Love you, bb~!
Series: Kingdom Hearts (II) / malaisehouse
Character(s)/Pairing(s): Naminé, Roxas
Summary: Two former patients meet again after several years apart.
Status: One-Shot / Complete
Recommended Listening: "Passion (for String Quartet)" by Cameron Goss/vespertea
“Restaurant le Destati, ma’am.”
“Oh!” Naminé looked up sharply at the gruff sound of the cab driver’s voice. The ride from her hotel had been relatively silent, other than the soft Spanish music that was playing on the radio. Come to think of it, she hadn’t heard him speak other than to ask her where she was headed.
She hurriedly shoved her compact mirror back into the small beaded clutch she had brought with her. “H-how much do I owe you?” she asked, mentally wincing as she stuttered. She had hoped that wouldn’t be an issue tonight.
“Twenty and fifty-two cents,” came the gruff voice. Naminé fished the money out of her clutch and passed it through the small window to him, leaving the cab after saying a polite farewell.
The city air was hot even after the sun had gone down. Cars inched their way down the street, and the taxi crawled away from the curb to enter the flow of traffic. She watched it for a moment before turning to face the front of the restaurant. Golden letters spelled out the word Destati in a fancy, cursive style. Elaborate marble statues stood guard on either side – one a ruffled-looking duck, the other a dog with its tongue lolling out. The statues had never made much sense to her, given the rest of the establishment’s refined theme, but they were charming in their own way.
She passed through the revolving glass door into the brightly-lit lobby. Shiny granite floors reflected the shimmering crystal chandeliers hanging above. Her heels clacked loudly on the surface as she crossed to the front desk, offering the host a timid smile as she approached.
“Hi, I placed a reservation for two several weeks ago and called to confirm it earlier this afternoon,” Naminé said in a rush, unable to stop from relaxing when she didn’t stutter at all. Maybe tonight would be fine.
The host turned to the small computer screen at his right. “Name, miss?”
“Peverell,” she answered, waiting as he looked it up. After a minute, he took two menus from the podium and motioned for him to follow her.
The dining hall was much dimmer than the lobby. The chandeliers in here cast a golden glow upon the occupants, which was accented by the scarlet curtains hanging along the circular wall. In the very center of the spacious room was a polished dance floor, a small string ensemble set up nearby. The surrounding tables were small and intimate with elegant candles in the center, surrounded by wreaths of ivy. The host led her to a table off to the side of the room, as she had requested when placing the reservation.
“Here you are, miss,” he said, pulling her chair out for her. Once Naminé sat down, he handed her a menu, placing the other in front of the empty seat across from her.
“May I inquire as to when your date is expected to arrive?” asked the man courteously.
“Oh, h-he’s not m-my-,” Naminé stammered before clearing her throat, “He shouldn’t be much longer.” The host nodded and left to return to the lobby.
Now alone, Naminé was able to sneak a few quick glances at the other patrons. All designer suits and fur scarves – just as she’d expected, but nevertheless, it made her feel underdressed. She knew she had no reason to, seeing as the pale blue dress she wore undoubtedly cost just as much as their custom-tailored gowns (if not quite a bit more). Even so, she found herself sulking within a matter of minutes.
Normally, things like this didn’t bother her nearly as much as they would have several years ago. The years she’d spent receiving therapy in order to repair her shattered self-esteem had worked well enough. She knew she was pretty. But as it was, she would always struggle with comparing herself to others. It was how she had spent most of her life, after all.
As she’d predicted, “He shouldn’t be much longer” translated to “He’ll be another fifteen minutes and then some.” It didn’t bother her – he’d never been able to grasp the concept of punctuality.
It had nearly been twenty minutes by the time the host returned. She instantly recognized the young man trailing behind him, though she hadn’t seen him since they had both been teenagers. He was looking around the restaurant in awe and barely concealed envy, his bright cerulean eyes flicking every which way. His blond hair was a little longer, a little messier. He had grown considerably taller, and from what she could tell by the fitted black suit he was wearing, his skinny body had filled in rather nicely.
Those blue eyes finally flickered towards her. She felt her heart skip a beat as their gazes met. A moment passed before he smiled, and she couldn’t ever recall him looking so beautiful – his smiles had always been so crooked and hesitant.
The host disappeared swiftly, leaving the two of them to simply stare at each other. She honestly wasn’t sure what to do in this situation – was it all right to display affection in such a refined atmosphere?
He cleared his throat, suddenly looking awkward. “It’s good to, uh, see you again.”
“Y-you, too, Roxas,” she choked out.
Another moment passed, and then Naminé was shoving her chair back and stumbling to her feet even as he moved towards her. She threw her arms around his neck without a second thought. He returned the embrace just as enthusiastically, holding her close.
“I m-missed you so much,” she said quietly, and he tightened his arms around her in response.
Someone cleared their throat at a nearby table, and Naminé pulled away, feeling her cheeks heating up. Quickly, she sat back down while Roxas did the same across from her.
“You look great,” said Roxas, not even bothering to glance at his menu. His attention was entirely focused on her – it was somewhat embarrassing.
“Thank you,” she answered, unable to stop from smiling, “I’ve been... very healthy. Both body and mind.” She tacked the last part on when he raised a questioning eyebrow. “I do forget where I put the key to my apartment every now and then-,”
“Haha, very funny. Like I didn’t see that joke coming,” Roxas said, though not unkindly. “But that’s a relief. I was worried about you.”
Naminé felt herself blush again. “What about you? How’ve you been?”
“Been pretty good, actually. Still have a few anger issues now and then,” he said with a shrug, “but I got my bachelor’s degree in engineering and found a good job in the city. It’s not much, but it pays decently.”
“Oh, that’s wonderful!” she exclaimed, “That’s so good to hear, really.”
Roxas appeared to be embarrassed. “It’s nothing compared to you – fashion designer, huh? And working in New York, too. No wonder you can afford to eat at a place like this.”
Now it was her turn to feel that way. “It’s not that impressive,” she muttered, her cheeks practically aflame.
Roxas laughed, reaching for his menu. As he did so, a glint of light on his left hand caught her eye. She looked closer and saw that it was a ring. Nothing elaborate, just a simple silver band with a ruby set in the center of it.
“Who’s that from?” she asked curiously.
Roxas glanced up in confusion before seeing what she was looking at. He shot a smirk at her. “You know who.”
Naminé couldn’t help but raise an eyebrow. “You’re getting married?”
“You and I both know that’ll never happen,” he snorted rather ungracefully, “Nah, it was either this or matching necklaces. I chose the one that’d make me look less like a fag.”
She rolled her eyes, laughing softly. “Lesser of two evils, I suppose. But how is Axel? I know it took a lot to get him released at the same time as you, the staff was completely against it.”
“Dr. House pulled some strings,” Roxas replied with a crafty grin, “I really didn’t see why it was such a big deal, it’s not like he was burning people left and right-,”
“Except for you.” And me.
“Didn’t matter,” he said firmly.
She didn’t press the issue. “So he hasn’t been any trouble?”
Roxas shook his head. “Not at all. It’s... not really a desire to harm anymore – it’s more like a fetish.”
“I’d believe that,” Naminé said teasingly.
He blushed, but he didn’t argue. “I just have to do a sweep of the apartment every month or so, check his hiding places to make sure he doesn’t try to sneak a lighter in. And he has a few attachment issues, but that’s sort of expected, given some of the... things that happened to him back then.”
Naminé nodded understandingly. “Like when you told him that you were leaving?”
He looked away. “Yeah. Exactly.”
The conversation fell into a lull for a second, at which time their waitress approached the table. They placed their orders; Naminé made sure she ordered something she would like, if only because she knew Roxas would be watching to make sure she ate all of it.
Once the waitress had left, Roxas turned back to her, taking a swig from the water that the woman had brought before speaking. “So, heard anything from anyone else lately?”
“Not lately, no,” she said, tracing a small heart in the condensation on the outside of her own glass, “Though Demyx did call a week or two ago.”
“He called you?” Roxas demanded, sounding both incredulous and a little jealous, if she had heard him right. Sure enough, he crossed his arms and pouted in a way that was all too familiar. “He only sends me letters.”
“Well, I can see why,” Naminé replied, “Can you imagine what would happen if Axel answered only to find out that he was calling for you?”
Roxas winced. “Yeah, that... wouldn’t be too good.”
She offered him a sympathetic smile. It was no secret that Axel was still furious at Demyx, even after all of these years. And frankly, she didn’t blame Demyx for wanting to keep his distance – even if that meant keeping the Atlantic Ocean between them.
“He’s doing okay, given the situation. He told you that Luxord was sho- passed away a few months after he got out, right?” she prompted, having to catch herself. It had been a quick, brutal murder over a poker game. She didn’t like to think about it. At Roxas’ nod, she continued. “Demyx has been sort of a wanderer since then, but he said that he’s going to try to settle down in London and start up a band again. He also mentioned that he met a nice man named Xigbar and that they’ve been seeing each other for a little while.”
“Huh. Maybe I should mention that to Axel – might help him cool off a bit,” said Roxas, “So he’s doing all right?”
“He sounded just fine, Roxas, don’t worry.”
The waitress returned with their food a few minutes later, placing a steaming plate of spaghetti in front of Naminé. She could feel Roxas’ anxious gaze on her as she started to eat; she tried not to think about it, making sure she looked as casual as possible. As if this wasn’t a challenge she went through every day. As if she had never struggled with a life-threatening eating disorder.
They sat in comfortable silence for a while. However, when Roxas spoke again, it was about a topic she had been hoping wouldn’t have been brought up tonight.
“So, uh, don’t know if you’ve seen the news lately, but apparently there’s been a lot of gang activity in Chicago again.”
She looked up at him with guarded eyes.
“They’re pretty sure it’s Oblivion.”
She said nothing.
Roxas sighed, sounding frustrated. “That’s his gang, you know-,”
“I do,” Naminé answered stiffly, “But I don’t know where you’re going with this.”
He frowned, not replying immediately. When he did, he spoke softly, though the anger was evident in his tone. “Marluxia’s out there, hurting people – girls like you – and the police still can’t touch him. If you’d only tell someone what had happened, Naminé-,”
The firmness in her voice momentarily startled him, but he hurriedly recovered. “After all that bastard did to you-,”
Naminé interrupted him, still speaking in that same firm voice. “He was sick, Roxas. It wasn’t his fault- no, it wasn’t. He couldn’t help it. I forgive him.”
“You would,” Roxas muttered.
She ignored him, shoving a forkful of spaghetti into her mouth as she carefully counted to ten. It wouldn’t do to get upset with him, not after it had been so long.
Roxas, though, seemed determined to try again. “There’ve been a few rumors that Larxene’s in league with him-,”
“Stop it, Roxas. I don’t want to talk about this anymore.”
He subsided, albeit reluctantly. Silence fell once again, but this time, it held an awkward, tense quality that hadn’t been present before. It went uninterrupted as they finished their entrées. Naminé could almost hear the gears turning in his head as he tried to think of a way to make up for the unnecessary turn the conversation had taken.
Their waitress came to collect their plates, also asking if they would like anything for dessert. Roxas looked at her hesitantly. “Do you, um, want to share something?” he asked.
His nervousness made her smile slightly. “Sure. What’d you have in mind?”
Roxas visibly relaxed, shrugging in response. “You pick.”
“Fine, but don’t complain,” Naminé teased before turning to the waitress, “We’ll have a slice of key lime pie, please.”
The waitress nodded and walked away. Thinking they would continue talking, Naminé settled back in her chair, only to pause when Roxas abruptly clambered to his feet. He extended his hand, grinning at her hopefully.
“Dance with me?”
Her gaze immediately shifted towards the dance floor, which was empty save for a few scattered couples. The string quartet was playing softly - maybe a waltz of some sort, though she only vaguely recognized the melody.
She looked back at Roxas, at his shining blue eyes. Ocean eyes. Memories were flooding back - the spring dance, the debacle that their date had become. It had been their first and last.
Roxas’ smile had vanished. He looked uncertain. “To make up for before,” he said quietly.
Naminé hesitated, and then she entwined her fingers with his.
Neither of them were graceful dancers. Naminé couldn’t remember much of what she had been taught from her childhood classes (those memories were forever locked away), and Roxas had never bothered to learn. They swayed back and forth awkwardly, spinning slowly every now and then. His hands felt warm where they rested on her hips, her own lifted up to drape on his shoulders. They said nothing; she stared at his tie, and he stared at the pale blue ribbon woven into her hair.
The song they danced to was both beautiful and somber. She found words and phrases returning to her: angels in flight, sanctuary, nothing is broken. The violin trembled in the air around her.
“What do you think would have happened if Axel hadn’t been there?”
Naminé looked up at him. He was frowning. The dim light from the chandeliers reflected in his eyes, and they appeared teary to her.
“I don’t think it would have been any different,” she murmured truthfully, “It wouldn’t have changed. We were too much alike, both of us needed to be helped. I don’t think we were ever meant to be together.”
His hands tightened convulsively, pulling her closer. Her head was resting against his chest, though she couldn’t remember putting it there. He laid his head on top of hers, and his lips pressed into her hair.
“I know. Just thought I’d ask.”
The cello began a fierce current of rhythm while the violins continued the piercing melody. She could feel that Roxas was crying, but she didn’t say anything. It occurred to her that the song was one of mourning. Her own eyes remained dry.
They remained on the dance floor until the cello struck one final note. A scattered applause arose from the
other patrons as they returned to their table. Their dessert was waiting for them, along with the bill. Naminé realized that she wasn’t particularly hungry anymore.
Roxas seemed to feel the same. “I’ll take it home for him,” he offered, “I’ll tell him that you said hi.”
She nodded as she pulled out her credit card, sliding it into the black leather folder. They sat in silence once more until the waitress came to collect the bill. She would be back in a moment with a box, she assured them.
“Have you heard from anyone else? Sora, Kairi?” asked Roxas.
Naminé shook her head. “I’ve been meaning to call the hospital and ask if they can tell me anything. I don’t think it’ll help, but I’m still going to try.”
It was another minute before the waitress came back. Naminé returned her credit card to her silver clutch as Roxas transferred the slice of pie to the styrofoam container. As one, they stood, gathering their jackets before walking out into the lobby.
The host nodded at them as they passed, wishing them a good night. Naminé smiled back half-heartedly.
The air outside had grown colder. They stopped at the edge of the sidewalk, and Roxas turned to look at her. “You’ll keep in touch, won’t you? We could have you over sometime when you’re in the city again, I’m sure Axel would like to see you. Maybe even tomorrow night. What d’you think?”
“That sounds lovely, Roxas,” she said softly, “I’ll be here for another week.”
He smiled, and it was that same brilliant smile that he had worn when he had recognized her. She felt her heart twist painfully. “Great! Here, I’ll give you my cell number so you can call me tomorrow, okay?”
“Okay,” she answered, and she watched as he rummaged in his pockets for a piece of paper. She wordlessly handed him a pen from her clutch, and he scribbled his number down, handing her both the paper and pen.
“All right,” said Roxas, still smiling, “Give me a call and we’ll set something up. Axel’s a pretty good cook now, you’ll like what he can come up with.” He sounded breathless and relieved.
“I have to go now, Roxas,” she said, and she hailed a taxi as it inched towards them in the traffic. She saw the driver wave at her and start pulling up to the curb.
Roxas looked disappointed. “Oh, right. Well, I guess I’ll talk to you later, then.”
“Later,” she murmured.
The cab pulled up next to them. She opened the door and looked back at him. He seemed to be realizing something, as his expression suddenly became panicked.
“Naminé, you will call me, right? You won’t forget?”
“I won’t forget,” she said, and her breath hitched in her throat. Her eyes stung.
Roxas hurriedly pulled her into his arms, holding her tightly. She returned the embrace. They stood like that for a moment before he released her in a way that was almost reluctant.
“Please call,” he whispered as she slid into the cab. Desperation clung to his words.
She shut the door firmly, looking away from the window. She didn’t want to see him. The taxi began to pull back into the flow of traffic, and the same gruff voice greeted her.
“Where to, ma’am?”
Her fingers dug into the satin material of her clutch. “The Twilight Hotel. And then the airport.”
The driver’s green eyes watched her in the rearview mirror. “Kind of a late flight, don’t you think?”
“Yes,” she replied, trying to keep her voice even, “but I have to leave town tonight. It’s short notice.”
He grunted irritably. “Don’t you just hate it when that happens?”
“I hate it very much,” Naminé said, and then she began to cry.