The Garden of Assemblage
By: Tsukisamu Sayako
Disclaimer: I do not own, in any shape or form, Kingdom Hearts II and characters of the game. Nor do I own, in any shape or form, the Disney characters that are in Kingdom Hearts II. They belong to Square Enix and Disney respectively. I do own the fanfic and any sort of plagiarism will be reported.
Author's Notes: Rated T for blood… and some mushy stuff at the end.
Summary: Not a month had passed by since Sora's last battle against Xehanort's Heartless in The World That Never Was before a letter from King Mickey calls for Sora's services yet again. Target: The Garden of Assemblage and the remainder of the Organization XIII in their individual Proofs of Existence.
Chapter 1 – How it started once again…
"Ne, Sora," his blond Nobody spoke with a question on his lips.
"What is it, Roxas?" the Keyblade master turned away from the setting sun to face his other half. A look of pity flashed through his eyes as he laid his eyes on his Nobody, one who is destined to remain cooped up in the mental sanctuary that Sora had made for himself.
"How does it feel to actually exist?"
Sora raised a questioning eyebrow at his other half. "Wouldn't you know?" he turned his attention back to the sun. "You were living during the year I spent sleeping, remember?"
"I guess…" Roxas's voice betrayed his uncertainty. "I can't exactly call my life with Organization XIII a true life."
"Ah," Sora replied with slight regret. "What about your life in the virtual Twilight Town? How did you feel when you were there?"
Roxas turned his attention to the setting sun. "It was only six days, but I felt like I had a heart then."
Sora grinned. "I think how you felt in the virtual Twilight Town is exactly how I feel right now."
"But it was in a virtual world," replied Roxas with a small frown.
"But you still lived. You still remember what happened with you and your friends."
Roxas smiled. "You're right. I still remember." The two sat in silence for the rest of the time.
As Sora awoke to the bright sun shining into his room, his first thoughts were of his friends from Disney Castle.
'I miss Donald and Goofy,' he silently admitted as he looked at the ceiling wistfully. He cleared his head of nostalgia and got out of bed, getting ready for another day of watching the world passing by the three friends on Destiny Islands.
When he walked out of his house (if one could call it that), he saw Riku sitting on the paopu tree staring at the horizon.
"Riku!" he greeted loudly, waving at the pale-blue haired boy as he approached him.
"Hey, Sora," the other Keyblade wielder replied, turning his attention back to the horizon.
Sora joined his friend on the paopu tree and watched the ocean, letting the calm waves soothing his mind.
"Have you seen Kairi?" he asked after a couple minutes of silence.
"She's on the other side of the island," Riku replied nonchalantly.
"What's she doing there?"
"Didn't ask." Sora frowned; Riku didn't seem like himself this particular morning.
"Are you okay, Riku?"
Riku's eyes widened with surprise and he turned to face his best friend.
"Why do you ask?"
"You're being brooding again. What's going on?"
Riku let out a sigh. "Remember when we first wanted to leave the islands?"
Sora nodded. "Yeah, I remember. We never did manage to leave, did we?"
Riku laughed softly. "Yeah, we never did."
"So you want to try again?" Sora asked excitedly. Riku raised an eyebrow at the notion. "Oh come on. You know you want to!" He grinned with his goofy smile and the taller boy couldn't help but laugh at his silly friend.
"You're just as eager as me to get off this island," Riku replied truthfully. Sora's face reddened with embarrassment and he tried to hide his red face. Riku laughed and slapped Sora on his back. "Go get Kairi and I'll get a start on the raft." Sora grinned and jumped off the tree, heading to the other end of the island. Riku watched as Sora left but didn't move from his spot. Instead, he turned his eyes back onto the horizon and waited wistfully for something to happen.
"Kairi!" Sora called out as he went into the cave on the other side of the island.
"In here!" Kairi's voice echoed back to him. Sora ventured further into the cave and saw Kairi sitting next to the pictures that the three had drawn on the walls of the cave. Sitting on the floor next to her was the Keyblade that Riku had given her to battle against the Heartless in The World That Never Was.
"What are you doing?" the brown-haired warrior asked.
"Just looking back at these last few years on this island."
"Ah." He turned to look at the pictures on the wall. "It's been a while since we drew on these walls, huh?"
"Yeah," Kairi replied. "I guess so."
"We're planning on building a raft again."
Sora nodded. "It'll be a good way to pass the time and to explore more worlds, don't you think?"
Kairi giggled. "Yeah, I guess so."
"What's your Keyblade called?" Kairi jumped with surprise.
"I don't know. I never bothered to give it a name. Riku never gave me the name of the Keyblade either."
"I guess it'll just remain nameless until we figure a suitable name for it, eh?" Kairi nodded as she picked up the Keyblade. She took another look at the flowery design before letting it go in a flash of light.
"Let's go find Riku and start on a new raft!"
"Yeah!" Sora nodded with happiness and the two left the cave, eager to get started on the new raft they were going to make.
"Ne, Roxas," asked Sora as he stared at the setting moon.
"Hmm?" His Nobody turned to look at him.
"You know that Axel died wanting to meet you again, right?"
"Yeah… I know. I was with you the entire time, remember? Even though you didn't know who I was, I still lived through you."
Sora smiled wistfully. "What do you think would've happened if you had stayed with Organization XIII?"
Roxas flinched. "How can you say such a thing like that?"
"No, Sora. Nobodies aren't meant to live, you know. We're nothing; we don't exist."
"But you still want to live don't you?"
Roxas sighed. "Yes, I do, but not at the expense of your life. Think of it this way, you have the harder job between us two. You have to live for the two of us rather than just for yourself."
Sora laughed heartedly. "I guess you're right. But still, I would like to meet you when I wake up and not just in our own world."
"I don't think the others would like me being alive. They won't trust me."
"Give them time, they'll trust you eventually."
"How do you know I won't kill you for your heart?" Roxas asked in all seriousness.
"Because you know that my heart is your heart. If you were to live again, you would have a heart just like mine, don't you think?" Sora replied casually, surprising Roxas with his tone and answer.
"You're nuts." The two laughed.
"You know that we're making a raft to get off the islands?" He looked at his other. Roxas nodded with a frown on his face. "You don't like the idea?"
"It's not that I don't like the idea… Sora, do you know why only you three are on this island?"
"We've been asking ourselves that this entire time. And truthfully, I still don't know."
"Maybe it has something to do with the fact that you're all Keyblade wielders."
"What!?" Sora was shocked at the answer his other gave.
"Maybe the worlds put you here so that they can keep track of you and keep you guys safe. Maybe they put you here so you aren't in the worlds too long that you grow tired of them."
"That's a good reason, but I don't think it's the worlds that put us here."
"Then what's your theory?" Roxas looked at his other expectantly.
Sora stayed silent for a while, a frown visible on his face. He looked up at the stars and wondered. 'Why are we here?'
"I don't know. But I still don't think the worlds put us here. If they wanted to keep the Keyblade wielders together, then why isn't King Mickey with us?"
Roxas shrugged. "He is the King, you know."
Sora gave a soft chuckle. "Of course."
The two stayed silent for the remainder of the evening as Sora slept away the night.
The day started just like any other day on Destiny Islands: the day was sunny, not a cloud in sight. The ocean was still as calm as ever and the breezes cooled the sunny day. Sora was surprised that neither Riku nor Kairi was at the paopu tree already. He looked for them at the cave and where they started building their new raft, but they weren't there either. Ending up with the conclusion that they might still be sleeping, Sora went over to the paopu tree and sat down on its bent trunk. He stared out at the calm ocean and ever so slowly drifted off to sleep once again.
"That was quick," said Roxas, who never left his spot on the beach. The sun was rising and the air was cool, at least for his mental self.
"I must've woken up really early," the brown-haired boy replied, sitting down on the beach next to his other.
"You might be right."
"Ne, Roxas. You know last night when I asked what would've happened if you had stayed with Organization XIII?"
Roxas nodded grimly. "Yeah, I remember. My answer is still the same: Nobodies are not meant to exist. Besides, if I had continued existing, you wouldn't have all of your powers to defeat Xemnas."
"Maybe not, but at least I'll have you and Riku by my side, don't you think?"
Roxas frowned. "How do you know I would've joined you?"
"You're me," said Sora. "I think you would've realized that you were my Nobody before I even recognized you."
The blond-haired Nobody snorted softly. "You're referring to the time when I showed up in The World That Never Was after Axel died?"
"That same one."
"That fight reminded me that I was a simple Nobody, but at the same time, I'm really glad that I'm your Nobody."
"Well, the special place that we fought in was my sanctuary. All the other members of the Organization XIII can't beat me when we're in my sanctuary. Zexion said that it was because I was the Keyblade wielder, because I am a Nobody of the light. The sanctuary will only allow for light magic. So I was really surprised when you were able to summon your Keyblade to yourself, when all the others that I've fought were unable to once I've disarmed them."
"Sora, Sora!" a faint voice came from the wind.
"Looks like Kairi's here," Roxas replied, looking upwards at the empty blue sky, as if expecting to see Kairi's face in the emptiness.
"Ah, later." With that, Sora opened his sleepy eyes and looked up at the concerned face of his friend.
"Are you okay? Were you sleeping here the entire time?" Sora yawned and sat up on the bent tree trunk.
"I'm fine and no, I wasn't sleeping here for the entire night," he replied, as if offended by the notion. "Where were you and Riku?"
"I have no clue where Riku is, but I just woke up a little bit earlier."
"Sleeping in late?" Sora teased with a wide grin. Kairi hmph'ed and giggled at Sora's goofy face. Her giggles fell silent as the two looked out to the horizon.
"Ne, Sora," she spoke tenderly.
"Have you ever talked to Roxas?"
"Huh? I've talked to Roxas once…" Sora lied. "It was when we had a battle at The World That Never Was."
"Ah. Never mind then."
"Have you talked to Naminé?" he asked softly.
"Well, I've talked to her while we were in the castle," Kairi replied. "But…"
"You've been talking to her lately haven't you?" he said quietly. Kairi nodded then stared at the Keyblade master with wide eyes.
"How did you know?"
Sora sighed. "I've been talking to Roxas ever since Riku and I came back."
"But you just told me… Oh, I see. You don't want Riku to find out that Roxas still exists, even though it's just in your mind."
He nodded. "They respect each other that's all."
"She doesn't like being able to talk to me."
"She's accepted the fact that she's not supposed to exist and that she's supposed to just be a part of me. The notion that she's a separate entity in mind frightens her." She paused slightly then continued in a softer voice. "She thinks that there's something wrong with the Nothingness; that the Organization will be returning."
"She says she just has a feeling."
Sora swallowed down a lump of fear and frowned. "What do you think about this, Kairi?"
"To be honest, I don't know what to think. I don't want to believe Naminé, but somehow I know that she's right. There's something going on out there that we don't know about."
As soon as those words left her mouth, Riku ran up to them, his face paler than usual. In his hand was a piece of paper familiar to them all. King Mickey had sent them a letter.
"Sora, you better read this," he said solemnly as he handed the open letter to the brown-haired boy. As he read the letter, he couldn't help but scowl at the news that the letter bore.
"What!? We've killed the Organization once already and now they're not sure that they're really dead!?" he shouted angrily. Riku pursed his lips.
"I wish it was really that simple," he replied. "I knew that they probably would come back in the future, I just never knew that it was this soon."
Sora sighed. "I guess it's pointless to make the raft now."
"Yeah," Kairi replied. "But how is it possible for them to come back?"
"Who knows," Riku said off-handedly. "What's important is we need to figure out a way to stop them again and prevent them from coming back again."
Sora nodded. "I think I know how they came back."
"Huh?" the other two looked at him with surprise.
"Vexen, the shield-wielding Nobody, took lots of data didn't he? That's how he made a replica of you at Castle Oblivion. Maybe he's the one who orchestrated the return of the Organization."
"How do you know this?" replied Riku.
"Eh?" Sora looked at Riku with confusion. He knew that Roxas hadn't told him about Vexen just then, but he somehow knew about Vexen. He bit his bottom lip with perplexity. "To be honest, I don't know."
"We should talk to the King about this," Riku said. Kairi said nothing, but instead had an unfocused look in her eyes.
"Kairi?" asked Sora, noticing Kairi's blank face. The redhead blinked and looked at Sora.
"Naminé says that you're remembering stuff that you weren't meant to remember. Do you know what she means?"
Riku looked grimly at the two of them. "He's remembering things from Castle Oblivion."
"You know about this?" Sora looked at the silver-haired boy with shock. Riku nodded solemnly.
"It was when you had spent that entire year sleeping. That was when Naminé was working hard to reconstruct your memories."
"Oh," Sora looked down at the sand lamely, wondering what would happen if he dared to remember everything at Castle Oblivion.
"We have to get ready to head to Disney Castle," Kairi said. "The letter said that Chip and Dale won't be here for another day, so we'll just wait for them, neh?" She looked at the other expectantly. Riku nodded, keeping his eyes on the confused Sora, while Sora made no attempt to agree or disagree with Kairi's statement.
"I'll be fine. I just need some time alone." With that, the brown-haired boy walked away from the paopu tree and went back to his hut.
"Don't ask me about Castle Oblivion. I never knew about it."
"Do you think I'm going to lose my mind?"
"Naminé said I'm remembering stuff that I wasn't supposed to remember."
"Ah." His Other looked at him with a blank face. "I don't know what to say about that," he replied truthfully. His eyes glistened with unfelt emotion as he looked at the soft moonlight highlighting Sora's sad face. "I don't want you to go searching for the memories you weren't meant to remember."
"Kinda like you aren't supposed to exist?" scowled Sora, annoyed at the obvious answer the Nobody gave given him.
"Think, Sora," replied Roxas coldly. "If you started remembering the events that should not have happened, how would you feel about the present? Would you think that this was all a dream? That Riku and Kairi are friends to be forgotten? That I'm just a figment of your imagination? Think about that, Sora, and tell me what you think."
Sora frowned, guilt creeping up on the back of his mind. He leaned back on his elbow as he looked at the blue moon with turbulent thoughts. He knew that they were right; something was going on that was causing him to remember events that he never remembered before. He knew that if he started gaining back those memories, he would lose his dearest friends. The mere thought of losing them once again frightened him deeply.
"I'm sorry, Sora," said Roxas, his voice betraying no emotions despite the apology.
"No," replied Sora calmly. "You were right. I should not try to remember what happened at Castle Oblivion. I shouldn't remember what I've forgotten, neh?" Roxas chuckled softly at Sora's acknowledgement.
"Still, I can't believe we have to fight the Organization again," Sora sighed, lying down on the sand. "Do you remember anything that might explain their return?"
Roxas bit his lower lip. "My memories of the Organization are fuzzy at best now," he replied with a frown. "I guess I've really started to merge myself with you." He smiled sardonically at his Other. Sora pursed his lips tightly but said nothing.
"You were right though, what you said about Vexen. I think he and Zexion were the main ones who compiled the data of all of the Organization members. Xemnas was the one who created the Garden of Assemblage, though."
"Garden of Assemblage?" asked Sora.
"It's at the end of the Cavern of Remembrance. I think you'll remember the place where you first met Sephiroth, right? Well, the entrance to the Cavern is somewhere there."
"What exactly is the Garden of Assemblage?"
"It was where the remnants of the Organization XIII's members reside. When each of us first joined the Organization, a part of ourselves were extracted to create a data version of ourselves if we ever lose ourselves to our desire for a heart."
"Or if you ever fade away like all of the Organization members did," added Sora softly. Roxas nodded silently.
"Yeah, or if the Organization faded away. In any case, I can only surmise that the higher ranked members of the Organization know the exact nature of the data versions of Organization XIII. I've never been there before myself. All I know is that it's located in Hollow Bastion. And we were instructed to go to the Garden of Assemblage if the Organization ever fails in obtaining Kingdom Hearts."
Sora suddenly groaned with annoyance.
"What's the matter?" asked Roxas curiously.
"You mean, I have to fight the data version of you?" he said with irritation. Roxas smirked at the thought.
"I guess you do. Don't worry, you'll beat me like the last time."
"Still, my arms got so sore after that battle. You were really strong with your Keyblades."
Roxas shrugged. "It was all I've got left, I think. I was desperate to prove that I'm different from you. I didn't take too well to the idea of living a life only to realize that it's all a lie."
"You are different from me," said Sora. "If you were the same as me, we wouldn't be having this conversation now would we?" he glanced at the blond-haired Nobody with a grin. Roxas looked at Sora with surprise.
"Yeah, you're right." The two sat in silence for a while, each letting their thoughts run wild. "Hey Sora, do you like talking to me?"
"Of course. It's like talking to the brother that I've never had." The brown haired teen smiled widely.
"But wouldn't people think you're schizophrenic or something? Talking to yourself as much as you have since we started talking to each other."
"Nah," scoffed Sora. "I only talk to you when I'm unconscious. I can hardly think that I would be talking in my sleep."
"Knowing you, I'd say you would," grinned Roxas.
"Hey, what's that supposed to mean? Besides, if anyone ever asks, I'd just tell them the truth."
"That you're talking to a Nobody that's occupying your mind?"
"Yup. Besides, my Nobody's myself." Sora paused for a bit before continuing. "I'm my own best friend!"
"Gee, narcissistic much?" retorted the Nobody.
"Pft. Admit it, Ro-ku-sa-su, you love the attention. I heard from Naminé that you really enjoyed being in the limelight when you won that Struggle tournament." Roxas blushed. Sora laughed out loud.
"Thanks for cheering my day up, Roxas."
"Hey, that's what friends are for, right?"
The rest of the day on the Destiny Islands passed without incident. The three friends sat on the paopu tree watching the radiant orange sunset. They shared a paopu fruit in reverence, knowing the implications of the act. Regardless of the implications, they've shared so many paopu fruits already that this one only served to reinforce their friendship and dedication to each other.
"Ne, where do you think we'll be heading to after we meet King Mickey?" asked Sora.
"Probably Radiant Garden," replied Riku.
"Of course, to see Merlin," added Kairi.
Sora frowned in thoughtfulness, watching the sun disappear ever so slowly into the horizon.
"Munny for your thoughts?" asked Kairi, her face off to the side to look at Sora better.
"Just thinking about the Nobodies," Sora replied casually. The statement was only partly true as he thought about what to expect that the Garden of Assemblage.
"Thinking about the Organization?" suggested Riku. Sora nodded hesitantly.
"Don't think too much about it. We'll deal with it once the time comes."
"I guess you're right." He turned back to the orange sun and swallowed down a lump of fear and guilt. Somehow, in the back of his mind, something bad was going to happen when they go to the Garden. He could feel it in his blood. Even the comforting presence of Roxas in the back of his mind did nothing to calm his turbulent mind.
The brown-haired Keyblade master became startled when a pair of arms found themselves around his body, pulling him towards the red-haired girl. His hands grasped her arms and leaned back into the embrace, smiling as the girl's touch succeeded in chasing away his inner fears of the days to come.
"Feeling better, Sora?" she asked with laughter on his lips.
"Thanks," he replied, turning his head to face her. Out of the corner of his eyes, he saw Riku smiling kindly at the scene and joined them by wrapping his left arm around Kairi's shoulder, pulling her and, consequently, Sora towards him.
"Nothing's changed, hmm?" Sora asked.
"Ahh, nothing's changed," replied Riku.
"The world's changed, but we will never change, ne?" asked Kairi. The two boys only grinned and nodded in response
Thus ends chapter 1… Questions? Comments? Leave them in the review zone. :)