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.
Xion sat on top of the bed, hugging her knees. This is no different to when I was in the Organisation. There’s no way around it. I have to decide already.
Yesterday, seeing Axel and Roxas again after so long made me happy. I was happy—but, I didn’t know what to show on my face.
Xion looked up at the sound of a knock on the door.
“I’m coming in.”
The door opened, to show Riku standing there.
“I went to Twilight Town,” said Riku, walking over to the side of the bed.
“What do you mean?” she asked, looking up at him.
“I just told them where we are.” Xion didn’t really understand Riku’s words. Noticing the odd look she gazed up at him with, he continued. “You already know there’s not much time, don’t you, Xion.”
There’s not much time left. But, I don’t know what to do. Riku’s not here to save me. The one Riku wants to save is—Sora. But, he’s helping me for Sora’s sake.
“All I can really do is give you time to decide on this very important matter. On top of that, there are limits. So, Xion, maybe it would be better for you to go back over there.”
“You don’t have to give me an answer right away. But, there’s not much time. Knowing that, it should be easy to work out where you should spend the time you have left.”
Xion looked down again, lost in thought. Yes, yes that’s right… Riku wants to say that either way, the ‘returning’ part will be the same, so I should return to the Organisation before I do. The way things are, there’s a bad effect on both Roxas and Sora. I wonder why I’m so scared of returning to the Organisation. I’m not scared of Saïx and Xemnas. I’m—scared to face Roxas. But, I know that it can’t go on like this. I have to return—to the place I should return to.
My first thought on waking up, every time, is that I want to sleep more. Still, it’s not like I haven’t been sleeping, and it’s not like my stamina isn’t recovering.
It’s just, it’d be great if I could spend one day relaxing and sleeping, that’s all. My memories from my human time are probably to blame for that.
Even when morning comes, this world is dark. Outside the window, a heart-shaped moon floats in a sky as dark blue as it is at night.
Axel rolled over in bed. There was still a little time before he had to go to the lobby. Then, he remembered what had happened yesterday.
When Roxas passed out at Castle Oblivion, he called out Riku’s name. And, once when Xion passed out, she called out Sora’s name.
Did Roxas remember something at Castle Oblivion? Roxas shouldn’t know that Riku even exists, let alone his name. For him to call out that name, it can only mean one thing. Roxas’ human memories must have returned in some form.
But, on the other hand, I’m uneasy.
Maybe it was a mistake to take him there, knowing he might remember something. I took him there thinking we might find out where Xion is, but I didn’t think we’d meet the real thing. And, the other one, the man in the coat, was Riku—
I’ve come into contact with him at that castle so many times.
Axel thought he didn’t really want to remember the things that had happened when Roxas was still new to the Organisation and Axel had gone to Castle Oblivion on a mission, and about the Replica doll. Because, it was none other than himself that had decided on where the Replica would go.
What the hell has changed since then? I don’t know if it’s me myself, or the Organisation, or something else entirely. But, something has definitely changed since those times.
The relationship between Roxas and Xion is something like a mirror, one reflecting the other. But, is that really all? Xion is a vessel that copies Roxas’ ‘abilities’.
Each Nobody gets their personality—their abilities—from their memories of their time as humans. What are abilities, anyway? I wonder why they occur.
When I think about it, the existence of memory is what comes to mind. We are bound according to those memories, and so, we get our abilities according to memories. If that’s true, then it wouldn’t be strange for Roxas and Xion to be linked according to those ‘memories’.
Xion copies his abilities, and at the same time, she’s absorbing even Roxas’ memories into her body. But, is that really all?
Roxas called Riku’s name at Castle Oblivion. I had thought that Roxas’ memories had reacted to the special magnetic field in that Castle, but maybe I was wrong. Roxas’ memories had all gone horribly vague.
“…It can’t be, can it…,” Axel muttered,
Is Xion really only copying Roxas’ memories and abilities? That doubt floated up. In any case, it doesn’t look like there’s any way I can make that judgement on my own.
“…Such a pain in the ass,” Axel muttered, the face of the person he should be informing of all this floating before him. It was so much fun back then. Why did it end up like this?
The heart I remember sizzles with pain. Breaking a friendship was this painful, was it? I lost my heart, so I don’t really know.
“Still feel sluggish, but I’d better get up…”
Axel sat up and stretched widely, then he rolled his neck. To talk to Saïx, he would have to get to the lobby a little early.
Doesn’t look like I’ll spend today in a very nice mood either.
I don’t feel like I slept well. I knew it. Roxas sat up in bed, and rubbed his eyes. Between his eyebrows and deep in the very middle of his head felt heavy.
Yesterday—yesterday, I saw Xion. Why was she avoiding me? Why did she run away from me? I’m sure Axel noticed that it was her, too. Axel was certainly the one who said let’s go look for her. That’s why I looked as hard as I could. But, I get the feeling that Axel wasn’t as desperate to find her as I was.
Yesterday was like that, too. He wasn’t in that much of a hurry. It’s because Axel is a Nobody—because Axel hasn’t got a heart—that it isn’t that painful for him to have Xion gone, for sure. But then I should be the same. Why has it been so painful for me since Xion left? I think I’m sad. It’s like every day is vague, shrouded in an ash-coloured haze, and it’s like time is just passing, it’s no fun.
I don’t really know what’s going through Axel’s head while he looks for her. I don’t really understand Axel.
Roxas got out of bed, and did some simple preparation in front of the mirror.
I wonder if I’ll have time to look for Xion again today…
Shaking his head in order to clear the restless feeling inside his chest, he left the room.
He walked down the hallway, towards the lobby. And on the way, he saw—Axel and Saïx.
“So you’re telling me to do it?”
“Seeing as Xion and the black coated man have forged a connection, there’s no other way.”
What an interesting conversation. Roxas got closer to them, but the moment they noticed him they stopped talking.
“…Axel?” Roxas said unconsciously, and Axel averted his eyes.
Why did he look away? Were they saying something they didn’t want me to hear?
Not knowing how to continue, Roxas was lost for a moment, but then Saïx spoke first.
“Xion betrayed us.”
The words knocked his breath out. But, Saïx had a follow-up hit. “You saw her moving with the fake Organisation member too, didn’t you? It’s a clear act of betrayal.”
“Just because she was with him doesn’t mean she has betrayed us!” Roxas yelled, reflexively.
Why the hell would just moving with him mean betrayal, that’s, that’s—there’s no way. He looked at Axel automatically. But, Axel’s eyes were still averted, and he stayed silent. Why won’t you say something for me, Axel?
“That’s just what you want to think, isn’t it,” said Saïx, sounding fed up.
“Maybe she’s being threatened by that guy…,” muttered Roxas, and Saïx snorted.
“Hah! Your human-like way of thinking is so nauseating.”
But I can’t think anything else. Xion couldn’t betray the Organisation—betray us. Roxas looked down, and clenched his fists. “What do you mean, human-like…” Why should humans and Nobodies be that different. Roxas looked up and glared at Saïx. “You have to trust your partners,” said Roxas, flaring up.
“Just stop, Roxas.” Axel restrained his arm. “Just, calm down a little.”
Roxas bit his lip. I don’t know what’s what.
Saïx looked down at the confused Roxas. “It seems that the fake Organisation member has appeared in Twilight Town again today. Finish your job from yesterday, Roxas.”
“Finish…,” Roxas faltered.
“If you hadn’t let him get away, it wouldn’t have come to this,” said Saïx, detachedly. “I order you to put him down.”
Roxas looked down, unable to answer.
“Axel. You are to incapacitate and bring back Xion. If it seems compelling it to RTC will be difficult, then I don’t care if you destroy it.”
“That’s…!” The breath died in Roxas’ throat. “That’s too—destroy her?!” Roxas looked like he was going to start punching any moment now.
“Calm down, Roxas,” said Axel, restraining him again.
“That’s all. Prepare quickly, and head off on your missions,” said stated to the two of them, then went away.
Left behind, Roxas bit his lip and looked down.
After a delicate silence, Axel scratched his head. “Ahhh… what a pain,” he said, sighing.
Roxas looked up. “You’re really going to listen to an order like that!?” he yelled, letting out the feelings he wasn’t able to snap at Saïx.
Upon having those words thrown at him, Axel scratched his head again in a resigned manner. “I’ll do something clever once I’ve found Xion, so don’t worry.”
“Trust me,” said Axel, patting Roxas’ shoulder.
Trust—I want to. I know. But. Roxas looked down again. I want to trust in Axel. I do trust him, but.
“More importantly, that imposter is pretty strong. Take care.”
Roxas nodded, still looking down. “…Got it.”
“First of all, we’ll split up in Twilight Town.”
“…Why?” Roxas asked, looking up. Why do we have to go to the bother of working apart…
“Because we can search more efficiently, of course. Okay, let’s hurry up and get going.”
Urged forwards, Roxas started walking. I’m not really—happy. But, I don’t know what I should do. I wonder what I have to do to make this gloominess go away…
I wonder if Roxas noticed my lie. Axel walked down the sloping road that lead from the station plaza to the tram plaza, thinking vaguely. It would be great if he didn’t notice, but—but, that’s being optimistic.
Roxas is starting to get dissatisfied with the Organisation over Xion. I didn’t want to think about it, but I’m part of the cause of that, and at the same time, it’s linked to my worry that maybe he doubts me.
But, Axel still didn’t really know what would be the best course of action to take for Roxas’ sake, and for Xion’s sake.
I can’t even predict what kind of things will happen from now on due to contact made between Roxas and Xion. All I know is that Xion is copying Roxas’ memories and abilities.
And, I still don’t know what will happen… as the copying progresses.
Axel kept walking.
I want to make contact with Xion before Roxas, if I can. That’s why I said we’d split up. If I can make contact first, I think perhaps I can cut down any extra friction.
I wonder how I can come to a conclusion where no one gets hurt, and everyone gets what they want. Maybe something like that doesn’t exist. But, even so, I still want to struggle for it.
Axel kept walking.
Not knowing what to do, Xion stood on the roof, looking down at the tram plaza. Usually, we’d buy ice cream at that shop there, and the three of us would eat it. I wonder if the three of us can eat ice cream together again.
Riku said that if I waited at Twilight Town, then Roxas or Axel would surely come. But, I’m still wavering. Should I meet Roxas and Axel—should I return to the Organisation?
Someday I’ll have to leave. But now…
Just then, Xion saw a familiar shadow in the tram plaza, and stood up. “Roxas…”
Roxas stopped walking, looking around restlessly like he was looking for something. Something—probably me, or Riku.
I don’t really know if I should show up in front of Roxas. I don’t know what I should do. What do I do…
Just then, Roxas looked up. He’s staring right at me.
At the sound of Roxas’ voice, Xion fled instinctively.
I don’t know what kind of face I should meet him with. He’s chasing me. I don’t know what I should say to him. Riku said so. That there wasn’t much time left. I wonder how much there is, then. And, he didn’t tell me what I should do.
All he did was give me the slight outline of a path.
She ran. She panted. And, then, she hesitated. Far into the plaza, where the parking space was—a dead end.
I can’t run away any more. She stopped. She pulled back her hood. She looked at Roxas.
Roxas was smiling in a strange, troubled way. He got closer. She looked away unconsciously.
“Axel and I were looking for you this whole time,” Roxas said.
Her eyes stayed averted. “I see… Sorry,” Xion apologised, unable to find any other words, and at the same time wondering what she was apologising for. Maybe for selfishly leaving the Organisation, or for… There are too many things I have to apologise for, I don’t really know.
Roxas moved closer, and held out his hand. “Let’s go back together. If you come back voluntarily, then I’m sure Saïx won’t say annoying things to you.
Saïx—no, Saïx isn’t the problem. The problem is me, myself. Roxas doesn’t know that. My chest hurts.
Xion looked down, pressing at her chest.
“No matter what that guy says, I’ll protect you.”
She looked up at those words. Roxas’ smile made her chest hurt even worse. I, I’m…
“Me and Axel will protect you, Xion—”
Xion shook her head, cutting him off. That’s definitely no good. I’m sure it won’t work. “I can’t go back,” Xion told him.
“Why? Why not?” Roxas asked. But, she still wasn’t able to reply.
Because, I don’t have an answer yet. Xion turned her back on Roxas. I want to run. I want to escape from here. From the Organisation—from Roxas, from myself.
Roxas grabbed her hand. She stopped.
I don’t know. What it would be good to do, what I should do, I have absolutely no idea. If I can’t escape—hey, maybe that, then?
Xion slowly turned to Roxas, and made a Keyblade appear in her hand.
This Keyblade was like a present from you, Roxas. But, I’m sorry, Roxas. I definitely still can’t—
Xion pointed her Keyblade at Roxas, and at that moment, something bounced her Keyblade back.
A spinning blade—A chakram…. Axel…!
Xion looked in the direction the blade had come from.
“Fiiiinally found you, Xion.”
Axel was standing there, all smiles. Roxas turned to Axel, too.
Ahh, so that’s how it is. Maybe. No, I think so.
Xion ran at Axel. She swung the Keyblade down. I don’t intend to lose, but I’m not sure. Axel knows that for sure. I mustn’t go back to the Organisation after all, that’s what I think. What does Axel think?
I heard Roxas. But, I’m sorry, Roxas. Axel definitely knows about me, and on top of that, he’s telling me to return to the Organisation. And, I—even though Riku gave me this chance, I can’t go back with things like this.
Axel and Xion took a suitable distance from each other. Xion let out a battle cry, and ran at Axel.
“Stop!!” Roxas yelled.
I wonder why I stopped. It’s like the air stopped—no, like my breath stopped.
Then a presence behind her, and impact—and Xion fainted.
I was one step too late. I didn’t find Xion first, Roxas did.
Axel had folded his arms, and listened to their conversation.
I’d thought if Roxas could persuade Xion, I wouldn’t mind that either. But, the path Xion chose was refusal.
And the path I chose—was to secure Xion. At the time, it was the only thing I could do, and I made that judgement in an instant. I intended to choose the path that would cause Roxas the least harm.
Even now, I don’t know whether I made the right choice. But, even so, at that moment I meant to make the best choice.
Xion had flinched for a second at Roxas’ voice. Axel had gotten behind her in that unguarded moment, and hit her in the neck. He’d grabbed her as she fainted, and turned his back on Roxas who came running over, opening a dark corridor. And then, he’d RTC’d alone.
I still don’t have the words I’m going to use to explain things to Roxas. I don’t know how I should explain things, but my own thoughts are complicated. I have hesitations. That’s why I turned my back on Roxas. Maybe Roxas—holds feelings of distrust towards me. But, even so, I couldn’t have done any differently.
Xion is hesitant. That’s why she refused Roxas. And, Axel had no idea if something was happening to Roxas and Xion. The time when I’ll have to make a ‘final decision’ will come, and for the sake of that, for now it’s necessary for me to obey the orders of the Organisation—and what Saïx says.
I wonder what Xion will do now—what will become of her.
Axel looked at Xion’s face as she slept in a pod, and thought of the future.
Roxas hung his head. The setting sun shone on his back, stretching his shadow long.
Why… what for? I don’t understand anything. I don’t really understand why I was left all alone here in Twilight Town. And, I don’t really understand what on earth just happened, either.
Xion raised her Keyblade against me, and Axel threw a chakram to deflect it. I couldn’t do a thing.
Why did Xion turn her Keyblade on me? Why the hell did she say she couldn’t come back? And, why did Axel attack her?
He didn’t have to attack her. I’m sure there was more room for talking, so why?
Roxas turned to the setting sun, and narrowed his eyes against the dazzle.
I want to hurry and see Xion. Roxas opened a dark corridor, and stepped inside. Once I reach the castle, before anything else, I’m going to Xion’s room. She should definitely be sleeping there.
Axel was waiting for Roxas to return, but pretending it would be chance. He stood against the wall in the corridor, staring vacantly into space.
For Xion to have been placed in a pod instead of in a bed, it means she’s not being treated like a ‘Nobody that was once a human’ any more. Xion’s situation—and true nature. I still can’t let Roxas know.
Axel turned his face towards the call. Roxas’ expression was harsh. Of course, Axel thought, smiling despite that. “Hey, Roxas,” he replied.
“Where’s Xion?!” Roxas asked, so forcefully that it used up all his breath.
“Safe,” he answered.
“Why would you do something like that!” Roxas shouted, grabbing the collar of Axel’s coat.
“Like what?” Axel returned, quietly.
Axel’s calm tone seemed to dampen Roxas’ outburst, and he looked down. “Why would you attack her all of a sudden…,” he asked, in a small voice.
It made Axel sigh exaggeratedly, and he shrugged. “I did what I had to,” he answered.
Roxas, still clinging to his collar, shook his head like an unwilling child. “…I’m sure you didn’t, you know?” Roxas’ own voice sounded uncertain, too. “Cause, we’re best friends, right?” he continued, in an even smaller voice.
“That’s not what this is about,” Axel said slowly, freeing his collar from Roxas’ hands.
Roxas looked up. The gaze that shot from his blue eyes—was sharp. He’s never looked at me like that. My chest aches just a little.
Axel sighed heavily once more. “If that’s all, I’m off,” he said.
Roxas hung his head again. His expression threw Axel into sudden uncertainty.
I did it with the best of intentions, that’s all. For Roxas’ sake, for Xion’s sake, for the Organisation’s sake, for Isa’s sake—and more than anything, for my own sake.
Axel turned his back on Roxas and walked away.
I did what I had to. That’s what Axel said. Really?
Roxas kept his head down, biting his lip.
Maybe Axel’s right. But, he shouldn’t have had to attack her like that. Above all else, I want to hear what Xion has to say. I want to see her.
Roxas looked up, and ran for Xion’s room.
Separating himself from Roxas, Axel started walking down the corridor, feet stopping at the sight of a person.
He was probably waiting for me. Standing there against the wall with his arms folded was once my best friend—Saïx’s didn’t take his eyes off the ground to look at Axel.
“…You’re sure this is for the best?”
Saïx finally turned his face to Axel at those words. “For you to say such a thing out loud…,” he said.
Such a thing—he must mean the uncertainty I’m holding inside my chest.
Saïx moved off the wall, and came closer. “Which is more important to you, that doll, or Roxas?”
Axel looked away. Which is more important—he’s asking like we have hearts.
“Let’s change the question. Which is of more weight, the useless friendship you play at, or Roxas’ annihilation?”
Which is of more weight? That’s obvious. I know. Of course I know which I’d prefer, out of Roxas and the doll.
“Everything is back to normal. Of course this is for the best, isn’t it?”
The reason I’m unable to answer Saïx is probably because I depend on him, thought Axel.
“Xemnas has also been irritated at the recent changes in plan. Everything has to go back to normal, for the sake of our goal too… Lea.”
Axel finally looked over at the sound of that nostalgic name. Saïx was looking at him. It made him think of his time as a human, and the memories came surging back.
To a Nobody, our memories are the same as our ‘heart’. I remember. I won’t forget. But, the days I’ve spent with Roxas and Xion are also part of my memories now.
Axel looked away from Saïx again, and lowered his head.
Xion’s not here.
Roxas flew out of Xion’s room, and started running. Xion’s not here. But Axel brought her back. Why. His uneasiness multiplied.
He found Xaldin in a hallway.
“Hey, have you seen Xion?”
“Xion? Huh, no idea.” Xaldin seemed to have no interest at all.
“Oh okay,” Roxas replied, and tore off again, heading for the lobby.
Why am I so uneasy, I wonder. I want to talk to Xion. About Axel, about how things will be from now on, about how things have been up until now.
In the lobby, Luxord was sitting on the sofa, lining his cards up on the table.
“Do you know where Xion is?” Roxas called from behind Luxord.
Luxord stopped shuffling the cards in his hand, and turned to Roxas. “Xion? Back, are they…”
“You haven’t seen her?”
“I only just found out they are back, so why would you think I knew where they were?” Luxord answered, and went back to shuffling his cards.
Roxas let out a small sigh, and looked down. No one knows about Xion. Axel would know—but I don’t want to talk to him. Saïx might know, too. But I really don’t think Saïx would just obediently tell me about Xion. The last one left is—just maybe.
The face of someone Roxas hadn’t talked to once since joining the Organisation floated up before him. Roxas turned and stared out the window. The huge heart-shaped moon floated there.
Xemnas—Xemnas might know about Xion.
Roxas bit his lip and clenched his fist, and left the lobby.
So I know I want to ask Xemnas, but I don’t really know how to see him. The place to meet Xemnas is—the usual Round Room.
Roxas headed for the Round Room. Now that I think about it, I don’t think I’ve ever walked like this to the Round Room—no, I remember. When I first came to the Organisation, when Axel took me, I entered the room like this. We just don’t enter the room like this when we’re summoned.
Opening the large door, he saw the thirteen chairs side-by-side. And, just as if he had been waiting for Roxas, Xemnas was there.
Xemnas was resting on his elbow, looking down at Roxas.
“There’s something I want to ask,” said Roxas, hastily.
“What is it?” Xemnas replied, serene.
“I would like you to tell me what happened to Xion,” he questioned.
Xemnas’ lips twisted into the shape of a smile. “Xion is an important member of the Organisation. Right now, they are taking some rest. Don’t worry.”
Xion is an important member of the Organisation—hearing that made Roxas feel just a little relieved. So did the words ‘taking some rest’. But, Roxas got the feeling that Xemnas wouldn’t permit him to ask any more.
Just then, the world suddenly warped. I know this warping. It’s the same warping I experienced recently at Castle Oblivion. I’m dizzy. Roxas dropped his head and bore it, willing his body not to fall apart.
I heard a voice. No, this is a memory. I get the feeling that Xemnas called me that, when we were on that beach once.
“…Sora,” Roxas murmured. Xemnas smiled. Roxas looked up at Xemnas.
“Who is Sora?” Roxas asked no one in particular, and Xemnas looked at him.
After a silence, Xemnas muttered, “The connection…”
“Connection?” Roxas returned, not understanding the meaning of Xemnas’ words.
“You and Xion live connected by ‘Sora’. That’s why Xion was added as a member.”
Xion and I are connected by Sora… what does that mean?
“If you want Xion to remain in the Organisation, don’t go astray with unnecessary questions. We’ll have Xion return to missions tomorrow.”
Roxas couldn’t think Xemnas was lying. Connection—what is a connection, I wonder. But Xemnas is saying that if I want Xion to stay, I can’t have unnecessary questions. That’s fine, I suppose.
He hesitated. Then Roxas nodded, feeling that more than his questions, more than anything, the most important thing was for Xion to be in the Organisation. “…Understood.”
Seeming satisfied with Roxas’ response, Xemnas disappeared from his chair.
Roxas, left alone in the middle of the Round Room, murmured Xemnas’ word one more time.
Continue to Chapter 4: Absorption