To all of my friends; Dee, Caity, Diane, Zan, Jainers, and many more.
Because I like what if scenarios.
He didn't speak. It was by accident, at the very cusp of the center of Sora's being that Roxas had even chanced happening across him at all. He'd been there for so long, as much a piece of Sora's heart as Sora was a piece of him, and if Roxas squinted his eyes just right, he could see Sora sitting there, instead. Asleep for so much of his life, peaceful but so lonely.
No one could or would answer who he was, but Roxas knew him. It seemed so stupid, to stop and sit and speak a while, never receiving an answer, but slowly revealing so much.
"My name is Roxas. Sometimes, I think its Sora, but then I remember that Sora's someone I could never be…" The more he speaks about his life, his memories and his hardships, the more he thinks that this is someone who could possibly understand. His twin without a name doesn't always seem restful- sometimes, he appears expectant, like they're on the very verge of a breakthrough. Other times, despondent… he's lost so much, and it adds to the heavy feeling in Roxas' chest. Faintly, at times, he knows Sora's clutching his own chest, and feeling it too. It's one of the small things that reminds him of just how similar they are, just how connected.
"I hope you wake up soon." He has a feeling that when he does, the sleeping boy won't be so connected to Sora's heart anymore. He might never learn his name, or how he came to be here. But he'd like for him to wake up. Their features are so similar that finding him here answers questions Roxas didn't even know he had—he and Sora are starkly different for a reason. He catches himself one too many times, holding a hand to his own chest, reaching out to the other's—whatever he thinks he's doing, it might just be a bad idea.
One day he does it anyway.
One day he wakes up.
It feels so odd to have to breathe in; at first Roxas doesn't even realize why his body is panicking. Then he involuntarily gasps, and the relief is so sharp and stark it becomes a wonder as to why he didn't just think of that in the first place, tears prickling painfully in the corners of his eyes. His body feels heavy, so heavy- he moans almost helplessly when he tries to look around. Everything hurts and he can't recall why it would, except his arm clanks with a metallic sound and Roxas finds he forgets to breathe again, staring at the intricate piece covering his shoulder.
It's not his. Nor are the clothes on his back, or the emblem over his chest. A cold, metal heart to replace the one he doesn't have- the room is just as foreign as…as the body itself. Except not. He knows this place, knows this person.
It takes him hours just to get the body moving enough to crawl across the floor.
How long this body has been here, he can't even begin to guess. But the strain caused just by sliding off the chair has his breathing harsh and ragged, pins and needles spiking sharp pains all throughout the body, making it harder to breathe, harder still not to curl up and simply wish it all away.
"My name is Roxas, and sometimes, I think its Sora too. But then I remember-" That Sora wouldn't just give up on someone else because it hurt, would keep trucking on until the end of time even if he was on the verge of bleeding out completely, and Roxas makes it all the way to the door before the utter exertion of it all causes him to blackout completely.
Coming back around a few hours later doesn't make things any better. The place appears deserted, almost eerily so, and at times he thinks he hears the Heartless, but they never approach. Why? Because there's no heart there to take? It never stopped them before. Or is there something about this body, about that boy in Sora's heart that's more than just that singular connection? He keeps questioning things, just so he can ignore what's happening around him, ignore the bodies' reaction to being dragged across the ground, room by room, until he's up on his- not his- knees and crawling, that painful pinprick in his eyes again, because he's moving just a little bit faster.
He makes it down a floor before he sleeps. The other boy, his twin, looks back at him with warm eyes.
"We're looking for you too."
Roxas wakes up, thinking about Sora. How would he be feeling, right now?
He's hungry. It occurs to him to attempt to access the dark corridors, but they won't work. In the end, he resigns himself to the stiff motions he can push this body into.
He ends up using the Keyblade, foreign and awkward, as a cane to hobble along with. Now that Roxas is strong enough to hold it up, healing himself makes the process that much faster. The first time the magic runs over him, green glow to his skin and muscles easing, he cries. No heat in his eyes, just tears of relief that it's working, and he's finally getting somewhere.
This body makes him…feel odd, and it's satisfying to reach the front doors and think he'll be rid of it soon.
"My name is Roxas. Sometimes I think its Sora, but then I remember…" Sora's not selfish enough to debate keeping someone else's body, just so he can live instead.
Can a Nobody have a conscience?
Roxas isn't so sure. He simply starts walking, head in the clouds and the darkness absolute, doing his best to stop thinking when he's thrown into fight after fight. The Realm of Darkness takes less kindly to the body than it does to Roxas' presence, but he's been here before, that much he knows. There's a shoreline in the far, far distance, one that he heads away from, because there's tricks and secrets and holes in every world, and as little as he has been here before, there's one hole he knows all too well, from his very first memory.
The air in Twilight Town tastes like old pine and wood fires. It's funny, because the climate itself is actually quite temperate, the constant sunset keeping everything at a nice, softly heated state that a heater really isn't needed at all, not until the very dead of night where the sun goes down for perhaps four hours in the winter, and the slightest of chills permeates the air.
Hayner says hello. Roxas trips over foreign, identical feet, but never replies. He goes to the train station, looking up at the clock tower briefly; seeing the ghosts of a past long gone… before heading inside and sitting on one of the seats across the far wall. His train is already there- it's always been right there, waiting- not for him, maybe. The real him.
Except the more he's seen and felt of Sora the less he actually thinks of them as one person. More like two halves of a whole; which technically does make them the same person and simply ends in a round robin of confusing thoughts and protests that fall into a stutter. Roxas has never liked not having the final answer on the issues in his life, but it seems like more often than not, the replies to his queries are forever up to debate.
He could get up, and get onto that train now. Past the walls of this world is a fragile connection to another place, one he barely knows that is home to a man who will never understand him, but will understand this body and help for that boy. Things will be right again. Blue eyes—definitely blue, just like Sora's—will open with the proper smile and the proper stance, Keyblade wielded with confident, well known gestures. Laughter will issue out of this mouth and all the right words will be said, by the right person.
And down the lane, in a mansion assumed to be haunted, is a computer that leads to a false reality. A reality where Roxas exists and has friends. Could pretend to be normal for just a few more hours; forever, if he wanted to.
Hayner said hello. Roxas tripped over foreign feet, and never replied.
He gets on the train.
"My name is Roxas. Last night, I thought it was Ventus. But then I remember…" Ventus is much, much older than Sora. It doesn't show in his body or his face, but there's a lot in the history of him that Roxas feels a unique affinity to. Graced with the simple luxury of an actual bath, he finds a vivid, purple scar on his chest, viciously roping around Ventus' heart—and he wonders what happened.
He thinks of Vanitas and his- not his- blood runs cold. One day, life will be kind to them.
He faces Sora from the opposite side of the table, and tries not to think about how the last time they were truly alone like this involved blades and attacks meant to hurt. Possibly even cripple. Sora looks just about as comfortable with this as he is, but nobody- haha- seems to have any idea what to do.
Roxas has stumped them. Sora has stumped them. Ventus, whose name is finally free to appear on his lips with a crooked little smile, has baffled everyone. There's a girl somewhere named Aqua, who apparently should know what to do; but where she is no one seems to know. There's a sense of fallacy around the whole situation that makes Roxas want to laugh, but Sora's right there.
And that pretty much chokes off his want to do anything at all.
"He told me where you were, in my dreams." Sora says carefully, like he's testing the words on his tongue before actually letting his vocal chords work them into true sound. "But I felt it, too. When you left."
Roxas nods and they both hold a hand over their chests, staring down at the table top between them. They don't know each other; Sora is never likely to have the time to get to know him, and Roxas has never really understood, even with all of Sora's history at his finger tips.
They face each other down from opposite sides of the table, and there's really not much more to say.
"You're a good Other, too."
Except there is.
"My name is Roxas. Some people call me Sora; others call me Ventus. But I like Roxas best." It doesn't really take that long to figure it all out. With Ventus leading the way, in the quiet, dreamlike state all of his own, they manage.
Sora leads. Roxas trails behind. They keep an even pace and eventually meet somewhere in the middle, taking step by step together. He's never been comfortable with crying, but Aqua smiles as she does so, even when they explain, even when Roxas quietly admits that he doesn't know what he wants, anymore. She kisses his forehead, then Sora's, and tells them both that it's okay. They have a start.
"Let's get to work, okay? Together."
Roxas has never really been good with groups, not even with the small trio he'd once been deluded enough to believe he was associated with in Twilight Town. Always on the edge of the circle, a few feet further away than everyone else. He could fade into his thoughts and people usually wouldn't bother him until long after he was lost to the world, and his lack luster responses stopped them from pressing for too much, if anything at all.
Aqua and Sora don't give him time for that. It's like having the Keyblade Master around has given Sora a new life and purpose- he asks for Roxas' opinions on just about everything. Food, friends, the future, the Keyblade; they speak more and more, and Roxas learns that they question things intensely. They both hate open ended answers, and more often than not, that's exactly what they get.
Aqua teases him gently, and it takes a while before she can look at him without seeing just Ventus, he knows that. It makes for a very difficult relationship, until one day she simply grasps his chin gently, tilting it up and watching his eyes with an intense gaze, one that he shifts under all too nervously until she smiles.
"There you are, Roxas."
Aqua talks about Ventus a lot. And Terra. In the late hours, whilst she studies and experiments and tests options and ideas out, attempts to find a fitting solution to the problem at hand, she tells him about Ven's life. Roxas' chest feels heavy, and in his dreams, he holds Ventus' hand as they wait together for the morning, speaking of existence and fear and the constant question on whether being at all is really right for them.
Aqua keeps talking, just to keep herself from thinking over the idea of failure. Ventus keeps questioning to ease off the pain.
Roxas keeps finding similarities between himself and other people, and the one difference, the one, stark difference doesn't really seem to matter at all. He doesn't understand why. It had almost ruined him.
It probably had, when he looks back on it.
"My name is Roxas."
He stopped existing there, for a while. The thing about not existing is that you aren't even aware you've stopped, not until you start again and people tell you that you've been gone for a very, very long time.
Ventus holds his hand; Sora takes the lead, and they both trail behind. The three keep an even pace and eventually meet in the middle, taking step by step together. Roxas has no idea where they are, but it's an odd place. Like Castle Oblivion, or Radiant Garden, before it was destroyed. Maybe a mesh of the two, though nothing seems to make sense, rooms and shapes twisting so awkwardly that he wonders if they lost their way, and came across Wonderland instead.
He has an inkling that's not quite right.
Terra reminds him of Riku, except the man is so awkward it's a wonder that he can keep such a straight face. Its clear Ventus idolizes him, and Sora softly suggests that judging him based on past transgressions wouldn't be the wisest action. If Terra remembers him, he doesn't show it. Roxas pretends not to know his face, too.
"Roxas? In your hand, take this key…"
They chant it together, blue eyes fixed and concentrated, and if he squints, Sora and Ventus trade places for a moment without even moving. There's not much of a unique style to the blade; not until he receives his first keychain from Aqua, leaving the metal the rosette color of sunset. The keychain is a simple, blue ice cream that makes his eyes feel too hot and a startled noise escapes him when his chest squeezes in tandem with his tears.
Sora taps his chest with a grin, and Roxas spends the rest of the night, and the next day, and the day after that, with a hand on his chest and the smallest of smiles on his face, listening and feeling the motions of his own heartbeat.
"So, just Roxas. How do you feel?"
"…Better." He shrugs, and Sora grins, and Ventus smiles.
And things aren't really that okay, because they'll never be completely fine. Roxas thinks and speaks of Xion, starting a new chain of action that could continue for a very, very long time. Ventus has a shadow in his eyes, one that speaks of a coming storm and manic laughter, because the dead can never stay dead.
Aqua says he and Sora fight like brothers. The fights usually stop right there.
There's smiles. And tears too, at times. It's not perfect.
But it's a start.