Chapter 4: Absorption

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Written by: Kanemaki Tomoco
Original Plan: Nomura Tetsuya and Nojima Kazushige
Illustration: Amano Shiro
Translations: Goldpanner
Copyrighted by Disney, Square Enix and Touchstone Pictures. No profits are gained from these unofficial fan translations. 

 xxx

That’s definitely unusual.

So nervous her breath was constricted, Naminé looked up at Sora’s pod.

It can’t be—oh no, is it all over?

DiZ entered the room on hurried feet. “What happened?” he asked in a strong tone.

“Sora’s memory restoration—has stopped.” Naminé looked down at a monitor on a machine next to the pod. Checking the data revealed that to be the same.

“What do you mean,” DiZ pressed.

Naminé blew out a small breath, and looked back up at the pod. “If things go on like this… Sora won’t be able to wake up.”

At Naminé’s words, DiZ looked up at the pod, too. “Then all that’s left is to take the tough route.”

“But…!” Naminé responded, automatically. She looked down. Really, I knew the day would come when we’d have to, as DiZ said, take Sora’s memories back even by force. I knew, but even so, when I think about Roxas and her, I don’t think I can do it.

“Nobodies aren’t allowed to exist. You too know this, Naminé.”

The words stabbed into her chest. “Yes…” That’s right, Nobodies are not allowed to exist. Neither am I. But, but even so, it definitely… hurts.

Head still down, Naminé stared.

As if looking down at her, Sora slept in the pod.

xxx

Sitting on his chair in the Round Room, Xemnas looked down at Saïx.

“Was how we dealt with Roxas and Xion… really for the best?”

Saïx’s tone of voice was completely different to usual, as if he were talking to an old friend.

“Xion has now strayed from our original plan. However, it seems that this has produced interesting results.”

“Results?” Saïx questioned, not satisfied with Xemnas’ answer.

“The key—”

Key. Everything is connected by the key, isn’t it. The key to the worlds, the Keyblade. Is the Keyblade itself the ‘key’ to solving all the mysteries?

“Just as we predicted, Xion received influence from Roxas. It was desirable for us, but things went even further, and through Roxas she received influence from Sora, and went and gained too much of a self.”

Sora’s influence was stronger than we had predicted. It’s probably because the Keyblade Hero’s power really is that mighty.

“I thought the plan had failed, but—instead, Xion existing now shuts away a part of Sora’s memories.

In other words, these happenings that our Organisation didn’t predict were probably also unpredicted by Sora, who is probably sleeping on some world somewhere, and those who protect and help him.

“If we keep Xion by Roxas’ side like this, Sora will not awaken.”

“I see—but what about the black-coated man?” What I’m interested in is the black-coated man—in other words, Riku.

“Don’t let him have any contact with Roxas from now on. He’s no more than foreign matter that will make Xion less perfect,” ordered Xemnas, and Saïx lowered his head respectfully. “So then, everything will go according to the original plan—”

In a place Xemnas couldn’t see, Saïx’s mouth twisted into a smile. Everything will go according to the original plan. Nothing is shaky.

That’s right, isn’t it? Lea.

xxx

I woke up on a bed. But I remember sleeping somewhere else until just now, in a huge machine—in a pod. Xion closed her eyes again. I remember so many things. Maybe, it’s that I haven’t forgotten. I didn’t dream. I feel completely refreshed. I even feel like my body is lighter. I don’t know what happened to me inside that pod. Maybe the pod had the power to heal damage to a doll.

Xion sat up in bed, and took out a shell that was under her pillow. She looked at it.

Promise—time.

If Axel hadn’t done what he did, then I wouldn’t have been able to return like this. And, if Riku hadn’t urged me to return, I’m sure I wouldn’t have been able to return either.

And Roxas—Of course I think that maybe, for Roxas’ sake, I shouldn’t have returned. But, even so, I want to find my own path.

There’s surely still time. I’m not too late. Because we’re friends.

Xion squeezed the shell.

xxx

My cheeks are cold.

“W-what is this…”

He scrubbed at his cheeks. They were wet for some reason. Everything looked blurry.

He was in his bed. In his same-old room—Kingdom Hearts floated outside the window.

I had a dream. The dream felt very painful. A dream in which two people who were important to me disappeared right in front of my eyes. Because I was weak. Because I couldn’t use the Keyblade.

Maybe, when she wasn’t able to use her Keyblade, Xion felt like this.

Roxas sat up in bed, and stared vaguely into space. I feel kind of—sluggish. Tired. I don’t feel like I even slept. I want to go back to sleep. It’s probably because I dreamt. But, I always dream. I don’t usually remember them this clearly, but the fact that I dreamed isn’t any different to normal.

Roxas looked at his own face in the mirror. It was the same face as always. My eyes look a bit red, but it’s probably because I’m sleepy.

Roxas got ready, and headed for the lobby.

xxx

Xion was in the lobby. So was Axel. Remembering Xemnas’ words yesterday, Roxas felt a little relieved.

Xion is properly in the Organisation—they didn’t dispose of her. I’m so glad.

“Sorry for worrying you, Roxas,” called Xion. Axel stood behind her, arms folded

“Nah, as long as you’re okay, it doesn’t matter.”

“…I worried Axel too, didn’t I,” said Xion, turning to Axel.

“Don’t worry about it,” Axel answered.

Roxas suddenly didn’t know what to say to the two of them. I don’t know why Axel attacked Xion like that. Axel was serious. He would have defeated her for real.

Thinking about it made Roxas uneasy. And, in the same way, Axel hadn’t spoken to Roxas.

Perhaps sensing the awkward atmosphere, Xion tilted her head. “Are you okay, Roxas? Your face looks a bit sickly-coloured…”

“No it’s not, I’m fine.”

“…Really…?”

Xion turned back to Axel, sounding anxious. But, Axel didn’t say anything. And then, Roxas walked over to Saïx in silence.

“Today, you will be taking a mission with Xion,” Saïx ordered. It made Roxas a little bit more relieved. At the same time, he was also glad that his mission wasn’t with Axel.

“Got it. Xion—let’s go.”

“…Yeah.”

Roxas started walking alone, stepping into a dark corridor.

“Wait, Roxas,” said Xion, chasing after him. She turned to Axel just before he entered the corridor.

“Don’t push yourself,” said Axel. A smile spread across Xion’s face, and her figure disappeared into the dark corridor.

xxx

The mission was to exterminate a giant Heartless in Agrabah.

The air in Agrabah is like always—too dry, making breathing feel difficult.

No… did it really feel like this when I came here before…?

Roxas stared at the palm of his hand, and willed the Keyblade to appear in it.

It’s okay—just like always.

“Roxas?” Xion called, coming up behind him. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” Roxas answered, and the Keyblade vanished. Maybe it’s because I didn’t know what to say to Axel. And maybe there’s some other reason. I can’t calm down for some reason. The sluggishness I felt when I woke up this morning is still lingering.

“The colour of your face is off…”

“It’s your imagination,” Roxas answered. Usually I would be much happier to be on a mission with Xion, but I can’t work up that feeling. “Let’s go.”

“O-Okay…”

Roxas broke into a run, kicking up dust and dirt.

xxx

Roxas seems a little off somehow. Getting anxious, Xion followed after Roxas. They went from the city of Agrabah to the depths of the caverns, defeating Heartless. I don’t know exactly what’s off, though. Roxas was defeating Heartless with bare rage, and she was unable to call out to him. Something’s weird, Roxas.

“Looks like a dead end…”

Roxas stopped. Xion suddenly remembered something.

Do I know this place…? No, I don’t know it, but my memories do. “I remember…”

“Huh?”

Xion moved closer to a blank wall. Yes, it’s definitely this wall.

“They keyhole is… here.”

Xion held the Keyblade high, and a keyhole appeared there.

“…See?”

Xion turned to Roxas—and at that moment, a memory surfaced. She stopped breathing. She felt dizzy.

The boy facing the wall with his Keyblade is—that’s… who are you? Are you Sora?

“Xion!” Roxas was holding Xion up, who had crumpled. “Are you okay?”

“Y-yeah…”

As Roxas held her securely, Xion looked into his face. Roxas’ face looks so similar to the boy in my memories.

“So similar…,” Xion murmured.

“Huh?” Roxas asked.

Just then—the ground rumbled.

“It’s here!”

The two of them readied their Keyblades at almost the exact same time. The huge round Heartless—a Spike Crawler—came falling down from above their heads.

“Let’s go, Xion.”

“Yeah!” At the sound of Roxas’ voice, Xion broke into a run. My body feels so light. Like I could fight and fight forever.

Xion swung the Keyblade down, aiming for the Spike Crawler. The Keyblade hit the top of its’ hard body, and she really felt the impact.

The Spike Crawler, spinning round and round, struck out at Roxas.

“Roxas!”

“Ugh—”

Roxas hit the wall. So… Roxas really is off?

Xion kicked her feet into the ground, gripped the Keyblade, stood in the Spike Crawler’s path, and stopped it moving. Then, she swung the Keyblade down on its head once more.

I feel like I’m overflowing with strength.

The Spike Crawler crashed and fell, turning into light and disappearing. Without even waiting to make sure that the heart flew up, Xion ran over to Roxas, who was still collapsed.

“Roxas!”

Roxas slowly tried to stand up.

“Are you okay?”

She peered into Roxas’ face, worried. Just as I thought—he’s definitely off.

“I’m probably just a bit tired.” Roxas smiled faintly.

That should definitely not be the case—but. “Are you really okay?” she asked one more time, and Roxas smiled and nodded.

“Of course I’m fine. Okay, let’s go back.”

His face was still a sickly colour. I’m uneasy. Maybe this is because—maybe.

Roxas started walking quickly, and Xion followed after, clasping her hands to her chest as if trying to smother the anxieties.

xxx

Having finished the mission, he ate ice cream on the clock tower with Xion. I wanted to eat ice cream like this with Xion again for so, so long.

Roxas ate his ice cream, staring in front of him. Today was kind of weird. It felt like my strength was being sapped, and I had trouble breathing the whole time. But I’m just tired, definitely.

“Are you really okay?” Xion asked, sounding anxious, and Roxas smiled.

She’s finally come back, I don’t want to worry her. “It feels pretty weird,” Roxas said laughingly, and he took another bite of his ice cream.

“Huh?”

Roxas shrugged. “Having you worry about me,” he said jokingly. Xion laughed a little too, dragged in.

“Hey, what do you mean by that?” she said, putting a hand on her hip exaggeratedly and talking in a cranky tone. It was funny, and Roxas laughed out loud again before answering.

“I’m always the one worrying about you, but today it’s backwards and I’m having you worried over me—it’s a strange feeling.” Because it’s always me and Axel worrying together over Xion.

“I do at least worry about you,” Xion said.

I wonder if I really was in such a state as to make her worry about me—I can’t really tell, myself. I just had this sensation like my body wouldn’t do what I wanted it to.

Not wanting that conversation to go on any longer, Roxas changed the subject.

“…It’s so great that you’ve come back, even though it happened like that.”

“…I guess Axel isn’t coming,” was the reply Xion dropped—

Roxas hadn’t expected Xion to bring Axel up, and his chest fluttered again.

“—Well… I dunno.”

Xion peered into his face, looking a little anxious. “Did you guys fight?”

Roxas looked down, clenching his fists. “That guy… how could he attack you out of the blue like that….” I knew it, I couldn’t forgive him. I can’t comprehend what he did.

Xion sighed heavily. “But, if Axel didn’t do what he did, I wouldn’t have been able to come back,” she said calmly. She didn’t seem to mind what Axel had done at all.

My words won’t come out. I don’t know what to say.

“Aren’t the two of you best friends?”

“…You’re my best friend too, Xion.”

Xion sighed again, looking troubled. “…I want to eat ice cream, the three of us,” she muttered.

She wants to eat ice cream, the three of us—so do I. But, I don’t know what to say to Axel, or how I’m supposed to make my face look when I see him.

“The sunset is pretty again today,” said Xion.

Roxas looked up too, and gazed at the sky.

The day when the three of us will be able to eat ice cream together again—will that day really come…?

xxx

I definitely want to talk to someone about what’s happening to Roxas—I want to consult someone about it. To someone… no, I want to see Axel, and talk to him. I think I have to.

Returning to the castle, Xion went in search of Axel.

Maybe he went back to his room…

Walking along the corridor that lead to Axel’s room, she caught sight of a red-haired figure from behind, and called out. “Axel!”

Axel stopped walking, and he’s turning to me.

Xion ran up to him.

“Do you need something?” Axel said, somewhat coldly, and the words died in Xion’s throat. What do I do…

“Uh… Um…”

“If you don’t need anything I’m going,” said Axel, and he went to walk away, but Xion grabbed his coat. I have to show some courage.

“R-Roxas has been off lately. Do you know anything about it?” Axel turned to her again, and Xion found strength in it. She kept talking. “He says he gets tired from using the Keyblade. And today, I fought like him… And, um…” What do I do, I can’t find the words.

Axel sighed heavily. “You know him better than me, don’t you?”

Xion stared up at Axel. “What do you… mean?” His tone is still cold. But I have to ask.

“What do you think, Xion.”

“…I don’t understand.”

“You don’t understand… right. Is that because you’re a doll?” he shot.

Xion’s breath was knocked out.

“You were originally a Replica built to copy Roxas’ power. If Roxas’ power is getting weak, and yours is getting strong, then maybe you’re absorbing more of Roxas’ power than necessary.”

The truth stripped bare made Xion hang her head.

Yeah—yeah, that’s right. I am a doll, created by the Organisation. A doll created to copy Roxas’ abilities. But, but, you know—that’s really not all I am.

Surely Axel doesn’t know everything. Maybe there are things even I don’t know. What’s hidden in my own body? “I… What should I do?” she murmured. I can’t find an answer.

“Think about it yourself. You’re not just a doll, you know.” Axel put his hands on both her arms, and she looked up. His expression was serious—and kind. “You’re our best friend, okay—got it memorised?”

Xion nodded. “Yeah…” Axel’s reply is probably the exact same as Riku’s. That, it’s something I have to find on my own. Riku—that’s right, Riku… and, that boy.  “Axel, there’s something else on my mind.”

Axel let go of her arms. “What?”

“Today, I saw a boy who looked a lot like Roxas.” Axel’s expression flickered in surprise for a moment. “Hey, is… is my power really just to copy Roxas’ power…?”

“…I don’t know either.”

Xion looked down again. “I see…” If it wasn’t just power. Her chest hurt from anxiety. If the boy I saw today was Sora—then…

“Memories and power…,” Axel announced unexpectedly, and Xion looked up.

xxx

Continue to Chapter 5: Xion-Seven Days

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