inspired by heat-haze days by jin (performed by miku hastune)
"Time is basic," cooed the boy with eyes like a blaze. "It moves continuously without fail, and since it moves with no pause, there is an inevitability to it."
"What do you mean, inevitability?"
The boy's thin mouth stretched, and his pale features glowed a sickly sallow as his wickedly sharp teeth were bared. "With time, there is always, always death. And no matter how hard you try, you ain't gonna stop it, doll."
The boy breathed in the scent of thick, acrid air, his eyes dancing up toward the flushed summer sky, clouds bouncing lazily in a burnt marshmallow clump against the crimson-stained sunset, dripping and oozing the dark red across its wide expanse, as if someone had splashed ruby paint on a once clean canvas. It was nearly dark, and she still wasn't here. The boy bit his lip and checked his phone quickly. There was no way his older brother would allow him out past his curfew. That only gave him an hour! Maybe less.
The boy slid his phone out of his pocket and glanced at the time. He sighed and pushed off the jungle gym he was leaning on, dialing the girl's number as he stepped onto the side walk. Perhaps she was running late because of a family issue? He was scared to ask, but her cousin was always so sick… but his brother would call him if something was up with her, the boy was sure. So what could be keeping his friend?
He moved to cross the road when there was no answer, but as he did so, a tiny girl came sliding in front of him, a big smile on her round, tanned face.
"Hi, Roxas!" she chirped, her cropped black hair bouncing around her head. "Am I late?"
"Um," Roxas snorted, pushing her aside. "Define late, miss 'seven sharp'."
"Oh, come on," she grumbled, grabbing the arm he used to push her and dragging him back towards the playground. "I have an explanation, you know, if you'd calmly sit your scrawny butt down!"
"You seriously better," the blonde hissed as she led him to the swing set and pushed him onto a swing. "Jeez, you're being freaking pushy!"
"No I'm not," she said with a wide grin as she dropped down on the swing beside him. "I'm just making up for lost time!"
She stared at him, her already large and round blue eyes wide. She continued to smile, her face glowing a soft, radiant orange in the dying sunlight, her black hair catching the fiery rays and turning a strange dark brown hue. Roxas stared back at her, rather expectantly, and she fidgeted a little, pulling down her long black shirt so it would reach the tippy tops of her knees.
"Are you gonna tell me, or are you gonna stare at me until I leave?" Roxas asked dryly, leaning forward in his seat.
She laughed, her eyes glowing merrily, and Roxas smiled a little. Her laugh was warm, and full of life, and she tilted her head back as her nose crinkled in amusement, though her laughter had died. "Oh, gosh, okay." She gripped her swing and hummed softly to herself. "Well, I was waiting with Kairi at the hospital. You know the tests she got about a month ago?"
Roxas was quite aware, as he had been there, fingernails bitten down to the white, fleshy underskin, awaiting the red head's recovery and release from the hospital. "Yeah…?" he said slowly, his eyebrows furrowing.
"They came back negative!" the black haired girl squealed, her eyes full of joy as she clapped her hands in excitement. "She's fine! Or at least, she's going to be. She just has to take this icky tasting, mammoth pill for a few months, but then she's cured!"
Roxas wasn't sure if he was supposed to be leaping for the sky with delight, because he was rather grounded. Of course he was indescribably happy, but there was something wrong. Of course, he didn't really realize it at the time. He just sort of let out a small cry of shock, and happiness took over after that. "Are you serious?" he gasped, nearly jumping to his feet. It was a stupid question. Why would she joke about this?
"So serious!" she cried, her eyes welling with tears, and her grin widening to a breakable point. "Oh my gosh, Roxas, you should've seen how happy she was. Okay, well, no, she kind of told me she was really scared, because she'd already convinced herself that she was going to die, but I think that's okay. Like, knowing you're gonna die… it's… gotta be tough, you know? I think she really had to accept death to live. The past two years have been her happiest, and no doubt about it." She giggled and kicked up some dirt as a small black kitten trotted by. "Weird, huh? Dying is the perfect incentive to get you to live."
"I…" Roxas choked, surprised by her words, his memory running swiftly backwards to the images of the tiny, fragile redheaded girl, always too sickly to play ball, or to come to school. But she had always been happy, despite her crippling disease. Even when she couldn't speak, she would smile, or make a weak funny face to tell them she was okay, that she could deal. "I never thought of it like that."
The girl shrugged and looked down as the black kitten rubbed up against her leg, and she bent down, scooping it in her arms and letting it curl up on her lap. "Well, that's okay." She smiled up at him, scratching the kitten behind its ear, and it purred a little, nuzzling her hand. Its eyes roved up to Roxas, sharp, and reflecting the blazing sunset's shine. "Anyway, we're going out to dinner on Saturday to celebrate, wanna come?"
Saturday was three days away, and Roxas thought idly that he might have to practice for the Struggle with Hayner, but he pushed the thought away. Kairi's non imminent death meant a whole lot more than winning some stupid trophy.
"I'll be there, Xion," he grinned nudging her with his elbow. "You know I will."
Xion smiled a little and looked down at the cat. Its smart, angular eyes were on her face, and she stroked its head, letting her hand slide down its back. She looked back up at him, her head tilting to the side, and her short black hair falling gently with it. "Hey," she said softly, her chin moving upwards, and her eyes flashing around them. "Roxas… this is where we met."
Roxas froze, and he whipped his head around to get a look at their surroundings. As he did so, the memory sparked within him, and he felt the admissible nostalgia creep up his spine. Years ago, on a summer day similar to they were now living, a scrawny blonde boy had attempted to beat the shit out of an asshole ten year old named Seifer that decided to pick on his twin brother. Long story short, Xion had stepped in before Seifer could permanently remodel Roxas's face (though, it was two on one considering Sora was kind of bleeding profusely from the nose and mouth, it was justified that the boy had needed some help), and told him to go away, or else she'd call in her cousin Kairi to tell Seifer off.
It was basic knowledge that Seifer had an immense crush on the redheaded girl, much to said sickly girl's distaste.
Anyway, it was true. All of that had happened in the very same playground they were currently residing in. Roxas was surprised he hadn't recognized it. "Whoa," he said, scratching his chin as he glanced around. It seemed like they'd gotten a new jungle gym, this one made out of plastic instead of wood and steel, and the swings weren't wooden with rusty links anymore. It kind of felt like their park had been child-proofed.
"Uh huh," Roxas murmured, "strange. It's just changed a lot."
"I know," Xion sighed, her fingers hovered over the cat's ears. "I almost didn't recognize it at first either."
Roxas glanced at her, and he dug his sneakers into the pit beneath him, his feet kicking up sand and dirt. He swallowed and turned to face her. "Hey, um… Xion…"
"Oh!" she gasped as the cat jumped from her lap. Xion pushed herself to her feet. "No, wait!" Roxas blinked at her, mildly shocked for a moment as she bolted after the kitten, her short hair floating up and around her head as she sprinted. Roxas moved to his feet, chuckling a little at his friend's oddness. It was only a cat… but Roxas walked slowly after her anyway.
Roxas stepped onto the sidewalk as Xion bolted across the street, her feet slapping against the ground as she tried after the cat. Roxas blinked slowly, spotting something out of the corner of his eye, and he jumped onto the road, screaming her name. She spun around to face him, her eyes wide, and her mouth parted into a gape, and she spotted him, only a few yards from her, and she smiled. And then she screamed.
He felt himself stumble backwards as the truck screeched to a stop. He didn't understand. He couldn't think properly. People were gathering, and he was standing there, her blood pooling around his sneakers, her body mutilated and awkwardly positioned, as if everything in her body had just snapped and jutted out, protruding from her skin without breaking the flesh. Roxas was now breathing heavily, every sound escaping him a whimper of her name.
He couldn't hear what people were saying to him. They hadn't seen her? She'd come out of nowhere? Like hell!
Roxas dropped to his knees beside her, his fingers finding her mangled arms, and he pulled her bloody corpse into his arms, shakily trying to digest the situation. "Xion…" he gasped, shaking her limp body furiously, hoping in vain to awaken her. "Oh, god, Xion! Wake up! What… why… this is… it's not real…" His voice broke as all the shouting around him stopped, and he felt someone pass behind him, a slender hand running across his back, and reaching upwards, sliding against his neck and eventually blinding him. He felt heavy, the thick, hot air of summer closing around his throat.
Roxas felt tears slip from his eyes, and he breathed heavily as a low, cold voice hissed in his ear.
"Idiot" whispered a male voice, dragging Roxas onto his back. Roxas blinked, the harsh smell of blood fading as he opened his eyes, a grinning face floating above him as another whisper graced Roxas's ears, "This isn't a lie."
And then there was nothing but Roxas's ceiling.
He panted a little, reaching up and feeling his forehead. It was sweaty and warm, and Roxas's hair stuck to it like glue. The boy sat up in his bed, trying to catch his breath, but his heart was beating to hard and too fast, and his mind was racing with visions of an accident and haunting faces.
"Xion…" he gasped hotly, flipping onto his side. He cried out in shock as he flopped right out of bad, collapsing in a disgruntled heap on the floor, his blanket tangling around his legs. He grunted in pain, pealing his blanket from him, and he laid on the cool wood for a long moment, staring at the ceiling. Images of Xion's face, crushed and bloody, disfigured by the impact of the truck just as the rest of her corpse had been.
Corpse. The thought chilled Roxas to the bone, and he pushed himself to his knees, clutching his chest as bile rose in his throat. His mouth tasted sour.
Roxas scrambled to his nightstand, crawling on his knees and making a grab for his cellphone with a feverish haste. He fumbled with it for a moment, gazing at his screen without much thought, his mind cooling a little. It was a little after noon, and the day was still young. He swallowed hard and dialed her number.
It rung twice. By the second ring Roxas was on the verge of sobbing.
But she picked up.
"Hello?" she chirped, her voice muffled by something, as if her mouth was full. "Roxas?"
He held the phone tightly, feeling himself fall onto his back as relief washed over him like a great wave. Exhaustion fell upon him fast. He began to laugh, choking on his own sobs.
"Roxas?" Xion gasped, her voice clearer. She'd been chewing something, it seemed. "Oh my gosh, are you okay?"
"Fine," he choked, covering his eyes with his arm. He smiled at the sound of her voice, sweet without softening her determined nature. She always sounded like she was ready to battle it out vocally, her voice sometimes wavering with coarseness. Kairi had the same problem, so maybe it ran in the family. "Oh, damn, I'm fine. Are you okay?"
"Yeah?" She sounded worried, and Roxas could almost see her eyes shifting carefully as she tried to figure out what was going on. "I'm not the one who sounds like they're dying. Wait, crap! Forget I said that, wrong day to say something stupid like that!"
Roxas felt his innards turn to water at her words, and he sat up straight. "Why?" he gasped, his neck prickling with sweat again. "What makes today so different?"
She paused from the other line, and Roxas stood up, rummaging through an open drawer for a shirt. "Well," Xion said slowly. "I wasn't going to tell you, but… I mean, since we're on the subject. Kairi's supposed to get her test results back today."
Roxas froze, his phone slipping from its perch between his shoulder and cheek as he tried to juggle it while tugging on a shirt. It clattered to the hard wood at his feet, and Roxas stared blankly ahead of him for a moment, Xion's voice swimming in his head. She called his name thrice before he had the courage to bend down and pick up the phone, holding it warily to his ear. He pulled his shirt over his navel, and took a deep breath.
"Sorry, the TV just turned on," he lied in a soft voice. "It scared the crap out of me."
"Oh," she said, her voice edging on suspicion. "That's weird."
"Yeah," he breathed, staring at the date on the small tear off calendar on his desk. In his disgustingly vivid dream, this had been the date. Surely that meant nothing. But the fact that he had dreamt the truth about Kairi's test results properly unnerved him. "Tell me about it. Look, Xi', I need to talk to you."
"You're talking to me right now," she laughed, and then she hushed herself, as if someone had scolded her.
"Wow, what a sharp observation." He smiled, feeling himself be further relieved by the sound of her laughter. "What I meant was I need to talk to you in person."
"Later," Xion promised, and he could hear a sort of sigh in her voice. "Sorry, I'm at the hospital right now. I can't leave in the middle of this… you understand, right, Roxas?"
Roxas swallowed the lump in his throat, and he let himself grin. He pushed all thoughts of that dumb dream from his mind, and he nodded. "Yeah, sure. I'll be waiting at the park, like we planned, okay?"
"Okay, then." He could almost hear her smile, and he was suddenly desperate to see it. He couldn't imagine loosing her forever, seeing her mangled up and crushed on a crosswalk again. But that hadn't been real, and Roxas was so thankful. "I'll see you later, then. Oh, and don't tell Sora what's happening! Kairi doesn't want him to worry until there's actual news."
"Will do." Roxas's stomach grumbled suddenly, his hunger becoming apparent. Roxas yawned and opened his door, peeking his head into the hallway. The dream was fading to the back of his mind, and despite the chill he felt reverberating through him, he was content.
Roxas wasn't worried about her being late. He dug a hole into the sand beneath him, gazing up at the faint sprinkle of stars in the sky. The streets were still busy, despite the lateness. The blond could hear sounds of traffic, and construction work a little ways away from him. He leaned back, beads of sweat appearing on his forehead as he tried to beat off the humidity. The sun was low in the sky, setting slow, and Roxas tried to smile despite the creeping dread that overwhelmed him.
"Just a dream," he whispered to the heat, closing his eyes and praying for the images to leave his brain. Xion was alive, damn it, and he was being stupid. Dwelling on nightmares wouldn't get him anywhere.
Roxas bolted up straight and his eyes snapped open. He glanced at his dear friend, and smiled dully as he noticed she was already sitting right beside him. He hadn't even heard her sit down. The setting sun illuminated her face, casting a yellow glow on her skin, and she smiled up at him. She looked happy. Roxas almost couldn't believe how relieved he was to just look at her. Alive, and uncrushed.
"Where'd you come from?" He couldn't help but grin as she laughed, and bent down. He froze as she scooped a black kitten into her lap, letting it nibble at her finger.
"The hospital, duh." Xion looked up at him, her eyes bright with an awed sort of glow. "I'm sorry I took so long."
"It's fine," he said quickly, his eyes glued to the cat in her arms. "Hey… Xion, that cat… maybe you should put it down."
"What?" She blinked down at the kitten in confusion, and she looked back up at him with wide eyes. "Why? It doesn't have rabies, or anything."
"But…" Roxas felt his words stumble on his tongue. "Fleas?"
"I'll take my chances," the black haired girl snickered, pushing a short strand from her eyes. "So do you want the good news or the bad news first?"
Roxas sucked in a breath, tearing his eyes from the cat, and he blinked at his friend. "Uh," he said dully. "Bad news."
"Well!" She scratched the kitten's head, and her eyes reflected the yellow of the sunset as she tilted her head. "The bad news is you have to sacrifice a lazy Saturday night to be my date."
At first Roxas thought he'd heard her wrong. He did a double take, and finally he just let his jaw drop. "Wait, what?" he gasped, leaning away from her, feeling his cheeks flame up. The thick summer air was suddenly pressing against him, and he felt sweat moisten the back of his neck.
Xion's eyes widened a little at his reaction to her words, and she leaned back as well, a blush creeping across her cheeks. "I'm joking," she said softly. "But seriously, you can't do anything on Saturday, we're going out to celebrate!"
"Oh." Roxas was flustered. He glanced away from her face, trying to hide his blush, and then it hit him. "Wait, celebrate? So, wait, that means…"
"Kairi's cured!" Xion near shrieked, and she blinked at her volume, quieting herself down a little. "I mean, almost, she needs to—"
"Take a giant ass pill that tastes weird," Roxas whispered, looking down at his hands. What was going on? He dreamed all this already, hadn't he? Maybe it was just a coincidence. Xion stared at him for a long moment, her mouth parted slightly in shock.
"Yeah…" she said. "How did you know?"
"Guessed." Roxas had to turn away from her when his panic began to settle in. What if it hadn't been a dream? What if it was a premonition? Maybe it was Roxas's job to save Xion from that awful fate.
"Oh," she said, leaning back. "Well that was a really great guess, you know— oh, no!" Xion jumped to her feet as the kitten leaped from her lap, and Roxas felt himself move faster than he could've imagined possible, grabbed his friend's wrist tight as she attempted to run after it. She stopped and looked back at him, wide eyed.
"Roxas, the kitty—!" she gasped, pulling away from him, but he held her wrist tighter, his heart pounding against his chest.
"It'll be fine," he said fast, squeezing her wrist so tightly she winced. "Let's go home, Xion."
She stared up at him, her expression contorting in confusion for a moment, before she gave a slight nod. "Okay…" she said gently, letting him pull her away from the road. He let go of her wrist when they were two blocks away from the park, and in the middle of the sidewalk. Xion stood close to his side, and they walked in silence for a few minutes.
Roxas slowed as he noticed some kids across the street standing rather still, and pointing upward. Roxas stopped for a moment and looked up as well. His eyes widened, and he looked back to his dark haired friend, who was still walking forward.
"Xion!" he screamed, stumbling forward to pull her out of the way, but it was too late.
Something snapped above them, and there were a few cries of warning, and shock. Xion shrieked as the pipes fell, slicing through the air and one of them plunging through her back, tearing right through her stomach. Roxas gaped as a pipe fell at his feet, and he didn't understand how this could have happened. He could only stare as blood spilled from Xion's stomach fast, pooling around her as she gasped and quivered. He couldn't speak, or even think. All he knew was that this had happened before, and now he'd failed twice. Xion was dead again. She was dead.
"No!" Roxas cried, spinning around and smashing his fist against a window. It shattered, and the glass sliced through his skin, spilling more blood onto the sidewalk. "No, no, no! This is a dream!"
A sharp, hysterical laugh broke out behind him, and Roxas spun around, his eyes still wide with the shock of seeing Xion getting killed again. He felt his mouth drop open, and he stumbled back. Before him, there was a boy, a boy who looked unreal against the light of the sunset, his appearance wavering unstably. Only his eyes seemed concrete, a deep golden color that shone like mini stars.
Roxas said nothing. He was scared, and he was ashamed, and his entire body felt stiff. He felt like everything in the world was trying to crush him at that moment. The boy grinned, a wicked, wicked grin, and his appearance wavered again.
"This is real," the boy sneered. He stepped forward, and Roxas stumbled feeling himself fall backwards. The boy grabbed his arm, and Roxas stared at him blankly, feeling the urge to puke. The boy looked realer now, that was for sure, his pale face seeming to glow as the rest of the street began to fade away. Roxas's lips quivered as he tried to find a retort, but he couldn't speak. "Think, think, Roxy! This ain't a dream."
He stole a glance at Xion one more time out of desperation. Just before his vision went black, he could've sworn he saw a smile resting on her lips.
Roxas awoke with a gasp, his vision clearing up sharply. He bolted up straight and looked around his room, blinking fast. It looked just as it did the afternoon before, and the afternoon before that. His eyes rested on the calendar on his desk. It seemed they were essentially the same day. Roxas breathed deeply for a long moment, feeling rivulets of sweat slide down his forehead.
He had to save her this time.
Roxas ripped the blanket off him and jumped from his bed, scooping up a pair of jeans from the floor with one hand, and grabbing his phone with the other. He was tugging them on by the time Xion answered.
"Hello?" she chirped, as she had the day before. Roxas felt his gut twist painfully, like someone had struck him with a knife. "Roxas?"
"I have an emergency," Roxas choked, zipping up his jeans and snatching a shirt from his desk chair. He must've worn it recently. "Meet me at the park."
"What…?" she gasped. Roxas shook his head.
"The park. Where we first met. It's really important." Roxas pulled his shirt over his head, ignoring her as she explaining why she had to come later. "No," he said. "Now. Right now, Xion. It's really important."
"I'm not really sure I can—"
"Please," Roxas begged, feeling his voice break, and he gritted his teeth. Before she could reply, he ended the call.
She was already there by the time he ran into the park, sweat causing his hair to stick to his brow. She was sitting on a swing, the damn cat in her lap, and Roxas bolted toward her and grabbed her by the arm. She cried out as he yanked her to her feet, the cat jumping away. She gaped at him as he dragged her forward, ignoring her questions, and pulling her away from the dreadful park
"Roxas, what's wrong?" she gasped, struggling to keep with him. "Roxas!"
"I'll explain, but first we need to get somewhere safe," he said, shaking his head. They walked hand and hand for a while, and she never struggled. She looked very confused but she didn't ask.
"Roxas, I need to go back to the hospital…" Xion said, her voice trailing when she noticed his face. He was crying, his fingers gripping hers so tightly he thought it was odd she wasn't trying to wiggle out of his grasp. "Roxas…?"
"I'm fine," he said gruffly, pulling her closer to him as they passed a construction site. "Just… just stay close to me. Do not let go of my hand."
"Okay…" She was silent until he dragged her in front of an apartment building. "Where are we?" she asked, looking around.
"A friend's house," Roxas whispered, ringing the buzzer. "She'll tell me what's going on. She knows stuff like this."
Roxas swung the door open as it unlocked, and he yanked her into the hallway, staring around the entryway for a moment before he hurried up the stairs. Xion stayed behind him, her fingers tightly locked in his. "Like why this keeps happening…" Roxas whispered, skipping two steps at a time. Xion fell farther behind.
"What are you talking about?" Xion asked with wide eyes. She was breathing heavily by now, and Roxas glanced at her worriedly as he reached the landing. Out of the corner of his eye he saw a blur of black and gold, and Roxas's head whipped back, Xion's hand slipping through his fingers. He stared at the black haired boy, the feeling of thick, humid air crushing his lungs. He felt his insides run cold in spite of the heat that was scathing him.
"No," Roxas whispered, and Xion's familiar, shocked scream filled his ears. He looked back at her fearfully.
She'd missed a step, her shoes slipping on the smooth stone, and she fell backwards. Roxas reached out for her, but she was already tumbling down the stairwell backwards, her body rolling into an awkward position at the foot of the stairs. Her neck was bent oddly, and her eyes stared glossily up at him, glinting curiously from the light that streamed in from the open door. Blood was seeping from beneath her raven hair, which fanned around her head like black feathers.
Roxas sunk to his knees once again, feeling his guilt become overwhelming. Why couldn't he save her? Why was fate being so cruel? Why was this happening?
The boy laughed, and Roxas looked up at him, no tears left to cry. "How is this real?" Roxas asked, his voice flat. "How is this happening? Why can't I save her?"
The boy's odd, glinting gold eyes narrowed as he smirked. He stepped toward Roxas, his hand outstretch, and Roxas reached to take it.
His fingers closed around Roxas's throat.
"Shall I show you?"
He lost count after the first decade. He didn't understand how he could try and try and try, but no matter what he did differently that day, she still ended up dead before midnight. The deaths became so bizarre that if time had actually decided to continue, there was no way a person could've explained how she had died. He still didn't understand where those razorblades had come from.
Years and years of this endless cycle had turned him rigid. He often sat in the inbetween land, the place he ended up between days. It was an endless hall of clocks, ticking away Xion's chances at life. He was always doing something wrong, but there was always one to spare, always another chance.
The boy had taken Roxas here on that third day, decades ago. He told him the situation as shortly and sharply as possible. He was time, and fate, and death, and Xion was doomed. Why? Because he said so. Roxas hated him. He said he had no name, but eventually Roxas got around to looking him up when he wasn't fussing over how Xion would die that day. He found that the boy was called by many names, but he particularly fancied Vanitas.
Vanitas was literally at Roxas's throat every chance he got. Roxas often wondered why the boy didn't just kill him and save him the trouble of wasting more clocks. Vanitas explained that it wasn't his fate to die at his hand, and that time would start normally again when he learned to let Xion go.
Roxas couldn't do it. He slaved over his mission for days and days, sometimes telling her what was happening, but usually just grabbing her and running. Once he'd tried to completely ignore her for a whole day. She'd ended up in a garbage bag on his porch ten minutes before midnight. Vanitas wouldn't tell him who'd done it.
Now he stared at the lonesome clock, feeling a deep longing for normalcy. He couldn't remember the feel of winter. Cold was foreign, and he forgot the feel of rain on his skin, or the sound of a thunder storm. Despite waking up every morning, he never really slept. He missed the feeling of the abyss as it washed over him and took away all his fears and insecurities, and saved him from his own mind. He felt empty.
One clock. That was all that was left now. He'd started with a countless amount, a cacophony of ticking splitting his mind the moment he'd stepped foot into the inbetween. Every clock he used shattered the moment Xion died, and blood would leak from the needles as they twitched over a frozen time.
How did he only have one left?
He was scared to use it. He didn't know what would happen afterwards, if time would just go on after Xion died, or if time would freeze forever, or if he'd just be stuck in limbo for the rest of eternity. He thought about Kairi, and how today was supposed to be her day, the day she found out she was going to live the remainder of her life happily.
"There has to be a way for it to end," Roxas had once pleaded with Vanitas, who was watching him with an alert golden gaze. He was always watching Roxas, it seemed. But he only ever showed up when Xion died, or right after in limbo. "This cycle has to stop!"
"If there was an end to this," Vanitas said with a wide smirk, "than perhaps it wouldn't be called a cycle."
"There is an end to everything," Roxas whispered, his determination admirable. Vanitas just kept smiling, and he tugged his hood over his eyes. He was wearing the same clothes as Roxas, only they were all black, and rather plain.
"That may be true," Vanitas said with a mocking laugh. "All things do come to an end, even time. It just happens that you are an idiot, so you won't give up until you've sucked it all up."
So this was his last chance. The cycle would end the moment Xion died again. Roxas would never be ready for this day to come, and he would never be ready for it to end. No matter how many times he's lived it before, he was never ready for the events that came with it. Xion had suffered so much because of his follies, and he… he had no way of helping her.
He vaguely remembered a conversation they had had that first day. Kairi being cured, and what not. She'd been scared when she got the good news, Xion had said. She'd been scared.
Roxas stared at the clock, his fingers resting on the glass surface. He could see his reflection as it really was, old, and weary. He was scared.
Beneath his fingers, his reflection cracked, and the clock stopped. Roxas turned, his hand still on the clock, and he could see his destination. He could see that damn cat, and he could see her smile, innocent and unknowing, and he could see himself, running to catch her before it was too late, shouting her name in desperation.
Roxas pushed off from the clock, and it shattered.
He was not used to being so aware of other people. He saw them all around him, and they saw him as he stood where he'd stood that first day, his sneakers tipping off the edge of the sidewalk. He'd let her run after the cat this time. He'd let it play out the way it was supposed to. He felt guilty through out the day as he wrote down his regrets, counted a box full of pennies easier than he could count all of Xion's deaths, and talked to his brothers.
He'd sat down with his brothers at dinner, eating as much as he could manage, trying to keep himself from looking guilty. He was scared to death.
"Sora," he'd said, his voice quiet. "What if you died tomorrow?"
Sora had looked up from prodding Cloud with his fork, his eyes going wide, and Cloud's cool gaze snapped to Roxas's face. Their mother had died a few years previous, and their father ran out on them after the twins had been born. Cloud took care of them as best he could, but the years had hardened him. He wasn't the soft spoken boy he'd been when his brothers had been young.
"That wouldn't be fun," Sora had said with a short, uneasy laugh. "Why do you ask?"
Roxas picked at his chicken, his mind reeling with memories of death after death, blood in his mouth, the feel of tears on his cheeks. He thought of how Xion always acted right before a death, like she was always prepared for sudden death despite not knowing it was coming. She was happy, and she never questioned Roxas's strange actions.
"What would you do if you knew you were going to die?" Roxas had asked curiously, turning his eyes up to look at his brothers. "I mean, honestly. If you had one day left alive… how would you spend it?"
Sora shared a look with Cloud, and he managed a huge grin. "I'd try to make an impression," he'd said. "So none of my friends will ever forget me!"
"I doubt they would ever anyway." Roxas had smiled, and he glanced at Cloud as the man sipped his water, his expression pensive.
"I would just… live, I guess," Cloud had said in a quiet voice, setting his cup down on the table. "Live until my blood stopped pumping."
Now he wondered why he hadn't thought of it sooner. He could hear the scream of traffic, and voices floated in his ears, made into an indiscernible thrum. He watched her run straight into the road, her black dress billowing around her knees, and her laugh piercing through the maelstrom of sounds around him.
He wasn't scared anymore.
Roxas didn't even scream her name this time. He simply leaped off the sidewalk, the squeal of tires rattling in his brain as he bolted into the road and pushed passed Xion, shoving her backwards. The moment he did, he spun around to face her, and he saw that she was half sprawled against the sidewalk, her expression startled. She called his name, and he smiled at her.
The impact was short. He felt it, the burning heat and pain that tumbling across his body in quaking waves. It was heat like he'd never felt heat before, pulsing through him like magma, and he never heard himself scream.
Everything turned cold then, and he wanted to smile in relief, but he found he couldn't. He was standing where he had been standing just before the truck had hit, and he was glad to see Xion's face as people gathered around her. She was alive, and that set him at ease. He thought perhaps he could be at peace now.
He heard a rattling gasp, and Roxas turned his vision to behind him. He stared at the golden eyed boy, and he laughed, wholly satisfied with seeing him on his hands and knees before him, tears running steadily down his cheeks.
"Serves you right!" Roxas chastised, as Vanitas gazed up at him, his shock fueling Roxas's contempt. Even in death, he hated him. He deserved this.
Roxas blinked, and he was startled to find that Vanitas was gone in a flash. He wanted to look around, but the cold was calling him. He looked back at Xion one last time, and he found that he was finally content, finally happy. She was alive. She was on her knees, her lips forming his name in a plea, but Roxas did not feel guilty anymore. His vision grew dark.
Roxas felt the cold of death finally sting him when he noticed someone had appeared behind Xion, her appearance wavering in the heat. She wore white, and her eyes gazed at Roxas like they were inset ice. She was familiar to him, her pale hair and her solemn expression all so striking as she silently placed her milky pale hands over Xion's eyes. Understanding filled Roxas's dead mind.
Oh my god, was Roxas's last thought. She's me.
She woke up cold. The room felt frigid, like someone had left the air conditioning on for far too long, and now she'd awoken to Antarctica in her bedroom. She sat up immediately, feeling her heartbeat begin to increase and increase until it was pounding hard against her ribs. She curled up in her blankets, and she felt her throat constrict, and a sob escaped her lips.
"No," she gasped, slumping against her window, tears obscuring her vision. She longed for warmth, and despite the crippling heat of summer, she simply couldn't feel it. "Why…"
Xion could not contain her shuddering sobs, and she cried. It got to the point where she was almost wailing, sniffling and gasping as tears ran cold down her red cheeks. She recalled the last time she'd been in limbo, and she buried her face in her pillow and screamed. The golden eyed boy's words stung her now like a whip slicing through skin.
"And no matter how hard you try, you ain't gonna stop it, doll."
She felt hopeless. Her ribs hurt with ghost pain from where Roxas had elbowed her backwards, forcing her to stumble back several steps and fall. Xion's sobs quieted, and she sat on her bed, trembling silently as something leapt into her lap.
Her fingers tangled in its pale fur, and it mewed softly. Its icy eyes watched her curiously, and it pawed her shirt, pushing itself up. Its coarse tongue ran across her cheek, and Xion giggled in spite of herself as the small white kitten licked away her tears.
"I failed again…"she murmured to her tiny feline friend. It pushed itself off from her and jumped from her bed. Xion looked up glumly as her chilly friend stood before her, her body appearing to be nothing but a flutter of blue and white.
"You won't listen to me," the girl said, her voice as soft and cold as snow. "You won't listen to Vanitas. How long can you keep this up before you go too far, and time completely collapses?"
Xion pushed back her blankets slowly, hiccupping as she pulled her legs over her bedside. She stood, and looked at Naminé, the only thing preventing her from keeping Roxas alive. She didn't hate her, not in the slightest. Over the years of loneliness and despair Xion had grown to love her company, her friendship meaning almost as much as Roxas's.
But it just was not enough.
"Let time collapse," Xion said with a smile. "If I can save him, then let time collapse, and let fate unravel, and let death die. I never intended on playing fair."
If you've ever heard the song and seen the video, you might understand why I picked these two characters to write the story for. It was odd writing it, because most of the story was already written for me. I really just gave the characters names and tried to place Roxas's and Xion's personalities into them. Anyway, this is my favorite Vocaloid song ever, and I really love the rest of Jin's stuff, so I might do something like this again sometime? Maybe Imagination Forest. Oh, god, MY FEELINGS FOR THAT SONG.
This is mostly a gift. To Angie, because we both agreed that the kids in the PV for the song looked a lot like Roxas and Xion, and because she ships this shit like burning. And to Shanna, because she also loves this ship.
I do not love this ship. But I really liked writing this, so whatever. I'm trying to overcome my dislike and learn how to write pairings I know I'll have difficulty with. I can accept this pairing, and I can't imagine this story going with any other characters.
I don't really expect any reviews from anyone except Shanna, and maybe Angie if she actually reads the whole thing, because it takes her forever to read anything.
I love you 5ever, though, sweetie, ALL THE DIAMONDS. (sometimes I wonder how many inside jokes I can crack in one sentence)
Alright, that's it, do not expect anymore RokuXion from me! You know, there was some creepy gay undertones to some of this now that I think about it, because in a weird way Vanitas was Xion and Nami was Roxas... but only like, a LITTLE bit. They kind of became their own people after a long period of time.
This story is really weird. The song isn't this weird.
(I was kidding about the gay, guys, I was actually shipping selfcest on the sidelines with Nami and Roxas.)
P.S. I really should end a joke with a joke.