Hey hey ^^! I'm back on track ! I'm sorry for those who have been waiting, I've taken longer to write this chapter ! It's not a very long one, but it was one where I had to take some drastic decisions as to where I was going with the story ! Thanks a lot for the reviews XD ! As usual, they've helped me lots ! I've actually discovered that my punctuation (my quotation marks, more specifically) posed problems ! I've tried another approach in that regard so I'll be waiting on y'all to tell me how that goes ! For those who liked the friendship between Van (I'll call Vanitas that from now on lol) and Axel, I apologize cause he will only be mentionned this time around ! He'll be back though ! Promise !

Anywayn I hope you'll like this one ! Good readings ^^!

Disclaimer : I obviously do not own Kingdom Hearts or any of the characters or places affiliated. Same goes for Final Fantasy.

How far is heaven from hell ?

Chapter 3

Vanitas was running. He didn't from what or where to but he knew he had to escape. It didn't matter that he was dressed only in his boxers. The important thing was to run. He knew it was important because Naminé was riding a horse alongside him, urging him to hold on just a few moment more...

...and she was so beautiful when she smiled at him like that ! She had blushed so brightly at first, when he had asked her out... maybe his wild attitude was too much for such a purehearted girl... But she'd said yes ! She put a hand on his cheek.

"It's alright, Van. You passed out before they could do anything" she said before she sat a little closer to him on the bench that had become theirs a little, in front of a vibrant red sunset...

...the brunette, himself, wanted to get away from these red eyes... from these arms... But he was back in his cell. Except the white walls had been changed to bars... He was stark naked and he couldn't hide. Joe was there. He was all around his cell... watching him with eyes as bright as sunsets that bore into his skin, marking him like the little bitch he was... He closed his eyes...

...because Axel was yet again making that smile he made when he was happy that Van showed his feelings. And boy did he hate that !

"Wake up, Van ! You gotta start enjoying your freedom without screwing it up, this time !"

Axel pushed him playfully to the bed...

...and little Vanitas whimpered a little in fear. The disgusting man was looking at him now. He was pretty sure Sora was safe at home... HE was the one in danger now...

...and Xehanort was smiling spitefully at him while there were hands everywhere on him, and tongues...

"That's where you'll always end up, little boy" said Xehanort pleasantly. "You can act tough but you're still a little cunt ! Your sweet little ass will always be up for grabs ! As for me, I think I'll have myself a little piece of your cute little brother..."

And Sora was on the old bastard's lap... Vanitas could only look, horrified, while Xehanort was hungrily biting and teasing Sora's delicate neck... Sora himself had his eyes closed and was crying tears of blood...

"Look what have you done, Van" whispered Sora with the malignant voice of a ghost. "You left me !"

Then, the young boy opened his eyes... and Vanitas made a strangled little cry at seeing the empty sockets where the bloody tears came from. Two holes of nothingness that were accusing him... and the gurgling horror that became Sora's voice as he smiled and said : "But I see you now..."

Vanitas was screaming Sora's name. The light was suddenly too bright. He struggled against the arms he felt were trying to hold him still. He heard a loud crash as he finally set himself free... and then felt himself falling hard on a cold floor... He felt so exposed with that bright light coming mercilessly through his eyelids that he could only think to curl up into a ball on the floor...

"Just close the blinds" he heard Naminé's voice urge to someone. "Don't touch him just now !"

The light that had been blinding him suddenly was greatly subdued. Vanitas didn't dare open his eyes just yet though. What would he find that he would want to see anyway ? The sickeningly white walls of his cell that could drive you crazy and seemed so far away and yet close enough to crush you if you looked at them long enough ? Joe's eyes ? The dark room of that terrible house where he had heard a boy crying. Would the boy be Sora this time ?

"Open your eyes, Van" was saying Naminé's voice again. "It's safe now. You're in the hospital."

Hospital...? Vanitas took a deep shuddering breath and risked slowly opening one eye...

Naminé was the first thing he saw. She was kneeling in front of him. The room that he began to make out around her defined itself rapidly enough when he opened slowly the other eye. Obscurity reigned but he could see a bed... which he had probably just fallen from. A TV set in front of the bed... Curtains closed with some light piercing through... But most of all Naminé.

She made him an encouraging little smile as she extended a hand to him. She was so beautiful... here eyes were so gentle and heartwarming that he couldn't stop the tears from flooding his sight. He blindly took her hand. She didn't pull him to help him up. She was just there, comforting him... giving him the strength to pull himself up slowly. She then gently directed him to the bed.

The bed was big. It was warm and inviting. He knew he should have minded appearing so weak but his pride was shutting up because of Naminé's soothing presence at his side. He didn't feel bad just tucking himself obediently under the covers. It felt so good that he didn't want to voice his doubts that this could be real just yet...

Naminé felt extremely relieved when she saw the young man settle down in the bed. He had been thrashing like mad just a moment ago. Someone with Van's strength crazed with terror was never a walk in the park. She couldn't help an amused smile at remembering the giant buff intern that had tried to stop the brunette from hurting himself – or more probably someone – being sent flying to the wall opposite the bed... and then she guiltily thanked the stars that the poor guy was OK if just a little shaken. The cracks that she could see on the wall despite the obscurity of the room were really impressive...

She looked back at Van. She could easily make out his slender form under the covers and his head that was now resting on a pillow. He was looking at her. His golden eyes looked like two beautiful stars in the obscurity... glowing with honesty but a little tainted. That was what made the young man she had loved so much, once upon a time... before he had chosen to spare her a relation with a boyfriend behind bars. All because of his damn protective streak.

Van was nothing if not honest. Yes he could be suave and seductive, but he wore his heart on his sleeve more often that he believed. Yes he was strong and very intimidating, but she knew of this other side of him that could be tender, awkward and very shy. The brunette was a bundle of contradiction.

"What's happening to me, Naminé ?"

The question had surprised the young girl. She had been so lost in thought that she hadn't seen him get in a seated position. Van was now studying her. His expression was a little hardened and detached. She knew it was his attempt to protect himself by showing indifference. She smiled a little sadly.

"You're in Radiant Garden's Hospital."

"How am I here ?" asked the young man raising an eyebrow sceptically. "How are you here yourself, girl ?"

"First thing you should know, Van... Those guards weren't successful. You fainted before they had time to."

"I don't really give a shit. And that's not what I asked."

Van was still smiling that ice cold smile that dared the world to hit him. That was the smile the young man reserved for the people who didn't know better to show them that nothing disturbed, that he was in control. When something threatened to overwhelm him, he'd always revert to the persona of the cruel bastard he believed himself to be. It actually worked on most people, but she was more sensitive than that. She decided to remain calm and to humor him for the time being.

"I was coming to get you. There's been a development in your case. Someone testified that you killed that man to protect them and that you'd saved them... Apparently, this testimony was really decisive and the judge decided that your sentence was through. This witness had apparently asked to remain anonymous... I have to say, I was quite surprised to hear that there was a witness to testify since you'd never once told me or anybody else we know why you did it and that it was to save someone..."

She paused to let the young man absorb this particular bit of information. There was no change in his expression. He was just waiting for her to go on. She sighed in frustration but went on with her little story just the same.

"I was at your house because Sora was having a sleepover there with all our little band when your lawyer called yesterday evening. Your brother Leon was the one who answered the call. Your lawyer told him that you'd just been acquitted, that you were free and that you'd need a ride home from the prison. Your brother needed to go to work so I convinced him to let me go get you. I took the first train to Radiant Garden since you were to be freed at noon the next day. I had arrived at night so I took a room in a hotel in the center of the city. I couldn't contact you to tell you because your lawyer had told Leon that you only would be notified of your release an hour beforehand. I turned in. Very early in the morning, I kinda heard you call Sora in my head..."

Vanitas still couldn't tell if he was dreaming or not. It should probably have worried him but he couldn't bring himself to care all that much... If this was a dream, he'd let it play out. For the moment he still wouldn't see any incoherence in it, so as long as he didn't let himself get lost in it, he could at least enjoy the fact that it hadn't turned into a nightmare yet.

As for Naminé telling him that she'd heard him in her head... While many people would have been surprised, he was not. The beautiful young girl had always been a very sensitive person who seemed to make deep connections with the one she cared about and seemed to have all the answers all the time. It could have been very unnerving for someone like when they had been together... and there had been times in their relationship when Vanitas had been frustrated by the girl. There was someone who was very much in control... she didn't h ave to try to be strong. She had somehow always been there. In spite of that, the young man had decided no to let it deter him, at the time. That had been how he had won her heart.

"After that," continued Naminé, "I was afraid you were dying or something. I didn't know what to do, so I decided to call the police and to signal a bomb threat anonymously at a public phone near the hotel I was staying in..."

"You did what ?" interrupted the young man with eyes as big as saucers.

"Well I didn't have much of a choice, you know," said the young girl with a little laugh at his expression.

"You could've been arrested for that, girl !"

"I would've found a way out of that even if they had traced it back to me. I wasn't about to let anyone have their way with you, silly !"

At that moment, seeing the blonde beauty laughing so lightly did it for the young man. That crazy beautiful girl was laughing because of him. That he knew he could not dream. If there was one thing he knew he could not reconstitute with memories alone, it was the feeling of joy rushing to him at seeing someone he loved happy. Making someone smile instead of making them sad. Vanitas had not been able to do that to Naminé for a very long time. And those moments he cherished so much could only be lived, not dreamt.

That had probably shown on his face if Naminé's surprised look was any indication.

"Why are you crying, Van ?" she asked before she got up from her chair to wipe the tears he suddenly realized were pouring from his eyes.

"I thought none of this was real, Nam," he explained while letting her hold him for a moment. "I was convinced I was dreaming and that any moment now I would wake up to find I was either still getting... or to find that I was back in my cell..."

"And now ?"

"You're very much here, Nam," laughed the young man, feeling better now that the realization had settled in, "and free, apparently. Which means I've been given a fucking second chance..."

Naminé let him go and looked at him with a serious look in her eyes.

"You ARE happy you weren't raped, I hope. I hate it when you are the way you were a moment ago."

"I'm fine, Nam," he reassured her with a smirk.

"Yes you are," agreed the young girl while she posted herself on the edge of his bed. Vanitas could see that she wanted to talk to him about something. Actually, he had an idea what it was... They hadn't been in close proximity of each other since he broke up with her to be thrown in prison two years ago. There was still a little something there that was aching for a direction...

Naminé had to know what he was thinking about because she was lightly flushed and she had that little smile that she reserved him.

"Beware the elephant in the room !" joked the young girl quietly with a sigh.

"I was the one who disappeared on ya, Nam," said Vanitas with a lopsided grin while he gently put a hand on his cheek. "I would hope that many decent guys have made themselves known to an awesome chick like you."

Naminé had a melancholic smile at that. The answer was there. Yes there had been many candidates but none she had lost her heart to. Vanitas could have been happy about it but he had had time to think about Naminé in prison. He had come to the conclusion that even if he got out somehow one day, the blonde beauty would be better off without a loser like him – even if he was a hot loser.

"You know, Van," said Naminé, "I always thought that you weren't really in love with me. Don't misunderstand me, I was very happy going out with you and you've been an awesome boyfriend ! But I think that you always considered me more as a little sister than as your girlfriend..."

Vanitas had nothing to answer to that. He could probably have tried to deny it, but he had come to the same conclusion himself during his numerous times of self-inquiry at Radiant Garden's Penitentiary... He had always treated Naminé like a porcelain doll not to be broken. He had told her that he wouldn't sleep with her before she was a little older – she'd been fourteen while he was sixteen - because he respected her too much and he had made a promise to Sora not to hurt her and she had never pushed the matter... but the truth was that he'd found a girl that accepted him as he was and he'd been so afraid to break her... that he hadn't tried much with her. He hadn't had so much consideration for any other girls he'd gone out with – but then again, he usually dumped them after he was done with them...

"Friends ?" he asked her – a little more shyly than he'd had planned to...

"Friends," acquiesced the young girl with a gentle smile.

"I do have a question, Naminé..."

"What is it ?" asked the young girl.

"Have you heard what happened to my cellmate, by any chance ?"

The young man had just remembered about Axel and felt a little guilty at that. He knew he had an excuse , but his best friend had been in a dire situation himself while Vanitas had been about to be gang-banged. The redhead could very well be dead for all he knew... even if the notion seemed very unlikely to him. The guy was indestructible. Somehow, it seemed that stupid grin of his protected him against anything – and that was as far as the brunette would go on that complimentary streak, thank you very much !

"Do you, by any chance, mean that impossible guy that brought you here ?"

The annoyed tone of Naminé brought him out of his daze quite brutally. Axel had brought him here at the hospital ? Out of the penitentiary ? Naminé had met him ?

"You actually care for that stupid guy, don't you ?" asked Naminé with her knowing smile that always made any answer he could have made unnecessary. "I guessed as much. It figures that strange guy would be able to get to you..."

"Where is he, Nam ?" asked Vanitas urgently.

"If you'd let me finish what I was saying, you'd know," gently admonished the young girl. "After I called in the bomb threat, I waited for you at the hospital – I knew you'd be there eventually, of course. Half-an-hour later, there were reports on the news that a riot had been thwarted at the penitentiary. I went at the entrance of the hospital immediately after that. As soon as I was there, that idiotic jerk was there with you in his arms..."

"How did he make it out of the penitentiary ?" cut Vanitas , completely bewildered by her story. "Even with the mess there surely was there..."

"I don't know !" exclaimed Naminé with a fed-up tone. "Will you stop cutting me, Vanitas Leonhart ? Honestly, you and Sora really are the same ! You both drive me crazy, sometimes !"

Vanitas decided to put on the appropriate guilty look on his face. Naminé would see through that, of course, but she would let it slide. Plus, he could still resort to the puppy dog face if he had to. Even Naminé couldn't resist that one.

Turned out he didn't have to.

"There had been a lot of guards and policemen that were hurt in the riot so the elderlies had their hands full and were running all over the place. I tried to help Axel to hail someone but they didn't pay attention. So your friend threatened everyone that could hear that he would burn down the place if someone didn't take you in their care... Quite effective as you'd imagine."

Vanitas had no trouble imagining Axel getting pissed off in such a situation. And when Axel was worried about him, he did tend to go a little overboard... That fucking mother hen !

"Anyway, continued the young girl, "as soon as you were taken care of, I introduced myself to him. After he was done making downright perverted remarks when I mentioned I was your ex-girlfriend, he told me about what had occurred that morning. Apparently, when the police had arrived, he'd just shaken off some losers – his words – and was looking for you. He said he'd had to burn his way through to get to you – whatever that means. When he found you, you were alone. Your aggressors were already gone and you still had your underwear on. He'd burned your restraints – there's the b word again – and after that, he just told me that he'd brought you here as quickly as possible. No explanations as to how... He just told me to tell you that the stars had told him what to do and that you'd hear from him soon... As soon as he was done telling me that, he dashed out the door at full speed."

Vanitas found the story quite believable if one knew who Axel was. The man could be quite mysterious when he wanted to. Probably enough to puzzle even someone like Naminé. The young man could see that the redhead had made quite an impression on her. He had rarely see the young girl that annoyed... even when he was the cause, and that was saying something !

All the same, Axel was safe. And if his little message was any indication, he was probably out of the penitentiary too. He could imagine that would not go over well with the authorities. Tough ! His best friend was resourceful enough to hide below anyone's radar.

"Are you ready to go home now ?"

Vanitas had been easily discharged from the hospital. Actually he had found they seemed more than happy to let him go... Probably had something to do with the way his little episode... He didn't let that bother him too much. The first steps under the sun out of the building had been an overflow of joy. It was his first steps as a free man in a very long time – well, a free man in prison clothes, since he didn't have anything else to wear... He allowed himself a very wide grin and a victory dance – Naminé had failed to keep a reproachful look at the ridiculous display and let herself be led in a quick waltz while they cheered on by high-school girls on a field trip.

They'd had to cut it short though, though. They were getting looks – lots of appraising ones from women, to Naminé's unhappiness – because of the ragged prison clothes that were torn on places and that smelled really bad. The blonde girl had decided to take her ex-boyfriend to a good store in Radiant Garden.

"I don't have money, Nam," objected the brunette.

"Well I do," said Naminé with a placating tone. "My father is still the mayor of Destiny Islands and there's no way I spend the travel back with you getting continuously mauled by women with bad taste of clothes !"

The young man decided to let her have her way and an hour later, he was dresses in casual clothes : a pair of jeans, a tee, a boxer, socks and nice shoes. All Naminé's choices, of course. All that meant was that women would still be looking at him, but this time, being dressed by Naminé would ensure that they were women with good taste of clothes. The young girl had akways loved to show him off. Van always found it easier to let her do as she pleased.

They were now on a train to Destiny Islands. In four hour's time, he'd be home...

Vanitas couldn't help being apprehensive. What would he find there ? How much had things changed during his two years of imprisonment ?

Aaaaaannnd cut ! Ok so Van is finally out of jail ! He did have to get out from hell at some point, right ^^? I'll try to be quicker for the next chapter ! There will be a lot more of the big family introduced then ! There will be at least Sora and Leon !

Thanks a lot for reading this, as usual ! I hope you'll continue to bear with me as the story unfolds ! Don't hesitate to review, cause it's really nice ^^! I'll be seing you guys !