You lot have been busy speculating, haven't you? Liam's back, by the way, and plans to tell you all about what's been happening to him, including that vision I saw all that time ago. He's busily working away on it now actually, and all he's told me I'm allowed to tell you is that he plans to title 'MetaCoded', so keep an eye out for it.
Don't ask me when to expect it though, or for that matter what happens – while I do know, I'm not telling.
As for Charlie... well, who else could he be, after calling Neku his brother? If you recall from close to the end of MetaStory, Neku told Liam there were others like him out there.
Now then, why don't we continue with the last of my tale?
After my vision caused by the feather, I had the distinct feeling I was being watched. I already suspected that the figure in white from the first vision was not only Charlie, but also the cause of these feathers dropping, which in turn suggested Charlie was the one doing the watching.
There seemed to be little I could do about this for now though, so I decided it was time to head back down into town, taking the train because I'm lazy. Except, the train didn't come. The timetable showed when they were due, and people waited for it to come.
But it never did and every time one was meant to arrive, a single feather made its way down onto the tracks. After three of those I started to get the idea. Charlie – if it was him – was not going to let me take this route.
Sure enough, just as I left the station I heard a train rattle in, pause long enough to pick up the people waiting, then rattle out again. I didn't look back or try to catch it, having a feeling that if I had done, another feather would have fallen along with some unwanted effect. Charlie clearly had some power unknown to me, since at this point I had no idea who Neku was or for that matter that he is the Book.
When I entered the tunnels beneath Twilight Town though, it became immediately clear that those unknown powers were making themselves known to me. The scene changed with a disorienting blur, revealing a very familiar place. The same odd streets that Xion had first fought me on, the vehicles still left aligned as they had been when Naminé made it possible for me to leave.
Just as it had been last time I'd set foot here no one was around, the air undisturbed by anything. I could not see anywhere with my mind again, an effect last time caused by Xion but this time by something else.
Unlike that time though, I was in command of my full capabilities and more than a match for the more mundane threats I could face here. Not that there were any as such, the place was deader than a graveyard. That is, until I strode down to the single corner and looked down the second and only adjoining street. Just as before, these two roads were unlinked to any other road, even by an alleyway.
At the end, walking calmly down with the same expression I'd seen on his face in the first vision, was the white-clothed young man. With every step he took, a feather appeared in the air above him, alighting on the ground where his foot had stepped.
"Charlie," I murmured, voicing my suspicions.
"So you figured it out!" Charlie exclaimed in the kind of happy tones you'd expect from a child, clapping his hands together.
"You were fairly obvious about it," I shrugged indifferently. "Subtlety starts with not using a sledgehammer."
"Oh, nice comeback," he chuckled, the same one I'd heard before picking up the feather. It was him alright. "So what do you plan to do now, Roxas?"
"What is there for me to? I'll just wait around as usual. Liam will be awakening soon, and I have to be there for it."
"Oh, not about that, I mean about being here?"
"I don't see anything to do about it. You can clearly bring me here at will, why should I be able to change that?"
Charlie frowned for just a moment before returning to his usual child-like innocent smile.
"Don't you want to know why I brought you here?"
"What for?" I asked, feigning disinterest. Again a flicker of a frown. He was trying to make some kind of game, some kind of fun out of this, and it was fairly clear I was ruining it for him by not playing along.
"I think you are interested really," Charlie said. "And I think you want to know where this is."
"Not really," I replied, picking a nearby car to sit on the front of. "You've got your reasons for it, I'm content to leave it at that."
Charlie's eyes narrowed this time, giving him a harsher expression.
"I think that's enough of that," he told me. "You'll give me the real answers, and you'll give them now."
I wanted to tell him I already had, but something overrode my will and forced me to say, "Alright, yes, I do want to know where I am and why you brought me here." I drew in a startled breath once I was freed of his compelling me to answer truthfully, then got off the car drawing Oathkeeper and Oblivion into my hands.
"Oh, no, none of that little lamb," Charlie chuckled again, and the two not only vanished again but refused to come back, leaving me with just their Keychains in my hands. "No, I think that's about enough of your little toys. Oblivion can go back to Riku," he said, and as he did so the black crown vanished. "And Oathkeeper to Liam – oh, but without the chain, of course. We can't have him using it too early." The chain disappeared from Oathkeeper, then it too vanished. "You won't be needing your other Keychains either," he added as an afterthought, and I felt the pocket I stored them in become noticeably lighter.
"Firaga!" I snapped at him, causing a fireball to erupt from the palm of one hand. Charlie didn't move to escape it, watching as it approached him with a benign grin growing over his face.
Then the fireball vanished in a bright flash, the flash seeming to wash over Charlie in a wave that showed an entirely different view of him. The white was replaced with black, and the blue eyes were harsh amber orbs with no white to them and no black for the pupil. Behind him a pair of similarly black feathered wings were outstretched. The benign expression was one of deranged fury, one that suggested if I could hear this other side to him it would be snarling and growling in an otherworldly sounding voice.
The flash passed and in its wake Charlie looked exactly as he had before, still smiling, still wearing white, still watching with those childish blue eyes.
"Oh dear," Charlie laughed, a cruel hard laugh, as he saw my own shocked expression at this sudden sight. "Did our little lamb get all frightened by what he saw?" he went on, making a mockery of the way some people talk to their children.
"Tell me where we are and why you brought me here," I demanded, though somewhat shakily as I started to back away. This was not someone I wanted to be involved with.
"Here?" he asked, sounding more normal again now. "Oh, this is just one of my brother's creations. Xion asked him for it, you know. It was all set up for him to destroy you, but you were terribly inconvenient and managed to survive. Xion was very put out with you for that."
"Why are we here?"
"Oh, no my little lamb," Charlie laughed again. "Not this time. You're due with Liam in a few days, remember? Why trouble you? Why trouble him? I think you'd better forget this until after Liam and I have had our reckoning."
And I did. The next thing I knew I was back in Twilight Town, with no memory of that entire incident – the only reason I recall it now is because, of course, Liam is back and has had that reckoning.
Charlie never showed up again after that, at least not to me. Since I had no memory of the incident, including the feathers and the vision I'd been given from that first feather, I wasn't troubled by them – just as Charlie had told me. That's why I never mentioned it to Liam, and never mentioned Charlie to him. You'd think I'd notice my missing Keychains, but I became strangely incurious about them – another of Charlie's influences, no doubt.
The remainder of my days were, to my annoyance, uneventful. The struggle tournament rolled around, in which Hayner and I both entered. Seifer had almost entered, but as soon as he knew I was taking part he'd withdrawn his entry in favour of letting Rai have the honour of getting completely thrashed by me. No one handles a meaner struggle bat than I do in those tournaments.
Then almost too soon it seemed it was time for me to head back to Liam. The simulation froze in place, and a recoded snippet of DiZ's voice ordered me to the old mansion. There were no Nobodies to trouble me, at least not of the lesser kind. I did spot Axel frozen in place, something I found interesting since like me he wasn't a part of the simulation, but I left it alone.
Xigbar too was present just at the entrance of the woods, apparently having been stopped in mid-conversation with Luxord. Axel wasn't the only one who planned to try and take me back, it seemed.
Most unusual of all was Saïx himself, leaning against the door beside the virtual counterpart of DiZ's computer.
"I told you we don't accept resignations," he told me, surprising me as I had thought him frozen like the others.
"You really want to start that argument again?" I asked him. "You'll only lose again."
"This time you're alone. You're no match for me Roxas. Come back to the Organization and resume your work."
I didn't bother to reply, not verbally. I smiled at him once, then punched him right on that cross-shaped scar on his nose. Since he was leaning against the wall, when his head recoiled back from that it smacked straight into the wall with a loud and very satisfying crack that left him looking dazed.
He wasn't dazed though, only surprised. For the second time I faced Lunatic, and this time I had no Keyblade available to me. The small room made it hard for him to manoeuvre it properly though, and I was able to adroitly evaded everything he attempted. Lunatic was what damaged the computer in this simulation, not me and my Keyblade in a fit of rage.
When he finally got the picture and realized he wasn't getting through to me, I sent a jolt of Thunder through Lunatic, then flung him back away from me with Aerora. A second crack sounded when he collided with the walls just underneath DiZ's odd device that allowed things to be transferred in and out of the simulation, then for reasons unknown to me the device activated and removed him.
"Thank you whoever's responsible for that," I muttered.
"You're welcome," a disembodied voice whispered. At the time I thought it was a trick of my ears or something, as it wasn't a voice I could readily identify, but after a quick consultation with Neku just now, I can reveal it was him who'd said it.
DiZ did not come to meet me in the digitalized white room where Liam slept, peacefully and blissfully unaware of the drastic changes my life had lead me on, looking for all the world like Sora still.
The pod had been left open, leaving Liam suspended in the half that remained closed behind him. The opened parts left me plenty of choices of how to reach him.
"Looks like it's time for your story to continue," I told him quietly, then as I took hold of one hand to return to him I could feel him slowly starting to stir. Even as I started to fade into light I could tell he wasn't going to wake up soon, so I added, "Hey! Come on there, wake up already." He made no response so I went on with, "Haven't you slept long enough now, Liam? If you don't get up, I'm going to get up for you."
A vague, "Huh?" escaped him as I pushed him closer to wakefulness, causing me to start to fade slightly quicker.
"Do you always take this long to get up?" I asked, pushing hi again. "Man, I can't believe you. And I'm meant to be your Nobody. I never took this long."
"Roxas?" he asked sleepily.
"About time too," I complained, the last of me returning to him.
Well, there we have it people. My tale hasn't been nearly as long as Liam's has, but I reckon mine was the more eventful one. Not to mention a lot of you seemed to prefer hearing things my way – maybe you should give Liam a few tips on what I do better than him for when he gives you MetaCoded.
So until then, or at least until I next get up to anything, see you around!