Roxas was feeling particularly sleepy that afternoon. Perhaps it was the scorching summer heat. Or it could be the lack of activity inside the castle where he and the rest of Organization XIII were cooped in. Saïx had not given them any missions for the day just yet, and everyone was not compelled to proactively ask him either. It was thathot.
"And to make things worse, someone in this room forgot to pay our electricity bills!" Larxene hissed as she fanned herself with another of her favorite Marquis De Sade novels-materials that Axel severely warned him against touching even if his very existence depended on it. There are things in this world that's worse than fading into nothingness, Roxas, advised the red-haired male with the sagacity of a life-worn combatant. That includes Larxene's books. And well, *especially* Larxene's books. Got that memorized?
"Look, for the twenty-seventh time, I'm sooorry!" cried Demyx, scratching the back of his head sheepishly. "See, I was creating this really, really awesome theme song for the organization, which we can play whenever we make our appearances in town. At that time, I knew we had bills to pay, but I was really, really into the jam and I would really hate to interrupt my creative muse when it's at work because it's just plain rude-"
"Sometimes, I really do wonder why your form was created with such cerebral deficiency." The blonde drawled, mimicking the male exaggeratedly. "It's a crime against mankind, really."
"Anything is infinitely better than being born a witch like you," muttered Demyx sourly before picking up his trusty sitar. "You just wait till I finish my character themes. Yours will be called The Funeral That Never Ever Ends."
"What have you got there, Poppet?" Roxas heard Xigbar ask. Involuntarily, he struggled to keep one eye open. He saw the man peering over Xion's shoulders in mild curiosity.
"Ah..." Xion shyly held up the book for the man to see. The latter took the book from her and squinted at the illustration. After a minute, he brought the book nearer to his face.
"Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves," Xigbar read slowly, peering closely at the cover.
"Do you really have to read it like that?" interrupted Larxene, an eyebrow cocked. "Careful, you might end up swallowing more books that way."
She was unceremoniously ignored. Instead, Xigbar asked, "Where did you get this, Poppet?"
"I found it left behind in the Marketplace," she replied softly. "And I took it. I'm going to return it when I finish looking at all the pictures tonight."
The rifleman flipped through the pages, then handed it back to the girl. "Too many words," he grunted.
"Aww! What's the matter, Xigbar? Are those nasty multi-syllable words threatening to clutter the space inside your cute little brain?" gushed Larxene.
Xigbar laughed amiably, seemingly unaffected by the tirades. "Who needs books when I have barrels to hold?" He then turned to Axel, who was groggily adjusting his sleeping mask. "How about it, Flamelocks? Want to read us a bedtime story?"
"No thanks," the male replied. "I need my beauty sleep."
"But we want to know about Robin with a hood!" The marksman turned to the young girl. "Right, Poppet?"
The dark-haired girl nodded shyly.
Axel groaned in resignation. Taking his mask off, he straightened and reached for Xion's book. "Alright, alright, let's see here... this is the story of Robin Hood, the Prince of Thieves. He steals from the rich and gives to the poor..."
"Oh, by Jove, this is gonna be boring!" Larxene rolled her eyes as she fanned herself with more considerable force.
But the rest of the Organization XIII drew closer to the storyteller, waiting to hear the rest of the story in quiet eagerness.
It sounds interesting, thought Roxas to himself. But I feel so sleepy...
Roxas Hood, Prince of the Heart Thieves
Chapter 1. Roxas Hood and His Merry Organization
A/N: My first KH multi-chapter fic. Characterization mostly based on manga (which has more sense of humor than the game, IMO), so OOCs may and will occur.
His eyes flapped open. "Huh? What!" He broke into an apologetic grin when he saw Axel looking down at him warily, hands on his hips. "Sorry, Axel, I wanted to hear the story but I was just too sleepy." He sweatdropped when he received a confused gaze from his friend. "I-I can go listen to it now, if you still want me to," he said hurriedly.
"What are you talking about, Roxas?" exclaimed the red-haired man in exasperation. "We have to move! The King is about to leave!"
"King Xemnas the Courageous! He is about to leave for the Crusades!" His friend slapped his forehead. "Don't you remember? He will embark on a crusade to discover the secrets of the heart so that we can become full beings again!"
The blond's forehead creased. "X-Xemnas?"
He received a punch on his head in return. "Address him properly, Roxas Hood! And if we don't leave now, we won't be able to see our king off!"
"W-Wait... what did you just call me?" asked Roxas amidst nursing his head bump.
"Roxas Hood. But if you don't wise up in two minutes, I'll be glad to call you an idiot, too."
"You're absolutely nuts, Roxas! How can you not remember who you are?"
"I told you, I just went to sleep in the Grey Area and when I woke up, I found everything suddenly changed!"
"As an avid fan of sleeping, I can attest that sleeping does *not* kill your memories. Or induce hallucinations as bad as yours."
"But I'm telling the truth!" protested the fair-haired boy as he and Axel Scarlet (as he introduced himself earlier) made their way to the dock. They were currently on the bridge leading down to the platforms, where various boats were stationed. "I shouldn't be here! This is a mistake!" said Roxas emphatically.
Axel stopped walking and gazed at him with narrowed eyes. "Alright, let's pretend that you are telling 'the truth'..." His fingers gestured an air quote.
"Well, I am!" interjected the boy hotly.
"...then let me introduce you to yourself." The man grabbed him by the nape and shoved him gently against the bridge rail. Roxas found himself staring at his own wide-eyed reflection.
"Your name is Roxas Hood," continued the red-haired male. "You are the Keyblade Prince of the Heart Thieves—us Nobodies, that is."
The blond remained wordlessly glued to his reflection.
"We don't have hearts, so we steal 'em. And with your powers to wield the keyblade, our hopes to become full again are still alive," explained Axel Scarlet. "Defeat the Heartless to steal hearts so that we can give them to the Nobodies: that is your maxim, Roxas."
This all sounds so familiar. But before Roxas could give this further thought, Axel grabbed his arm suddenly. "Oh look, the King's party has left! We weren't even able to say our goodbyes personally."
"Huh?" The boy's eyes searched for what his friend was pointing at, then his blue orbs focused on a departing ship made up of colorful blocks. "Sorry, Axel. Now what do we do?"
"Well, we have to head back. Everyone's waiting for us," replied the scarlet-haired man.
"Everyone?" Roxas' head tilted in confusion. "Who's everyone?"
The man looked at him as if he grew another head. "Why, the Merry Organization, of course!"
"That took you long enough."
Roxas winced when he saw who was waiting for them at the entrance of the forest. Saïx' arms were crossed over his chest as he looked at him and Axel Scarlet severely.
"While you were away, a herd of Heartless just passed by and we can't do anything but gape at them. What were you thinking, disappearing on us all of a sudden?" the man reprimanded.
"I-I...well..." Roxas struggled to think of excuses that did not include slumber; Saïx did not seem to be in the mood to hear feeble reasons like health necessities and general well-being.
"You are fully aware that the only one who can perform the act of releasing the hearts is you, Roxas Hood," continued the blue-haired male testily, "and that the best we can do is immobilize them temporarily, yes?"
"We went to see the King off," shrugged Axel, making both him and the scolding male pause. "Relax, Little Saïx. Roxas and I can go after them right now. Which direction were they heading for?"
H-He's not so little, is he? Roxas grimaced even more when he heard the second-in-command's name, but strangely, Saïx remained unperturbed. Instead, he pointed to the southern direction of the clearing. "Do not disappoint us, Roxas Hood."
Some would deem it more as a command than a heartfelt plea, but Roxas nodded anyway.
"Hey, you're awfully quiet," remarked Axel as they both traversed through the verdant fields (the Sherwood Forest, Roxas corrected himself silently). "If it's about Little Saïx, then I suggest you let it go. He may seem a little mad, but believe me, he does not really understand that emotion... or any other emotion at all." A wry smile formed on his face. "Just like all of us. We don't have a feeling heart, after all."
"It's not really that," said Roxas, shaking his head. "I was just wondering what happened to you guys... while I was asleep. I don't think you guys are pulling a prank on me—"
"A prank?" Axel gave him a puzzled look.
"—but Saïx will never go as far as to play along. Demyx or Xigbar might do that, but not Saïx," he rationalized.
His friend only had one thing to say. "So you've already met Demyx-a-Dale and Xigbar Whitehand?"
Who are those names? "Well, the bottom line is, these are not the circumstances I remember." The blond crossed his arms in deep thought. "Is this a dream?" He tried to pinch his cheek. "Ouch! It hurts! This is real!"
Axel Scarlet sweatdropped. "What the hell are you—" Then his eyes widened. "Roxas, Heartless at five o'clock position!"
His battle instincts took over—a keyblade materialized in his hands. "I'm on it!" Swinging the keyblade over his shoulder, he made a mad dash towards the called-out location. "Here we go!"
Even from the distance, Roxas could already see the swarm of Yellow Operas, Deserters and Grey Caprices hovering near the cliff. His footsteps quickened as he made his way to the enemies.
"Go for it, Roxas! I'll cover you!" yelled Axel from behind, as a pair of flaming chakrams began to whirl into life in his gloved hands.
Roxas swung his keyblade once for momentum, then thrust it down against the Heartless entities in one clean slash. Hearts surfaced from the creatures. Meanwhile, the flying Emblem Heartless dropped to the ground one by one as Axel rapidly attacked.
"There's more over there, Axel!" The keyblade wielder yelled, pointing to the giant dark form lurking at the far side of the woods.
"A Darkside." Axel's emerald eyes expertly scanned the form. "That's a Pureblood. We don't have to deal with them."
"But it might come after the townsfolk!"
"The Somebodies are not our concern, Roxas—where are you going?" Axel cursed under his breath when he saw his ward running away. "You idiot, don't waste your energy on unnecessary stuff! Come back here!" But before he could make a move, more Pureblood Shadows surfaced from the ground.
"Looks like I have to perform a quick janitorial duty here first," sighed the red-haired man. "Don't go doing something stupid, Roxas."
At closer inspection, Roxas realized that the Darkside was much, much bigger than he initially expected. It towered not only over him, but also over the nearby trees. At that moment, its fist was buried on the ground, as a dark, pulsating chasm emanated from it. Shadows swiftly surfaced from the inky-black pool.
His grip on the keyblade tightened, but he resisted the urge to attack just yet. He had to plan and find the enemy's weakness first, just as Xaldin once taught him. Although I don't think I'll be finding psychological pains from this guy anytime soon, he thought wryly as the gigantic Heartless raised its fists, then slammed one back down on the ground again.
Blind spot, blind spot... His thoughts halted when a flash of black appeared and vanished in split second. What was that?
A second later, his question was answered. A hooded black figure appeared in front of the Darkside. The figure raised both its arms at the Heartless, squarely aiming for the latter's chest.
What is it doing? A bead of sweat trickled down Roxas' face when he realized the danger of the situation. Acting quickly, he leaped towards the hooded figure and pushed it down to the ground, just as a rush of dark projectiles flung to where the hooded figure was seconds ago.
"Ugh!" A voice came out from the hood as they both landed in a heap on the ground.
Something clicked in his mind, but he shoved it out of the way when he reminded himself that he was in the middle of a battle.
Roxas turned his cerulean eyes back at the Darkside, trying to ascertain the best approach. But before he could complete his analysis, the Heartless began to move. Its other fist slammed on the ground, sending a powerful shockwave.
"Jump!" he yelled, as he did so. To his relief, the figure was able to hear him in the nick of time and jumped its way to safety, too. The shockwave missed the soles of their boots by mere inches.
The hooded figure was quick to launch a counterattack. It brought its palms together, and then began to shoot out fire balls towards the enemy. Judging by the desperate cry of the Heartless, the offensive was harming the Heartless effectively.
Roxas was about to cast his own fire-based spells as well when the enemy's movement changed once again. This time, the giant form scooped up an orb of darkness; a split second later, more dark orbs rained from the sky. "Dodge it!" he yelled towards the figure. The latter nodded.
As orbs rained down on them, they both activated their Blocks to protect themselves from attacks they could not dodge. Finally, the Heartless seemed worn by the fight.
"My turn!" Roxas leapt forward and delivered the final blow. A couple of seconds later, the Darkside collapsed in defeat.
Roxas and the hooded figure were both panting as they lied next to each other on the grassy field, catching their breath after the battle. The boy, in particular, was gazing sideways at the figure. A smile then blossomed in his face.
"We did well, didn't we?" he asked.
The figure refused to respond.
"I know who you are." His blue eyes twinkled. "I'd recognize you anywhere."
At that, the figure sat back up as if it was jolted by electricity. It was about to get up and leave when he held its gloved hand back.
"Wait." Roxas' voice was a marriage of an authoritative command and a sincere plea as he, too, sat up and reached for the figure's cloak. In one graceful movement, his hand removed the hood from its face.
His eyes softened when he found himself gazing at the face of his best friend. "Xion," he murmured.
To be continued