Disclaimer: For the last time, I don't own anything.
Chapter Thirty/ Epilogue
I must have slept for at least eighteen hours once we got back. There was no reason for me to be so utterly exhausted, but after yesterday, probably the longest day of my entire life, I felt like I deserved it.
When I woke up, it was early afternoon. I was sore all over but ignored the feeling as I got up and went over to the window. I glanced outside for a second and watched the people pass by.
There was a weird smorgasbord of emotions going on inside me. The two most prevalent were relief and joy. It was finally over. Xemnas would never come back to haunt us again. Axel and I were free to live our lives as humans, along with Xigbar and Luxord. True, we might have been the only four to survive, but that was four more than any of us expected. Besides… none of the other members seemed to have earned it.
In my half-asleep state, I closed the curtain and reveled for a moment. Finally, I motivated myself to clean up and get dressed, and I went down to Merlin's.
The whole place was in cheerful disarray. There were more people here than there had been for a while; the people I knew to be there, Yuffie, Aerith, Leon, Cid, and Axel; Sora, Kairi, and Riku; King Mickey, Donald, and Goofy; and the two people I expected to see the least, Xigbar and Luxord.
Xigbar I knew about; he had tried to help us in the battle yesterday; but I was surprised no one was freaking out about Luxord, considering everyone knew him to part of the Organization.
I approached him slowly. He didn't wear the cloak; instead, he wore a white shirt, a violet vest, and a red tie. He smiled at me in that way of his.
"This is quite the party," Luxord said casually.
"How long have you been here?"
"Since this morning," he remarked. "I found that I had to pay my friend a visit. He was worrying about me."
I couldn't find anything to say. "How'd you know?"
"Axel," Luxord said, gesturing towards him. Axel was talking with Yuffie and Leon, and apparently one of them had said something funny. "We had… kind of a chat about you."
He smiled and put a hand on my shoulder. "Hey! Don't worry. It's time for us to celebrate."
"Did you hear? Old Lux and I are human, too," Xigbar commented, slapping his friend on the back.
"Great. I'm happy for you two."
"Now, what's wrong?" Luxord asked. "You seem off all of a sudden."
I smiled quickly. "No, I'm fine, really. I'll talk to you later, okay?"
I walked over to Axel and Yuffie.
Axel noticed my expression and smirked. "It's going to be weird getting used to those two. They can cause quite a lot of trouble."
Yuffie took my hand and winked.
"Are you doing okay?" Leon asked. "I heard you were hurt."
"I'm fine now, thanks," I murmured.
"Later, I want you two to give me an account of what happened. We need to know," Leon said. "I doubt something like this will ever happen again… but to be honest, we're all curious."
"Yes, what did him in?" Yuffie asked eagerly.
I smiled and laughed at her. "It's… a weird story."
"Guess you could consider it long," Axel added, nodding.
Yuffie shrugged. "Well, we've got to start somewhere."
I opened my mouth to speak, but I was cut off by the sound of a door opening and a man's voice asking, "Um… this is the Restoration Committee's base… right?"
He was a tall, well-built young man with spiky black hair. He wore a black uniform and carried what was unmistakably a buster sword on his back.
I had no idea who he was. But from the high-pitched shriek that had suddenly come from Aerith as she ran to embrace him, I knew that Zack had come home, too.
A few weeks passed and summer came, mercilessly hot. Everyone avoided going outside if they could manage it. It was so much easier to stay in the cooler stone buildings and nap. Even Leon, who would stop at nothing when it came to his job, became lethargic and snappish.
It was then Yuffie suggested we go to the beach, as she'd been trying to do all summer; everyone else had been beating around the bush, claiming work and other things. She remained persistent, however, and it wasn't difficult to convince them. Finally, one day, we went down, Zack in tow.
I wasn't sure what to think about him. He was nice, very easygoing, and had a good sense of humor. He and Aerith were now together, which was good for them. There was just such mystery surrounding his reappearance; he never said where he'd come from and what had happened in the time that he was gone. He'd also never mentioned Tifa, the other friend Yuffie had told me about a while ago, even though she and Zack were once very close friends.
Aerith never asked, too overjoyed at her old friend coming home; I'd have guessed she'd be the most curious of them all.
And with Zack, came Cloud. Cloud had been here the whole time; he'd just never showed himself, too scared what the others would think. He'd been battling his darkness, which had been incarnated in a man named Sephiroth, or so he thought; once Cloud had defeated him, he came to us, if shyly.
Cloud and Zack had evidentially once been best friends, but it had clearly been a while since the two were close. Cloud had seemingly changed, from the way the two would argue.
And on the subject of Cloud… he and I clashed like oil and water. Cloud was that sort of mopey person who cut people out of his life to 'protect them' from his darkness. Even though he'd gotten over it, the melodramatic way he acted sometimes didn't exactly warm me to him.
Despite the new rifts between friends that weren't there at one point, everyone still acted friendly when we went to the beach, but once we got there, we split into distinct groups- Zack and Aerith, with Cloud; Cid and Leon, who appeared ill at ease and wondered why they'd even come; and Yuffie, Axel, and I.
I was surprised that Yuffie wasn't staying with her old friends, but I didn't mind at all. We had become almost inseparable recently, and that had been a great subject of jest. I sighed and sat in the hot sand. She came over and sat next to me, leaning into my shoulder. It was getting later now.
"Yuffie?" My voice was low. I cleared my throat.
"What do you think is going to happen?" It was a question I'd been meaning to ask. Things were too good now to be permanent.
"What do you mean?"
"I don't know. To us. In general." It was hard to word my feelings. I laced my fingers through hers. "I'm not used to this. Normalcy."
"I want us to be together. I want to live. But how? What do I do now? I thought everything would be clearer once he's gone…"
"You'll figure it out," she said softly. "We're all here, you know. No one's going anywhere."
"Yeah, I… know."
And the resulting kiss made me think that, while I didn't know how the future was going to turn out, I was ready to go forward anyway.
Several months passed. Sora and all his friends had to leave, but they promised to keep in touch. I knew we wouldn't forget.
Living a normal life was so weird. Even when I had first been human, my life had never been like this. It felt good. I never felt like I was intruding. I belonged here, I really did.
We discovered not too long after fighting Xemnas that this town's name was actually Radiant Garden. For some reason, after darkness reached this world, its inhabitants forgot its true identity. The computer told us everything, now that Cid had managed to get into it.
Axel stayed on the committee with the rest of us. Eventually, we moved in together, because I couldn't bank on the owner of the boarding house's hospitality forever.
As for Xigbar and Luxord… they stayed here, too. I wasn't sure what both of them did for a living, and each had questionable morals, but they found a way to comfortably get by. Often they tried to get Axel and I to come with them for drinks.
Aside from our work with the committee- which, I soon discovered, was a lot more than Heartless patrol; with the Organization gone, it was easy to start rebuilding; houses didn't make themselves, and there were only so many people willing to help- I got a job to support myself, working in a music store downtown. Axel worked, too, at a videogame programming company, and Yuffie started to teach at a dojo.
It was time to consider what I'd do with myself. I knew automatically that I wanted to compose, and perform; even if the scores I'd written as a Nobody were still untouched. Still, somehow, I had to make a career out of it. Axel recommended I teach, which I thought was a good idea, and Aerith told me to go learn how to teach properly, and that meant college.
I wasn't too thrilled with that idea at first. The community college didn't even have reason to accept me; I'd never even finished high school. When I begrudgingly went and spoke with the admissions people, they were delighted to take me on. I started to believe that they didn't turn anyone away.
Aerith even asked me if I'd like to train to become a white mage, because she once saw how well I was able to heal a particularly nasty scraped knee of Yuffie's. I obliged, and found I actually liked the field of study.
I soon discovered I was very busy, between school, work, training, and my relationship with Yuffie. Before I even realized what happened, nearly two years had passed.
One day, as Axel let himself back into the apartment after a long day at work, he discovered a letter for himself in the mailbox. This in itself was odd; normally Demyx received all the mail, between his friendships and taking care of all the bills (something he refused to allow Axel to do after the redhead misplaced their electricity bill and caused the power to be off for several days). No, Axel wasn't nearly as popular. There was no return address on the front, and when he flipped it over, the name he found surprised him.
15 Clearwater Ave.
Honba, Destiny Islands
Raising his eyebrows, the redhead looked around furtively even though he knew he was alone; Demyx was in classes and wouldn't be back for several hours. He slipped his thumb under the tab and opened the envelope.
Sora had never made an attempt to contact Axel before; normally, he always spoke to him through Demyx's letters, and his questions were never beyond the average- asking how he was doing and so forth. It wasn't even something Axel really minded, even though he was Roxas' Somebody- the feelings of longing for his lost friend seemed to have disappeared with his status as a Nobody. It was a little sad, actually.
Axel took the paper out of the envelope. It was surprisingly brittle, and the handwriting indicated it had been written in a hurry. The first line, written clumsily, took up almost half the paper.
Are you alone?
Axel furrowed his eyebrows. Was Sora trying to play matchmaker? That was something that the others had tried to do for some time, but if they wanted Sora to do it, it really was getting pathetic. However, the next line caught him off guard.
Do not let Demyx see this.
Axel walked over and sat on the couch, still staring at it. What did Sora want to keep from his friend, and why was he telling Axel about it? The words continued on in a hurry-
Look, I know you're close, and I'm sorry to have to speak through you… but you're the only one I can think of to make this decision. I briefly considered Yuffie; but I knew she would tell him straightaway. I'm not sure either of them is ready to hear this, in fact.
Axel could imagine Sora saying this, fidgeting nervously. What was so important that he had to write a letter to Axel? And a decision? Demyx was fully capable of taking care of himself; why did Axel have to make a choice depending on his well-being?
I'm sorry to put this on you, but I can't think of anyone else. I've made a mistake, and I need your help. I need all of you to help, in time, but right now, I need you to keep this a secret.
And the remainder of the letter Axel never finished, because the next lines made him drop the paper in shock.
So it's over! And I'm so sad! The following lines were originally kept in the epilogue, but I decided to cut them out because it felt like it was the wrong time to reveal the information.
I will be posting the sequel; in fact, I've already finished several chapters. However, I will be publishing it on Thursday, under the title Eternal Nocturne. You can either temporarily Author Alert me or check my page late on Thursday if you want to read it, which I am not forcing anyone to do. However, I am really excited about it; I think a lot of you guys will like it, and I'm glad that this story isn't quite finished. I've been writing at this for nearly two years, so it should be fun to have the sequel finally see daylight, after countless drafts...
Thank you, all of you, for your contributions, whether it be ideas, praise, critique, or otherwise. You have no idea how much I appreciate it. Even now, looking back to the first chapter of this and the very first chapter of NR, I've seen how much I've developed as a writer. Thank you all; you all helped me so much, even though it might not look like it straight away.
I assure you I will work just as hard towards the sequel- hopefully the chapters won't be posted with delay!
Thank you Dragginninja, Zexiontwo, Willowfur, TheChel, NinjaShiek, Mystical, The Ninja And The Writer, anonymous reviewer Wolven24KH, and Anna for your review last chapter.
Also, thank you to Ranyo Malight, The Moon's Berserk, NinjaShiek, Ravenr20, Sora Tayuya, SoraIsMyHomeboy, The Waterbender, Kutlessrocker, Zexiontwo, ContessaTheBrave, DJ36521, Zemby, TheEspadaSisters, vildtiger, AsianTwinkiesFTW, roxy mccartney, Chiaroscurist, moonstone.78, The Infiniator, Phantom Hunter of the Soul, IenzosShuggaCharra, and Azelf1717 for twenty-nine chapters of wonderful reviews. Have some cookies. 3
Let's not forget Wolven24KH, Mystical, ArmyOfDuctTape, I don't have an account, aLItTlEheLP, Zexionisawesome, and WinxKHeartsPitchiMewSailorFan, because while you might not have accounts, you're all just as important. 3 and savor those hearts, because I never type them.
I hope to see you all at the sequel, or around the site. Lead strong lives. Stay clean. XD Enjoy good books and stories. I love you all!
Princess of Rose aka Alice.
P.S. Please check out Eternal Nocturne on Thurday!