Through the Glass
Notes: Oh my goodness, I am so happy to have this story up! Seriously, it was one of the most stubborn plotbunnies ever. The Word document for this fic was originally created March 2007, for crying out loud.
Anyway, I've always been disappointed that Roxas and Sora get so little interaction in KH2. (No 358/2 Days spoilers, I'm working on it!) Besides, Roxas is much too interesting of a character to just fade away and never be heard from again. Same with Naminé, but that's a whole 'nother fic.
The title comes from the Stone Sour song "Through Glass", which I've always thought fits Sora and Roxas really well. :)
Often the most epic adventures ended with the hero discontent and anxious as life returns to normalcy. But Sora wasn't exactly like most heroes. No, Sora threw himself into the lazy humdrum of life on Destiny Islands with great gusto.
First, there were the reunions with their overjoyed, albeit terribly confused, parents. They needed an explanation that Sora, Riku, and Kairi weren't sure if they could – or should – give. They ended up with a much vaguer version of the truth: they had to leave suddenly to help some friends that were in trouble, and couldn't get back. Their parents all seemed to realize there was much more to it than this, but they were happy enough to have their children back that, for now, they accepted the answers they got.
Though the mayor and his wife had never officially adopted Kairi, they'd been more or less her parents since she'd washed up on Destiny Islands all those years ago. And now her dad was acting like it was all Sora and Riku's fault that she'd disappeared. Every time they came by the house, he'd give them that suspicious look that fathers in every world have always given to the boys that hang around their daughters.
Riku's confused dad grounded and ungrounded him about five times in as many days. It was kind of hard to ground someone and mean it when they were suddenly a head taller than you remembered them being, especially when you'd begun to think you were never going to see them again.
And Sora's parents knew with perhaps more certainty than the others that something far beyond their understanding had happened to their kids. After all, for them it was as if they'd been asleep for a year, only to suddenly wake up and realize their only son wasn't in his room.
Then there was school. Kairi had a month's worth of schoolwork to catch up on, but Riku and Sora were a whole year behind. But they helped each other along, just as they always had.
Their old friends were helpful, too. Wakka had since graduated and started working in his parents' shop, but Tidus and Selphie were still in school. Sora tried to tell them about his adventures, and that there really were other worlds out there, tons of them, but they'd just smile patronizingly and ask where Sora had really been.
He was sad, to realize they didn't believe in adventure and other worlds the way they used to. He wondered if Riku and Kairi felt it too.
And Sora wasn't sleeping very well, either. He'd have these strange dreams where he was wandering around the Organization's headquarters in the World That Never Was. He would always wake with a start and half-jump out of bed, as if he had somewhere pressing to be. It'd take him ages to fall asleep after that, if he managed to fall asleep again at all. The dreams made him nervous. He just couldn't shake the feeling that he was forgetting something he had to do.
One Sunday morning he awoke to find it was already almost eleven. He sprang out of bed but to no avail – Kairi and Riku were already tied up till the afternoon. Kairi had a babysitting job, and Riku had a math test to study for.
...Man, he'd hardly slept at all last night. He'd gotten maybe three hours of sleep in.
So Sora just decided to head over to the little island, where the three of them would meet up for the afternoon. In the meantime, he'd attempt to do some studying himself.
Sora found a nice tree and propped himself up against it, his history book open on his lap. History had been one of his favorite subjects before the Heartless, but now he just didn't have the patience for it. It wasn't as though he didn't care about the history of Destiny Islands, but every time he'd try to memorize the name of some guy who had done something years ago, he'd think about the long line of sultans in Agrabah or the emperors in Land of the Dragons, and he'd wonder how many kings had come before King Mickey, and then he'd wonder what Donald and Goofy were up to...
And suddenly he'd look back at his textbook, and he still had no idea what Whats-His-Face had done for Destiny Islands.
Sora sighed, letting the book drop closed. Being so tired probably wasn't doing much for his concentration. He'd let his eyes rest for just a minute...
When he opened them, he was back in the Organization stronghold in the World That Never Was. The last time he'd been here in his dreams, he was close to the door into the next room. He ventured through it and found himself in a dimly-lit chamber. Scattered throughout the room were twelve stone panels that resembled grave markers. At the end of the room was a door, which led to...Xemnas. That was where he went to fight Xemnas.
For the first time, though, Sora wasn't alone. Roxas was standing there, watching Sora.
"H-hi," Sora said lamely. What did you say to your Nobody, anyway?! Not to mention his few interactions with Roxas had all been vastly different.
"I think it's my fault you can't sleep," Roxas said finally.
"Uh...t-that's okay," Sora stammered. Out of everything he thought the other might say, he hadn't really expected that.
"I think my heart's been calling out to yours or...something." Roxas frowned, looking at something off in the distance. "No, that doesn't make sense. I dunno."
Sora relaxed at the sudden realization that Roxas had no idea what was going on either. "But... we're cool, right?"
Roxas looked back at him, a dry smile on his face. "I'm not gonna attack you, if that's what you mean."
Sora shook his head. "No, that's not what I meant! Er...I guess it is. Sort of." He sighed. He sounded like an idiot. "What I really mean," he began, meeting Roxas' gaze, "is that I'm not mad about that, or anything. You mean what happened when Donald, Goofy, and I got to the World That Never Was, right?"
Roxas nodded, and Sora pressed on. This was bound to be a touchy subject. "I'm not mad about that," Sora repeated. "That guy from Organization XIII, Axel...he was your friend, right? So you were upset..." He trailed off helplessly.
"Yeah," Roxas answered, the word coming out in a sigh. "But I never blamed you for what happened to Axel. It's just that...when he faded away, it made me realize everything I'd given up trying to find you."
"Me?" Sora repeated.
"All I had were a bunch of questions, and you had all the answers. So...I had to find out if you were worth everything I'd lost."
"Was I..." Sora swallowed. "...was I worth it?" He looked so genuinely concerned about. Roxas smirked a bit. It was kind of funny – the Somebody seeking approval of the Nobody.
"Yeah," he answered. "I meant what I said, you know. About you being a good Other." He pauses. "Which is why I don't get why I'm...here. I'm okay with you. We're supposed to be incomplete without each other. We're supposed to be whole now. That's what Naminé said, anyway..."
Sora rubbed the back of his neck, ran a hand through his hair, completely nonchalant about the whole thing. "Guess we're not quite whole then, huh? We'll have to work on that."
"Work on it?" Roxas repeated, a little incredulous. "How?"
Sora shrugged and grinned. "Dunno. We'll think of something."
Usually, Sora's optimism was infectious. Roxas, however, seemed immune to it. "Don't think we'll get very far," he said sourly, "seeing as I can't even leave this room."
Roxas shook his head. "The doors just...don't open. No matter how many times I try. I'm stuck in here."
"Okay, then...we'll work on that," Sora said firmly, all business now. "What is this place, anyway? I mean, I know I've been to the real one, but we never really figured out what it was for. And I remember Kairi said it was like a graveyard in here."
"She wasn't that far off," Roxas answered. He paused, then looked over at Sora, as though something big had just occurred to him. "You know..."
Sora leaned forward a little.
"Xemnas was really unoriginal when it came to naming some of the rooms here."
Sora blinked. "O-oh."
"I mean...the big round room where we'd gather once in a while? The Round Room. The gray one where we'd get assigned missions? The Gray Room." Roxas was far away now, back in his days in the Organization. "And this is called Proof of Existence." He gestures to the panels around the room. "There's one for all thirteen of us, except for Xemnas. They glow red if you've...died, I guess."
Sora looked around, realizing suddenly that all of the panels glowed red, save for two: one was smashed up, the other was glowing blue. Sora crouched next to the broken one, peering at the writing on it, still somewhat visible: "The Cloaked Schemer," he read aloud. "Who was that?"
"Zexion," Roxas answered. "No clue what happened to him. He was at Castle Oblivion, and nobody would ever tell me what happened there, since they didn't want me to know about you."
Sora was quiet for a moment, taking that in. It was strange to consider – Roxas had existed for well over a year before Sora ever knew anything about him. He looked over, suddenly realizing Roxas had been standing next to one of the panels the entire time. "Is that one yours?"
"But it's blue," Sora noted, straightening up and rejoining the other.
"They're blue if you're alive," Roxas answered quietly. "Which is kind of weird, since...I'm not alive, not really."
"It seems like a pretty creative name to me," Sora said suddenly. "Proof of Existence, that's a lot more creative than just, like...'the graveyard room'."
At this, finally, there was the vaguest hint of a smile on Roxas' face. "It was never meant to be a graveyard, though. Nobodies don't really 'die', anyway, since they're not really people to begin with. They just fade away. You know that. They don't leave anything behind – there's no house, no money, no kids, nothing. Not even a body." His voice was heavy. The unspoken words hung in the air between them: 'Nothing to mourn. No closure.'
"They leave behind friends, sometimes," Sora pointed out, quiet as well. He was beginning to understand just how close Axel and Roxas must have been.
"Not usually," Roxas answered without missing a beat. "Axel was the exception, not the rule." He was both sad and a little amused at the idea. That was Axel for you – breaking every rule, even in death.
"That's why Xemnas made this room," Roxas continued. "Because even after we faded away, there were still these markers, to prove that we'd existed."
I-I think that's why I can't leave. If I leave...if I become part of you, for real this time, then that's it. All the proof that me or Axel or any of us were ever real is gone."
Sora frowned, considering this. "That's...stupid."
Roxas' lifted his head and met Sora's gaze, annoyance building up inside of him. Well, if that's what he was going to get for pouring out his feelings...
"That's dumb," Sora said again, shaking his head. "These aren't proof of anything. These are a bunch of rocks on the floor! Who says proof has to be something you can actually touch, huh? The proof is here," he tapped his head, "and here!" he added, placing a hand over his heart. "I'm not gonna forget about you. Or Axel," he said, shaking his head. "I promise."
Sora didn't break promises, and Roxas knew that. Sora's eyes were wide and sincere. So that should be it, then. Roxas could leave this room, and stop existing completely, with the promise that he – and Axel – would still exist in a memory of Sora's. In nothing but a memory.
That was what he had wanted, wasn't it? Why didn't it feel like enough? Why did it make him feel shaky all over?
Roxas sank to the floor.
"Hey! What's wrong?" Sora exclaimed in alarm, hurrying over and kneeling next to Roxas.
Roxas sighed. "I..." He turned to look at Sora whose eyes were wide in concern. "Did anybody ever tell you about the virtual Twilight Town?" Roxas asked finally.
"Uh...virtual Twilight Town?" Sora blinked. "No. Um, what's the deal with you and Twilight Town anyway?" Every time Sora went to Twilight Town he'd nearly get the wind knocked out of him with this feeling of nostalgia and sadness and maybe a little bitterness all at once. He'd just sort of figured Roxas was the cause of that, once Riku told him about his Nobody.
'Well, of course Riku never told Sora about it,' Roxas thought. 'It doesn't really make him look good.' Roxas gave himself a little shake, squashing down the bitterness bubbling up inside him. 'Axel would've done something like that Sora, if he'd had the chance,' he reminded himself.
"After I left the Organization, they were trying to kill me and DiZ wanted me so he could use Naminé to put you back together. All he wanted was his revenge against Xemnas. He didn't care who he stepped on to get it, least of all a Nobody." There was that resentment again, swelling up in his gut.
"What'd he do?" Sora asked, nearly whispering.
"He sent Riku after me."
"Riku!?" Sora exclaimed in disbelief.
Roxas gave him a humorless smile. "What, you never wondered how Riku already knew exactly who I was?"
Sora just shook his head.
"We fought a couple of times. It wasn't until he gave in to the darkness that he was able to beat me. So he took me to DiZ, who stuck in me in a computer simulation of Twilight Town so the Organization couldn't find me."
Sora, a little technologically challenged, gaped. Really, the only computer he'd ever dealt with was Ansem's crazy-powerful computer in Radiant Garden. "You were...in a computer?"
Roxas nodded. "DiZ gave me a new set of memories and everything. I didn't remember anything about the Organization. I was just a kid living in Twilight Town. Hayner, Pence, and Olette were my best friends."
"Oh!" Sora rocked back on his heels. That cleared up a lot.
"But there were all these little glitches in the program, and Axel and Naminé kept hacking in to give me all these cryptic messages, which was, well, pretty annoying." He frowned. "And it was scary, too. I thought I was going cray."
"So you still remember all that?"
Roxas wrapped his arms around his knees. "Yeah." He smirked a little. "Much as I wish I didn't."
"Because for as long as I can remember, everybody's been telling me who I am and what I'm supposed to do. I'm a Nobody. I don't have a heart. I'm supposed to go collect hearts for the Organization with my Keyblade. Never mind why I have a Keyblade, I'm just supposed to go out and use it. But...when I lived in Twilight Town, there wasn't any of that. I don't know who 'Roxas' is. But the closest I came to finding out was in the virtual Twilight Town." He smiles ironically. "The only time I ever felt real was when I lived inside a computer. Kinda sad, huh?"
"It is sad," Sora said softly. "Is it that you don't want to fade away, even if I promise to remember?"
Roxas nodded slowly. "Yeah." He clenched a fist. "Listen, I know it's selfish, and-"
"Well, that settles it, then!" Sora chirped. "You just hang out and do your own thing. And we'll talk sometimes, like this."
Roxas blinked. "You serious?"
"Sure I am! I don't mind sharing my head with you, Roxas." Sora gave a lopsided grin and knocked his own head a few times. "My friends would say there's not a lot in there to begin with."
"This is really weird," Roxas said. Just like that, Sora would let somebody else share his body?
"I'm used to weird," Sora replied, getting to his feet and stretching. "So, first, let's get you out of here. I've had enough of this creepy room." He bent down, offering a hand to Roxas.
Roxas nodded slowly, taking Sora's hand and allowing himself to be pulled up. Sora was right. That's all this was now – a creepy room.
The two went for the door, Sora's hand on Roxas' shoulder. Roxas caught his breath, thinking for a moment that it wouldn't work, that he'd still be stuck in here, but the door faded away before their eyes. In fact, the whole castle faded away, the beaches of Destiny Islands taking its place.
Roxas stared in disbelief, listening to the waves lap up on shore and watching the sunset dye the ocean a pale yellow. The ocean stretched out for infinity, and for a moment it was hard to believe there were other worlds out there. For a moment, it was hard to believe he wasn't his own person, Roxas realized with a pang.
'Alright,' he thought. 'Let's give this a try.'
He turned back to Sora, who was watching him expectantly. "Thank you," Roxas said, a genuine smile lighting up his face.
Sora grinned back.
"Though...you oughta get going," Roxas said then. "I think Riku's worried."
"See you later, Sora," Roxas said. And then Sora opened his eyes.
"Sora!" Riku was there, kneeling beside him, face knit in worry. Upon seeing Sora was awake, he rocked back on his heels, sighing. "Geez, you scared me. I couldn't get you to wake up."
"I-I guess I was dreaming," Sora said lamely, still a little disoriented. His back was stiff and sore from leaning against the palm tree for so long. "I'm fine, though."
Riku still looked worried.
And Sora suddenly felt as though a weight had settled in on his chest. It could've so easily been the other way around. Riku could've so easily been lost forever, and then it would've been Sora who'd lost his best friend, not Roxas.
Sora pitched forward and threw his arms around Riku's neck. "I'm so glad you're okay."
Riku was understandably puzzled. "It's, uh, just a math test, Sora."
"That's not what I meant and you know it," Sora mumbled into Riku's shoulder.
Riku returned the hug, still bewildered. "You sure you're okay?"
"Yeah, I'm fine," Sora repeated, pulling away. "Just...thinking about somebody I know, is all."
That...didn't exactly clear things up for Riku. "Who?" he asked.
Sora bit his lip, shifting uncomfortably. What was he supposed to say? 'Oh, just the guy living in my head!'
"I-It's not a big deal. Everything's fine, really."
Riku was pretty sure he wasn't get any answers out of Sora, at least not right then. "Okay. I believe you. Um..." Now it was Riku's turn to look awkward. "You can always talk to me, you know..."
Sora smiled. "I know."
He got to his feet, the smile on his face growing mischievous. "Geez, Riku, now who's the sap?"
Riku stood as well. "Shut up," he said, but he was smiling too. "Want to see what Kairi's up to?"
Sora grinned and nodded. "Yeah!" he said, already hurrying back towards the mainland.
It was strange, this agreement he'd entered into with Roxas. But it'd all work out, somehow. Sora was sure of it.
Notes: Yeesh, this ended up being way longer than I thought it would. Roxas just didn't want to stop talking. XD
Anyway, this is (hopefully!) a prequel of sorts to a multi-chapter fic I hope to start soon dealing with both Roxas and Naminé and their role in a post-KH2 setting. I hope you'll look out for it, but if not, thank you for taking the time to read this story!