Axel—" Roxas tried intervening.
Wiping more tears on her sleeve, she yelled, "I don't care! This is the last goodbye."
One by one, as she sprinted down the hallway, the other members asked where she was going in varying tones. She refused to speak to any of them, not knowing what to say to begin with. But, before Xion could head to her room to pack her things, she stumbled into a pair of arms.
"Z—Zexion?!?" she stuttered, barely breathing from shock and exhaustion.
Never had she seen the cerulean eyes so hurt, so broken, and so pleading. His embrace was so inviting as well, tempting her to sob her not heart out while he held her. But, Kingdom Hearts knew if he returned her affections all along. The line that separated the truth from the lies had seriously become blurred. Because of her self-doubt, she turned her face away from his overly concerned eyes. He was determined not to let her do that to him.
"Xion," he whispered calmly, attempting to veil the worry in his soft voice. "Why won't you give a straight answer to anyone? Can you at least give one to me?"
Her tears fell faster and harder, though he tenderly wiped them away and cradled her face in the palm of his gloved hand. She wanted to embrace him back badly.
But, she knew she couldn't, not after the lies or the truths or whatever Xemnas recently told her. Who was there to trust any more? Suppressing sobs that threatened to leave her incredibly vulnerable, Xion lifted her lover's arms off her. Her hands remained gently placed on his shoulders as she gazed intently into his beautiful eyes. Pretty eyes on such a flawless boy.
She found herself softening, because she could never tear herself or her own eyes away from him.
Taking a breath, she murmured, "Zexion, you know how much I love you, don't you?"
Subtle horror flashed briefly in his eyes. "What are you saying?"
A rueful smile curved her lips. He had always asked too many questions, especially this time.
More tears squeezed themselves out of her depressed eyes while stuck in a misery even he could not fix. "I—I have to leave. I've been lied to too many times by Xemnas and everybody else. What we're doing to other people...It's wrong. You might not understand now, but I hope you do later. I love you."
After softly planting a kiss on his warm lips, Xion proceeded to retreat into her bedroom to pack two suitcases. She could have sworn she heard him call her name, but she could not heed to it this time. In order to escape this web of lies, she had to run away. To where, she didn't care, as long as she was away from the Organization XIII castle for good. Once her heavily reluctant packing was done, she teleported off to a world that would be far more welcoming in comparison.
In her apartment, watching as sunset gradually darkened into night, Xion bit her lip and wound a strand of her hair around her finger. For disguise purposes, in case the crueler members of the Organization wanted to scout her out, she had grown it out longer. It made for a decent change, she figured half-heartedly. Then again, wouldn't it be one way to move on with her life? Yet, she couldn't quite let her memories go. There were happier times before Axel tried to retrieve her by force, and Roxas had all those serious talks with her. Being serious never used to happen with her at all. She craved for the times when she joked without apologizing for it. Ever since forcing herself into isolation, she had no one to tell these jokes to. Now, she doubted she could ever be funny again. After the last few conversations with both Axel and Roxas, she never saw them again.
She did meet a guy named Riku, though, and got to know him a little better. Eventually, she had come close to falling in love with him. And what sane girl wouldn't have? With his long silver hair, eyes that were mysteriously concealed by a blindfold, and strong facial features, he was fairly handsome. There were times when she did joke with him, and he would sometimes laugh. Not always, but hearing a snort from him sufficed for laughter, she thought. As close as they had almost gotten, she remembered Zexion and practically broke it off. Then, she ended up face-to-face with a boy who almost killed her. With severe wounds sustained, she limped back to an apartment.
Since that day, she realized she needed to be more reclusive and not risk making any more enemies.
Sighing dejectedly, Xion picked up her heavy fantasy book to get some nocturnal reading in before she fell asleep. The dark night pouring in her living room/kitchen area prevented her from seeing clearly. Of course, she had the solution in the form of a blue lava lamp that emitted just enough light for reading. Plus, it was a great opportunity to watch those shapeless "lava" blobs float around.
"Ohhh....I could watch this all day," she spoke to herself, because only she was her only company. What else to do but to talk to herself? A few peaceful minutes reading later, she lost interest in chapter twenty. Very anti-climatic and nothing but filler on each page—Xion closed her book to take out a special album resting on her coffee table. It was the album filled with Organization XIII centric pictures she snapped of everybody.
She flipped over to the section where she had organized pictures of each individual member with or without her featured in them. In fact, she ordered them by Organization rank, so that Xemnas was first. Even though on that last day he implied she was true nothingness in Nobody form, there were little moments in which he seemed nearly human. One particular photograph showed him glaring at the camera while he wore a flowery patterned shower cap. He vainly dried his hair in that manner and wouldn't dare let its wetness ruin his important documents. Surprisingly, when she had snapped that photo of him, she had not been punished. He didn't feel the need to due to his documents and executive duties exceeding far more in importance. Also, it was obvious blackmail. Xion found herself giggling remembering that odd memory. She grinned, too.
Xigbar was the next member when Xion turned to the next page. She got along with him fairly well, since he behaved like an eccentric uncle toward her. Flipping from wall to wall and walking on the ceiling, he managed to do it all in order to nab his prey. He was a sniper who knew where to be as well as how to aim. This picture happened to portray him upside down on the ceiling, toting his guns while grinning cheekily at her. Now, that was an awesome shot, and it spoke a thousand words indeed on how much like a cocky teen boy he emulated.
Number Three, Xaldin—he was the guy who often threatened his peers. A bit on the creepy side, he would be quiet one minute and angrily explode the next.
He had a volatile temper and often stalked a girl in Beast's Castle. Needless to say, he befriended hardly anybody. In this photo, he prepared to lash out at her, ready to hurt Xion if she dared to flash that camera. Flash, and off she ran up six flights of stairs as fast as she could to find sanctuary. Next was Vexen, the guy infamous for cooking UMOs and locking himself up in his lab. He was messing around with disgusting cadavers for his experiment in this picture. Once caught, he looked at her disbelievingly with this bug-eyed stare that freaked her out. Vexen often messed with beakers and all that scientific stuff. Experimentation had been in his rotten nature, sick enough to warp his crazy mind. Oh well, all the better to use against him to prank him with. And that had been fun...with the guys...Time to turn the page.
Nothing had struck her much about Lexaeus, even though he had been Number Six's best friend. Here, he held a kitten he had then found wandering outside the castle. She recalled "awwwwing" at the sight before taking out her camera. Luckily, Lex hadn't minded. Maybe the fact that he was shown as a gentle giant holding a cute kitty was enough for him to be submissive. She admired that mute intelligence he displayed through his stoic face.
Next page...oh, she thought...she thought she could never bring herself to look at him again, even through snapshot. Oh, Kingdom Hearts...she was starting to cry. What a beautiful boy! The most startling blue eyes, the haphazard purplish hair, and the flattering half-smile on his face were all the things she recognized and loved.
In this moving photograph, he had wrapped an arm around her shoulders, smiling nervously in the camera she held within the hand of her outstretched arm. She had kissed him lovingly on the cheek, making him blush slightly. What Xion would give to see his face again! Next was Saix, a man she virtually hated to this day. He held pink boxers in frozen shock. Axel's photo of him performing with his chakrams made the lump in her throat a bit bigger. She loved him like an older brother, and he treated her like he would a sister. She stood nearby in the photo she had Roxas take, an impressed expression on her face. She missed them both. Demyx had made her laugh in this photo, smearing his birthday (an unbirthday, she called it) cake all over her face. A fun-loving boy, he was like her younger brother and older brother.
Chocolate had been the flavor of that cake, she remembered, smiling wryly. Luxord, the master of cards, rolled his giant dice at her. He wore the "dashing pirate grin" that he had been oh-so-famous around here for. In the following photo, Marluxia was seen wielding extra thorny roses at her. Xion laughed outright at that. Then, Larxene, whose kunai were the only things seen—she never was that photogenic. She was surprised she made it out of that photo alive. Still, she had had the gall to retake it, this time showing Larxene's snooty face. The Nymph had been forewarned this time, judging by excessive make-up plastered to her face. It was a far uglier picture, and she had been in a good mood that day.
Lastly, excluding herself, was Roxas who grinned widely in this photo. He had swung a careless arm around Xion too, only they both held Quash cans. That soda had the taste of a perfect blend of lemon and lime, fizzy for a longer period of time than ordinary sodas. Sharing an entire six-pack with Roxas and Axel in the sweltering summer days had proved to be a rewarding experience. Xion should have known better than to ever have doubted their sincerity in their friendship. It was a shame she hadn't realized it sooner.
These photographs resting within these album pages reminded her too acutely that they could never replace the real people. Their eyes may have retained some brightness in these still shots, yet no amount of magic could bring these to life. Just to see her best friends again...
Tears welled up in Xion's eyes, making her feel irritable and lonely. She just had this instinct that told her these members were all dead. More than ever, this had to mean the past would eventually disappear into oblivion. Like every Nobody must do sooner or later, the memories would fade as well. For, what was the point in recollecting them? If the rest of the Organization passed on, why bother digging up the hurtful subject? Merely musing over it could bring these tears, cause the sorrow to come back to haunt her persistently. A drop splattered on the very last picture after she turned a few more pages. It portrayed the three of them together, forming a rather awkward pyramid.
They had made silly faces and arranged themselves in such a way that Xion topped their crazy pyramid. She made a peace sign in this picture.
But, no longer would she have fun with Axel and Roxas, since they retreated into a place far, far away, someplace she couldn't follow them. Instinctively, she sensed that they could never see her again nor she with them. Maybe the one solution to her problem came in the form of staying in this dingy apartment forever, never to see anyone again. Or she could rekindle the spark with Riku. She shook her head. No, there was no way she could try that, especially since he must have friends who would shudder to look at her. The only option remaining, or so Xion thought, was to cut herself off from people in general. Leaning back comfortably in her gray soft sofa, she let herself see the stars out the window, such pretty illumination...
A knock at her door snapped her out of her pensive meditation and back to the present night, no past friendships or anything of that nature. Wearily, with the pace of one who has suffered from constantly damaged hopes, she walked over to the door. It was probably the neighbor four doors down, asking if she had seen Ruby the cat anywhere. Who in their right mind would name a pet Ruby? No matter, she figured, it was probably nothing important. So, she turned the loose knob.
Was it...? Could it be...? But, no, she had discouraged all thoughts of his return ages ago. Yet, here he was, the purple-gray hair still obstructing his light blue eyes and the face as handsome as ever. Xion gulped, hands sweating and shaking in the same instant. She could have sworn that he merely floated around as an apparition that would dissolve by the break of day.
He wore no Organization robe either, so he must have cast aside any trace of his past as well. In the robe's place were baggy blue jeans, a black hooded sweatshirt, and scuffed-up blue sneakers. To see such attire on him was barely believable, much less him standing in her doorway.
Apparently, her appearance produced a similar affect on him, for he gaped blankly while staring at her hair. "Xion...?"
She nodded as she whispered unsurely, "I...I thought you were dead."
"I thought I was the only one left of our crumbled Organization. But, apparently, you..."
Stepping back from him haltingly, she replied in a louder voice, "You can't be real!"
Zexion's expression altered into one of complete puzzlement and bewilderment at her personality change. This was not the reaction he had anticipated from her. He would have expected anyone else to panic but from her...He sighed, though gently touched her elbow.
"I am as real as you want me to be. But, unless there has been another boy, I can see why you would want to deny my existence."
Xion's eyes widened fearfully from hearing this assumption. "No, no! It's not that. It's just been so long since I've seen anybody."
"A year, two months, twelve days, and four hours, to be precise."
Her tense body relaxed as she smiled very slightly. "You kept track of all that?"
"Ever since the very day you left."
After Zexion closed the door behind him, she motioned toward him to sit on the sofa. He graciously complied with her request, and she lightly bounced up onto the sofa space next to him. A ghost of her old self had returned in that brief moment of her sudden energy. Truth be told, she fully enjoyed his companionship like back in the old days.
He blinked curiously at her. "I remain unable to understand why your hair..."
She giggled. "Noticed that, did ya? I thought it was time for a change. Why? What's the problem? Wait, don't answer that! Zexy obviously liked my hair short."
"I admit that I did." He glanced nervously at the lava lamp. "But, your new style is just as well."
Aw, he was so overwhelmingly polite toward her that she could squeal.
However, be that as it was, the fact that they had hardly seen each other in such an extensive period of time hadn't gone unnoticed. An awkward silence fell between them soon afterward, causing discomfort for both parties involved. Xion had so many questions to ask pertaining to what occurred after she abandoned them. Unfortunately, she was too afraid to ask, even with the feeling that yes, Axel and Roxas may have died. She stared longingly out the window, out at the stars and the sliver of the moon.
"So, what happened after I left?" she murmured in a tone he could barely hear.
Gripping his hands together, Zexion let out an agonizingly long exhale.
He dreaded to tell her what tragedy unfolded after her departure from the Organization of thirteen other Nobodies. Where to start?
"Well," he began half-heartedly, "Axel nearly killed me. As much as I hate to be the bearer of bad news, it partially had to do with your absence. He only tolerated me for your sake. After that, it is pointless to say we were on good terms. He blamed anyone close to you for you leaving. So, at Castle Oblivion, he came up to me with the Riku Replica alongside. Even though he killed a clone of mine, I was still severely injured. And then, Axel ensured that he pulled the strings for Vexen's death along with Marluxia's and Larxene's. Lexaeus died...through Riku. Axel and I were the only survivors, but I fled soon after the mission disastrously concluded."
A minute of reflective quiet later, Xion mused out loud, "So...you probably don't know what happened to the others."
Their eyes met, ocean blue clashing with cerulean. In that millisecond, she realized that he had obtained more knowledge regarding the other members who hadn't died in Castle Oblivion. It was then that she remembered Zexion could use his poignant sense of smell to sniff out different scents of other people. When the smell was gone, so was the person.
Cautiously, lowly, she inquired, "What about the others?"
For her sake, those cerulean eyes turned sad. "I suppose you wish to know about Axel and Roxas the most. Roxas has fused with Sora. Despite what you have been told, I gather, you were not desperately needed to awaken the Keyblade Master. Roxas possessed most of his traits. However, with Axel...I'm sorry, Xion. His scent faded a long time ago."
Her eyes started watering the minute he apologized. It had been excruciating enough to know that Axel attempted to kill someone dear to her. But, for him to die?
Her voice squeaked as she denied, "No...no."
Now, both of her best friends were technically gone; it had been the truth all along. Xion could no longer fight these stupid, pesky tears back. Embracing Zexion with a fierce determination to never let him go, she sobbed, shaking from suppressed whirlwind emotions she felt so strongly. He stroked her back and whispered sweet nothings into her ear. With this comfort, though, she knew that her best friends were never coming back. Even Namine surely fused with Kairi by now.
Once she slowly, deliberately looked up toward his studious face again, she felt his bare hands on her face for the first time. His long dexterous fingers wiped away her tears like they had done on that last day. But, could this be the new beginning, a new chapter to their lives? Perhaps if they stuck together, their non-existence could finally mean something.
Boldly kissing her on her forehead, Zexion told her softly, "They wouldn't want you to cry, Xion. I know these words coming from someone such as myself may sound empty, but I sense that your friends would have rather seen you smile than cry."
His fingers then wandered up to her lips, which curved into a small smile. "Your words aren't empty, Zexion. You're absolutely right. I mean, as long as I still have our happy memories, it's fine, right?"
He subtly nodded, considerably relieved that she managed to seek small comfort from his words.
Xion reached out her hand toward his, and their fingers intertwined in a gesture that spoke volumes. It showed that even through dark times, their love would be as stable, if not more so, as it ever was. So, she dabbed at the last of hear tears and placed her other hand on his shoulder.
Laughingly (a choked-up laugh) yet sincerely, she informed him, "I—I really missed you, you know."
He smiled back warmly. "I thought about you every day. Initially, I didn't want to and held back, but there has always been something about you I couldn't quite get over."
"I'm glad," she gushed half-braggingly, grinning.
Genuine alleviation swept through Zexion then, for this was the girl he fondly remembered. It was the real Xion—bright blue eyes and jokes and smiles and laughs.
He secretly hoped in the future that she would regain those traits back, one by one until she was a semblance of her former self. Of course, he was more aware than anyone that the girl he loved had grown and changed and that she could never be fifteen-year-old Xion again. That phase of her life had ended. Now, a recent phase commenced, and he intended to be with her every step of the way. He knew he would display this much depth of loyalty when he had tracked the landlord down earlier today. If that wasn't caring, he had no clue what was. And he had supposedly been the member with all the right answers.
Once her grin softened, Xion stared beguilingly at him. "I never stopped loving you."
Nearly feeling the wind being knocked out of him, Zexion realized just how long it had been since she told him she loved him. He would never take that for granted from here on out.
"Nor I with you," he whispered huskily, his long strands of hair brushing softly against her face. One year, two months, twelve days, four hours, and twenty-three minutes later, he would finally feel her lips against his once more.
They did kiss, and it the best sensation Xion had ever enjoyed, ever would enjoy. She could never forget this. The way he kissed and loved her would never be a memory.
As a joke, though, she said teasingly, "Your kissing skills are kind of rusty."
Of course, they weren't, but to see his mock suspicious reaction was priceless. She was kidding and hugged him to show him that, no matter how long, she would always love him.
A/N: Awwww!!! Well, I thought you guys would need the positive ending after all that angst. Another reason why the ending was as happy as it was was because I had listened to "One Sweet Day" by Mariah Carey and Boys II Men last night. Yep, that's why it ended breezily.
I hope you don't mind reviewing, cuz I put a lot of hard work and heart and soul into this. Oh, and I STILL have writer's cramp due to seven written pages then 20 full typed-up pages on Word. Yeah, a lot. XD