The brightness of the immaculate room was at war with the way the rest of the building had looked. Nothing was out of place in this room, save for the door that swung slightly off its hinges, loose and looking able to collapse at any moment. But the inside of the room in the dilapidated building wasn't near as striking to Sora as the actual items within. The room was large, with nothing but a single, rectangular table with two chairs at opposite ends of each other. Paper littered the floors and walls, each with drawings upon them; disturbing, somehow familiar drawings there was no way existed. Sora was frozen for a moment in the doorway, seeing pictures of himself and Kairi, of friends he'd been forced to leave behind three years ago, of places he'd been and things he'd seen... there was no way.

Around him, it was almost as though the pictures moved for a moment; the pages flickered and the images distorted themselves strangely, like a video game that messed up for a few moments, but managed to right itself quickly. The flicker was strange to say the least, but with the crushing weight of the pain that had saddled his heart and stomach, Sora didn't pay as much attention to it as he might have in any other situation. He stumbled inward, toward the table, where papers cluttered the pristine white cloth covering the table itself. He felt a few more tears trail unbidden down his cheeks that he didn't bother to wipe away, staring down at a picture through watery eyes.

Out of every picture here, the ones on the table confused him the most; the rest of the pictures were of him or things he knew, but every picture upon the table was of himself in an Organization XIII cloak. His hair was wrong, a lighter colour, and in almost every picture, he was standing next to Axel or another Organization member. Sora's head pounded; who would draw these pictures? Who knew Sora well enough to know everywhere he went, and why did they draw him as an Organization member? Another tear rolled down Sora's cheek as he stood, leaning onto the table, looking at a particular picture of himself and Axel. Axel was off in the distance, his arms out to his sides, looking like he was yelling at Sora, who was walking off.

"No one will miss me."

Sora's hands shot to his head, which suddenly felt like it was about to implode on itself. A loud screeching sound formed behind his ears, blotting out all other sounds as Sora gritted his teeth. He couldn't hear anything, but those words... they rung in his mind like a thousand mockingbirds taunting him, giving him a riddle they knew he couldn't solve. Sora felt his knees go weak; he knew he had closed his eyes, and he couldn't see the picture anymore, but the image was burned into his mind, scarring the backs of his eyelids with a terrible scene that took on motion.

Sora's heart lurched with feelings of abandonment and betrayal, of hopelessness and fear; he could feel each tear as it slid down his cheeks as vividly as he could feel the rain penetrating his cloak. Each step was agonizing, a loud thunk and an occasional splash accompanying every step forward, away from the red head behind him. He had to know. … What did he need to know? Some bit of information, something that plagued his heart, that broiled in his stomach and made him continue walking, even when he heard the voice of a very familiar male behind him;

"You get on their bad side, and they'll destroy you!"

Grief spread through his entire being, making it hard to move, but he forced himself. Forced one foot in front of the other, and forced the words—the lies—from his lips.

"No one will miss me."

He felt it as soon as the sound had left the air; heartbreak. His, and Axel's; with those words, he had detached himself from the only person who had ever truly made him feel alive, or that life had been worth living. But they couldn't be taken back, now. Those were words they both had to live with. And maybe it was for the best, too. Soon enough, Axel would forget about him, he would continue on with the organization, and live his own life his way. So when Axel's whispered words faintly found Sora's ears, he almost lost his resolve; almost lost his will; almost turned back.

"That's not true… I will…"

But just as the rain continued to drench him, Sora continued on, into the darkness.

Sora slowly opened his eyes, the brightness of the room forcing him to wince and close his eyes again, but the images were gone, now. The words having left his ears, leaving him in a stark silence in the white room, Sora breathed out as if he had held his breath this entire time. How could this be? It was his memory, but it wasn't his memory! He had never met Axel before being kidnapped, but this was clearly the memory of someone who knew him well, who had been a friend, or maybe more, and—

Roxas. Axel had been telling the truth the entire time, and Sora had been too blind to figure it out. He hated what Axel did to him, but all during it, his body moved with a will of its own, like it was enjoying a treat long forgotten about. The random, snarky comments that spilled from his lips when he wasn't even thinking about it, the looks he had evidently given Axel… all of it… was Roxas?

~ * X * ~ . ~ * X ~ * . ~ * X * ~

There was pain in his chest. A deep, saturating pain that crept in through every crevice, through every fault of his mind and body, settling its home in his core. He couldn't sleep, wouldn't eat. Refused to leave his room, even. Nothing mattered. He didn't want it to matter. Nothing existed but his pain. Pure, agonizing, soul-shattering pain. Roxas… Sora… they were both gone. Never to return, never again to smile or scowl at him. Never again to joke around with, nevermore to love.

Had they ever really loved him? Or was Demyx right, and did they just use him? A means to an end, an escape method. A plan. The pain in his chest constricted.

Axel blinked away the last vestiges of tonight's tears, staring up at the ceiling. He laid on the floor beside the bed he and Roxas, and even Sora, had once shared. He couldn't touch it; couldn't get near it without their memory resounding within him, tearing him apart. He didn't deserve the comfort of the mattress, didn't want the warmth of the blankets. He was a monster, and Sora had shown him that far too often for it not to be true. Why else would he have run away?

His back ached, but the pain he felt in his physical body was only a fraction of the turmoil in his head. He felt alone; much more alone than when he'd had hope of finding his Roxas, severely more alone than when he left Sora after every attempt to make Roxas show himself. Lonely; so very lonely, with only his tears and memories to keep him company.

But soon, those would fade. Demyx had assured him that his tears would eventually dry, and the memories so vivid in his mind now, would begin to dull. Fade into nothingness; blackness. Forgetfulness. Was that really what he wanted? … Was that really what Roxas wanted? Or Sora?

Time was passing, but Axel had no way to tell what time it was. Was it morning-'Mornings are horrible, Axel. Get out of my face.'-or night-'Good night, sweet Prince.'? Or, had time truly stopped for a broken, non-existent heart?


His body lept from its laying position, a yelp of anticipation rising like bile in his throat, his mind creating the image for him: Roxas, standing in the doorway, looking exactly as he had the night he left. Blue eyes focused on Axel lovingly, arms open for a welcome home hug.

What stood in the door was Demyx.

~ * X * ~ . ~ * X ~ * . ~ * X * ~

Demyx watched as Axel jolted at the sound of his voice; for a moment, he thought he had gotten through to him, finally. That Axel had left Sora in the past and was ready to accept him, but the sudden dullness in what used to be sparkling emerald eyes, and the pronounced slump to his shoulders told Demyx he still had more work to do. He sighed quietly, stepping through the threshold of the room, balancing two steaming cups of jasmine tea and a plate of biscuits in his hands. It had been worrying him, how Axel had been refusing to eat or sleep, and that he even refused to touch the bed anymore, but Demyx hoped to fix that soon.

All he needed to do was exactly what Roxas and Sora had failed to do; be a friend as much as a lover. Placing the biscuits and the tea in front of Axel, Demyx took up his own cup and sipped from it, watching Axel over the rim of his glass. Axel didn't bother to look at him, or the food and drink placed before him. His eyes were red rimmed from tears, and the purple marks on his face hadn't been replaced yet, leaving his cheeks bare, but they weren't wet at all. Demyx felt a tiny sliver of satisfaction run through him; his predictions were already coming true.

"You're not crying anymore." Demyx pointed out, making Axel flinch.

As much as Axel's cringe made Demyx rethink his plan of attack, he took a deep breath and forced him to continue on with the words. All the better for the both of them, he told himself.

"It's hard to cry over something you never really had in the first place, isn't it?" this earned him a glance from Axel; a timid, wondering look that urged Demyx to continue, "You can't lose a love that was never given, Axel. Roxas and Sora… the only thing that was on their minds was a way to escape our Organization. They were never committed; they never wanted to be."

Axel's gaze flickered down to his lap, where he folded his hands tightly against each other. Demyx watched sadly as Axel's knuckles turned white from the pressure exerted.

"You have friends you've ignored, Axel," he went on, "People you've pushed aside in your pursuit of them. We're all still here for you. I'm still here for you. But you need to open your eyes and see that. You've been blinded by the past for too long."

Demyx paused, wondering if anything he was saying was even getting through his fiery red-head. He knew that he couldn't expect anything drastic to happen within the first few days, or even within the first few weeks. Patience was the name of his game, but he had to show he was right here every step of the way; show just how different he was from Axel's past mistakes. So that's why it surprised him when Axel finally reached out a hand to grasp one of the biscuits. He never made eye contact with Demyx, didn't straighten his shoulders, and wouldn't say a word. But as he raised the food to his lips, Demyx found himself smiling slightly.

Progress was already being made.

~ * X * ~ . ~ * X ~ * . ~ * X * ~

Sora wandered along the decaying second floor, no longer searching for a way down, or out. His hands aimlessly stroked the walls as he shifted past, his mind ablaze with thoughts and memories. Some of those memories reminded him of the pain he had endured during his captivity, the fright and agony of his situation, and other memories only furthered the searing pain gnawing at his heart, clutching his lungs and dragging pained whimpers from his lips. His entire body hurt, somehow physically, from emotional pain. It made it hard to move, to even think, but he couldn't stop. He couldn't give in to the pain or rejection, no matter how Axel had decided he… didn't… want him.

"We need to talk."

Sora jumped, twisting around despite the sudden throbbing headache he faced. No one was behind him, no evidence left there was anyone in the abandoned mansion besides him. But that screeching noise he heard before, right before he had glimpsed one of Roxas' memories, when he had blacked out in that white room, began to creep up on him again. It started as a distant sound, becoming clearer and more devastating as it drew near; Sora covered his ears with his hands, trying to drown out the piercing noise, but it seemed to reverberate around his entire body, sending jitters up and down his spine. His knees quaked, then gave, sending him sprawling to the floor. Dimly, he was aware as he crashed into the floor, that a heavier, more threatening quake began, the splintering sound of rotted wood barely making it through the screeching sounds.

By the time Sora had no choice but to surrender to the sound, he was falling.


~ * X * ~ . ~ * X ~ * . ~ * X * ~


Sora stood on nothing, with no floor beneath him, no roof above him, and nothing but pure white around him. He swallowed, his breath heavy as he spun in place, trying to figure out what was going on. Was this another memory? He felt something brush his shoulder; a hand, it felt like. As he turned his head toward the feeling, pain flashed through his face and up his nose, making him cry out. His voice echoed as he fell backward, landing without landing; floating.

It was hard to get his feet under him, to stand on nothing, but Sora tried, his eyes opening to meet... himself? The idea gave him pause, and at any other point in his life, Sora might have instantly decided that it was a dream, not to be paid attention to. Hadn't he had dreams similar to this in the past?

But now, holding his nose and feeling a thin, sticky liquid slowly flowing out of his nose, looking up at the boy who looked so similar to himself, it was creepy… his thoughts went to Roxas. And just as soon as they did, the male smirked.

"Yep." was his only response; but response to what?

A/N: Cliffy! Review for the next installment. ~