Title: Fire, Light, and Floodwater's Height

By: Dr. Kim-chan

Me: Hello to all here! I am so excited since it's my first KH fic, so be nice. And of course, I have to have my muses to do commentary and keep things funny, even if it is a romance/drama whatever. (snaps fingers, a dark portal appears, and out drops Axel, Roxas, and Demyx)

Axel: Where the hell are we?

Me: (says in a dark, booming voice) YOU WORK FOR ME NOW! (laughs maniacally)

Demyx: (jumps up and grabs Axel by the arm) Who is that woman!

Roxas: (looks around) Hey, you wouldn't be another slash fanfic writer who brought us into their Kingdom Hearts story so that we can be forced to comment on and/or be in, would you?

Me: Sharp as always, Mr. Thirteen. (hears groans of disappointment) But don't worry. I'm very easy to get along with. (raises a box of wine)

Axel and Demyx: (cheer, but Roxas looks unsure)

Me: Hell, no one's gonna report us. (throws him a glass) Besides, I'm sure you've done worse things than drink…(looks "incidentally" in Axel's direction) Anyway, let's get this show on the road! It starts weird (in Vexen's POV, actually), but it has a LOT to do with these three cloaked cuties. Note to the readers: Three dots before a paragraph indicates a change in time and/or location. I can't figure out how the spacing works on and I don't know if I ever will.

Disclaimer: You've won this round, Square Enix and Disney, but mark my words, SOMEDAY I'll have all the bishies locked in my basement! Except for Demyx, of course. He'll be in my room. (Demyx: gulp)

(Begin Chap. 1)

What exactly makes a Nobody?

All the members of the Organization, including myself, remember possessing hearts, and yet we do not have one. What does it take to remember your heart and the memories within it? What does it take to retain the advanced forms that we have, to be more than the lowly Dusks? Our brains can plot and speculate the future, but one can only attribute it so much credit to retaining certain types of memories. Literal memories, yes, but not so much the sympathetic memories that rely on and stimulate emotion—in other words, memories related to the heart. That is a special, isolated case and should be analyzed accordingly.

We do know that hearts are capable of creating connections…multitudes of them. Connections with their owners (or previous owners), connections with other people, connections in time and space. I have never doubted the Superior's theories. After all, he and I had both done researches with Ansem. But Ansem also once said hearts were complex, strong, and unpredictable…more than we would ever realize. If our hearts have been separated from our bodies completely, then it would not be possible to "feel" yearning for Kingdom Hearts. We would not "feel" those stimulating memories that drive us towards our objective…or would we? Unless…

This in mind, I hypothesize that hearts cannot be entirely erased from existence, nor is "darkness" an empty void from which there is no hope of escaping once a Nobody is defeated. There may even be more than one realm of darkness, or maybe multiple realms melded together in one complex singularity. The darkness where that boy Riku and King Mickey were trapped in…that was a different kind of darkness, a tangible darkness hidden behind a door. Then the eternal darkness Xemnas speaks of must be the parallel to Kingdom Hearts, where eternal light rests.

But even that eternal darkness cannot erase a heart, a body, or a soul—that is, if they have been separated accordingly and if that person's will is strong enough. The only thing that can ensure such permanent separation is the Keyblade, and even that doesn't have total mastery over something as intangible as the heart. It simply releases it back into the darkness, whatever that may be.

So, strong Nobodies like us, those who are part of the Organization…if our wish is strong enough…if we have the strength to pull our memories back from the darkness…if no one forgets us and we manipulate their memories as well…

Could we return? Is it easier than we've imagined to reclaim our hearts?

If my memory theory is correct, then all we must do is remember exactly what it was that made our hearts special, and which connections we held. Most importantly, we cannot forget how to feel. It is not merely the memories that are important. It is the emotions those memories are tied to. Anger, happiness, grief, despair, love…to forget all of that is to truly become a Nobody.

No one in the Organization, however, has exhibited such irregular behavior or has any significant anomalies that would give any admission to these theories. Nor has the one called Sora done anything remarkable other than the fact he was able to link his heart with Kairi's, thus ensuring the return to his own form after he released the girl's heart and sacrificed his own, thus becoming a Heartless—

Wait.

If Sora has proven to have such a strong heart that he was chosen to be a master of the Keyblade, and if he became a Heartless, even for a short while, a Nobody must have been produced! If we could only find him; he would be a perfect test subject. Sora IS a rather peculiar specimen, as are his two friends…

Until we finish our analyses of Sora, nothing can be proven or disproved yet. The Riku Replica is now complete. I will figure out my answers when the operation is carried out.

…These were the written notes of one particular member of the then-called "the Organization", just before the thirteenth member was discovered.

Vexen was more about continuing the research of his previous life than fighting, although future circumstances would not let this be. He was elated when Roxas finally joined the Organization, and followed his movements closely. His use of Keyblades and the element of light raised yet another possible fact: that one's personality and attributes in the previous life strongly, if not directly, affected the powers they received during their existence as a Nobody. This provided a moment of distraction as he allowed the observance of the others' powers provide a brief glimpse into their past lives. Vexen was even forced to examine himself. He remembered his fellow peers always commenting on his distant, critical nature.

Distant…cold…like the element of ice he utilized in battle. Withdrawn and protective…like his shield.

That, however, gave way to another, much more important development. Once Roxas joined the fray, he noticed Axel deviating from the standard. Axel didn't much care for the infighting going on in the Organization, but once Roxas entered the picture he became another man entirely, actively involving himself. There was an indescribable bond between him and Roxas. Vexen had been extremely close to discovering the answer, as well as finding out the answers to all of his other guesses. He could almost feel that ultimate solution he had sought after for so long.

But then something else happened. Something that would allow him to delve deeper into the question of whether strong Nobodies ever had a chance of returning to the realm of existence.

His own demise.

After Naminé erased Sora's memories and allowed him to sleep in order to regain them, the scandal within the Organization was revealed, and the remaining members fled to the World That Never Was, the man who at this time was called DiZ went into Castle Oblivion. But he was there to do more than retrieve Sora, Donald, and Goofy. He was also on the hunt for information. His assistants, foolish as they were, were brilliant to a point, and maybe their plots had unearthed more insight. He thought it particularly helpful to inspect Vexen's laboratory to look for data on the Riku Replica. He found more than that—a short stack of notes separate from his main log. Taking everything he could along with him, he moved his base of operations to a small, peaceful world called Twilight Town.

He reviewed the notes of the fake Ansem Sora had collected, as well as Vexen's and anything else that garnered his attention. A passage in Vexen's notes especially set his mind working:

"But even that eternal darkness cannot erase a heart, a body, or a soul—that is, if they have been separated accordingly and if that person's will is strong enough. The only thing that can ensure such permanent separation is the Keyblade, and even that weapon doesn't have total mastery over something as intangible as the heart. It simply releases it back into the darkness, whatever that may be.

So, strong Nobodies like us, those who are part of the Organization…if our wish is strong enough…if we have the strength to pull our memories back from the darkness…if no one forgets us and we manipulate their memories as well…

Could we return?…"

If they could, his plans for revenge would be compromised. But then he remembered something else.

Yes, someone could return from the darkness, but under one small condition—if they had a body and soul to return to, even if it was a small piece. The memories of the person, or the memories other people held, would do the rest. He was able to make it out not just because of his will, but because his whole being had been exiled. Later along the line, Maleficent's dress—a piece of her body and being—was saved, and the memories of the Three Good Fairies brought her back.

On the other hand, his six assistants and those who perished in Castle Oblivion had forsaken their bodies and souls, allowing them to deteriorate for the sake of finding out what "rewards" the darkness held for them.

The fools, DiZ simply cursed them in his mind.

Then he spotted a more serious snag, one of the last entries in Vexen's private notes:

"Number Eight, the one called Axel…I have seen considerable change in his behavior since Xemnas found Roxas. I had mentioned connections before. Among them all, very few are as strong as the bonds of friendship and love. It has already been repeated that Nobodies shouldn't be able to exhibit such human behaviors as we would if we had hearts. If that is true, there should be no accounting for the deepening, invisible bond between those two that Axel is trying so very hard to make sense of. I cannot do that myself; only speculation can give either of us comfort.

Then here is another theory. Xemnas claims we cannot feel, but Axel and Roxas are providing a solid antithesis. Also, everything has a "light-dark" opposite. Nobodies and Heartless are but the dark shadows of one's former self. Kingdom Hearts has two sides: the realm of light and the realm of darkness. If that has two sides of existence, then its basic unit—the heart of an individual—must have two sides as well. Maybe, when we lose our hearts, its "shadow" is left behind…

That is a very dangerous statement, for it would mean the Superior's work has been in vain. Hearts once released, after all, relinquish themselves to the darkness, most likely back to their point of origin, Kingdom Hearts. But if we already hold the shade, then all we must do is search for its corresponding light.

But…that would mean we'd been searching in the wrong place this whole time.

Furthermore, this connection between Axel and Roxas is leading the former to near-destructive behaviors. I know the schemes that entangle Marluxia, Larxene, and all the others in the Organization; even I have been lured in somehow. Axel is playing both sides, though he has said there is nothing for him to gain. What is his true purpose, then? Does he want to eliminate us all?

No, not all of us.

The only way to uncover Number Eight's true motives (and possibly solve another mystery or two of the heart) is to find out what triggered his connection to Roxas. Did this connection carry through from their previous lives? We are well aware Roxas was once Sora.

So whose Nobody is Axel? Does the fire burning within him hold the truth?

Those were very good questions to ask, but DiZ focused on the immediate problem at hand. Axel had managed to survive the onslaught in Castle Oblivion, and Roxas had abandoned the Organization a while ago. No question he was looking for Roxas, and if Riku succeeded in capturing Roxas, Axel was sure to follow. Because of his ability with the Keyblades, he was the most coveted member. They would be looking for him.

Until his plans were secure, Roxas would have to be hidden in the parallel Twilight Town. It worked in his favor that Roxas had no memory of being Sora, and he would have no recollection of being in Organization XIII after he was transferred.

I suppose you know what happened after that. DiZ went through with his plans, Roxas became a part of Sora again, Organization XIII was destroyed, and everyone returned to Destiny Islands. A happy ending was found by all…well, most. We also all know the sad fate of Axel.

But one more thing we do know—the quote on the back of the Kingdom Hearts II box says, "The story isn't over." That was true enough. What of the letter in the bottle King Mickey sent? What about Vexen's theories?

Little is known about Vexen the Chilly Academic, but the notes he wrote down and the questions he dared to pose would set in motion a whole new story, a whole new quest for Sora and his friends. And the story thus far was only told from Sora's point of view. We may have to change the quote.

"The story isn't complete."

(End Chap. 1)

Me: If I haven't said it before, I'll say it now. This story is NOT for those who aren't philosophical. But then again, many fanfic authors like us are so crazy that we can actually understand philosophy. It's like being on drugs and watching the Matrix…which I won't recommend. (smiles innocently)

(Behind me, Axel, Roxas, and Demyx are stumbling around drunkenly.)

Demyx: My cloak…it's…sooooo BLACK, like a never-ending nighttime! (picks up the hem) That's why they call me the Melodious Nocturne…ha ha haaa…(tries to walk again, but he's still holding on to the hem, so he trips)

Me: (hides the other boxes of wine) I'll need them to actually be sober in order to comment, huh? Well, this chapter was just a real quick rundown of the events in both KH: CoM and KH2, a prologue of sorts. The next chapter is the actual start of the story, and takes place during CoM, and then it'll go from there.

Roxas: (hiccups) Bye-bye, fluffy, bunny-faced reading people in Reading Land. You go bye-bye now and nap I will…nap…I…(also falls over)

Me: That's it. No more wine for you, Blondie. (drags all three of them away)