the soft, diffused light from the sky when the sun is below the horizon, either from daybreak to sunrise or, more commonly, from sunset to nightfall.
Summary: Dreams always result in an awakening, and twilight always fades. What if Roxas had left Twilight Town with Axel?
Rant: Praise me, I'm taking a step on the wild side and am writing something that's not so blatantly AU. This was another idea that kept buzzing around my head. The whole what-if concept is always such a wonderful thing to work with, and this was one that was simply too delicious to ignore. (And, yes, this will actually have a plot. Feel free to pass out now.)
…Okay. Yeah. I owe an explanation for why I'm only finishing this now (in September). As some of you may know, I've been away in the Maasai Mara of Kenya for the past month. And in our quaint little centre, we had roughly three hours of electricity at night and no internet connection. On top of that, I've been doing manual labour, so, understandably, when I returned to my tent at night, there was nothing I wanted more than to collapse on my bed and never wake up. Yeah. That just about sums it up.
Other Notes: Umm, I kind of defy the laws of canon with the sequence (and content) of dreams Roxas has. Eh heh. Just go with the flow, eh? This story strays from the canon, and the Roxas of my world has slightly different things headed down his path, and therefore he'll end up remembering different things at different times. (Some things will be rather debateable, but I'll deal with any inconsistencies later…probably…)
Oh, and I've also bent over backwards in my attempt to cram the what I needed of the tutorial-thing into this prologue. ::tears:: It was a very painful and very tedious task. Please don't kill me if I mess it up a little. (And if I mess it up a lot, do me a favour and don't tell me. Ignorance is bliss. –no, seriously, tell me. I'll need to fix it.)
I practically raced through the whole thief bit, so it's incredibly raw and choppy. Don't kill me! I'll try fixing it…eventually…
Started: July 17, 2007.
Completed: September 11, 2007.
prologue : blindfold
Roxas never understood why Twilight Town had been given its name. Certainly, its skyline was quite spectacular on the occasions when twilight did appear, but still… The name of the town was wildly misleading. From its name, one might think that the town had been locked in a permanent state between light and dark. Which, of course, was impossible. Twilight, after all, does not last forever. It eventually fades away.
Every day, Roxas would push his window open and gaze up longingly at the horizon, watching as the glimmering light eventually faded into the sunrise. And every day, Roxas would sigh deeply and allow his mind to idly contemplate the complete absentmindedness of the town.
There had always been something rather bizarre about the town in Roxas' mind. The simple dreamlike quality of life was peculiar enough, but coupled in with the citizens' uncanny nonchalance and disinterest with life outside the puny town—the simple satisfaction they took in knowing absolutely nothing—was simply impossible to overlook. Roxas had always found it unusual that nobody in the town seemed to know anything. This was not to say that they were stupid, goodness no. Rather, it appeared to Roxas that they were either blissfully unaware of what lay beyond their borders, or that they were in plain denial.
He'd always found that disturbing. Each time he'd ask a passing citizen—or even one of his friends—if they knew what was outside of the town, his reply would be a plastic smile and the chipper answer of "There's nothing out there, dear. We're all alone in this universe."
Roxas had never believed that for a second. He knew there was something out there. Even so, he had no proof. He himself had no idea of what lay past the twilight-glazed horizon. He only knew that there was something out there.
But no matter who he asked, the answer was always the same: "There's nothing out there, dear. We're all alone in this universe."
He'd probably asked everyone in the whole goddamn town. Every street performer, grocer, artisan, and child. And yet, they all still said the same thing.
Even Seifer, whom Roxas had turned to in his desperation (and later regretted with every fibre of his being), had had virtually the same answer, though in a much more vulgar way.
"Could you be any less of a moron? There's nothing out there, shitface. We're on our own in this fucked up universe."
It was mystifying, and Roxas couldn't find any way to explain the townspeople's lack of knowledge—or curiosity, for that matter. At first, he thought it might have been something in the water. Perhaps some chemical had slipped into the town's water supply and was turning the citizens' brains into oatmeal. Roxas soon found himself crossing that possibility off, though, seeing as he drank the same water supply as the others, and he certainly wasn't ignorant to the possibility of other existences. (At least, not to the extent of the other townspeople, who seemed perfectly content knowing absolutely nothing about the world around them.)
He didn't understand many things, like how the people could be so satisfied while he dwelled in malcontent. He'd asked himself the question of how? The answer he decided upon was quite simple. The citizens of Twilight Town did not bother lingering over questions they could not answer. Evidently they were more concerned with their little insignificant lives than they were with the rest of the outside world. And perhaps that was the beauty of it all. Roxas didn't really know. But, he was certainly willing to try.
Maybe, just maybe, he'd be able to forget the past. Maybe he'd be able to forget all his unanswered questions that cried desperately for solutions. Maybe he'd be able to let go all of his scathing opinions about the town's idiocy. Maybe he'd be able to start a new life, and not dwell on the one that he couldn't remember, but knew he had.
Maybe, Roxas thought—hoped, Just maybe, I could try and be happy.
Because one thing Roxas had noticed since he woken up in a town he didn't recognise (but had been told he'd been there all his life), was that he hadn't once been happy.
If he found a way to be happy, he might be able to let go of all the troubling questions that lay in the darkest corners of his soul; the questions that clawed mindlessly at his brain in frustration.
So he tried to be happy. But in order to be happy, he had to let go.
So he did.
And he soon found himself forgetting his frustration with the incompetence of the townsfolk. He allowed himself to slip into a state of ease, not unlike the same, dreamlike quality of life that those around him seemed to possess.
Truthfully, Roxas much preferred this hazy sort of life to the one he'd been previously enduring. One littered with riddles and questions. To him, life felt much more comforting this way—simple and uncomplicated. That's how everything was supposed to be, after all, right? Simple and clean. Simplicity in itself was beautiful, and he was eternally grateful that his hands were clean of blood, that he didn't live in a world torn by war. And, above all, he just wanted to be happy.
And for these reasons, he allowed himself to be carried away, to drift off into the vague world that was Twilight Town.
There was something about this town, he decided, that made it charming. Perhaps it was the very thing that had baffled him from the start—that same, sleepy, uneventful atmosphere that perfumed the glowing sky.
Yes, Roxas thought to himself. I can be happy here.
So, he made friends—they were wonderful people, and always fun to be around. And for a while, Roxas thought he was happy. But then, one day, while they had been gloating up a storm, jeering about how Seifer had been crushed in a recent Struggle match, they all began to laugh. He heard them laugh. And then he heard himself laugh. And then he knew there was something wrong.
Something terribly, terribly wrong.
Because in that moment, he could tell that there was a considerable difference that set him apart from Hayner, Pence, and Olette. It was in their laughter. There was something in Roxas' that sounded…off.
And it was then that Roxas knew he wasn't happy.
And he didn't know why.
Roxas, greatly discouraged by his discovery, tried his hardest to ignore it. Tried to force himself back into the fuzzy bliss that made up Twilight Town. That peaceful sense of tranquility and sanctuary. Only to find it impossible.
Like twilight, his state of delirium could not last forever. He had been jolted rudely awake to a reality that was so surreal that it simply. could. not. be. real.
And then the dreams started.
They had been subtle, at first. Perfectly easy to ignore and forget. Just odd flashes here and there. A brief glimpse of a calm ocean, an image of a hidden cave where childlike doodles lined the walls, a snippet of a swaying palm tree dotted with yellow, star-shaped fruit… Little things like that. Roxas hadn't bothered to even consider their significance. Until one day, he woke up from a dream, blood pounding in his ears and sweat clinging to his brow.
This one had been different. That night, there had been a person in his dreams—a boy. The boy had been sitting quietly on a golden beach, facing the ocean, watching the waves roll and crash into the shoreline. Roxas couldn't see the boy's face, only the back of his head of unruly, cinnamon-coloured hair. Then, slowly, the boy turned his head slightly, as if to regard Roxas. Roxas woke up with a start, but not before he saw the flash of sparkling blue eyes and the glimmer of a smile.
Roxas hadn't had the faintest idea of what the dream meant—and he didn't particularly care. He didn't even have the slightest idea of who the strange boy was, this scrawny little boy with the tired smile and the worried eyes.
To Roxas, he was just another nameless face in a crowd.
And the boy continued to be such.
As time went on, Roxas' dreams (they were really more flashes than dreams) became more vivid…more lifelike. It was as if his dreams were brewing an entire story—an entire life!—around that one nameless little boy. And more and more people began to join into the boy's story. Roxas could even name a few of these bizarre and colourful characters off the top of his head.
Roxas knew that these dreams were in no specific order. One particular dream had featured the boy travelling alongside two peculiar characters: an overgrown duck with a serious attitude and an upright dog with a goofy grin. However, another dream that Roxas had, much later on, displayed the first encounter between these strange animals and the nameless boy.
In fact, many of the dreams pertained to this party of three unlikely comrades. They always seemed to be somewhere different each time, Roxas observed. And for each place they went to, they encountered and befriended new people, some more odd in appearance then them. (Roxas had been unable to shake the image of the thin, skeletal man with the hollow eyes for nearly a week.)
Roxas wasn't really aware of where all these dreams were coming from, nor why he was having them in the first place. In any case, he found himself growing more and more curious about the happenings of the Nameless Boy as time went on and the dreams progressed. He wondered what the Nameless Boy was searching for—he had frequently seen the Boy speaking wistfully of his goals—and why the Boy was searching at all. Actually, after awhile, it appeared that all the Boy did in his life was search.
Until, one day, Roxas saw the Boy unsheathe an unusual looking weapon from thin air.
A Keyblade. That's what they all called it. (Once, he'd actually pretended he had one of his own. He had been brandishing a twig in the back alley, when he lost his grip on it and accidentally hit a passing man in a long, black leather coat. He'd apologised, but he wasn't exactly sure that the man had even noticed the twig, let alone him.) What the Boy was doing with it, Roxas had no idea.
And then he dreamt of darkness.
Out of the shadows of his dream world (worlds?), strange creatures as black as death and with bulbous, glowing yellow eyes began to materialise and assemble, all of them whispering nonsensical words beneath their breaths.
Kingdom Hearts! Kingdom Hearts! they creatures had chanted. Take the hearts, open the door! O, Master! The door, the door! Take the hearts, for we are hungry…ever so hungry… The door! Lead us, o Master! Take us to Kingdom Hearts!
It made very little sense to Roxas. (It actually made no sense whatsoever, but he was a bit too hard-headed to admit to that.)
Since he highly doubted that this 'Kingdom Hearts' was some sort of all-you-can-eat buffet, he decided that the insatiable hunger of these grotesque, squirming creatures was a tad more macabre.
Did they really take hearts?
Roxas wasn't sure, but figured they must have. Because something that the creatures were doing was making the Boy upset, and making him seek out the creatures. And kill them.
Though Roxas was really just an outsider in the widest stretch of the meaning, he did not believe that the Boy was killing on a whim, nor was he killing for the sake of evil. Roxas didn't think the Boy was capable of such a horrible act. He didn't know how to explain it, but he knew, somewhere deep down, that the Boy was not evil, that he didn't even have a shred of wickedness in him.
So Roxas trusted the Boy, and simply took to watching the Boy defeat his never-ending stream of foes.
That was all the Boy ever seemed to do. Fight and stare longingly off into the horizon.
And Roxas would throw open his window and watch the morning twilight slowly fade away. And he would wonder: did that Boy have dreams about Roxas, like how Roxas had dreams of him? Was the Boy, at this very moment, staring out his own window, watching the very same twilight fading into light? Was the Boy wondering who Roxas was?
Thoughts like that unnerved Roxas.
I've been having these weird thoughts lately...like is any of this for real, or not?
Hayner, Pence, and Olette were worried about Roxas. He could tell it from their eyes.
The fact that they said they were worried was just a minor hint.
They claimed that he was much quieter, now. More sombre. That he always seemed "out of it," as Hayner had put it.
Roxas, who hadn't even noticed these alleged changes in persona simply shrugged and said that he'd just been thinking a lot lately.
To which, Hayner burst into laughter, saying that this was certainly a large change.
Roxas replied by shoving Hayner.
All comedy aside, once his friends had mentioned the change, Roxas began to notice it himself. He decided to blame the sudden abnormality in his behaviour on the sagas of dreams he'd been having.
After all, aside from the dreams, everything else had been the same as before. The sun still rose and set, the trains still ran more or less on schedule, and Seifer was still the insensitive bastard he'd always been.
But, at the same time, things were not the same. And Roxas knew, deep inside of himself, that they never would be the same again.
His dreams had been getting increasingly more intense, always filled with darkness and death and screams—oh god! the screams! make them stop!—it had come to a point were it was not uncommon for them to become too much for his defenceless unconscious to handle, shocking him out of his fitful slumber. And after these horrific dreams, Roxas would find himself hurting in all sorts of obscure places. The most agonizing ache he'd had to date was an incredibly excruciating sort of shooting pain that he'd been getting frequently in his chest, just over his heart. To be completely honest, if he hadn't been making his constant trips to his medicine cabinet for painkillers, he probably would have passed out long ago. The pain was so unbearable… It felt almost like someone had brutally stabbed him in the chest and ripped out his still-beating heart, it was that bad.
That same night, the night from which he awoke with that awful throb in his chest, he'd had a most curious dream. It made very little sense, but Roxas was somewhat used to that at this point. And when he woke up—this time screaming, which was definitely a first—he was left with only one vivid recollection from that dream:
"You are a Nobody. Nobodies are those without hearts. They are merely shadows of the people they once were. Nobodies are incapable of feeling, incapable of love."
And after a few minutes—once he realised he was awake and that he was probably disturbing his neighbours, that is—Roxas silenced his screaming and blinked, narrowing his eyes and pursing his lips in concentration as he fought to even out his breathing.
What the hell is wrong with me? he wondered, still quite dazed and groggy. He flopped back onto his bed and stared up at his ceiling, an unreadable expression on his face. He spent the next hour trying to put together some sort of an understanding as to what his dream had been about, all to no avail. All he could recall was a terrible feeling not unlike being torn in two—holy fuck, that had hurt—the warmth…no, the intensity of a blazing inferno, and a cool, disembodied voice droning that haunting bit about 'Nobodies.'
Well, Roxas thought, now considerably more calm. That was…different.
Because there was no other way he could describe it entirely. That killer pain he had in his chest hurt like a bitch, but it wasn't nearly as intriguing or disturbing as the other elements of his dream. (The ones that he remembered, anyway.)
Regarding the inexplicable sense of heat and passion he'd felt…well… Roxas honestly didn't know what to make of that. He had felt like every inch of his body had been completely devoured by thousands of white-hot, licking flames. It hadn't felt bad, per se. Just…different.
Even thinking about it made Roxas sweat a little. But not in the bad way. He didn't feel particularly upset about this aspect of his dream. Quite the contrary, actually. It had felt…nice.
Well, it had felt nice. Until that horribly toneless voice went and ruined it all with its spiel about 'Nobodies,' whatever the hell they were…
Just recalling the voice was enough to freeze over Roxas' former tranquility he'd found in remembering the pleasant fire he'd dreamt of. God, that voice was terrifying. So bitter and unfeeling and so goddamn dead… And just what had the voice been speaking of, anyway? Nobodies…hearts… Geez. How positively morbid. Was it so difficult for Roxas to have normal dreams? For goodness sake, what he'd give for a night-time emission… (After all, weren't all normal, functional, male teenagers supposed to have things like that?—not to say that Roxas wasn't normal. What a silly thing for him to preside over. Of course he was normal. What else would he be if not normal?)
And Roxas, though he didn't feel completely at ease, was still very sleepy, and would have gladly opted to sleep for a hundred years, just like that princess in the tale. And so he slept. A peaceful, deep sleep that was, for once, free of the terrible images he'd been frequently seeing. Rather, this one had been filled with that same, satisfying sense of warmth and security. And when Roxas woke up, he felt oddly content; the pain in his chest was thankfully absent and he thought nothing more of the chilling voice or of those 'Nobodies.'
Or, at least, he would have thought nothing more of it if he and his friends hadn't had that unpleasant scuffle with Seifer and his gang later that day.
It had started early that morning when Hayner brought it to Roxas' and the others' attentions that Seifer had been spreading rumours to the whole of Twilight Town—which really wasn't much of a feat, in all honesty. Twilight Town had a pretty small population—that they'd been stealing a number of ——— from the locals. Hayner was so upset about it, and Roxas, who was in an unusually mum mood, decided not to voice his confusion on how Seifer was explaining how they'd managed to steal not just a couple of everyone's ———, but the word ——— itself. In his opinion, Seifer, though admittedly not the brightest star in the sky, was not so daft as to go around telling people that "Blondie and his lamers" had miraculously gained the unexplainable power to prevent all civilians in Twilight Town from saying the word ———. It just didn't seem likely. But, still, Roxas went along with Hayner's little self-inspired quest (it had really been Roxas' idea, but he wasn't about to fight for ownership rights) to prove their innocence and to capture the real thieves. (Hayner, though also not the brightest star in the sky, was at least able to recognise that Seifer hadn't been the one stealing all the ———.)
Interestingly enough, it turned out that the citizens had fallen completely for the claim that Roxas—not "Blondie and his lamers," just Roxas—had single-handedly managed to steal the ———. (They seemed delightfully unaware that they were all unable to say ———. Roxas couldn't help but feel a bit exasperated at this. Really, what had he expected, anyway?)
This new knowledge had greatly chagrined Roxas, and made him pursue the ——— thief with even greater fervour than Hayner, a feat that Olette and Pence would never have thought possible. And in the midst of their search for clues to lead them to the thief, they, as luck would have it, ran into Seifer and his gang. Fuu and Rai had been quick to reprimand Roxas, and Hayner had been more than happy to mouth them off in turn with his ever intelligent comeback of "Oh, yeah?"
Seifer had then made his presence known, chuckling about how they didn't need a couple of ——— to prove that "Blondie and his lamers" were inferior. Fuu, in her own little monosyllabic way, had dully called for a "replay," something Seifer was more than willing to give.
"I guess if you get on your knees and beg, maybe I'll let it slide," he drawled, shifting into a low fighting stance.
Hayner, who'd been fully prepared—and eager—to go and bash Seifer's skull in, got the shock of his life when Roxas immediately stepped forward and made to kneel down. Seifer got only a moment to laugh at Roxas' apparent surrender, because Roxas then charged at him, grabbing one of the weapons that had been lying haphazardly on the dusty ground of the Sandlot, and flying into attack.
During the next several minutes, Roxas engaged Seifer in a more frenzied battle than anything he'd ever attempted outside of the Struggle Tournament. Cusses were thrown, hits were exchanged, and, at last, Seifer slumped to the ground, utterly defeated and shielded behind both Rai and Fuu, who were sputtering forth excuses for Seifer's inadequacy. Pence must have found the whole scenario wildly amusing, because he whipped out an old Polaroid camera from god knows where and quickly took a shot, only to be ambushed by a most peculiar creature: the thief.
Roxas, energy and strength pounding in his veins, went sprinting after the strange creature, determined to capture it. He was soon led through the woods and to the gateway of the old mansion. It was there that he got his first good look at the being. It wasn't human, but it definitely was unlike any animal Roxas had ever seen in his lifetime. Its pale flesh was taut and the creature's lithe body twirled and danced about Roxas, never letting him hit it once.
It was just when Roxas was positive he'd never be able to land a blow that the creature suddenly jumped away from him; its oddly zippered mouth stretched into a ghastly leer as its body—moving as if its own entity—danced and writhed as it hovered over that one spot, its sinewy flesh rippling with lean muscles.
Roxas had just been planning to make another attack on the creature, but froze, getting a tremendous shock that nearly made him piss his pants.
We have come for you, my liege, a croaky voice whispered in his ear.
Roxas nearly dropped his weapon, he'd been so startled. Who just said that? Roxas snapped his blue gaze from left to right, scanning his surroundings with alarm. There's no one here, he realised with a sick feeling in the pit of his stomach. Slowly, his eyes returned to the dancing white creature. It's just me here…me and this…thing. Then, his eyes widened as a most chilling thought struck him: Was it… Did that thing say that?!
He wasn't given any time to ponder this, however, for the monster's (there really was no other way to describe that thing) zippered mouth suddenly flew wide open and a horrible stench that reeked of decay overpowered Roxas, and he stumbled back, completely unprepared for when the monster launched itself at him, mouth agape and poised for an attack.
It was all he could do to keep himself from getting beaten till he was but a centimetre from death. And, as a person with some training in combat, Roxas also knew fat well that if he stopped dodging and evading and generally fleeing from this monster, it would overpower him with no difficulties whatsoever. The difference in their skills wasn't even funny. Yes, he thought bitterly, resignation heavy in his chest. I am going to die.
Then, something unexpected happened. A strangely familiar rush of heat swept through his body, flowing from its origin deep in his chest and surging to his fingertips. When he opened his eyes, he was instantly blinded by a flash of golden light. And without thinking, he raised his weapon with inhuman speed and, to his surprise, swatted the monster away like an insect and sent it flying into a nearby shrubbery.
Roxas blinked owlishly, not quite comprehending what had just happened. His gaze flickered down to observe his weapon, and it took every ounce of him to keep from crying out in confusion; for in his hands was a weapon that was most certainly not the clumsy Struggle club he'd snatched off the ground in his haste. This new weapon was sleek and graceful and practically humming with power. He instantly recognised it as being the 'Keyblade' from his dreams, but as for what it was doing here, feeling just oh so right in his hands, well, Roxas decided he'd debate that later, after that grotesque thief had been taken care of.
The Keyblade moved with Roxas like it was a part of his very being; the movements in his attack on the monster were more precise, more fluid, and a hell of a lot more effective. After unleashing a combination of rapid jabs and slashes on the monster, another curious thing happened: the monster seemingly exploded. Not with a loud crack! or a bang! or even a mere pop. Rather, a cloud of dirty grey smoke curled away and evaporated into nothing, and a thick stack of photographs fluttered to the ground, leaving no lasting trace that the picture thief had ever existed. And, similarly to the manner in which it had appeared, the Keyblade vanished into thin air with another golden flash, leaving Roxas standing there feeling quite alone and oddly cold.
Roxas returned to Hayner, Pence, and Olette, missing photos in hand. After leafing through a couple of pictures (and after finding that they could once again say the word 'photo'), Pence noticed something interesting.
"So, like, anybody else notice that all the stolen pictures are of Roxas?"
"Ohh," Olette said, understanding shining in her eyes. "So that's why everyone thought it was us."
Hayner looked abashed. "You mean Seifer didn't go around accusing us after all?" he sputtered, turning red in the face.
Roxas, meanwhile, had been ignoring everything that had been said after Pence's observation. "Are they really all of me?"
"Yep," Pence said, passing the stack of photos to him. "See?"
Roxas hadn't quite believed Pence at first, but after craning his head in for a better view, he discovered that Pence was actually correct. It was a most unsettling feeling, and he could feel the hairs on the back of his neck prickle with anxiety when Pence voiced yet another upsetting thought.
"Wouldn't it be weird if the thief wanted to steal the real Roxas or something?"
Hayner and Olette had laughed at this, because, as Hayner had said, why would anybody want to steal him? Such an idea made his stomach lurch and churn with an unknown feeling. Fear? Maybe. Curiosity? Definitely.
What kind of person would go to such a length? he wondered, almost dreading the answer. Is someone really after me?
Needless to say, when he and his friends split up and set off to return the pictures to their rightful owners, Roxas kept a wary eye about him and walked with caution. After giving a few photos back to the kindly old woman who worked at the Candy Shop and to the man who owned the Armour Shop, he was left with only one more delivery of photos: Seifer's.
Roxas hadn't been expecting a particularly friendly welcome when he approached Seifer in the Sandlot later that day, but he never would have predicted Seifer thanking him by roughly shoving him backwards into the dirt.
"What the hell was that for?!" Roxas shouted, thoroughly put out. Seifer said nothing and just continued glaring down at him, which only served to further fuel his rage. "You're such a bastard," Roxas snarled, leaping to his feet. "You're rude and cruel and just so goddamn infuriating! You don't care about anyone but yourself, do you?!"
Seifer's lips pulled back in a cruel sneer, those cold blue eyes glistening with malice. "You're right about one thing, I sure as hell don't care about you," he breathed. "You're a nobody, Roxas," he whispered, voice hard and merciless.
Roxas hadn't been quite certain how to react to that. His initial thought, though he never showed it, had been one of panic. How did he know?! But then, after his split-second of confusion and horror, he realised that Seifer had just been making one of his typical insults and instantly relaxed. Really, what had he gotten into him?
Seifer spat on the ground, earning himself a groan of disgust from a passing civilian. "No one cares about you, Roxas," he hissed. "And no one ever will."
Roxas had brushed off the insults with out a problem, called Seifer an asshole, and continued on his way, never thinking twice about what Seifer had said.
But after Roxas got home that day, after he locked the door securely behind him, he walked into his bathroom and gazed blankly at his reflection in the looking glass. And then, for no particular reason, he began to cry.
A Nobody doesn't have a right to know.
Nor does it even have the right to be.
There had been something unusually melancholy in the air the next day when Hayner suggested they go to the beach. Maybe it was just the overall tone to the conversation… Or maybe it had just been Roxas who thought the whole discussion had been rather miserable. How Hayner could go from "I doubt we can be together forever" to "let's get on the train and go!" was simply unfathomable and went completely over his head. It just was just a tad too weird for him.
Then the day just had to go and take an unpleasant turn. After spending the better portion of the day slaving over odd jobs to make up for their financial dilemma, Roxas had to go and lose all of their earnings. It was really quite sad. The worst part of it, Roxas decided, was the fact that he wasn't even 100 sure how he lost their munny in the first place. They'd been standing right in the Station Plaza when Olette had handed him the bag of munny, and from there they'd just walked right into station. Well, most of them had. Roxas didn't quite get that far. After taking a few leisurely steps towards the station, Roxas promptly tripped and landed on his face, narrowly missing getting conked in the head with a twig that had been chucked in his general direction.
A figure dressed in a long black coat roughly helped Roxas up—where did he come from?—and pulled him close enough to hear his low whisper:
"Can you feel Sora?"
Sora? Who the heck is Sora?
From the bemused expression adorning Roxas' face, the figure must have decided not, because he quickly swept away, leaving Roxas blinking stupidly and wonderingly what had just happened.
Hayner's shout for the munny knocked him from his daze, and he quickly reached into his pockets for the munny pouch, only to find it missing.
Well. Wasn't this perfect…
Roxas had been convinced that he'd been had by that guy in the coat, figured he must have been some sort of pickpocket. He tried voicing this hypothesis to his friends, but they just gave him sceptical looks and rather patiently told him that there hadn't been anyone there at all.
What? There wasn't anyone…there?
Roxas leaned heavily on his windowsill later that night, watching as the twilight faded away into night. He was still baffled by what had happened earlier that day. He furrowed his brow in concentration. There had been someone there, he was sure of it. How Hayner and the others had failed to see him, he had no idea. He closed his eyes and released a deep sigh, wearily rubbing his forehead.
Why can't things just make sense again? he wondered irritably.
Because they never made sense to begin with, a snide voice in the back of his head replied nastily. Weren't you always brooding over how there was something out there that the others didn't get? Well, congratulations. It's apparently true. They didn't see that guy, did they?
Roxas opened his eyes and frowned. That was true. They hadn't seen him at all. But how can I be sure that I'm not the one that's hallucinating? he challenged himself. It was, after all, a valid point.
But, to his distaste, the voice just cackled darkly. You can't.
Che. Useless bastard. Roxas openly scowled at nothing and closed his window, locking it securely once the twilight finally faded away and the black velvet blanket of night crept across the sky and cloaked the town in darkness. After he'd settled into his bed and made himself comfortable, Roxas rolled over on his side to continue gazing out at the skyline.
Twilight Town had never been the best for gazing at the stars. With all the city lights, it was much too bright. But, for whatever reason, tonight, one of the stars was shining a lot more brightly than all the others. Roxas watched it silently for a minute, idly wondering why the other stars couldn't be more like that one. Then, in the briefest of flashes, all light from the star was abruptly extinguished, leaving the sky painfully dark. Roxas' eyes widened and he sat up straight in bed, mouth agape.
He had just seen that, didn't he? The star just…just…vanished! Vanished into thin air! Right before his eyes!
He pressed his nose against the glass, squinting and straining his eyes in an attempt to once again catch the glimmer of the star. But it was no use. The star had disappeared without a trace. Roxas slowly slumped backwards, not quite sure what to make of it. Stars didn't normally vanish on their own, did they? He certainly didn't recall learning anything like that in science class.
Roxas nibbled nervously on his lower lip. For some reason, watching the star practically evaporate into thin air had filled him with a queer sense of dread…like something sinister was lurking in the near future. "What happened to the star?"
"It faded. Freaky, isn't it?"
Roxas jumped at the sound of the voice and spun around, eyes bulging out of his head when he saw the figure cloaked in darkness looming just over his shoulder. "What the hell are you doing in my room?!" he squawked, raising a pillow in what he hoped was an intimidating way. (He figured he could always smother the hooded stranger to death if things got ugly.)
But the intruder just chuckled. "You're just like him," he remarked in a fond way, reaching out a hand, as if to caress Roxas' face. "Your eyes are the same…and yet, so very different." Roxas could practically hear the smirk in the man's voice. "I can see why he was so adamant about restoring him or whatever… Still," he pinched Roxas' cheek with a light laugh, "I think you're way better than that brat."
Roxas jerked back from the man, feeling oddly sick. "Who…who are you?" he demanded, voice quaking slightly.
The man dropped his hand, seemingly disturbed by this. "What are you talking about?" he asked sharply, voice lowering. "What are you trying to say…? You seriously don't know who I am?"
"I think I'd remember a person like you!" Roxas snapped, tightening his grip on the pillow.
The man was silent, apparently lost for words. When he spoke, his voice was cutting and just a bit ominous. "And you're not lying…right?"
Roxas' blue eyes grew wider and he shook his head frantically. What is this?! he wondered hysterically. This guy's insane! He 'knows' me? How the hell does he 'know' me?!
The man, meanwhile, had taken two steps backward and started pacing, muttering darkly beneath his breath. "What the fuck is going on…? Riku—that bastard—told me he'd be fine… Shit… I swear, if something went wrong…" His boots clicked noisily against the floorboards, and each step was calculated and in a precise rhythm. The sound of the constant clacking was drilling holes in Roxas' skull.
Roxas anxiously licked his lips, his eyes darting to the door as he tried to think of some way to escape. The man must have sensed his intent, because he stopped his pacing directly in front of the door, and his posture gave away his aggravation.
"Don't even think about trying to run away."
Roxas swallowed thickly before fixing the hooded figure with the most defiant glare he could muster. "Don't be stupid," he said loudly, dropping the pillow and crossing his arms stubbornly. "I'm not going anywhere."
He must have said something correctly, because the man visibly relaxed. "Well," he said wearily, "at least you still act the same, Roxas."
Roxas wasn't quite sure how to approach that. The man didn't seem to have any ill-intent; otherwise he would have done something by now. Maybe the best thing to do was simply to listen to what this man—Psycho. He's a definite psycho—had to say.
Roxas cleared his throat timidly. "You…erm… You said that we know each other?"
The man seemed even more crestfallen at these words. "Of course," he said fervently. "We're best friends."
Something in his voice tugged slightly at Roxas' conscience, but he quickly gathered his composure. "How do I know that's true?" he challenged, determinedly ignoring the man's flinch. "You won't even show me your face."
The man sighed and flipped his hood down in a fluid action, revealing a head of long, spiky hair that was so distinct that Roxas' could tell that it was an obtrusive shade of red, even in the dim light. The man—he was really not that much older than Roxas, actually—narrowed his flashing emerald eyes as he watched Roxas take in his appearance. "Got that memorised?"
Roxas nodded mutely, letting his eyes trace the man's face and linger for a brief moment over the strange diamond-shaped tattoos that fell just beneath his eyes. Finally, he raised his gaze to meet the fierce one of the man. "Who are you?" Roxas asked again, voice soft.
There's something…not right here…
The man pinched the bridge of his nose with an anguished sigh. "I'm Axel," he said gloomily. "And you're Roxas."
Roxas' felt a faint pang in his chest and slowly nodded. "Axel…"
What is this…?
Axel nodded, looking quite unhappy. "Yes," he said. "We're best friends."
Something in the way he'd said that sounded slightly…off. But Roxas wasn't about to go prying.
Maybe…maybe he's telling the truth?
Axel took a few quick strides to Roxas' bed and kneeled down so he was at eyelevel with the blond, emerald meeting sapphire. "Do you…" he carefully removed his gloves and took one of Roxas' hands in his own and gave him a desperate, imploring look. "Do you remember anything?"
Roxas opened his mouth to speak, but found himself unable to when he felt the strangest thing: that same fire, that indescribably pleasant warmth, creeping up his spine from where Axel's bare hands had touched his skin. He opened and closed his mouth a few times, eyes still wide and terrified and absolutely glued to Axel.
Axel's thin eyebrows knitted together. He leaned in slightly. "Do you remember, Roxas?" he asked quietly, pleading.
Roxas closed his eyes and took a shaky breath. "I'm not sure," he said at last, slowly opening his eyes and trying to ignore the barely concealed grief shining in the redhead's eyes. "I…" he swallowed again. "I remember…fire?" He sweated a little at Axel's confused expression. "I don't know how to explain it…" he said, flustered. "It's just a feeling. It's…familiar." He ducked his head.
Axel's grip on his hand tightened, and the fire blazed more strongly now. "Fire?"
Axel released his hand and let out a heavy sigh of—was that relief? "Good."
Roxas narrowed his eyes, still not looking at anything. "What's so good about fire?"
To his surprise, Axel laughed softly. "It's very good," he said. Roxas turned back to scowl at Axel and complain about his vagueness, but stopped dead when he saw the content grin spread across his face. Roxas felt colour rushing to his face.
"What's so good about fire?" he asked again, a little more forcefully, fuming. Axel laughed again and mussed his hair.
"It means that you haven't forgotten everything. Some part of you still remembers," Axel said confidently. "And, who knows? Maybe your other memories will come back to you."
Roxas frowned. "My memories?"
"Yep. Seems like the chain's not as complete as Riku thought it was…speaking of him, where is he…? That bastard said he'd be here by now…" Axel pursed his lips.
"Excuse me, but 'that bastard' can't help it if he's running a little late," a voice snapped from the other side of the room as another hooded figure materialised, arms folded across his chest.
Roxas blinked in confusion when he saw the new man. His voice was strangely familiar. Then it hit him. "You're the guy who robbed me!" he exclaimed, pointing an accusatory finger at the man.
Axel smirked widely at the hooded man. "Riku, you robbed him? I'm surprised… I thought you were supposed to be a good guy…"
Riku growled from within the depths of his hood. "You know as well as I do that I didn't rob him."
"Shut up. DiZ couldn't let him go to the beach. Too risky or something…" Riku made a flippant gesture with his hand. "Didn't want him escaping, I guess…"
Axel cackled and seated himself on the bed next to Roxas', throwing a lanky arm around the smaller boy. "Oh, we certainly wouldn't want that…" he drawled. "Poor Riku would go into conniptions if little Roxas here was to go away before DiZ and Naminé were finished with So—"
"Axel, shut up. Don't make me regret this."
Roxas fidgeted. What were they talking about? Regret what?
Axel obediently silenced himself and shrugged nonchalantly. "All I'm saying, Riku, is that I don't see why you guys need Roxas in the first place for this to work."
"I really don't understand it, either. It's way over my head. All I've been able to get is that it's easier for Naminé to mend the memories together if the two of them are in close proximity," Riku said, troubled.
"But why did this need to be done at all? He seemed perfectly fine the last time I saw him…" Axel said, looking up idly.
"The last time you saw him, he was forgetting things by the minute," Riku said snidely.
Axel waved him off. "Minor inconvenience," he said lightly. He glanced down momentarily at Roxas before narrowing his eyes and frowning at Riku. "Speaking of memories," he said, voice icing over. "Why doesn't Roxas remember anything?"
Roxas couldn't help but feel a little indignant. "Hey," he said shrilly. "I'm right here! And I do remember stuff, thank you very much."
"Oh, really?" Axel looked caught between amusement and annoyance. "Tell me, then. What do you remember?—and if you say 'fire,' I can guarantee you that this bastard" he motioned toward an agitated Riku "won't take you seriously."
Roxas glared. "I remember plenty. I remember Hayner and Pence and Olette and—"
"See? This is what I'm talking about," Axel interrupted, glowering at Riku. "He doesn't remember anything worth remembering. All he remembers is that crud your crackpot boss stuck in his head…"
Riku hummed in thought. "That could be problematic," he agreed vaguely. "Maybe it's just an effect of being here…"
"Here?" Roxas cut in. "What 'here'?" His eyes lit up. Wasn't this what he'd been contemplating for the longest time? Was this proof that there actually was something wrong with Twilight Town?
Axel looked a bit unsure of how to respond. Instead, he turned back to Riku. "You should talk to Naminé about this," he said flatly.
Riku nodded sombrely. "You have my word."
"Wait!" Roxas said loudly. "What are you guys talking about?! There's nothing wrong with me, it's everyone else here that's messed up."
Riku shifted his weight slightly. "Roxas," he said at last, addressing the blond for the first time. (For whatever reason, Roxas felt that Riku was making an effort not to look him in the face—not that he was completely sure…it was kind of hard to tell with the man's face eclipsed in shadow.) "Tell me," Riku was silent for a moment, as if mulling something over. "What do you know about Kingdom Hearts?"
Roxas felt his stomach turn over. Kingdom Hearts? Like in my dream? Roxas lowered his gaze to his hands. They were clammy and trembling.
"Roxas?" Riku's voice was gentle, soothing. "Tell me what you know about Kingdom Hearts."
Roxas looked up at the hooded man and slowly nodded. "'Kingdom Hearts! Kingdom Hearts!'" he said softly, reciting from memory. "'Take the hearts, open the door! O, Master! The door, the door! Take the hearts, for we are hungry…ever so hungry…'" Roxas choked slightly. For some reason, remembering the squirming creatures filled him with dread. "'The door! Lead us, o Master! Take us to Kingdom Hearts!'" he licked his lips. "That's all I know," he said at last.
Axel's grip on his shoulder tightened. "Fucking Heartless," he muttered.
Riku's hand twitched slightly. "That's all you know?" he asked, voice grim.
Roxas nodded hastily, feeling sick. "Yes," he hissed. He furrowed his brow. "What is Kingdom Hearts?" he asked Riku.
Riku's answer was not one he wanted to hear. "I was hoping you could tell me."
Axel looked perturbed by this. "Riku, why would you ask this of him? He doesn't remember any of it."
Roxas moved his gaze over to the redhead. Remember any of what?
"No," Riku said resolutely. "He remembers. It's just buried somewhere, I think. There's no way he could have come up with that from thin air… Even I remember what they used to say…" he shivered. "No, Axel. He'll remember eventually. Things like this can't remain buried for long. They always come back."
Axel seemed a little more reassured. "That's what I thought." He smiled at Roxas, but blinked and raised an eyebrow quizzically at the blond. "But, wait, where did you get that from? There aren't any Heartless here…"
Riku was mulling over this as well. Finally, he nodded. "I think I know," he said with a snap of his fingers. "Roxas…"
Riku took a step closer to him. "Have you been having vivid dreams lately?"
Are you still dreaming?
Roxas rolled off his bed and landed on the floor with a painful crash. His blue eyes flew open as he woke up, completely tangled in his blankets.
Wha…What?! What the hell?!
He jumped to his feet and looked wildly around his room, mouth opening and closing in confusion. "…Riku? Axel?" he called out, searching in his closets and in all the rooms. Finding no one, he flew out of his flat and knocked on his neighbour's door, still dressed in his pyjamas.
The neighbour's daughter, Panello opened the door. Her pale blue eyes were still clouded with sleep. "Roxas?" she yawned, stretching her arms above her head. "What brings you here at this time? It's not even 9 o'clock."
"Sorry, Panello," Roxas said, speaking a mile a minute. "I was just wondering, was there anyone in my room last night?"
Panello laughed. "I think you'd remember if someone was there with you, don't you think?" she teased with a wink.
"NO," Roxas groaned, aggravated. "I meant, was I talking to two people in my room last night, just after sunset?"
Now Panello looked concerned. "Roxas," she said seriously. "I didn't hear anything from your room," she said. "Neither did my mom, or she would have said. You know how we're light sleepers, and how she always gets so touchy about her sleep, and—"
"Panello," Roxas sniped. "Are you positive?"
Panello pursed her lips. "Of course, I'm sure."
Oh God, she can't be serious…
Roxas nodded slowly and bade her goodbye, slowly receding back into his bedroom. Once inside, he leaned his back heavily against the door, looking over thoughtfully at the corner in which Riku had stood, and over by the bed, where Axel had been. They'd been there, right?
No… the logical part of Roxas' head muttered sullenly. No. That was a dream, too… He idly glanced down at the hand Axel had clasped in his own. His eyes widened. There, on his hand, was the faintest impression of a burn mark in the vague shape of fingers.
Roxas quickly ripped his eyes away from his hand and stared mechanically out his window at the fading twilight. I'm dreaming… he thought madly. I'm definitely dreaming… He chanced one short glimpse at his hand. The burn was most certainly there.
He sighed heavily, closing his eyes and letting his head fall back against the door. I'm dreaming… he thought again. But which parts…were the dream?
"The mystery of tragedy is that is presents two conflicting ideas: the central character is free to choose, and yet he or she seems fated to be destroyed."
The Afterword: Weeeell? Whatcha think? D: I need comments. This is a different angle, and it's a different style than what I've become accustomed to writing, soooo I'm kind of curious to see what kind of an effect this'll have on people. ::nods:: Please tell me what you liked and all that!
Oh, and there's a buttload of quotes here from the Kingdom Hearts games...but, you guys can probably tell which ones were used. ::nods sagely:: You'll be seeing a lot of quotes...probably. At least for the beginning. I'll probably run out of applicable ones once the first three or four chapters are up, I think.
And I promise it'll lighten up. Just for future reference. (For anyone I haven't already scared away, that is…)