Sora knows even before opening his eyes that today is the end of his grace period. Yesterday was the end of summer, the book being closed on the epilogue of his grand adventure.
Today is the start of the school year, and even the days spent winding down on the beach with Riku and Kairi seem far away. His shoes are still full of sand, his head full of images of Kairi playing in the waves as if she had thought she'd never see them again, and Riku standing back in the shade of a palm tree like perhaps he might be kicked out of this world if he showed his face in plain sight; he can still feel Oathkeeper and Oblivion, like a ghostly arm or leg, and all the spells and people and worlds he now knows, so far beyond Destiny Islands.
But he's got a full year of school to catch up on, and his mother is making breakfast; he can smell it. So he rolls out of his bed.
And almost breaks his ankles.
The floor's a lot farther away than it should be. Sure, it's littered with the proper amount of dirty socks and discarded shirts -- perhaps even a bit more, but he's been on vacation, and cleaning is all but a vacation activity. But it's still wrong somehow. He looks at his bed, blinking away the fuzziness.
And then he looks up. Since when did his bed gain a second floor? He isn't sure. It was normal yesterday night, when he finally accepted that staying up all night wouldn't prevent the morning from coming, when he let go of Riku's shoulder and Kairi's hand and crawled back home through the window.
"Time to get up!"
"I'm awake!" he yells back, more by a deeply ingrained habit than because he's actually listening. Or that he actually feels awake.
Because his room is all normal, except not.
"Hurry up then, so you don't fight about the bathroom."
Because there's a lump moving under the blankets of the lower bed, and it's groaning.
"Is Roxas awake yet?"
"Now he is," grumbles the lump, and Sora isn't even surprised at the tuft of sandy hair and the growly voice.
Roxas is, when Sora tears the beige and white blanket off him and tackles him properly.
It turns into a fight, complete with yells of protest and promises of revenge, but it's a puppy fight, full of noogies that mean 'you're there' and shoves that feel like hugs, except hugs are really too mushy.
The shoves also end up in much head-knocking; bunk beds aren't the ideal place to roll around and scuffle.
"Boys, are you fighting again?"
Sora sits on Roxas' legs and stares at him, and mouths 'boys', just to see if he understands; Roxas shrugs back and bucks him off, annoyance covering confusion. It's all good then. If Sora is dreaming, at least he isn't dreaming alone.
"No, mom!" he calls back, even as Roxas pushes him off the bed. He wheezes out a laugh as he rolls on the floor.
"Really! That isn't what it sounds like."
She's walking up the stairs; Sora jumps on his feet, and looks at Roxas; he wants to drag him out of bed and dance, he wants to shove Roxas under his mother's nose and ask if she knows him, how she knows him, where the bunk bed is from and all sorts of things.
But there are posters on the walls and half of the closet is full of clothes too drab for him, and he knows the answer; and when his mother opens the door and huffs at them, he just beams back at her, and lets Roxas have his epiphany in peace.
He doesn't even feel jealous when she crosses the room and leans over his Other -- his Nobody, his reflection, his twin -- and asks with maternal suspicion if he feels alright; he's so pale.
Roxas doesn't flinch back when she touches his forehead, but that's mostly because he's frozen on the spot. He doesn't answer right away; then he manages an awkward quirk of the lips and sits on the edge of the bed to get away from her.
Sora stands back as she notices Roxas' shaking, and gently pushes him back into bed, and he grins goofily when Roxas gives him an alarmed, 'get me out of here' look.
"You want some water, bro?" he asks, and grins wider when his mother's only reaction is a mildly suspicious look and a "That would be nice of you, Sora."
And so he goes, and maybe he skips a little in the corridor, because Roxas is still a part of him, and he's still a part of Roxas -- and right now Roxas is cursing him in between bouts of wary, half-panicked confusion and quickly smothered hope -- but he's out here, too, living his own life -- and he has always been.
Of course, when he's sent to school on his own, and Roxas gets to laze about in bed all day, he grumbles a little. Bah! He still has Riku and Kairi; Roxas needs his 'think too much' time; and besides there's always tomorrow.