Hey, thought you got rid of me, huh?
Here's a little AkuNami for you all to play with. It is un-beta'd, so I apologize if there are a few mistakes I missed. You all should recognize when it takes place in terms of game time. It's also a continuation of "Checkmate", the story that I finished over a year ago and still haven't finished the sequel to… hehe. So yes, you will see references to previous stories, but no, this is not the sequel. I swear, I'm still working on it!
He was coming. He was still far away from the abandoned old mansion sitting high upon a forgotten hill, concealed by a dark forest and guarded by a gate with jagged teeth, but I knew that he was fast approaching. Even now I could hear his footsteps echoing in my mind, pounding and pounding until there was a dull ache across my forehead. It would not be long now before he returned to this mockery of his birthplace. There was so little time left…
I tore my gaze away from the window and returned it to my sketchbook. A year later and I still am forced to stare at the bright, empty pages every day. When I had left with DiZ, I thought things were going to change. I guess, that's the naivety of a little girl.
There were only two things that have changed about the sketchbook. It was still the same one that I had been given as a "present" by Marluxia, but all of my drawings from Castle Oblivion had been torn out. It was at that moment, when he ripped them from the spiral binding and tossed them into a fireplace and told me that I would never be used again, that I realized that my time with DiZ would not be an improvement over my time with the Organization. I needed those drawings. I am not proud of what I've done, of whom I've hurt, but those drawings are a part of me. They help to remind me of what I am.
The second thing that has changed is that it is no longer just a sketchbook. Not only has it shrunk from the front, it is gradually shrinking from the back. Rather than use only pictures, I sometimes use words when I'm sure that I'm alone and would not be interrupted. I write letters now, asking for forgiveness for the horrors that I have continued to create. When I have finished, I tear them out and place them under my mattress.
Yesterday, for the first time in a year, I met the one for whom I write these letters: Axel.
Just the sound of his name flitting through my mind sent a shiver down my body and a dark weight would settle in my chest. I didn't want to see him again. The guilt was too much.
"You're the only one that can save him, y'know," He had said to me with the smallest of frowns curving his lips. I knew he was right, but I couldn't form any intelligent thoughts. Suffocating under all the agonizing guilt were the feelings that Axel had left me with during our time at Castle Oblivion. Somewhere along the line, our relationship as a captor and prisoner became clouded with whispering secrets and the desire to stay alive. It was entirely inappropriate what we had committed, but it left with me a feeling that I will not deny I would like to experience again. Faced with him after so long, I had no idea what to say or do, but I was acutely aware of every movement he made, every breath he took. Axel made it easy for me and left within moments of appearing. He had orders to follow, as did I. It is unfortunate that our orders are conflicting.
I clenched my pencil tightly between my fingers; my nails turned a light purple from the pressure. So many wild thoughts shot in and out of my mind, but I couldn't write. I couldn't even begin to tell Axel what had driven me to betray him.
Axel, I know it's hard, but, I started before scribbling out the words and setting the point of my pencil on the paper. What was I supposed to say? I couldn't afford to waste this time. He would be here soon. I tried again.
I didn't have a choice. DiZ made-
I growled between my teeth in frustration. Axel believed in owning up to your mistakes and taking responsibility for your actions. Blaming my poor decision on someone else would not earn his forgiveness. I could have stopped DiZ, or escaped at the very least. I wasn't weak. I didn't have to do this. That's what I always told myself after DiZ gave me a new set of orders to follow and I, like a helpless child, obeyed.
I wanted to have this finished before he arrived. I was afraid I would not be able to bring myself to even think about Axel after this was over. I did not want to be burdened with this, but I knew that it was something I had to do. I had to tell him the truth, no matter how painful it might be for him. Axel wanted me to save him, but I could not do what he asked. Not in the manner in which he desired.
Axel, I began. I stared at the name written in a slender cross of print and cursive. Four letters with so much meaning. I closed my eyes and allowed his image to appear: serpentine eyes of peridot, narrowed and smirking, and framed with red brows and small, dark marks. Warm, pale skin, and thin lips… the scent of cinnamon and ash…
This wasn't helping.
Still, I could not stop the image from growing. I could see his fiery red mane rustling when he moved and the familiar black coat that concealed a lean body. I willed his arms to wrap about my waist and pull me close. I touched his lips with my fingertips and he caught my eyes with his piercing gaze. His face was calm and smooth, as it is when he sleeps. His warmth envelopes me and my lips replace my fingertips…
A new presence in the room pulled me away from my fantasy. It was time.
"Roxas…" I called softly.
And then I began to tear apart the world that this boy had come to know and I began to break down the trust that Axel may have had for me. I told him the truth about him, about us as Nobodies and about the Organization. It was a fate that I had come to accept, though certainly not liked. As Roxas did, I questioned it and wondered if there was more that we did not yet understand. I told him about the events that had taken place at Castle Oblivion and about Sora. I told him about me.
For a long moment, we sat silently. His eyes were trained to the pristine white table; I imagine he could see his reflection and was wondering over whether or not what he could see was even the truth. I watched him and remembered the few moments that I spent with him before. He had seemed so innocent at the time; so free of worry and conflict. This Roxas was different. This was a Roxas burdened by doubt about himself and his path. If only he could see the Roxas buried within, neither of us would be here.
Of course, neither of us had any other place to be.
"Naminé…" He finally uttered, his voice strained, "How could you… how could you say that, even if it were true?"
"I'm sorry," I frowned and lowered my eyes, "I guess some things are really best left unsaid."
I remained in my chair long after Roxas had left, selfishly wondering what I would be required to do next and when I would realize my own destiny. Sora would soon be restored and I would no longer be needed. What was I to do? Where was I to go? DiZ would have no more need of me. I had no home to which to return. I often drew the sort of home I'd always dreamed about, but my power allows me only to manipulate that which is already there, not what I wish to exist.
These thoughts followed me into bed. I had not yet written my letter to Axel, but I did not want to be awake anymore. I wanted to be enveloped in the bliss of my dreams. Fortunately, I could escape the guilt there. Most nights I did not remember my dreams, but sometimes I was lucky enough to have some shred of memory. I would remember this one in the morning.
Axel was there, as he often is, simply watching me. His face was quiet, serene; a stark contrast of how it normally is. I sat close beside him, but a few inches separated us. We never touched in these dreams. I hope it had no meaning. My gaze wandered from his serpentine eyes to the dark marks, down his straight nose, lingered on his lips, then returned to the peridot orbs that had no yet wavered from mine. It was not like the real Axel, who would have been smirking by now, asking if I liked what I saw, and I would blush and hide my face while silently whispering to myself, yes. The real Axel would have stuck out his tongue between his teeth, like a snake would slither out its forked tongue to find its next victim, and maybe would have ruffled my yellow hair.
But perhaps this Axel was better. Maybe he was not the Axel I knew, but he did not seem to harbor the same ill thoughts I expected the real Axel would have. I didn't feel the guilt with this Axel.
"Naminé," He said in a voice I had never heard him adopt. He then raised one gloved hand and let it hover above mine, as though he could not lower it to touch me. I listened intently; he did not often speak in my dreams, "Find your wings."
I smiled. He had spoken those words to me several times, in life and in sleep.
"I'm trying," I replied softly.
"Naminé," He said again, this time more urgently, and his hand finally touched mine. It was a shock to my system, to feel him again after so long, and I could sense myself retreating from the dream. The bright green of his eyes and the fiery red of his hair became muted, and the sound of his voice grew faint. I struggled to remain in this dream, to hear what he had to say, but his lips were moving and I could hear nothing. Only two words were able to pierce the haze of consciousness:
My eyes shot open. It was dark, the curtains drawn closed, and there was not a sound from outside. I could still feel where he had touched me in my dream, almost as though he had truly been here. The idea lingered for a long while, but I ultimately decided it could not be the case. Axel was mad at me. He had to be. He would not come to me as he did.
What had the dream meant, if anything? Was he going to save me? My brow furrowed, I sat up in bed and glanced towards the window, wishfully thinking that I would see him tapping on the glass with a Cheshire grin. He wasn't.
Perhaps it meant nothing, but it did serve to remind me of the unfinished letter. I couldn't not apologize to him in some way, for I knew that, if we ever met again, I would not be able to say it to him directly. A simple "sorry" didn't seem to cut it. He deserved so much more than that after I knowingly led Roxas, his best friend, to his undoing. After I so easily betrayed the trust we had developed. I was the only one who could have saved him, Axel had said to me. I was the only one.
And that is what I have done, I realized with a start. I have sent Roxas to return to Sora. He will become whole.
I knew what I wanted to write.
My bare feet touched the cool, white tile of my bedroom and I knelt beside the bed. With some difficulty, I lifted the mattress enough to slip my hand underneath and fished out the letters I had hidden there. Among them was the one that I had left unfinished earlier today before Roxas had come. It was a little crinkled and Axel's name written at the top had smudged a little, but I could still write on it. I hobbled awkwardly on my knees the little distance between my bed and my nightstand, placed the letter on the smooth, white wood, and pulled out a pencil from the drawer.
I was so pleased with myself, so thrilled that I had uncovered the meaning in Axel's words that I could hardly write. In hurried letters, I wrote: He is saved.
I carefully tucked the letter, along with all the others, back under my bed. Sleep called to me as I crawled back under the covers and rested my head on the pillow. I shut my eyes, praying that I had correctly deciphered the meaning behind his words and that all the worry and guilt would prove to be unwarranted if ever we were to cross paths.
I'm not satisfied with the ending, but eh. So, in case my foreshadowing wasn't screamingly obvious, Naminé guessed wrong. If you remember the little teaser I put in the last chapter of "Checkmate", you'll see that Axel's gonna go batshit on her. Poor Nami.
Also, the whole "You're the only one that can save him" thing is true. It was a scene not put in the game, but can be found in the novels (which are canon). I want to stay as true to the KH storyline as I can, so I will make use of the novels in the sequel, also. If anyone wants to take a look at those, let me know.
Anywho. I don't have a whole lot to say about this one. I hope you all enjoyed the mild AkuNami. Reviews are welcome and encouraged; flames will be used for Axel's enjoyment. Thanks for reading!
Until Next Time,