True to his word, when I finally got up again in the morning I was back looking like Sora once more. I took a few moments to figure out what time it was and figured that since the sky was just starting to stain light blue on the horizon, it really was morning. Not that I don't usually get up while it still is morning, just outside of work I'm not normally up to see that kind of sky.
Since everyone else was undoubtedly on the mainland for now, I didn't worry too much about doing anything just yet. Riku and Kairi would make their way back over in their own time, and bring Donald, Goofy and Xion back with them.
I already had a feeling Donald and Goofy would also ask to go back to one of the two Disney worlds, in Donald's case to get back and see Daisy. Now that Xion was completely freed of Xen and the ill effects healing magic had previously had, he had a life of his own to start now. I hoped he'd want to stay here for now, but of course I wasn't going to stop him if he decided otherwise. Maybe I could persuade him to stick around, at least until just after Sora got back – maybe he'd like having an identical twin.
There was one more person though, one I'd almost completely forgotten about. While I waited for the others to return, I made my way down to the low rock with the Paopu trees growing on to watch the coming dawn from the same tree Sora is seen perched on when Riku gives that speech about worlds, way back before they ever left the islands.
While I was there, Jiminy hopped up on one shoulder.
"You've sure been keeping me busy, you know," he told me quietly. "I didn't bother you at all because I've had to update the journal so much recently."
"I guess that's why I didn't notice you lately. I guess you heard what was said back at the Dark Meridian then – when it was just me and Riku."
"Of course. And I saw your conversation with Neku too – the one in the book. I didn't mean to peek, but curiosity got the better of me," he admitted. "I won't tell though, not if you still don't want me to."
"I don't think it matters now. The others all know about Neku's book. But I'm curious – what do you think of what I did?"
"I agree with Donald and Goofy. You were only doing what you felt you had to. I had to go back and change a fair bit of the journal after we found out who you really were, updating a lot of entries – and there's still the mystery of that first journal, the one you kept a copy of."
"You mean the one that's blank except for the note about Naminé?"
"That's the one. But there's another message too, now. It reads, 'We must return to free them from their torment'. I don't suppose you know anything about that, do you?"
"Not as much as I probably should," I admitted. "When I send Donald and Goofy on, I'll arrange for you to go with them. You can show Mickey the copy of the original journal, and that one with the message. Maybe he'll come up with something."
Of course, I knew he would come up with something – the events of Coded or Re:Coded, depending on where you live. Seeing how that will turn out could be a very interesting thing.
Xion was the first to join me, not long after sunrise. Thanks to Xen having copied my magic, any of my magic that Xion hadn't had before, he did now, so he'd come over using the same Teleport spell that I knew – and, I realized, Riku too.
"I thought you'd like to know," he said, leaning on the same tree trunk I was on. "Riku and I saved you the trouble of having to worry about Sora's family. Since I look like Sora now, and I know what Sora's like..."
"I guess I did this for nothing then, huh?" I said, indicating myself.
"I don't think so. After all, Sora would probably have insisted on it before he took it back himself."
"True. I wonder what he'll think when he catches up on what we've been up to."
"Ask Neku?" Xion suggested.
"I'd rather not bother him unless it's necessary. I imagine he had to do a lot of work to accommodate all the changes Sora and I have put into his book. He deserves a rest."
"I wonder if he even needs time off," Xion mused, looking back out toward the mainland. Riku and Kairi were rowing their way over in one boat, seemingly racing against Donald and Goofy in the other.
"Bet you Riku and Kairi get here first," I said, nudging Xion.
"Oh yeah? Bet me what?"
"Uh..." I didn't actually have anything. At least, not anything I'd still have after getting back to my own body.
"I know," Xion said with a mischievous grin. "Have Roxas or Neku make your clothes match mine again, so they're not the Final form ones. Then if you win, when they get here we'll just tell them that Final form stuff wore off."
"And if you win?" I asked, suspecting I already knew.
"Then we'll still tell them that, but since we'll look identical by then, I'll tell them I'm you, and you tell them you're me. Just imagine how much it'll confuse them. Agreed?"
"Just as soon as my dozing Nobody or Neku if he's listening sorts my clothes out for me." Without a word from Roxas or any sign from Neku, they changed back to the same default clothes I'd had before Roxas made Final form the normal. Xion was right, now that I looked like Sora again and the clothes were back to normal, we were identical.
Riku called something we couldn't hear to Donald, who said something else to Goofy. Goofy in turn started rowing harder to try and catch up with Riku, but it looked like Riku and Kairi were still going to win.
Donald seemed to have noticed the same though, and surreptitiously took out one of his wands, quietly casting an Aero spell behind their boat to propel them forward with greater speed. But Riku also noticed this, and since he had full access to my own repertoire of spells, he too used Aero to negate that advantage.
Oddly, it didn't seem to do much. Donald's one just seemed to keep going and going, while Riku continually had to re-cast his one. Donald and Goofy quickly drew level, then overtook them. Something odd was going on here, Donald might have been a better magician than me, but surely there shouldn't have been that much of a difference.
Then I noticed something out of the corner of my eye. Xion was periodically gesturing toward them, and I caught on. He'd been silently casting Aero for them, that was why it had never run out – he'd kept it going.
"Cheating?" Xion grinned. "You never said anything about not influencing their race. Just because I thought of it and you didn't..."
He had me there, and worse, Donald and Goofy had made it to the shore before Riku and Kairi.
"I guess that means I lose the bet," I conceded reluctantly.
"Sure thing. Don't forget-"
"I know. You tell them you're me, and I tell them I'm you. Let's just hope we don't confuse Neku too, or we'll have a right mess to fix when we try to get Sora back."
Just as Xion predicted, the outcome of that little bet left them with no end of troubles for that day, as they each mistook us for each other – which was further confusing since thanks to our bet, we were telling them we really were each other.
Finally, Riku part-way solved it by stealing my Kingdom crown, so they could tell which of us they thought was Xion. Xion and I were having too much fun by now to care that they still had it wrong.
When it reached lunchtime, Donald finally decided it was time he and Goofy went home. Jiminy, who'd played along with our little deception, had been quietly slipped to Xion to help reinforce our swapped identities, so when they came to him asking him to have them sent home to the Disney Castle, he joined them, taking the journals with him.
Neku played along too, as when Xion spoke to the empty air, asking him to take them all home together, he responded as if it had been me. Just before they disappeared, Jiminy gave me a wave goodbye from the top of Goofy's hat.
I was a little sad I hadn't been the one to really say goodbye, but Xion had handled it just the way I would have, which was fine by me.
Kairi spoiled our fun then, clearing up the little identity mistake and getting Riku to give me back my crown. He seemed a bit put out that we'd both fooled him, but Kairi reminded him that she'd recognise me anywhere, no matter what I looked like. After all, I had kept her heart safe for a time.
Once that had been sorted out, even though it took away some of our fun, we stopped for lunch – Kairi had brought various sandwiches with her, some by her, some by Naminé. Evidently they could do something similar to Roxas, coming out for short times when needed. I imagine they had a wider category of times that 'when needed' counted for though.
Then late as usual, Sora showed up looking for all the world like me, strolling down the beach as if he'd been here all along. It's kind of odd, seeing and hearing yourself as others see you. It's stranger still when you know you're giving someone else the exact same feeling.
"You could have told me you were waiting on me," he called to me reproachfully.
"Neku told me you'd decided to take some time away from the book," I called back. "I just decided to let you keep that time."
"Good thing I decided to check up on you then, isn't it? I see you've given me a twin," he added, nodding to Xion. "Sure you don't want to look different?"
"Just imagine the trouble you and I can get into, pretending to be each other," Xion smirked. "Lee and I got a hint of that earlier."
"I know, I was reading that this morning. "You know, Liam, there's one thing I'm a bit annoyed at you about."
"What's that?" I asked him.
"Everyone's gonna remember that you did all this, not me. Even though I'm gonna remember having done it too, but they aren't going to remember that."
"I've got a solution to that – if you'll let me have Neku's book back." Sora handed it over, along with a pen I recognised as one of my own from home. He must have brought it along with him.
In the book, I wrote,
'Wherever people remembered seeing me going through Sora's life, they now remembered me and Sora there working together, and Sora also remembers this.'
Underneath what I wrote, more writing continued,
'But Neku must have decided that he wanted Sora to keep his memories the way they had been before this change I implemented, as he suddenly said-'
"Hey! You made me go along with you!"
'-showing that he now remembered both ways.'
I closed the book again – its narrative was interesting, but hardly necessary.
"Of course," I said to Sora. "Now you and I both did it. Along with everyone else."
"I remember that now," Riku mused. "You were there with him the whole time. But..."
"We remember what really happened too," Kairi finished. "Before you made that change."
"I guess Neku wanted you to remember both ways too," I shrugged. "Now, Sora... what d'ya say we put things straight and get back in our own bodies?"
"I thought you'd never ask. I miss my own body."
So I reopened the book, reading the last line there before I wrote my addition.
'...and as I prepared to write the words that would restore Sora and me to our proper places, I felt a momentary hesitation – I'd enjoyed my time here and everything I'd done, was I really prepared to set all that aside and go back to my relatively mundane life? No doubt Roxas would complain about it being dull...'
Perhaps it was Neku trying to give me one last test, to see if I really could give it up and accept going back to my life.
But I wrote underneath, 'Despite these doubts, I still remembered what was right, and decided that it was time to go home. Sora and I were returned to our own bodies, and I was brought back home to where it had all started.'
And just that happened.
I still have my Keyblade – Gilded Light – and even my armour. I'm still a Keyblade Master, so named by Eraqus, and I still have my magic, though I don't use it very often. In a world like ours, it does tend to attract attention.
Just as Neku's book had written, Roxas is already complaining about my life being too dull in comparison, and keeps trying to encourage me to go off to other worlds and see old friends. Maybe in time I will, but right now I just want to get settled back in to my own familiar life.
Neku's book is still with me. Neku might not be his real name, but since he chose to appear as Neku, that's become his name. The book is blank now, though I still have a neat stack of books that chronicle everything in this story, though in a bit more detail.
But his book still holds it's power. I haven't used it again since, but I know if I want to, I can always send myself on other adventures, or use it to ask Neku to tell me what Sora or Mickey are up to. Last I heard, Mickey was getting ready to digitize the contents of the erased journal, so maybe I'll hear from him if he has trouble with that. Until then, I'll settle for seeing if I can get Roxas to tell his side of the story. It'll be interesting to see how his life got changed by being my Nobody.
Anyway, Roxas tells me I'm getting sidetracked and rambling on again, so it's time for me to go – until next time, at least.
Oh, and those of you wondering about the games in the series that have yet to come – Neku tells me he can't draw on them until they've been released. Even he can't see what the story is going to be before it happens.
And with that – see ya all next time!
Don't forget me either. Honestly, just because I'm his Nobody...