Set in Olympus Coliseum.
The continuation of Remembrance
If you want to strangle me because my One-Shot has now become a Triple-Shot... I would understand completely.
I just cannot seem to let go of this train of thought. I keep...finding a new ending...
Please read All It Takes and Remembrance in order to fully appreciate the emotions in this story.
Also, this digresses greatly from the generally happy themes of the two stories preceding this one.
You have been warned.
Lastly, they say writers write what they know and how they feel.
Make of that statement what you will...
DISCLAIMER [I do not own Kingdom Hearts] DISCLAIMER
~Remembrance / Continued~
I hope you find happiness.
Zack followed her, the pretty brown-haired girl named Aerith. She was the first girl he considered paying attention to since…well, since Aqua…
"I have always liked you, Zack," Aerith said, smiling warmly at him.
He grinned in response, hoping she would not see the emptiness he hid behind it. She reached for his hand, but he casually raised his arms and placed both his hands behind his head to escape her hold. She noticed, and she smiled at him sadly, but he did not yield.
Maybe this is a mistake, he thought.
They stood facing one another, and she was saying something, but he could not hear her. He merely looked at her, and sighed. She was pretty. She had eyes that sparkled in the evening light, and brown hair that was always so perfect, and skin that seemed soft and smooth as silk. But that was all she was; pretty…
"Aqua, you're beautiful…"
His own words echoed in his head and it pained him. He shut his eyes tightly for a minute, and tried to remember…
Why was he doing this?
Because Phil and Hercules were worried about him. He could not hide it from them, how terribly it haunted him, how much that one question tortured him; will she come back? No one had an answer and, worse still, no one believed she ever will. They were always urging him to move on, to try at least. And, to be honest, he was beginning to believe his heart would not survive this wait.
Each day that passed, he forgot a minute of the time he spent with her. He could no longer recall the sound of her voice, or the feel of her skin. He was unsure what shade of blue her eyes were; if they were light and clear like the skies, or deep and brilliant like the ocean. His memories were becoming less real, less vivid… As if they truly were no more than dreams…
"Zack, are you alright?"
Aerith brought him back to reality, touching him lightly on the shoulder.
He smiled weakly at her, "Yeah, I'm good."
As soon as she continued talking, he allowed his mind to drift once more. He wondered for the nth time where Aqua could be, if she still remembers her promise, or if she even intends to keep it. His heart throbbed painfully. It always did nowadays, whenever he tried to remember her.
He felt a sliver of guilt, and he forced himself to smile at her, more sincerely this time. "Sorry, I kind of spaced out there."
She turned away from him, sighing sadly.
"Hey," he said. "Listen…"
He owed it to his friends to try; he owed it to Aerith to take this seriously. It has been so long – too long – and he has the right to at least try to be happy. Right?
Maybe… Maybe I should move on… His heart flinched, its beat became erratic. He felt as though it was resisting the will of his mind. But maybe he was tired of listening to his foolish heart. Maybe Aqua was not real, maybe he was holding on to false hope. He breathed deeply to calm himself down; Aerith was waiting for him to continue, her face still lined with sadness.
He slowly pulled her into an embrace.
"Listen," he tried again, his grin as honest as he could make it. "We should take this slow."
"Alright," Aerith answered as he released her. Her cheeks were flushed pink, and she was smiling, clearly overjoyed that he had held her. "Where would you like to start?"
"How about," he said, raising one finger, "one date?"
Her smile became more dazzling. "I would like that very much."
He nodded. But then Aerith suddenly frowned. She was gazing at something that seemed far away, over his shoulder. "What's wrong?" he asked her, turning around. There was nothing there.
"I thought I saw someone, a girl there," she replied, pointing to one of the rooftops.
His heart froze. No. Please, no…
She spent the last few hours scouring the entire city. She ran across rooftops and along walls, trying to search from the highest vantage points. She was exhausted, but her heart spurred her forward, encouraging her. He was here; she could feel it. In her hand she held the mirror he had given her several years before; the mirror that had served as the Wayfinder between her and Zack.
As soon as she saw him, she smiled. "I finally found you."
He was still so far away and he had his back to her, but she knew she could not be mistaken. He was Zack; her heart was telling her so.
She was relieved because he was alright; he was safe; as perfect as she remembered. She was ecstatic because she would be able to hold him, be with him. She wondered how much he had changed, and if he would mind that she had not aged at all… She blushed, knowing she herself would not mind if he was different now…
She was about to leap over the low wall that bordered the rooftop, eager to run into his arms, but when she leaned forward, she caught sight of his companion. Her breath caught painfully in her throat when he wrapped his arms around the brown-haired girl. Her heart writhed in agony when the girl smiled at him and blushed. She felt tears begin to sting her eyes and flow freely down her face. They fell onto her trembling lips, down to her chin, and finally onto the mirror she still held.
Aqua knew then that she had arrived too late. She expected too much of him. He was only human, after all. She felt foolish, keeping faith in him.
"Zack…" she said, but the name now felt like thorns in her throat. She laid the mirror, wet with her tears, on the ledge. She smiled sadly. "I… I hope you find happiness…" She turned the other way and left, crying silently as she disappeared into the night.
"Aerith… I have to go," Zack said suddenly, leaving her confused behind him.
He ran in the direction where Aerith was gazing earlier.
No, please. No, no, no… For the first time since Aqua left, he wished she had not returned. He pleaded with all the Gods on Olympus. But he could feel dread in his heart. It was as though an ominous, mocking shadow was soaring over him.
He nimbly climbed onto the rooftop, and stopped. There was no one there. He should be relieved; perhaps the girl was not Aqua. Perhaps Aerith had imagined the girl. But his heart continued to beat frantically. He slowly studied his surroundings, and noticed something gleaming in the moonlight. He approached it.
As soon as he realized what it was, he felt as though his very core collapsed on itself, his soul crumbling in an earthquake only he could feel. "No…" he said aloud, reaching for the object with a trembling hand.
He looked at his reflection in the small mirror, blurred by droplets that he was sure were tears. The night suddenly became unbearably cold, and in his eyes the moon faded and all the stars disappeared. She was here; Aqua was here and she had seen him. On the night of her return, he decided to give up on her.
Gritting his teeth, his own tears merging with hers on the mirror as they fell, he whispered her name with pain in his voice. "Aqua…"
With an anguished cry, he dashed the mirror against the ground where it shattered irreparably into a thousand pieces. He continued to cry, his entire body trembling. In his chest, his heart was dying; broken like the mirror she had left behind.
(Continued in Listening at Last)