White Knight: Ninety :Moving Forward
The battle was over. Bodies were sprawled across the cobble, dead or unconscious, and Roxas stepped carefully. Luxord was gone, it seemed, but it looked as if he was the only one who had been smart enough to flee. As Roxas looked around, names sprung to his tongue easily. He recognized the pink haired man, Marluxia, who had attacked Terra earlier that day, and he saw the raging electric bitch who he'd fought with, Larxene, sitting in binds against a wall. Marluxia was dead, his face too bloody to really recognize, but his hair had given him away. Roxas swallowed and walked up to Axel, who was standing in front of another prisoner. Saix was unconscious, also bound, his face marred by gashes.
"I need you to come with me," Roxas whispered, glancing around the road. Serah was yelling at Noel, probably for attacking him, while Hope tended to Lightning's, Snow's, and Vanille's wounds. Fang was sitting beside him, talking fast.
Axel glanced down at the blond, and groaned loudly. He looked to be in bad shape, bruises appearing on his cheek, blood smeared across his nose and forehead. His clothes were stained red in some places, and as he turned he had a crooked gait, favoring his left leg. "You're kidding," Axel said, frowning deeply. "Look, we both need to pass out somewhere. Well, you don't look that bad, actually, but I need to rest for a bit before I do anymore fighting."
"We're not fighting." Roxas shook his head. "At least, I don't think we are. If Xehanort won, I don't think we'd still be here."
Axel regarded him with a blank stare, and he jerked his head in slight agreement. "Yeah, I guess." Axel ruffled his hair and sighed. "You can leave by yourself, you know."
"I don't want to go by myself," Roxas murmured, feeling uncomfortable.
"You scared, or something?"
Roxas did not reply, his lips drawing into a thin line. Axel blinked, and he glanced up at the sky, his guilt spilling onto his face. "So, you want me to come with?"
"Yeah." Roxas closed his eyes and breathed in deeply. "Please. I don't think I can do it alone."
"Well, if you put it like that…" Axel smiled a little. He stretched and winced a little. "Alright, kid, let's make this fast. I really want to just pass out right now."
"I agree," Roxas said with a dry laugh. And so the two of them began their trek through the dilapidated streets of the Light Region, Roxas using up most of his energy healing Axel. Roxas explained he'd get it back later, and that he'd be able to help with the carnage after he rested. As they passed ruined buildings and dying fires, Roxas felt sadness collapse onto him. This was his home, and it was in complete ruin because of Xehanort. Roxas hoped he was dead.
"So what happened? Where'd you go?" Axel asked as the cut through the backstreets.
"The alley," Roxas sighed. "I ran into some trouble in the form of an old buddy of my dad's. It's been happening a lot."
Axel whistled and stuck his hands into his pockets. "Damn, you and your daddy trouble."
"You don't even know the half of it." Roxas glanced at the sky, frowning a little. "I found him in the Dark Region."
Axel looked down at him with wide eyes, but he did not comment. "Oh," he said quietly, and that was that. They were silent for a while longer.
"What do you know about a girl named Yeul? A seer?" Roxas asked as they continued.
"Never heard of her." Axel scratched his head. "A seer? You think I know any of that? I can do a little fire magic, just enough that it's useful, but it didn't get me killed in the Dark Region."
"I was just hoping…" Roxas sighed again and shook his head. "Noel… this guy, Noel…"
"I know who he is. Dark Region kid over here, remember? When I went to school he was there."
"Oh." Roxas licked his lips, his mind racing with the story Noel had told him. He was still trying to make sense of it. "Well, he almost killed me because of some prophecy this girl, Yeul, told him about the future. Apparently Ven's going to cause the apocalypse."
"That's really weird, actually." Axel's eyebrows raised, and he laughed a little. "Can we not talk about the apocalypse right now? Man, I'm tired of fighting."
"You don't fight the apocalypse, Axel," Roxas said quietly. "You have to accept it."
"No." Axel stopped as they climbed a small hill, and Roxas looked back at him. "You fight until the end, got it memorized?"
Roxas stared at him blankly for a moment, before nodding, understanding the hard glare Axel was giving him, and he continued on. He pushed through some trees, and he froze as his home came into view, still in one piece, and as magnificent as ever. He exhaled, wondering why he ever left, and then he thought about Ven. This pushed him onwards.
"I hope everyone's okay," Roxas whispered as he walked cautiously across the grounds, and Axel followed silently. They edged near the courtyard, and Roxas felt himself rushing forward, tripping over himself to get nearer, to see what had become of his friends. He blinked and clambered over a pillar, stopping as eyes fell on him.
"Ven?" Terra asked first, blinking as he stepped away from Xion. She looked up as well.
"That's Roxas," she said, turning back to face Sora, who was staring at Roxas as well. "Ven is with Naminé."
"Is she okay?" Roxas blurted, rushing toward them, careful not to trip over risen earth. He was thinking about his oath to the blonde girl, to be her knight or to kill her.
"No." Xion was staring at the ground, and Roxas looked down as well. He cried out, stumbling back a few steps into Axel, who in turn pushed him aside.
"Riku?" Roxas gasped, looking between his surviving friends. Kairi was curled up against Aqua, who was staring at Sora. Sora looked incredibly angry, but he was looking at Roxas, and giving him a weak smile.
"Xehanort was controlling him," Kairi choked out, looking up at Roxas with puffy red eyes. "We didn't know how to get him out."
"Why does everyone insist on pinning the blame on themselves?" Xion asked, turning to look at Kairi, a frown gacing her lips. "I killed him. None of you had anything to do with it."
"There had to be some other way—!"
"Perhaps," Xion cut in, her eyes on his face. "But he asked me to kill him, so I did."
"He… he asked you—?"
There was silence after that, the group of them simply staring at each other, not sure what to do next. Roxas sat down, breathing deeply as he tried to calm his nerves, and Aqua sat down near him, with Kairi not too far behind, sitting very close to her sister. Terra gave into his aches and sunk to the ground a few feet from Aqua, and Xion followed behind him. Sora continued standing alone.
Axel began to explain what had happened with the Rebellion, speaking of the interlopers without too much thought to them. Roxas wanted to cut in, and say that a few of them had known his father back in the day, but he couldn't find his voice. He felt cold, and frightened, and he didn't really know how to react to his friend's death. Was he sad? How could he be, when he felt nothing but an icy pit inside his stomach.
"Is everyone alright?" Aqua asked carefully.
"Not everyone," Axel said with a shrug. "There had to be a few casualties, you know? It's war."
"Who was it?" Terra leaned forward, his eyebrows furrowed. "Anyone we know?"
"How should I know who you know?" Axel scoffed, and Roxas elbowed him hard. "Ow! Damn it, Rox… uh, if you mean Rebellion people, yeah, there was a few. Auron went down, I think, and I saw a few other bodies, but I didn't go see who they were. Oh, and Aerith."
Aqua sucked in a breath, her eyes snapping shut, and she said nothing more. For the next few minutes Axel and Xion make awkward small talk, Roxas joining in only to make a short comment about Axel's idiocy. Aqua and Terra remained completely silent, and Terra had edged closer to her. She didn't need to open her eyes to know who it was, and she leaned against him.
"How long have you two been friends?" Xion whispered, the silence getting to them all.
"Oh, since a little after I got here, I guess?" Axel blinked, and looked at Roxas, who shrugged. "Yeah, I dunno. A few months."
"He made fun of me a lot," Roxas murmured. "And then he would yell at anyone else who tried to make fun of me. Like I was his possession or something."
"Lame." Axel scowled. "I didn't act like I owned you, okay? Friends can make fun of each other, but no one else can. That's how it works."
Roxas snorted softly, and Xion smiled a little. "Friendship is weird," Xion said softly.
"Understatement of the century, kiddo." Axel clicked his tongue and leaned back.
Roxas stared at his friend, and he frowned, his stomach churning a little as he thought of Riku. The boy was dead. He was dead, and he was Roxas's friend, and now he wondered why he wasn't crying. Roxas closed his eyes, absorbed for a moment in the disquieting silence around him, wondering why he was still alive after everything all of them have been through.
His brother's voice broke him out of his reverie.
"I guess I'm too late, huh?" the blond boy asked breathlessly, his blue eyes weary, and in his arms an unconscious Naminé. Roxas jumped to his feet.
"Are you okay?" Roxas gasped immediately, crossing half the courtyard by the time Ven took a step into it. He was staring at Riku, a sadness in his gaze that made Roxas guilty for not mourning over him more.
"I feel really sick, to be honest," Ven said, squirming a little. The more Roxas looked at him, the more fidgety he seemed to get, his lips twitching, and his tired eyes flitting away from his brother's face. "That doesn't really matter, though. Riku shouldn't be dead. I didn't let her give him a wish, so it's not fair. She should allow him a chance to live."
"What?" Roxas asked blankly as Ven passed him, Naminé's head lolling. "Ven, what happened? What's wrong with Naminé?"
"Nothing." Ven shrugged, setting her down gently beside Riku. "Not anymore."
"Ven," Aqua croaked, and Ven turned to face her. They stared at each other for a moment, and he reached out and wrapped his arms around her shoulders.
"I feel like I haven't seen you in forever," Ven murmured, staring at Terra and smiling, motioning for him to join in. The man obliged after a moment of hesitation, wrapping his burly arms around both of them.
"What happened, Ven?" Aqua whispered, resting her chin on his shoulder. She was gazing at Naminé's limp body. "What did you… what did you do?"
"I saved her." Ven pulled away from his friends, smiling dully, and rubbing his eyes. He turned to face Xion. "I'm sorry for treating you the way I did. You were right. Yeul's water pushed me to the edge of my sanity, and lately I haven't been the most stable to begin with. And now that it's over, I don't feel right. I don't feel like me anymore."
"Ven…" Aqua said, her eyes darting from Xion's shocked face to Ven's own weary one. Ven shook his head.
"I've been really dumb," he said loudly, looking to every face in their small crowd, from Aqua, to Xion, to Terra, to Roxas, to Axel, to Sora, to Kairi, to the corpse of Riku, and then to the stranger in his dear Naminé's skin. He stared at her, wondering if his choice had been the right one. He then decided it didn't matter now. "I realize I've been selfish, and wrong with a lot of my choices lately. I think drinking that stupid god potion made me see what a bastard I've been, and that everything I've done has been because of my own need to keep Naminé safe."
"We don't blame you for anything, Ven," Sora said, his voice hoarse, and his eyes red. He was standing beside Kairi, who had a hand tight around his arm. "To be honest, I… I really have no idea what's going on."
"Justified, since you were possessed half the time, and dead for the rest." Ven laughed a little, but the sound was off, too forced, and Ven's eyes didn't sparkle with humor or hope. Sora smiled though, this smile sparking something in his saddened gaze. "I was hoping I'd get here before my power ran out, but I think I spent too much time on Naminé. After I got out of the median I was normal again, and I felt like crap. I thought I'd have time to help Riku, but I didn't."
"I don't blame you," Sora said, cocking his head. Ven squinted at the boy, and he shook his head.
"You don't even know what I'm talking about," Ven said with a short, incredulous laugh. "Why would you say that?"
Sora blinked, and shifted awkwardly. He tried to smile, but it looked glum on his lips. "You wanted to help him," Sora said quietly. "That's what matters right?"
"It's over," Aqua breathed. "That's what matters. We're alive, and Riku… he should have been saved." She looked down solemnly, her eyes closing. "But we can mourn for him when the world is right again."
Terra bent beside his cousin, his head bowed low. The world wasn't right, and it seemed like it could never be right again. For all the pain he'd felt this was the worst blow. His cousin hadn't deserved this fate. "I want to create a world where this—" He placed a trembling hand on Riku's shoulder, "—never happens again."
"Me too," Kairi murmured, closing her eyes and squeezing them tight. "That kind of magic… it shouldn't exist anywhere."
"The magic that created Naminé and Vanitas too," Aqua said, straightening up. "We need to destroy the lab."
"Aqua…" Ven murmured.
"Ven, we have to," Aqua said. She placed a hand on his shoulder and smiled a little. "But you said she's fine, so there's no need to worry."
"Aqua… I took her memories away."
Everyone turned to stare at Ven then, and they watched him with wide eyes and gaping mouths. He smiled, and he knew what he had to do now. Naminé was safe now, safe and innocent. Normal too, it seemed. For all the unhappiness in his life, she'd done a job of making him content. A purpose. That's what she'd given him. And now she'd given him a new purpose.
"What?" Aqua gasped, her hand sliding from his shoulder. "But… why?"
"Ven…" Roxas said, stepping toward him. "What did you do?"
"Something really dumb," Ven laughed, dropping beside Terra. "As usual. Look, I need someone to take care of her. Someone to make her feel normal, and happy. Give her a fake past, a fake life, make her feel like she belongs somewhere."
"Do you really think that will help her, Ven?" Aqua whispered.
Ven stared at the small girl's face, hoping that he'd hold the memory of it forever in his brain. That soft and peaceful face that he loved. And Ven smiled up at Aqua, smiled big and true. "Definitely."
Not over yet. Actually, I hated this chapter so much while writing it, I had no intention of ever putting it up. Ever. But while I was writing the newest chapter of Twisted Lore, I realized how much trouble I was having after not writing it for so long. Writing KH characters felt weird, and unnatural? It was a pretty jarring revelation, so I'm trying to get back into the groove.
I wrote this months ago, and it's not enough to call it a true ending. THERE IS AN EPILOGUE. It's just not written yet. Re-reading this, I honestly can't remember half the things that happened in this story, and it took me a moment to remember that Roxas lived in the Light Region and was friends with Riku. Yeah, it's bad. I'm hoping this will tie you over, until the time when I can write a proper epilogue? I'll never be able to wrap up ALL the plotlines... but I promise VenNami will be resolved, at the very least.
Okay! So, I'm going to ask all of you to review this one. Last 'official' chapter. Basically, Nami will be better off without Ven. Truth. Also, go and read Twisted Lore! I'm desperate for attention for that story.
Thank you all for sticking around this long, and I hope to write an epilogue soon!