Disclaimer: I don't own Kingdom Hearts, Final Fantasy, Disney, and all the usual stuff I always have to put in here.
A/N: Okay, so...I have no idea where this story came from! There I was, having a nice hot bath (you know, one of those hot baths full of bubbly/soapy water, which feel awesome in the wintertime and are so relaxing) and I was stretched out, head resting on the edge of the tub, eyes closed, thinking about nothing at all, and then...wham! This idea hit me like a ton of bricks and I sat up so fast I sent water flying everywhere and shampoo bottles raining down on my head! (Which hurt a lot, by the way) Seriously, you should have seen me, it was rather hilarious. (Ah! No wait, don't picture it, I was naked! *blushes*) So...what did I do? I hopped on out of there and set to work writing this story, of course! (I don't think I've ever gotten out of the tub or shower and into clothes that fast before in my life!) Anyways, here is the final product of my little tale. And if you can't tell where this story takes place then all I have to say is...where in the name of Kingdom Hearts have you been all these games! Thank Kingdom Hearts Re:coded for giving me this idea, which surprisingly enough can fit with canon! (Basically takes place after the end of KH II, the Blank Points secret trailer, and Re:coded, which all end pretty much at the same time.) Enjoy!
"Their hurting will be mended when you return to end it." (Kingdom Hearts Re:coded)
He stood there silently in a long, dark coat, the face hidden beneath his hood emoting an expression that was thoughtful, and yet solemn at the same time, an air of deep sorrow and sadness resonating from his motionless body, throbbing deep within the heart he had sacrificed everything for.
All that he had ever cared about. Everything and everyone that had ever mattered to him. A choice that had been his alone to make, one that, despite the pain pulsing deep within his shared heart, he did not regret.
He had done what needed to be done. The only thing left for him now was to wait.
We're all waiting. Waiting for you...
All around him, there was only darkness, his black coat blending in nicely with the shadows, allowing him a sense of anonymity. It wasn't a suffocating kind of darkness, but rather a comforting kind that surrounded his cloaked form and left him free to be alone with his thoughts. The only source of light came from the ethereal glow shining faintly beneath his feet, where the hem of his dark coat brushed softly against the stained glass platform he stood upon, its colourful surface sparkling with life, as if the platform itself were a living entity pulsing like the steady heartbeats of the faces ingrained into the memory of its surface. Perhaps the platform truly was alive, the hearts of those decorating its surface, both human, and yes even Nobody, alike having given rise to its slow awakening.
It didn't look quite the same as it used to. New faces had been added since the merging of their two halves, surfacing almost unnoticed as time continued to move forward, a never ending quest to heal from old wounds and old memories.
Most of the faces, he knew, some he did not know, yet all of them were strangely familiar to him, like old friends he seemed to have forgotten.
Faces of people who matter. People who are important to him...and to me, too. Faces of people who are hurting. People who are just like me...
Though the darkness around him was thick and blinding, it did not feel the least bit threatening. Instead, it was peaceful and the silence was a welcome friend.
He wasn't afraid and he wasn't lonely because here, deep within the inner recesses of Sora's heart, where memories could never truly be forgotten or erased, he knew his fate was left in capable hands. He could rest now and let his Other carry the painful burden of terrible hurt and loss staining his memories for him.
The heart is a strange thing. I guess...it's not so surprising that Xemnas and the other members of the Organization wanted more than anything to unravel its mysteries...
Organization XIII's former Key of Destiny, also known as Roxas, stood directly in the centre of the stained glass platform, his sapphire eyes gazing down at the faces of the people who were close to Sora's heart, whether the (not quite, as of yet) Keyblade Master knew them well or not. His head was bowed and his hands were clasped together loosely behind his back, and even though it might have appeared as if he were unaware of his surroundings, that wasn't the case at all. He was aware, and because of that, he could see all the things his Other could not see, though that was not to say that Sora couldn't feel what was deep inside his own heart.
Sora would see eventually, and soon, as the moment was near at hand, but until then Roxas was content to be his Other's eyes and ears, to observe the inner workings of the heart.
So many faces. So many people who are hurting...
Roxas frowned to himself, and kneeling on the platform, he gently placed his hand against the stained glass image of himself, his head tilting slightly to one side to study the image. There he was, back to back with Sora, their images larger than life and their eyes closed, as if they were both in a deep sleep, their twin faces peaceful, free from any pain or stress. All around them were the faces of their friends, forever ingrained inside their shared heart.
Kairi, Riku, Donald, Goofy, Naminé, and Mickey, and there, on his own side, Roxas took in the images of Axel, Hayner, Pence, Olette, and a dark-haired girl he was sure he didn't know, and yet at the same time she seemed unnervingly familiar. Every time he looked at her face, he always felt a deep sense of sadness threatening to overwhelm him. It did not matter that he could not remember either the girl herself, or her name, it still hurt to gaze upon her face, and that alone was enough to convince him that this girl was in some way a very important part of the short life he had lived before merging with Sora.
The name was there, on the tip of his tongue. If only he could remember...
Sora will find the answer. He'll find a way...
That girl was not a figment of his imagination. She was real. The truth was etched on Sora's heart, in a place where the tampering of memories could never reach. The mind might forget, but the heart was forever.
And the dark-haired girl's face wasn't the only face on the platform that was unfamiliar to him.
That other face...His face. My face...
Roxas shifted closer to the bottom of the platform, his slender fingers tracing the outlines of the three faces etched there who weren't exactly key players in his own memories, but he knew they were extremely important to Sora, and as a result, they were important to him, too. He could see them in Sora's memories, even if the Keyblade Master might have forgotten. Two of them, Sora had met, and the other one...
Roxas slowly lifted his gaze to the unconscious boy lying comfortably on his side, situated almost directly across from the former member of the Organization on the other side of the platform. The boy was lying near the edge of the platform's stained glass surface, his head resting on his arms, and his face looked peaceful. It was as if he were in a deep sleep and having a pleasant dream, and yet...Roxas could feel the pain and sadness radiating off the boy's slim form.
Roxas knew that face. It was one of the three newest faces on the platform of Sora's heart.
A face that looked exactly like his own.
Roxas felt his frown deepen, and climbing slowly to his feet, he pulled the hood of his coat forward a little bit in order to hide his face better, unsure of what to do.
That boy had been there ever since Roxas had freely given himself to Sora, though the other blond's face hadn't shown up on the platform until just a short while ago. He wasn't always visible, the boy, like he was right now, but still there nonetheless, a powerful presence that could not be ignored. During those times when he was present, Roxas had never approached the boy, preferring instead to merely watch him and to wait in silence. He had kept his distance and left the boy alone, choosing not to interfere or to stir up any trouble within Sora's heart. The boy was a puzzle he did not understand, and although he was mildly curious, he trusted Sora, and because he trusted his Other, he did not dwell on the matter too much. Sora would find the answer and until he did, Roxas was content to leave the current problem at hand well enough alone.
At first, the boy's unexpected presence within Sora's heart had bothered him, maybe even more than he had been willing to admit to himself. The boy was a foreign entity that could, in all seriousness, be considered a threat, and Roxas did not like the thought of anyone or anything threatening the heart he shared with Sora, especially after having lost everything that used to define him. Everything that had made him both Roxas and Sora. Who was this strange kid and why did they look so much alike? Exactly alike, more than Roxas even resembled his Other.
But after a while, despite his uneasiness, he had gotten used to the other boy's presence, and somehow the two of them had ended up becoming silent companions, neither speaking to the other, yet still somehow sharing a sense of camaraderie, despite the fact that the other boy wasn't even awake. It was like the shared hurt resonating between them had sparked a connection deep within Sora's heart, allowing them to share a closeness that otherwise might have been impossible. Roxas had become so in tune with the other boy's emotions that somewhere along the line his sleeping companion had ceased to be a threat, and now Roxas found the boy's presence to be kind of comforting. There was no question that the boy's intrusion into Sora's heart didn't feel hostile, nor did it feel as if he did not belong there. He wasn't a threat, and because of that Roxas was content to share the space he occupied within Sora's heart without any reservations. If it eased the hurting in the other boy's heart and made the pain a little more bearable, then Roxas would gladly share his sanctuary without any hesitation.
And there was no doubt about it. The boy sleeping within Sora's heart was hurting badly, every bit as much as he was.
So much pain...
The other two, Terra and Aqua, he at least knew a little bit about, thanks to Sora's memories, but this boy was a complete mystery to him, though it was obvious the blond kid must have known Terra and Aqua, had most likely been their friend.
Like Sora, Riku, and Kairi. Like me, and Axel, and...her...
And most likely, the boy's memories were inside of Sora somewhere, sleeping somewhere deep within Sora's heart.
Roxas turned slightly to look back at the dark-haired girl's image, his sapphire eyes lingering on her face for a moment before he let his gaze wander over to Axel's profile. A smile that was both fond and filled with sadness touched his lips before he once again turned his attention to the sleeping boy.
Staring at the sleeping boy, he was grateful for the black coat he wore, not that he necessarily had to wear it. He didn't need to wear it while showing himself, but he often did, though there was no need to. It wasn't out of respect for the Organization, it wasn't even to remind himself of the past or to hide from Sora, whom he did not need to hide from anymore.
Now, it was mostly because of that boy, the boy who looked like him. That boy could wake up at any given moment, and if that happened, Roxas did not want to be seen.
At least, not yet. Not until he had some answers.
But...what if he never wakes up? No, Sora will find a way. I know he will. He won't leave that boy like this...
But even so...
It was almost as if his feet had begun to move of their own accord because all of a sudden Roxas found himself doing something he had never done before. He slowly approached the boy and sat down next to him, his hand reaching out to rest lightly against his sleeping companion's shoulder. The boy's skin was warm beneath the shirt and short-sleeved coat he wore, (the whole outfit being extremely similar to the one Roxas himself wore) which caught him by surprise. He hadn't known quite what to expect at this first tentative display of physical contact, but now that the barrier had been crossed, Roxas couldn't seem to pull his hand away. The boy's body seemed to pulse with light, as if it radiated from somewhere deep inside of him and was spilling out into Sora's heart. In fact, he felt very much like Sora, like the warmth and light that Roxas could always feel flowing into him from his Other, a sensation that he never got tired of.
"It's time to wake up now. All we need to do is..."
Open the door.
Roxas slowly leaned close to the other boy, his fingers giving the blond's shoulder a gentle squeeze, and taking a deep breath, he spoke softly so as not to startle his sleeping companion. "Hey, listen...I don't know who you are or why you're here, but...you need to wake up now."
It's time to wake up. I don't know why, but I feel like...now is the time. It feels right. It feels like...like something has changed. Like we're on the verge of something big happening...
He hadn't expected a response, but to his surprise, the boy suddenly stirred beneath his hand, making him jump in surprise. Slowly, the boy's deep blue eyes fluttered open, his long lashes blinking against the pale light of the platform, and he twisted slightly, his fists lifting up to rub at those tired sapphire orbs. It was almost as if he had been waiting for someone to bring him out of his deep sleep, a voice in the darkness to help him find his way back to the light.
"So warm," the boy murmured, the corners of his mouth turning up in a sudden smile. "So bright...Where...am I?"
Roxas hesitated before deciding to answer. "Sora's heart."
The boy turned to look at him, and Roxas held his breath, his supposedly non-existent heart pounding rapidly in his chest. It felt strange seeing his own face staring back at him, unnerving even. It was like staring into a mirror, only the mirror was shattered, and the face staring back him, the face that belonged to him, wasn't really his face at all.
A shattered mirror that reflects only the truth hidden beneath the lie on the surface. That was what he was seeing.
It wasn't like looking at Sora. Not in the slightest.
With Sora, he knew his role, knew who he was, but this boy was a total mystery, something he could not understand. Not like he could with Sora.
"Sora..." the boy said slowly, almost curiously, as if testing the name on his tongue.
The boy next to him gingerly sat up, looking both thoughtful and slightly confused, and Roxas waited in silence, allowing his companion to take in the surrounding darkness and to get comfortable with their current place of residence. The boy glanced down at the stained glass platform, one hand running over its luminescent surface, and a soft sigh escaped his lips, the sound echoing faintly in the darkness. "Sora...So, it was him then. He's the one who let me stay here with him, so I wouldn't be alone. When I was suffering, he saved me...He...gave me something back when I needed it most of all..."
Roxas stared at the boy and then he smiled, a sudden warmth filling his chest. "That sounds like Sora."
Sora...even though the pain is still with me, you gave me back something, too. You let me in and gave to me what I needed more than anything else. My heart...
"It's so bright here, even in the darkness..."
Roxas jumped at the boy's sudden words, and he bowed his head, still completely unsure of himself. Not only did the boy look like him, but he also sounded like him.
Exactly like him.
"Um...if you don't mind me asking, who...are you?"
The boy blinked curiously at him, and Roxas stared in surprise as his companion's face suddenly lit up with a cheerful smile. "Oh, I'm Ventus. You can call me Ven, though. Who are you?"
I'm a Nobody. I'm not like you. I was never supposed to exist...
"I...my name is Roxas."
"Okay, it's nice to meet you, Roxas," Ven replied, beaming before once again taking in his surroundings. "I'm sorry, but I'm a bit confused. You said...this is Sora's heart, right? Um...well...if this is Sora's heart then...I'm sorry, but what are you doing here?"
Much the same as you, I think. Waiting...
"Sorry, I didn't...I shouldn't have asked," Ven said hastily, misinterpreting the silence. The young blond looked very embarrassed, and bowing his head, he began to play nervously with the wristband on his arm, as if afraid he had inadvertently managed to make himself a new enemy instead of a new friend. "You don't have to tell me if you don't want to. I didn't mean-"
Ven looked at him in surprise, and Roxas quickly averted his eyes, despite the fact that there was no way Ven could see his face beneath the hood of his dark coat. "I...belong here."
Roxas jumped as Ven suddenly leaned towards him and placed a hand against his chest, taking him completely by surprise. He could feel the mysterious blond's fingers brushing against the spot where his heart was supposed to reside, and staring at the hand resting against his chest, he covered it with his own, surprised by how good it felt to feel Ven's light flowing into his body, making him feel warm inside.
"You feel...like him," Ven announced, his head tilting curiously to the side. "The light I felt from Sora...You feel the same way. It feels good."
"Really," Ven assured him, smiling to show his sincerity. "I don't really understand, but if you say you belong here then I believe you. It feels right somehow, you being here."
Can you feel me, Sora? Just like I feel you?
"I don't belong here. Not really," Ven mumbled, avoiding eye contact. The mysterious blond's cheerful expression had been replaced by a sad smile that was almost apologetic, as if he felt bad for intruding where he wasn't wanted.
"Is that what you really think?"
Roxas felt a small stab of sympathy for Ven, and letting go of his companion's hand, he reached out to give the blond's shoulder a quick squeeze.
Something about the sincerity of his words must have reassured Ven because the blond's smile returned, his features instantly softening into a much more pleasant expression. "It's true. I don't really belong here, but...I feel like I do. He makes me feel like it's okay for me to be here. He didn't mind when I asked him if I could stay, and I don't mind it here at all. It's nice here. Did I...fall asleep?"
"You've been asleep ever since I've been here."
Roxas nodded, and Ven frowned slightly, trying to remember. "It must have happened soon after he let me stay here. I remember coming here, to this place. I thought it felt kind of nice. Warm and peaceful. I remember telling him I needed to go back to sleep again. He thought I was sad and he let me stay. He...wasn't wrong. I was sad. I remember thanking him and then...nothing."
"That must have been when you went to sleep."
"I guess so."
The two sat across from each other in silence and Roxas fiddled with the hem of his sleeve, unsure of whether or not he should pry. After all, this boy, Ventus, was suffering just as much as he was, an air of terrible loss and sadness emanating from deep within his heart, and Roxas did not want to be the one to bring back any painful memories.
"Hey, Ven...Do you know Sora?"
Ventus, who was sitting cross-legged on the platform, his hands resting on his knees, slowly shook his head, his chin lifting slightly to gaze into the endless darkness hovering all around them. "We've never met in person, but..."
Ven gently placed a hand against his heart, a soft smile on his face. "It doesn't matter that we never met in person."
Roxas had to admit, he was curious. "Why is that?"
"Because...Sora's heart and my heart...they've touched. When I told you he gave me something back, I meant what I said. He gave me a second chance, right when I needed it most. I was all alone in the darkness. I thought...it was over, but then I heard his voice calling out to me. I followed it and it brought me here into the light. He let me in without ever asking me why I wanted to stay with him. I think...he knew I was hurting and that's why he let me stay. He thought it would make me feel better."
Roxas felt a sudden lump in his throat, choking off what he wanted to say, but somehow he managed to find the words to respond. "Did it...help?"
Ven nodded, his hand pressing closer to his heart. "Yeah...It still hurts in here, but...being with Sora, it's not so bad. It's bearable at least. I don't know what I would have done without him. If he hadn't helped me, I would have been lost. It's like...he's taken all of the sadness from inside of me and he's carrying it for himself...so I can rest. It feels...kind of like that."
Roxas quickly bowed his head, his sapphire eyes closing to fight off his own wave of hurt and sadness. Ven seemed eager to talk, maybe because he'd been asleep for so long, but Roxas didn't ask for any more information. He knew now all he needed to know for the moment. The rest would come in time, through Sora, including why he, Roxas, looked so much like Ven, though he was beginning to understand himself a little bit why that was so.
We're all connected through Sora. He's the key...
Across from him, Ven's deep blue eyes traveled over the stained glass platform once more, and catching sight of two figures in the middle, he let out a soft gasp before leaping to his feet and moving towards the centre of the platform.
Roxas followed at a much slower pace and coming up behind Ven, he stood silently as the other boy reached out a tentative hand to touch the image Roxas knew was his own and not that of his blond-haired companion.
"That's...not me, is it," Ven finally said quietly, kneeling to get a closer look, his fingers lightly tracing the image that was not his own.
Roxas was careful to keep his voice neutral. "No, it's not."
"I didn't think so."
He's so much like Sora. And like...me...
Roxas watched as Ven's eyes shifted to focus on the other images to the right of the platform, and to his surprise, the blond pointed to the image of Axel before saying, "That guy looks kind of familiar. Like, maybe I might have seen him before somewhere, or someone that looks like him..."
Roxas froze, his stomach clenching and his throat constricting tightly, making it difficult for him to breath. As much as he wanted to know what Ven was talking about, he chose not to comment. There would be time enough for that eventually. Right now, he felt it was probably best just to let Ven get comfortable with the sanctuary that was Sora's heart before bombarding him with questions.
"Mickey...and Donald and Goofy, too," Ven suddenly gasped, startling Roxas out of his thoughts.
Turning, he discovered that Ven had moved to Sora's side of the platform, the boy's sapphire eyes travelling over the faces of Kairi, Riku, Naminé, and the gang from Disney Castle.
"You know them?" Roxas asked, despite promising himself only moments ago not to prod or to interfere with Ven's reminiscing.
"Yes, I knew them."
Well, that was certainly a surprise. Maybe not so much for the King, who seemed to know everybody, but for Donald and Goofy it was. They had never once mentioned a boy to Sora who looked exactly like his Nobody.
Ven, who was unaware of the confusion Roxas was currently dealing with at the moment, finally turned to gaze at the images of Terra, Aqua, and himself, and his normally cheerful face crumpled into a look of despair. "Terra...Aqua..."
"They're your friends, aren't they."
Ven nodded silently, his head hanging in defeat. "I...if only there was more I could have done to help them. No...if it wasn't for me..They were always trying to protect me, but I...I couldn't..."
Roxas knelt next to Ven, his hand coming to rest gently on the other boy's shoulder. No words needed to be said. Instead, Roxas bowed his head in respectful silence as he felt Ven sag against him. He understood perfectly the words Ven couldn't bring himself to say.
I couldn't save them...
Terra and Aqua were the source of Ven's pain. There was no question about it. Those two were the reason why Ven was hurting so much, through no fault of their own, and the blond was unable to forgive himself for having failed them. Roxas knew the feeling as he, too, had been unable to protect his friends, unable to prevent all of the sadness and suffering that had torn them apart. It was obvious Ven didn't know exactly what had become of his two friends, but he seemed to know, judging by what had happened to himself, that they were out there somewhere hurting every bit as much as he was.
"I really miss them," Ven mumbled, sitting back and hugging his knees tightly to his chest.
Roxas looked away from the other boy and said softly, "I miss my friends, too."
We're all hurting. We all know what it feels like to lose someone we care about.
They were silent for a moment, and Roxas was grateful that Ven didn't attempt to ask any questions, since he did not think he would have been able to answer them, even if he had wanted to. Ven seemed to understand, and though the silence between them was bittersweet, it was also somehow comforting, almost as if Sora had subconsciously stepped in to ease their pain a little bit.
"You know..." Ven said after a while, lifting his head and taking a moment to gather his thoughts. "I wasn't lonely when I first came here, or even when I was asleep, but...it is nice to be able to talk to someone again."
Roxas smiled beneath the hood of his dark coat. He had to agree. It was nice to share the burden, even if he hadn't been as free with his words as Ven had been.
"Roxas? You really trust Sora, don't you."
It wasn't a question, and Roxas could tell Ven already knew the answer.
"More than I could even try to put into words. If anyone can find a way to help us, it's Sora. I don't think there's anyone else out there who can, and even if there was, it wouldn't feel right. It just..."
"It wouldn't be the same," Ven finished for him, nodding to show he understood.
"All this pain...all this sadness...Sora knows. He understands the hurt we're feeling and that's why..."
"It hurts just a little bit less when he's here with us."
Roxas stood slowly and at the edge of his vision he caught a glimpse of a figure in a dark coat that matched his own standing near the edge of the platform.
He chose to ignore the figure for the moment. Roxas had glimpsed the same figure several times before, always watching him, but never staying long enough for him to fully turn and get a good look at his elusive companion.
This time, though, the figure did not disappear but remained visible, watching the two boys silently, as if curious about the sudden flurry of activity taking place deep within Sora's heart.
Turning his back on the cloaked figure, Roxas kept his gaze focused on Ven, his sapphire eyes, which Ven could not see, sparkling with fierce determination. Without a word, he summoned both Oathkeeper and Oblivion, and he gave them a twirl before allowing both Keyblades to rest comfortably on either side of his body, one in each hand.
Ven gaped at him in surprise, the comical expression on the boy's face making it hard for Roxas not to smile. "How did you do that? I've never seen anyone use two Keyblades at once before..."
Roxas didn't answer, he just waited, hoping to confirm something he had secretly suspected ever since first laying eyes on the sleeping boy occupying a space within Sora's heart.
Ven slowly stood up, and as Roxas had suspected would be the case, the boy summoned a Keyblade of his own, which he held in a curious back-handed position, confirming what Roxas had already come to believe.
This Ventus was someone very special, someone who was without a doubt extremely close to Sora's heart.
To our heart...
Almost hesitantly, the other figure in the dark coat, which was a copy of the outfit Roxas was currently wearing, stepped forward, and she silently joined them, not saying a word.
Ven glanced at her, a curious look on his face, but he didn't say anything, having already sensed her hesitation to reveal herself to them. He seemed to understand that she, too, was someone who was hurting inside, much the same as they were. Roxas could tell that Ven had recognized the girl as another person who had taken refuge in Sora's heart, waiting for the day the pain would disappear and the hurting would be mended, allowing her to finally heal and be at peace.
They were all waiting for Sora, and Roxas knew his Other would be there for them when the time was right. They had to keep believing because he knew Sora would never give up on them, no matter how impossible the task ahead of him might seem.
Roxas let his Keyblades dissipate into thin air, and Ven did the same, the blond's hand coming up to scratch sheepishly at the back of his head. "So...um...now what do we do?"
Roxas stared at the other boy, and reaching up he tugged off his hood, no longer feeling the need to hide himself anymore.
Ven's sudden gasp echoed in the darkness, and Roxas felt the other boy's hand reach out to touch his face. "No way! You..."
Sora...I think I understand now...
Roxas gently pulled away from the other boy, and he slowly sat down on the platform, his hands on his knees and his chin lifting slightly so he could gaze into the darkness. "Now...we wait. And we keep on waiting until Sora opens the door and finds a way."
Without a word, Ven sat down close beside him, the Keyblade wielder's sapphire eyes never leaving his face, and on his other side, the girl in the dark coat made herself comfortable on the stained glass surface of the platform, her hand reaching out to give his own a comforting squeeze.
Together the three of them looked up, staring into the darkness without flinching, content to remain where they were, waiting patiently in companionable silence.
Waiting for Sora.
Waiting for the hurt to mend while Sora carried the burden for them.
"Rest easy...Your hurt can be mine now." -Data Sora (Kingdom Hearts Re:coded)