New Year's Special

Ven was generally the guy who looked like he knew what he was doing. Unbeknownst to those around him, the world was his stage and he the improvising actor.

He had gotten so good at pretending that real confidence formed. It was the reason why he succeeded in the world.

But there was one area that Ven simply could not master. It was an area that even his socially inept brother managed to traverse— and succeed— leaving Ven to wonder if he'd ever be able to outgrow his biggest and most persistent problem of his childhood.

For the life of him, Ventus could not communicate with a girl he was interested in.

It was truly the most embarrassing secret of his whole life. If anyone knew that his New Year's Resolution listed "talk to the coffee shop girl" at the top, they'd know that not only was it the only incomplete task remaining, but it was also there for a year.

It was time for action.

"Day three hundred and sixty-five. Today I will be completely my New Year's— well, it's more like an Old Year's Resolution now, but it was new at some point— ah, who cares! Starting over, starting over…" Ven lightly slapped his cheeks as he stared into the mirror.

He couldn't remember the last time he used the particular exercise to psych himself up for a task, but history proved that it helped him get through some tough and debilitating times. At some point in his life, Ven learned the importance of finding and defining himself. The simple notion allowed him to change himself, or at least enable him to undertake the more daunting tasks that life threw at him.

"All right, Ven. Today's the day you complete this year's list of resolutions. There will be no carry-overs. This is it. Today, you get it done."

Thirty outfit changes later, Ven finally felt he was ready to leave for the coffee shop. With a confident spring to his step, he left his home feeling more confident than ever before.

Kairi stirred from her sleep and slowly sat up as the room around her came into focus. Before the blanket fell from her shoulders, Kairi quickly held it fast to her naked chest.

She overslept again.

The other side of Sora's bed was empty, save for her cellphone placed in the center of his pillow. Kairi picked it up, laughing when she that Sora had changed her background.

He apparently had enough time in the morning to take a picture. Replacing her normal lock screen was a picture of Sora giving a thumbs-up next to her sleeping form. Shaking her head, Kairi unlocked her phone and read the message her boyfriend left her.

Thought about posting this online, but then you'd probably hate me. Busy all day, will be late. Don't miss me too much.

"What an ass," Kairi muttered between curved lips. With no more time to kill, Kairi quickly got up to search for her missing clothes. It wasn't too hard to recollect all of them, but for some reason, Kairi could not find her bra.

A nagging dread seeped into her. "Not again." Kairi groaned.

Sora had taken a liking to hiding what he described as an "unnecessary evil" from Kairi whenever he got the chance. This was the fourth bra Sora had successfully hidden.

Perhaps she could have prevented all of this if she didn't appear so amused when he struggled to remove the article of clothing, but watching him fumble and curse was one of the more hilarious— and consistent— events in Kairi's life. It was rather sadistic of her to be tease like that, but he always managed to take it off eventually.

She gave up her search after five minutes, deciding that she'd have to ask him for all of them later. He had trouble saying no to her when she used her puppy eyes anyway.

After freshening up, Kairi walked to the kitchen, surprised to find an empty apartment; but just as the unease began to set in, the lock on the front door turned. Riku and Xion walked in, both dressed in their running attire. Xion noticed Kairi first.

"Good morning! I see someone decided to sleep in." Xion walked into the kitchen, pulling two water bottles out of the refrigerator. She tossed one to Riku.

"You guys should have told me you were going to run! I would have gone with you." Kairi pouted as she prepared her breakfast.

"We actually went to your room this morning, but you weren't there." Riku smirked. "You must have been up really late."

"How's the weather outside?" Kairi quickly changed the subject. She was sure her roommates knew exactly where she was last night.

Xion had the mercy to answer. "It cooled a lot last night. It's cold enough that you have to have a jacket." She stared at Kairi for a moment, but seemed to abandon a conversation she wanted to start. "Got any plans for today?"

"I think I'm in charge of the liquor tonight, so I have quite the shopping list to tackle." With Sora cooking most of the food, Kairi was just glad she had a party-contributing skill to apply. "Any special requests?"

"Nope. I'm sure that whatever you have will suffice." Riku peeked at the list stuck to the refrigerator. "Well, I'm going to shower now. Start getting ready soon, Xion."

"I will, I will." Xion waved her hand, shooing Riku out of the kitchen. When he was gone, Xion started on their morning coffee. She flinched in surprise when something dropped from the coffee shelf of their cupboard. "Er, Kairi?"

"What's up?"

"Why is your bra in the cupboard?"

Every ounce of courage Ven had previously mustered left on the short drive to the coffee shop. To properly utilize his time, Ven thought it would be a good idea to go over a few possible conversations in his head.

"Hey! Is that a gingerbread latte? We're like twinsies!"

No. That was a straight shot to the friend zone.

"Hi, I'm Ventus. You're Aqua, right? What are the chances! We both have Latin words for names!"

That was just plain creepy. If he showed that he knew her name already, he was screwed.

"So I've been coming here for the past year and noticed you like to come in too."

No. Absolutely not. What was he, a stalker?

Whatever. He'd find a way to introduce himself. What to say beyond that point? Surely a conversation would develop past the point of introduction.

"So what's it like to practice law?"

Uh-uh. He wasn't supposed to know she was a lawyer.

"Did you have to work today? Oh wow, that sucks. I'm pretty much self-employed and run the newspaper company headquartered across the street, so I'm off for the day."

Huh. That just sounds kind of douchey.

"Do you happen to have a boyfriend?"

Why did that question even cross his mind? Even he knew that was inappropriate!

Before Ven knew it, he was sitting in the parking lot of the coffee shop. He nearly screamed. His thoughts fulfilled the job of passing the time, but it only proved to shred his bravery into little pieces. He rolled down the windows. It was ridiculously hot in his car.

A quick time check showed that he was a little early. If he was at work, this was normally the time he'd make his way over. Aqua usually arrived seconds before him, or at the very most, a minute. She was never too far ahead of him in line.

"Ugh, I shouldn't know that! Why do I know that?" Ven hit his head repeatedly on the steering wheel. "No! Get a grip, man!" With shaking fingers, Ven pulled down the vanity mirror and stared at himself one more time.

Confidence. It was all he needed. Confidence would carry him.

There was absolutely no reason to be afraid. He wasn't being narcissistic when he recognized the fact that he was attractive. And besides, he put on a sweater vest.

Sweater vests were sexy.

According to Naminé, at least. He texted her in the morning, and that was her recommendation. Then again, there was a possibility that Roxas got a hold of his wife's phone and told him that. It wouldn't be the first time Roxas screwed him over that way. Paranoia crept in with panic. If Roxas screwed this up for him, he would chop his brother's balls off… and apologize to Naminé afterward.

Ven tucked himself into the corner of the small café and waited for his last resolution to walk through the doors.

The last day of the year passed in a blur, and pretty soon Kairi found herself hopping from conversation to conversation at the party hosted by Roxas and Naminé. She had to wonder how most of them were able to remain in such high spirits considering most of them worked, but maybe the smiles were merely hiding the fatigue. Ven, who did not have to work like her, was the only one who seemed a bit off. Though she prodded and poked at him, he gave no indication as to what was bothering him. The best she could do was offer him some advice. Telling him to start the next year with a smile on his face and leave all his regrets behind seemed to cheer him up a bit.

Kairi walked out into the small patio behind their neighbors' apartment, finding her roommate standing outside. He seemed to be lost in thought, so she waited a few moments before speaking out. "Are you enjoying yourself so far?"

Sora perked up at the sound of Kairi's voice. He nodded, holding his arm out so Kairi could lean against him. "Yup. Their apartment is so nice compared to ours."

"You can say that again. I feel the need to redecorate the apartment now," Kairi said with a giggle. "So do you have any resolutions for this upcoming year?"

Sora hummed in thought. "I guess I should exercise more. I'm not as in shape as I was while in school. I bet even Riku could outlast me on a run."

"I don't think that's something to be ashamed of."

"It is if you're me," Sora joked with a shrug. "And I guess I should also be more responsible this year. I could use a bit more discipline, both in work and out of it."

Kairi smirked, catching Sora's reference to their little drunken incident earlier in the year. "That's a great goal to have."

"What about you?"

"I'd like to improve my work," Kairi answered. "I'm going to make sure I'm happier this year too. I think I made a few decisions this year that prevented me from being happy, so I'm going to try really hard not to stand in my own way."

"Do I have anything to do with that?" Sora raised a brow.

"More or less," Kairi replied cryptically. "By the way, you and I have to have a small talk on this bra-hiding business. Though I admit, hiding it in the coffee cabinet was a great decision. If it wasn't for Xion, I never would have found it."

"Aww, I hid it there because I knew you never would! And I thought Xion and Riku left before me." Sora sighed and shook his head. "So close."

"I'll have you know that I'll be searching the whole apartment for my clothes now." Kairi issued the challenge with a kiss to his cheek.

"Game on."

"Sora, Kairi!" Roxas called the couple from inside the house. "We're down to the last minute! Come in and grab some champagne!"

"We'll be right there!" Sora answered. He grabbed Kairi's hand, intertwining their fingers. "This year went by pretty fast, didn't it?"

"It sure felt like it. A lot happened too." Kairi followed Sora inside, graciously accepting her glass of champagne. Everyone gathered around the television, chattering excitedly as the announcer spoke rapidly in the waning minutes of the ending year.

Sora and Kairi shared a glance, trading smiles amidst the growing energy. In those final seconds, hundreds of memories passed between them, highlighting how their relationship grew from a fun friendship to a fulfilling relationship. The year had its ups and downs, but in the end, they were happy.

That was how they were intending to begin too. As the final twenty seconds ticked, Sora gave Kairi's hand a reassuring squeeze.

They joined the crowd in the countdown, and with a shout of cheer, Sora and Kairi welcomed their first New Year together.

Redeeming Endeavor:To Vi chan, Mokimoki-chan, Burai Stelar, Emorii, elspoek1, Sw1ft Blad3, DestinyKeyblader28, Aaralynne, KurukiXV, TwinToshiro, beckster411, Isabelz3Cookies, 0Wishful-Thoughts0, Revenge of the Red Pen, RoxasLuvsCookies, gr8azngrl, ShadowSpooky, sora93kairi, and Gumi Harue, thank you so much for reading and reviewing!

I hope you all had a wonderful last night of 2011. I look forward to having an awesome 2012 with all of you!

Take care, and see you around!