Hollow Bastion was exactly the same as Roxas had seen in his dreams. It was made of stone and sorrows, grand ruins of something once towering. He smiled as he looked out over the cliff into the valley where the castle had stood tall and proud. To this very day it was still an ugly heap, but Roxas tried to imagine it when it was at its best.

Kairi stood behind him, her breath caught in her throat for a whole different reason. She half remembered this place, from her capture before. Roxas turned to face her next, putting comforting arms around her, as if he could make up for the time she lost. The changes she missed out on. The adventure of a lifetime. She smiled ruefully at him.

"You never really smile anymore, Kairi," Roxas replied.

"You talk like you know me," she jibed cruelly.

Axel stood nearby and was completely silent, staring, not at the sweeping view out into the canyon but, down into the town where the locals stared back up at him.

"Where is Demyx?" he asked roughly. He wasn't exactly fond of the obnoxious and noisy musician, but he also didn't think it would benefit anyone for him to die. Demyx wasn't like the others; he would be the only one they could persuade to a different cause.

The Nocturne had always bickered with Xemnas about his views and…Roxas made a sound like a dying bird and collapsed to the ground, holding his head. Axel seemed concerned, unlike Kairi who simply got to her knees and drew the blonde's head into her lap.

"He'll be fine in a moment." It felt sick to her to be able to say such a thing. Roxas was clearly in pain, being tormented by something inside himself and all she could say was 'give him a moment'.

Axel gave her an incredulous look. "What's his problem anyway?"

"He's remembering something," Kairi informed him, stroking Roxas' hair and Axel felt a flair of jealously. He'd looked so hard for Roxas, he'd been willing to give up everything, destroy Sora, destroy the universe's chance for survival and Roxas had been with this girl, been taken care of by this girl, who could never be his to begin with!

"The two of you are pretty cozy," Axel sneered. Blue girl-eyes stared up at him in shock and then she really laughed. She didn't have to act at mirth like Roxas did.

"No," she nixed. "No. Roxas is…no. Not like that, Axel."

From the bottom of the stairs a voice called to them. "Kairi?" It was Leon, looking winded and disturbed. His eyes flitted to Roxas' body, still writhing from damage to its mind and psyche.

Both redheads turned to look at the local brunet. "Yes, would you please carry him for me?" Kairi requested. She gave Axel a quirk of her lips and the tall man scoffed in return. Leon came forward to do the job, but Axel pushed him aside. The two men engaged in a visual pissing contest, which Axel swiftly dominated, scooping Roxas' body into his arms. He'd looked so hard!

He listened intently as Roxas made little humming sounds with growing confusion. They were halfway to the Restoration Committee's headquarters before Roxas became conscious again. Then his cold blue eyes stared up at him, steady and unmovable as a glacier. Axel was surprised to find he couldn't hold the boy's gaze.

"You can set me down now."

"What if I don't want to, punk?" returned a surly Axel.

"I'll make you put me down."

"Even with the injury I gave you?"

"He said put him down," the gunblade wielder interrupted impatiently. Kairi just watched the display with puzzlement. Axel was acting strangely. One second he was all smart mouth and violence, the next he was acting like a young boy pulling his crush's pigtails.

Axel rather begrudgingly set his friend onto his feet and they walked the rest of the way to their destination. Kairi was greeted with smiles and hugs from those she hadn't seen in so long. Roxas shied away from everyone but Sora and while Axel was not welcome at all. He looked around the room, spotted Demyx and went to join number IX.

The musician wanted to know what he was doing there, so Axel told him. The blond didn't really believe him, so Axel summoned over Roxas. The boy came without argument; he'd come to this place to see Demyx anyway. So, once he was with the man he sat down on the edge of the bed where Demyx lay and hugged him. The Nocturne flustered, pushing him back and asking what the deal was. Axel too wanted to know the reason for such false displays of affection.

"You were the first one I remembered," Roxas explained quietly. It looked as if he wanted to smile, but found himself unmotivated to pretend it meant something. "I remembered when they sent you to get me." His gaze swept to Axel. "I don't remember you yet. I saw Xemnas earlier. Just wait."

Demyx was flabbergasted, he gibbered uselessly and then just burst out with giggles. He'd always put a lot of energy into seeming cheerful. Roxas was warmed to see that it hadn't changed.

The others were watching the Nobodies, their interest piqued. Their quarry became conscious of their audience, becoming shy very quickly. The first to break the strange blanket of quiet, which had fallen over the crowd, was Aerith. She stepped forward, reaching out her gentle hands to heal Roxas' wounded shoulder. Then Sora resurfaced to tell Roxas about the strange feeling that had enveloped him. Roxas relayed a similar effect and Merlin offered his hypothesis regarding the growing chain between them.

"You aren't quite a Nobody any longer, Roxas, my boy," the old wizard shrugged. "You still have no heart of your own, but your connection with Sora allows you to feed off of his. You're halfway there to being a person in your own right. You already share all his memories…it's logical."

All those around him had many different reactions. Some seem pleased, some seemed nauseated by the idea and…Axel caught Roxas' arm and gave the boy a serious look.

"I need to talk to you. Take a walk with me, kiddo."

Roxas cocked an eyebrow at him, not believing it for a second. "From what I've gathered, talking is not what a member of the Organization does."

"Fuck the Organization, Roxas. Is it too damn difficult for you to come talk with me away from all these prying ears? I know you're listening, dammit!"

Yuffie and Demyx turned away, caught red-handed. Cid had enough composure not to blush and just continued to argue with Merlin. He did it often enough that it was like autopilot.

Axel and Roxas slipped out the door before anyone else could bother them. Neither of them really knew their way around the town proper, so they wandered to the right and hoped it actually led somewhere. They'd followed the stairs up towards the bailey before either of them spoke again.

"I know you want me to remember," Roxas said quietly, once again staring out in the canyon, only from a different angel than before. Axel shifted at his side, raking a hand back through his hair when the wind blew it out of place.

"I don't care if you remember," Axel conceded. "I just want to be friends with you again. The Organization was all I had and you were the only part of the Organization I liked. You're it, kid. You're my entire life, in a nutshell."

"I was never particularly kind to any of you," Roxas said. "Well, I don't think I was. Maybe I don't remember that right either?"

Axel looked down at him with something masquerading itself as affection. "No, you were a stony faced little prick, but I still liked you."

"You talk like I'm not myself anymore."

Axel made a sound like a humorously challenged chuckle. "You don't have a self, first rule of being a Nobody. I thought you had that memorized?"

"Are you saying I can be anything I want?"


A Claymore popped loudly nearby as it decimated a meddlesome Heartless. Neither man noticed, at all.

They were too busy looking at each other. Axel reached out to him, looking for a physical confirmation of what he felt inside. Roxas allowed himself to be pulled in and he allowed himself to be kissed, but when they parted he laughed.

He wasn't happy and he wasn't amused. He wasn't hysterical and he wasn't sad.

"That's not who I am," he sniggered, pushing back and walking away.

Axel took in the thorough rejection and…

"I'll win you back."

Roxas smiles wanly. "Maybe."

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