"It's about what you remember," Roxas said, and Olette frowned.
That morning he had woken up, and Twilight Town had been white. Snow covering the pavement, snow covering the buildings, smooth and white and pure. It was overcast, and the colors of the sun were faded out to white and grey. All the red and gold was gone, except in the lines of little lights hidden in wreathes and lining the edges of roofs.
The snowball fight had been epic, and had ended when Roxas and Hayner had shoved Seifer face-first into the wall of his own snow fort. Hayner would be strutting and bragging about that for months. Hayner never said, but apparently before Roxas had come they'd always lost.
But as soon as the adrenalin wore off, Roxas started shivering. Soon he was shaking so hard he couldn't move. They'd bundled him into Pence's house - the closest - gotten him dry, wrapped him around a mug of hot chocolate.
"Bad circulation," Pence's mother diagnosed, kind and oblivious. "Poor dear."
Roxas felt the side of his neck reflexively. He kept doing that, feeling his heartbeat, and every time he half-expected not to find it.
"Hey," Hayner said. "You okay?"
"Yeah," Roxas sniffled. "I'm just not used to the cold." His bones and blood had grown in warmer weather. He pulled Pence's blanket tighter.
Hayner nodded. "Right. You're tough, you'll be fine."
"Hey, look," Pence said from the window. "The stars are out."
"It's already dark?" Roxas went over beside him, blanket still hanging off his shoulders. The sun had gone down, the sky had cleared. Sparks hung quietly in the sky.
"Where's the one you came from?" Pence asked.
Roxas looked out for a minute. "There. On the right, just above that roof, the bright one that's sort of blue. That's Destiny Islands."
"What do they do for Christmas there?"
"I don't remember. . ." No, he did remember one thing, faint and foggy. "Presents? Presents, but never snow." He stared at the blue star. "They probably miss Sora, right now." That had been Sora's memory, opening presents in his pajamas.
"You're really down, aren't you?" Pence said. He sounded surprised.
Hayner punched him in the shoulder. "Cheer up, man. Don't worry so much about stuff. It's a white Christmas."
"Yeah, well, I've seen white before. And I don't think I'm too big on Christmas."
"What?" They all stared at him. "How can you not like Christmas?" Pence demanded.
"It's about what you remember," Roxas said.
Olette frowned. "No. . . It's about being with people you care about, and giving, and. . ."
"You guys have started about fifty sentences with 'Remember when,' this week. Everything is traditions, things that are fun because you always did them. It's about what you remember, and I don't remember much." Xemnas. Axel. Namine. And a few weeks in Twilight town, some real and one fake. That was it.
The other three all looked at each other. "Well," Pence said, "anyway, we do presents here, too." He pulled out a package in red paper. "We all chipped in."
"Sit under the tree," Olette said. "That's where you're supposed to open presents."
"Another tradition," Roxas grumbled, sitting where he was
told and trying to figure out how wrapping paper worked.
"I thought a new Struggle set would be much cooler," Hayner said. "But these guys didn't go for it."
"It's a. . . book?" A big book, with a fake leather cover. "The pages are blank. Did you get me a diary?" No, the pages were covered in clear plastic.
There was a click and flash. Roxas looked up into the lens of Pence's camera. The picture slid out, and Pence shook it and handed it over. The picture slowly fading in showed Roxas, nose running, wearing Pence's too-big sweatshirt, surrounded by wrapping paper and staring in confusion at an empty book. "Pence," Roxas said. "That's a terrible picture."
"Don't blame the photographer!" Pence grinned. "It's not my fault you look like crap."
"Pick on someone your own size, Pence." The other two laughed - Pence had gone up against Vivi in the snow wars.
"Hey, Vivi is tough in a snowball fight! His mom wraps him up like she's shipping him to China. There was about one square inch you could aim for between the scarf and the hood."
Hayner rolled his eyes. "Yeah, Pence, good job taking out the nine year old."
"Whatever. Here, Roxas, give me that." Pence took the picture, and slipped it under the plastic of the first page. "There. You were saying how, y'know, the other us, had all those pictures of you. I figured we had catching up to do."
"Maybe it's not what you remember from before," Olette said. "Maybe it's what you remember later."
"Maybe we should have gotten you a coat," Hayner said. "Like a big, warm coat with a hood."
"Ah, no. No long coats with hoods, thanks." He looked up. "I guess this is pretty cool."
Olette sighed. "Roxas, you're impossible. You're supposed to say 'thank you.'"
"Merry Christmas, man," Hayner grinned.
Roxas looked through the empty pages. He wondered, again, how long he would stay on this world.