A/N: Random thing that popped into my head after re-reading 'The Ghost Of You' by Silentz for the fifth time. It's a Naruto oneshot that is very haunting, and I feel like attempting to re-create that feeling, although I know that I won't at all succeed as well as she did, because she's just that amazing of an author and I am not. XD
Playlist used while writing this (and while reading Silentz's story, lulz):
'The Ghost Of You' by My Chemical Romance (no surprise here)
'The Ghost Of You', 'Hold On', 'S.O.S.', 'My Bloody Valentine' and 'In This World (Murder)' by Good Charlotte
'Ghosts' by Chris Cornell
'Whisper', 'Hello', 'Imaginary', 'Missing', 'Breathe No More' and 'Haunted' by Evanescence
'Invisible Sun' by The Police (for the melody, not the lyrics)
'The Ghost Of You And I' by Story of the Year
'Flowers For A Ghost' by Thriving Ivory
Sora feels as though he is being haunted.
There is a presence all around him, one that is as cold and dark and thick as a shadow.
Whenever he sets foot outside, he sees someone walk alongside him out of the corner of his eye.
Naturally, when he turns his head to look, no one is there. But it gets worse. Whenever he looks into any reflective surface, his own eyes appear to be dead. No light in them, so shine to them, nothing. Just low, eerie blackish-blue with dilated pupils and barely recognizable irises. Sometimes, he sees blood on the face of his reflection, and he screams.
Because that blood seems so real. Too real; he can almost feel it trickle down his cheek from his hairline and seep into his shirt. Sticky, as slow as syrup, and filthy.
Sometimes, Sora's friends say that he is simply being paranoid. They worry that he might need to get his head examined, that he might be hallucinating, or dreaming while awake.
"It's no dream!" Sora insists. "This is different, Riku," he addresses; he is always arguing with the friend that resists his panicked rambles the most. "But there are dreams, too. Dreams where you leave me in a pool of bubbling darkness; dreams where I'm killing, killing, killing – slashing away at little creatures with twitchy limbs and glowing yellow eyes. Dreams where Kairi-chan is lost, and I have to find her or else she – or else she –" and he cuts off, because Riku is shaking his head at Sora yet again.
Kairi, sitting next to Sora in the lunchroom, laces her hand on the brunet's shoulder. "It's alright, Sora-kun," she reminds him gently. "My oneechan used to have dreams like that. Dreams with slinky silver creatures without eyes and a large white castle where she was trapped, and a man with pink hair cutting away at her with a scythe. But what Naminé-oneechan and you are dreaming are just nightmares. They're not real. Okay?"
But it's not okay. It's never okay.
Sora turns and leaves the lunchroom to ask the nurse to go home. He vomits in the nurse's bathroom. He apologizes, but Nurse Aerith is too sweet. She says he doesn't need to apologize, and she calls home for him.
At home, Unkie Cloud and Auntie Tifa visit. They aren't actually Sora's aunt and uncle; he's merely been referring to them as such since he was young, all because they are close friends of his family. They have children; Ventus, the eldest, and Denzel, the youngest. Denzel is friends with a girl named Marlene, who is Sora's school nurse's daughter. Ventus is friends with two people who go to Sora's school, Aqua and Terra. They are all very nice people.
Sora feels too sick to socialize with them.
Instead, he crawls into his bed and curls up in his blankets. It is soft and warm and safe there. He can hear Tifa's laughter wafting up from downstairs, and Ven knocking on his door. "Sora?" Ven is asking humbly. "Sora, what's wrong? Are you feeling alright?"
But Sora can't answer. He's too busy falling into a dream.
In his dreams, Sora wields a weapon. It's a big, heavy thing that comes in many shapes and sizes. In the dream, Sora is strong and determined and not at all like his weak, unsure current self. In his dreams, Sora has more friends than he can count, and some of them have familiar faces: Kairi, Naminé, Riku. Some of them only have familiar names: Donald, Mickey, Goofy. But these dream-versions are animals, like a cartoon. It makes Sora want to laugh, if he wasn't so afraid of the rest of the dream.
In his dreams, Sora doesn't remember being a normal high school sophomore. He is the same ages – fourteen and fifteen – but he lives a much, much different life. It frightens him. The worlds he sees in his dream are nothing like Japan. They are magical.
After each dream, Sora wakes up and questions who he is, and which version of him is real and which is imaginary.
There are moments when all Sora sees is someone else. Someone with dead blue eyes like his own, but blond hair like Ven's. In fact, this person looks a lot like Ventus with the exception of his face; this blond instead wears Sora's face.
The brunet knows in his heart that this is who is haunting him. This mysterious figure cloaked in black leather is the Ghost.
He has no name, none that Sora knows, so he is merely called Ghost. It is rare to look Ghost in the eye, and occasionally when Sora does, the rarest of rare moments occurs: Ghost looks back. But only when Sora says something to him.
"Why do you keep following me?"
Ghost smiles once. Only once, but it is a creepy, lovely smile.
"Sora-kun, are you shaking?" Aqua asks one evening. She and Ven are over, and Terra would also be over if he didn't have judo practice after school. But he does, so only the blue-haired girl and blond boy are here.
Sora slowly pans his eyes over to the two of them. He feels sick again. He raises his hand and watches as it trembles in midair. "Heh, I guess I am shaking. It's no big deal."
"No big deal? Sora-kun, you've never shaken like that before!" Aqua worries, her voice soft and compassionate.
"I'm just cold, that's all," the brunet replies meekly. He shrugs his shoulders. "Please don't fret over me."
But it is difficult for her not to, seeing as how his shaking is getting progressively worse.
Ghost is back. Sora has been seeing him more often now; lately, during the night, Ghost will sit on the edge of Sora's bed and murmur streams of nonsense in a low, rumbling, dead voice. A voice like thunder, alluring and frightening all at once.
"What are you saying?" Sora whispers, his voice slicing through the night. Ghost disappears. "What are you trying to tell me?"
The dreams are beginning to melt into the daytime, because Sora keeps falling asleep in class due to his random nightly visits by Ghost. In his dreams, Sora fights people wearing the same black cloaks as Ghost. Each of them has a unique power; one can shoot red lasers. Another can defy gravity, floating on the ceiling. Another can make water dance. Yet another can control fire.
Dreams, dozens of them, flock to Sora and make him sweat and toss his sheets and thrash in his bed. The dreams feel so real, like memories from another lifetime. Sora begins questioning if they are just that: memories. But how can they be? They are too magical to ever be real.
But Sora wonders: what separates reality from fiction, and vice versa?
Ghost is familiar. Each time he comes back at night, his figure shadowy and hardly there, but his presence as solid as a statue, Sora feels like he knows him. "Ghost," he calls out one night, and for once, Ghost remains. He doesn't vanish at the sound of Sora's voice. Sora licks his lips, which are suddenly dry, and he is amazed that Ghost is still here. He dares to ask something. "Who were you?"
And then Ghost's face is right in front of Sora's face, and Sora can feel the icy fear leaking down into his pores, from his head to his heart, freezing him in place. His eyes are wide and fixated on Ghost's mouth. The spirit says something that has no sound, and then melts away into the darkness of Sora's bedroom.
But before he left, Sora was able to read his lips: he said, "Roxas."
Ghost now has a name. Sora calls him Roxas. He talks about Roxas only to Ven, who is the sole person Sora knows who believes in ghosts.
"So, this Roxas looks a lot like me, huh?" Ventus puzzles with an amused tone. His lips curve into a small, nervous smile. "How daunting."
Sora brings his knees up to his chest as they sit on the couch together, ignoring the girly movie Aqua is absorbed in She's even crying a little. It goes by the name, 'The Lovely Bones.' He sends Ven a look. "'Daunting' isn't the word for it. 'Haunting' is. It's freaky."
The blond nods. "It is. I'm sorry that you're going through this, Sora. When did it start?"
"A long time ago," Sora mutters. "Since I was small. I remember cold spots in my room when there was no draft in the house. I remember avoiding mirrors. I remember feeling like someone was behind me, but turning around to see no one there. And I remember a boy."
The brunet nibbles on his bottom lip for a moment. Then, slowly, he utters in one sharp breath: "He would always sit on the swing set, but as soon as he started to swing, he would be gone. He had blond hair, just like Roxas. I think it was him, even back then. He's been growing up with me, waiting until I'm old enough to understand some sort of message he's trying to give me. – That's my theory, anyway."
His words cause Ventus to shiver. "Spooky. But interesting."
"Like this movie, if you two would bother to pay attention," Aqua teases, mostly to make herself stop crying. "It's also sad. I can feel the sorrow of the girl's father."
Just like how Sora can feel Roxas's sorrow.
"We're moving," Cloud says, dropping the bomb on Sora. He looks sympathetic. "I'm sorry, but Ven and Denzel are going to be too far away for us to visit so often anymore."
Sora is going to miss Ventus; he's the only one who understands about Ghost. About Roxas. About the dreams and apparitions. Sora is going to miss talking about it without worrying about sounding insane.
He'll have to settle for talking to Aqua and Terra and Riku and Kairi instead. If they'll listen.
"Are you sick again, darling?" Nurse Aerith says in her usual calm manner. She touches a thermometer to Sora's forehead. It beeps. On the electronic screen, it reads 39.1 degrees Celsius. That's 102.4 degrees Fahrenheit; a decent fever. "Oh, dear. I'm calling your parents to come pick you up! If this gets much higher, I suggest going to a doctor."
Sora has never felt colder in his life. He quakes with sudden chills, and his fever spikes up another .9 degrees Celsius until it reaches 40.0 degrees.
It's so sweltering that it's icy, it's so warm that it's freezing, it's so, it's so, it's so…
Sora faints, succeeding in toppling his meager plastic chair over in the nurse's office and stirring Nurse Aerith from her phone call with an abrupt shriek from her pink lips.
"So you won't be coming to school for a while, huh?" Kairi asks, her tone clearly disappointed.
On the other end of the line, Sora grips the phone tightly enough to kill. He exhales roughly, and a tickle in the back of his throat begs him to cough. He ignores it. "No, I won't. I'm extremely ill, Kairi-chan."
"Aw," Kairi coos sympathetically. "Well, I wish your health to return to you. Oh, I know: To speed up the process, I'll make you some chicken-noodle soup and bring it over for you tomorrow! How does that sound?"
Sora smiles into the phone. "Thank you, Kairi-chan. That would be nice." This time he doesn't ignore the tickle, and a cough sputters out from his mouth. He contains it within his blankets. He's still cold, even though his fever is high into the early forties of the Celsius system, which is about 103.5 degrees Fahrenheit. He wants to cry, his body feels so strange.
And all the while, Sora keeps catching glimpses of the ghost of Roxas reflected in bits and pieces in all of the picture frames of family and friends scattered about the shelves and other surfaces in Sora's bedroom.
He shivers and hangs up the phone after a goodbye, and snuggles into his blankets. He prays for health, he prays for this haunting to end, and he prays that his medicine kicks in soon so that he may sleep.
Sleep never comes, only restless, sweaty dreaming.
That night, Sora's fever temporarily breaks and his temperature lowers to five degrees below normal body temperature. He is still caught up in the webby fibers of another dream, but he can feel Roxas lying beside him on his bed. And through the haze of sleep and dream, Sora can feel Roxas slinking up to his side and running hands down his chest, trying to seize his heart.
Sora wakes up, the last couple notes of the loudest, most hoarse scream of his life erupting from his throat.
His parents run into his bedroom only to find him vomiting in the bathroom next-door.
Wiping his mouth, Sora finishes throwing up on his forth day of being sick, the remains of a once delicious and soothing chicken noodle soup flushing down the toilet.
Stumbling back into his bedroom, Sora hears his parents whispering to one another in the living room. He knows that they are talking about what the doctor said. The doctor yesterday said that Sora just has a really bad case of the flu, and that it will soon pass despite how long it is being dragged out, but his parents aren't so sure. They think he's dying or something.
And maybe they are correct. It wouldn't surprise him. Nothing surprises the brunet any longer. He feels so weak and frail that he would accept any fate bestowed on him at this point.
He turns and gazes out his bedroom window. A single white bird – he doesn't know what kind – soars across the sky gracefully, curving into view and then out of view again. It reminds him of Naminé; not Kairi's older sister, the freshman in college, but a different Naminé. The one from his dreams.
Sorely, Sora's abused, acidic mouth lifts at one end into a half-smile. He reaches for the glass, and when his fingers touch the cool, smooth surface, he can sense his ghost reaching back, their fingertips aligned.
With each new dream, Sora begins questioning himself and his life more and more. And with each new dream, he feels as though he is getting an important piece of the puzzle surrounding Ghost and who Ghost is.
Who Roxas is.
Sora is never sure whether to refer to the male spirit as past or present tense, because he is here now, in the present, but if he is a spirit then he must be dead, so as a person, he is from the past.
But Sora isn't sure which past, since Roxas resembles things from Sora's persistent dreams. And Sora thinks that his dreams are clips from another life, a life that, in retrospect, he used to pretend to live out as a child but didn't notice or remember since he dropped such games for a long, long while preceding his situation now.
As a child, Sora used to pick up sticks and swing them around, calling them Keyblades, and would scare away animals and birds, calling them Heartless and Nobodies and Unversed.
And he would pretend that the trees were people; he called a tall, dead tree 'Jack Skellington.' He called a slim, curvy tree 'Ariel.' He called yet another tree 'Hercules.' The list went on and on. To him, they were friends of his, people he once knew who had gone because he left them for this world.
He told his parents this, but since he was merely four, five, and six years old at the time, they paid no attention. They marked it as 'childish make-believe' and thought nothing of it. He stopped when he was seven anyhow, so why care?
After a week of being ill, Sora returns to school looking pale, but healthy. He doesn't carry his usual cheery demeanor. Instead, he appears to simply be going through the motions, and his nonchalant attitude upsets his friends.
"Sora, what's wrong with you? You're not acting like yourself." Riku frowns. He crosses his arms over his muscled chest.
Sora shrugs. "Sorry. I just don't feel like being myself. I feel like being no one. Is that so wrong? I just got back from feeling like shit; what, do expect me to be bouncing off the walls?"
"No, but – Sora, are you even listening to yourself? You don't talk like that. You never curse, and you're never sourly sarcastic. What's your deal, man?" the silveret tries again, his voice becoming stern. His eyes reveal his inner shock. Across from them at the lunch table, Kairi has her hand to her lips; she doesn't like what she is seeing and hearing.
"Sora-kun…" Kairi whispers to herself, and she is so torn between slapping sense into him and comforting him that she gets up and walks away.
The brunet suddenly tosses down his chopsticks, the violence of the action sending the shards of polished, painted wood flying off the table and ricocheting off a nearby wall, until they clatter onto the floor.
Riku blinks a few times in surprise, his body tense as if preparing for attack. As his shock clear, he realizes that Sora has fled the classroom, his bento left behind.
Organization XIII. Those are the people in black that Sora has been seeing in his dreams. Roxas had been part of it; that's why his ghost wears the same cloak. Sora is so proud of himself for figuring this out. For remembering.
But parents are ruining everything. They want Sora to go see a therapist. He doesn't want to see a therapist. Therapists are for troubled people. Crazy people. People who need help. But Sora doesn't require any bit of help; he is perfectly fine on his own.
Still. They insist. They set up an appointed for him at three thirty tomorrow, right after school. They say that this can't wait. They tell him not to worry about what it costs, because their insurance covers the first six visits. They inform him with a terrified grin that this will be good for him, and that he'll like the therapist because the therapist is a good man.
"Stupid parents," Sora mutters under his breath, "They don't know a thing."
The therapist's name is Dr. Ienzo. He has short, silvery-blue hair with side bangs that nearly cover one eye, but both eyes are relatively visible. They are dark, steely cobalt, and they are like daggers boring into Sora's eyes, reading him from the inside out. It gives the brunet the willies.
Peering over slim, black-framed rectangular spectacles, Dr. Ienzo looks over the case file form Sora's parents filled out. It's attached to a clipboard, a pretty, shiny periwinkle one with a silver clip shaped like a swirl at the top. Sora wonders idly is this man is homosexual. It wouldn't surprise him; after all, nothing surprises him any longer.
"Let's see," Ienzo says, "It appears that your parents believe that you are suffering from depression. They say that one of your close friends, Ventus Strife, moved away recently, and that you just got over a week-long flu, but have been changing bit by bit beforehand. Do you think this is the reason for your self-proclaimed 'depression'?"
"I didn't proclaim myself as depressed," Sora snaps back. He isn't sure if he likes this man; this man looks too much like an enemy from his dreams, a member of the Organization: Zexion.
"You're right; your parents did. Being a professional, I disagree with them. They don't have the right to diagnose you if you yourself don't feel depressed."
"Yeah!" Sora agrees. He folds his arms over his chest. "I know I'm not depressed. I'm just…" But he drifts off. He had been about to say, 'being haunted,' but realized how it sounded, so he held himself from saying it, even if it is the truth. In the office, Sora can sense his ghost nearby, and knows it might also upset the spirit if he mentions him to this man. So he decides to keep his mouth shut.
But Dr. Ienzo wants him to finish his sentence. "You're just… what? Please, don't censor yourself. I'm technically allowed to tell your parents anything important since you're not yet eighteen, but I personally hate giving out secrets. They won't know a thing unless you want them to; that's how I work. So please, feel free to speak your mind. I may be a therapist, but I'm not here to label or judge."
"Really? Because I thought labeling people and judging whether or not they need medication or to go to an insane asylum are what therapists do best," Sora grumbles, and he knows that this isn't him speaking. Who talks this way to adults, so disrespectfully? Who barks like this to his best friends, like he had the other day? Not Sora. Surely sweet little Sora would never do such a thing…
But the Roxas from his dreams would. And the dream-version of himself – the Keyblade's chosen one – might, if he were up against an enemy and/or feeling defensive.
So maybe this rebellious feeling is Roxas's influence on him? But how can a ghost influence him, and why would it?
"How did the appointment go?" his mother asks in the car.
Sora smirks, because internally, he might have solved one of the many mysteries surrounding him over the course of those ninety minutes.
"Pretty damn well," Sora replies. He's not sure if it's a lie or not, but it rolls off his tongue fluidly, so he doesn't care.
"What do you want from me?" Sora whispers one night as he rolls over, barely conscious, and is startled out of almost-sleep when he finds his ghost lying on its side, watching him sleep.
Roxas's eyes fall shut and he touches Sora's cheek. The brunet doesn't blink. Then, slowly, Roxas's eyes open again, and there is more soul in them than Sora has ever seen before.
When Roxas evaporates this time, Sora doesn't even think about it: he simply allows himself to cry until he falls asleep again.
"I'm sorry," he says softly in his dreams. "I don't know what I did to you, but I'm sorry."
"Sora-kun, how has your therapy been going?" Kairi asks with forced sweetness. She is acting as though Sora is diseased, and needs to be babied and kept at a distance until he gets better again, as if what he has is contagious or might cause him to lash out.
And he just might lash out if Kairi keeps talking to him like that.
Grinding his teeth, Sora gives a tight-lipped smile. "Sure, it's great. I've been seeing Dr. Ienzo twice a week for about a month now. We've made a lot of progress; I don't even see the ghost when I'm awake anymore, so relax," he lies and soothes at the same time. So easy. Too easy; why is it so easy to lie to her? He gets up from the lunch table and dumps his garbage in the nearest receptacle. "Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go research something on the 'net in the c-lab," he says, and rushes off in the direction of the computer lab.
In actuality, the brunet takes a detour and hides in a vacant supply closet under a set of the oldest stairs in the old school building. The closet hasn't been used in years due to the inconvenient location and damp back wall tat ruins most of the supplies that used to be stored there.
He slides down the back of the door and keeps his knees close to his chest. Roxas appears, and lays an arm around Sora's shoulders in comfort. The brunet doesn't feel it, nor notice, nor see in the darkness. And yet he feels a sense of comfort, and finds the strength to exit the closet before his next class begins.
Roxas keeps a quiet eye on Sora, more and more light being breathed into Roxas's form as Sora believes harder and harder that Roxas is real.
"What do you need?" Sora pleads as he stares into his mirror, and Roxas's face replaces his own. "I want to help you. Let me help you move on or something… Anything! Please, Ghost. Please, Roxas. Please tell me what you need."
Roxas lifts a hand to touch the glass. Sora lines his fingertips up with Roxas's and leans his forehead against the back of his own hand.
"I can't help you if you never say anything…"
"I can't cure your state of mind if you do not speak to me," Dr. Ienzo scolds gently with a shake of his head. "Tell me what's been happening lately, Sora. You never talk much during these sessions anymore, and if it continues, I'll have to alert your parents. They're wasting their money otherwise, as you very well know."
"Let them waste their money," Sora mumbles grumpily. He finally looks up after all this time and narrows his eyes as he bores holes into his therapist's eyes. "Because I have nothing to tell you. What's been happening lately is my business and mine alone; it's my burden to bear and figure out for myself. I don't need you to cure me."
And he promptly gets up out of his seat and exists the musky, stuffy office.
Sora never returns to see Dr. Ienzo.
"Sora? Sora! Sora, open the door right now! I'm your mother, and I demand –"
"Sora, don't you dare say that to me! Now open this door right now, or I swear I will ground you for a month –"
"Go ahead! What will you take from me? My video games? I haven't played them in a month, so I don't care! My television? Pfft, fine, take it; I don't watch it anymore anyway. Or how about letting me go out with my friends? You can take that away all you want, because they never call to hang out with my anyhow! They think I've gone off the deep end and should go to a psychiatric hospital or something. So what will you ground me from, Mom? What is left to take hat brings me joy when nothing material makes me happy anymore?"
His mother is quiet for a long while. Then, faintly, Sora can hear her sobbing.
"I want my Blue-Eyed Baby Boy back…"
The nickname doesn't suit him any longer. Sora falls face-first onto his bed and screams in his pillow.
"Damn you, Roxas. This is all your fault."
The ghost says nothing, but he's there. He's been watching the entire scene since the knocking began.
"Roxas, why don't you ever talk? Other ghosts can. Why can't you?" Sora groans as he trembles, feeling ill again, and holds a razor blade in between his fingers stolen from his shaving utensil. He raises his hand with the blade in it and poises it above his arm. "I'm warning you, if you don't say something, I'll cut myself! And if I cut myself over you, you'll have my blood on your hands!"
He waits. He lowers the blade and touches it to his skin, cool and sharp and deadly. He drags it ever so lightly over his skin, leaving a white line.
"I mean it!"
He applies more pressure. The line turns pink at the end.
"Say something, damn you! Say something!"
The corner of the razor digs into his skin at the bottom of the line he made, and finally breaks skin. A single drop of blood bloats into being, and finally slips down Sora's arm towards his elbow. He stares at it in disbelief; why hadn't that hurt?
"Please don't hurt yourself, Sora," a beautiful voice says, and Sora's head darts to his left in shock as he stares at Roxas's ghostly form.
The blond looks as though he's about to cry before he rushes at Sora and embraces him.
"If you never do that again, and if you believe in me, I'll talk whenever you want."
And then Roxas is gone, and Sora is left staring blankly at his wall.
They ask where he got that cut on his arm. For those who don't know him, Sora says it was his cat; it looks utter believable due to the increase of skin layer damage as it curls at an odd angle downward. But for those who do know him, he can't tell them this lie because they know that he doesn't have a cat; in fact, he doesn't have a pet of any kind.
So for them, he lies and says that accidentally scratched himself in his sleep. They believe it. Except for Riku, who only pretends to believe, but Sora doesn't realize this.
Sora also doesn't know that Riku makes a pact with himself to call the suicide hotline is Sora shows up at school with any more mysterious "scratches."
"What do you need, Roxas?" Sora mumbles as Roxas strokes the brunet's hair. As of late, the ghost can touch Sora and Sora is actually able to feel it, like so many of the ghosts in movies and whatnot that can pick up object and throw them or push people.
"I need you to remember me," Roxas says brokenly. "And I can't tell you myself, because then you won't truly remember."
"What will happen when I remember?" Sora wants to know. He rolls over and looks into Roxas's face.
The blond's expression is somber. "That is entirely up to you."
Sora couldn't be more frustrated.
"Sora?" Riku says, poking his friend. "Aren't you going to eat?"
The brunet sighs and shoves his food away. "No. I lost my appetite. Do you want my food?"
"I'll take it!" one of their classmates, Pence, says from a few seats down the table. Sora slides it the other boy's way. "Hey, thanks!"
Riku glares at Sora. The brunet is acting like an idiot; does he really think that if he doesn't eat, his problems will up and vanish? Not likely; Sora probably knows that not eating will fix nothing, but he still refuses to eat anyhow.
Riku clicks his tongue. He's tired of Sora's bullshit. But he cares about Sora too much to be more than merely irritated with the brunet.
"Here, have my water bottle. If you won't eat, then you at least have to keep your fluids up," the silveret sighs as he removes his unopened bottled water from his bag. He hands it to his best friend.
Sora smiles minutely, his eyes dimmer than they should be when he smiles. "Thanks, Riku. You're a true friend; you always look out for me, even when I don't want it."
Riku shifts uncomfortably in his seat. "Yeah, well. If I don't look out for you, who will? Certainly not yourself."
And he actually succeeds in making Sora laugh.
"I remembered something," Sora informs his ghost one night as they lie together, hand in hand. He curls up against the chilly soul and shuts his eyes. "It was in a dream I had last night. You had Keyblades like I did, and you weren't wearing the Organization XIII cloak like you usually do. You were angry with a man with red bandages on his face. You didn't want to fade away. And I wasn't there, but I remember this because I went somewhere – a room with computers? – and remembered being you. Why do I get the feeling that we're closely related?"
"Because we are," Roxas tells the boy beside him. He uses his free hand to hold Sora by the waist. "You just have to remember in what way."
"I want to remember," Sora yawns. He's beginning to drift off. "I want to know you."
"And you will," Roxas whispers, his form fading the further and further Sora gets into sleep-mode. "In time, you will…"
The dreams swarm Sora and swallow him whole. He falls forever and ever and breaks through circle after circle of stained glass, ones with princesses and people he doesn't know on their surfaces.
He eventually lands on his feet on a circle of stained glass that resembles himself from his other dreams. It's beauty and horror at once, because he finds it beautiful but frightening because he can sense the foreboding in every particle of the air.
Roxas's back is facing him, but Sora can recognize that mass of hair anywhere. He takes a step towards the other male and tries to speak, but his voice is lost. He croaks and suffocates while trying to grab Roxas and capture a voice to use to call out to the blond.
Roxas abruptly turns around, and he has no face. Only a black hole, and he's holding something: a mask that looks like Sora's face. Or Roxas's face; there isn't much of a difference, only in how they wear it.
"I'm no one…" a voice echoes throughout the sanctuary, and Sora can't tell if it's Roxas's voice or his own, because it sounds like an unfamiliar mix of the two.
Sora wakes up in a cold sweat, and Roxas is nowhere to be found.
It feels like a riddle. "I'm no one." Things in dreams that are single, unforgettable quotes like that often are. And so Sora begins by trying to say the sentence is other ways.
Nobody? A Nobody… Someone without a body?
No… Someone without a heart.
Heart… Hearts… No hearts. Nobodies have no hearts, because they are only part of a person, a shell of a former being!
Roxas is –
Roxas leans over and kisses Sora on the cheek. "You finally remembered; took you long enough," the blond teases. "And now we can be together, because you sacrificed what you had to. Do you miss it?"
Sora looks down at the people below, at all of the black cars following the hearse and the coffin being unloaded from said death vehicle.
He laughs at them. They're so silly. They don't realize how fake it all is.
The brunet watches his mother sob uncontrollably, and he watches Riku and Kairi cling to one another, both of them on their knees. Riku is stony-faced, and Kairi is crying softly.
Even Dr. Ienzo is there. He shakes his head and doesn't stay for the pre-burial service.
Sora grins brightly. "No, I don't miss it. Life is overrated. I'd much rather be here, where everything is sunny and warm and I have you with me." And he turns to Roxas and Roxas is smiling, too.
And they are like two sides of a mirror, two people born of a single essence; they are one and they are separate, a pair of ghosts lingering between the Light and the Dark because they themselves are the Light and the Dark combined to make a pallid oblivion.