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lost key

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Weeks, months, years have passed since Isa became whole again. Radiant Garden has changed, found its past glory once more, a beauty Isa had never been able to forget. Twilight Town is different too, with more business and schools, more inhabitants than he cares to remember. 

They find Sora again, retrieve information about their lost friend, discover worlds and save others. He summons a keyblade too, blue and crystal-like, with a hint of black and grey at the hilt. It shines at night, the moon flowing back and forth like waves through the glass. His friends find it beautiful, Isa knows it's bittersweet. 

The ghost of a life left behind, black cloak hidden in a closet, the doors to his heart locked until he finds the key - somewhere, he knows, wandering the worlds. And sometimes he dreams of finding it; long hair pulled back into a ponytail, brown eye turning gold, the beginning of a smirk, acting like it hadn't been so long since they had last seen each other. 

His heart aches. 

Yet, life goes on. It doesn't wait until he is ready, and the wind kicks him off the ground, sweeps under his feet until he is flying and gravity is a lie - or so he dreams.

He wants to be angry, to forget, to grieve. But sometimes he feels the gates of his heart rattle, confined feelings looking through the keyhole. Is he here? Has he come back to us? And Isa prays for this dance to end, the longing of a touch too much at times. 

Years pass and his hair pales. He gets older, the vibrant deep blue that was once his pride dulls, light as a winter sky. A few more years and he could lose himself in the snow, he thinks. 

His skin wrinkles slightly, especially his forehead. The corners of his lips deepen too, marking his smile as he sees his friends grow into adults, their own person. His life is full, he doesn't regret the path he has taken, he is filled with joy every day. 

Yet, there is this void deep inside, a missing piece. He tries to ignore it. 

Everything is balanced. 

He gets himself into a routine, life doesn't surprise him anymore. 

He knows how to get around his own turmoil, how to deal with his desires. It is fine, life goes on. 

Until one evening it shatters. 

It flickers once, twice, and there was light. And in the light, there was a figure, standing tall against the front door of his flat, dressed in a familiar leather cloak. Long black and grey hair, tied up in a ponytail, brown eye and worn eyepatch, fading old scars and pointy teeth. 

Isa would say he hasn't changed. And yet, as he walks towards him on unsteady legs, he notices the bags under his eye, the wrinkles on his skin, the lack of teasing smirk, instead replaced with a faint smile. 

They don't say a word to each other when Isa reaches him. They simply switch places and Isa opens his door, key sliding into the hole with ease, right where it belongs. 

They enter, and Isa would be self-conscious of the mess in any other case - he was going to clean tomorrow, he had told himself - but he doesn't think about any of this. He cannot. He cannot think about anything actually. 

When he turns around, Xigbar looks at him with fondness in his eye. A hand reaches up to his face but goes past it - there is no glove, he points out to himself. The next second, he is aware of a cold hand against his nape, thumb brushing against the shaved hair. 

"You cut your hair," Xigbar states - and of course that's the one thing he says. No greetings, no apology, no kiss. 

The doors of his heart slam open. 

"You're such an asshole." And he grabs him by the collar to smash their lips together. Their teeth cling together and he groans in pain, but it doesn't stop him. And he pushes, and pushes, and pushes until they both lose their footing and stumble to the floor with a loud thud.

He wants to cry. He wants to scream. He wants to hurt him so badly. And yet, when he opens his eyes and emerald reflects in hazel, he laughs. 

He laughs, loud and clear, releasing another decade lost in limbo, of confusion and denial, of loneliness and anger, and he doesn't stop until arms embrace him. It dies down and comes back, fainter, quieter, until there's only a smile left to him and words get stuck in his throat. 

"Is it too early to retire?" 

Isa closes his eyes, forehead pressed against a warm shoulder. "Aren't you too old to retire, at this point?" 

Xigbar huffs. "Let's say I took indefinite vacations."

He hmms, taking in the scent that he missed dearly. He feels his chest getting tighter, throat constricting. The gates are open and he's drowning, barely managing to gasp for air in between waves. 

He raises his head, finally looking at Xigbar again. The man smiles, and there's that glint in his eye. One Isa knows, one Isa longed for. He missed him.

"Hi," he whispers - soft, weak, decades of waiting weighing heavily on his tongue. 

Xigbar kisses him once, and the taste of his lips hasn't changed. It feels like no time has passed. 

"I love you," he says, and Isa is speechless because he knows, but they don't say it. Ever. 

And maybe he cries, and maybe he says it back. He melts in Xigbar's laps and his world is thrown around. They kiss and they hug and they touch, starving, wanting more and more until there is nothing but them. And they promise things, in the muted light of the morning, skin warming against the other's touch, bending easily under wet kisses; about secrets and past, future and love. 

His heart aches, stretching far and wide to find its pair. And Isa guides it, with care, and nudges it on the right path, finally, because they deserve happiness, who he was and who he will become. And he sleeps, cradled in strong arms, to the sound of a matching beating heart.