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 got up out of bed, and got ready as usual. Then, she looked into a mirror that sat in a corner of the room.
The usual me. And, not the usual me. Xion stared at herself in the mirror. That’s—someone else, not me. But, maybe I know who that is, that me reflected in the mirror. A boy who looks a lot like Roxas.
Xion looked down for a moment, then she looked back into the mirror. Her usual self was reflected back at her. Thoughts just as unstable as her own self, Xion smiled.
Riku gave me this time. It can’t go on like this. I have to decide. Before the Organisation gets serious and does something.
This is the limit. Naminé looked up at Sora’s sleeping pod. Sora was sleeping, as always. And, all action had stopped. “Sora…,” she murmured, and bowed her head at the presence of two people behind her.
“It’s come to a complete stop, hasn’t it,” said DiZ, looking up at Sora.
“Yes…,” Naminé answered, and she too looked up at Sora once more. Sora, who looks like a lifeless shell. Maybe having no memories means that the Sora in front of my eyes isn’t really Sora, but his container.
“We cannot hesitate a moment longer. You understand this too, don’t you?”
At DiZ voice, the other one there—Riku—nodded. “Yeah.”
I wonder what Riku plans to do. About the kid. And, I wonder what that kid plans to do. My chest feels tight. Nobodies aren’t allowed to exist. Neither am I. But—‘that’s why’, they say.
Indecisions developed in her thoughts.
“If so, you should act quickly.”
“…I guess you’re right,” Riku answered, and he left the room.
“What do you plan to do, Naminé?”
“I will watch over Sora, here.”
“I see. Do as you please—Witch.” DiZ disappeared.
Alone in the room, she said the boy’s name once more, as if it were a prayer. “Sora…”
Opening his eyes, he felt a little more refreshed than usual.
I didn’t dream. I was so surprised about what happened yesterday—that the opponent I tried to fight was Xion. I don’t really understand what the Organisation is trying to do. I wonder what they wanted to have happen from making me and Xion fight. But, Axel saved me. I’m sure he’ll stand by me from now on. And, it was great that the three of us were able to eat ice cream together for the first time in ages. I was able to forget those awful things.
Oh yeah—ice cream. The winner stick.
Roxas sat up, and opened the drawer of the little shelf at his bedside. Rolling around in there were a lot of shells—and deeper, one stick.
I totally forgot. I wanted to use it when with Axel some time. Today at the clock tower, I’m going to show Axel and Xion, and brag, and then we’ll all eat ice cream together. Just like yesterday…
Walking the hallways, he tried to gather his scattered thoughts. He hadn’t slept well today, either. Axel shook his head slowly, trying to dispel his sleepiness, but he still felt hazy remembering what had happened yesterday.
The Organisation tried to annihilate either Roxas or Xion. I’m thinking about what I should do, what I want to do. I want to know a way to save both Roxas and Xion. I want to respect both their wishes. I wondered all night whether there’s really and truly no way to do that—and, of course, I couldn’t find the answer.
“It seems you chose the selfish course of action.”
Axel stopped walking. I didn’t notice he was there—Saïx. He turned. “What are you talking about?” he answered, smiling thinly.
“Our plan does not require two of them. You understand this, don’t you? One is plenty.”
When you say ‘we,’ who do you mean? Axel wanted to ask suddenly, giving a bitter smile instead. We—Is ‘we’ the Organisation itself? Or is ‘we’ just Saïx and me? I don’t really know any more.
“Think good and hard about it.”
I am thinking. I’m thinking so hard that I’m sick of it. I’m thinking so hard that I just want you to tell me the answer. He wanted to tell him so, but Saïx had already started walking towards the lobby.
It’s just like that back is rejecting me. And, I’m realising that my memories of the past are too different from the thoughts I’m having now. Why the hell am I here? I don’t really know any more. What the hell do I want to do?
Axel entered the lobby, following Saïx.
“I’ll be counting on you today, Red,” came a sudden and unexpected voice, and Axel stopped walking. It was Xigbar.
“What do you mean?” Axel asked, and Xigbar shrugged.
“Tell him, poppet.”
Xion, standing behind him with her hood up, nodded. Her hood was pulled far forwards. I wonder why.
“Xigbar and me and you have a mission together today,” she said.
Axel found himself looking at Saïx, who stood in the middle of the room. Saïx was only gazing over at them in silence.
A mission for this particular set of members—there has to be some kind of ulterior motive here.
“Not satisfied with me?” Xigbar said laughingly.
“It’s just the first time the three of us have gone out,” Axel replied, shrugging. “Why would I be dissatisfied? It’s not often that we get to take a stroll with No. 2, now. Right, Xion?”
“That’s true,” Xion replied. Her hood in the way, Axel couldn’t really tell what her expression was life.
“So, why are you wearing your hood up today, Xion?”
“…I didn’t sleep well and my eyes are swollen,” Xion replied in a small voice. The reply made something twinge in Axel’s chest, but he didn’t know why.
“What a girly reason, ha ha,” said Xigbar, his laugh sounding put on.
“…Morning,” Roxas greeted.
At the sound of Roxas’ voice, the three of them turned to the entrance to the lobby.
“You’re a bit late, aren’t you?” answered Saïx.
“I didn’t sleep well…,” said Roxas, looking away. He walked over to Xion. “Are the three of us going out today?”
Without waiting for Xion, Saïx was the one to answer him again. “You’re alone for your mission.”
“…I can’t swap with Xigbar, can I?” Roxas suggested.
“How extraordinarily childish you seem. So you can’t do anything if Axel isn’t with you?” Saïx went on to say. Roxas bowed his head, and bit his lip.
“That’s not… true.”
I want to send a lifeboat, but even if I did it probably wouldn’t do anything. It’s more important that I find out the hidden flip side to today’s mission.
“Your mission is separate. Hurry up and get ready,” Saïx said, running Roxas down.
“…Got it,” Roxas answered.
Xigbar put his arms around Axel and Xion, friendlily. “Well then, we’ll be off. See ya, kiddo.”
“I’ll talk to you later, Roxas.”
Roxas nodded to both Xigbar and Xion.
“Don’t push yourself too much,” Axel called out, last, and Roxas looked at him. He was smiling just a little. Maybe what happened yesterday dispelled Roxas’ doubts, a little…
Then, Axel and the other disappeared into a corridor of darkness.
Roxas’ mission was Heartless extermination in Twilight Town. It was a same-old boring mission, thought Roxas, wielding his Keyblade. The winner stick was in his pocket.
But—I feel so uneasy for some reason. The weird combination of Axel, Xion and Xigbar is playing on my mind. It’s the first time I’ve seen the three of them have a mission together. I have a hunch that something special might happen.
Then, he remembered the events of the previous day. The Organisation made Xion and I fight, what did they want from that? If we fought with our true natures hidden, one of us could have been wounded. At the very worst, destroyed, maybe. Was the Organisation trying to get either of Xion or I destroyed?
Either of us… Was it even really either one?
I’m sure the Organisation knows—Saïx knows that I haven’t been feeling well, realised Roxas. If so, was it me who would have been destroyed…?
Roxas stopped. The gloominess deep inside his chest spread wider.
Is the Organisation trying to have me destroyed…?
The mission was mediocre; it didn’t seem worthy of three people. Axel providing cover for Xigbar and Xion, they pushed further into the forest. They were in Wonderland. It was a world composed of strange gardens and richly coloured forests.
Xion had kept her hood up the entire time.
Something feels off. I don’t know the true nature of it. Yesterday’s happenings—Xion’s abilities. Every time I think about those things, I get irritated. I stop being able to settle down. I stop knowing what I want to do, what I should do.
“That’s my Poppet! Leaving me with nothing do to here,” said Xigbar, grinning as he watched Xion fight. He turned to Axel. “Don’t you think so, Carrot-top?”
“Yeah. I have no idea why you’re here either,” said Axel, with only the slightest hint of sarcasm.
Xigbar laughed like it was unbearably funny, body almost bent double. “Hahaha. So very true. It’s because I tagged along on my own selfish whim, that’s all. Guys shooting for power do make a point to listen to guys like me.”
Guys shooting for power—he means Saïx. Axel listened to Xigbar in silence. I’m sure Xigbar has noticed Saïx and my conspiracy. So, he’s trying to trick me into revealing the truth.
“Don’t be so guarded. I’ll tell you something nice.” Xigbar put an arm around Axel’s shoulder, and whispered, “It’s about the doll. Or maybe to you I should be using the word Replica?”
Axel looked at Xigbar’s face reflexively. His expression was the same as always; plastered with a grin.
“That there is a new model of doll. A better version of the one you would have seen at Castle Oblivion. It doesn’t just copy. Even without defeating its opponent, it can absorb abilities along with memories. And, it can change shape in response to the memories of whoever is looking.”
Sweat broke out along Axel’s back. His insides were buzzing. “…What do you mean?”
“I mean this—Hey, poppet,” Xigbar called to Xion.
Xion stopped her hand from destroying a Heartless. “…What?”
“Don’t you think it’d be okay to take that hood down about now?” Xigbar put his hand on Xion’s hood. The moment he did, Xion cut Xigbar down with the Keyblade.
“—Xion?!” Axel yelled, reflexively. Xigbar came thumping down in front of him, thrown back. Xion’s hood had been dislodged in the process.
And standing there was—
Xigbar stood up, laughing. “Haha!! So that’s how it is!!” Xion pulled her hood back up in a hurry. “For me to be able to see you, well, that’s something.”
What the hell does Xigbar see Xion as? And the way Xion looks to me—why do I see her like that?
“Why do you always glare at me like that?” Xigbar asked, and Xion pounced. The two of them clashed, and Xigbar hit the ground. Xion panted for breath, Keyblade in hand. Then, she spoke.
“I’m sorry, Axel. I can’t be in the Organisation—I can’t be by Roxas’ side—any longer.”
“Are you serious?” I can’t judge what I should do in a split second.
“Please, just turn a blind eye… There’s no longer any other way. Look…” Xion slowly pulled her hood down. Axel’s breath caught. Standing there, just like he’d seen before, was—Sora. “Please Axel… protect Roxas.”
“But… you—” His words wouldn’t come out. Of course, I don’t know what I should do. And, I don’t know what I have to do to be able to protect Roxas.
“Please!” Xion said, sounding as if she would cry any minute, and Axel dropped his head. “Thank you, Axel.”
Xion—Sora smiled, and pulled his hood up again.
“…Xion,” Axel called, but Xion didn’t turn around. He simply stepped into a corridor of darkness.
His chest fluttering somehow, he couldn’t settle down. No one had come to the clock tower. It’s not rare for no one to come. But it makes me really uneasy.
Xion definitely did say “I’ll talk to you later” this morning. I thought that meant if I waited here she’d come, which is why I came.
I wanted Xion and Axel to deny my idea that the Organisation wants me destroyed. To say there’s no way that could be true.
Not just that. I actually brought the winner stick, today…
Wanting very badly to meet Xion or Axel, Roxas opened a dark corridor to return to the castle in a slight hurry. Waiting on the clock tower made his uneasiness multiply, and he didn’t know what else to do.
Maybe something happened to Axel and Xion that made them have to go back to the castle first. And, I wanted to talk to Xion, just a little. Xion is probably hiding something from me.
Halfway down the hallway to Xion’s room—were Saïx, Axel, and Xigbar.
“What were you trying to pull, Axel,” said Saïx.
“The old man here misunderstood, I didn’t let anyone go. It was a simple escape,” replied Axel, eyes averted.
Let go…? Who?
“It was my mistake. You can blame me for that,” Xigbar said, in a leisurely manner.
“…Did something happen?” Roxas found himself asking, and all three looked at him at once.
There was silence—Roxas felt uncomfortable. Then he noticed that Xion wasn’t there.
“Even with this one here left, it’s meaningless,” Saïx spat, and left.
Saïx’ words—so the Organisation really was trying to get me destroyed after all? “Where’s Xion?” Roxas asked Axel. Axel’s eyes stayed averted, and he didn’t say anything. Why won’t you say anything, Axel?
After a small laugh, Xigbar answered in Axel’s place. “Gone. Red-head over there let her go,” he said, pointing at Axel.
Xion is gone…? Axel let her go…? “What’s he saying, Axel!” Roxas pressed. Axel didn’t even twitch to look at Roxas.
“While she escaped, he just sat there sucking his thumb, as they say. I’m going back to my room,” was all Xigbar said, and he left briskly.
Roxas and Axel were the only two left.
A crushingly heavy silence passed between them.
“What happened?” Roxas asked.
Axel shook his head. “Nothing… really…”
The response wasn’t like Axel at all. It made Roxas even more irritated. “Nothing, you say! Xion’s gone, there’s no way it can be nothing!”
“It’s just like Xigbar said. I sucked my thumb and watched Xion run away,” said Axel, finally looking at Roxas.
“I heard that, which is why I’m asking you why!” Roxas shouted. I don’t understand what Axel means—what he did.
“Xion is a mirror that reflects you,” Axel said, quietly.
“I don’t understand what you mean.”
“Xion is a doll that copies your abilities,” Axel said, slowly.
“What are you saying? There’s no way Xion’s a doll or anything like that.”
Axel shook his head quietly. “Xion’s a mirror of you. But, the you she was reflecting started not being you.”
I don’t understand what he means. Xion’s a doll? There’s no way Xion is a doll. Mirror? What’s a mirror got to do with anything?
“Of course not!” he found himself yelling. “Xion’s Xion, that’s why!” Xion’s Xion, not me. It’s so obvious.
“No, not that… Someday, the mirror had to be broken.”
“You mean, destroy Xion?” Roxas asked, punching to the point in one blow, irritated by Axel’s roundabout way of talking. Axel wasn’t able to answer. “Answer me!” Roxas shouted, kicking the wall.
“If it wasn’t broken, someday you—Roxas, you would stop being you,” Axel said, quietly despite everything.
“I’m me! Your best friend, just the same as always! And Xion is our important best friend, too!” Roxas shouted. But Axel shook his head.
“No, not that… That’s not what I’m talking about, Roxas.”
Roxas kicked the wall again. “Enough.” He started walking. There’s no point talking to Axel any more.
Inside his pocket was—the winner stick. The present he’d planned to give to Axel.
He didn’t turn at the call. He was at the point where he didn’t want to turn to anyone’s call.
Xion jumped out of a dark corridor, landing in Hollow Bastion. Standing there, just as if he’d been waiting, was—
“Did you find your answer?” he asked kindly, and Xion nodded.
“Yes, I did. If things go on like this, I’ll lose even those things precious to me. So—” Xion hung her head for a moment, then looked up at Riku. “Riku, please tell me what I have to do from here.” It’s okay. I won’t tremble now. I want to protect Roxas as long as I can. So, if I return to Sora, Sora’s memories will surely return, and Roxas should be able to be with Axel. If only I go away—surely.
“There’s a girl named Naminé in Twilight Town,” Riku said.
“Nami…né? What’s she like?” I know Twilight Town very well, but I don’t know that girl.
“You’ll find out when you meet her. It should be easy to find her.”
“Got it. Thank you, Riku.” I don’t know what he means by easy to find, but if Riku says so, I’m sure I’ll meet her right away.
Xion opened another dark corridor beside her.
And then she said, “Goodbye—”
Ahead lay Twilight Town. The usual town. The place she loved.
I can’t sleep. Roxas sat on his bed, staring at a point on the floor. After what happened last night, I went to Xion’s room. She wasn’t there. I went to Twilight Town again. She wasn’t there, of course. I went everywhere I could. But I didn’t find her.
I came back to the castle, with nothing else I could do. I thought I could get a bit of sleep, but I can’t. It will be morning soon.
Irritated, angry, alone, he’d punched his pillow. He’d swung his Keyblade about.
I don’t know what’s happening.
And then there are Axel’s words. Mirror, doll, I’ll stop being me. I don’t understand what he meant. All I understand is that Xion has left the Organisation again, that’s it. She went to all the trouble of coming back, so why did she have to go again? Did she lie when she said she wanted the three of us to be together?
I ask myself why, but the truth is, I already know. I do know. I just don’t want to know. I know there’s no way Axel would bother to tell such a confusing lie. Xion is a mirror that reflects me. But, what does that mean? What does it mean will happen after this?
Well, I know. It’s definitely because of what was happening. The more power Xion got, the weaker I got. That’s why Xion pulled out of the Organisation. She was putting distance between us—without even telling me.
It’s because I understand this that I’m so irritated. Because I don’t know what to do. I don’t know… I don’t even want to know…
It should be fine like this. I’m sure it wasn’t wrong.
Axel lay on top of his bed, trying to persuade himself. But, I get the feeling that I’m not really accepting the choice I made, he thought, chest clenching. Roxas or Xion, I can’t make that choice. But, I had to choose one. Then Xion took herself out. Even so, I don’t think the situation will change all that dramatically. It just means Xion won’t absorb any more power from Roxas, that’s all.
That will lead to a slight delay in the plan, which is progressing. That’s all. But now, even that very slight delay will hold off Roxas stopping being himself.
I don’t know how things will go from here. But I was glad to get just this little amount of time to think.
What do I have to do?
What should I do?
He thought—and didn’t sleep.
All the remaining members gathered in the Round Room. On his way to the lobby, Roxas has received the order to gather at the Round Room.
This will probably be the same kind of meeting we had last time Xion left, thought Roxas, waiting in silence with his head down for Xemnas to appear.
Axel, and all the other members too, waited for Xemnas in silence.
The air wavered. Xemnas appeared. Roxas didn’t look up.
“Xion has vanished yet again,” Xemnas said.
I know. I heard that yesterday.
“Do we know where to?” Xaldin asked.
But, without giving Xaldin a clear answer, Xemnas continued speaking. “Xion is a mere Replica—nothing more than a doll.”
“A doll? What do you mean?” Luxord asked, this time.
“A doll is a doll,” replied Saïx in Xemnas’ place.
Doll… There’s no way Xion’s a doll. There’s no way a doll could laugh like that, get mad like that, he thought—and then he remembered: Nobodies don’t have hearts. We don’t have hearts, but me and her laugh and get angry and stuff. Axel told me that our memories make us do that. Really…? But I thought me and Xion didn’t have memories…
“It’s the Replica project,” stated Xigbar.
Demyx tilted his head. “What’s that?”
Roxas had taken it for granted that all the other members apart from himself had known the truth. But, it seemed that wasn’t so.
“I’m asking you to give a more detailed explanation of the Replica project,” Xaldin said to Xemnas.
All the members’ eyes were trained on Xemnas.
“It is a plan to copy the abilities of the Keyblade Wielders by using fragments of memory, and make it ours. It was one of the projects we had going at Castle Oblivion. However, the project was forced to undergo huge changes thanks to Vexen’s annihilation.”
Everyone was quietly listening to Xemnas’ words. Why is everyone staying silent? Doll, memory fragments, copy? How can anyone just swallow this all of a sudden. Maybe I’m the only one who didn’t know.
Axel seemed to be listening, eyes closed and arms folded. Roxas remembered what Axel had said to him the day before.
Xion is a doll that copies your abilities.
The things Xemnas is saying and Axel’s words overlap.
“We did not predict Vexen’s annihilation—and on top of that, it was not part of our plan for the Replica in question… Xion, to gain a will.”
Once Xemnas had stopped speaking, Saïx opened his mouth to continue. “To begin with, we never received information from Castle Oblivion that the Replicas could gain a will of their own. Did we, Axel.”
Axel didn’t show any sign of reaction to the call.
Then, did he know about Xion this whole time…?
Roxas stared at the silent Axel. But Axel didn’t move even in the slightest.
“Whatever the doll does, it won’t have much impact on our plans. However—this does not mean we can leave Xion, who knows our secrets, at large.”
At Xemnas’ words, Roxas found himself leaning out and asking, “What does that—”
“Axel,” Xemnas interrupted, without even looking at Roxas. Axel finally opened his eyes, and stared at Xemnas. “You absolutely must capture and bring back Xion. It’s your responsibility, as the one who let it escape. I don’t care how much you damage it—as long as it is alive enough to function.”
That’s terrible, thought Roxas. Axel didn’t say anything.
“Bring back a deserter?! They should be destroyed!” Xaldin shouted.
“It’s not a deserter. It’s a broken doll for research purposes,” Saïx countered, and Xaldin glared.
“Okay, Axel?” Xemnas said, speaking Axel’s name aloud again to remind him.
Just a tiny bit, Roxas expected Axel to rebel against the order… but, Axel stayed silent, simply looking at Xemnas.
“Dismissed,” said Xemnas, and he disappeared. Axel was looking at the empty chair he’d left behind. Roxas thought he looked like he was thinking something.
That order—you don’t plan to listen to it, do you?
“How soft of them to want it brought back… too soft.” Xaldin disappeared in succession.
“So that Xion was a doll…,” Demyx said. “Did you know, Roxas?”
Roxas shook his head.
“Nothing is let known to those at the bottom… perhaps,” Luxord said, as if answering Demyx, and then he disappeared. Demyx shrugged in response, and followed.
“Far out… This has gone and turned into such a pain in the ass.” Xigbar also disappeared.
The only ones left were Roxas, Axel, and Saïx.
“Axel, those orders are absolute,” Saïx reminded, and Axel’s mouth twisted up just a fraction. It looked a lot like a smile. Then, without saying a thing, he disappeared.
I want to talk to Axel. But—I wonder what to say. And then… I really can’t believe that Xion is a doll.
“What’s wrong, Roxas. Hurry up and head off on your mission. Does that doll really weigh so much on your mind?”
Roxas glared at Saïx. “Xion—is not a doll.”
Saïx blew out a breathy chuckle. It was the first time Roxas had seen him laugh.
“A doll wouldn’t be added to the Organisation. Look how many seats are here—we’ve always been thirteen.”
Roxas looked around the Round Room. Thirteen chairs in total. When Xion first came here, all the seats were filled. And Xion—never sat here. That’s…
Struck dumb, Roxas stared alone into the centre of the room. He remembered the day Xion had stood there.
I definitely want to talk to Axel. I have to. Because we’re best friends.
I’m thinking. I have to think. About what I should do. Walking at quite a pace down the hallway, Axel headed for the lobby. I’ve been thinking for so long about what I should do.
“Axel!” came a call, and Axel turned. Breathing harshly as if he’d chased after Axel desperately, was Roxas.
Axel looked at Roxas wordlessly. He didn’t know what to say.
I won’t try to do anything bad, so trust me? What is ‘trust’ in the first place, anyway. I could laugh at myself right now, for at a loss like this.
Roxas looked down. “…Maybe it would be better if Xion didn’t come back to the Organisation anymore,” said Roxas in a small, lost voice.
That’s the answer Roxas had come to—the same answer Axel had come to at that critical moment yesterday. But, the situation had changed. I promised Xion. I should keep that promise, for sure.
Xion’s true wish—and Roxas’ wish—is for the three of us to be together. That wish isn’t something I can grant, not anymore. So, I want to at least keep the promise I made. Axel looked at Roxas, still expressionless.
“Are you really going to… listen to Xemnas’ order?” Roxas said, head still bowed.
Axel gave a small sigh. “If I don’t then next I’ll be the one getting annihilated,” he said.
That’s the truth that’s shoved in my face right now. Is there a way to protect Roxas even with me destroyed?
“Then—at least, can you try to bring her back unharmed…”
“That depends on Xion, you know,” Axel said, sighing heavily. And then… “Roxas.” Roxas looked up at him. “Xion is dangerous.”
“Dangerous…?” Roxas repeated. Even having known her for so long, Roxas doesn’t really understand Xion.
“Has your strength gone back to normal?”
Roxas shook his head. “Not yet…” Then, Roxas suddenly looked up, as if he’d realised something. “…How long have you known about Xion?”
I was a little afraid of being asked that. It’s a question I had hoped he wouldn’t think to ask. It’s a question that if he knew the answer to, I thought surely Roxas would reject me.
“By any chance, did you know about Xion since ages ago and hid it from me?!”
I can’t answer, thought Axel. And even if Roxas rejects me, I still want to protect him. I promised Xion, after all.
No matter how much I have to damage Xion, no matter how different Xion and my methods might become, I will protect Roxas.
Axel turned his back on Roxas, and walked away.
Continue to Chapter 7: Breakout