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.
Of the thirteen chairs, three were filled by people. Xemnas, Xigbar and Saïx were there.
“Turns out Sora’s a highly influential guy, as they say,” said Xigbar, stroking his chin.
“We didn’t count on it gaining a will or going so far as to be able to change shape, but it means that when it comes to ability as a vessel, the doll is better,” said Xemnas, closing his eyes.
Saïx watched the two of them. Able to change shape—that’s right, Xion is able to change shape. She can change shape to reflect the memories of the person looking at her. However, Saïx had never seen Xion as anything but Xion. They can’t be just any old memories.
Xion is affected by Sora—to put it another way, affected by the Keyblade Hero. And so, to those who have been deeply involved with Sora, Xion’s shape is overlaid, based on those memories, with that of the Keyblade Hero they once saw. The Keyblade Hero is not in my memories, so to me, Xion is Xion—it stays a doll.
Saïx wondered what Xigbar and Xemnas each saw when they looked at Xion. I’ve researched into both of their pasts as humans to a certain degree, but even so there are many mysteries.
“The time is ripe—Saïx, are the preparations ready?” Xemnas asked languidly, and Saïx nodded.
“In a few days, all three of the machines will be operational.”
Saïx was the one to ask something this time. “What is to be done about Roxas?”
“Both Roxas and Xion are by nature influenced by Sora. Everything will be fine if we have control over either one. Whether things continue as is and Xion absorbs Roxas, or whether Roxas defeats Xion and gets the power back, our plans don’t change. Either way, Sora’s power is ours.”
“Understood, sir,” Saïx replied, and Xemnas disappeared.
“…Well, do your best. The best a kid without a heart can do, anyway,” said Xigbar, and he too disappeared.
Left alone in the Round Room, Saïx looked up at the dome-like round ceiling.
We simply need Sora’s power. There’s nothing in this to undermine the plan. And, if there’s nothing to undermine Xemnas’ plan, it means that there’s nothing to ruin our plan either.
However, Saïx was a little uneasy. It’s Axel. I can read his hesitation. Perhaps it was a mistake, letting Axel have this excessive contact with Roxas.
Saïx sighed once, exactly like a human, and disappeared.
I didn’t dream last night, either. I’m sure I slept properly, but my body feels heavy.
His head was fuzzy. The palms of his hands were hot, and I his feet seemed numb. It was hazy around the area of his chest. He went to take a deep breath—and couldn’t. That kind of hurt.
Sitting on his bed, Roxas stared into the space in front of him.
I know something weird is happening to my body. But, even so, I don’t know what to do.
Roxas went to stand up, and had to sit down again, dizzy. What the hell.
And Xion came back and everything, but—but actually, something’s felt off ever since Xion came back.
I’m just a bit tired. It’ll get better in a few days, for sure.
Roxas’ hands lay on his knees. He opened them, then closed them again. Then he clenched them.
I’m okay. I’m definitely okay.
I couldn’t sleep with all this on my mind. Axel frowned, feeling a dull pain behind his temples. Headaches from lack of sleep were unpleasant.
Rather than get complained at for oversleeping, Axel had come to the lobby before anyone else was up, and continued his train of thought on the sofa.
Xion and Roxas—memories and power, Sora… the Keyblade Hero. Beings known as Replicas.
I had met with a Replica built from Riku’s memories once, in Castle Oblivion. I don’t know if ‘had met with’ is the right way to phrase it. But, the truth of the matter is that we met for the first time there.
The doll, made by Vexen, obtained abilities by copying Riku’s memories. That time, the memory witch Naminé was used for the memory copying. But, Vexen did say that Naminé existing in itself was an irregularity. That means that there would have been a way to copy memories to a Replica even without Naminé. If not, then the Replicas would have truly been nothing but dolls.
That made Axel remember the actions of the Organisation members who had pulled out Sora and Riku’s memories in Castle Oblivion. Through battle, Larxene took from Sora and Vexen took from Riku memories that they trapped in cards, and entrusted them to Naminé. Naminé subtly rewrote the memories she was entrusted with, and they were put back in Sora and the Replica.
This probably means that Naminé’s power was necessary for rewriting memories. But if it were only copying, then all you probably really need to do to copy memories and abilities is battle…?
That’s why they’re making Xion move with Roxas, to copy the memories. Memories and abilities are tied together. So Xion is getting Sora’s memories, and acquiring his abilities at the same time.
Last night, I told Xion herself that perhaps she was absorbing more of Roxas’ power than necessary. But, the truth is quite different.
I remember. There was another way that the Riku Replica was able to get abilities—by destroying an opponent with his own hands, a Replica absorbs their abilities completely.
I knew that. That’s why I used the Riku Replica to destroy Zexion. Because I thought it was necessary.
Xion’s already copying Roxas’ memories—no, Sora’s memories, that are inside Roxas. But still not completely. So then, I wonder what the Organisation will make Xion do next.
“Good morning, Axel.”
Axel looked up to find Xion standing there with a gloomy expression.
“Slept well?” Axel asked laughingly, and Xion shrugged and shook her head. “Don’t go thinking there’s no time left. You should still have time to think. Got it memorised?”
Xion looked down. “…I guess so…”
Axel didn’t really know whether there really was any time left.
Xion turned at the sound of the voice, startled.
Saïx was looking down at her.
“A very strong Heartless has appeared at Halloween Town. Head there and put it down.”
Just as Xion nodded, Roxas appeared in the lobby.
Xion turned her back on Roxas. And, Roxas wouldn’t look at Axel. Axel gave a small, wry smile at their childish behaviour.
“Hey, um…,” Roxas began.
“I’m sorry, I have to go,” Xion interrupted whatever he was about to say, and stepped into a dark corridor. Plainly depressed, Roxas hung his head.
Even with being depressed, Roxas’ face is a nasty colour, Axel thought. I just told Xion a minute ago that there was still time. But maybe there really isn’t much left after all.
Also seeing Roxas’ condition, Saïx’s gaze flickered to Axel for a moment before calling out to Roxas. “How are you feeling, Roxas?”
“…Same as always.”
At Roxas’ answer, Saïx flashed a smile. It was a horrible smile, Axel thought for a second, and then he felt his own chest clench.
“I have a special mission for you and your Keyblade. A very strong Heartless has appeared in Halloween Town.”
Halloween Town… that’s the same mission he gave Xion. I smell a rat.
“You’ll go put it down for me, won’t you?”
“Leave it to me!”
“Hey, hey,” Axel found himself saying, “will you be okay, Roxas?”
A displeased expression appeared on Roxas’ face. “…What are you saying,” Roxas muttered in a small voice, and turned his back on Axel.
“Hurry up and go on your own mission, Axel,” Saïx interrupted, urgently.
Mission—but he hasn’t even told me today’s mission yet, thought Axel, looking up at Saïx. Saïx was staring at him. Ah—of course, so that’s it. Axel thought a little sadly of the Saïx who couldn’t tell a lie to save himself.
“I’ll be off then. Later, Axel.” Roxas started walking, disappearing into a dark corridor just as Xion had. Axel watched him go.
“…You planning to get in the way again?” said Saïx.
Axel kept his eyes averted. “In the way of what. Of who,” he asked.
“In the way of us. I trust you.”
Axel cracked a dry smile. “You say that exactly like you would if you had a heart.”
“My memories of the time I did have one are making it so, that’s all. If you get in the way any further, though, the memories I have since becoming a Nobody will overwrite them.”
“…That sounds like a threat.”
“It’s quite similar. Think good and hard about it,” Saïx said in closing, and walked away.
Axel stood there, rooted to the spot.
It was night at Halloween Town, just like always, and everything was wrapped in the damp air particular to that time. Above her head floated a giant, though not heart-shaped, moon.
Xion walked through a graveyard.
There are so many things I have to think about. I can’t find the answer.
…I don’t want to think.
I like keeping myself moving, I don’t have to think, thought Xion, as she defeated Heartless.
Moving deeper into the graveyard through a hole in the wall, she came to a place enveloped in mist. It was the first time she’d encountered such mist in Halloween Town. In other places, the mist had never come as thick as this.
Xion pulled her hood up against the sticky damp air.
This is a pretty—horrible atmosphere, she felt, and at that instant, a presence appeared behind her. She turned.
I didn’t feel its presence until it got so close, how did that…
The Heartless swung the blade in its hand down. Xion jumped back instantly, dodging the blow, then readied the Keyblade in her hand.
The mist is so thick, I can’t see where it will come from next. The right this time—?
Xion blocked the Heartless’ attack and took a step forwards, pushing, and repelled the blade, which then came down at her.
Strong—and fast. But, it’s okay. I don’t get the feeling I’ll lose.
After taking a moment to get to a suitable distance, Xion ran at her opponent. The next attack will decide this…!
Something came slicing through the air—a chakram. Axel’s chakram.
“Stop it, the both of you!” Axel shouted, pushing her and the Heartless apart.
What does he mean?
The mist cleared. Standing there was Roxas.
The opponent she’d been fighting, thinking it was a Heartless, was Roxas.
Cold sweat broke out all over her body. “…The Heartless I was fighting was you, Roxas…?”
The Organisation is thinking—The Organisation is trying to.
Her chest tightened.
“This mission was a trap. It was set up to make you two fight,” said Axel.
The Keyblade dropped from Roxas’ hand, and disappeared. “That’s…”
If Axel hadn’t stopped me… I would have… Xion hung her head.
“Why would the Organisation do such a thing…,” Roxas murmured.
“We’ll talk later. Oh yeah—we can even eat ice cream together like we haven’t in ages,” said Axel, smiling just a little.
Axel stopped Xion from continuing with a look, and patted Roxas lightly on the back.
“Hey, let’s go.”
Axel put his hand on Xion’s shoulder, this time. “You’re coming too, Xion.”
And so, guided by Axel, the group of three stepped into a dark corridor.
The setting sun was dazzling. Roxas narrowed his eyes, then bit his ice cream.
“It’s cold…,” Xion murmured in a small voice, then smiled.
“The three of us eating ice cream together like this… It’s been a while,” said Roxas, returning Xion’s smile.
“That’s cause a lot’s happened lately, hasn’t it,” Axel said.
I’m still worried about what Axel did to Xion, of course. But, even so, being able to eat ice cream with Xion and Axel like this makes me a little happy.
Why did the Organisation make me and Xion fight. When I think about it, my mind fills with so many doubts and worries, but it was Axel that stopped it, and I don’t know what I’d do without him. When I think about that, I think I can forgive him.
Axel has his own thoughts. Xion said it, too; if Axel didn’t do what he did, she wouldn’t have been able to come back to the Organisation. I thought there were other ways to bring her back, but maybe at the time there really weren’t.
“Oh hey, did you guys know that some of these ice creams are winners?” said Axel, letting his foot swing.
“Winner?” Xion asked.
“Apparently, winner can be written on the finished ice cream stick. I’ve never seen one, though.”
“Ah…,” said Roxas accidentally, and loudly.
Axel gave him a weird look. “Hm? What’s up?”
Winner—that’s right. So much happened, and I forgot. The winner stick—I have one. That stick… I’ve been keeping it safe, thinking to show Axel. Not to Xion. When I found it, I wanted to show Axel.
“N-nothing. Anyway, does something happen if you win?”
When I show Axel the winner stick, I’m sure he’ll be so surprised. Thinking about it makes me happy somehow. The truth is, I know what happens if you win, but I’ll keep that a secret.
Axel tilted his head. “Well—probably?”
“Don’t you know?” Roxas asked, teasingly.
“Well… it is winning after all, so it has to be something good, right?”
“Something good…?” Roxas asked.
“Hee hee hee…,” Xion laughed. Roxas and Axel looked at her. “The two of you are close, aren’t you?” she said, and then she looked out at the setting sun. “Such a pretty sunset…”
Drawn by the admiration in her voice, Roxas and Axel looked at the sunset too.
A red sunset, just like always.
With the setting sun shining down on it, the whole world is red.
“It’s the same sunset we’ve always come to see, but it looks especially pretty today,” said Xion, and Roxas thought she looked a whole lot more refreshed than usual. “It would be nice if the three of us could always be together like this…,” Xion said.
It would be nice, if the three of us, could always be together, like this. I think so too. I hope so. I want it.
“—Hey, why don’t the three of us go off somewhere?” Roxas said.
“Huh?” Xion stared at Roxas. Axel didn’t say a thing.
“If we did, then surely, we could be together always.”
If we stay in the Organisation, then surely, we can’t be together always. Then, the three of us should go away somewhere.
Xion shook her head. “We can’t… do that…”
Really? I want to say that’s not true. But… “…Oh… I guess you’re right…” I know it’s impossible. I don’t know. Maybe, just maybe we could. But right now anyway, we definitely can’t. Maybe they’ll annihilate us, and, I dunno, I get the feeling other bad things would happen. Like, for example, being forced to fight Xion.
Axel, who had been silent the whole time, finally opened his mouth. “The important thing isn’t that we see each other every day, but—”
“That we think of each other, even when we’re not together, right?” Xion finished for him.
That’s right, the important thing is to think of each other.
“I’ve got it good and memorised, Axel.” Xion laughed at Axel.
“…So you do,” Axel said, taking a bite of his ice cream. He didn’t look at Xion, just kept gazing at the sunset.
“I’ll always have it memorised. I… could never forget.”
“I could never forget either,” Roxas said. I could never forget. I could absolutely never forget. The three of us watching the sunset like this, too—absolutely not.
I promise—that I will never forget. Even if the three of us are separated someday, I could never forget.
The setting sun shone on the three of them.
Continue to Chapter 6: Chairs