Chapter 28: Late Again

She had been so stupid.

Xion scuffs her shoe against the pavement, trying to think of a way to explain her backpack. It hadn't been her fault that her things had been ruined, but she had to figure out a way to deal with the consequences of the whole thing. She watches as her brown loafer slowly turns gray from the dust she was kicking up, but she does not say a single word of protest out loud because she is so enraged.

The tears trickle down her face as the little girl walks down the street, moving past the twisting shadows in the depths of the alleys she strolled past. She does not see the creatures staring at her from within their hypnotized reveries and so Xion continues to walk down with her sodden backpack in her hand.

As she walks, she can hear a startled voice come from inside one of the buildings on the main street. The voice is all too familiar, one echoing of the same authority that her father had in his, and one dear to her heart. A door slams in the distance as a shop door opens and a lone figure comes out.

He is a fair distance away from her, but his appearance was unmistakable. His dark yellow hair contrasts harshly with the white stone of the buildings, looking like someone had just spilled gold against their formerly pristine homeyness. Sapphire eyes blink at her with concern from far away as the little girl bursts into tears and throws the soaked mess of papers and fabric to the cobblestones to start running.

Without missing a beat, the man drops down to one knee and opens his arms nice and wide.

Xion heaves herself into the awaiting body, crying with all the might in her tiny seven year old body, allowing herself to be comforted by those warm and gentle hands now running through her cropped hair. Her uncle holds her close for a moment, obviously staring at the sobbing little mess of little girl in his arms before he picked her up. He gently plops her head onto the space between his shoulder and his chest as he carried her off, cuddling with her in the same way he had always done since she was a baby.

"Oh, Roxas..." Xion sobs into his chest, clinging to him with all of her might. She was so very tired now, tired of a weight on her shoulders that she did not understand or even knew existed. But the child knows enough to know she was tired and so she cries, attempting to somehow know why she was a freak. With her face mashed into his uniform apron, she almost doesn't hear his answer.

"It's okay, baby," The deep voice rumbles in her ears, soothing her instantly with half-forgotten memories of naps taken long ago beneath the scrutinizing eyes of her mother and father and uncle. Xion feels Roxas's fingers untangle her hair for a moment, parting the messy black locks even as he held her that much closer to him. His heart beats with a strong, slow rhythm in her ears as he repeats an old promise to her. "It's going to be alright, Xion."

And once more, the child believes in those words.