He trudged stiffly along the huge stretch of canyon floor known as The Great Maw. He suddenly readied himself when large, dark spots pooled on the dusty ground. A few dozen dusks formed from the black and white tendrils that ribboned from the darkness circles.

When the jerky dusks didn't linger over to him he decided not to arm himself. Instead he held his hands out to the pale forms. "It's only me, Roxas."

The flimsy Nobodies jittered a little before sinking back into the ground.

Roxas mentally sighed, imitatively relieved that those feeble dusks still considered him to be in command.

But he needed to calm down, he was overly paranoid that the Organization would be sending those white spirits after him, making him hold himself on high alert.

He made his way slowly across the landscape, taking his time to study his surroundings, though paying no attention to the dipping sun and the on-spread of deep blue across the vast sky.
His blank mood lifted slightly when he came to a set of man-made stairs that wound up to where a roughly built, small building was set.
Yes, buildings, structures. This looked more promising than the uninhabited wastes of the canyons. He was beginning to worry that there wasn't actually anything here like Xemnas had once droned on about.

For that is why he was here. The super-computer that had belonged to Ansem the wise. It was said to hold untold answers about Heartless, darkness, Kingdom Hearts, other worlds, hearts, Keyblades, Keyholes, secret doors and much, much more according to his former Superior.

He fled the Organization. He left it for answers. About Sora, about what made that boy so special. But mainly answers about the Keyblade and its connection with him.
It was told that Keyblade was meant to choose someone with the purest of hearts, which is why innocent kids were often burdened as KeyBearers.

True, they sometimes slipped into the wrong hands, those kids had better ideas than to run around and fore fill the destiny of a KeyBearer.
They could then fall into darkness, sometimes it would get so bad that the Keyblade would move on too chose a new holder, though that would only happen if the bearer abused it to the full extent.

But why, why would it choose him? Someone who never even had a heart to begin with, someone who was considered a much lesser half of a greater Keyblade Master. Why did this legendary weapon stick around for him too?
If he could find those answers anywhere it would be on the super-computer.
And that's all he wanted now, to know himself, it was not right that a computer could know more about his destiny as a KeyBearer then he was allowed to. And it was Xemnas's fault for not showing it to him.
The man would sometimes become annoyed at being questioned by Roxas so much. But in the end his Superior hadn't given him all the answers he wanted, so now he sought after them himself. Xemnas had told him it was in hidden within Hollow Bastion, where Ansem and his apprentices had worked, and not to go looking for it.

Roxas stopped when he entered the small, shabby room at the top of the stairs. He was staring at the back of two brunettes. One a woman in a pink dress, the other a tall man with black leather pants and jacket. The two stared out across the plain below from a wide brick window and talked amongst themselves.

It was the woman with the long braided hair that turned to greet him when he shuffled past. "Oh! Hello." she smiled sweetly.

He wasn't expecting to be welcome here, but was glad to find he was. Then suddenly, looking into the kind faces of both these people made something stir within his memory. Yes he knew these people, their features, voices, their eyes, all so familiar. He knew this woman was kind and held wise words. And he knew this man, Leon, yes Leon was his name. He knew Leon was a good leader, and strong as well.

He held pictures in his mind of these two, though he saw the two in a line of vision that was framed with long, cinnamon locks.

Ah, so these where Sora's friends, of course.

"We saw you coming." Leon said.

"You uh, saw me coming?"

The man tipped his head in a gesture outside the window. "Overlooks the whole valley. We saw you coming up," he turned to the lady in pink. "You were right though, Aerith."

Roxas looked questioningly, raising an eyebrow into his overhanging hair.

"We thought you were our friend." she explained. "You look like him."

The blonde grumbled. He had had enough; he had never liked being compared to Sora.

He started walking off, not caring that it was rather rude to do so. It wasn't like they were HIS friends or anything. "I know." he said quietly, stopping in the doorway and resting one hand on its frame. "Sora..."

Aerith perked up. "You know Sora?"

"I look just like him don't I?" he asked viscously, daring them to agree.

It was Leon that picked up that they had hit a sensitive nerve in the boy. "No." he said. "We thought you looked like our friend, Cloud."

Roxas paused for a moment, eyes searching Leon's. "…Roxas." He mumbled, feeling it was only fair to reveal his name as he knew theirs.
Without waiting for a response he carried on his way. "Cloud..." he murmured softly to himself. What kind of person could Cloud be? Had Sora meet him before? The name did sound a little familiar to him... or maybe that was just because it was the name for the white, fluffy masses in the sky.

--

--

Cloud had seated himself, alone in the small room. The substitute for a headquarters of the 'Hollow Bastion Restoration committee'. He enjoyed the dull hum of the lavish technology that had been fixed to the floor for years, gathering dust.

Open books lay tattered and torn on uneven planks of floor and a few biffed up pieces of furniture were gathered up in one large corner, waiting to be arranged in the space.
He had found a creaky chair amongst the old collection of things and leaned it against a wall for him to nestle into.

The young man had been absently allowing his deep thoughts to fall through the cracks of consciousness and meld into dreams.
The slam of a nearby door brought him wavering into awareness. At mention of his name he opened an eye.

"Oh, Cloud. Sorry, I didn't see you here."

"Hnmh." He responded lightly to the man.

"What are you doing, sitting here alone in dark?"

"Resting." he grunted with his soft voice. "Yuffie's finding bulbs for the lights and Merlin's finding candles for the fire."

"Looks like their settling in well." Leon's lips thinned in slight amusement as he spoke. "But what about you, Cloud?" he turned to a question he had been long wondering. "What's your reason for staying? This is no home to you."

"I need to know... did you see anyone... different. Someone-"

"For three days you've been asking us the same thing."

"It's the reason I'm here."

Leon decided not to press the matter, he knew when to respect a mans privacy. "Well, some newcomer did blow past me and Aerith this morning. Looked like you."

Cloud's mind became unsettled.
It was him then, it must have been him. The one winged angel had taunted him before about how they were so similar. Though Cloud had always denied any similarities between him and his embodied darkness.
It hit him hard to know, from an outsider's point of view, that they actually were growing alike.

"Yeah..." he murmured. "Sephiroth." The named sounded like a curse on his tongue.

Leon paused. "Uhm, no... Roxas."

"...Excuse me?" He graced the brunette with a flicker more of his attention.

"The new kid, name was Roxas, looked like you." Leon thought maybe if he spoke in short, incomplete sentences, Cloud would be able to pick up on his own language.

--

--

Roxas steadied himself against a wall in an open square. His hope and been running thin when he entered a town of small building. The computer could be anywhere.
But it was not just his hope that was wasting away, the fact that he had been on his feet for two days and two nights, wondering around worlds without rest was eating away his physical state.

He had been ignoring the pain in his calves that threatened to reduce him to the ground for hours, and food hadn't even passed his sights since the soft, bruised apple he had picked off a tree yesterday morning. His stomach wasn't bothering him so much as his head was though; it felt weightless and at the same time, like something was trapped within it and pushing against it from all sides. It had been aching a little all day, but now pain waves washed through it.

He groaned; the brightly painted signs and lights of shop windows forced him to close his eyes, the brightness felt too overpowering to even look at.
A noise buzzed angrily in his head.

"Hey kid, you... okay?"

"Hmgnh." he swaggered on the spot, his hand coming to rest at his temples.

"You-hey...What!?"

He heard an irkingly familiar swirl of black and jitter of white. Oh man, not now. His head felt like it was being pumped with helium, his legs were about as strong twigs and he was SO not in the mood.

He cracked open a lid, wincing at the blearing white dusks that surrounded him... His attention caught a man in black, the back of his head was layered with long blonde spikes of hair. The man raised an unbelievably thick sword with two, defined arms and leaped forwards to deliver a blow to the dusks.

"No-o!" Roxas moaned loudly and in a blinding flash he was staggering to meet the mans sword halfway, one keyblade in hand. He braced with two hands as the weapon's clashed.

The other was not so ready; the unexpected shock of impact knocked his heavy sword right from his hands and sent it clattering across the pavement.

"What the... Keybl- why did-"

"I can talk with them... just let me..." Roxas weakly explained to the blurry face in front of him. "Dusks! Don't attack us, it's only me again... only Number 13..."

Once again, the ghostly Nobodies jerked in realization and then dove back into the ground.

The man frowned at him, but he didn't notice. He was too busy with trying to keep himself up.

"Why did those Nobodies listen to you?"

The simple question was like an explosion in his head. Then he went down.

Knees connected to the ground, a slip forwards... hands also meet pavement. An uncontrollable sway and the rest of him collided with the concrete. A cradled pair of hands saved a hard knock to his delicate head.

A shift in the body above him, an arm lifted him at his waist, another arm slithered under his legs and he was off the ground, resting against a chest.

--