He was different—like her.
Xion groaned and opened her eyes, only to shut them instantly as a sudden bright light seared across her vision, seeming to rip open her entire world with tongues of fire.
"Ahh!" Scrambling to her feet, she backpedaled rapidly, blindly, in a pathetic and useless attempt to escape the blistering flames she was convinced were roaring right in front of her.
Instead, she felt her shoes splash into water. Xion whipped around again, still staggering, and she was surprised when she didn't feel anything hot behind her. The Replica's sight returned, and she blinked stupidly, trying to understand what she was seeing.
There, before her, was a dark brown wasteland studded with high, rugged, gray mountain cliffs. She let her arms fall to her sides, glancing behind her.
Destiny Islands—the place from Sora's memories within her—was there in all of its sparkling beauty. The raven-haired girl had never felt more confused in her entire existence.
I'm…I died in Roxas's arms. This is impossible. Where am I?
Her universe shifted, sped away into the shadows and Xion fell through the floor, which shattered into white crystalline shards similar to the very same ones she had broken down into when Roxas defeated her in battle.
Her scream was lost to the heavens and hells as she toppled through the void. Choking and strangling the former Organization XIII member was tendrils of viciously cold Darkness, and buoying her skyward—and thus lengthening her torment—was the familiarly warm embrace of the Light.
Oh gosh oh gosh oh gosh oh gosh
Xion yelped helplessly, thrashing her arms, black cloak billowing behind her like crow wings.
Oh gosh oh gosh oh gosh oh gosh
Pictures and memories that weren't her own swam over her blue eyes, sweeping through her effortlessly, filling her as Sora's had until she thought she'd overflow.
A sunny, bright land—
"My friends are my power!"—
Staring into a stricken teacher's gaze as he cried in agony at what he had to--
A brown-haired warrior pulled him to his feet, proclaiming proudly, "Good match, Ve—"
A smiling young woman with blue tresses healed a cut on his knee, her concerned voice saying—
The thoughts became fouler, blacker, and Xion cried out in pain as they washed through her. For an instant, she thought she felt her body morph and change, as it had when Sora's appearance had taken over.
A shadowy room in an even darker world—
A young boy exhausted at his feet—
A collapsed mouse, eyes closed—
An orange-eyed old man with a cruel smirk—
Glass shards hailed down around her, and too disoriented to work magic or even move, Xion lay there on the floor and let her consciousness dissolve.
"Surprising to see a new face around here."
The Replica rolled onto her stomach, forcing herself to push her arms down on the ground and obtain a hard-won sitting position. She blinked owlishly, her vision swimming. Someone was there. And the voice was…familiar…?
"Ah!" Xion screamed, holding her head, feeling like someone was torturing her. All of her muscles ached and everything down to the tips of her nails blistered like icy fire.
"I've never seen someone like you."
She fell on her side again, rolling up into a ball and miserably attempting to ride out the howling inferno within her. Trembles ran the length of her body, and whoever it was talking to her just let it happen, not offering any words of comfort or help.
Eventually, eventually, an exhausted Xion opened her eyes and propped herself up on her elbows. The world was a smudgy tan color, wavering to and fro, as if it was an unstable ship about to capsize at sea.
"About time," drawled a lazily contempt voice near her.
Turning her head, Xion spotted a helmeted youth—the glossy black dome revealed nothing of his face—wearing an organic-looking black and red bodysuit. A tattered white cloth was hanging from his waist, and his boots were scuffed and battle-worn.
Her voice was difficult to find, but at last she croaked out, "Who are you?" Staring down at her hands, Xion was relieved to see that she was herself, and no one else. Not Sora, not the masked youth, not Roxas, not the mysterious blonde that looked so much like her best friend.
"I must admit, I find this interesting." He pulled away from the craggy mountain wall he had been leaning on, and she realized they were in the wasteland she had spotted earlier.
He hadn't answered her question.
Xion gazed up at the dusty clouds above them. Looked like sunset, but this place had a time-lost feel to it. "Where…am I?"
"You're quite the shapeshifter, aren't you? What are you supposed to be? Are you something from the Dark?" His invisible gaze was heavy on her body, and she shuddered, his light voice failing at hiding the malice beneath it.
"I'm not from the Dark. And I won't answer anything until you tell me who you are." Xion said in her soft timbre, struggling to her feet and fixing her defiant eyes on the stranger.
He paused. "Really. My name is Vanitas."
"Vanitas...?" She scowled, summoning her Keyblade and letting it hang at her side. Her instincts were shrieking, run run run as fast as you can!
"A Keybearer too? You are surprising…" Vanitas stepped towards her.
"Where are we?"
"A place of destiny."
Xion cocked her head. "What…do you mean, exactly?"
"We are near the place where a war started and ended."
She looked at him warily. "What war?"
Vanitas tossed a hand carelessly. "Here, ancient Keyblade Masters fought one another to the death over the greatest power of all."
"Kingdom Hearts," Xion breathed, the answer ready on her tongue.
"So you do know."
"Were you a part of that war?"
He paused, giving an abrupt, wild laugh. "You could say I was in the second portion, Xion."
"Who are you?"
Vanitas's tone became slightly bitter. "I am no one. And everyone. I am the shadow with an empty name."
"Are you a Nobody?"
"A what?" Ignoring that, he more or less demanded, "What are you?"
"A…former member of Organization XIII."
"What Organization?" Vanitas snorted. He crossed the last of the space between them and folded his muscular arms.
There's something about him…he's older than he seems. The base of Xion's neck was itching, as if memories were clamoring for right of way. But they were out of reach.
"It's not a big deal."
Xion waited a beat before inquiring, "How do we get out of here?"
"We don't. This is where I last fell, where my Sentiment fell."
"Emotion is a powerful thing," he replied vaguely.
Not that the Organization would know. They're all Nobodies. I'm…a Replica, a fake. But maybe my heart is real.
"I can sense something in you." Vanitas spoke suddenly. "Something…or someone that is familiar. But that's not possible. Why would you…?" And then he lunged for Xion, whom barely managed to skip back in time. She swung her Keyblade, but he countered with startling force. Still weak from her suffering earlier, the Kingdom Key clattered away across the desert earth.
With a slam Vanitas smashed her against the wall, and she struggled weakly in an effort to dislodge him. She lifted her legs and delivered a flying kick that made her body completely pivot in his grip.
There was an accompanying click, and then a hollow bump that signaled the removal of his helmet.
Vanitas had a pale face and black spines around cunning yellow eyes. The hair and facial build did it for her.
"S-Sora?" Xion gasped as he twisted her roughly and held her there, arms pinned to the rock behind her.
"…Sora? No, not Sora." And he smiled, lazily revealing a prominent canine. "Though, perhaps, in his dreams."
His statements often threw her off. "Did he get taken over by Darkness?" The Light never robbed another of their body after all.
"No." Vanitas arched an eyebrow. "You must have something to do with my memories. I see a girl with black hair one minute, then Ventus, then someone like me…Sora." His lips curved into an unpleasant grin. "Xion, what are you? If not from the Dark, what?"
"An imperfect Memory Replica," she blurted. Oh gosh I wish Roxas and Axel were here!
"Memory Replica?" He seemed taken aback by that. "Makes sense," he scoffed.
Just then, pictures flew through Xion's mind. They went by in startling succession, and at first they were too fast to see clearly. Then, images began to form and with them, words. Unable to help herself, she gasped, "You're pure Darkness."
"The world is made of Light and Dark," he said evasively. "Everyone is one or the other."
More of his memories rolled across her, filling Xion's thoughts with an alien world that was only back in the past by a little more than a decade. He was an apprentice, a powerful outsider, trying to become whole.
Any speck of decency had been wiped from his mind not long after his "birth".
If, perhaps, Vanitas had ever been brought up differently, he could have changed. With the details of his past laid out before her, even she could see that. From the start, it had been his destiny to challenge Ventus.
Like how it was my destiny from the beginning to fight Roxas. And lose.
They were different, and yet much the same.
Vanitas grabbed her face roughly in one hand, and he gave her a cursory glance.
Xion tried a trick, then. Light exploded from her hands and her Keyblade returned to her grip. The girl sprang away, and the startled dark youth growled in frustration.
He vanished into the air.
The Replica made to run, but just then he dropped out from the sky behind her and delivered a vicious blow to her head. Xion almost fainted there and then, and she cursed her bout of pain earlier that had weakened her so badly.
He tried to press her against the wall again—this time with the aid of his malformed Keyblade—but Xion rolled out of his hands and kicked up dust, lungs heaving as they sucked in dry desert air.
A pillar of shadow erupted in the middle of her path, and she whipped around to hurriedly change direction—
--only to crash into Vanitas.
She hit him with more force than he did, and she landed in a heap. Their lips locked, sealing an impromptu kiss, and Xion yelped, pulling away.
For a moment, he actually yanked her back down so that they shared another kiss, and then Vanitas himself seemed shocked.
The Replica was about to give him a healthy serving of her Keyblade, but just then an achingly well-known voice shouted, "Vanitas!"
The youth spat in disgust, his yellow eyes locking with Xion's again for a second as they broke apart. His memories danced through her mind, and the girl couldn't help but think that here was a Darkness user that, once upon a time, had the potential to be someone else. Something better. But fate had had other plans.
Like with her.
Roxas—no, she reminded herself, Ventus—charged across the empty sand towards them and delivered a critical strike to the momentarily perplexed Vanitas. He got to his feet quickly enough, however, growling.
The blonde warrior of Vanitas's once upon a time turned to Xion, flashing a thumbs up, wielding his odd Keyblade with a reverse grip. "Go, run!"
A Light portal flickered to life behind her, such a brilliant shade of gold that she had to squint.
"What about you?" She was reluctant to leave him—so like Roxas that it hurt—and…strangely…Vanitas.
"Don't worry; I've dealt with him before!" Ventus ran to meet his adversary's charge. "Just go!"
And Xion didn't question it, plunging into the radiance. As the beautiful Light engulfed her in soothing folds, she felt herself begin to drift again.
This time, away from that particular barrier she had broken, back towards the now familiar pulse of Sora's heart.
Sora…has two hearts!
The notion was stupefying.
Before Xion faded away again—not for as long as she had thought—she couldn't help but think:
He's like me, with destiny against us. But he's not…he's not…
Not quite what I'm looking for.
This is a request from Aviditty! I hope you enjoyed it. Sorry, I know it's not that fantastic, but it was unbelievably hard for me to come up with a pairing for these two set in the game universe.
To everyone else, reviews are always welcome.