Author's note: Oh MAAAAAN has it been a long time since I've done this story. I...I don't even want to look at date of the last update because then I'll just be disappointed in myself. Anyway, part of the reason why it took so long is because 358/2 Days and Birth By Sleep have come out in America since I began this and I wanted to have completed both before continuing. Now that I have played the entire story so far (NO MORE PREQUELS NOMURA!) I have a better idea of where to drive the story. So, *SPOILERS OMG* for both Days and BBS...and KHII if you haven't played it. Which would be weird, considering this is an AU of KHII...anyway. Long-winded author's note...OVER.
Chapter 11: Memories of Somebody
What happened to you? So much has gone wrong is such a short time. You weren't supposed to exist. I know how harsh and unfeeling that sounds, but it's true; I wasn't supposed to exist, either. The two of us, Nobodies born from the same somebody…we shouldn't have existed, and yet we did.
Sora was supposed to wake up, Roxas, not you. You're the Nobody, the vessel for the Heart – Sora's heart. But that's not entirely true, is it? You're something more than just Sora's Nobody. You're something much greater. Still…
Don't you remember your promise to me? You promised to stop Xemnas, to destroy Kingdom Hearts and release all those captive Hearts I – we – collected for him. Remember? At the Twilight Town Train Station, after you…
Roxas stared absently at his sea-salt ice cream. Below him spread the expanse of Twilight Town, perpetually locked in sunset. He wasn't sure if the citizens of the town itself noticed this quirk of the world. He didn't think so because Hayner, Pence, and Olette had made references to night and day.
No, he reminded himself. They weren't my friends. I was never with them. It wall a lie, a dream cooked up by DiZ.
He'd been telling himself that for days now, but it still stung to realize that those seven days weren't real. Looking back on it, he rather enjoyed spending time with those three. Now as he sat with Axel on top of the Train Station Clock Tower, he missed them. How can I miss something I never had?
"Axel," he began.
"Hm? What is it, Roxas?"
Axel frowned and turned towards his friend. "Are you sure? You've seemed distant the last few days – more than usual, I mean." Roxas contemplated his ice-cream as it slowly melted away in his hands. A drop fell and landed on the pavement storied below. "You were wrong, you know. When you left the Organization? You said that no one would miss you. I missed you."
Roxas glanced up, gearing the sincerity in his words. "Was…Was there ever a girl in our group?"
"You mean Larxene?" Axel asked with an amused smile. "Sure, but she got here ass handed to her in Castle Oblivion by…" he stopped short of saying Sora's name, knowing how Roxas would react to that.
He didn't' seem to notice. "No, I mean in our group. You, me, and a girl."
Slowly, very slowly, Axel shook his head. "No. It was always just you and me. Larxene was the only female member of the Organization – a shame really; she might have been attractive, but she was just so – "
"Then why do I remember there being a girl here with us?"
The question hung in the air for several long moments before Axel spoke further. "Well, DiZ had you in that computer world, didn't he? He erased all of you memories and gave you fake ones – at least for a week. Probably, it's a side effect of that. I'm sure it will wear off soon."
"That's the thing, Axel, it's not wearing off. In fact, it's getting worse. On the first day, I only barely remembered leaving the Organization. But ever since returning from Beast's Castle, I've been remembering things that – "
"Take it easy, kid." Axel put an assuring hand on Roxas' shoulder. "You're probably just stressed out. The mind plays tricks on us, especially when you've been put through what you have. Don't worry so much, Roxas. You're not old enough to be so stressed out." With a sigh, Axel continued. "If it worries you that much, you can always go see Saïx, though I don't know how much good that will do."
Roxas didn't respond. Instead, he stared at the space to his right where…someone used to sit. The girl with the dark hair. The girl who looked so much like Naminé.
DiZ stared up at the ruined form of Hollow Bastion. Well, ruined to him, compared to what it had been just a year ago, the castle was in relatively good order. But DiZ had spent ten times that long wandering the Realm of Nothingness and nothing was as he remembered.
It pained him greatly not to be able to march back inside and claim the position he had held with high regard for years, but thanks to his apprentices, that was impossible. "Xehanort." He said the name like a curse. "He stole everything from me: my castle, my world, my research, and even my name. I can't even properly undo all the damage he has done because everyone thinks I caused it. Damn him. Whatever fate he received at the hands of Sora, it wasn't enough."
"Talking to yourself?" Riku appeared from nowhere, walking up next to DiZ. "That's not like you."
"Mind your own business, boy. This doesn't concern you."
"I think it does."
DiZ half turned around, glaring at Riku with his free eye. How he hated the form that the boy wore now – the form of Xehanort. It was only lucky, he supposed, that Riku was as ashamed of the form as DiZ was infuriated. As long as he kept the hood pulled up, they wouldn't have many problems. Even if he was a nosy little punk.
"Very well. If you can keep up." DiZ vanished into a Dark Corridor that rapidly closed. Riku had to run to make it through. On the other side, they were deep in Hollow Bastion. The basement levels.
"These were once the home of Xehanort's research," DiZ exposed without provocation. "He was only my apprentice for a year, but in that time he conducted such horrible research that he sunk my entire world into darkness, reducing it from the city of light, Radiant Garden, to the crumbling Hollow Bastion. He and five other of my apprentices betrayed me once I learned what they were doing. They threw me into the Realm of Nothingness, certain I would lose myself and fade away."
"But you didn't," Riku offered, not really paying attention. The hallways this deep were stark white with strange pale designs that pulsed occasionally. At the top of the walls ran a design that was obviously a chain. Light pulsed down the lengths to an unseen destination. It reminded him very much of Castle Oblivion.
"None of what you see here existed before the coming of Xehanort. I myself do not even know what this is all for." He stopped. "But it does not matter. This is not what I wanted to show you."
"Then why did you come here?"
DiZ opened another Corridor. "To remind myself of my rage."
Through the Corridor was the Computer room. "This is what I wanted to show you."
"But we've already seen this. This is Ans- Your computer."
"You haven't seen all there is to see, Riku." DiZ leaned over the terminal and typed in a series of passwords. "It seems my doppelganger isn't as brilliant as he thought he was. All of the passwords were the Princesses of Heart." Or maybe I'm just more like him than I though. The final password was "another". When that was entered, the wall in front of them moved – more like a window opened – to reveal a great hall that went deep into the earth and possible all the way to the top of the castle.
"What-What is that?" Riku had to take a step back in order to absorb the sheer scale of the room.
"That, is the Heartless Manufacturing Center."
"This is what my apprentices used to create the flood of Heartless that now threatens the worlds. You see, Heartless have always existed, just not in such great numbers. In fact, most of the species that exist now were created by my apprentices; you can tell which ones those are by the Emblem they wear."
Riku remembered seeing Heartless with emblems, but not any of the ones Maleficent gave him control over. He just always thought that they were stronger versions.
"Is it still in operation?"
"I don't think so. If it was, then this world would be overrun with Heartless by now and the efforts of that pathetic Restoration Committee would be for naught."
Riku noticed how he said "this world" instead of "my world" or "Radiant Garden"
"We should destroy it," Riku said finally.
"In time. For the moment, I wish to study it further." Without looking behind him, he imagined Riku's expression – on the boy's face, not Xehanort's. "Rest assured, I have no intention of creating an army of Heartless. They are what stole my life from me; I have no intention of allying with them."
"DiZ…what is it exactly that you want?"
"Why, I want to restore Sora, of course."
"No, I mean, what do you really want out of this? Why do you want to bring Sora back?"
"I think…you already know the answer to that, don't you, Riku?"
"I had suspected, but I had never believed that you could be so cold. Sora isn't a tool, DiZ. We aren't tools for you to use in you revenge schemes."
DiZ whirled around. "Oh, but you are. And you will follow my orders if you wish to see your friend again. You might not like it, but the truth is you are all tools for me to destroy the man that ruined my life. Sora is simply the most important. It just so happens than our enemies happen to be the same…thing. Xemnas and Organization XIII. They have your friend, which you want. They want Kingdom Hearts, which I know Sora will prevent, and I want Xemnas. You see, unless we cooperate, we cannot get what we want."
"Cooperate. You mean listen to you."
"If that is how you choose to view things, then yes, you will listen to me."
Riku considered attacking DiZ then and there, but knew just how much truth he spoke. Without another word, he disappeared into a Corridor of Darkness, leaving DiZ with a contented smile.
Turning back to the computer, he pressed the Return key, sending the final password "another" through the data stream. The floor of the Heartless Manufacturing Center hissed and opened to reveal a twisting ramp that went even deeper into the bedrock beneath the castle. Rather than waste time walking, DiZ simply stepped through a Corridor and to the edge of the pit. A cursory glance didn't reveal the bottom.
No matter, he thought. With a casual wave of his hand, he opened a series of Corridors all along the ramps in pairs. That way, he could add more portals if he needed to. Even with the shortcut he had created, it took several minutes to reach the bottom, but not that he knew how deep it was, he could open a portal back to the top without no problems.
At the base of the ramp was another hallway similar to those found deep within Hollow Bastion. At the end of this hallway was a door that opened when he approached. The chamber was circular and stark white. In the center was a throne from which designs of chains reached out along the floor and up the falls, pulsing with energy. Nobody insignias decorated the empty spaces.
"So this is the Chamber of Repose," he mused. "I always wondered what they were talking about." DiZ walked around the throne and sat in it. To his disappointment, but not his surprise, nothing happened. Then he noticed something. Pieces of armor were gathered in a heap in front of the throne, bluish and feminine. Standing, DiZ thought, "Where have I seen that before?" Protruding from the armor is…
"A Keyblade." He touched the hilt gingerly before gripping it and drawing it from where it stuck in the floor. No, he didn't recognize the design. He couldn't remember where the armor had come from either. With a disdainful shrug, DiZ tossed the keyblade back onto the pile and turned away.
"I'll have to remember to clean this room out later." Without a backwards glance, he leaves.
"We finally have our Keyblade wielder, Saïx," Xemnas announced while admiring Kingdom Hearts from the Alter of Naught. "It cost us nearly half our numbers, including several of the original members and risking it all on a gambit that nearly failed – but he have him." He snorted. "Luxord must be having a field day right now."
"Indeed, sir. With a true Keyblade wielder under our control, Kingdom Hearts should be complete very soon."
"And then," Xemnas breathed, raising his hands to the heart-shaped moon. "And then I will be whole again." He clenched his fists around the moon, as if angry that he could not touch it. "Leave me, Saïx. Tend to the Castle."
With the slightest of frowns, Saïx said, "Of course," and vanished into a dark portal.
Xigbar was on Saïx almost before he exited the Corridor, throwing an arm around him. "Hey, buddy, how's the boss doing? Has he started waxing poetic yet? I figure that any day now I'm gonna find some really mushy poem about the moon laying around, only this time he can't blame it on Zexion."
Saïx roughly shoved him away. "Take your hand off of me. I am not your 'buddy' Xigbar, nor will I ever be. I work with you only because Xemnas orders it."
"Ah-ah-ah, you work under me, moon-boy. Remember, I'm rank II; you are rank VII."
Fixing him with a cold stare, Saïx said, "Are you pulling rank on me, Freeshooter?"
"Ooo, calling me by my title, I like that. You should do that more often. Moon-boy." He smiled venomously, his one good eye daring the blue-haired berserker to challenge him. Only the fact that Saïx had no heart kept him from summoning Lunatic, his claymore and smashing in Xigbar's smug face. As it was, he turned and stomped away.
"Insufferable," he muttered.
"Man, that dude to chill out," Demyx called from his layed-out position on the couch. "Always so serious."
"He just knows what he wants, Demy," Xigbar called back. "He wants it and he's going to get it. No matter what. That's why it's our job to make it as difficult as possible for him."
"Yeah, but Xiggy, don't we all want the same thing: Kingdom Hearts?" He lazily plucked a tune on his sitar, Arpeggio.
"I get the feeling Saïx wants something more." Then he vanished in a flashed of pinkish energy.
"Aw man," Demyx moaned. "Why doesn't anyone want to hang out with me anymore? Zexion was the only one who actually liked my music; Axel's back with Roxas, and Xigbar's making Saïx's life hell."
"Is it because you're a pain in the ass?" Luxord called from across the room, playing a game of giant solitaire.
"That can't be it. At least Larxene took time out of her day to tell me how annoying I was." Thinking out the lost members made him shudder. "Although I do not miss the way Marluxia used to look at me.
"What, with a wink and purse of his lips?" Luxord made a kissing sound.
"No!' Demyx sat up quickly to defend himself. "Like he was going to kill me."
"Trust me," Xaldin replied – he just happened to be walking by – "We all give you that look. You just never notice."
That was when Luxord fell to the ground, laughing. Demyx didn't get it. Xaldin kept right on going.
It was moments like these that the Organization members pretended that the still had Hearts and emotions. That they could laugh on their own without having to think about what was funny. Without wondering if this was how they had acted as a complete being.
A time to forget that they were Nobodies.
Saïx sat at Vexen's old computer, scanning through the files. Xemnas had long dismissed them as irrelevant now that the scientist was dead. Saïx thought otherwise. Vexen was genius, having perfected replica technology and memory transfer. Chances were, there was something in there that was interesting.
Besides, he would rather be doing this than being up with the other fools in the Organization.
He stopped on a folder entitle absent silhouette project.
Maleficent sat snuggly in the seat once occupied by Yen Sid. With a single tap of her the butt of her staff on the floor, darkness spread outward, corrupting the tower into a dark and twisted version of itself.
All of her plans had come to nothing. The Princesses had slipped from her grasp and the Heartless wrested from her control. The damned Ansem had used her as a display of his own powers. How insulting! But now he was dead, so she had the wretch, Sora, to thank for something, she supposed.
And now her only remaining minion was…Pete.
At least the Heartless still answered her call, and for that she was grateful. "I will have Kingdom Hearts," she assured herself. "I will rule all the worlds. Starting the one that sits below."
"Er, which one is that, Maleficent?" Pete asked, completely breaking the mood.
Yen Sid staggered to the door of Castle Oblivion and leaned against it, not having the strength to open it. "Ventus," he muttered. "You're still here. That's good. But I don't know how to save you anymore. Sora's heart and your heart and now within the claws of my enemies."
He tried to stand, but failed. "I will…rest here…briefly…"
"…who are you?"
"Hello, _. I'm Aqua."
"What is this place, Aqua?"
"This? This is the Realm of Nothingness. If you don't hold on to who you are, you fade away. If you can't remember your name soon, you'll disappear."
"My name is _. My name…is _."
"Keep trying; you'll get it."
Author's Note: Ok, I lied: I'm not done with the author's note. It's not a long chapter, I know, and probably not worth the ungodly amount of time that I made you wait. For that I apologize. This is me getting back into the groove of this story. I'm going to try and main this AND Neon Psychosis Evangelion AT THE SAME TIME. WHAT? IMPOSSIBLE! We'll see.
So please review, tell your friends, and be sure to check out some of my other stories.