Chapter Twenty-Three: Home at Last

Being on the ship felt much more comfortable than the months Roxas spent in the city on land. Perhaps it was because he was back on the ocean, but more likely it was due to the fact that the ship was bringing him to Axel, after over half a year confined to land and absence of the man he loved. Roxas had discovered during the wintertime that he truly did love Axel. He had all along, but didn't realize it until he was far away. Roxas sighed, looking over the bow of the ship, yearning to see the merman, but knowing it would be at least be six weeks before he would be reunited.

Roxas felt more and more anxious. He helped the crew with some chores, but he was a paying customer to be ferried, so nothing was expected of him. Roxas sighed as he looked out into the darkness. He pulled his arms around himself and gave a relaxed sigh.

The ship lumbered on. Every night, Roxas would spend hours gazing out at the ocean. Finally, they were a week away from the island. Roxas had written a note to Axel, and placed it in one final bottle. He planned, if he saw the redhead from the boat, he would throw him the bottle, with instructions inside: he asked Axel to watch for him the morning after the boat made land, and Roxas would swim out to the open ocean and meet Axel there.

Three nights before landfall, Roxas sighed as he watched the inky blackness of the water. The stars reflected brightly, often giving him false hope. Right before Roxas was going to retire for the night. He heart lunged. He stood up straight, keening to hear what he thought he might have. He smiled when he heard clicks, then a pair of rubies appeared a distance from the boat. Roxas's face lit up. He whispered his loved one's name, then threw the bottle with all his might towards the pair of red lights. He smiled when he realized the bottle didn't splash—it was caught. The red orbs dimmed for a moment, the returned to brightness. There was a click, and they disappeared into the water.

For the next two nights, Roxas continued his nighttime vigilance. He could always see Axel's eyes off in the distance. His chest, which had never seemed to thaw from the cold winter, slowly felt warmer from the mere thought of Axel being close.

The ship made dock, and Roxas spent one restless night, keeping up appearances with the crew, before saying goodbye to them all. At sunrise the next morning, Roxas ran to the edge of town, and further outward. He walked slowly into the cool water, feeling the salt and sand beat on his legs and the tops of his feet. Twenty feet out he began swimming. Fifty feet out he kept swimming. A hundred feet out he was still swimming and getting tired. He stopped to catch his breath, nervous Axel wouldn't come. He reached out to start swimming again, when something caught his ankle and pulled him under. Roxas instinctively fought for a split second, but then stilled himself, and opened his eyes in the water. There was his Axel, smiling with a sly grin. Roxas smirked back, then got his revenge. He wrapped his arms around the redhead and firmly kissed him. Axel stiffened with shock, and then relaxed into the kiss. The two broke the surface of the water and Roxas took a deep breath. Sora, Riku, Demyx, and Zexion surface as well, a little distance away from them.

"I love you," Roxas said, staring into the emerald eyes he longed for over the past months.

"I love you too," Axel replied.

"I never want to leave you again. Let's never be apart again," Roxas whispered as he embraced the thin redhead.

"Sounds perfect," Axel smiled.

The spell was cast once again, and Roxas was carried down into the depths of the ocean one final time. He was tired from his long journey home. Axel brought him into their room, and Roxas curled up next to Axel and slept. He dreamt of peaceful, warm dreams, but the feeling of bliss he felt with Axel continued with him whether he was asleep or awake, for the rest of their days.


a/n: review please! did you like it? did you hate it? are there huge errors somewhere i need to fix? what was your favorite part?