Written by: Kanemaki Tomoco
Original Plan: Nomura Tetsuya and Nojima Kazushige
Illustration: Amano Shiro
Copyrighted by Disney, Square Enix and Touchstone Pictures. No profits are gained from these unofficial fan translations.
This white room is kind of like Castle Oblivion, thought Riku as he sat down on one of the chairs that were set out.
He was in a room inside the building known as the haunted mansion, which lay on the outskirts of Twilight Town.
And, on the other side of the table sat a blonde girl. Her name was Naminé.
And, the name of a girl with different-coloured hair, sleeping in a certain place, was Xion.
The two girls have more points in common than just appearance. Yeah. They’ve both cooperated with the Organisation in the past.
“So we were able to meet again,” said Naminé.
“Do you remember our promise?” Riku asked.
“I do—I made that promise about Sora, didn’t I.” Naminé looked down. Her sketchbook lay at the end of her gaze. “I’m sorry,” she said in a small voice. “Maybe I can’t keep my promise.”
“What the hell is happening?”
“There aren’t enough of Sora’s memories,” Naminé answered, her gaze staying wandering around the table.
Take care of Sora for me.
That was the promise that Naminé had made with Riku at Castle Oblivion, many months before. Naminé the ‘memory witch’ was the only person with the special power to unchain and reconnect the memories that had once been rewritten there in Sora.
I’m sure Naminé once said that memories never disappear. That it would take a while, but after that he’d be back to normal. “What do you mean?”There aren’t enough memories? What the hell does that mean?
“Sora’s memories are flowing out through his Nobody…,” said Naminé, as if speaking to herself. She finally looked at Riku. “More and more of Sora’s memories are being absorbed by her,” she said in a clear voice. She spoke the truth.
‘Her’—that’s Xion. In that place right now, Xion is sleeping. I don’t know whether that’s an effect the memories of Sora flowing into her have had on her body.
“So you can’t just put Sora’s memories back to normal?” Riku probed.
“If they still exist as fragments of memory, I think I could take them back…” Naminé’s gaze fell once more to the table. “But, if her own memories mix together and connect with fragments of Sora’s memory, it will take a long time to put back, just like with Sora right now. And if I do that, it will take even longer to wake Sora up—and there’s no way DiZ would allow that.”
Naminé was staring at a picture drawn in her sketchbook. Riku couldn’t really see what it was from where he sat.
“Can anything be done?”
“If her memories recombine, when Sora wakes up, maybe there won’t be a single person who knows him. I couldn’t do a thing like that. Her memories include the fake memories created at Castle Oblivion, Sora’s own memories, and memories that have flowed in from various things, all mixing together. I can’t tell which memories are the right ones, and which aren’t.”
If we give Sora’s awakening top priority, everything else can’t help but be sacrificed, I guess. But, even so… is there really nothing that can be done, I wonder. Do two individuals really have to be sacrificed for Sora’s sake, I wonder. DiZ would definitely say that Nobodies aren’t individuals or anything. But, now that I’ve gone and gotten involved, I don’t want to do these things. Like annihilate Xion, having that face and all.
“It’s already too late. Sora’s awakening is already going to be much later than planned. Sora’s Nobody and that being that absorbs memories have both gone and gained a self awareness that we didn’t predict. Maybe… it’s already a fact. If they aren’t destroyed, Sora can’t wake up.”
Naminé showed Riku her sketchbook. She had drawn three people wearing Organisation coats. The red-haired guy I met just now at Castle Oblivion. The other blond-haired one is Sora’s Nobody, who I haven’t met yet, and the black-haired person is Xion.
“Originally, her face wasn’t visible. But, now I can see it clearly.”
For her face to have been originally unable to see… I wonder what that would mean.
Before Riku could ask, Naminé continued. “I think it’s proof that she is being filled with Sora’s memories. The memories of Sora and of his Nobody, and also her own… There’s no longer any other way… to bring all of this mess together.” Naminé closed her mouth.
No longer any other way… but, still. “I understand,” Riku replied, standing. And then, he left the room behind him.
I don’t know when I fainted. When I woke up, I was in this very quiet room. But it’s a kind of lonely room.
Xion got up, and shook her head slowly. There was no-one in the room.
I must have—yeah, I collapsed in Castle Oblivion. I found out about myself in that castle. My true identity—
I—wasn’t me. I wasn’t anyone. But, well then, who am I?
Then, Xion REMEMBERED where this place was.
This place—I know it, Hollow Bastion. The world where Riku and Sora fought. And, this is the little room that Riku used during the time he spent under Maleficent. I remember. I absolutely remember what happened the first day I came to this world. About Riku, about Sora, everything.
Xion got out of bed and left the room.
So, Xion—where do you think we should go from here?
Today is the 257th day, and the 2nd day since Xion left.
Today is the 258th day, and the 3rd day since Xion left.
I know I have to do something, but I don’t know what.
Roxas sat at the usual place, arms wrapped around his knees. He hadn’t brought ice cream.
Axel’s not coming. Maybe he’s avoiding me. I don’t know why he would, but the fact that he’s not coming here when things are like this gives me no choice but to think so.
I didn’t hear anything about Xion leaving the Organisation, but maybe Axel did. I should ask him directly, but I’m scared for some reason. I can’t even go to his room. I wonder why something like that would be scary.
Doing nothing but wondering what on earth to do, days passed for Roxas.
Today is the 262nd day, and the 7th day since Xion left.
Every day is just moving past. All I really know is the date. I don’t really remember what I did on my missions. I feel terribly hazy somehow. I can’t gather my thoughts. I dream.
Of course I don’t remember what I dreamed about. Not just dreams; I can’t remember anything. I know I’m not remembering. It feels like something is wrong with me somehow, but. But, I don’t really understand that, either. Xion’s not here. I can’t see Axel either. That’s why I don’t understand.
Since I just dream and dream, even though it’s my own self doing it, I’m never really sure whether I am asleep or not. It even feels like. Maybe everything is a dream.
Am I hazy because I haven’t slept well? Or am I hazy all day, which is why I don’t sleep well? Even during missions I’m so sleepy. Not sleepy. It feels like my head is always full of fog—just like I’m always in the twilight.
At the Round Room were the usual three: Xemnas, Xigbar, and Saïx.
“It is necessary to further reinforce Roxas’ memories while Xion is gone,” said Xemnas.
“The arrangements are all settled,” answered Saïx.
Xigbar snorted at him. “How do you see Xion?”
“What do you mean?”
Vague words. A clear will is the only thing of any importance, Saïx was thinking.
Xigbar grinned in reply, and asked Xemnas this time. “It doesn’t matter if you get the meaning. What about you?” Xemnas looked at Xigbar. “Don’t you and me sometimes see eye to eye, as they say?” Xigbar said, shrugging, and Xemnas smiled.
Is that a yes, or a no?
“Keep an eye on Roxas.” Without answering Xigbar, Xemnas made himself disappear.
“Yeah, do your best now.” Xigbar followed after.
I wonder what on earth Xigbar was trying to say…
Xion wandered the worlds like a vagrant, Riku following her the entire time. And then—she reached a familiar world.
Riku felt his heart start to pound slightly faster.
He sniffed at the smell of the salt water. The sound of waves—the blue sea and the blue sky. The homeland he had thrown away one year ago…
I hadn’t thought I’d come back here like this, with no time to prepare my heart.
Xion was stumbling towards the shoreline.
Riku cast his gaze towards the horizon. This was Destiny Islands. The ocean of his homeland.
You destroyed your homeland!
Words flitted through his mind, ones Zexion had thrown at him in Castle Oblivion.
I did come home once, to a fake Destiny Islands in castle Oblivion. I saw Wakka then, and Selphie, and Tidus. Kairi, of course, and Naminé too. But that was an illusion made from memory.
Feeling a slight headache, Riku pressed his temples.
Xion turned, as if she felt something. And that face—
His headache went splitting.
The waves dissolved Xion’s footprints.
The waves washed away some sand, revealing a shell.
It was a thalassa shell.
So that even if someone becomes lost on the journey, we’ll definitely be able to come home to the same place.
That’s the keepsake for journeys.
Xion picked up the shell.
Just then, Riku felt someone’s presence. Xion turned.
“…Roxas!” Xion said in a small voice. It was the name belonging to the silhouette that had appeared. She made one step forwards, hesitated, and then hid herself in the shadow of a rock.
That boy that’s appeared on the beach is wearing a black coat like us—that’s Roxas… Sora’s Nobody. Riku checked the boy’s figure. I can’t really tell if he looks like Sora from here.
Roxas picked up the shell that Xion had dropped.
At that moment, Xion said “—Ah…,” in a small voice. She pressed her hands to her head.
Xion’s body collapsed onto the sand, and Riku rushed over instantly, to take her up in his arms.
At the sound of my voice, a boy opens his eyes. No… was it me who opened my eyes?
I had the feeling that I’d talked with someone on the edge of this island, where that girl was sitting before, so I came here. But, I don’t really understand. I… was a boy? Or someone other than that?
Who on earth am I?
I want to watch the sun sink into the sea on the edge of that island, the three of us together.
That we’d all go to the beach.
Don’t forget, Roxas.
The mission he’d been ordered to take was to investigate a new world. It was a place he’d never been—and a world he’d never seen.
Usually, going to unknown places isn’t something I hate. But right now, I don’t really know.
Roxas narrowed his eyes at the world that unfolded on the other end of the dark corridor.
Blue sea—bright, clear sky. This world is called… must be… oh yeah, Destiny Islands. It’s kind of a strange place, thought Roxas, as he walked to where the waves lapped at the shore. The tip of his toe bumped against something. It was a shell.
It’s the same shape as the one I got from Xion. Maybe Xion’s also been to this world? The ocean… maybe this is the beach we were all going to go to together.
Just then, he saw a shadowy figure on the pier used to cross over to a little island to his left.
A black shadowy figure—a coat.
Roxas broke into a run.
“Xion!” he yelled, now above the beach.
Xion turned, hood still up, and then she put her hands on it. From under it was revealed—Zexion.
Why? Shouldn’t he have been annihilated? What is Zexion doing in a place like this?
“The truth is, you should have known it would turn out like this,” Zexion stated.
“What do you mean!” came a sudden voice from behind, and Roxas turned. There was a silver-haired boy that Roxas didn’t know.
Zexion was speaking to the boy. “Before you reached this place, you travelled through many worlds of your memories. But, beings of darkness should have been all you met there.”
My head hurts.
Hurts like it’s splitting.
The silver-haired boy glared at Zexion. “In your heart, there is nothing left but memories of darkness. The memories of your homeland—have disappeared.”
“You’re lying! I remember everyone just fine! All my… my… important friends.”
The boy is… screaming. No… the screaming is… coming from… who? Me? Xion…?
“Who was the one who threw all those friends away?” said Zexion.
Like I’d throw my friends away.
“Did you forget your own actions?”
Like I’d forget.
“You destroyed your homeland!”
Like I’d destroy anything—!! But, I don’t know. Maybe I did destroy my homeland. My homeland—where is that? Do I have a homeland? The sound of waves is loud and annoying. My head hurts.
“By any chance… Riku…?” murmured Naminé, looking up at the pod in which Sora slept.
Memories are flowing out of Sora, and at the same time, fragments of memory are coming back into him. I sense a great number of memory fragments. One—no, way more.
Fragments of memory of so many people—There, Riku memories are also mixed in. I have handled Riku memories once before, when I copied those memories into the Replica, so I recognise them.
Why is she absorbing even Riku memories? What on earth is happening?
And, you—what on earth is she?
Riku held Xion’s fallen body quietly in his arms. It seemed as if she had lost consciousness.
Riku’s head hurt, which was making him frown.
What’s with this pain…? Just before, when I remembered Zexion’s words, the slight headache I was feeling got horribly worse; the pain got remarkably strong. I’d never felt a pain like that before, and it made me fade out of consciousness for a moment. What’s happening?
“Who… on earth… am I…?” Xion said in a small voice, her eyes still closed.
Feeling uneasy, Riku pulled his blindfold up a little and looked at Xion. For a moment, Xion’s face… looked like someone else’s.
That’s not Naminé or Kairi, that’s, that person.
In that hallucination-like instant, Riku’s headache receded critically.
What the hell is this?
Just then, Riku looked up at the sound of running footsteps on the pier. He saw Roxas’ running figure disappear into a dark corridor.
The three of us are watching the sunset. We promised to go to the beach, right? See, that’s why—right? Xion watched the setting sun sink into the horizon. Roxas was beside her, and so was Axel. They were wrapped in the sound of waves. The three of us watched the sunset like this some time ago, didn’t we. But, I know. This is an illusion. It’s just a dream, showing me what I want.
“Am I not supposed to exist?” she asked, in a small voice.
“What do you want to do, Xion?” Axel asked. Xion thought for a little.
This has to be the first time I’ve been asked, and come to see the answer.
“I… want to be with you two.” Yes. I only want to be with the two of them. But I’m irregular, I’m a fake. I don’t even have the right to be an Organisation member.
“Then come back,” Roxas said.
I’d want to, if I could. “But…. I can’t go back, not like this. Hey, how could I become the same as the two of you?”
Roxas and Axel gazed at the sunset, without answering her question.
Xion stirred in Riku’s arms. He had never intended to actually come into contact with her like this, or save her like this. He had only intended to give this person called Xion who affected Sora’s memories a little help in leaving the Organisation. And, he had intended to keep an eye on what Xion was doing.
I never thought that I’d make contact with her in this place—the island of my homeland.
“You are…?” Xion asked, sounding pained. After hesitating a little over how to answer, Riku decided to tell the truth.
“…Sora? You know Sora?”
“Yeah.” Riku helped Xion stand.
“…Thank you,” Xion said, and Riku shrugged slightly. He wasn’t used to being told that.
“You saved me? Why?”
“Well—why, I wonder,” said Riku evasively, listening carefully to the sound of the waves. This sound never changes. The sound of the waves—the sound of the tide.
Xion looked at the edge of the island, and then she opened her mouth. “Can I ask? About the… the girl who is always with Sora.”
“Kairi, then.” Saying her name made Riku’s chest hurt a little.
“Kairi… the girl who looks so much like me.”
“She’s someone Sora really treasures,” Riku answered, looking out at the horizon. It hadn’t even been one year yet, but that day they’d talked on this beach felt like a terribly long time ago.
“I remember about Sora and Kairi. I’m a doll that was created, but I have these memories that I shouldn’t. What on earth… are these memories?” Riku gazed at the waves without answering. “Where is Sora now?”
“That’s something I won’t tell anyone,” Riku replied.
“Why…?” Xion asked, and then Riku resolved to tell her everything.
If Xion was born from Sora’s memories, then Xion is one piece of the whole Sora. It feels wrong to lie to that.
“You… Your memories are made from Sora’s memories.”
“I’m from Sora’s memories…?”
Xion looked down. The waves were wetting her feet.
“Apparently the scattered fragments of Sora’s memories are flowing into you. Right now, Sora is sleeping so that he can have his memories reconnected—but.”
Riku went to continue, but Xion turned and looked up. “Those fragments have flowed into me… and so, Sora can’t wake up…”
“Yeah—that’s right. If I take you to him right now, the memories belonging to Sora that are inside you can definitely be taken out and returned,” Riku said.
Xion looked away for a second, but then she turned and looked at Riku. “…Do you hate me, for robbing you of your friend?”
“No… I’m just sad,” Riku answered. What I’ve come to understand from actually talking to Xion—is that Xion is a girl who makes me think of Sora, and of the Kairi inside Sora. That’s why I can’t hate her. I can only be sad.
“I’m sorry. But, I can’t go away now. I have friends that are very important to me.”
Riku used his conscience to ponder those words. The strength to frankly and clearly state what’s in one’s heart. That’s a strength of Sora’s.
“If so,” Riku replied, “you need time to think. Think, Xion. About where you really should return.”
“Where I… should return?” Xion hung her head again. Her wavering, and her distress, is just like Sora’s too.
“I wonder if I… really can think of the right answer.”
“Whether your thinking is correct is not something for only you to decide, you know. You and your friends should think of a way to make the situation good for everyone.”
I guess this is just sophistry. No, there’s no reason for it to be, thought Riku looking out at the horizon once more. The sun, already sinking, was dying the ocean red.
“I understand… Thank you, Riku,” said Xion, finally showing a small smile.
I should resign myself to it soon.
Axel bit his ice cream, staring vaguely out at the setting sun.
What should I do? What do I want to do? Feels like that’s all I’ve been thinking about for a long time.
Built replicas, and non-existent Nobodies. We aren’t that different, thought Axel, and he sighed. Hearts don’t exist for Nobodies. We have a self. A self that is controlled by memories. I’ve been thinking lately, if all my actions are controlled by memories, then perhaps I’m not controlled only by my human memories, but also the memories of yesterday, and the memories from an instant ago. It’s probably just that the memories from those human days, when there was a heart, are overly vivid.
What do I want to do? And, what am I supposed to do? I don’t really know whether bringing Xion back to the Organisation would be the best thing for her. Though of course, the answer to that is something that would be decided while eating ice cream here.
The evidence—look here.
“It’s… been a while,” said Roxas, sounding surprised, and Axel turned with a smile.
“Has it?” Roxas expression is kind of absentminded. That’s to be expected, I guess.
Roxas sat down next to him like usual, and opened his mouth. “Today… I went to the beach on a mission.” He took a bite of his ice cream. “I think I saw a girl who looked a lot like Xion…”
Axel stared at Roxas. Roxas’ eyes were a little glazed.
“But, maybe it was my imagination… I don’t really know. Dunno if today’s mission was even real…” Roxas bit his ice cream again. “I feel like I just woke up.”
It looks like Xion’s disappearance has had an effect on Roxas.
Roxas kept speaking, without looking at Axel. “We promised before, didn’t we? That the three of us would go to the beach next holidays.”
“Maybe that’s why… it felt like Xion was at the beach today.”
Roxas stared at the setting sun.
I should—resign myself, shouldn’t I… Definitely.
Axel stood up leisurely, and stretched wide. Then he said, “…Shall we go look for her?”
Roxas finally looked at Axel. Axel smiled at him.
“Tomorrow, after our missions, let’s look for Xion before we come here.”
“Mm… yes, let’s do that!” Roxas nodded, and stood up like Axel. Then he smiled.
I wonder when the day will come that the three of is will go to the beach… Axel thought suddenly, seeing that smile, and to deny the next thought that floated up, he stared at the sun.
Continue to Chapter 2: Quickening Memory