"You know the rest, pretty much," Roxas concluded. "Assault pretended to be one of us named Andy for the boss's plan when you got here, but it turned out to be unnecessary. I made sure they all knew Xion could be trusted, then when she found her way to us she sent word to you to come on down and find me."
"For just one week here, you've been really busy," Axel noted. "Loads more than I did here."
"Yeah, well, you let the wrong people do all the searching for me, and believed the wrong kind of things."
"So are you coming back with us then?" Xion asked. "I mean after what the Oracle told you..."
"First thing's first, I want my coat back before I'm going anywhere near a dark corridor. If I try and go through without one, it'll only end badly."
"Problem is, if I go back to get it, what's gonna be waiting for me?" Axel pointed out. "After that Inspector of yours showed up back at your HQ, I doubt they'll just let me walk in and take it."
"Use a dark corridor," Xion suggested. "I know the Oracle said not to, but you can't learn how to create them just by seeing someone do it. The only way there's going to be any trouble is if they've got people waiting for you there."
"Hey, Whisper," Roxas said suddenly. "You know that little thing you used when you'n I were up on the roof of the Tea Shack? The one what stunned all them zombies? Got any more of 'em on you?"
"Sure thing," Whisper nodded, "But they're not gonna do you any good if you're there too, and in a confined space like a room..."
"I got just the trick. Axel doesn't exit the other end of his corridor right away, he just chucks that through and waits. It'll go off, and if it doesn't knock out anyone in there, it'll blind them temporarily, and they'll probably not be hearing too straight either, so he can just go in, pick 'em up and get out without anyone the wiser."
Whisper took out a small grey sphere. "Twist the top half to activate it," he told Axel. "Half turn for about five seconds, and another five for every half turn after that. Don't think you'll need more'n five though."
"I almost can't believe I'm about to do this," Axel muttered, taking it off him.
"Hey, Axel," Roxas grinned. "Just remember – you gotta have fun if you're gonna do it like what we do!"
Axel chuckled to himself, getting to his feet. "Well, here goes trouble," he said, opening a corridor.
"You know, I'm gonna miss being here and everything," Roxas told Tommy. "But I kinda missed seeing Axel and Xion in the mornings, even if we weren't working together on a mission."
"I guess if I were in your place, it'd be the same for me," Tommy agreed. "But stop by from time to time when you get the chance. Come cause trouble with us again. You know you'll always be welcome."
Someone knocked at the door to their hidden back room. Rue immediately scrambled to his feet to find out who it was, holding a hushed conversation, then he turned back to them.
"Can we borrow Whisper for a few moments, Tommy?" he asked. "Only there's a door we've found that we can't open, and we'd like to know what's on the other side – just in case it's some kind of trap set for us by the zombies."
"Hey, mind if I come along too?" Roxas asked. "I got taught how to pick locks, but I never got the chance to try."
"What about Axel?" Xion said.
"Just tell him I'll be back in a few minutes," he replied. "After all, what could possibly go wrong?"
"Oh great," Rue muttered. "Now you've jinxed it for sure."
Roxas shrugged, Whisper joining him as they followed Rue and his friend back out into the fitness center and down into the basement. The door was set into the back wall, a tall wooden arch shape with the emblem of a heart on it, a keyhole in the center of the door below.
"Maybe you'd better have a look at this one first," Roxas suggested. "If you think I can do it, I'll give it a go, and if you think neither of us can do it... I'll give it a go anyway."
Whisper gave him a curious look, but moved to examine the lock anyway, pulling out a small torch to see inside. He frowned for a moment, pulling out a long thin bit of metal to prod around inside the lock, then shook his head.
"There's nothing in there," he proclaimed. "Nothing to lock or unlock it. All I can hear is-"
"A faint thump-thump on the other side?" Roxas suggested.
"How did you know?"
"I'm probably not meant to tell you. Something important, that's for sure, and I don't think it's a door that anyone should open. But I can seal it away so no one will try to get to it."
"But what's on the other side?"
Roxas thought for a moment, then said, "When you look up at the stars, what do you see? Other worlds, or just specks of light?"
"Everyone dreams about other worlds out there," Rue told him. "What does that have to do with it?"
"Assume for a moment that there were other worlds, and that every world had a heart of it's own – you wouldn't want anything to happen to that heart any more than your own, would you?"
"Are you saying that on the other side of this door is the heart of our world?" Whisper asked incredulously. "Roxas, that's completely absurd."
"Maybe. But I remember something from before I was a Nobody. He used to go around finding doors just like this one that had the hearts of worlds behind them, sealing them so no one could damage them."
"Roxas is right," another voice said, coming down the stairs behind them.
"Oracle!" Rue breathed. "What are you doing here?"
"Just checking up. I see you took my advice," he said to Roxas. "I knew if I told you not to use a corridor, Xion would suggest it anyway. Axel returned just a few moments ago."
"Did he..." Roxas trailed off.
The Oracle nodded. "I answered a few questions that were weighing on him. What he and I discussed stays between us though. Now, you know what you have to do," he said, nodding toward the door. "Don't worry about explanations – leave that to me. Once you've done it, you ought to go back home with your friends.
Roxas nodded, summoning his Keyblade into his hand for the first and only time in this world, surprising everyone. He pointed it to the lock, causing a beam of light to shoot into the lock, which in turn clicked, the lock and door itself vanishing to return to a blank wall. The expressions of the others present were awed.
Roxas gave them a wink as he dismissed the Keyblade again, then headed back upstairs to go home again.
It had been nearly a week since Roxas's return to the Organization. A single, incredibly dull and repetitive week of defeating Heartless with Axel to make sure he didn't try to sneak back off to King City again. They'd gone back to their usual routine of working, then having ice cream before heading back to the castle.
"Hey, Roxas?" Axel asked. "Ever wish you could have stayed back there in King City?"
"Sure thing," Roxas replied, taking a bite of his ice cream. "But I figure the Oracle must have had a good reason to tell me to come back to this. Sure, it's not as interesting. Kinda boring in comparison. But at least I'll know I've done the right thing."
"Are you even sure about that?"
"Maybe not yet. But I will be. I don't pretend to understand his reasoning, but that'll come in time. I just gotta wait and find out." There was a quiet moment, then, "Still think I was doing the wrong things while I was there?"
"I'm not saying any of it was right. You can't tell me there wasn't some of it that you shouldn't have done."
"Only because everyone thinks of them as crimes. You heard it from me and Tommy – whatever it takes to survive and keep on fighting against the zombies. They're not going to give the Alliance what they need, or agree to sit around a table and negotiate terms with kids, so they do it they only way they know how."
"True, but... no, I think you did the right thing, going with them. They're not as bad as I thought once I heard things from their side. I kinda envy you – you got to have an entire adventure to yourself there."
"Maybe if you were a little younger, huh?"
"I remember what I was like as a kid," Axel chuckled. "I went around pestering everyone so they'd always remember me. I figured that even if I went off someplace, I could live forever in everyone's memories. It's funny... I'm sure I saw a kid just like you once. In fact..." he frowned, glancing at Roxas. "I dunno why I didn't see it before."
"You look almost exactly like him, Roxas. I had a mock fight with him so he wouldn't forget me. Saïx was there watching too... Isa, he was called back then. We were friends, but when I lost out to that kid he made a few comments at my expense, but it was just friendly like."
"What was his name?"
"Ventus, I think. I got reminded of it when Tommy was telling us about all your names."
"You mean the Ven he mentioned, who's real name was Rocky," Roxas nodded.
"That's him. I wonder if he could be the same one? I mean, he did say you looked like Ven... and you do look like the Ventus I remember seeing."
"I wonder... if they're the same Ven, and they're somehow related to me... maybe I used to be Ventus once."
"Well, we'll never know sitting around here. These ice creams won't eat themselves, you know."
A/N: And here we reach the end of this tale. Just goes to show how much difference one week can make if you're on different sides like that.
It was tempting to have Roxas stick around there instead, but then what'd happen to Sora? But maybe sometime another character might stop by King City and we'll see another escapade there.
As to Ventus... well, I leave it up to you to wonder what the chances of that coincidence are, or if they really are the same Ven.