Friends in My Heart

"Roxas, that's ridiculous," Xion laughed, as she sat on the Twilight Town clock tower with her best friend, and hoped Roxas wouldn't feel too bad about her making fun of him. It was just that... just that the idea of Roxas seriously sitting in the grass in Halloween Town, and opting to randomly think about his friends was hilarious.

It wasn't so much the thought of Roxas dreaming about them that Xion found funny (even if she did think they spent quite a bit of time together, and they needed to focus on the missions when they had them), but rather she was interested in the fact that Roxas had somehow gotten knocked down in battle. How that had happened Xion couldn't even begin to wager, as Roxas was as skilled with the Keyblade as she was, but perhaps... perhaps she should have pressured Roxas to train with her the day they had had a vacation, after all. If a small Heartless knocked him down, how was he going to handle a boss?

Shaking her head to rid it of the thoughts plaguing her, Xion found herself nudging Roxas with her ice cream stick playfully, as she plainly asked, "How'd you fall on the ground from a Heartless, anyway? And it's weird that instead of getting up and attacking the thing, you laid there thinking about Axel and me."

It was a few moments before Xion was met with Roxas' response to her query. As she waited, she took the time to appreciate just how the sun was washing over the railing of the Station Tower; it was almost like someone had smeared paint color on it. Also, Xion was fairly certain that she was hearing the familiar sound of gulls crowing in the air; they'd become much more frequent with most of Twilight Town's citizens on summer vacation.

Yes, it certainly wasn't the first time that the seagulls went crazy over the things called French fries, and went as far as dropping some onto the sun-gazing trio in their haste to get home with the prize. In fact, Xion wasn't even sure she would have found out what French fries were, if not for the fact that one had fallen onto her head. Suffice to say, the next time Xion went out to buy sea salt-ice cream for her friends, she went as far as to order some of the so called "fries".

In the end, the fourteenth member had found that she really liked the things, but when she'd asked Axel why Demyx (the resident artist of all things in The Castle That Never Was) never made them for their meals, the pyromaniac had shrugged his shoulders, and had said something about Xemnas thinking they weren't good for them or something.

As she chewed on her lip thoughtfully, just at the memory of the event, Xion remembered being very confused by Axel's statement. The fries certainly seemed as salty and as healthy as the potatoes that were made on occasion, but yet the fries weren't allowed? Xion couldn't understand that at all. She also remembered being even more confused upon finding out the things were even made from potatoes, but yet they were so very different.

Xion wasn't entirely sure why it was, but through it all, she'd eventually decided to eat the damn things in secret, and not care what anybody thought about it. She'd even gone as far as to roping Roxas into eating them with her, but she'd been sure to spare him the confusing details she'd learned from it all. The black haired girl also supposed she could have given some of the fries to Axel, but upon realizing he might just give her another confusing scenario that she couldn't understand, she'd decided against it.

"I dunno, Xion," Roxas finally said, as he held his ice cream out in front of him with two hands, and looked down for whatever reason. Instantly pulled out of her thoughts at Roxas' words, Xion could only cock her head to the side, and look at her friend in concern, as he seemed to be almost upset about something?

Wondering fearfully for a moment if Roxas had learned more about what was going on between her, Axel, the Organization members, and Sora, even, Xion found herself preparing for the worst. Would she- would she have to return to Sora that much sooner now? And if Roxas found out, would he try to stop her from doing that? Would he try to absorb her? Or even worse... Xion found herself pondering if Roxas would choose to be selfless, and let her absorb him. Remembering, sadly, how Roxas had once said he'd be there for her—no matter what Saïx said—she thought it probably wouldn't have been too out of character for Roxas to want to protect her.

"I guess I just realized I was going to be late getting done with the mission, and that I wouldn't get to see you guys that day. It made me sad, so I just imagined you guys were there with me, you know? And oddly enough: the Search Ghost I'd been fighting seemed to disappear after that. Weird, huh?" Roxas lamented, as he scratched the back of his neck, and looked over at Xion almost nervously.

As all of this played about in Xion's head, before she was able to completely comprehend it, shock became the only emotion capable of articulating just what Xion was going through at the moment. Pure, unadulterated shock. At first looking at Roxas as if he'd grown to heads, she had to wonder if she was actually hearing what she thought she was, or if she was just imagining the words she wanted her friend to say. Xion had gotten so worked up at the thought of what her and Roxas' possible fates would be, but was it all for nothing?

Elated, Xion found herself very nearly scooching over to Roxas, and jumping into his arms to give him a hug. She knew it wasn't fair to keep him in the dark (and in truth, Xion was actually quite sad that she had to keep things from her best friend), but until she sorted out exactly what needed to happen, Xion knew she wanted to keep things the way they were. It might have been selfish, but if she could just have a few more days with Roxas, without him looking at her the way Axel had after finding out exactly what she was, she would gladly take it.

Especially... especially since Roxas' reaction very well could end up being the worst out of anyone's. Deciding to put all of that from her mind for the moment, though, Xion focused on what she should've been all along: the talk of Roxas in Halloween Town.

"Speaking of the thee of us being together, I wonder where Axel is. I wish he was here with us, but if he was, I guess we couldn't share these French fries, huh?" Digging into one of the many pockets in her Organization cloak, Xion dug out said fries, and when she handed them to Roxas, so he might take one, she had the strangest flashback dance in her mind: at one point, it seemed as though—Kairi, was it? —had passed a box of something similar to Sora. Though the images in Xion's mind (that of what looked like small, golden dough rods dipped in chocolate) was as clear as day, she couldn't quite make out what the food they'd been eating was.

As she was pulled back from the memory that wasn't hers (how she prayed she hadn't just absorbed memory from Roxas for that, either), Xion was close to falling into depression at the thought of why: why couldn't she just have one nice moment of Roxas? Why did she have to have such an existence and be a monster and leech?

As she nearly fell into despair, Xion found herself looking into Roxas' gorgeous blue eyes, and imagining what he'd tell her if he knew the truth about her. No doubt he'd be as disgusted (as he was at the Organization when they did terrible things), and tell her to return to Sora and to give back what wasn't hers. And it was because his eyes were also Sora's—and even worse, hers—that it all became too much to Xion, and she experienced something she never had before: tears.

"Whoa, Xion!" Roxas gasped, as he, indeed, looked at Xion the way she'd always feared: like she had two heads, and put an oddly reassuring hand on her shoulder. At the touch on her shoulder, Xion foolishly found herself hoping she was wrong about Roxas' reaction. Perhaps he hadn't just figured out what she was, and wasn't disgusted by her? He definitely seemed to be smiling at her the slightest bit, but what did that-

Oh. He'd never seen tears before, had he? Xion found herself wondering, as Roxas seemed to be particularly interested in the clear trails running down her cheeks. In truth, Xion hadn't known what they were either, until she'd found Riku crying in his sleep one night, undoubtedly remembering the things he'd done under Maleficent and Xehanort's control.

Smiling a bit to herself at the thought of just how much Riku had changed for his best friend (even though Riku didn't seem to see it yet), Xion found that she felt a strange sense of mirth, in which her tears started to fall for her glee, rather than her sadness. If she could... if she could be to Roxas what Riku had been to Sora, Xion knew there was no other happiness she could wish for in the world. So she would choose for him to live, then (as if there'd ever been any doubt), and for Roxas' survival...she'd embrace her existence disappearing with a smile and open arms. She'd always known what would happen to her, and-

"I'm glad your starting to laugh, Xi. I was just going to say that one of these days we should get some fries—that aren't squished by your cloak—but this method is totally fine! It's cool if we don't do that, but just don't cry over that, okay? I like our own version of the 'icing on the cake', so don't forget to treat it as such."

And so it was, that Xion was able to find her own Light within the Darkness, and argue humorously with Roxas about whether or not French fries looked more like seashells or sticks. Of course, before Xion had even been able to say a word, Roxas had guessed she'd say that the food reminded her of seashells. As she poked Roxas in the shoulder at that, but grinned all the same, Xion was reminded of how Roxas and Axel meant so much her.

With that mindset, Xion decided she wouldn't mind picking up Roxas' idea of thinking of her friends, when she wasn't physically with them, at all, though... Though she'd be a bit smarter than her Roxas, and choose to reflect in a place less fearsome than Halloween Town.

Rolling her eyes at Roxas' obliviousness (something he was none the wiser to), Xion found herself snickering and snickering and snickering. She didn't want to stop. This moment was... it was just so very perfect. She didn't want it to end.

...

Xion's hair stuck to the back of her sweaty neck, as she sat in her room chewing on a sea-salt ice cream bar to cool herself down. Not being able to focus at all, as she felt she was about to die from the sweat that had accumulated because of her recent mission, Xion found herself wondering why mouths had to be on the front of the face, rather than the back. Like, if it was her neck that was downing an ice cream bar at the moment, she knew her neck would have cooled down a long time ago, and-

"Hey, Xion? Can I come in?"

Whirling around hastily, as Xion sensed the familiar form of Roxas at her door, the Keyblade wielder had to wonder if maybe she was losing her touch. How had Roxas snuck up on her? Especially when everyone else should have been sleeping at this hour! She should have sensed him immediately; Xion scolded herself, as she eyed Roxas at her doorway.

Xion had been certain that Roxas would have been in bed by now, as he didn't care about getting reports done as much as she did (and, of course, Axel didn't care about them at all), so what was he doing at her doorway again? Deciding, though, that she'd take Roxas' company over accomplishing something any day, Xion decided to usher Roxas in with open arms.

"Roxas, hey!" Xion exclaimed cheerily, while also trying to keep her voice down, so they wouldn't wake the castle. Though in truth... Xion almost did want to wake her fellow Organization members just to spite them. It was only the idea that if she did that that they might try and make her absorb Roxas all the sooner… that made Xion change her mind.

But even then, Xion was extremely curious as to what Axel had meant about not letting people find her and Roxas in each other's rooms late at night ore in the morning. But, of course, whenever Xion asked Axel of such things, he clammed right up, with what looked to be a blush dusting his cheeks. It was all very, very confusing, indeed, and Xion more than wanted some answers from the friend that had withheld so many from her.

But then again, seeing as how she and Roxas were keeping the French fry thing a secret from their favorite redhead, perhaps it was only fair...

"What do you need?" Xion asked her best friend, with an arched eyebrow, as he came to sit down on the table beside her (literally, as there was only one chair in her room).

"I was just worried about you's all, Xion," Roxas explained, as he waved his hand dismissively, and averted his eyes from her. Closing the folder that had held the files she'd been working on and resting her arms over them curiously, Xion found herself wondering just what Roxas found so interesting about the sickening white walls of her room. He was avoiding her gaze for whatever reason, Xion knew, and in that... and in that she knew that he was hiding something from her, too.

Having gotten a better lid on her emotions after the previous time she'd hung out with Roxas, the Replica fortunately didn't go down the "Roxas knows the truth about me" mental path, but she was very interested and cautious just the same. What could have been so bad to Roxas that he couldn't even face her?

As Xion set to opening her desk drawer, she found herself drumming one hand on her desk, and the other searching for what she wanted. All the while… all the while she wondered just how she could help Roxas. Then, coming in contact with the thing she was looking for, Xion thought she'd found her answer. Fingering a pink thalassa shell in her hand, Xion moved to put it into Roxas' own palm (in an attempt to tell him she was there to talk with him if he needed it), but the moment there hands brushed, she found herself freezing. What was this- what was this feeling? And if Roxas' breath hitching was anything to go by, he was feeling it, too.

"Xion, what's this-"

Shrugging her shoulders nonchalantly (and choosing not to think on the strange sensation she'd just experienced), Xion hastily explained that she had had some seashells left over from the time Roxas'd been in a coma, as he'd—thankfully—woken up sooner than she'd thought he would. Breathing a sigh of relief at the memory, Xion recalled how ecstatic she'd been to find Roxas waiting for her on the clock tower, after she'd been so afraid that she might lose him forever.

Even more toughing than that moment, though, was when Roxas had put the shell up to his ear, and had listened to the exact ocean Xion herself had been hearing. Yes, there were certainly more reasons than one that Xion'd emulated such a thing herself, when she'd woken up to the seashells. And now, as she handed Roxas the last treasure she had for him, and folded his hand around it (to make sure Roxas would hold onto it tightly and forever), Xion told him with her eyes that no matter what happened… she would always help him through anything, and that she'd always be with him no matter what.

"Xion, I was just worried about you after you didn't show up at the Station today, you know? I know it's not easy for you being in the Organization with Saïx and all, and I guess- I just want you to know I care, I guess. I'm not going to say I'm the only one who worries again, but do know that I do worry. 'Kay, Xion?" Staring at Roxas speechlessly, as he flipped open the folder she'd just closed—no doubt trying to help her finish her work—even though he looked exhausted, Xion found she'd never appreciated Roxas more than she did in that moment.

Though she knew she shouldn't have—and that Roxas' words were ones that should have flattered her—Xion had been foolishly hurt that Roxas had thought he worried about her, but never her him. Now, though, for him to not only go as far as to remedy that, but to fill her with some of the kindest words she had ever received, Xion didn't even know how to begin to take it. Surely a trip to Destiny Islands for more seashells was in order…

And somehow, as if seeming to read her mind, Roxas must have seen where Xion's thoughts had led her. As she looked into his eyes in earnest, trying to imagine the exact color of his eyes, so she might find that color for him in shell form, Roxas frowned slightly. Then, upon ruffling her hair and laughing some himself, he explained, "You don't have to get me anymore shells, Xi. I truly appreciate it and all, but I sort of like it remaining a special thing between us, y'know? More than that, though... I've heard about how people can cut their feet pretty badly on the things, and seeing you fall and scrape your skin against Twilight Town's ground before was more than enough for me. I don't think I could even forgive our seashell thing if it served in hurting you. I could just imagine you walking barefoot on the beach, and hurting yourself."

Completely touched at Roxas being so concerned for her that he'd forego a tradition that meant so much to the two of them, Xion found herself smiling wider than she had for a long, long time. It was a secret smile, she knew—as she tried desperately to hide her face from Roxas, and set to work again—but a true smile all the same.

And in truth... Xion felt she wanted to titter just at the thought of Roxas' silliness and kindness. And in the end, while she may have succeeded in hiding a ridiculous sounding titter, a small snort did escape from her lips, as she opted to survey Roxas and try to understand all the little odds and ends that made him who he was.

And was Xion imagining it, or was Roxas... was Roxas blushing somewhat?! Mystified, as memories of what Axel had told her about being in a closed room with Roxas played through her mind again, Xion found herself wondering what might happen if-

"Would you mind if I tried something, Xion?" Roxas asked so suddenly that Xion literally felt as though she'd been ripped away from what she'd been about to do. Pulling back from Roxas' face (that she'd oddly seemed to be moving towards, for some unknown reason), Xion had to wonder why she suddenly found Roxas' lips to be so fascinating, and-

"Sure, Roxas. That would be fine," Xion announced, as she took to tucking some of her loose hair behind her ear, and maybe obscure her red face from Roxas' keen gaze. It didn't- it didn't take a genius to figure out that something was starting to happen between herself and Roxas, and though Xion had been so adverse to anything new happening in her last days... she couldn't shake the feeling that what they were going through now would make somehow make everything better

And as she took a moment to completely take in her surroundings and think, the strange charged feeling that hung in the atmosphere went from being something Xion worried about, to something she thought she thought she wanted more than anything. She wouldn't absorb Roxas, Xion promised herself. And when she was no longer the monster in his life, she'd- "Oh, wow. Roxas your nose is red. Are you getting a cold?"

As Xion's silly and misplaced words reached her ears, she instantly felt frozen and mortified; it was as if someone had poured ice-cold water down her, and froze all of the confidence she'd ever had in place. However, something in Xion's words must have struck something within Roxas, because as his eyes danced with mirth and light as he came closer to her, Xion found herself thinking that even though Roxas' lips were trembling with laughter for the moment... that that wouldn't be the only thing they'd be doing soon.

Confusion and bafflement battled with themselves amidst Xion, as she tried to understand just what the heck was going on between her and Roxas. Why was it- why was it that now that Roxas was closer to the light of Xion's lamp, that she found herself thinking him her personal angel? Why did her arms ache to reach out to him, so that she might embrace him and erase all the unnecessary pain she'd caused him? Why did she... why did her lips long to edge towards Roxas' swollen nose, and perhaps to his own lips after tha-

"Xion, I think I've been having dreams about my past life recently, and- well, this is it." Before Xion could even go as far as to crane her head to the side, and make out the strange look that had appeared on Roxas' face, she found her lips being strangely occupied.

Sitting there uncertainly for a moment, as Roxas moved his lips against hers, and brought Xion into the circle of his arms, Xion's first ridiculous thought was that maybe Roxas was taking on her power, after all. Were his lips not absorbing hers at the moment? It was an unorthodox sort of thing to what she'd come to imagine it would be, but it wouldn't have been the first time her guesses were proven wrong.

And what had Roxas meant about reliving memories from Sora? Was this something that Sora had once done somehow and someway? She'd had no knowledge of Sora absorbing anyone, and- And good god, just what was Xion doing thinking such things, when she should have been focusing on the hypnotizing way Roxas' lips moved with hers?

As all rational thought thrown out the window, Xion found herself leaning into Roxas' embrace even closer, and trying to mirror some of his own actions. Shivering, as Roxas ghosted his tongue against her lower lip and even seemed to nibble on it a bit, Xion didn't even need to think about what she wanted to do with her own tongue. Nay, as Roxas' hands traveled to Xion's waist to deepen the kiss, and Xion's own arms circled around Roxas' neck, she knew what she truly wanted to do was battle her tongue against his for-

"Ack! Xion- tha- Ock! That's enough!" Blinking at Roxas curiously, upon his breaking away from her and opting to cough up a storm, Xion found herself self-consciously wondering if she'd been bad at whatever she and Roxas had just done. But then again, Roxas hadn't pulled away for quite some time, and had even seemed more into it when she'd begun returning his advances. So what, then-

Nearly smacking herself upside the head when she figured it out, Xion had to wonder what she'd been doing in forgetting to let Roxas breathe! Boy was she ever an idiot! In fact, if Axel were with her and Roxas at the moment, Xion could have easily imagined the redhead chewing her out for not realizing she'd blocked all of Roxas' air passages. So was that why Roxas had moved away from her, or...

Deciding that she wasn't going to think too much about it, as what she and Roxas had just experienced was much too thrilling, the raven haired girl took to patting Roxas on the back somewhat (though he didn't seem to be trying too hard to breathe anymore), and wondered about her luck.

As weird as it was to think of, Xion couldn't... couldn't deny the fact that she was almost relieved that Roxas had been the first one to break away for oxygen. It seemed as though she'd "absorbed" him more than her this time, and though Xion still planned for Roxas to be the one to live in the end, it was still a relief to know she wouldn't lose all her strength, before Roxas told her what to do nex-

"You know what's funny?" Roxas surprisingly ventured, as he spoke with a calming tone, and coincidentally kissed the bump Xion had obtained on her own nosy, like she'd thought of doing for him (huh. Had she maybe bumped noses with Roxas', or...).

"No, what's that?" Xion ventured herself, as she looked into Roxas' eyes with a warmth to her gesture that she couldn't quite understand. She still wasn't entirely sure of what they'd just done. And why- Why had it seemed so nice and perfect? Did Roxas understand more about it than he was letting on-

"That you said you worry about me, Xi, and I believe you, I do, but... I don't think you should worry about things quite so much. Even when I was coughing up a lung a minute ago, from the weird thing we just did, it was you patting me on the back that made me able to breathe again. It might sound a little dumb, but I couldn't do the things I do without your presence, Xion. And that's the real reason I think about you and Axel so much."

"Roxas, I-" were the first unprepared words from Xion's lips, as she looked at the concerned, and darkening eyes of Roxas. Xion knew that she desperately wanted to thank her best friend for what he'd just said, and to reassure him that he didn't need to worry, but... she knew that she couldn't. After all, she was eventually going to go back to Sora, wasn't she? And if the theory she had about things was correct, she was more than certain her best friend (no. That wasn't the right word, as Roxas meant so much more to her than that) wouldn't remember her when that happened.

Chewing on her bottom lip sadly, Xion had to note the cruel irony of how just the other day… she and her friends had been talking of remembering that one special sunset forever. But even if she couldn't always be there for Roxas physically, maybe there was another way she could be with him?

Yes, there had to be, Xion assured herself, as she remembered the seashells Roxas had given her. Though she'd been away from Roxas quite a few times lately to hear Riku out, just the memory of his gifts had been more than enough to happily steer her in the direction she needed to go.

And so, Xion promised herself that she'd do the same thing for Roxas. She… she would remain in his heart. And this time- and this time Xion knew that she wouldn't just write about them having hearts to spite Saïx. This time, she knew that it was true, and that she meant every word that she said. This one final thing she could offer would have to be what kept them together, and maybe... Maybe even one day be the thing that led to her, Roxas, and Axel all being together again.

Once again putting the seashell more snugly into Roxas' hand, Xion quickly told him that he didn't need to hate seashells, as she didn't have any plans to injure her foot on one (and she was so, so happy to hear Roxas laugh so beautifully at that), but even more importantly... she told him a truth he would carry in his heart forever. It was something he would always come to stand by, and even when he was sent into a virtual Twilight Town as someone else, he would still remember. "Roxas, being apart is part of growing up. But it's not how often we see each other, but how much we think about each other that truly matters. And I can tell you that you will always be in my heart, Roxas."

And when Roxas turned his head to face Xion with a smile growing on it, it would be that image that Xion held onto as she died (not even realizing that Roxas would hold onto a similar one of her for their last time together). "And you'll always be the girl I cherish and hold dear, Xion."

And if anyone would have doubted the two figures before them had hearts, the sentiment would have quickly went away, when they saw how the lovers' clammy hands locked onto one other's, and they drew each other closer to share one last kiss, as their hearts—literal and metaphorical—beat as one.

Their beating hearts would try desperately to drown out the sound of their tears (ones full of joy and sadness both), but in the end, they would still be heard, and in the end, their tears did come as they held onto each other until dawn, trying to weather not their own storms... but the storm their significant other was going through. They'd be together forever. One way or another…

Author's Note: Happy RokuShi Day, everyone!