Hi. I'm numina-naminé, and I'll be your author for the next ten pages.
Kingdom Hearts doesn't belong to me.
Q u e s t i o n i n g
TheSixthDay - II
Regret always comes at the end.
With those last words, it came rushing back. The chains binding his memories down broke. His memories of a certain memory witch...
His Other was the one who had uttered those words, at the End of The World, to the girl he loved --
How ironic that the girl he loved would be the one who said it.
It took all of Roxas' self control not to go berserk on all of them. Naminé was a good fighter, but if he went all out, she would never survive the onslaught. He mentally screamed for her to portal out of his grasp, but as she smiled at him wanly, he knew at once something was off.
The flaxen-haired girl and DiZ started backing away into his portal, and the forlornly happy look on her face, as if she had surrendered, was enough to make him cry.
And Roxas only cries for two people.
"Let her go!" he roared, as the two disappeared. He turned angrily to Riku, but he only caught the remnants of his summoned portal.
And he was left alone in her White Room, so disturbingly similar to her own at the Castle That Never Was. The one that hadn't been used in over a year and a half.
A small star charm caught his eye, and his breath hitched; Oathkeeper was in his hands. His, no, their -- his and Naminé's -- Oathkeeper.
She had kept it all this time, subconsciously never letting him go.
Whirling around in anger and desperate confusion, he sprinted towards the double doors and wrenched them open, fighting back the tears. So here he was, having been in the presence of the girl he had been searching for and trying to save for so long, and he had been powerless to do anything about it.
Roxas vaulted over the railing and landed easily on the decrepit ground floor, sending puffs of dust into the already dust-filled air and sending more than a few Nobodies to their nonexistent graves. He paused, and walked quickly into the door to his right, Keyblade crackling angrily in his fisted hand.
The room he had entered, he surmised was the Mansion Library, judging from the towering bookshelves full of ancient books lining the walls. A single winged statue sat at the head of the room, seemingly looking down at the floor.
Shaking his head, Roxas walked on, coming to a stop at the sole table at the middle of the room. It looked out of place. Why would anyone put only one table in such a large library?
Inscribed on one edge of the mahogany table was a trinity of circles. One held a crossed heart -- the Heartless symbol -- , the other one a reverse heart -- the Nobody symbol --, and the last one remained blank.
He raised an eyebrow. He didn't need to ask to know that Riku was the one who made this lock.
A white crayon lay beside the candlestick on the table. Dismissing the Keyblade, he took it, and drew a crown, onto the circle atop the two others. The symbol of the Keyblade Masters. Of course, they would be the ones who would exterminate both.
A paradox. He himself was a Keyblade Master, so was he supposed to kill himself?
In all likeliness, he was.
He quickly leapt backwards as an outline of a smaller room flashed beneath his feet. Resting a hand on the statue, he watched as the floor disappeared. More Dusks appeared, but a few swipes of the Keyblade was more that enough to take care of them.
He took the stairs three at a time and skidded to a halt inside a room full of blinking machinery. Monitors full of somebody's statistics blinked, and something at the side...something that remotely looked like nothing he had ever seen before...
A sad, high-pitched whine filled his ears, and he fell to his knees in the excruciating pain of the oncoming headache --
The meeting room at the Castle That Never Was --
The symbol of the Nobodies, their symbol
Thirteen chairs, thirteen black-cloaked Nobodies and I am number Thirteen.
flashBeing chased by Dusks because I ran off, in the World that Never Was, amongst the dead buildings and the vanishing stars, under the pale light of Kingdom Hearts.
I defeated him, my Other's best friend. His silver hair glinted in the light of our salvation, as I brought down my Keyblade on him.
He defeated me back. I failed.
And my memories were wiped out, and here I am, uploaded into some godforsaken simulation. Not only did I betray Organization XIII, but I failed in the reason of the betrayal in the first place.
Oh Creator, what have I done?
Roxas bit his lip, and steadied himself, his palms flat against the cold steel floor, watching the drops of saltwater puddle on his shadow.
Gritting his teeth, anger and hatred rose up in him, as he had never dared to remember to feel before. He doubted his Other felt such anger as this. Letting out a roar, he raised his hand and struck the machinery with the Kingdom Key -- his Other's -- over and over again until the defeated crackle of ruined technology and the dying sparks of electricity told him he couldn't do anything else.
Shaking his head to get it cleared, he stepped back and walked towards the nearest door, which had slid open the moment he stopped.
Nothing can stand in the way of him finding Naminé --
Screw that. How the hell can he know where DiZ had taken her?
And besides...it struck him. Naminé could never remember who Roxas was...unless he merged back with Sora. Then his memories would be complete. Then the cerulean-eyed girl's memories would return.
Funny...he would never know that she remembered.
It was a sacrifice he was more than willing to make.
Swallowing painfully, he dismissed the Kingdom Key and collapsed on the swiveling computer chair, trying to process what he was about to do. Hypothetically, he was going to die for Naminé. Whatever Riku had said about meeting his other, he was going to disappear.
The flaxen-haired girl, he realized as he remembered his simulated days in Twilight Town, had done all that she could do to warn him. Even if her memories had flown away, she still cared for him. She wanted him to know what he was getting into.
At least...to have a moment's notice before he disappeared forever.
And to promise that they'll meet again.
He smiled. That was impossible, but coming from Naminé...it was all the motivation he needed.
Roxas slipped a hand under his polo and drew out a small notebook from the pocket within, as well as a pen. He had taken it with him because Olette had said something about working on the independent study today -- but now...
He had written on it his name, address, and all the things he knew about Twilight Town. Heck, he even had written the objectives for his day. Could be called his organizer, even. More of a journal, since he had stuck pictures and pieces of memory to the ruled pages.
Taking the pen, and turning to a clean page, he wrote two words, hoping that if he remerged, Sora would find this. And know his and Naminé's sacrifice.
- o -
He walked through the basement door. The moment he was completely inside the door slid shut, and Dusks accosted him from all sides.
Roxas knew whose Dusks these were from, judging from the rather burnt-out look of the rubbery Nobodies.
He got it over with as fast as he could, and all he could do was wait. Wait for him to come out, in his trademark steal-the-room's attention way. The lump in his throat refused to budge.
As the last Dusk vanished, a lanky figure cloaked in black walked in, clapping. Just like the first time he found Roxas in the simulation. "Simply amazing, Roxas."
He forced down the cry that threatened to rip itself from his throat. It made his nonexistent heart swell with joy, at the sound of one of his best friend's quotable quotes. He was here. The pyrokinetic really did search for him, tried to bring him back. And what had Roxas done in return? Lose his memories and hurt number Eight's nonexistent feelings in the worst way possible. "...Axel," he said in a voice devoid of emotion.
After all, that's what he really was, right?
"You really do remember me this time?" the redhead said in a voice that betrayed the fact that Axel really hated Roxas' guts right now, "I'm so FLATTERED!"
Roxas blinked, and stepped back. Axel threw his head back, held out his hands, and the edges of the room burst into violent flames. When his gaze returned to Roxas, the blonde boy cringed at the sight of what looked like tears sparkling in vivid teal eyes. "But you're too late!"
Betrayal really did hurt, didn't it?
He looked away, and called on the Keyblade. His own Keyblades. He wasn't Sora. If Axel wanted to take him down, he would fight with everything he's got, just like Axel would want it. Axel was the type to never back down from a challenge. It was the least he could do to pay back for leaving his best friend behind. Twice, if he survived this. He didn't think the pyro would ever forgive him if he remerged with Sora.
But if that was what it took to save Naminé...
Angelic Oathkeeper appeared in his right hand, and demonic Oblivion in his left. He crossed the Keyblades in front of his face before bringing them down into a ready position at his sides.
"Two?!" Axel said in surprise, before appearing to catch himself. He bowed his head and held his arms straight at his sides; his trademark chakrams whirled to life. Holding the fire wheels loosely in his gloved fingers, the pyromaniac smiled at Roxas.
It made his nonexistent heart clench in sadness.
"Come here," he said smoothly, even as Roxas charged. "I'll make it all stop."
He didn't miss the tears that sparkled in the fiery inferno; he didn't miss the stinging behind his eyes as he clashed weapons with his best friend.
Back in the Castle That Never Was, Roxas had never really sparred with Axel seriously. It had always devolved into some sort of play-fight that never failed to result into a very irritated Superior. He realized he had never known how hard Axel actually fought; he only had an inkling of the pyro's power from watching him spar with Larxene every single day.
He should've guessed.
Axel was really furious. That was a bad thing, especially since fire and anger isn't really a docile combination.
The pyro brought down his chakrams, and Roxas had to dodge a Fire Strike before charging forwards. However, Axel just dodged his moves and sent another Firaga at him.
Growling, he steadied Oblivion and drove it into the ground, leaping and using it as leverage to evade another ball of fire. Axel was caught unawares and was unable to dodge the Oathkeeper as Roxas brought it down. The pyro had to cross both chakrams to block the Keyblade, and was barely able to throw Roxas off.
Roxas flipped over and snatched the Oblivion from the burning rubble, before attacking again. Whatever he took, he was going to win.
- o -
Naminé ran. She ran for no apparent reason, since she knew Riku would catch her sooner than later, anyway. But still, her footsteps were light on Twilight Town's cobbled streets. She was too confused. Her resolve was weakening.
The look in Roxas' eyes...it was almost too much to bear.
But she had to save Sora. She had to; she had everything to do with the reason why the brunet was missing his memories, and it was her obligation to right her wrongs. Sora had saved her from herself, given her a reason to believe that she wasn't just a broken memory witch, given her a reason that she was Naminé. She was herself. Not Kairi.
Roxas had done nothing.
Or had he?
There was something -- something that she couldn't quite catch...
Raising a hand to the back of her neck, she gripped the circle of metal she found there and yanked, as hard as she could. She almost tripped over as an involuntary cry ripped itself from her throat; it felt like when she pulled, she had pulled half of her neck with it.
Her hand felt warm. And sticky. When she held it up to her face, it was crimson.
Her stomach lurched when she saw exactly how much flesh had been torn away. Amidst the bright red sat a blinking circle of steel. Somehow this little device had hampered her ability to portal.
Shivering in pain, she threw the small circle as hard as she could --
-- and hit the head of another Nobody.
This one had the same rubbery body as the Dusks, but they moved with a certain grace. They all seemed to be female, for one. Almost like...
She blinked, and backed away in panic. These Nobodies started advancing on her, as if intent on catching her. Wait, screw that. They were intent on catching her. She gave up on backing away and whirled around on her heels, and the moment she did so, the Nobodies sped up.
It seemed that it was some cosmic sign; the peach-clad Nobodies were chasing her back towards the Mansion.
It seemed that she was supposed to save Sora after all.
- o -
"Firagun!" Axel roared, throwing both flaming chakrams at Roxas, who had paused and gotten down on one knee to catch his breath. He looked up just in time to see the wheels of red and cast a counter-spell.
He crossed his Keyblades in front of him and yelled "Reflect!".
The chakrams rebounded, but the pyrokinetic caught them easily and slouched, preparing to throw another spell right at him.
Roxas was ready, however, and in the split second his guard had been let down, he sprinted forward and used the Oblivion to throw Axel into the air.
With a squeak of surprise the redhead barely managed to move his chakrams before Roxas started a barrage of blows. He used every ounce of strength he could draw on, both from the Light and Dark, from both Oathkeeper and Oblivion. Axel was going down, whether he liked it or not. Actually, Roxas didn't like it either, but hey; life -- or nonlife, as the case may be -- was unfair.
Roxas finally leapt away, dodging a few breaths of fire as he did.
Axel collapsed on the ground, and the raging fire that filled the basement room disappeared.
Teal locked with stormy blue, and a lump formed in young Number Thirteen's throat.
"You get on their bad side...they'll destroy you!"
He stomped his foot one last time--he had no time for this. He craned his neck up, and he could see Memory's Skyscraper. Tacky name, but served the purpose well. He was the youngest member--they'd move on if he failed. "No one would miss me," he said coldly, walking away from the redhead leaning against the brick wall.
He felt his breath hitch as he caught Axel's last words. "That's not true...I would."
He cried then, he didn't doubt it now. And right this instant, it was getting excruciatingly hard to hold back the tears. Roxas' voice cracked as he dismissed his Keyblades, as he said number Eight's name. "Axel..."
The pyrokinetic laughed, although it sounded a lot more like a pained wheeze (Did I really hurt him that much?)than a laugh. Axel propped himself up on his elbows as his chakrams started fading away into ribbons of black. "Let's meet again -- " he paused, and coughed; Roxas could see crimson on his lips, " -- in the next life."
All he wanted to do was run to his best friend and apologize over and over again, and tell him that he'll come back, but this was no movie, no scripted scene, no melodrama and the whole package. This was his nonlife, and this was his fate, the fate Roxas himself had decided. For Naminé, he was going to remerge. Axel knew that. He didn't need to say sorry, because Axel had already accepted it.
Axel looked at him expectantly, and Roxas nodded firmly, offering him a wan smile. If Nobodies could be reborn, well...he wished, with all his nonexistent heart, that Axel and Naminé would be there with him.
"Yeah." He swallowed. "I'll be waiting."
He watched with barely-held self-constraint as darkness started rising up from Axel in strings and ribbons. He was fading, and nothing, not even Kingdom Hearts, can stop that fateful process. Nothing, not even Roxas' tears, not even his apologies, not even his pleas, can stop Axel from fading.
He just killed his own best friend. Never mind. As Axel said, they will meet again in the next life, right?
"Silly," Axel's voice faintly filtered through, with a supressed chuckle, "Just because you have a next life..."
Roxas' breath hitched, and he suddenly realized what the pyro was talking about --
-- he would be reborn, but merged with Sora. Axel...Axel would have nobody else to merge with.
He fell to his knees and let his tears fall, Oathkeeper and Oblivion fading into nothingness.
- o -
Nobodies weren't supposed to feel hurt.
In fact, they weren't supposed to feel anything.
Then why, why in Creator's name did she feel so damn guilty?
Naminé bit her lip in frustration, underestimating her own strength and drawing blood as she did. The copper taste on her lips went unnoticed as she slipped through the shadows of the Mansion, trying to avoid the peach-clad Dancers that were hot on her trail. If she even as much summoned a strand of the Corridors, they would sense where she was, and she knew that it would all be over.
Delaying the inevitable, a voice rang out hollowly from the back of her head. It would all be over anyway.
Roxas would vanish, and so would she.
It's the fate of a Nobody, as DiZ had so eloquently said.
She crept through the hallway and into the Library, down into the Computer Room, holding her breath as she did. Who knows where Riku and the once-great Ansem was; if she was going to metaphorically wipe Roxas off the face of the earth, she'd rather do it alone, thank you very much!
"--someone who can move about the realm of light and destroy Organization XIII."
"Why?! Who are you?"
Someone was sitting in front of Sora's monitors, speaking to a voice that she knew very well. Memorized by her nonexistent heart.
(Did she just think of that?)
She almost froze on the spot, but she immediately stole across the steel room, holping to the high heavens that DiZ would not notice her.
In fact, she observed, judging from the tone of voice the mummified man was using, he wouldn't have noticed if the mansion came crashing down around him. It was a tone that combined happiness, triumph, and satisfaction, and a tone that made her spine crawl. DiZ was happy, happy that he had finally gotten to Roxas, happy that his plans have finally worked.
What disturbed Naminé was the fact that even if she could've done something about it, she wouldn't.
She wouldn't change a thing.
The door to the Pod Room silently slid open, and her vision was temporarily overwhelmed by white.
This was her place in this world, and this was her choice. She was nothing but a memory witch, and Roxas was nothing but a piece of a broken soul, a piece that she had to get back, a piece of Sora's heart.
She couldn't help but notice the tightening feeling in her chest, just above where her heart should be.
- o -
That laugh. A condescending, superior, triumphant laugh.
"--And if I'm a servant," he continued, pausing for effect, "You should consider yourself a tool, at best."
It stung. DiZ had touched the very core of Roxas' existence with that one sentence. The charades of life that Organization XIII had so carefully instilled in him threatened to break. He was a Nobody, but he had a place in this world. Damn it, he had a purpose! Why would the Creator allow him to gain rational thought if he was only a tool, if he was only to be used!
"Was that..." he started, breathing in deeply, a telltale stinging at the back of his eyelids. "Was that supposed to be a joke?"
All the pain and frustration and longing and most of all guilt (things that he shouldn't be feeling; in fact, he shouldn't be feeling at all) came rushing to the surface -- he killed his best friend, and had forgotten that he was to protect a certain nobody -- and it all collected into a a smooth metal key, a key that coalesced into his waiting hands.
The Kingdom Key. Even that wasn't his.
Letting out a scream of rage, he sprinted forwards and brought the Keyblade down, murder the only thing on his mind. He was a cold-blooded murderer as Number XIII, after all.
Stormy blue eyes widened in astonishment as he just went through, particles of data scattering and reassembling where he had supposedly cut DiZ into half.
"My apologies." He could almost hear a hint of laughter. "This is only a data-based projection."
He didn't wait for him to finish the sentence; Roxas charged again and again, slicing through the hologram, pouring out every ounce of his strength, knowing that he was doing something incredibly stupid but he just couldn't stop.
Finally the hologram vanished into threads of data, and coalesced behing him, back into DiZ's figure.
"Come, over here."
He whirled around, trying to catch his breath, eyebrows furrowed in anger. He stared back at the cloaked man with so much loathing that if looks could kill, Ansem would be dead. Even if it was only a projection.
How could such a callous persona exist? He was willing to sacrifice two existences for revenge.
(Two existences that wasn't really supposed to exist at all.)
"I hate you so much..." he breathed furiously, not trusting himself to move and do something drastic. The Kingdom Key trembled in his hand. Or was it his hand that trembled?
"You should share some of that hatred with Sora," DiZ tilted his head in amusement, apparently remembering something. "He's far too nice for his own good."
At the sound of the name something inside Roxas leapt in recognition. At the same time, something inside him died. This Sora was the reason why he had left his family of Nobodies like him. This Sora was the reason why he had lost Naminé. Even if he was the Chosen One of some sort...this was life, this wasn't some movie. He wasn't just a supporting character. He had his own existence...
(It isn't really yours.)
Swiping at his eyes, he ran and charged once again at DiZ's figure, unable to stop the hot tears that forced their way through the barrier of indifference he had built around himself.
He had no choice in the end, he thought, watching numbly as DiZ disappeared, and the capsule in the middle of the Pod Room blossomed open.
- o -
Naminé bit her lip and looked away, holding her shaking hand still in her other one. The lithe finger that had just pressed the key that had opened Sora's white marble cocoon was still trembling.
Hot tears stung at the edge of her eyes as she raised cerulean-blue orbs to the lone monitor that remained open.
It was the only link now between Roxas' simulation, and her real world.
The sterile white mechanical petals unfurled, and from the camera's view, Sora looked absolutely peaceful. Cinnamon locks floated in an invisible breeze, clothes small on his tan body, and hooded eyes hiding sky-blue irises.
His voice echoed in the Pod Room, as he tilted his head upwards to gaze at his counterpart.
She bowed her head, unable to bite back the overflow of non-emotions. Crudely speaking, she was about to rid Roxas of all the freedom he had temporarily enjoyed. Somehow, it felt like the world was crashing down around her. Well, technically, it actually was, since the combined forces of the rubbery Dusks and the ruthless Slayers were trashing the mansion to pieces.
"You're lucky," Roxas sighed resignedly, dismissing the Keyblade in a forlorn spatter of lights. A wan smile curved his pouting lips, and stormy-blue eyes reflected surrender.
He had finally understood what he had to do.
Naminé couldn't stop crying as she started typing the upload sequence. She could already hear a portal being summoned open right behind her, and the soft rustling of coat against leather boot.
The blonde spiky-haired teen's shoulders slumped, and he took one last breath. Trembling fingers typed out the last few sets of keys.
Her finger hovered over the 'Enter' button.
"...my summer vacation's..."
She pressed it.
And it all came crashing down, for when the monitor faded into white and her chain of memories around Sora's heart fell away, when Roxas' being merged with the brunet's, when all Sora's memories came rushing back, she remembered too.
She remembered everything.
But it was too late.
All she could do was scream out his name and let her tears fall.
And from somewhere in the blinking machinery mounted above the now-dead monitor, a computerized female voice beeped out happily.
"I finally caught you," a voice whispered quietly into her ear, and she felt what color that had been left in her face drain away. "...Naminé."
A flash of metal, and everything went black.
- o -
Altogether now: say 'awww...'
Erk. Reviews are much appreciated.
Soaring on Broken Wings will be updated soon.