8 - Whispers

Grey walls, grey couches, moonless night sky; that's what Roxas saw, as he walked once again into the rightfully named Grey Area.

After only a few steps into the room, Saïx immediately walked over to him, his face still as lifeless as the room around him.

"Roxas," Saïx greeted in a cold manner. "Larxene will be your partner today."

"Larxene... right. Um..."

Roxas recalled No. XII: the only woman in the Organization, being slightly petite as well. Her electric blond hair was almost shoulder-length, with two strands hanging over her head like antennae. Though Larxene's face looked a little more lively than the others, it was accompanied by strong, aqua blue eyes and a haughty voice unlike any other Roxas had heard in his short life.

After reminiscing, No. XIII surveyed the room, expecting to find the other blond Member lounging somewhere. Instead, the only other Nobody in the room was No. II Xigbar, lazing about on a couch, and No. IV Vexen standing by the left-most wall.

"She's already left," Saïx informed. "Meet her on-site."

Roxas hung his head a little. "Oh... all right." She was probably more active than the others was what Roxas thought, from how much more energetic she appeared.

Saïx caught his attention once again. "This time, we expect you to try out magic for a change, instead of relying solely on the Keyblade."

Magic? From what Roxas had begun learning on his own, science disproved the existence of magic. However, recalling how he summoned the Keyblade, and how the Heartless was able to summon lightning bolts the day before, he guessed magic probably did exist.

Now, Roxas asked the obvious question. "Magic? I know magic?"

"Only if you arm youself with some before you leave for the mission," Saïx informed. "See me when you are ready."

# # #

Several minutes later, Roxas stuffed the Panel Grid into his pocket.

A white, winged creature known as a Moogle had taught Roxas how to equip Magic Panels. He'd instructed the blond Nobody to fit the square pieces onto a small black board, like a jigsaw puzzle. To use Magic, all Roxas had to was out the Spell's name. When he used a Spell, its respective Panel would deactivate until Roxas RTC'd.

Now, with the Panel Grid hidden in one of Roxas's pockets, he decided to converse with the other Members present in the Grey Area.

On one of the bleak grey couches was No. II Xigbar. The high-ranking member had his long, jet black hair combed back, with some grey streaks present. There were noticeable scratches on his cheeks, along with a black eye-patch over one of his bizzarely yellow eyes. Despite being one of the higher Members, Xigbar spoke with a carefree and laid-back voice.

"Get practicing so you can make yourself useful," he encouraged wryly.

Roxas then walked over to the wall closest, where No. IV Vexen was thinking with a sly smile. His long, fair blond hair reached down to his shoulders and back, green eyes and a mischeivous smile on his long face.

"Hee hee..." Vexen snickered to himself. "Interesting so much to inspect... To dissect..."

The last bit made Roxas raise an eyebrow, but he let that pass as he walked back to Saïx in order to finally begin the mission.

"Are you ready to go?" asked the blue-haired Nobody without chalance.

"Okay."

Already, the Dark Corridor appeared, Roxas disappearing in its smoke just as quickly.

# # #

Sunlight was the first thing Roxas saw; he'd become accustomed to it by now. He was, of course, in the sleep Twilight Town again. This time, however, he was standing in a large, open sandlot surrounded by orange-brown buildings. A few feet away was the tell-tale coat of the Organization, worn by none other than No. XII.

Roxas walked over to Larxene, who gave him a wry smile. "Nice of you to show up," she said to him.

"Umm, hi." It felt a little awkward greeting her, after their last meeting ended in angry yells.

Immediately after his greeting, Larxene's eyes hardened and her smile melted into a frown, releasing irritated words. "Ugh, this is the worst. Whose idea was it to send me along on your stupid baby mission? Do I look like I run a nursery school?"

Roxas just listened to her, feeling too ashamed to say anything.

"Let Demyx handle this stuff. It's not like he's good at anything else."

Still, Roxas stayed silent as the town around them.

Larxene turned back to him, aggravated. "What? WHAT? You got something to say?"

Roxas shook his head quickly. "No..."

The female Member looked away again in disgust. "Pfft, you'd be nothing with that Keyblade," she said angrily. She looked back at him again, her mouth arching back into a crooked smile. "...Oh ho!" she exclaimed. "I just got an idea."

Uh-oh, Roxas thought with good reason.

"You can do today's mission," Larxene explained, "WITHOUT your Keyblade."

Roxas was shocked. "What? Why!" Had she expected him to use his bare but gloved hands? Maybe if I were Lexaeus, Roxas thought.

Larxene frowned again. "Because I said so, that's why! Saïx told you to practice magic today, didn't he? Well, sink or swim."

Roxas clearly recalled the blue-haired Member's bidding, but felt he was still too inexperienced in the magics to use it in combot just yet. "Yeah - sink!" he yelled back. "I don't know how to use magic."

"Well, you're never gonna learn if you keep whipping around that giant oversized key." She eyed the Keyblade, which caused Roxas to pull it back out of embaressment.

"Yeah, but..." Roxas tried to argue, but was interrupted.

A couple of feet away from the two Nobodies, a strange flower-like creature popped out onto the sandlot. The red and black heart symbol was on its stem, along with beady yellow eyes and a totally black mouth between the petals, which unmistakenably marked it as a Heartless.

Larxene sighed in relief. "Ah, perfect. There's a Heartless. Go on, take it out - and you have to use magic! I'll stand here and watch."

Thanks, Roxas thought sarcastically. If he were to be injured, he'd blame it on Larxene.

With that in mind, Roxas ran up to the Heartless cautiously. The plant monster saw him, and spit out what seemed to be a seed covered in green... goo. Roxas dodged it easily out of reflex, but was stuck after he realized it had fired more than one. The seed stained on his coat, and noticeably hurt on impact. Whatever these things were, Roxas wasn't keen on collecting more, both for health and sanitary reasons.

Roxas readied his Keyblade to stike, but... Wait, Roxas thought, I have to use magic. Dodging yet another barrage of seeds, he concentrated on a Fire Spell, pointing his Keyblade at the target. A second later, a fireball shot out of the blade's tip, searing the plant to black smoke. Within seconds, a glowing heart floated up into the twilight sky.

I did it, Roxas assured himself. Using magic isn't that difficult after all.

As he finished thinking this, several Heartless appeared around the sandlot.

"Ooh ooh, here comes some more," Larxene cried out excitedly behind Roxas. "Go on, wipe 'em out!"

Roxas didn't reply, contemplating what to do. He had just used one of his Fire Spells, which meant he had two left. However, there were five Heartless, meaning he didn't have enough Magic left.

Larxene promptly rolled her eyes. "Ugh, at the speed you move, we'll be here all month... Go ahead." She pointed at the Keyblade. "You can use your Keyblade this time.

Roxas turned around, confused. "Wait, what happened to learning magic?"

"Do you to finish this awful mission or don't you?" Larxene retorted. "Just get to it."

Roxas turned his back to her. Well, since you asked so nicely...

"Oh, by the way," Larxene said, "If you need to heal... do it yourself."

This didn't surprise No. XIII, who just replied with silence.

# # #

After much slashing, burning, electric shocks, and seed barrages (with some caught on his once spotless coat), Roxas willed the Keyblade away and walked back to his mentor for the day.

She was less than amused. "Sheesh, about time. Worst. Mission. Ever..."

Roxas just hung his head, staring at the ground and the numerous stains on his uniform.

"If you're our big-shot Keyblade wielder," Larxene continued, "Then we're in deep doo-doo."

No words from Roxas still.

Larxene crossed her arms, looking at the younger Member. "You'd better pull it together, or we'll never finish Kingdom Hearts." She then said, though softer, "Unless, of course, we put somebody else on Keyblade duty..."

Roxas looked up in disbelief. "What? You have somebody else?" Another Keyblade wielder... Why hadn't anyone told him?

No. XII just glared at him. "None of your beeswax. You just worry about defeating Heartless and collecting hearts for us. Maybe, one day, you'll be almost mediocre at it." She said her last point with a mix of hopefulness and mockery, mostly the latter.

Roxas just sighed, knowing she'd never tell him.

"Ugh, let's go - before you kill any more of my brain cells." Larxene summoned a Corridor, walking over to it quickly. As the smoke enveloped him, Roxas thought about the whispers he'd heard from her.

They taught me that my Keyblade releases hearts. But why do I have it? How did I learn to use it? The more I learned, the less I seemed to know.