Disclaimer: I don't own Kingdom Hearts, Final Fantasy, Disney or anything else related to Kingdom Hearts!
A/N: Well, after tons of research and several headaches later, I've finally come up with another Kingdom Hearts story! Now, more than likely it has a million flaws in it, but after all the work I've done, this is about as good as it's going to get. Now, this story takes place after Riku and Sora return to Destiny Islands, but before they receive the letter from Mickey at the end of Kingdom Hearts II. Since they never really explain how much time passed in between, I figured it was fair game to play around with it. This story isn't connected to my first Kingdom Hearts story because parts of that one wouldn't make sense if it was, but hopefully you'll all like it! Again, I apologize for not putting an accent on Namine's name. Lousy computer doesn't do them. More chapters to come. I'm guessing five at the most.
The Way to the Heart
"I always thought Nobodies were doomed to fade back into darkness..." (Namine: Kingdom Hearts II)
Chapter 1: The Missing Link
"What do you think, Roxas? I bet you're anxious to see Twilight Town again, and the best part is you don't have to worry about upsetting Goofy and Donald. I already asked them, and even Donald said we could use the Gummi Ship, as long as he, and Goofy of course, get to come with. Listen, I know you're probably not looking forward to the possibility of confronting Seifer's gang again, especially after the way they treated you only several days before you found me, but I really don't think you should let that stop you from visiting your friends. If you ask me, there's no reason why we can't avoid Seifer long enough to make it to the usual spot without causing a scene. I'm sure Hayner and the others will be there, and if they are, I can...well...you know..."
What, Sora? What will you do? The Hayner I know doesn't exist. He won't remember me, and neither will Pence or Olette. To them, I don't exist. I never existed. How are they supposed to remember a Nobody who never should have been born in the first place? It's true I came to life in the real Twilight Town, but I spent those days with the Organization. With Axel. It wasn't until Riku defeated me, and Ansem the Wise sent me to live out my remaining days in a simulation of my hometown, that I became friends with Hayner. My past is no different from yours, Sora. I forgot who I was. I forgot about the Organization. I even forgot about my best friend. Hayner became my new best friend, but all of my memories about summer vacation, being a part of Hayner's group...they weren't real. None of it was real...
Former member of Organization XIII, Roxas, also known as the Key of Destiny, stared silently at his transparent hands, and after a moment of hesitation, he slowly lifted his head and found himself gazing into the Keyblade Master's bright blue eyes. Sora was sitting on a fallen tree trunk with his hands pressed against the bark on either side of his hips for support, and there was an eager look on his youthful face. The sun reflected off his spiky, brown hair, making it appear lighter than it really was, and every so often he would swing his feet and smile at the sun shining directly above them. Roxas stood next to his other half, his shoulder just barely reaching Sora's left knee, but despite the comfortable atmosphere between them, he could not help feeling a little bit uneasy. His sudden anxiety did not come from Sora's presence exactly, it was more because of what Sora was trying to get him to do.
It's strange. Sora and I are so much alike, and yet at times we act like two completely different people. How can that be when I'm supposed to be a part of him? I am him, and he's me, so why...
"Roxas, are you even listening to me?" Sora asked, poking him playfully in the shoulder to get his attention.
Logically, Sora's finger should have passed right through him, since he existed merely as a transparent figure without a physical body to support even a simple touch on the shoulder, but oddly enough, that did not happen. Instead, he felt the pressure of Sora's finger pressing against the fabric of his shirt, and the implications of what that might mean confused him. It was only recently, since right before Sora and Riku battled Xemnas to be exact, that he had discovered he could separate himself from Sora's body and exist as little more than a wraith along side people whose hearts were still intact, and yet, at the same time, he could still exist within Sora, or more accurately, within Sora's heart without any kind of body, whether real or spirit. It wasn't like before, when he had had a physical body of his own, but he was slowly starting to get used to his new existence and the role he was to play in the life of the Keyblade Master. He had gotten comfortable with people being able to touch him quickly enough, despite the fact that it should have been impossible, and although he would never admit it to anyone, he was glad he could engage in physical contact with other people, especially since it meant he could whack Sora over the head with Oblivion, Oathkeeper, or whatever Keyblade he happened to be using from his other half's large collection during their training sessions. The two of them had begun to fight against each other in mock battles in order to keep the Keyblade Master's guard up and his skills sharp, and more often than not, Riku would join them in what was fast becoming a daily ritual not only for him, but for Sora and Riku, as well. Still, as fun as it was to fight against Sora, the part he liked best was the fact that he could plant his fist in the Keyblade Master's stomach whenever the fool came up with a ridiculous idea to 'help' him gain back a little of the life he had ended up leaving behind. Unfortunately this was one of those moments, and if he didn't think of something soon, his other half was going to walk away with another victory to add to a list that was growing larger everyday.
I don't understand you, Sora. You can be so naive sometimes, and yet, oddly enough, you have your moments of brilliance. As weird as it sounds, if you had turned out to be anyone other than who you are, I think I would have been disappointed. I wonder if you even realize how lucky you really are...
He had learned a lot about Sora since the two of them had merged together, but what fascinated him the most about his other half was something that had caught him completely off guard.
We have the same eyes. Even though we don't look exactly the same, our eyes are mirror images of each other. It's like I'm looking at myself. I remember King Mickey made a comment about Riku's eyes when Sora and the others were making their way through the castle in The World that Never was, and I think what the King had said is true for everyone. Look at me. Look at Namine. The eyes can never lie...
"Roxas, you'll never know if you don't try. I can tell you want to see them again, even if you won't admit it."
Roxas hopped onto the fallen tree trunk and settled himself next to his other half. He frowned at the ocean for a moment, and smiling slightly, he turned to look at the Keyblade Master. "Listen, Sora, I appreciate what you're trying to do for me, but I don't think it's going to work. Have you forgotten already? I spent my time in the real Twilight Town with Organization XIII. The Hayner, Pence, and Olette I knew only existed in Ansem's simulation of Twilight Town. I never knew the real Hayner..."
"You're wrong, Roxas."
Roxas stared at the Keyblade Master in surprise and frowned at the stubborn look on his other half's face. He opened his mouth to object, but Sora held up a hand for silence and refused to let him answer. "Roxas, not long after I first woke up in the real Twilight Town, I came across your three friends, and they acted rather...odd around me. At first, I had know clue as to why, but now I'm starting to understand. When I left with Goofy and Donald to continue my search for Riku, for some reason Hayner and the others felt as if they should see me off, but they didn't really know why. I felt sad leaving them behind, and I was afraid I'd never see them or Twilight Town ever again, but now I realize those weren't my feelings. They were your feelings. Don't you understand? They may not remember you in their minds, but their hearts still remember you, and that's the most important thing."
"They will remember you. I know they will. It's the memories you believe in that are real. They are the only ones that count. You were there. You saw the way they acted around me. Don't tell me you didn't."
It was true. At the time, his consciousness had been drifting aimlessly within Sora's heart, but even so, he had seen the truth through the Keyblade Master's eyes.
Could Sora be right after all? Is there really a way for them to remember me, even though they didn't know me to begin with?
"Roxas, do you remember your life before Ansem sent you to live out your remaining days in his simulation of Twilight Town?" Sora asked, avoiding his eyes.
Roxas hesitated and slowly nodded. Even though Sora wasn't looking directly at him, he knew the Keyblade Master was watching him closely. "Yes, I remember being best friends with Axel, I remember fighting Riku not once but twice, and I remember my life as a member of Organization XIII. I remember everything now. All of my memories came back to me just as we were about to merge together. I believe that's when all of your memories were finally restored, as well. At least, that was the moment when the process of restoring your memories became complete, but I think you already knew all of this. I said something to you then, but you never even heard me."
"What...what did you say?"
Roxas shrugged his shoulders and quickly turned his face away before Sora could glimpse the emotion in his eyes. "It doesn't matter. You know what I remember the most? Axel. The two of used to eat sea-salt ice cream on top of the clock tower in Twilight Town, and then we would watch the sunset together. Not that the sun ever really sets in a place where the sky only shifts between different shades of twilight instead of night and day, but you know what I mean. Axel always knew exactly what to say to cheer me up. I...I really miss him."
He was the only member of the Organization who treated me like I had a heart...
Roxas felt the sudden touch of a sympathetic hand on his shoulder, and lifting his head, he once again found himself gazing into Sora's deep blue eyes. "Roxas, I can't bring Axel back, but I can help you reunite with your other friends. You're really lucky, you know that? A lot of people are happy just to have one best friend. You had two."
"Sora, I...I heard him. I heard what Axel said about me. He...he said I made him feel like he had a heart. What do you think he meant by that?"
Sora glanced at him and smiled slightly. "You know, Axel said the same thing about me. Think about it, Roxas. How can you make someone feel like they have a heart unless you, yourself, have one?"
Roxas frowned and shook his head in confusion. "But, I'm a Nobody. I don't have a...a heart, do I? I mean...I've never been able to tell..."
Sora leaped off the fallen tree trunk and threw his arms behind his head in his usual trademark pose. At first he didn't say anything, but after a moment of silence, the Keyblade Master slowly tilted his head to the side and gazed up at the clear, blue sky, as if thinking carefully about what to say next. "I don't care what the Organization believed. I know you have a heart, and that's all that matters to me."
"But...how can you be so sure?"
"Because, it's standing right in front of you."
Roxas jerked his head up in surprise and felt his mouth drop open. "Huh?"
"Look at it this way. How many other Nobodies have ever had the chance to meet their original selves? Most Nobodies end up losing their other halves and their hearts to the darkness. You didn't. Your heart is still free, and so are you. Unlike the other members of Organization XIII, I think, in the end, Axel was finally able to find the answers to his questions. I bet he had a lot of them, which would explain why, along with wanting to see you again, he kept showing up and bugging me all the time. He was able to see the truth about you, even if he didn't know it at the time, which was something the other members of Organization XIII couldn't understand. King Mickey himself told me you and Namine defied many of the things Ansem the Wise believed about Nobodies. There are always exceptions to the rules. You and Namine are perfect examples of that. Roxas, we're together now. That's something other Nobodies, besides Namine, will never have, and that's why you have a heart."
"Roxas, did you hear what Ansem the Wise said to you?"
And Roxas, I doubt you can hear me, but...I am sorry...
Roxas studied Sora's face for a moment and slowly nodded. "I heard him."
"Do you...forgive him?"
"Yes, I do."
Sora crossed his arms over his chest, and with a flash of light, Oblivion appeared in his right hand. "How come?"
"Because, after a year of searching for the truth, I was finally able to find the place where I belonged. That place is right here with you. And you know what? It feels...pretty good."
Roxas wrapped his arms around his knees, and glancing over Sora's shoulder, he proceeded to stare at the ocean. "When I found you sleeping in that pod in the old mansion, I wanted to hate you for everything that had happened to me, but I...I couldn't..."
Sora slowly moved closer to him, and the Keyblade Master rested his arm against the fallen tree trunk. Roxas had expected his other half to be offended, but instead of getting angry, Sora just stared at him and thrust the sharp end of Oblivion into the sand. "Why not?"
Roxas let out a short laugh, and reaching down, he pulled Oblivion free from the sand and twirled the Keyblade lightly in his hand. "You're a hard person to hate, Sora. If you can make someone like Riku want to be your best friend, then a guy like me doesn't stand a chance. Besides, hating you would be like hating myself. No, it would be hating myself, no question about it."
"Do you hate yourself?"
Roxas smiled slightly and pointed Oblivion at Sora's heart. "Not anymore. Not after I left the Organization."
"Did you really leave the Organization because you wanted to meet me?" Sora asked hesitantly, avoiding his eyes.
Roxas turned his face away and lowered his gaze to the ground. "Nobodies always feel the need to be complete. It haunts them, and they will do everything they can to fill that void. They seek to reunite with their lost hearts, but many of them will settle for any heart as long as they get to be whole again. I wasn't like that, Sora. I didn't want just any heart. I wanted my heart, and I wasn't going to settle for anything less. You want to know why I left the Organization? I left to find my heart. Let's just...leave it at that."
Sora flicked the tip of Oblivion to the side and turned to smile at the ocean. "One more question. Do you feel like you found it?"
Why do you need to ask when you already know the answer?
Roxas slid off the tree trunk and landed lightly on the sand in front of his other half. Taking a step forward, he dropped Oblivion into Sora's hands and circled the Keyblade Master with a small smile on his face. "You know what, Sora? Riku was right about you. You are a total sap!"
Roxas took a step back and Oathkeeper appeared in his hand just in time to stop Oblivion from slashing him across the chest. The two Keyblades connected with a musical clang, and Sora pushed him back against the tree trunk. "I get enough of that from Riku. I don't need to take it from you, too!"
Laughing, Roxas ducked under Oblivion, and leaning close to Sora, he dismissed Oathkeeper with a flick of his wrist. "Like I said, you make a good Other."
"Sora! Roxas! Over here!"
Roxas looked up at the sound of several voices calling his name, and he spotted Riku, Kairi, Goofy, and Donald hurrying towards him.
The group came to a stop next to Sora, and crossing his arms, Donald gave the Keyblade Master an expectant look. "Well, Sora? Have you convinced him yet?"
I can't believe it! They're all in on it. Every single one of them!
At least Sora had the decency to look a little sheepish, but the Keyblade Master's sudden embarrassment did not make Roxas feel any less annoyed. Muttering to himself, he turned to look at Kairi and let out a deep sigh. "Namine, not you too."
With a flash of bright yellow light, Namine separated herself from Kairi's body and gave him a weak smile. "I'm sorry, Roxas, but I think this is something you really need to do. I'm partly to blame for everything that's happened to you, and I...I want to make it up to you..."
Roxas gently placed his hands on Namine's shoulders and smiled at her. "I don't blame you."
"Maybe not, but I blame myself."
"Thanks again, Donald, and you too, Goofy, for letting us use the Gummi Ship," Sora interrupted, beaming at his two companions.
"Gawrsh, Sora, you don't have to thank us. You know we're always ready to help you out," Goofy replied, scratching his head. "Besides, we want to help Roxas, too."
"Even if he did cause us a lot of trouble," Donald muttered.
Riku smacked the court wizard on the back of the head and smiled at his best friend. "Are you ready to go, Sora? Donald and Goofy already escorted the King back to Disney Castle over a week ago, and now that the King has given them permission to stay here awhile and spend some time with us, we might as well put it to good use."
Roxas stared at the older boy in disbelief and waved his hands to get everyone's attention. "Excuse me, but don't I get to have a say in this?"
"Nope. You're coming with whether you want to or not!" Kairi said cheerfully. "Come on, guys, the Gummi Ship is waiting. The sooner we reunite Roxas with Hayner and the others, the sooner we all get to hang out and have some fun. That's what friends are supposed to do. And I don't know about you guys, but I'd love to see Olette and the rest of the gang again. They're a part of our group, too, even if they do live in a world that's completely different from ours, just like Leon, and Yuffie, and...well...everyone!"
"Kairi's right. Let's go, guys!" Sora said enthusiastically, pumping his fist into the air.
Roxas allowed Namine to drag him along by the arm, and summoning Oathkeeper again, he 'accidentally' poked Donald in the back with the Keyblade's sharp tip. The court wizard let out a loud 'quack', but despite his successful attempt at revenge, he could not help himself from letting out another deep sigh.
How do I get myself into these things?