For the livejournal community, kh_drabble. Prompt: breaking barriers.

Disclaimer: Kingdom Hearts is the property of Square Enix and Disney.

He dreams of an island, sometimes. The sun sets in the far horizon, its warmth spilling on his skin; voices call to him from between the ocean waves, whispering his name, beckoning him closer. He tries to reach forward, but someone holds him back, an unrelenting presence.

No, it says, a half-remembered voice. I won't let you.

"It's okay, buddy," Braig tells him one day, grinning wide. "Minor setback in the plan. We'll figure this out."

Xehanort only stares, bemused. "I don't understand."

Braig gives a loud laugh and claps his shoulder. There is a strange glint in his eye, something that sends shivers down Xehanort's back but Braig doesn't explain, so he doesn't ask.

He catches Dilan watching.

Radiant Garden is not his home - of this, he is pretty certain. After all, no one in town recognises him and even Braig says Xehanort simply turned up one day. But when he looks around, a distant part of him seems to recall the town's outline; he remembers secret passages in and out of the castle, the underground pathways in the gardens, and the mechanisms behind the mysterious Rising Falls.

Sometimes he almost remembers, a small piece of memory bubbling out of his consciousness but when he tries to reach for it, something stands in his way, snatching the fragment from his hands.

And he forgets once more.

One day, Xehanort is coming back from the town, a bag of supplies slung over his shoulder, when he nearly walks in on an argument. He pauses by the foot of the stairs, about to turn back and find another way into the castle when he hears his name.

"-don't think you should trust him."

"Relax, Dilan. Everything's fine."

"Don't lie to me. Even's been acting strange and Ienzo hasn't come out of the library all week."

"You make it sound like that's unusual," Braig says, his laugh strained. "You know what those two are like. Besides, I'm just helping the guy out."

Dilan sighs loudly. "Why can't you just tell me the truth, Braig? We're friends, aren't we?"

Silence. Then, Braig says something he can't quite make out.

Xehanort edges closer in reflex, his boots scuffing against stone pavement when a hand lands on his shoulder; he starts, heart beating erratically against his ribcage as he flinches away.

Aeleus stares at him impassively, blue eyes unreadable.

The next day, Braig storms into the laboratory in the middle of an experiment, banging the door open, and hauls Xehanort out of his seat. "This had better be worth it," he growls angrily, one hand fisted in the collar of Xehanort's shirt. "You had better keep your side of the bargain. Understand?"

He didn't; it was frustrating. Again and again, pieces of a life he's sure was once his float to the surface of his memory only to be snatched away, stolen from his grasp. He wants to remember, wants it almost desperately, but nothing stays long enough for him to keep and he is left with nothing more than a hollow feeling in his chest.

Xehanort closes his eyes. "I can't remember."

Braig lets go, turning away. "Keep trying."

He dreams of an island, sometimes. The sun on the horizon, the voices between the waves, the hands holding him back.

Xehanort grits his teeth, struggling against the grip. "One day," he promises. "One day."

The darkness edges closer at his words, one tendril reaching out to brush past his outstretched fingers. The touch is cool and familiar.

And Xehanort almost remembers.