I will also be doing a two-shot prequel. For now, on with the sequel!
Chapter 1: Connect Our Hearts
"You're an idiot," The older man across the table from me remarked, "You shouldn't have done this with your heart. Couldn't you have bribed and asked to have your heart back later? You do realize that you have exposed yourself to endless emotions such as fear. right?"
I lifted a spork-full of rice to my mouth. Plastic sporks, was that the best this place had to offer? I was just glad the man who lived here had been willing to take us in for a night.
Honestly, I wasn't very hungry… especially since I was actually considering my partner's advice. Emotions weren't exactly what I needed on this mission, and the thought made me sick to my stomach… thus leading to my current lack of an appetite.
I wedged the food past my lips, which were pressed into a thin, bored line. "My heart is bound by darkness, my mind bound by lies, and my will to save the Organization bound by promise. Xemnas... don't talk to me about the power of the heart, or I'll stab your beloved muffin with this spork." I jabbed my utensil at the air before his only means of breakfast.
Xemnas grabbed the sweet away from my range, "Back off the muffin! It didn't do anything to you!"
Yeah, there was a good reason why I was stuck sitting here, across the table from the muffin loving, shirtless, black brief wearing Nobody I can't seem to like and with a half-empty bowl of rice that tasted like dishwater.
Oh, and the spork.
This is me and all my glory.
Really, this moment was just a follow up of yesterday's activity that not only nearly got me killed; it almost got Xemnas's face an appointment with my foot, too.
I receded from the passage of light, my eyes dazed from the blinding whiteness and my ears ringing from the all too quiet soundscape.
"My head hurts!" I rubbed soothingly at my brow as I strode down the all too familiar hall. The pain only grew worse and that was the last thing I needed at the moment, "Aerith, make it stop!"
"Oh, quit complaining," Her voice rang out, but that only made my brain throb even harder like it wasn't getting enough blood. "Now, you should know where you are, no? Deep within you will find a Heartless… and the Nobody you save will not have his heart. He will have to earn it by fighting along side you to save the Organization. You already have yours, so this journey might be very emotional. Try to hang in there, alright?"
Great, that was the last thing I needed: a Nobody without a heart while I actually had one. I couldn't wait to meet my new best friend! (Sarcasm hint hint) He must be a real asshole like Xigbar before I found out he was my dad not to earn his heart back as easily as me.
I paused my power walk and examined my organization cloak, "Why am I still dressed like this again?"
"You won't always look like this," She replied, "Depending on where you go, your form might change a bit… But it's necessary and it wears off when you leave the world. And your cloak isn't necessary for traveling through corridors of darkness. You will jump worlds by using the door of light, which I'll open for you when you are done with your current assignment."
"Just don't forget about me, K?"
She giggled, but the thought of it was meant to be as serious as possible. Aerith, apparently, didn't know what serious actually meant. "Oh, I would never!"
There was pathetic roar from somewhere close by, but the sound echoed off the barren walls and made my spine tingle, "That Heartless honestly doesn't sound too bad." I had a feeling of contrition… like I was going to regret what I had just said.
To be candid, fighting a giant Heartless wasn't all that bad; I usually won-except against that damned Dustflier. It just. Wouldn't. Die!
"Good luck, then," She fell behind my pacing as we strode into the open room—it was where Xemnas had once gathered us to look at Kingdom Hearts—and I turned to see if she was alright (obviously she was since she was dead and all so it's not like she could be hurt), but she was gone.
"Aerith?" I called out to her, "Aerith? Wait, don't leave me to fight this thing by myself! What if it's-" A giant Heartless slammed itself into the floor and cut me off abruptly. My eyes went wide and my face drew a blank as I gyrated to face it.
My first boss fight was to a Behemoth. A fucking Destroyed Behemoth. Oh, this was just dandy!
It glared at me, its heavy breaths nuking the air around me with misty warmth. This Behemoth didn't look happy, and I wasn't sure how it got into the Castle That Never Was, but I did know one thing for sure... I had to attack that elementally-resistant horn on its head.
So much for long-range magic.
The Behemoth narrowed its beady yellow eyes on me, and it kicked up dust behind it with its front leg. This wasn't going to end well. At all. Behemoth let out a mighty roar and charged at me.
I quickly dodge rolled to the side and it smashed head first into the wall behind me. I sprang onto its back, summoning out Carron and Sharpshooter I can still use Sharpshooter? and jabbing the nozzles into its center horn.
Pulling the trigger quickly, I managed blood-chilling cries from Behemoth's mouth as it started to buck. I was tossed into the air, but I flipped and kicked off the wall as the Behemoth backed out of the rubble.
Landing on its back again, I instinctively grabbed onto its horns as it started to thrash. Suddenly, it slammed its massive body into the wall until I found my clutch weakening. "I won't let go that easily!" I hissed under my breath.
Behemoth proved me wrong and with another mighty buck I was thrown across the room. I hit the floor—there was a sharp crack from one of my ribs, and everything went black for a moment.
"Scout." Hm? Where am I? "Scout, open your eyes it's just me!" My eyes fluttered open. I was standing in nothing but light and Aerith was before me. She still had that stupid smile plastered on her face, and it was starting to piss me off. "You need to focus if you plan on defeating the Behemoth! Kingdom Hearts gave you an easy one!"
"It's not like I'm distracted," I shot back, "Why'd you leave me?"
"I didn't leave. I'm with you until you complete your mission and save the Nobodies." She beamed even brighter and I felt sick at all this happiness around me. Was it so hard to adapt when I was used to living in the dark for so long.
My heart hurt… and my head still throbbed.
"Listen to me, Xanze," Aerith folded her arms behind her back but her smile still played with her features, "You need to focus on what's really important, and that will help you through this fight."
"It's not a difficult Heartless," I scratched the back of my neck, "And I already told you I'm not distracted!"
"Well, if you're so confident… then you won't need me to tell you this during the other upcoming battles, right?"
"Of course not!"
I regained consciousness and rolled to my feet. My chest heaved under my collapsed rib, but I knew I've been through worse. "Dammit, give me back my friend!" I sprang into the air and aimed my arrowguns at the Destroyed Behemoth in an uproar below me.
It reared back and lunged up at me, howling viciously.
"Aerora!" I exclaimed and the cast of wind tossed me over it's back—I grabbed hold of it's left horn and with a desperate cry I hauled its head in that same direction and slammed it into the floor.
Behemoth worked its way to its feet, stars circling around its head, but I brought my weapons into his horn first, "Sorry, but I need him back!" and pulled the trigger again.
The Heartless screamed… and it collapsed. I jumped off its back and my arrowguns dispersed.
"There," Aerith said, appearing beside me so suddenly I nearly shrieked like a school girl in surprise, "Was that so bad?"
"Well, my side is sore," I rubbed at my most likely bruising side, "but this partner of mine had better be worth my effort." The Behemoth's body shuddered and faded; a giant gray-scale Heart lifted upwards before disappearing completely.
There was a shell, like a cocoon made of crystal, in place of the Behemoth's corpse. I approached it and studied the shifting form from inside.
Reality hit me as I recognized the figure inside, "Aerith, why the hell is Xemnas in there?"
"He's your new partner."
"You're kidding me, right? Of all Nobodies you just had to choose him?"
"Kingdom Hearts said so, not me. Is something wrong?"
"How am I supposed to get someone like Xemnas to understand what a Heart is?" I slapped the crystal prison—and it shattered instantly. I quickly caught Xemnas, still clothed in the Organization uniform, in my arms but his weight brought me to my knees. "Damn he's heavier than he looks!" Aerith was gone again, but I didn't care. I gently laid Xemnas on the destroyed floor but not as gracefully tried to encourage him awake, "Hey, Superior!"
No response. Impatient, I slapped him across the face, "Wake up! Rise and shine, Sleeping Beauty!"
His piercing amber eyes snapped open, but he quickly blinked them a few times, "…Xanze? Where… am I? Is this… Heaven? Or Kingdom Hearts?" He flicked his gaze around, "Cause it looks an awful lot like The Castle That Never Was…"
"That's because it is the Castle that Never Was."
"Oh… That's a bummer. Wait… Didn't I fade? Didn't… Sora erase me?" He struggled to sit up but I forced him to lie back down, "And why does my head hurt so much?"
"Take a breather, you're headache will go away."
"And why does my face hurt?"
"…Just take it easy, Superior," I gave in when he struggled again and helped him sit up, "Why don't you ever listen to me?"
He leaned against me for support, "Explain to me what's going on here, Scout?"
I shifted uncomfortably for a moment. What was I supposed to tell him? Some ghost lady is giving everyone back their hearts except for him? "Uh, you see… Kingdom Hearts gave the Nobodies a second chance… We can all get our hearts back, but there's one problem. You won't be able to get your heart back unless you can prove to Kingdom Hearts that you're worthy. So, you're pretty much stuck with me until we save the Organization, Xion, and that Naminé girl."
Xemnas groaned a response and buried his face in his hands, "I can't process all that at once!"
"It's not a lot."
"Help me up, will you?" I swung his arm over my shoulders and hoisted him to his feet. My rib shifted and poked into my flesh, but I managed to support the Superior's weight. "My head still hurts."
"Oh, shut it," I hissed. Behind me, a rift of light split open. Xemnas grew heavier and I realized he was falling in and out of consciousness. My own head began to throb again, and I found my vision doubling. "Aerith, what's happening to us?"
"You're bodies still haven't adjusted to existing," Came the straight forward reply. A corridor of light split open. "This will be the same for any Nobody. Now, move before you collapse."
Without any second thoughts I trudged into the passageway, and it no time at all it spit me out before a house aglow with magic and lights. I felt like dropping Xemnas on the curve or kicking him in the face for being such an dead-weight. I knocked on the door, but it was like I was lifting my arm with the world on my shoulders.
My vision crossed and the blackness crept along the corners of my eyes.
An elderly man opened the door, but I couldn't focus on his features before my entire world went…
"Can I help you?"
"Yes… please help us we… I…"
"Miss are you alright?"
"Which is how I ended up here, huh?" I muttered to myself and shoved the last spork-full of rice into my mouth, "Wherever this is…" I realized Xemnas was watching me curiously and I reassured him—although my tone was rather despondent—"What are you looking at?"
"You, Xanze," Xemnas nibbled on the last bite of his muffin, "You were staring off into space. What were you thinking about?"
"Oh, nothing special," I pushed my bowl to the side.
When we had landed here our clothing had changed too. I was down to a tube top and blue jeans (because I woke up with nothing on but a blanket and some bandaging for my chest). I had two crossing belts, one green and one brown, to match my grey t-shirt, black sneakers and camouflaged vest. Xemnas had black denim jeans, white Loxley shirt and black and silver work boots. I wondered why he felt the need to sit in briefs, though…
"Xanze." Xemnas's voice was soft, so I wondered what he was planning, "You said Aerith was guiding us, and that Kingdom Hearts was giving us a second chance to get back our hearts… Do you think I'll ever become one with Kingdom Hearts?"
I rested my chin on my fist, "Do you want my honest opinion?"
"…No, I don't believe you will. Kingdom Hearts doesn't mind if you collect hearts, but what you use those hearts for is a story in itself. That's how Kingdom Hearts reflects on you…" I broke out in a cold sweat at his distant glare, "But that's just my view point!"
Xemnas frowned, "Your father said the same thing."
I summoned out Sharpshooter and examined him. Why did I still have this thing, anyway? It was like he was bond to my very soul or something…
Whistling echoed from down the hall, and Yensid, the man who had taken us in, strode into the room. Sharpshooter instantly disappeared. "Ah, it seems you two are both feeling much better!" He approached us, "I hope you don't mind, but Cloud, Yuffie, and I are the only ones here at the moment."
"That's fine," Xemnas said and prodded at his chunk of his breakfast on the plate before him.
I quirked an eyebrow at the name "Cloud" and knew I had heard it somewhere before… Aerith! "Mister, do you know of a girl named Aerith?"
Yensid stroked his thick grey beard, "Why, yes! She died only a short while ago."
Xemnas shot me a crooked expression when I looked down at my hands, but he kept his mouth shut. At least he wasn't complaining about his headache anymore. I drummed my fingers against the table and knew we were both uncomfortable again.
"Uh, if you'll excuse us Yensid, sir, we really must be going." My chair screeched as I went to stand, but Yensid rested his hand on my shoulder.
"Please, stay a while! Where were you two going anyway?"
There was a massive explosion from outside.
-end- Next time, there will be few special character appearences and then Scout and Xemnas are off to their first world! "I've got a jar of dirt, and guess what's inside it!"