AN: YAY! One of my favorite stories is coming back. As for reviews, I only have one, so this'll be easy.

Black Scepter: Yeah, Xarika mor than most. I get you about Roxas and Number XIII, though - the two just go together. Oh well, gives me something to do other than mope around.

If you're wondering about Xarika's theme, her's is probably Dreams of an Absolution. Her battle theme is I Am All of Me. I know they're both from STH, but hey, deal.

PLEASE review after reading. Even if you hate it. I like criticism.


Xarika finished her third song and looked up, only to see a familiar face. She glared at the red-head in he crowd as she inserted her track. 'What're you doing here?' she mouthed.

He only smirked.

The karaoke music started to play, and she let the soothing chords of sadness wash over her.

She took a deep breath, then began.

"I can take the rain on the roof of this empty house
That don't bother me
I can take a few tears now and then and just let em out
I'm not afraid to cry every once in a while
Even though goin' on with you gone
Still upsets me
There are days every now and again I pretend I'm okay
But that's not what gets me."

The pain in her voice was evident, and something told the audience that she knew what the original artist felt. But then, as far as they knew, she was the original artist. Hers was music from far away. She hit the chorus hard.

"What hurts the most,
Was bein' so close
And havin' so much to say
And watchin' you walk away
And never knowin'
What could've been
And not seein' that lovin' you
Is what I was tryin' to do."

Tears fell from her darkened eyes and shadows filled her mind as she sang of a love lost. Her voice wove a tale, and the audience could almost see two shadows watching each other from afar. Her magic threatened to tear itself loose, and she barely heard herself sing the next verse, because she was watching him. Not in front of her, truly, but in her mind's eye. His bright smile, his brown hair, spiked back so that it looked faced by an eternal wind. His bright blue eyes, looking into her own. She could see her Self with him, too, a bright, happy girl with bright red hair. She was smiling, too, a smile that would never again appear on her face. That wasn't who she was anymore, she knew. That person was taken along with her heart. A stream of tears flowed down her face, but she was so lost in her memory that she didn't notice. The song ended, bringing her back to reality. She picked up her equipment, passed the bowl around for the last bit of munny, and stowed them safely back in the crack. She heard them whisper as the sandlot emptied, one more taken over by Seifer and his gang.

"Nice job, Xarika," said a voice from behind her. She turned to see Axel in his civilian clothes.

"What are you doing here?" she asked.

"Day off. I can do what I want."

"What if Hayner's gang sees you? Even if no one else in Twilight Town recognizes you, they will. And they won't forget what you did to Kairi."

"Relax," he said. "Look, no one's going to see me if we avoid them. I was thinking we could watch the sunset."

"Hmm. Yeah,maybe weshould. It's beautiful, and we both have memories there. I'm sort of in the mood to reminisce."

He nodded. "Yeah. That was an interesting song, by the way. Never heard you do that one."

"It's called What Hurts the Most. Somehow, that felt… appropriate for today." She turned away. "Let's go," she aded abruptly, and headed for Sunset Station.


Sitting on the hill, they both looked out over the sunset. "This was one of the first worlds I visited," Xarika explained. "I watched the sunset from this very spot the night I left that first time."

Axel nodded. "Roxas and I became friends his first day in the Organization. I took him here to see the sunset when the eternal night of the World That Never Was got to him. He told me it didn't feel right to him, to be surrounded by darkness. That's when he told me he had no memories."

Someone cleared their throat behind them.

Xarika spun around, only to see a figure in an Organization cloak, with the hood pulled over his face. "Xarika," he said. "Good to see you again."

"And you," she said. "You're here for my report, I take it?"

The figure noddded. His hood shifted, revealing a strand of blond hair for a moment. "The others are interested to hear what you have to say."

"Here." She pulled a tight scroll from her pocket and handed it to him. "They may be interested, but they won't like it."

He nodded again. "I'll make sure this gets to them." He turned and created a dark portal. Stepping through, he vanished, and Xarika turned back to the sunset.

"It must be hard, having no memories," said Axel.

"I don't know," she replied. "You may not remember your friendships, but at least it doesn't hurt to have them taken from you."

He shrugged. "We can't feel pain the way you can, Xarika. Sometimes I think even humans can't feel pain the way you do."

It was her turn to shrug. "I wouldn't know." She turned to him. "What is your past like, Axel? What memories do you have?" She paused. "If you don't mind me asking."

He laughed. "Not at all."

There was a far-off look in his eyes as he began.

"It seems like such a long time ago. I think I was seventeen when I lost my heart. I was one of those kids that wears black and too much gel and dyes their hair all sots of weird colors. I wanted to be in a band, but I never quite managed to be good enough.

"I had a brother. His name was Jacen Endellion. I was Alex Endellion. Lots of people teased us about it, but he didn't care. 'It's unique,' he told me once. 'How many people can say that? How many people can look you in the eye and tell you their last name, or first name, is unlike any they have ever heard of?' He'd pat me on the back, then, and say, 'Be proud of our name.'

"He died when I was thirteen. Strange, huh? Supposedly an unlucky number. It always was for me. Yet now, I'm in an organization of thirteen members. Maybe it's my curse.

"Anyway, some guy killed him in a random shooting. He was acquitted, another charged and convicted of the crime, but I was there. I knew he was the one who had done it. I swore to get revenge.

"From that day forward, I dedicated myself to learning everything I could about people like him. I took law classes, and eventually gained a best friend. His name was Ken Kazeko."

He sighed. It was a sad sound, filled with loss.

"Eventually, I lost him too, the same day I gave myself up.

"He showed up graduation night. The man who killed my brother. I have no idea why he was there; back then, I didn't care. I had found a weapon a long time ago, one of the knives my dad collected. I pulled it out of my boot and lunged at him. Ken was there too, and he tried to stop me. I just kept advancing.

"That's when the shot fired. I knew, in that moment, that I had been searching for nearly five years for nothing. When I opened my eyes, Ken was lying on the ground, blood coming from his chest. I just sat there and held him, and looked up. The man was still holding the smoking gun.

"He was smiling."

Axel looked up again, and this time, his eyes were filled with remembered pain and anger, acidic and deadly.

"I heard the darkness whisper to me. 'Give up yourself,' it said. 'We will give you revenge for your friend.' I tried not to listen, but it continued. 'We will give you power, the power to control whatever you desire. Maybe even the power to raise the dead.'

"That got to me. The power and darkness weighed on my soul, and, crying, I handed my heart to them. My last action was to kill the man who killed the only friends I ever had. I felt the fire dance for the first time that day."

As his story came to a close, he rested his head on his hands, and Xarika could feel the sorrow that he could not. Knowing that feeling that sorrow might give him peace, she placed her hand on his shoulder. Focusing, she felt what little heart she possessed contain the darkness that was all that was left of his.

Tears fell down their faces as she helped him relive that moment.


Alex charaged at the man who stood there, smirking, gloating.

"Murderer!" he shouted, moving to plunge the knife into his body, but the man pulled out a gun. It was too late. It was over.

Then, a dark shape shoved him aside. "KEN!" he screamed, the rain mingling with his tears. "NOOOOO!" The scream tore from his heart and soul like a knife. Ken fell, almost in his lap, dead.

The evil bastard was smiling.

A darkness swarmed around Alex.

Accept our gift, it said, and a demonic glint came into his eyes. Fire mingled with darkness and he felt a rush of sick, savage glory. The fire shot from his hand, killing the man who murdered his brother.

And in that moment, the being known as Axel was Born.


Xarika gasped, those feelings of darkness overwhelming her, and she nearly collapsed. Axel looked at her with concern. "You all right?" he asked. "You know making others feel what you do is really hard on you."

"I'm fine," she said through gritted teeth.

"If you don't mind me asking," Axel said, carefully, "why did you lose your heart?"

She gave him a shocked look.

"They don't tell me everything," he said. "All I know is that you lived in the hub world, and that you didn't sell yourself."

She sighed. "It's... a long story," she said at last.

"As you probably know, I was a member of a band back then, along with several of my friends. Kevin, Aerin, Sore..." Their faces flashed through her memory, bringing pain. Her tears were her own, this time.

"We were the good guys, back then. Helped people. FOught evil. One night, a year ago today, Larxene came to our stage..."


(Xarika's PoV)

"Kaira!" Lea said, laughing. "That was an awesome performace!"

Her dyed-brown hair was spiked in layer upon layer, a lot like yours. Her eyes were like yours, too.

Suddenly, a WHOOSH sound was heard, and larxene stepped out of the portal. "Travellers," she sneered. "Give me the Princess or face death!" I realized who she thought I was.

"Oh yeah?" Lea shouted. "We'll show you a little about that!" Fire wrapped around her hands, inherited from the other side of life and death.

"Take me if you can!" I challenged.

"Gladly!" She ported behind Lea, and grabbed me, then threw me down. I felt her fist reach into my back, yet somehow, not physically, and she grabbed, and ripped, and in a way I have no words for, I felt a tearing in my soul. I faded, the last feeling I had of Larxene's shock as she realized whose heart she had really taken, and then, I knew no more.


Her eyes were far away. "I died that day, Axel. No matter how hard they try, they will never bring me back." Looking up, she said in a chilling tone, "Birthdays aren't always happy occasions."