A/N: I am done. At last…the Promised Land…of edited chapters…
Ladies and gentlemen, I am done.
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He was back in the darkness again. When he had finally given into both himself and his weariness and fallen asleep, he found immediately that he had returned. Sora turned and eyed the area around him, his stomach already clenching with a sense of strong nervousness and fear. The image of Xemnas standing behind him in his last dream was printed in his mind, and the boy couldn't hold back a sensation of panic that twisted at his stomach. Standing still became too oppressive; the boy looked left and right, but knew that the longer he stayed in one spot, the more vulnerable he would start to feel. So, realizing that he once again was injury-free, he started to walk forward, his steps seeming to echo in the blackness.
Feeling a jittering sense of anxiousness, and trying to calm himself down just a little bit, Sora willed his keyblade into his hand. Thankfully it came, and Sora felt a stroke of comfort as a light sliced through the dark around him with the appearance of the key. But unfortunately, it was gone just as soon as it had come, and he was left in the dark again. Self-conscious and feeling his chest constrict with fear, Sora quickened his pace, going into a brisk walk and, after a while, he bordered almost into a run.
But even as he eventually fell into a run, he felt as if he was going absolutely nowhere. He was reminded of the time when he was with Roxas, how hopeless he had felt during their never-ending trek. His breath caught in his throat, and he wondered dismally whether or not he could make it out here a second time. Would he just be stuck here until someone shook him awake? Or would even that not work? Slowly he came to a stop, his eyes wide as he looked from left to right. His throat closed in on itself, and he shut his eyes, ducking his head and trying to clear it with a harsh shake. He had never thought that he was claustrophobic, but he seemed to be experiencing at least something like it. He felt suffocated and confused. The darkness was slamming down on him, pressing him in on all sides. He reached up and ran his hands through his hair, trying to even out his breathing. But, just like before, it was slowly unraveling and getting away from him.
"You need to calm down." A dry voice spoke from behind him, and the boy froze at once.
It nearly took him a full minute to gather up enough courage in order to turn around. Slowly, with robotic movements, he shuffled around, his blue eyes wide and hollowed. And at first, even when he turned, the boy didn't react, too overwhelmed to do so. But as soon as realization dawned over him, he immediately broke into a sprint, flying forward and throwing his arms out in front of him. And, running much too fast, he practically slammed into the newcomer. "Roxas!" His voice was high not only in happiness, but also relief as well. And, jumping up and down, he tightened his hold on the blond, nearly choking him.
Roxas jerked backwards, too caught off-guard to do anything for a second. But then he shook his head, scrabbling at Sora and wriggling out from his death grip as quickly as he could. "Hey, hey, alright, alright! Get off of me!" He stumbled backwards, but once he righted himself, he grinned, straightening. "I see that you're looking livelier than the last time I saw you." His voice was slightly teasing as he said this.
Sora grinned widely. "You too."
He looked down at himself, seeming pleased. "Yeah, well, then I guess it all worked out for itself, right?"
Sora's smile wavered slightly, and he tilted his head to the side, his expression sobering somewhat. And he gave the Nobody a small shrug. "Only thanks to you. I wouldn't have made it out of here if you hadn't helped me so much. I'd probably be a goner there, so…" He trailed off and grinned, more sheepishly this time around. "Thank you Roxas— for everything. I really mean it."
Roxas gave a small nod, shrugging. "Well…you reigned Axel back in. And I appreciate that. So you can go ahead and just assume that we're even, you know?"
Sora brightened. He opened his mouth to try and say something, but before he could get anything out he stopped, eyes widening at once. He stiffened and went rigid, his eyes widening as he took a small step backwards. Roxas seemed confused at first, but quickly his face cleared. Footsteps. Footsteps were echoing through the dark and apparently getting closer. Quickly, Roxas looped back over to Sora to stand by him, the Nobody's own keyblade flashing up at his side as his blue eyes narrowed to slits.
Slowly, a figure emerged from the room, coming into focus slowly from the shadows. And when the newcomer came into focus, Sora immediately took yet another step backwards, his eyes flooding over with panic as he gritted his teeth down tightly. Roxas glanced over at him with a sense of worry, and the blonde shifted down into a more defensive position, gripping the hilt of his blade a bit tighter.
"Well, isn't this sweet?" Xemnas' voice was a mere coo as he dramatically surveyed the two teenagers across from him. His upper lip curled with distaste, and he eyed the two boys in front of him the same way that a person would look at a dead animal on the side of the road. "How I do hatesweet things." He turned and locked eyes with Sora as he said this, and the boy's blood immediately turned to ice. His throat thickened, and for the briefest moment, he forgot how to breathe or swallow.
Roxas seemed to realize the boy's growing panic, and before Xemnas could rile him up any further, he took a small step forwards, his blue eyes flooding with anger. "Get out, Xemnas!" His voice seemed to echo back to him, and he locked his jaw backwards. "You know that you don't belong here! You'd better take off, or else we'll makeyou take off!" Despite his words, Xemnas just seemed bored. And Roxas gritted his teeth, infuriated over the man's apparent disinterest. He held his keyblade tighter in his hands, and he scowled at the man hotly.
Xemnas surveyed him coldly. "You could hardly defeat a flea. If you could even bring yourself to size up to it in the first place."
Roxas gritted his teeth with this, his eyes immediately flooding with rage as he looked up at the man. And when Xemnas only sneered in response to the Nobody, the boy suddenly took off in a sprint, swinging his arms back behind him as he let out an angered shout. Sora jerked, shell-shocked as he watched Roxas fling himself at the old Organization leader. And for a long moment, he could only stand and stare as the teenager began to attack the man, bringing his keyblade down on him repeatedly. He blinked rapidly, his only movement being a confused glance to the left and the right. What was he supposed to do? He couldn't move—he felt like he was made out of stone!
Xemnas' blade gleamed to life in his hand, and after he managed to break away from the blonde, he stepped back quickly. With an expert swing, and barely concentrating on the movement, he swung forward and knocked the boy aside. And, as if he was a piñata, Sora watched with horror as Roxas was flung aside, skidding a couple of feet from the sheer force. And even when came to stop, the Nobody didn't move. He seemed dazed as he choked for air, just staring off into space for a heartbeat or two.
"Roxas!" Though Sora let out a panicked yell, the other still did not reply. The boy tensed, breaking out of his mental block quickly as he prepared to rush for his friend and try to help him. But before he could even take a step, Sora suddenly staggered backwards, realizing that Xemnas had suddenly appeared in front of him, as if in a flash.
Sora stiffened, his eyes huge as he immediately began to backtrack, his worry for Roxas disappearing on impact. Xemnas' eyes were harsh and cruel as he looked down at the boy, and Sora's heart shot up into his throat at the look of hunger that seemed to be glittering over the man's face as he smiled. "What is it?" His voice was almost akin to a coo, and he took a few strides forward with Sora's backtrack, keeping the distance unchanging between them. The boy swallowed and fought not to show his horror as he clenched his keyblade tighter in his hand, his knuckles going white with the effort. "It seems as though the puny keybearer isn't as courageousas he once was." His voice was alight with scorn. "You aren't so tough without your friends assisting you, are you?"
Sora tried to stutter a reply. But the effort was pathetic even to him. He tried to reply, but his mind was flying too fast for him to keep track of a single thing. And before he could try to calm himself down, enough to sort through it all, Xemnas had flown forward. Grabbing hold of Sora's shoulder and jerking forward, he gave a hefty shove and forced Sora down to the ground. Upon contact, Sora's vision blurred as his head hit the floor, and he blinked rapidly, struggling to clear it as he scrambled. He started to get up to his feet, but the effort was pointless. As soon as he got halfway into a crouching position, Xemnas swung his blade forward, Sora being knocked back down as the sword sliced his side. And to his shock, the movement brought a wave of agony to crash over him. Ignoring Sora's cry of pain, Xemnas stooped down, his eyes cold and flinted as he glared down at the boy. "You're pathetic; you started pathetic, and you'll end nothing short of it. You're nothing."
Blood roared in Sora's ears, the boy quickly felt his side become sticky and hot. He looked down with wide eyes, shaking as he tried to catch his breath back and even it out. Yet in his mind, he forced himself to slow down and make sense of things. Think— no matter how scared he was he needed to try and think. His side was stinging and burning, and he knew that, though he wasn't sure of the details at all, this wasn't any ordinary dream. He couldn't screw up; any more than he already had, that was. He had to try and win. Gasping unevenly in and out, Sora scrambled up to his feet, holding his side as he was acutely away of Xemnas' glare heavy on him. He had to make this work somehow.
Sora righted himself and got his footing back, and Xemnas wasted no time before striking. Xemnas dashed for him, and the teenager quickly bit down on his lower lip, bending his knees and launching himself up into the air as hard as he possibly could. Xemnas staggered as Sora jumped up and out of the way of the attack, the for once luck seemed to be on Sora's side for once as he managed to clear the man entirely. And quickly, the boy twisted in midair on the way down, sticking out his keyblade with straight arms and watching with a glare as the end of his bade hooked itself into the man's shoulder.
Xemnas started to reel back to throw the boy off. Grimacing with the effort, Sora threw his weight forward and forced himself down to the ground in a heavy flip. And, twisting, Sora let out a loud yell as he forced Xemnas to the side. The Nobody was thrown to the side and landed with a painful thud that Sora quickly stumbled away from. Xemnas was quick to get back up to his feet, and the teenager noticed with a sinking feeling that rage was alive in every inch of the man's expression. "You'll regret that move." He glowered at the boy, and Sora turned to glance over his shoulder hurriedly, his chest tight as he staggered away.
Looking back and seeing that Xemnas was quickly recovering and walking for him, Sora took in a sharp gasp. And, trying to say upright against a crashing wave of fear, he tried not to notice how high his voice came out as he gasped: "You couldn't even manage to keep me in a room! How could you possibly beat me in any kind of fight!?" It was brave words, but he certainly didn't have any kind of brave tone of voice. He sounded like a shy toddler that was suddenly put onto a stage in front of millions of people and asked to recite the entirety of the universe's history.
Could he try and make Xemnas so angry that the man couldn't think straight? The thought was outlandish, and quickly, he sucked in another tight gasp of air. In the list of desperately-stupid tactics, this was probably near the top ten percent. Xemnas was too level-headed, too calm and collected to be so easily tricked. He was an enemy greater than Sora had ever faced before. He was grasping at straws with this impossible situation, and it was probably more than apparent to the man across from him.
As expected, Xemnas barely reacted to the boy's attempted jab. He merely scoffed with contempt, his eyes narrowing as a sadistic grin crawled over his face. Quick as a flash, he made for Sora, and the boy hardly had time to react before he was on top of him. The man's hand felt out, and it latched hard over Sora's windpipe. His air was cut off, and Sora's eyes immediately widened, the boy letting go of his keyblade and hearing it clatter to the ground as he reached up instead to claw at the man's hand. He struggled like a fish to breathe, trying to dig his fingernails hard into the man's hold and pry off his grip. But in reply to his gasps, Xemnas only tightened his hold on the boy.
"You're a fool, Sora." His voice was cool and calm despite the evil look that was lurking in the back of his eyes. Sora gagged, thrashing. "You're a fool for thinking you could have escaped me, and you're a fool for not listening to reason when it was handed to you on a silver platter." On the last word, he tightened his hold even further, and Sora let out a harsh cry, kicking out now as he writhed. "You should thank me, child." Xemnas went on, surveying the boy a person would an experiment manifesting in front of him. "I actually attempted to give you a purpose in life. What were you doing before? Running around taking orders from somebody less than half your size? Trying to scramble and find your pathetic friends? Tell me if I'm wrong, but I don't think friends are ones to give up secrets as easily as those two wretchedpeople did. They threw you to the dogs. Without a second thought." His words were a hiss.
Sora's struggles were steadily growing weaker. His eyes were fuzzy, and he gagged out thickly again.
"I'm doing you a favor by killing you now. Or better yet…you could let the darkness consume you. Let it cover your every being. That way you might show the slightestof promise." Sora was fighting to keep his eyes open, though blackness was quickly clouding over his vision. Xemnas pursed his lips, seeming critical as he tilted his head to the side. Like Sora was some kind of painting to be contemplated. And after a moment, Xemnas clucked is tongue, shaking his head slowly. "No; I see now. There's just no hope for you." Sora shut one eye in a hard sense of pain, and his open one flooded with panic as Xemnas brought up one of his swords. He pressed it up against Sora's throat, and the boy's body went into a spasm, his jaws opening up in a silent screech of agony.
But suddenly everything vanished. Sora found himself suddenly falling onto the ground, the teenager reaching up and holding onto his bleeding throat with a grimace. He looked up, gasping for air as his lungs stung and ached in his chest. And quickly, he stiffened in shock. Roxas was back up— Sora had forgotten that he was even there. The Nobody's keyblade was a blur, and he was showing off sharp swordsman skills as he parried and ducked, weaving around Xemnas and forcing him away from Sora and further back. He was pacing backwards as he did so, Xemnas bearing down on him hard. He had the element of surprise on his side, but it wasn't clear on whether or not he could maintain that leg up for very long.
Sora looked wildly at Roxas, and as he scrambled to his feet and caught a glimpse of the Nobody, his heart stilled. He looked panicked. He looked scared, and Sora didn't think that any kind of look could ever make it on his face. Sora looked down, looking at the palm of his hand and realizing with relief that not a lot of blood was marring his skin. The throat wound wasn't deep— it was more of a burn than anything else. He shook his head and dashed forward to try and help, summoning his keyblade back into his hand as he forced himself into motion. Thanks to his lack of air, Sora's steps were a little clumsy. But as he rounded the two, his steps became more sure, and his eyes narrowed as he dashed forward to land a hard blow against Xemnas' unprotected back.
Roxas smirked slightly as he saw Sora, and he tried to return the expression as best he could, though it was more than difficult with how frayed his nerves were. His hands were shaking and it was hard to keep them still enough to hold his weapon. Xemnas spun around to round on the brunet, but Sora had already fled. Rushing aside, Sora was trying his best to stay out of the man's line of vision, swiping and jabbing desperately. It was like they were dancing, and Sora didn't really have enough time to put real effort behind the strikes. They were just dull blows; they didn't help much. But it had to be better than nothing, right?
But finally Xemnas managed to track the boy down, and he lashed out, his blade catching Sora's face and splitting open the boy's cheek. Sora staggered, flinching as he reached up and pressed his palm against his cheek, flinching deeply. As Xemnas grinned, Roxas took his chance and lunged over, stabbing the man low in the leg. Sora jerked, his pupils dilating as his head snapped up to see Xemnas stumble, his legs buckling.
Roxas straightened and perked up, grinning with satisfaction at the sight. He turned to look over at Sora, and his face fell a bit uncertainly at the boy's expression. Despite their small victory, Sora's face rounded out with horror, and he took yet another step backwards, shaking his head as Xemnas began to right himself. Roxas started to ask something, but the question was answered before it could even be voiced. Xemnas reared backwards and let out a screech of anger and frustration. And as his voice assaulted the boys' eardrums, a million lightning-like flashes began to branch out in all directions, sparkling and fizzling with ugly-looking energy.
Roxas immediately took the hint and flew to the side, throwing himself down and rolling away. Sora mimicked the movement, dropping like a weight and trying to roll away without being touched by the attack.
But he was apparently too slow. One of the flashes caught a hold of shoe, and immediately it lanced up Sora's body, cutting him short and causing the boy to immediately fall into jerks and writhes. A burning sensation spread like wildfire throughout his boy, and the teen had to clamp his teeth together to keep from screaming out in pain. The sensation coursed through him for what seemed like years and years, and even when it stopped, the boy continued to jerk, as if the current were still pulsing him. His blue eyes were closed tightly, and his hands were balled into a tight fists. His ears were ringing, and he hardly heard the footsteps that approached him.
Desperate, Sora grimaced deeply, struggling to stick it out through the waves of pain. Where was Roxas? Xemnas stooped down, and Sora felt a pressure tug at the back of his head, as if the man was trying to grab hold of the child's collar. But Sora wrenched himself into motion quickly, and he whirled around, sticking out his keyblade and shooting a fire spell directly back at the man's face. The ball of flame exploded square at the Superior, and Sora watched, still gasping, as he immediately was forced backwards. The brunet meant to leap up to his feet once the man backed away, but the feat was easier said than done. Instead the boy stayed put on the ground, his face creased over as he jerked and twitched.
Roxas suddenly appeared once more, but this time at Sora's side. He looked concerned as he turned back to look at him, and hurriedly, he reached down and started to help him up. Sora's ears were still ringing, and he was almost glad that Roxas didn't appear to say a single word as he helped him regain his footing. Rather, the only communication they had was an exchange of tense looks. Xemnas, who was getting back up to his feet yet again, surveyed the pair with a critical expression. "Roxas, I never would have thought you to be evenweaker than the keyblade master. I suppose that's truly saying something."
"Shut up!" Sora was almost surprised by the amount of venom that was in the boy's voice.
Xemnas gaze switched over to Sora, his eyes flashing. "You." Sora had regained control of himself b now, and he straightened, trying not to show how much the man's voice struck fear into his heart. "Don't you see that it's all for nothing now? Everything in the world for you…it's worthless. You've been reduced to nothing now. Your own friends treat you like the garbage you are." Sora kept his mouth closed stubbornly, refusing to reply. "Don't you see?" Xemnas repeated. "You're pathetic."
He couldn't hold himself back any longer. "That's not true!"
"Oh?" Xemnas cocked an eyebrow up at the brunette. "You witnessed the darkness' power, did you not?" Sora stopped at the words, fumbling mentally. Roxas glanced over at him and blinked slowly, seeming anxious. But Xemnas was sweeping on before the boy could try and interject. "The way it took you from your troubles…made them disappear. It solves everything, Sora; you know it does. That's why I'm here after all. I was created from the darkness that resides inside of you, and I am now your voice of reason. You have known this to be true."
"But that's…that's not the way it's supposed to be…" Sora's voice had dropped somewhat and he blinked, his eyes still slightly guarded as he glared at the man across from him. But his voice dipped, and even he could feel himself waver slightly. From his right side, Roxas glanced down, and when the boy turned and followed his gaze, a cold chill settled over him. The shadows seemed to be more alive than they had been before, seeping and moving almost it seemed to wrap tighter around the scene. It was beginning to feel suffocating, and Sora suddenly remembered last time he had been here. When he had almost succumbed to the blackness around him.
He turned and looked at Roxas. Yet the boy only seemed calm as he met Sora's panicked stare with a calm question in the back of his eyes. Well, Sora? What are you going to do?
Sora closed his eyes, breathing out slowly. He struggled to calm down and soothe his heart, which was ramming almost painfully against his chest by now. Yet as he stood and tried to win over his own emotions, some part of the boy's mind seemed to shrink away from it all. The boy thought of everything in that one split moment. Of the way that everybody was treating him different nowadays, like he could hurt himself just by breathing the wrong way. Or the way that he couldn't seem to be able to think the wrong thing without having his chest tighten and constrict in a spasm of fear. He thought of Riku and there was pain in his heart at the thought of the tension that was now in between them. …It was a mess— it all was.
His forehead creased.
He thought of the way Merlin always had his eye on him, watching his every move and breathing down his neck. He thought of how everyone had treated Axel, and once again he was reminded of the fear he harbored for the aftershock of the mess. He thought of how nothing seemed to feel right anymore, and how he felt like he consistently was being forced to fake a smile in every waking moment. He thought of his embarrassment of not being able to walk for himself. How he felt every second of every day ever since he had woken up.
Everything seemed much heavier. And for a moment, Sora was under the impression that he would collapse underneath the weight. Xemnas was watching carefully, a smile strewn over his features as he waited eagerly. And Roxas betrayed himself as a sense of nervousness seemed to grip the Nobody, who took a step or two closer to Sora. The boy had fallen silent, and his eyes had fallen closed. And for a heartbeat, it seemed like that was how things would end.
"…But…no…" Sora opened his eyes in a small blink, and he looked down at himself, seeming almost confused, though he was very far from it. The boy thought of the way that Kairi looked at him, her blue eyes soft and always armed with a smile no matter what. He thought of the way that Yuffie had spent Christmas night dramatically – and rather pointedly – trying to get the pair of them underneath the mistletoe together repeatedly. He recalled how Aerith always put more marshmallows into his mug of hot chocolate than she did anyone else's.
There were things wrong in his life. There were so manythings that were wrong. But…should he let them cloud everything else that happened to him as well? It was the little things— it was the small, carefree tidbits that you had to collect and save. You had to hold them close to your heart and keep them in mind so that, when things did get back, you would be able to tread a little easier. You had to choke down the bitter bad parts in life, and try and concentrate on the better times while you did so. "No." Sora's voice was but a mumble, yet he looked up, his hands balling into fists. He didn't focus on the darkness pressing down around him. He didn't focus on anything other than what he needed to think about— his friends. And, his eyes narrowed, the boy raised his voice into a yell. "No!"
As he yelled, he felt a sudden change— a difference of sorts. It seemed to feel…a little bit lighter— a little easier to breathe. Roxas seemed to grasp the change too, and he turned, looking around them with a sense of awe. Sora would have done the same, but he was too zeroed in on thinking. Of his friends— of Axel and Kairi and Yuffie and Goofy and Donald and so on. He didn't look at Xemnas— he didn't look at the face that had brought him so much pain and suffering. Instead, he ducked his head, his eyes closed as he yelled. "I mean something! As long as my friends care about me, then I matter! If not to you, then to them! And that's more important! And I could never bring myself to abandon them! I know where my heart lies, and I'm not about to forget it again!"
The more he spoke, the more different it became. He felt lighter, he felt warmer. And the feeling seemed to break off from him and fill the entire space. A sense of warm glow was given off, and as Sora opened his eyes, the teenager perked, his mouth falling open somewhat as he realized that the gleam and the glint of light was making quick work in shooing away the darkness. The shadows were retreating quickly, and it was replaced by brightness. But no— not just brightness. It was replaced by something much better.
His feet were planted in soft, yellow sand, and as Sora looked up, he could see a large expanse of ocean waves in front of him. The sound of the water filled the background of the place, and overhead, seagulls flew through a cloudless blue sky. The boy looked around him— at the small shake a few paces behind him, and at the bridge that led to curving tree. His heart seemed slightly weighted at the sight, and the boy felt a smile tease over his lips. He knew it wasn't anything real. He wasn't truly back. But this place felt like home. Not darkness or evilness or trepidation. It felt like…home.
Roxas turned, his eyes wide as he looked at the boy. "It was light…" He seemed somewhat fazed, and Sora turned to look at him with a quizzical expression. But Roxas just pointed at him, the ghost of a smile seeming to play over his expression. "What you said. It…it brought out light. It got rid of all the dark…" He blinked rapidly. "Why didn't you— …how did you know it would do that?"
He offered the other a small shrug. "…I didn't."
They stared at one another in silence for a moment, Roxas' mouth slightly ajar. Yet they couldn't waste time, and they both seemed to realize this at the same time as they whipped around in tandem. The man was hunched over on the ground, crouching low as he looked up at the two kids. Sora made no move to get any closer or gloat. The boy just shifted, reaching up and crossing his arms tightly over his chest. Xemnas seemed to be heaving for breath, and the Nobody smiled sickeningly up at the brunet, who just glowered in reply. "You're such a fool." His words were a mere rasp, but they were loud and clear all the same. "You think it can be this easy?" He shook his head slowly, looking back down. "…Pathetic. You're pathetic…"
Sora's gaze hardened with this. Roxas made a move to speak, but Sora beat him to it stiffly. "The only pathetic person here is you." The words were quiet, but they still held a sense of power with them. The boy scowled and watched as Xemnas just laughed at his reply, once again shaking his head back and forth. The man looked up and opened his mouth. It was clear that he was about to say more. But as his stare rose up to meet Sora's own glaring one…it was just like that. Xemnas faded away, his lips moving silently as his voice suddenly disappeared. Yet he was left to follow suit. And it didn't take long at all for the feat to be accomplished.
Sora watched silently. There didn't seem to be any triumph in the boy's eyes as he watched— just a cold sense of expectance. But the same couldn't be said for Roxas. The blonde turned, a smile fully on his face now as he looked over at the brunet. "You did it! You actually defeated Xemnas. Who would have ever thought it?" Sora offered a small smile in response, finally cracking somewhat as he blinked, turning away from the spot where Xemnas had been only a moment ago. But he didn't say anything, and for a moment, they were plunged into silence, the only sound being the ocean waves behind them.
Then Roxas piped up, probably more out of the rejection of silence than anything. He turned, looking around with pursed lips. "This is quite a change of scenery compared to before."
Sora grinned, his eyes softening a little bit as he turned. And his voice was much friendlier as he replied easily: "You'll get used to it."
Roxas smiled. And he reached up to put his hands on his hips. "I guess it's time for you to leave, then."
Sora blinked, but he could only relent. "I guess." He frowned somewhat, tilting his head to the side in a questioning manner. "…Will I see you again?" He couldn't keep the question from slipping out, and it was much too late to try and reel it back it.
But Roxas seemed unbothered. In fact, he offered him a smirk as he gave a short sniff. "I'll always be around. Like a cold you can't shake." He leaned over and punched Sora lightly in the chest, square over his heart. The brunet looked down at the gesture, somewhat saddened. But he couldn't be all sad— there was a happy feeling as well. After all, they had made it this far. Well, actually— they had made it in general. After everything. "You were right, you know," Roxas added, Sora perking out of his thoughts at once. "You do have some really cool friends. You shouldn't ever forget that anytime soon, or I'll find out about it. And I'll get angry."
Sora laughed, looking down and shaking his head. "I know you will. I'll remember, don't worry."
But still, Sora didn't move. He stayed put, and the Nobody across from him seemed to be able to read his mind as if it was written out in front of him. "You'll be fine," Roxas nodded, obviously self-assured. "And…you know where to find me if you ever get into a jam. I'll come and save the day."
Sora grinned. "Right; of course."
Looking over his shoulder, and then once more back at Roxas, Sora turned, heading down the beach. His feet dragged in a familiar way through the sand, and as he walked, Sora's hair was ruffled by a soft, salty breeze. The sun was hot in the most perfect way possible, and the boy reached up to tuck his hands comfortably into his pockets. It was much different than the way it had been before. But it was much better. Sora wasn't sure how to get out, but he figured that he might as well follow his gut. It had taken him this far. And sure enough, as he turned and began to scale up the familiar paths that he had trekked through as a kid, he felt a sense of returning— a sense that he was beginning to leave.
Sora looked down at himself to see that he was fading away. He turned, looking back down the beach to see that Roxas had gone down to the shore. The blond was standing near the waves, looking somewhat preoccupied. But after a moment, as if aware of Sora's gaze, he turned, blinking as he realized that the boy was staring his way. Slowly, his raised up his arm and gave a small wave. Sora smiled and returned the gesture, knowing that it was all that he had time for. But really, it was all that was needed now. He told himself that it would be okay— that everything would be fine and that he didn't have to worry. It was all over.
So, with one last look to Roxas, Sora ducked his head, closing his eyes and listening as the sound of the waves faded. First into the background, and then into nothing at all. But he wasn't worried, because he knew that exactly where he was going. He was going back to Hollow Bastian. He was going back to his friends.
So…he was going back home.